Sunday, December 16, 2018

With a packed weekend, I am proud of what I read, hopefully there will be a few more days in December with some quiet reading!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict
Pure Hollywood by Christine Schutt
In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick
The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen
The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Logiman

Currently Reading:
The Gown by Jennifer Robson

Next on the TBR pile:
No Mercy by Joanna Schaffhausen

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Christmas Angel Project
by Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell
Pages: 176
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Five women from different walks of life have become close friends through their book club--enjoying one another's company even more than they enjoy the books. So when the leader of the book club unexpectedly passes away on the cusp of the Christmas season, the four remaining friends are stunned. They relied on Abby for inspiration and motivation. She was the glue that held them together, and they're sure that without her the group can't continue.

When the group gathers "one last time" to open a bag Abby's husband gives them, they find Abby had made each of them an angel ornament for Christmas, crafted especially for each woman and accompanied by a sweet and personal note. Inspired by their beloved friend, together Cassidy, Louisa, Grace, and Belinda decide to commit themselves to becoming Christmas Angels to others in need. Each woman will use her life situation and talents to reach out and help others in her own unique way--little knowing that her own life and her relationships will be changed forever.


Kritters Thoughts:  When I think of a Christmas novella this is the book that comes to mind.  Short and super sweet and just a joy to curl up with for an afternoon.  The book opens up with a book group made up of 5 very different women and one of them unexpectedly dies.  The remaining 4 come together and realize that they will honor their friend during the Christmas season and make an effort to help others in their own unique ways.  

This book was the perfect thing to curl up with for an afternoon and distract me from the overwhelming to do list.  It was easy to get to know the four women and they were so different so it was easy to keep them separate from each other.  I loved how they each found their own way to help others that completely fit in their own personalities.  

I have read all of Melody Carlson's holiday novellas and could say that this one is my favorite!


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


Ebook 2018 Challenge: 65 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Netgalley.  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, December 13, 2018

The Christmas Blessing
by Melody Carlson

Publisher: Fleming H Revell
Pages: 167
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When she receives the news in late 1944 that her baby's father was shot down in the South Pacific, Amelia Richards loses hope. Jobless and broke, she has nowhere to turn for help but her infant's paternal grandparents. The only problem is, they don't know that she--or their grandson--exists. When Amelia discovers that the family is wealthy and influential, dare she disclose the truth of her relationship with their son? Or could the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago be the answer to her dilemma? 


Kritters Thoughts:  Let me first say that I am all for a cheesy Christmas hallmark movie, so I am glad to try out a few of these shorter stories that are a little too long to be novellas, but short and sweet for the holidays.

This one is historical as it takes place in 1944 and Amelia Richards met a man just as he is shipped off and after he is gone she realizes she is pregnant.  She ends up finding him on the deceased list from the war and she has almost nothing to her name.  She sets out on an adventure to find his family and hopefully find some emotional and physical help.

I loved Amelia and her pursuit for help and to find family.  I loved that I wondered how often these stories actually happened at this time and how many women found themselves on this same quest to find some family that may not know they exist and their connections.  

My big question that I still haven't answered is, did I enjoy the ending and I am not sure.  I can't say too much because I don't want to spoil a thing, but I am just not sure that it satisfied me.  

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


Ebook 2018 Challenge: 58 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Netgalley.  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, December 12, 2018

The Christmas Joy Ride
by Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell
Pages: 176
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that's exactly what she's getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix--in the dead of winter, no less--the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Besides, a crazy trip with Joy would be more interesting than another Christmas home alone. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off to Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride--and a hidden problem that could derail the whole venture.


Kritters Thoughts:  I read this book during last year's Christmas season because I was just drawn to more and more of short and sweet Christmas stories.  Miranda is at a point in her life where she is in recovery period from a break up, a job loss and just lots of junk.  Joy is packing up her things to go on an adventure and relocate her life.  Miranda joins Joy on her adventure to spread Christmas in a few spots on her way to a retirement home.  

What a fantastically sweet book.  I loved that Miranda is finding her new space in her life and trying to decide where her life will go next.  Joy is doing the same, she is in a transition and going to have to find a new life in a new city closer to her sons.  I loved reading how Joy prepared to show Christmas at each spot, but she personalized it so it was the Christmas that each stop needed.  

I don't always love Melody Carlson books, but this one was so sweet and perfect.  I think this is the perfect one to pick up during the busy holiday season because of its length and ease of reading.  It was also easy to pick up and put down when the holidays interrupt reading time!


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 netgalley.  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, December 11, 2018

A Christmas by the Sea
by Melody Carlson

Publisher: Fleming Revell
Pages: 176
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When Wendy Harper inherits her family's beachside cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. But before it can be sold, the neglected property must be renovated. She and her 12-year-old son Jackson move in--temporarily, she reminds him--in order to do the work themselves, even though Christmas is coming. The charming town, along with local craftsman Caleb Colton, pulls on both Wendy and Jackson, who even registers himself for school in a bid to get his mom to move them there permanently. Wendy knows that the most responsible thing to do is to sell the cottage and return to Ohio, but the lure of the sea is hard to resist.


Kritters Thoughts:  Probably my favorite Melody Carlson holiday book that I have read and I think I have read them all!  Wendy Harper inherits a family beach cottage at just the right moment in her life when she and her son need it the most.  Right before the holidays they move to this cottage to reinvent it and sell it and go back to their lives, but plans don't always go as they may.  

Melody Carlson is a Christian fiction author and this book was the best combination of keeping the values of the faith in there, but also including a great plot that readers can enjoy.  Wendy Harper was the best character to follow as you saw her struggles, but you also saw her ready for a change.  With the recent loss of a spouse to cancer she knows that now is the time for a life change and this cottage could be the catalyst for all of it.  

I loved the setting.  I read this during the summer months and I wanted to crank up my AC and curl up under a blanket with this one.  The cold and the holiday season were just right for this book.  It even added to the plot of the story.  

At the novella length, this book would be perfect to curl up with during an afternoon break from the holidays.  Take a break from wrapping presents and all of the baking and cooking and slip into this story.  


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


Ebook 2018 Challenge: 67 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Netgalley.  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, December 10, 2018

Tony's Wife
by Adriana Trigiani

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 320
Format: book
Buy the Book: HarperCollins

Goodreads:  Shortly before World War II, Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore and fall in love. Both are talented and ambitious, and both share the dream of becoming singers for the legendary orchestras of the time: Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman. They’re soon married, and it isn’t long before Chiara and Tony find that their careers are on the way up as they navigate the glamorous worlds of night clubs, radio and television. All goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put their ambitions aside to raise a family and which will pursue a career? And how will they cope with the impact that decision has on their lives and their marriage?


Kritters Thoughts:  Before I even started this book, I was already a huge Adriana Trigiani, so I was pretty sure I was going to love this book and then when I received the advanced reader copy and realized it was a chunky book, I was excited to curl up with it for a weekend.  

This is one of her usual epic family dramas that spans years and where a reader gets completely swept into a big story.  Saverio has quite the voice and he is discovered on a night that goes from one of his lowest moments to quite a high point.  Shortly after being discovered he ends up on tour and meets a unique young woman - Chi Chi Donatelli who is a part of a sister group, but is really the only sister fully dedicated to becoming famous.  This is just the beginning of the story.  These two have quite the roller coaster and I loved that this story went from the beginning to the very end.  

I absolutely adored this book from the beginning to the end.  There was not one moment where the story dragged or I felt could have been edited down - each page was necessary.  If anything, I would love a sequel that continues the story through Chi Chi's children.  

I love how Adriana Trigiani is able to incorporate true historical moments so seamlessly into a huge narrative.  These moments plant the story in a time, but other than that this story could take place at any place in time and I love how classic it feels.  

She also creates characters in such a way that you as the reader feels like you know them so deeply.  I could completely picture not only these two but the hundreds that surround them in this story.  Without using an excessive amount of words she describes everything that the reader knows to make the fullest picture.  

I have done enough gushing about this book.  I hope Adriana Trigiani continues to write these epic family dramas because they have become my favorite of hers.  It is such a detailed but also broad glimpse at a community at a moment in time.  


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

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.

Christmas at the Chalet
by Anita Hughes

Publisher: St Martin's Press
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  It's the day after Christmas, and Felicity Grant is at a gorgeous ski chalet in St. Moritz for the biggest fashion show of her career. Felicity is a rising star on the bridal design scene, and this is her best collection yet. But when her boyfriend gives her a spa day instead of a diamond ring for Christmas, she has to face the possibility that she may never walk down the aisle in one of her own stunning designs.

And then there's Nell, the top model headlining Felicity's show. Nell is planning her dream wedding to her wonderful fiancé with one catch: her divorced parents can't stand each other and threaten to no-show if the other is there.

Add to that Felicity's race against the clock to create a special gown for a prestigious bridal salon, and what both girls need is a Christmas miracle. What better place to find one than in the Swiss Alps with its dark forests and sparkling vistas?

But for Felicity it's hard to recognize a miracle even when it's right in front of her, and for Nell one miracle might not be enough to fix the past. Can dreams really come true or is that the stuff of Swiss fairytales?


Kritters Thoughts:  Felicity Grant is a wedding dress designer and is ready for her boyfriend to propose so she can use her work knowledge to design her own dream dress.  One of her main models Nell is getting ready for her own wedding but with her parents having a more than strained relationship both are threatening to not attend the same wedding but would prefer her to have two weddings.  Each of these ladies are in St. Moritz for Felicity's fashion show and the drama unfolds.

For Anita Hughes books most of the time I either really love them or completely dislike them.  This one was good but not her best.  I liked the main characters but for me the book was just fine.  There were times when I think the book could have been edited more and it just didn't have finesse and the pacing just seemed off in moments.

The characters were for me what kept me reading this book.  I adored Nell and the drama that she was dealing with.  Weddings are already drama filled and then to add parental drama just makes it even more stressful.  Felicity was a great character, but I didn't completely love her storyline, there were a few times where it was a little cringey!

I am still going to continue to read Anita Hughes and hope that I like the next one better than this one.


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

Ebook 2018 Challenge: 89 out of 100


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.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Another crazy week of December, wish I had read more but all of those holiday things are happening!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
True Places by Sonja Yoerg
The Best of Us by Robyn Carr
The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright

Currently Reading:
The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict

Next on the TBR pile:
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen


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