Baltimore Blues

Author: Laura Lippman
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Mystery
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

 

Goodreads:  In a city where someone is murdered almost every day, attorney Michael Abramowitz’s death should be just another statistic. But the slain lawyer’s notoriety—and his taste for illicit midday trysts—makes the case front-page news in every local paper except the Star, which crashed and burned before Abramowitz did.

A former Star reporter who knows every inch of this town—from historic Fort McHenry to the crumbling projects of Cherry Hill—now-unemployed journalist Tess Monaghan also knows the primary suspect: cuckolded fiancé Darryl “Rock” Paxton. The time is ripe for a career move, so when rowing buddy Rock wants to hire her to do some unorthodox snooping to help clear his name, Tess agrees. But there are lethal secrets hiding in the Charm City shadows. And Tess’s own name could end up on the ever-expanding list of Baltimore dead.

Ope’s Opinion:  This was a great balance of who done it and meeting Tess and the people around her.  Knowing this is the first in the series, made me keep track of who is her life, who might show up in her next books.

If you care about the people in Tess’s life, it is best to read these books in order.  if you just want to read a good who done it – you can read them in any order.

The Speed of Light

Author: Elissa Grossell Dickey
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Fiction
Source:  Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  A compelling and provocative debut novel told in intersecting timelines over a tumultuous, defining year in one woman’s life.

Simone is trying her best not to think of what she’s lost. Diagnosed with MS, she awaits the results of another anxiety-inducing MRI. She’s just walked away from Connor, “a fixer” but possibly the love of her life. And nearing the holidays, the sights and sounds of winter in South Dakota only prick memories of better years gone by. Then, on a December morning at the university where she works, jarring gunshots pierce the halls. In a temporary safe place and terrified, Simone listens and pretends this will all be over soon.

As she waits for silence, her mind racing, Simone’s past year comes into focus. Falling in love and missing it. Finding strength in family and enduring friendships. Planning for the future, fearing it, and hoping against hope in dark places. Her life has been changing at the speed of light, and each crossroad brought Simone here, to this day, to endure the things she can’t control and to confront those that she can.

Ope’s Opinion: This was a wonderful story of love, mystery and multiple sclerosis.  The author flipped from present ( a mystery about a shooting ) to the past ( Simone learning she has MS ).  It really worked and kept me turning the pages to see how it was all going to turn out. I did not want to put the book down.

The main characters met in a natural way.  Their relationship happened in a realistic and enjoyable way.  They just seem to belong together.

The ending was what you wanted.  It answered all your questions.  I am going to look at Elissa Grossell Dickey’s other books now.

Girls of Summer

Author: Nancy Thayer
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Gift from Kristi ( Daughter )

Goodreads:  One life-changing summer on Nantucket brings about exhilarating revelations for a single mother and her two grown children in this sensational novel from New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer.

Lisa Hawley is perfectly satisfied living on her own. Having fully recovered from a brutal divorce nearly two decades earlier, she has successfully raised her kids, Juliet and Theo, seeing them off to college and beyond. As the owner of a popular boutique on Nantucket, she’s built a fulfilling life for herself on the island where she grew up. With her beloved house in desperate need of repair, Lisa calls on Mack Whitney, a friendly–and very handsome–local contractor and fellow single parent, to do the work. The two begin to grow close, and Lisa is stunned to realize that she might be willing to open up again after all . . . despite the fact that Mack is ten years her junior.

Juliet and Theo worry that Mack will only break their mother’s heart–and they can’t bear to see her hurt again. Both stuck in ruts of their own, they each hope that a summer on Nantucket will provide them with the clarity they’ve been searching for. When handsome entrepreneur Ryder Hastings moves to the island to expand his environmental nonprofit, Juliet, an MIT-educated web designer, feels an immediate attraction, one her rocky love life history pushes her to deny at first. Meanwhile, free spirit Theo finds his California bliss comes to a brutal halt when a surfing injury forces him back to the East Coast. Upon his return, he has eyes only for Mack’s daughter, Beth, to whom he is bound by an unspeakable tragedy from high school. Can they overcome their past?

As the season unfolds, a storm threatens to shatter the peace of the golden island, forcing Lisa, Juliet, and Theo to decide whether their summer romances are destined for something more profound. Nancy Thayer dazzles again in this delightful tale of family, a reminder that sometimes, finding our way back home can bring us unexpected gifts.

Ope’s Opinion:  I read this during the winter snows of February.  It took me away to summer with sun and beach – what a great get away!  I liked the characters in this book, except Juliet – her personality seemed to be all over the place – independent, insecure – I couldn’t keep up with her.    

The romances were a bit quick and predictable, but some times that makes a good read for me.  The ending is exactly what you would expect – no surprises here.

If you haven’t picked this book up yet, you should put it on your beach bag.  You will enjoy reading this one.

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.