Two Truths And A Lie

Two Truths And A Lie by Meg Mitchell Moore

Published:  June 2020 – William Morrow

ARC courtesy of the publisher and Goodreads

Description:

Truth: Sherri Griffin and her daughter, Katie, have recently moved to the idyllic beach town of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Rebecca Coleman, widely acknowledged former leader of the Newburyport Mom Squad (having taken a step back since her husband’s shocking and tragic death eighteen months ago), has made a surprising effort to include these newcomers in typically closed-group activities. Rebecca’s teenage daughter Alexa has even been spotted babysitting Katie.

Truth: Alexa has time on her hands because of a recent falling-out with her longtime best friends for reasons no one knows—but everyone suspects have to do with Alexa’s highly popular and increasingly successful YouTube channel. Katie Griffin, who at age 11 probably doesn’t need a babysitter anymore, can’t be left alone because she has terrifying nightmares that don’t seem to jibe with the vague story Sherri has floated about the “bad divorce” she left behind in Ohio. Rebecca Coleman has been spending a lot of time with Sherri, it’s true, but she’s also been spending time with someone else she doesn’t want the Mom Squad to know about just yet.

Lie: Rebecca Coleman doesn’t have a new man in her life, and definitely not someone connected to the Mom Squad. Alexa is not seeing anyone new herself and is planning on shutting down her YouTube channel in advance of attending college in the fall. Sherri Griffin’s real name is Sherri Griffin, and a bad divorce is all she’s running from.

A blend of propulsive thriller and gorgeous summer read, Two Truths and a Lie reminds us that happiness isn’t always a day at the beach, some secrets aren’t meant to be shared, and the most precious things are the people we love. (publisher)

My take:  I love a good beachy read to start the summer season with so I was thrilled to win Two Truths and a Lie from Goodreads. I’ve read and enjoyed several books by author Meg Mitchell Moore. I like the way she writes about families – there’s always something familiar and relatable about her characters and that is true in this book – but there are big differences here as well. The story moves between two women, Rebecca and Sherri, with other characters filling in their POVs. There’s a lot going on in this book! If a story about a tightly-knit (and over-the-top) group of moms, a new family with secrets, and a picturesque seaside town setting is your kind of read you’ll want to pick up Two Truths and a Lie.

Note:  I also listened to the audio (used an Audible credit). Courtney Patterson’s narration was enjoyable.


The Nearness of You by Amanda Eyre Ward

  • the-nearness-of-youTitle:  The Nearness of You
  • Author:  Amanda Eyre Ward
  • Pages:  228
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Goodreads giveaway

My take:  After less-than-happy childhoods, Suzette and Hyland met and fell in love when they were young adults. When Suzette agreed to marry Hyland she made it clear she didn’t want to have children. He went along with that, a bit reluctantly. She became a surgeon and he, an architect. Fifteen years later something changed and he really wanted them to have a child. He even suggested a surrogate. Suzette thought about it and her love for Hyland was the ultimate reason for saying yes. Things didn’t go as planned though.

What followed was the story of people yearning for something missing in their lives. It’s the story of mothers and the hard choices and decisions made throughout life. It’s about the fallout from those decisions and how one deals with it. I think The Nearness of You is a novel readers will relate to on one level or another. The short chapters, told from various viewpoints, made it almost impossible to stop reading. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary fiction.


 

What We Find by Robyn Carr

  • What We Find (4:5:16)Title:  What We Find: A Novel
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Series:  Sullivan’s Crossing #1
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  April 5, 2016 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher via Goodreads First Reads

Description:  Join Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as she explores the healing powers of rural Colorado in a brand-new story of fresh starts, budding relationships and one woman’s journey to finding the happiness she’s long been missing. 

Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency, high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she’s never faced before. It’s in this desperate moment that Maggie’s boyfriend decides he can’t handle her emotional baggage, and she’s left alone, exhausted and unsure of what her future holds. One thing is certain, though: she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan’s Crossing. 

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie’s estranged father, Sully. Though raised by her mother and stepfather after her parents divorced, Maggie has always adored Sully—despite his hands-off approach to fatherhood. When she shows up unannounced in Sullivan’s Crossing, he welcomes her with opens arms, and she relishes the opportunity to rebuild their relationship. 

But when Sully has a sudden heart attack, Maggie’s world is rocked once again. Consumed with his care, she’s relieved to find that Cal Jones, a quiet and serious-looking camper, has been taking over many of Sully’s responsibilities as he recuperates. Still, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man’s eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation. 

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.  (publisher)

My take:  I was so happy to receive this from Goodreads First Reads giveaways. A great start to a new series by one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to read the next book.

I loved the fully formed main characters, the gorgeous Colorado setting, the enjoyable support characters, and the multi-layered plot. I won’t spoil it by going into the specifics.

I’ll just say if you’re a fan of Robyn Carr you’re going to want to put this at the top of your TBR list. If you enjoy contemporary romance but haven’t read Carr’s books, try this one. I loved it. Oh, I was glad I had tissues nearby while reading the end. An emotional novel that I’m glad I had a chance to read.

Silver Linings by Debbie Macomber

  • silver linings (8:11)Title:  Silver Linings
  • Series:  Rose Harbor #4
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  331
  • Published:  August 2015 – Ballantine
  • Source:  Publisher/Goodreads First Reads

Description:  Set in Cedar Cove’s charming Rose Harbor Inn, Debbie Macomber’s captivating new novel follows innkeeper Jo Marie and two new guests as they seek healing and comfort, revealing that every cloud has a silver lining, even when it seems difficult to find. 

Since opening the Rose Harbor Inn, Jo Marie Rose has grown close to her handyman, Mark Taylor. Jo Marie and Mark are good friends—and are becoming something more—yet he still won’t reveal anything about his past. When Mark tells her that he’s moving out of town, Jo Marie is baffled. Just when she is starting to open herself up again to love, she feels once more that she is losing the man she cares about. And as she discovers the secret behind Mark’s decision to leave, she welcomes two visitors also seeking their own answers.

Best friends Kellie Crenshaw and Katie Gilroy have returned to Cedar Cove for their ten-year high school reunion, looking to face down old hurts and find a sense of closure. Kellie, known as Coco, wants to finally confront the boy who callously broke her heart. Katie, however, wishes to reconnect with her old boyfriend, James—the man she still loves and the one who got away. As Katie hopes for a second chance, Coco discovers that people can change—and both look to the exciting possibilities ahead. 

Heartwarming and uplifting, Silver Linings is a beautiful novel of letting go of the past and embracing the unexpected.  (publisher)

My take: Silver Linings is the fourth book in the Rose Harbor Inn series. That said, it can stand alone because author Debbie Macomber gives just enough back story to bring a new reader up to speed.

At first I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy the Katie and Coco storylines but that feeling didn’t last long as I was caught up in their dramas. The possibility of understanding and forgiveness ran through as each hoped for her own silver lining. I appreciated that the road to that silver lining was not a smooth, easy one.

Jo Marie and Mark’s story was more complicated but just as satisfying. Once again, as in the previous novel, we are left with a cliff-hanger. Normally, that’s not very satisfying but Macomber left me hopeful. I can’t wait to read the next book in the Rose Harbor Inn series. Recommended to fans of the author and women’s fiction.


 

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

Title:  Rainshadow Road

Series: Friday Harbor #2

Author:  Lisa Kleypas

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Published:  February 2012 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Synopsis:  (from the back of the book) Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful Friday Harbor, Washington, with a boyfriend, Kevin, who she believes is her soul mate. She has always had a magical side – a gift that finds its way into the breathtaking glasswork she creates – and she struggles to keep it contained. But when Lucy is blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal, she questions many of her choices. . . Lucy’s bitterness over this devastation is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life.  As Lucy questions her beliefs about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings, she explores the possibility that some things in life – even after being broken – can be re-made into something beautiful. And that it is only by discovering who you really are that you can find the one who truly deserves you.

My take:  Book two in the Friday Harbor series is the story of Lucy and Sam. Both have trust/commitment issues. Sam because of the way his alcoholic parents raised him; Lucy because of a betrayal by a family member and because of the way her parents treated her so differently than her sister when they were young. It’s the betrayal that brings Sam and Lucy together.
I liked Sam and Lucy’s story but at times I just wanted to urge Sam to get therapy and move forward.  Also, as described in the synopsis, there’s a magical realism aspect to the story. It’s not at the forefront but I found it an intriguing connection between Lucy and Sam.
Ultimately, Lisa Kleypas does what she does so well, she had me cheering for Lucy and Sam (even though I knew the HEA would be there I wasn’t sure how) and I was happy with the ending.
I look forward to the next book in the Friday Harbor series.

Disclosure:  I received this book from the publisher via Goodreads First Reads program. I was not compensated for my review.

When In Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison

Title:  When In Doubt, Add Butter

Author:  Beth Harbison

Genre:  Chick Lit

Published:  July 2012 – St. Martin’s Press

Synopsis:  (from the back of the ARC) Gemma Craig has spent her career as a private chef taking care of other people. From Lex, the fussy department store owner straight out of a movie from the thirties; to grossly overweight Willa who must radically change her eating habits or die; to the strange Oleksei family, with a constant parade of mysterious people coming and going; to the hideously demanding Angela who is “allergic to everything” and foists her tastes on her hapless family; to the man Gemma thinks of only as “Mr. Tuesday” because they’ve never met. Everyone relies on Gemma, even while she goes home alone each night and feasts on cereal and quick meals. But when life takes an unexpected turn on a road Gemma always thought was straight and narrow, she must face her past and learn to move on in ways she never imagined.

My take:  When In Doubt, Add Butter is a light and enjoyable novel – just what I wanted at this particular time. It reminded me of Hallmark channel chick lit movies.
I loved Gemma, the main character. She’s a personal chef whose clients are mostly oddballs. And then they start to get even stranger! There’s one, though, who leaves notes for Gemma – very witty notes to which she responds in kind. I loved that aspect.
The author ties things up quite neatly by the end – and I was glad she did. I would definitely read another Beth Harbison novel (this was my first). Recommended to fans of the author and Chick Lit. A perfect beach read!

Source:  The publisher via Goodreads First Reads

Disclosure:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

Title:  The Kitchen Counter Cooking School – How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

Author:  Kathleen Flinn

Genre:  Cooking; Memoir

Published:  September 2011 – Viking

About: (back of arc) After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, writer Kathleen Flinn returned with no idea what to do next, until one day at a supermarket she watched a woman loading her cart with ultra processed foods. Flinn’s “chefternal” instinct kicked in: she persuaded the stranger to reload with fresh foods, offering her simple recipes for healthy, easy meals.

Inspired, Flinn rounded up nine novices from varying backgrounds who were insecure about their cooking skills. After kitchen “makeovers” and a series of basic cooking lessons where they learned to wield knives, trust their taste, and improve their food choices, the women found a common missing ingredient – confidence.

My take:  I wish I’d had this book when my kids were young. I think I would have made more informed choices instead of opting for convenience. My food choices have been better over the years but there’s still room for improvement. This book is going on my kitchen bookshelf for quick reference. I’m also going to search out a knife skills class in my area. That seems to be the one aspect that all nine students valued most. It gave them confidence. Flinn explains what to look for in a chef’s knife: how it’s made, how it should feel in your hand, etc.

There are basic recipes scattered throughout the book and I plan to try most of them. After reading about specific lessons I feel like I can braise meats, make soups, sauces, vinaigrettes, and cut up or roast a whole chicken. Seriously, I have never roasted a whole chicken – but I will now! That’s a testament to The Kitchen Counter Cooking School – it made me feel like I could do this.

A few months after the classes ended Flinn visited the students to see how they were doing in terms of making changes in their cooking. It was interesting to see how they incorporated what they’d learned into their lives.

I recommend this book to fans of cooking, memoirs, and anyone who needs inspiration to make positive changes in the kitchen as well as the grocery store.

Source:  Viking via Goodreads First Reads

Disclosure Policy:  see sidebar

You Don’t Sweat Much For A Fat Girl by Celia Rivenbark

Title:  You Don’t Sweat Much For A Fat Girl

Author:  Celia Rivenbark

Genre:  Humor/Essays

Published:  August 2011 – St. Martin’s Griffin

My take:  If you like snarky and humorous essays with a southern perspective you’ll want to read this collection. It made me laugh – a lot.

From the one about Where will all those Chinese boys find wives when they’re ready to marry? to What if the Cash Cab joins the expected fleet of space taxis taking fares to some planet? – I enjoyed the giggle-fest.

Each essay starts with a kernel of wisdom and explodes into wacky hilarity. Having raised two daughters I loved the final essay: Teen Angel. It’s about raising teens in the texting/facebook era. Funny (and scary and true) stuff.

Source:  Publisher via Goodreads First Reads

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Title: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Author: Aimee Bender

Genre: Fiction

About: An intriguing tale of a young girl who finds herself able to sense the emotions of the person who cooks anything she eats as well as things about the food itself. She lives with a mother who is extremely unhappy, an emotionally detached father, and an older brother who seems to be in a downward spiral into mental illness. As the novel progresses and Rose becomes a young adult she finds that she’s not the only one in the family with special sensitivities.

My thoughts: Once I started I found it difficult to stop reading this book. Aimee Bender’s writing captivated me for the most part. I was a bit distracted by the lack of quotation marks but fell into a comfortable rhythm once I became used to that.

The awareness of others’ special sensitivities or quirks requires Rose to try to keep the peace at home as well as their secrets – no easy feat for a girl in her elementary and high school years.  As she matures she strives to connect to people but it’s almost impossible without her “gift” getting in the way. Is it possible to set her life on a new course?  Read it and find out!

Recommend? Yes,  I liked it. Rose is a character I won’t soon forget.

Source: Doubleday via Goodreads First Reads

Caribou Island by David Vann

Title: Caribou Island

Author: David Vann

Genre: Fiction

About: (Goodreads synopsis)  On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, a marriage is unraveling. Gary, driven by thirty years of diverted plans, and Irene, haunted by a tragedy in her past, are trying to rebuild their life together. Following the outline of Gary’s old dream, the …more

My thoughts: The writing is great but this novel is so bleak – the setting, the weather, the lives of the characters. Just bleak.

Anyway, in a small town in Alaska, there’s a woman who’s dissatisfied with her life. She has unexplained head pain but doesn’t feel her family believes her and medical tests show nothing. She’s unable to sleep and no amount of medication eases the pain.

Her husband has a goal, a dream, to build a cabin on Caribou Island and live there permanently. He’s driven to see it through and his wife, who doesn’t share his dream, will not be a reason to stop. They refuse to see the other’s point of view which makes them bitter and angry people.  Their adult daughter seems to be on a path to repeat her mother’s mistakes.  Their son lives nearby but prefers to ignore his family, work his day jobs and get high at night.  David Vann’s story builds slowly but solidly to a dramatic conclusion.

I don’t want to give any more away.  If this piques your interest I think Caribou Island might be the book for you.

Recommend? Yes.  Though I found the novel quite dark, Vann’s sharp and evocative writing kept me reading almost nonstop. I will definitely look for more of his books.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Source: Harper via Goodreads First Reads

The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart

The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise

The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise is about Balthazar Jones who is a Beefeater – he lives and works at the Tower of London.  Balthazar and his wife Hebe are trying to go on with life after the death of their only child.  She works at the London Underground’s Lost Property Office where she tries to reunite lost objects with the owners and Balthazar leads tours at the Tower.  One day, it is announced that the Queen’s menagerie (gifts of animals from other countries) will be housed at the Tower and Balthazar will be in charge.  This sets in motion a string of hilarious events that had me laughing out loud.

There are supporting characters who are quite lonely.  At the same time they add to the comedy with their quirks:  the Reverend Drew whose other job would shock his parishioners; Valerie, Hebe’s coworker, who has a propensity for trying on/out found objects; and Ruby the pregnant barmaid who has a fondness for rats.  All of Stuart’s characters shine in their own way and add a great deal to the plot.

I learned a lot about the Tower of London.  Facts and trivia are interspersed throughout the novel in an easy flow that makes me want to read more about the famous inhabitants since the eleventh century.

The gentle pace, the wonderful characters, and the humorous events of the novel make for an enjoyable afternoon of reading.  The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise is a gem.

Review copy from Doubleday via Goodreads First Reads

Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart

Husband and Wife

Goodreads synopsis:

In her youth, Sarah Price had dreams of becoming a poet. But the meticulously responsible 35-year-old traded her MFA for a steady job that allows her husband, Nathan, to devote himself to his fiction. And there are two small children who need their mother’s attention as well. But Sarah is happy and she believes Nathan is too, until she discovers that his new novel, Infidelity, is based in fact. Suddenly Sarah’s world is turned upside down. How well does she really know Nathan? And more importantly, how well does she know herself?


* * * * * * *

My thoughts:
This is one of those books that makes me wish I belonged to a book club. Early on I wasn’t certain that I’d like it – I found it a bit depressing. But the writing kept me going. It was like listening to my best friend tell the awful thing that happened recently in her marriage. I couldn’t put the book down. I felt badly for her. I wanted to smack her selfish, idiot husband.

The story moves forward and backward as Sarah tries to figure out how she/they got to where they are now. When did she cease being Sarah the poet? How had marriage, children, a job changed her? That seems like a no-brainer but Leah Stewart takes us on Sarah’s journey of discovery and we find that it’s not that simple. I think any woman, especially one who is also a wife and mother, will identify in some way with Sarah. And, quite possibly, any man will identify with Nathan. I’d love to read Nathan’s version of the story. Husband and Wife is a good novel. I recommend it.


Review copy from Goodreads First Reads and HarperCollins

Truly, Madly by Heather Webber



Truly, Madly: A Novel

Truly, Madly is a fun, entertaining and romantic mystery. Lucy Valentine has a gift. She can find lost things or people. When Lucy fills in for her father at the family business (a match-making business called Valentine, Inc.) one of her first clients asks her to track down a former love. While looking for this person, Lucy finds another mystery to solve. Add to the mix Sean Donahue, the handsome PI who works in the office above Lucy’s, and you’ve got the makings for a fun series. I liked the supporting characters and the twists along the way to solving the mystery and I look forward to the next book by Heather Webber.

This book will be available February 2010.
You can read more about the author and her books here.


Review copy from Goodreads First Reads

Nothing But Trouble by Susan May Warren

Nothing but Trouble (PJ Sugar)

Back of the book:
PJ Sugar knows three things for sure:

* After traveling the country for ten years hoping to shake free from the trail of disaster that’s become her life, she needs a fresh start.
* The last person she wants to see when she heads home for her sister’s wedding is Boone – her former flame and the reason she left town.
* Her best friend’s husband absolutely did not commit the first murder Kellogg, Minnesota has seen in more than a decade.

What PJ doesn’t know is that when she starts digging for evidence, she’ll uncover much more than she bargained for – a deadly conspiracy, a knack for investigation, and maybe that fresh start she’s been longing for.


My thoughts: Nothing But Trouble is the story of PJ Sugar and her return to the “scene of the crime” – her hometown. She left ten years earlier – as soon as she could toss off her graduation cap and gown – after taking the fall for a crime she didn’t commit. So when she gets the call to come home she takes it to be a chance to clear her name. She gets that chance and more.

PJ is a likable character and I hope to learn more about her in future books (this is the first of a series). She’s trying to become a better person and considers herself a work in progress. She became a Christian a few years before coming home. I suppose this is considered Christian lit, which surprised me when I received the book. I had not expected that. There is scripture worked into the story in small ways that seemed entirely appropriate to the plot. I didn’t find it heavy-handed at all.

There’s definitely still some chemistry between PJ and her former love, Boone. He now works for the Kellogg Police Department and it seems he’d like to pick up where things left off ten years ago. But, as tempted as she is, PJ just can’t jump back into a relationship that was the main reason she had to leave town. There’s also something brewing between PJ and Jeremy Kane, the investigator working on a murder case. What will their relationship be in future novels? I’m interested enough to keep reading the series.

I don’t read many mysteries but I think this would be categorized as a cozy. Susan May Warren wrote an entertaining novel – I’m looking forward to the next in the PJ Sugar series.

Thanks to Tyndale Fiction and to Goodreads First Reads for the review copy.