This Coming Year…

…. On a Bookshelf near you!

Publication date: April 20, 2021
Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: April 13, 2021
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

I am sure there will be many more great books coming out this year.
These are just two that I know I want on my bookshelf to start another
great year of reading.  

 

What is coming this year …. to a bookshelf near you?

Let me know – I am always looking for a good 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 Lost Husband

Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

 

 

Goodreads:  “Dear Libby, It occurs to me that you and your two children have been living with your mother for — Dear Lord! — two whole years, and I’m writing to see if you’d like to be rescued.” The letter comes out of the blue, and just in time for Libby Moran, who, after the sudden death of her husband, Danny, went to stay with her hypercritical mother. Now her crazy Aunt Jean has offered Libby an escape, a job and a place to live on her farm in the Texas Hill Country. Before she can talk herself out of it, Libby is packing the minivan, grabbing the kids, and hitting the road.

Life on Aunt Jean’s goat farm is both more wonderful and more mysterious than Libby could have imagined. Beyond the animals and the strenuous work, there is quiet, deep, country quiet. But there is also a shaggy, gruff (though purportedly handsome, under all that hair) farm manager with a tragic home life, a formerly famous feed-store clerk who claims she can contact Danny “on the other side,” and the eccentric aunt Libby never really knew but who turns out to be exactly what she’s been looking for. And despite everything she’s lost, Libby soon realizes how much more she’s found. Libby hasn’t just traded one kind of crazy for another; she may actually have found the place to bring her little family, and herself, back to life. 

Ope’s Opinion:  Let me just state upfront that I am a Katherine Center fan, which lead me to read her back list – this being one of them.  I had such high expectations that this one just couldn’t live up to.  If it had been my first Katherine Center book, I may have liked it more ( that is kind of sad ).

I thought the whole story was slow moving and meandered down a path, where it got lost once in a while.  The characters were likable, her aunt was quirky, and O’Connor was a bit strange, but all were interesting to read about.

All that being said, I will continue to read Katherine Centers books.

The Queen of Hearts

Author: Kimmery Martin
Publisher: Brekley
Genre: Fiction
Source: Purchased

 

Goodreads:  A debut novel set against a background of hospital rounds and life-or-death decisions that pulses with humor and empathy and explores the heart’s capacity for forgiveness…

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

Ope’s Opinion: There are two things I love about this book – friendship and Charlotte, NC.  It was interesting to watching Zadie and Emma really get to know each other after being friends for many years.  

A lot of the medical talk went over my head.  It took away from the story for me.  I found myself skimming those parts to get to the friendship and the secrets in the story.

I have her second book The Antidote For Everything, on my shelf.  I will try it.  I hope there is more story and less medical jargon.

 

Who Do You Love

Author: Jennifer Weiner
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Purchased

 

 

Goodreads:  Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to the emergency room and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.

Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation.

Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they’ve been running toward each other all along.

With honesty, wit, and clear-eyed observations about men and women, love and fate, and the truth about happy endings, Jennifer Weiner delivers two of her most memorable characters, and a love story you’ll never forget.

Ope’s Opinion: The idea of the story was amazing.   I could feel what the characters were feeling.  The decisions that were made were believable, especially when each person did not have the full story – only their own perspective.

The detailed steamy parts were too explicit for what I like to read.  The whole story could have been complete without those parts being described in detail. The back and forth, together, apart, together, apart, etc. was drug out a bit for me.  

The ending was what you would expect, until the next bump in the road!

 

The Boys’ Club

                                                        Author: Erica Katz
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Fiction
Source: HarperCollins

 

 

Goodreads:  Sweetbitter meets The Firm in this buzzy, page-turning debut novel—already optioned to Netflix—about sex and power in the halls of corporate America.

Alex Vogel has always been a high achiever who lived her life by the book—star student and athlete in high school, prelaw whiz in college, Harvard Law School degree. Accepting a dream offer at the prestigious Manhattan law firm of Klasko & Fitch, she promises her sweet and supportive longtime boyfriend that the job won’t change her. Yet Alex is seduced by the firm’s money and energy . . . and by her cocksure male colleagues, who quickly take notice of the new girl. She’s never felt so confident and powerful—even the innuendo-laced banter with clients feels fun. In the firm’s most profitable and competitive division, Mergers and Acquisitions, Alex works around the clock, racking up billable hours and entertaining clients late into the evening. While the job is punishing, it has its perks, like a weekend trip to Miami, a ride in a client’s private jet, and more expense-account meals than she can count.

But as her clients’ expectations and demands on her increase, and Alex finds herself magnetically drawn to a handsome coworker despite her loving relationship at home, she begins to question everything—including herself. She knows the corporate world isn’t black and white, and that to reach the top means playing by different rules. But who made those rules? And what if the system rigged so that women can’t win, anyway?

When something happens that reveals the dark reality of the firm, Alex comes to understand the ways women like her are told—explicitly and implicitly—how they need to behave to succeed in the workplace. Now, she can no longer stand by silently—even if doing what’s right means putting everything on the line to expose the shocking truth. 

Ope’s Opinion: The word to best describe this book for me was a disappointment.  I wanted Alex to be above the low life lawyers that you read about, I wanted her to be an example of how to get ahead without becoming a cliche, and I wanted her to have a work/life balance that she struggled for but, succeeded in getting at the end.  Alex was none of those things.  She and most of the other characters were just disappointing.

Alex did not stand up for herself against inappropriate behavior in the work place.   She didn’t even try to make her relationship with Sam work.  She was just very frustrating for me.  I hope most of this is fiction, not experience from the author.

Louisiana Lucky

Author: Julie Pennell
Publisher: Atria / Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Megan at Simon & Schuster

Goodreads:  From the critically acclaimed author of The Young Wives Club, a “heartwarming story about friendship, heartache, and self-discovery” (Karen White, New York Times bestselling author), comes a charming novel reminiscent of the works of Mary Alice Monroe and Kristy Woodson Harvey, about three sisters who win a huge lottery prize and learn what it truly means to be lucky.

Lexi, Callie, and Hanna Breaux grew up in small-town Louisiana, and have always struggled to make ends meet. For years, they’ve been playing the lottery, fantasizing about how much better life would be if they had the money.

For Lexi, it means the perfect wedding; for Callie, it means having the courage to go after her career dreams; and for Hanna, it means buying a house that isn’t falling apart and sending her bullied son to private school. When the incredible happens and the Breaux sisters hit it big—$204 million dollars big—all their dreams come true. Or so they think. Because it’s actually not a cliché—money isn’t the answer to everything, and it often comes with problems of its own.

Heartfelt, engaging, and featuring characters you’ll root for from the first moment you meet them, Louisiana Lucky is a satisfying page-turner from a rising star in women’s fiction.

Ope’s Opinion:  This was a perfectly charming read!  Yes, you know sort of where the story is going to go, but the journey was so much fun.  Each sister has a different story, is at a different place in their lives, yet they support each other.  

From the beginning you root for them to win the lottery.  You cringe when you see the road they are going down, but you know they have to learn the lessons.  It was just fun and easy.

This is exactly the read I needed at this time.  Now I want to read what else she has written and her next 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.

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?