The Menu

Author: Steven Manchester
Publisher: Luna Bella Press
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source: Steven Manchester

Goodreads:  Blessed with a high emotional IQ, Phinn Reed enters the world with the promise of finding his soul mate. With heaven’s memories erased, his romantic quest teaches him that the heart often sees clearer than the eyes—and that not everyone has ordered the same items from The Menu. Evidence that love stories come in many different forms, The Menu is a spiritual journey involving more than just a man and a woman; it is a modern-day tale that reaches far beyond the boundaries of reason. 

Ope’s Opinion: I have been a fan of Steven Manchesters from his first book.  If you have not read his books yet, this one would be a good place to start.   If you have a church library, this book needs to be there – you may need more then one copy!

This is a story of life, love and faith, which is written in such a heart felt way that it will stick with you long after the read.  More than likely, there is someone you will want to pass this book on to.

This book is about choices and living with them – one of your choices should be to read this book!

Dune Drive

Author: Mariah Stewart
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Romance
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  Always believing she was an ugly duckling, Chrissy Jenkins thought she had finally turned into a swan when her real-life Prince Charming swept her off her feet. But as his true character began to crack his perfect facade, Chrissy realized that not only was she better off without him, but that she was the only one who had the power to transform her life.

Returning to her ancestral home on Cannonball Island for a family wedding, Chrissy is reintroduced to a legacy she’d all but forgotten. In choosing to stay on the island, she reboots her life, successfully reinventing herself as a sous chef at the Inn at Sinclair’s Point just over the bridge in St. Dennis. But despite her newfound self-confidence, she still doesn’t trust her taste in men. So when she meets Jared Chandler, a handsome ship salvager staying at the inn while he conducts a nearby recovery operation, Chrissy’s certain she can keep him as a friend—even though he’s everything any woman would want in a man. As fellow newcomers, together they discover the charm of the historic bayside town and explore the idyllic island.

But when Chrissy agrees to be Jared’s date for his father’s wedding, they embark on a weekend that will find them each seeing the other in a completely different light, one that will change their lives forever.

Ope’s Opinion: Mariah Stewart writes my kind of romance.  It is a slow moving relationship, the steamy part is small and not until they really know each other and it feels real.  This is the 12th book in the series, the only one I have read – I could tell I missed some details or back ground that happened in a previous book, but it did not effect my reading of Chrissy’s story.  It can be read alone.

Towards the end of the book, it gave you some hints of who the next story might be about.  It reminds me of Robyn Carr’s series, which I really do enjoy reading.  The ending was what you would expect and want from  a romance book.

I Was Told It Would Get Easier

Author: Abbi Waxman
Publisher: Berkley Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  Squashed among a bus full of strangers, mother-daughter duo Jessica and Emily Burnstein watch their carefully mapped-out college tour devolve into a series of off-roading misadventures, from the USA Today bestselling author of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

Jessica and Emily Burnstein have very different ideas of how this college tour should go.

For Emily, it’s a preview of freedom, exploring the possibility of her new and more exciting future. Not that she’s sure she even wants to go to college, but let’s ignore that for now. And maybe the other kids on the tour will like her more than the ones at school. . . . They have to, right?

For Jessica, it’s a chance to bond with the daughter she seems to have lost. They used to be so close, but then Goldfish crackers and Play-Doh were no longer enough of a draw. She isn’t even sure if Emily likes her anymore. To be honest, Jessica isn’t sure she likes herself.

Together with a dozen strangers–and two familiar enemies–Jessica and Emily travel the East Coast, meeting up with family and old friends along the way. Surprises and secrets threaten their relationship and, in the end, change it forever. 

Ope’s Opinion: My daughter liked this book so much, she pre-ordered a copy for me!  We are both fans of Abbi Waxman.  She really knows how to bring characters alive and make you feel like you are there.

This mother / daughter story reminded me of the days my girls were looking at colleges. Seems we all have our own agendas and aren’t sure we should share what we think and feel.  Those growing pains are difficult.

The ending wrapped things up.  I am ready for another Abbi Waxman book!

The Lies that Bind

Author: Emily Giffin
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Purchased

Goodreads:  n the irresistible new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted and Something Borrowed, a young woman falls hard for an impossibly perfect man before he disappears without a trace. . . .

It’s 2 A.M. on a Saturday night in the spring of 2001, and twenty-eight-year-old Cecily Gardner sits alone in a dive bar in New York’s East Village, questioning her life. Feeling lonesome and homesick for the Midwest, she wonders if she’ll ever make it as a reporter in the big city–and whether she made a terrible mistake in breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, Matthew.

As Cecily reaches for the phone to call him, she hears a guy on the barstool next to her say, “Don’t do it–you’ll regret it.” Something tells her to listen, and over the next several hours–and shots of tequila–the two forge an unlikely connection. That should be it, they both decide the next morning, as Cecily reminds herself of the perils of a rebound relationship. Moreover, their timing couldn’t be worse–Grant is preparing to quit his job and move overseas. Yet despite all their obstacles, they can’t seem to say goodbye, and for the first time in her carefully constructed life, Cecily follows her heart instead of her head.

Then Grant disappears in the chaos of 9/11. Fearing the worst, Cecily spots his face on a missing-person poster, and realizes she is not the only one searching for him. Her investigative reporting instincts kick into action as she vows to discover the truth. But the questions pile up fast: How well did she really know Grant? Did he ever really love her? And is it possible to love a man who wasn’t who he seemed to be?

The Lies That Bind is a mesmerizing and emotionally resonant exploration of the never-ending search for love and truth–in our relationships, our careers, and deep within our own hearts.

Ope’s Opinion: This story has characters I really cared about, a story line that grabbed me and kept me intrigued.  You think all  twists and turns are done – nope, there is another one!  The pacing of the story was perfect!  

This would have been a five chair until…

The ending was anticlimactic.  It felt like it was written for a different book.  For me, it felt like Emily Giffin was trying to make the ending like a typical romance novel, when the rest of the book was not typical.  It was being wrapped up in a perfect bow, when it should have been left unraveled.

Head Over Heels

Author: Hannah Orenstein
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Romance 
Source: Megan at Simon and Schuster

Goodreads:  The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

Ope’s Opinion:  If you are interested in gymnastics, you will love this book.  It goes deep into the sport with it’s own language.  There is also a romance going on and it touches on abuse in the sport.

The friendships in this book were well developed and realistic.  All three women were strong and independent – my kind of women!  I liked how honest Avery was with herself and her friends.  It all worked for me.

I don’t want to spoil anything – so let me say it this way – Ryan made a decision, then quickly changed his mind having very little information.  It didn’t seem realistic and made the ending feel a little rushed.

The Summer House

Author: Lauren K. Denton
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Fiction
Source:  Margaret at Harper Collins

Goodreads:  Sometimes it takes losing everything to find yourself again.

Lily Bishop wakes up one morning to find a good-bye note and divorce papers from her husband on the kitchen counter. Having moved to Alabama for his job only weeks before, Lily is devastated, but a flyer at the grocery store for a hair stylist position in a local retirement community provides a refuge while she contemplates her next steps.

Rose Carrigan built the small retirement village of Safe Harbor years ago—just before her husband ran off with his assistant. Now she runs a tight ship, making sure the residents follow her strict rules. Rose keeps everyone at arm’s length, including her own family. But when Lily shows up asking for a job and a place to live, Rose’s cold exterior begins to thaw.

Lily and Rose form an unlikely friendship, and Lily’s salon soon becomes the place where residents share town gossip, as well as a few secrets. Lily soon finds herself drawn to Rose’s nephew, Rawlins—a single dad and shrimper who’s had some practice at starting over—and one of the residents may be carrying a torch for Rose as well.

Neither Lily nor Rose is where she expected to be, but the summer makes them both wonder if there’s more to life and love than what they’ve experienced so far. The Summer House weaves Lauren K. Denton’s inviting Southern charm around a woman’s journey to find herself.

“The perfect summer read! You’ll feel the sun, taste the salt, and linger with new friends—you won’t want to leave.” —Katherine Reay, bestselling author of The Printed Letter Bookshop and Dear Mr. Knightley 

Ope’s Opinion:  The beautiful cover caught my attention, the author ( Lauren K. Denton ) assures you of a good story and the synopsis makes you want to sit down and read immediately.  What more could you ask for from a book?

This book has it all, great characters that you are attached to from the beginning, a southern story to soak into and a setting that takes you away to a place you want to be.  I want to move to Safe Harbor and hang out with these ladies, drive my golf cart around and eat at the cafe.  This is such a wonderful escape any time, but right now I really needed this.

I was a bit sad to have the read come to an end.  I wanted to stay in their world.  I would love a sequel – where are they now?

This is How I Lied

Author: Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: Park Row
Genre: Mystery
Source: Emer at Harper Collins

 

Goodreads: Gudenkauf proves herself the master of the smart, suspenseful small-town thriller that gets right under your skin.” —Gilly Macmillan, New York Times bestselling author of The Nanny

Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.

Ope’s Opinion: Heather Gudenkauf is one of my authors that I automatically say, yes, I want to read her books.  She draws me in from the beginning with characters that are real and you want to follow their stories.  

There was more creepiness in this book then I usually read or care for, but it really did have to do with the story – it wasn’t just thrown in there to give you chills.  This was not as intense as some Gudenkauf’s books, but still kept my attention and drew me to the end.

I thought I knew who did it, then I changed my mind – should have stuck with my first guess, but wasn’t sure until the end.