Thursday, November 27, 2014

Spending the day giving thanks for the people places and things in my life!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Waking Up Joy
by Tina Ann Forkner

Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Behind every lost dream lies a second chance…

When adored town spinster Joy Talley ends up in a coma after a peculiar accident, she is surprised and incensed to hear what is being said in her hospital room, including plans for her funeral. When she finally wakes, her well-meaning, but bossy, brothers and sisters dismiss her claims, thinking her accident has knocked her off her rocker, but Joy has never felt better, and is determined to set the past right.

Now Joy must face her darkest secret and risk reopening wounds caused by an old flame who rejected her more than twenty years ago. But taking risks brings change, as well as a new, younger man into Joy’s life, making her feel like a teenager again. Suddenly Joy’s once humdrum life is anything but boring and routine and the future beckons, exhilarating and bright.

Kritters Thoughts:  Joy is well into her adulthood and never settled down with a partner and after a mishap at her home, she ends up in a coma, but can still hear her family and all the things they are saying about her.  Joy is only in her coma for a bit of the book and once she wakes up the rest of the drama revolves around the doctor that saved her and a high school crush that went downhill for some reason.

My biggest problem with the book was the very long wait that the reader has to get to the secret that is hinted at throughout the entire book.  I wish the secret had been revealed a little earlier to allow for the characters to have more time to react and resolve the repercussions.  I also think that if we had received a few flashback chapters we would have felt even more connected to the sibling's parents, I felt detached because I felt like I didn't get to meet them myself.

The love triangle was entertaining.  I loved that I couldn't decide myself and completely flip flopped along with the main character.  Even as she had made her decision I was still debating myself!  

If you have a little more patience about secrets being kept from a reader, then try this one.  If you love a sweet love triangle that reminds you of the Dawson's Creek days - then this one would be right up your alley!

Rating: enjoyable, but didn't leave me wanting more

Ebook 2014 Challenge: 66 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from BookSparks PR.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Monday, November 24, 2014

While Beauty Slept
by Elizabeth Blackwell

Publisher: Putnam Adult
Pages: 432
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  The Truth is No Fairy Tale.
I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told. Those of humble birth suffer their heartbreaks and celebrate their triumphs unnoticed by the bards, leaving no trace in the fables of their time....
And so begins Elise Dalriss's story
When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a tale about a beautiful princess awakened by a handsome prince, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered - and she is the only one left who knows the truth of what happened so many years ago.
As the memories start to unfold, Elise is plunged back in to the magnificent world behind the opulent palace walls. Fleeing a hardscrabble existence and personal tragedy, she builds a new life for herself as a servant to the royal family and quickly rises within the castle hierarchy. As Elise proves herself a loyal confidante, she is drawn into the lives of an extraordinary cast of women: a beautiful queen who wakes each morning with tears on her pillow, an elderly spinster who in heartache shuts herself away, a princess who yearns to be free, and the ambitious and frightening sister who cannot accept the fact that she will never rule. Elise has guarded their secrets - and her own - for a lifetime.

Kritters Thoughts:  Told from an interesting perspective - a woman who spent many years in service in a castle and knows the truth behind the sleeping beauty story and is ready to share the truth.  Elise loses her entire family and returns to her mother's home town and previous place in the castle.  She quickly rises to a great position within the castle and has quite some interesting experiences while trying to mix and mingle amongst the elite.

First, I loved how the story was presented - as a story told from a great grandmother to her great granddaughter I loved it.  It allowed for Elise to just tell the story from beginning to end and to give her story purpose and reason.  I also loved the amount of time that her story spanned and although it is set up that she definitely ends up with a family, it doesn't ruin who the family is started with.  Although it didn't end up being quite the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, I loved it just the same.

If you have read fairytale retellings before, then this one is for you.  If you have a love for historical fiction, then try this one on for size.  I grew up reading the fairytales and am a huge fan of historical fiction, so I loved having both genres wrapped into this one book.

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Berkley NAL.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A few more preThanksgiving house projects took priority but still a great week/weekend of reading!
 meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
The Devil's Breath by Emily Kimelman
Inviting Fire by Emily Kimelman
A Leg to Stand On by Colleen Haggerty
Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

Currently Reading:
Let it Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green and Lauren Myracle

Next on the TBR pile:
Save Me by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Friday, November 21, 2014

Stillwater Rising
by Steena Holmes

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 253
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  After losing her son in an elementary school shooting that devastates the tight-knit community of Stillwater Bay, Jennifer Crowne finds herself unable to settle back into her role of perfect stay-at-home mom and committee organizer. Meanwhile, her best friend, Mayor Charlotte Stone, struggles to keep the town together, and Charlotte s husband, the school principal, may not be the hero everyone thinks him to be.

As they try to heal from this irrevocable trauma, Jenn and Charlotte find themselves at a crossroads within the town and within their friendship. For Jenn, broken and grieving, there is no going back, and she demands that the school be closed so that she can bury the past. Yet Charlotte is equally desperate to hold the town together, fighting the school closure and helping the shooter s mother regain her place in the community. Jenn and Charlotte s relationship is put to the ultimate test as each weighs her own interests against the bonds of their friendship."

Kritters Thoughts:  FIRST before you go any further, read the novella that I comes before this first book in the series.  I reviewed it yesterday and it provides so much good foundation for this book.

Now to review this book.  A school shooting takes this small town by surprise and Steena Holmes smartly gives the reader all sorts of perspectives on how this tragedy affects everyone differently in the community.  From mothers who had children who were killed, to the mother of the killer and women in the community who have prominent roles but no children in the school system.  Getting to read all of these different perspectives was amazing - a few had their views change throughout the book while they were processing their grief and some couldn't find hope.  

After seeing this story play out on the news, I loved reading a piece of fiction that brought it close to home and made it feel real.  I don't know how Steena Holmes did it, but I felt for each person that was affected by the tragedy and understood the exact spot where they come from and found empathy with each.  I am dying for the next book in this series!

Steena Holmes has become a must read author for me, so if this your first time hearing of her, go check out her Finding Emma series and Decadent Events series - such a great author!

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel (and one is coming!)

Ebook 2014 Challenge: 64 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from BookSparks PR.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Before the Storm
by Steena Holmes

Pages: 125
Format: ebook
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Before the first shots are fired within the walls of Stillwater Elementary School, life went on as normal for five women who were close friends. Their monthly girls' night was coming up and they couldn't wait to get together. They all needed this night to run away and be carefree - from their husbands, their children, their church - with no expectations, no responsibilities, where they weren't mothers or wives. 

No one expected their lives to be torn apart, their friendships tested in one short minute when their town is rocked by a danger lurking in their tight-knit community. 

Kritters Thoughts:  A prequel novella that sets the stage for the first book - Stillwater Rising (which I am reviewing tomorrow).  This little book packs quite the punch while introducing the HUGE cast of characters and setting the scene for the full novel.

Told through many points of view from the town, the most prominent voice is the mayor Charlotte Stone who is married to the school principal and while doesn't have kids is greatly impacted by the school shooting that occurs.  I am glad the book opened at the public memorial for all the victims, so there was no doubt as to the subject of the novella and the book that would follow.  I also loved how a few women from the town took turns telling of their mornings that happened right before the tragedy hit the small town.  

I am so glad I knew that this novella was out and loved reading it before I started reading the full novel, it perfectly set the stage.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel 
     SPOILER - the "sequel" will be reviewed tomorrow!

Ebook 2014 Challenge: 63 out of 100

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Paris Winter
by Imogen Robertson

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 368
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Maud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris eats money. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling joys of the Belle epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud takes a job as companion to young, beautiful Sylvie Morel. But Sylvie has a secret: an addiction to opium. As Maud is drawn into the Morels' world of elegant luxury, their secrets become hers. Before the New Year arrives, a greater deception will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light. 

Kritters Thoughts:  Told over the course of one season, a winter in Paris, Maud is struggling to make ends meet while pursuing her love of painting.  Through a fantastic chance, she is paired with a "couple" who are in need of a companion and life looks like it may be on the up and up - so she thinks!  Divided into two parts, the first part centering around her time with this interesting couple and the second part is after a major event occurs.  

First, let me say that the first few times I picked up this book to read I only had a moment or two to read and once Part Two came around, I had some really good chunks of time and was able to really get in and read it.  On that note, the first part read a little slow to me and I flew through the second, there was also quite a bit more action in the second part which I loved.  Without the second part picking up, I am not sure I would have liked this book as much.

I absolutely loved the inclusion of the Paris floods and it was fun to have the action of the story intertwined with the historical event.  I love when fiction meets fact and can inform each other.  That is beauty of historical fiction, the reader is immersed in the truth, but isn't bored by the facts.  If you already have a love for Paris, I think this one is right up your alley, but beware of the slow pace of the first half.

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from St. Martin's Press.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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