Half of What You Hear

Author: Kristyn Kuseck Lewis
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Fiction
Source: Falcon at Harper & Kristyn

 

Goodreads:  From well-loved women’s fiction writer Kristyn Kusek Lewis comes a breakout novel about a woman moving to a small community and uncovering the many secrets that hide behind closed doors—perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Elin Hilderbrand.

Greyhill, Virginia—refuge of old money, old mansions, and old-fashioned ideas about who belongs and who doesn’t—just got a few new residents. When Bess Warner arrives in town with her husband Cole and their kids, she thinks she knows what to expect. Sure, moving to Cole’s small hometown means she’ll have to live across the street from her mother-in-law, and yes, there’s going to be a lot to learn as they take over Cole’s family’s inn-keeping business, but Bess believes it will be the perfect escape from Washington. She needs it to be. After losing her White House job under a cloud of scandal, she hardly knows who she is anymore.

But Bess quickly discovers that fitting in is easier said than done. Instead of the simpler life she’d banked on, she finds herself preoccupied by barbed questions from gossipy locals and her own worries over how her twins are acclimating at the town’s elite private school. When the opportunity to write an article for the Washington Post’s lifestyle supplement falls into Bess’s lap, she thinks it might finally be her opportunity to find her footing here…even if the subject of the piece is Greyhill’s most notorious resident.

Susannah “Cricket” Lane, fruit of the town’s deepest-rooted family tree, is a special sort of outsider, having just returned to Greyhill from New York after a decades-long hiatus. The long absence has always been the subject of suspicion, not that the eccentric Susannah cares what anyone thinks; as a matter of fact, she seems bent on antagonizing as many people as possible. But is Susannah being sincere with Bess—or is she using their strangely intense interview sessions for her to further an agenda that includes peeling back the layers of Greyhill’s darkest secrets?

As Bess discovers unsettling truths about Susannah and Greyhill at large, ones that bring her into the secrets of prior generations, she begins to learn how difficult it is to start over in a town that runs on talk, and that sometimes, the best way to find yourself is to uncover what everyone around you is hiding….

Ope’s Opinion: The title of this book is perfect!  Just like any gossip anywhere, you should only believe half of what you hear.  People who are bored sure like to talk and people who talk that much make up things to keep talking.

This little town was described well enough, I could almost see it.  All the people seem a little familiar.  You could probably relate to one of them – the outsider, the one people talk about, but don’t really know or may the one who likes to talk.

I felt like the secrets took a little too long to be revealed.  I enjoy being the one who knows the secret when I am reading and waiting for everyone else to figure it out.

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On the Same Page

Author: N.D. Galland
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Amelia at William Morrow

 

Goodreads:  A romantic comedy that tells the story of one journalist secretly juggling two bylines for competing newspapers on a small island.

Distorting the facts just a little can’t hurt—except when falling in love…

Martha’s Vineyard has two distinct “personalities”—one characterized by its tanned and polished summer people; the other represented by the small-town, salt-of-the-earth year-round residents. The island even has two newspapers, each appealing to its distinct readership. Over the years, an intense rivalry has grown between the two papers; in fact, neither paper will work with writers who have any relationship to the other paper.

Johanna Howes is a Vineyard girl who left the island at the age of eighteen and never looked back. She went to college on the mainland and moved to the Big City to start a career as a journalist. Now she’s returned to take care of her aging Uncle Hank. As neither paper can pay her enough to live on, she creates a false identity so that she can write for both papers at once. Often this means writing the same story twice, coming at it from opposite ends of the spectrum.

Before long, Johanna finds herself caught up in a messy Island political situation. A wealthy, seasonal resident is suing the town government for the right to land his private helicopter on his property. When Johanna agrees to go for a cup of coffee with the handsome man she meets at a zoning board meeting, she has no idea that she has just made a date with Orion Smith, the wealthy off-Islander who is causing all the ruckus. And what he doesn’t know is that Johanna has been assigned by both Island papers to cover the story.

Scrambling to keep her various identities straight and separate from each other, Johanna desperately tries to find a graceful way out of the mess she’s created. But doing so will likely get her into trouble or cause her to lose her writing gigs…not to mention jeopardize her chance at a budding romance with a man she’s doing her best not to fall for.

Ope’s Opinion:  I really like the setting ( Martha’s Vineyard ), I really like the cover, and I like that the main characters was focused on her job.  I did not like how the author did not put Martha’s Vineyard in a good light, Hank was not likeable, and it was really hard to read.

N.D. Galland writing style was difficult to read.  I felt like she was trying to make each description very detailed.  I think she opened the thesaurus and found the most obscure word to replace an ordinary word.  It made some of the joy go out of the story for me when I had to reread a sentence to figure out what she was trying to say.

I did like Johanna.  I really liked that her job was the focus of most of the book.  Her relationship came later and wasn’t the center of her whole world.

The View from Rainshadow Bay

Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Christian, Mystery
Source:  Kristin at Kritters Ramblings

 

Goodreads:  After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.

When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.

Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.

In The View from Rainshadow Bay, suspense, danger, and a longing to love again ignite amid the gorgeous lavender fields of Washington State.

Ope’s Opinion: If you are a Christian fiction / mystery reader this is definitely a book for you.  There are a lot of characters as this is the first in a series and you are meeting everyone.  There is a good mystery to figure out and relationships that will continue.

The story is set in Washington state – as I used to live there and often visit, I enjoyed knowing the places Coble wrote about.

The ending was very satisfying, the person responsible made sense, and the other relationships evolved as you would expect.

All We Ever Wanted

Author: Emily Giffin
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Purchased

 

Goodreads:  Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

Ope’s Opinion: This is not the typical Emily Giffin book ( certainly not what I was expecting to read on the airplane ).  She attempted to tackle too many issues and tiptoed around all of them.  I don’t think she wanted to offend anyone, so she didn’t really face the issues head on.

While I was reading, the story kept my attention, but after I was done, I was disappointed.
** Trying to state my opinion without giving away any spoilers.  The characters were not made accountable for their actions – what kind of message does that send?   The ending just glossed over what happened as if no one was hurt in the process.  There wasn’t any justice.

I will think twice next time about spending the money on a Giffin book.

Up at Butternut Lake

Author: Mary McNear
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Romance
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

 

Goodreads:  It’s been ten years since Allie Beckett crossed the threshold of her family cabin at Butternut Lake, Minnesota. Now, newly widowed after the death of her husband in Afghanistan, she’s returned with her five-year-old son.

There, she reconnects with the friends she had in childhood-best girlfriend Jax, now married with three kids and one on the way, and Caroline, owner of the local coffee shop. What Allie doesn’t count on is a newcomer to Butternut Lake, Walker Ford.

Up at Butternut Lake follows these four unforgettable characters across a single summer as they struggle with love, loss, and what it means to take risks, confront fears, and embrace life, in all of its excitement and unpredictability.

Allie Beckett could never have imagined, when she ran away from her old life, that she was running into a whole new life, up at the lake…. 

Ope’s Opinion:  If you enjoy Robyn Carr’s series or RaeAnne Thayne’s series, you’ll enjoy this series.  I suggest you start with the first one,  you will miss some background information if you start in the middle.  

This is the first in the series.  As you can see I am behind on this series, number six is about to come out.  It is an easy read, enjoyable story.  You know where it is going to end, but there are a few twists along the way.  Allie is at the center of this book, but you are introduced to several other people in the town and their stories move along at the same time as Allie’s.  

For me, the steamy parts are unnecessary, but you know they are always there in the romance genre.  I just slide right by them and keep reading because the story is good.  

How to Keep a Secret

                                                               Author: Sarah Morgan
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Anna Robinson at ARO Publicity

 

Goodreads:  When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise

Lauren has the perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.

Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.

Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?

Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite…

Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan’s brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.

Ope’s Opinion:  Any book surrounded by women’s relationships makes me want to read.  This is a good one.  I enjoyed seeing how the two sisters reacted to each others secrets and how the mother handled it all.  The teenage daughter was a bit whiny ( but aren’t teenagers ) – it did get in my nerves at times.

I did like the Martha Vineyard setting.  I also liked that this was more of a women’s fiction rather then a romance, even though it is the romance genre.  

Regrets Only

Author: Erin Duffy
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source:  William Morrow Paperbacks

 

Goodreads:  From the author of Bond Girl and Lost Along the Way, comes a fiercely funny, insightful story of marriage, family, and the crooked path to figuring out who we really are.

Claire thought she had everything a woman was supposed to want—a loving husband, a newborn son, a beautiful home in the suburbs. Then she walks in on her husband canoodling with their realtor in their newly renovated kitchen, and in an instant, her perfect life comes crashing down.

With her marriage heading for divorce, Claire knows it’s time to stop feeling sorry for herself. But how can she move on when she’s still stuck in the orbit of her husband’s world? For starters, she can get rid of her soon-to-be ex’s possessions—including his prized, gigantic foosball table—by dumping them onto the curb…until complaints from the neighbors get the police involved. Now Claire is busy dodging the mean mommies at story hour and hiding from her ex-husband’s girlfriend in the grocery store. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even lead to new love.

Desperate for a positive outlet to channel her frustrations, she turns to girlfriends Lissy and Antonia for help. Together they join forces to rebrand Lissy’s local stationery store and turn it into a thriving business. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even new love.

Featuring a second coming-of-age story, Regrets Only deftly explores the subtle nuances of marriage, family, friendship, and what it means to be a woman today while delighting readers as its unforgettable heroine acts on impulses we’ve all been guilty of having. 

Ope’s Opinion:  I really liked seeing Claire focus on what makes her happy, but I wish it happened without the nastiness of the divorce.  I also did not like how she spent too much energy trying to get back at her husband – she was so much better off when she was working on making her life the best she could.  

Watching Lissy and Claire redo her store, enjoy each others company and make a success for both of them was the most enjoyable part of the book.  I just wish the catalyst for Claire’s finding success was herself and not the divorce.

Erin Duffy has a way of writing that is easy to read.  Maybe a different subject matter would be better for me.