Gone Too Soon

Author: Dani Atkins
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source:  Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads: I’d have done everything differently if I had known she’d be gone so soon… When Lisa married Alex, she gave his life meaning. She was a professional astronomer: a stargazer. And when she gazed at Alex, she saw that behind his tough exterior was a man she could love.

Alex, Lisa and their young son Connor made a happy little universe. But then Lisa dies in a train crash, and their perfect world is destroyed. Alex is shattered by loss, and overwhelmed by the difficulties of being a single father to a six-year-old boy. How can he and Connor carry on without Lisa lighting up their lives?

Then Alex meets four strangers. Two men and two women, who never met Lisa, but whose lives changed profoundly because of her. As Alex hears their stories, he begins to realise the world may not be as cruel and senseless as it seems. If you can find the strength to start over, there are new beginnings and silver linings in even our most heartbreaking moments…

Ope’s Opinion:  Have you seen the movie Return to Me?  This book reminds me of that movie.  It is so full of scenes that are both heartwarming and heart wrenching.  

As sad as this story is, it is full of hope too.  Watching Alex and Connor come to terms with their loss was hard, but they had so many people to help them through it.

Although I don’t think I can read two of these in a row, I will look up Dani Atkins back list of books and put those on my TBR list.

Vote for Remi

Author: Leanna Lehman
Publisher: She Writes Press
Genre: Fiction
Source:  Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  Fiery US government teacher Remi Covington is relentless in her desire to impart the genius of the democratic process to her students. Her so-called “academically challenged” high school seniors sometimes find her enthusiasm more than a little annoying—so, in an effort to teach her a lesson, they execute a brazen, high-tech, social media blitz touting her as the newest candidate in the upcoming US presidential race. Much to everyone’s surprise, Remi plays along with her students’ ruse—and in a nation weary of politics and career politicians, she unexpectedly finds herself the darling of the American public. As the campaign takes on a life of its own, Remi is forced to confront a myriad of long-held social biases and cultural clichés, and realizes she isn’t quite the woman she thought was. Vote for Remi is about a would-be a presidential candidate who, despite being all wrong—the wrong gender, the wrong party, and certainly the wrong social status—discovers that she might be exactly what America needs: someone with a passion for doing what is right.

Ope’s Opinion:  You would have thought I had enough politics with all that has been going on lately – but I wanted a positive spin on it and I got it!  

It was  great to see a teacher so good at her job, she motivated her students to want her to be president.  The campaign, the politics and the students all seemed believable.

I enjoyed the read.  If you like to root for the underdog – you will enjoy this one.

My Way to You

Author: Catherine Bybee
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Romance
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:. 

A woman’s journey through tragedy leads to the discovery of love in a novel about hope and survival by New York Times bestselling author Catherine Bybee.

When a wildfire nearly destroys Parker Sinclair’s family home, it’s just one more disaster to add to her mountain of stress. For the past two years, she has shouldered the responsibility of raising her younger brother and sister after their parents’ untimely deaths. Forced to leave college for a crappy job that barely pays the bills, Parker manages her family property, which consumes every aspect of her life. Now winter is coming and the forecast isn’t spreading sunshine on the dark cloud over her head. The last thing Parker needs is a mudslide destroying everything she has worked so hard to maintain.

Colin Hudson’s job as a public works supervisor is to protect Parker’s property and neighborhood from further damage. But it’s a little hard when the owner of the land is a control freak who tries to do everything herself. The hardworking, attractive young woman is far from the “hot mess” she claims to be. In fact, her tight grip of control is one of the things that attract him the most. It’s also the hardest to crack. Now Colin’s working overtime to help Parker open up her heart, trust him, and let him in.

As Parker and Colin work together to keep her home and neighborhood safe, they may be in for another disaster. Or they may just realize that sometimes it takes destruction to create something new.

Ope’s Opinion:  I am well aware that this book is in the romance category.  I enjoy romance books and this is a really good one.  There is a great, realistic story with characters you will root for.  So why a four chair and not a five – I do not think explicit steamy scenes are necessary to feel the sexual tension between the characters.

Catherine Bybee really knows how to weave a story with great characters.  I will read her again, I will just skim the steamy parts.

 

The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch

Author: Kimberly Potts
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Non-fiction
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  In celebration of the Brady Bunch’s 50th anniversary, TV writer Kimberly Potts writes a Seinfeldia-like definitive history of the show that changed the family sitcom and made an indelible impact on pop culture.

There isn’t a person in this country who hasn’t heard of The Brady Bunch. Whether it’s the show they watched growing up, or the one their parents did–whether adored, or great to poke fun at–The Brady Bunch is unarguably one of the most enduring and inspiring TV shows of our time. It’s lived a dozen lives, from its original comedy debut and big-screen movies, to the Emmy-winning TV auteurs it has inspired–everyone from Vince Gilligan to Jill Soloway–and promises to live many more.

In The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch, TV and pop culture writer Kimberly Potts will draw upon her deep knowledge of and appreciation for The Brady Bunch and television and pop culture history, as well as her contacts, connections, and experience, to provide an industry insider narrative of The Brady Bunch. With fresh interviews, The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch will examine the show’s lasting effects on its audience and take readers behind-the-scenes and into the lives of our most beloved characters, all to document why The Brady Bunch was one of the most groundbreaking shows of its time–and why it remains to this day, unforgettable.

Ope’s Opinion: This was just a fun read!  There were so many interesting facts about the way the show got started and how each person became a part of it.  This brought back so many memories for me.  I learned some fun facts while reading this one.

If you are a Brady Bunch fan, you will definitely enjoy reading this book.

Christmas in Winter Hill

Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher:  Fleming H. Revell Company
Genre: Holiday
Source: Purchased

Goodreads: Krista Galloway is not a fan of Christmas. After her rough childhood in multiple foster homes, the holiday season just brings too many bad memories to the surface. But when she accepts a job as a city manager in the mountain town of Winter Hill, Washington, Christmas is part of the deal. The small town is famous for its Christmasville celebration, something that the city manager . . . well, manages.

As she tries to make her tiny new apartment feel like home for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily, Krista begins to wonder if this move was a mistake. She doesn’t always feel welcomed in the close-knit town, and Emily continually wonders, “Where’s the snow?” Can a friendly stranger and his family help restore Krista’s Christmas spirit before the big day?

Bestselling author Melody Carlson invites you to spend this holiday season in a town you’ll never forget–and never want to leave. 

Ope’s Opinion: This was a really cute, sweet, short story – perfect at a busy time of year.  Get your favorite hot drink, find a quiet spot, put your feet up and enjoy this read.  The characters are ones you will really like and the story is full of good feelings.

The ending felt a little rushed, but it was what you expect for a good holiday read.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas

Author: Jenny Bayliss
Publisher: G.P. Putman’s Sons
Genre: Holiday Romance
Source: Penguin Random House

Goodreads:  ‘Tis the season for finding romance in this hilarious and uplifting holiday read

When it comes to relationships, thirty-four-year-old Kate Turner is ready to say “Bah, humbug.” The sleepy town of Blexford, England, isn’t exactly brimming with prospects, and anyway, Kate’s found fulfillment in her career as a designer, and in her delicious side job baking for her old friend Matt’s neighborhood café. But then her best friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises to help singles find love before the holidays. Twenty-three days until Christmas. Twelve dates with twelve different men. The odds must finally be in her favor . . . right?

Yet with each new date more disastrous than the one before–and the whole town keeping tabs on her misadventures–Kate must remind herself that sometimes love, like mistletoe, shows up where it’s least expected. And maybe, just maybe, it’s been right under her nose all along.

Ope’s Opinion: This is a really cute story, the characters are ones you would enjoy having in your life, and it is a heartwarming read for the holidays.  Each chapter is part getting to know Kate and Matt and their relationship.  The other part of the chapter is about Kate’s twelve dates.  Both parts have humor and warm moments.  

As with most romance books, including this one, you know what the ending is going to be.  The journey to get there is the enjoyable read.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

Author: Louise Miller
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads: A full-hearted novel about a big-city baker who discovers the true meaning of home–and that sometimes the best things are found when you didn’t even know you were looking

When Olivia Rawlings–pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club–sets not just her flambeed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of–the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts.

Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn’s property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired–to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.

With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.

But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee–or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected–it could be even better.

Ope’s Opinion:  I was waffling between a three and four chair on this book. Here is why – 

3 chair side – the main character’s character is questionable.  She made some decisions I didn’t really think were great.  She was also not reliable – she took off whenever life got difficult without thinking of those she left behind and what it did to them.

4 chair side – the Vermont country side was described beautifully ( felt like I was there ), I could have eaten the food they were making, and there were many wonderful characters that I really cared about.

Final decision – 4 chairs because the story was wonderful, the town and people in made me feel close to them, and the ending was all I wanted to be.  I would read another book by Louise Miller.

The Wedding Shop

Author: Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Zondervan
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.

It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.

Ope’s Opinion: This is the third of The Wedding Collection books.  You can read this alone, but it really is better if you start with the first book The Wedding Dress.  This book had both a historic story line and a contemporary story line.

It was wonderful to see where and how the wedding shop got started and where it was now.  The story started slow and built as you read it.  As I read, I became more invested in the characters and their out come.

The ending was all you would have wanted and expected from this story.

 

What You Wish For

Author: Kerry Reichs
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre:  Chick lit
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  If what you wish for is a delightfully bittersweet novel filled with endearing, eccentric characters and situations in the vein of Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Marian Keyes, and Meg Cabot, then Kerry Reichs’s What You Wish For is the answer to your prayers. The daughter of forensic crime fiction superstar Kathy Reichs (bestselling creator of the Temperence Brennan mystery series, the basis for TV’s Bones), Kerry Reichs’s writing talent is ingrained in her DNA, as she’s already demonstrated with her previous books, Leaving Unknown and The Best Day of Someone Else’s Life. Her third novel, What You Wish For, is a tender, loving, funny, and unforgettable tale of five “modern” families, each one following a very different road to happiness, and yet another bravura example of Kerry Reichs’s phenomenal storytelling abilities.

Ope’s Opinion:  There are a lot of characters you are introduced to at the beginning of the book.  It took me a little while to get attached to each one and figure out where their story lines were headed.  The more I read, the more invested I was in their quest for a child or to be understood why they didn’t want a child.  

I did not see how all the story lines were going to intersect at the beginning of the book.  It was interesting to see how the author wove each of their lives together.  The ending was all you wanted it to be, it let you know where everyone was.  The ending made the rest of the book for me.

The Wedding Chapel

Author: Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Zondervan
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source:  Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

 

Goodreads:  An old, forgotten chapel holds the key to love and forgiveness.

Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—building a wedding chapel for Collette Greer, the woman he fell in love with in 1949. But now a realtor wants the land the chapel sits on, and he sees no reason to hang onto the past.

Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s string of failed marriages. When she falls head-over-heels for Jack Gillingham, a top ad man, their whirlwind romance and elopement leave her with doubts. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to find the right way to show her he really cares.

When a post-mortem letter from Taylor’s Granny Peg shows up, along with an old photo, she is driven to uncover family secrets and the secret to her own happiness, starting with an assignment to photograph an unknown, obscure wedding chapel back in Heart’s Bend.

Taylor begins a mission to convince Jimmy that the chapel is worth saving—and that forgiveness and healing might happen within the chapel’s walls . . . for both of them.

Ope’s Opinion:  I really enjoy Christian Fiction and this one was above and beyond the average!  Rachel Hauck is one of the authors that I go to for a good read.  She has characters in this book that are real, with flaws and real world difficulties.  The characters don’t always handle things the best way, which feels so real.  It shows God’s forgiveness – which we all need.

This ended as you would expect, but the journey to get there was what made the read worthwhile.