Monday, September 1, 2014

source

August was a full month!  My birthday, a lot of work, and ending with a vacation!  The reading was up and down, but ended on a high note because my vacations are full of lounge chair time with books and the nook!  

1. My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal
2. Neverhome by Laird Hunt
3. Ain't She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
4. The Curse of Van Gogh by Paul Hoppe
5. Expecting by Ann Lewis Hamilton
6. A Pinch of Ooh La La by Renee Swindle
7. The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger
8. Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline
9. Three Story House by Courtney Miller Santo
10. In Bloom by Katie Delahanty
11. The Homecoming by Robyn Carr
12. Wild Within by Melissa Hart
13. 2AM at the Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Beritno
14. Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan
15. Solomon's Whisper by Sandra Brannan
16. Heroes are my Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
17. The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate
18. Maxwell Street Blues by Marc Krulewitch

Total pages read, clicked, and flipped: 6,440

Where Have I Been Reading?:
Indiana
Mississippi
Sherman Oaks, CA
Oakland, CA
New York (2)
Bangor, Maine
Memphis
Los Angeles, CA
Oregon (2)
England
Philadelphia, PA
Denver, CO
Maine
Chicago, IL



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Due to vacation, Bout of Books and all sorts of things, I am going to put the two weeks worth of reading in this post.  So thanks to a nice and relaxing vacation, I read quite a few books!

A meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
Three Story House by Courtney Miller Santo
In Bloom by Katie Delahanty
The Homecoming by Robyn Carr
Wild Within by Melissa Hart
2am at the Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan
Solomon's Whisper by Sandra Brannan
Heroes are my Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Maxwell Street Blues by Marc Krulewitch
The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate

Currently Reading:
Guests on Earth by Lee Smith

Next on the TBR pile:
Defector in our Midst by Tom Fitzgerald

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Heroes Are My Weakness
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  The dead of winter.

An isolated island off the coast of Maine.

A man.

A woman.

A sinister house looming over the sea ...

He's a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She's a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids' puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs.

But she's not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they're trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.

It's going to be a long, hot winter.



Kritters Thoughts:  Annie is returning home to lay claim on a home from her past that she must inhabit for 60 days per an agreement between her mother and step father.  She must return to this house in the dead of winter on an island off of Maine and tough it out while having memories of her childhood haunt her.  Theo is a part of these childhood memories that are haunting and he is living in his family's home trying to work on his next novel.  

Their love story was great.  I loved the ups and the downs and the realizations they each had to make to get to where they ended up.  My favorite secondary character was a young, sweet girl named Livia who had been through a lot, but actually helped the other characters learn more about themselves through her.  She wins a prize for top secondary character in my book.

The only thing that really got me hung up was the opinionated ventriloquist puppets.  From the beginning when they provided their opinions in Annie's mind, I was weirded out and didn't love it and ended up ignoring them.  For me the story would have been just fine without their thoughts.

As in all Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, there is an ultimate love story and usually they are doomed lovers and this one worked so well.  I loved that this couple had a past so it was not insta love and instead a long slow burn of love.

Side note - this book just came out and as it is nearing the end of summer, I would say purchase it, but you may want to hold off reading it until the weather gets a little cooler, it was weird to read this book with a sunburn!

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


Ebook 2014 Challenge: 50 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from HarperCollins.  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.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Solomon's Whisper
by Sandra Brannan

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
Pages: 
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  Trying to convince Liv Bergen from resigning from the FBI to return to mining after nearly losing her nephew, Streeter Pierce asks Liv for one condition: to wait six months before making her resignation official or public.

Five months into the condition, Streeter becomes desperate to keep Liv, so he bends the rules and assigns her a seven year old cold case – Brianna Keller, a young girl taken from her bedroom during a slumber party and found dead along the road in the desert near Vegas. Streeter believes if Liv sees how she can help her family, help avenge a child’s death, she may not feel as if she’s endangering them. So what better way than to assign her Brianna’s case? After all, Brianna is Liv’s niece, her sister Barbara’s youngest child.



Kritters Thoughts: Another episode in the Liv Bergen series and I loved this one maybe just a little more than the previous ones and I can't believe I can say that!  Liv is now full on FBI and completely involved with catching the bad guys.  In this book a bunch of cases involving children who were murdered and then their predators end up in the same boat are all on her desk and eventually she finds an interesting link that will bust all of the cases wide open.  

As always, I can't give too much because this one is definitely worth the read, but it was absolutely confusing having all of these cases going on at the same time.  I had to take notes to keep each case - victim and killer all in order, but it was so worth it!  I loved that Liv was completely involved with the cases as a professional and I felt like I could connect with her more as I saw more of her personality behind the scenes of the investigations at work and at home.  

I would absolutely say that any reader should start at the beginning of this series even though each book deals with a different crime, it still helps to see Liv's journey.  


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

Ebook 2014 Challenge: 49 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from JKS Communications.  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, August 28, 2014

      Earlier today I reviewed the book - Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan and now I have an author interview.  Enjoy!
     
     1.      What do you find yourself rambling about?

Doctor Who and, because my children are at school, schooling, teachers, sports clubs, all that kind of thing. Typical mom stuff! My two boys are off to camp for the first time tomorrow. The 9 year old cannot wait. He said: 'mum, it's going to be like being let out from prison'. Then he thought for a bit and said, 'I think it's going to be almost as good as joining the army.'

The 7 year old is more like that chicken in Chicken Run that knits a lot and thinks they're going on holiday.


2. If you could give your books into one person's hands, who would that be?

OOh what a great question! Ooh I am absolutely NOT allowed to say but a tv show I love very much called us this year to say their lead character would be reading one of my books in their new season, was that okay? ,and I was thrilled by that. Oh, I know. Kate Middleton getting off a plane looking fabulous, flying the flag for British fashion as she always does... I'd love to see her also flying the flag for British books by carrying one of mine! Plus, I think she'd like them :)


3. Is there any part of you in Rosie?

Alas, no, I wish. She's very kind, practical and she's a nurse and can fix things. I think Rosie is a very idealised version of what I'd like to be: I'm impatient and always rush too much. Rosie is nice and calm. Honestly, if you had a terrible accident or were trying to choose something in a sweet shop and taking a really long time about it, it's Rosie you'd want to be with, not me.

4. What part of the writing process do you love the most?

I love a blank page. I hate editing, I find that really boring, but great big expanses of white space to fill make me very happy. Then everything flows- you know, if you're trying to write, it doesn't really matter if it's not perfect to begin with, you can always 'fix it in post' as they say. Once you've got the words down, you've got the clay you need to work with; I love filling the page, fingers flying. I don't like the nitty-gritty of making them all organised and proper!

Ha, you will laugh at this, I just finished a book in a different genre and the notes back from the editor said 'we love it it's amazing, it's just great... uhm, those two people that die? Could they just possibly not die?' So, you know, I prefer writing to editing a lot.

5. What do you love to read?  Do you read different books while you are in the thick of writing?

I'm a totally catholic reader, I'll read anything. It doesn't make any difference whether I'm writing or not, and anyway, I'm always writing. At the moment I'm reading 'We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves' by Karen Jay Fowler,  'The Quantum Age' by Brian Clegg and am about to start the new Robert Galbraith.

6. What is next on your plate?

Well, next I shall be bringing two characters miraculously back to life, then I'll be finishing the sequel to a book that's currently out in the UK called Little Beach Street Bakery, which is about island life and a woman who adopts a little puffin called Neil. Then I am writing a story for the new Doctor Who except I'm not sure I'm allowed to mention that yet. Well, consider it an exclusive :)  So, nice and busy, just how I like it!

Thanks for having me on your lovely blog! @jennycolgan

Sweetshop of Dreams
by Jenny Colgan

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Were you a sherbet lemon or chocolate lime fan? Penny chews or hard boiled sweeties (you do get more for your money that way)? The jangle of your pocket money ...the rustle of the pink and green striped paper bag ...Rosie Hopkins thinks leaving her busy London life, and her boyfriend Gerard, to sort out her elderly Aunt Lilian's sweetshop in a small country village is going to be dull. Boy, is she wrong. Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton's sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to settle up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets. Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams - a novel - with recipes.


Kritters Thoughts:  Two story lines in two different time periods and thankfully they came together just perfect at the end.  Lillian is an elderly woman who never left the hometown that she was born and raised in and never married, she tells her story of her adolescence and young adulthood in this small town.  Rosie is her niece and has moved to this small town to help her great-aunt settle her affairs and move her into an elderly home, she may fall deeply in love with this small town.

I loved the mix of historical as Lillian's story was in the middle of war time as the men are being called to fight and the modern storyline with all the fantastic feels of a small town just trying to make it by.  Rosie was a fantastic character to tell her story, she wasn't too whiny and showed resilience and tenacity.  It was easy to want to root for her and hope that she finds happiness.  

My one hiccup with this book was the repetitiveness at times.  There were a few moments where I felt like the author copied and pasted and it made me feel like as a reader I was being reminded a few too many times how the character was feeling.


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


Ebook 2014 Challenge: 48 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from SourceBooks.  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.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2am at the Cat's Pajamas
by Marie-Helene Bertino

Publisher: Crown
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia's legendary jazz club The Cat's Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat's Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.

As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life’s endless possibilities over the course of one magical night. 


Kritters Thoughts:  A young girl dreaming about signing, a young teacher trying to find love, and a club owner who is hoping to keep his family business open through many hurdles.  All three of these characters get the chance to share their own story and this book takes place all in one day with the time ticking through the book.

Not my favorite book with a whole heck of a lot of quirky characters and not one really grabbed me in one way or another, this book just kind of fell flat for me.  If you are a fan of of books filled with quirk then this one may be more up your alley than it was mine.


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

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from TLC Book Tours.  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.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wild Within
by Melissa Hart

Publisher: Lyons Press
Pages: 336
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Melissa Hart, a desperately lonely young divorcĂ©e and L.A. transplant, finds herself stranded in rainy Eugene, Oregon, working from home in the company of her two cats and two large mutts. At the local dog park, she meets a fellow dog owner named Jonathan: a tall, handsome man with a unibrow and hawk-like nose. When he invites her to accompany him on a drive to Portland to retrieve six hundred pounds of frozen rats and a fledgling barred owl, sparks fly!

Their courtship blossoms in a raptor rehabilitation center where wounded owls, eagles, falcons, and other iconic birds of prey take refuge and become ambassadors for their species. Initially, Melissa volunteers here in order to “sink her talons” into her new love interest, but soon she falls hopelessly in love with her fine feathered charges: Archimedes, a gorgeous snowy owl; Lorax, a fractious great horned owl; and Bodhi, a baby barred with a permanently injured wing. As “human imprints,” these birds see themselves and people as the same species yet retain a wildness that hoodwinks even the most experienced handlers. Overcoming her fears, Melissa bravely suffers some puncture wounds to get closer to these magnificent creatures.

Melissa and Jonathan start out convinced they don’t want children, but caring for birds who have fallen from their nests triggers a deep longing in Melissa to mother an orphaned child. Thus they embark on a heart-wrenching journey to adoption.


Kritters Thoughts:  Melissa Hart is an interesting lady with an interesting hobby - as a raptor handler she fell in love with handling birds who have come to be rescued through horrific circumstances, but it is her and other volunteers job to nurse them back to hopefully be released or as Plan B to become a advocate for their species.  She is drawn to volunteer through a guy, but stays due to her own personal convictions.

My favorite part of the book was the ability to watch her transformation as a volunteer at the rescue center and how it paralleled with her and her husband's long story to adopting a child.  There were many moments when I had to remind myself that this wasn't fiction and that she really lived through these ups and downs and that she is one of many on the road to adopting a child.  The one part that kept me from completely falling in love with the book was all of the owl/bird/raptor terms, as a complete bird novice I enjoyed those parts, but would have loved a little definition and maybe just to give a few moments at the beginning to provide some basic bird terms.


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

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.

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