Monday, April 27, 2015

The Beautiful Daughters
by Nicole Baart

Publisher: Atria
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adri ran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.

Now, five years later, both are convinced that nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.

Kritters Thoughts:  Adrienne (Adri) Vogt is returning home to take care of the affairs of her deceased fiance's recently passed mom.  She has inherited a large home and is having to revisit a lot of feelings from her past that she tried to bury by escaping to Africa as a nurse.  Her four friends from high school will reconvene and all the emotions will come back and they will have to really confront what happened before they all scattered after college. 

For some reason this one just didn't work for me, the pacing felt extremely slow and I didn't connect with either girl and I so desperately wanted to.  There were so many pages worth of hinting that something happened when David died and it took so long for any details to eek out and I think that is where the disconnect started with me.  I just wanted more after reading the synopsis and this one didn't deliver.

I have a few more Nicole Baart books on my shelf and still want to read them, so we shall see.

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

Ebook 2015 Challenge:  30 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Simon and Schuster.  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, April 26, 2015

Another hectic week with another Nationals baseball game, a book event and just general full time job work things!  It was a quiet weekend full of reading as I nurse a very annoying injury.  
 meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster
The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Currently Reading:
Pleasantville by Attica Locke

Next on the TBR pile:
Under the Same Blue Sky by Pamela Schoenewaldt

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Residence
by Kate Anderson Brower

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  America’s First Families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family. 

These dedicated professionals maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners. Over the course of the day, they gather in the lower level’s basement kitchen to share stories, trade secrets, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes even fall in love.

Combining incredible first-person anecdotes from extensive interviews with scores of White House staff members—many speaking for the first time—with archival research, Kate Andersen Brower tells their story. She reveals the intimacy between the First Family and the people who serve them, as well as tension that has shaken the staff over the decades. From the housekeeper and engineer who fell in love while serving President Reagan to Jackie Kennedy’s private moment of grief with a beloved staffer after her husband’s assassination to the tumultuous days surrounding President Nixon’s resignation and President Clinton’s impeachment battle, The Residence is full of surprising and moving details that illuminate day-to-day life at the White House.

Kritters Thoughts:  Most books set in and around the White House involve the Secret Service members, but not this one - this one solely focuses on those members who stay in their jobs for a long long time, they are those who become very close with the families who live in these homes all for temporary stays and forego family and personal things for the sake of the First Family.  

I loved how this book was laid out by subject and not chronologically, so the author could easily group similar instances amongst the presidents in the same chapter.  It was fun to read similarities and differences among the families and their stays in the White House.  The two chapters that I would read over and over are the one the centers around the children of the Presidents and how their ages impacted their experiences in the White House and the other chapter was the tragedy chapter - JFK assassination and 9/11.  I have read many things about those two incidents, but it was different reading it through different eyes - those who live in the White House and experience those two events in very different ways from many people.  I loved it!

Whether you live near DC like me and find the White House and all things like it interesting or you just have a fascination with how this home is still a home to both the nation and a family, this book is the perfect read.

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.

Wednesday, April 15th: Thoughts On This ‘n That
Thursday, April 16th: The Well-Read Redhead
Monday, April 20th: I Wish I Lived in a Library
Tuesday, April 21st: Stacy’s Books
Wednesday, April 22nd: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Thursday, April 23rd: Doing Dewey
Friday, April 24th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, April 27th: Jorie Loves a Story
Tuesday, April 28th: missris
Wednesday, April 29th: Lavish Bookshelf
Thursday, April 30th: Tina Says …
Monday, May 4th: Man of La Book
Tuesday, May 5th: Based on a True Story
Wednesday, May 6th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Thursday, May 7th: Reading Lark
Monday, May 11th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, May 19th: Broken Teepee

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Killer Getaway
by Amy Korman

Publisher: Witness Impulse
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Amazon:  With a storm brewing in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the Killer WASPs head south to Palm Beach, Florida. And what could be better than fabulous friends, Lilly Pulitzer beachwear, frozen cocktails, and high-society drama?

Kristin Clark and her basset hound, Waffles, are ready to escape the doldrums of winter to bask in the warm Florida sun and dine at her friends' new restaurant, Vicino. But when a rival restaurant undergoes an HGTV makeover and attempts to steal Vicino's spotlight and its patrons, the town is abuzz with gossip, and Kristin and her friends—Bootsie, a nosy reporter; Holly, a chicken nugget heiress; and Sophie, the soon-to-be ex-wife of a mobster—have parties to attend.
Everything is going swimmingly in the glitz and glamour of Palm Beach until a bad batch of clams threatens to shut down Vicino and their vacation for good. When it becomes clear that the clams may be more than an innocent mishap, the ladies must unravel the mystery before there are deadly consequences.

Kritters Thoughts:  A cross between chick lit and mystery, this book was a perfect sequel to Killer WASPs.  Kristin is innocently heading down to Florida to stay with friends to escape the January in Pittsburgh, when of course she finds herself wrapped up in a mystery with most of the characters from Pittsburgh transplanted to Florida.

I loved seeing all of the characters again, but I sort of wish there had been some new ones added into the mix.  It felt a little too planned to have ALL the characters relocate down to Florida and have a second mystery unfold.  Although, I did love seeing these characters again, so maybe just a few new ones would have helped.  

After saying all of that, these two books are great chick lit mystery adventures and they would be perfect to pack on an ereader and take to the pool or the beach for the weekend.  This is the second in the series and I absolutely recommend starting with the first and then quickly following with this fun adventure.  

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

Ebook 2015 Challenge: 29 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Dey Street Books.  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, April 22, 2015

The Dream Lover
by Elizabeth Berg

Publisher: Random House
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  A passionate and powerful novel based on the scandalous life of the French novelist George Sand, her famous lovers, untraditional Parisian lifestyle, and bestselling novels in Paris during the 1830s and 40s. This major departure for bestseller Berg is for readers of Nancy Horan and Elizabeth Gilbert.

George Sand was a 19th century French novelist known not only for her novels but even more for her scandalous behavior. After leaving her estranged husband, Sand moved to Paris where she wrote, wore men’s clothing, smoked cigars, and had love affairs with famous men and an actress named Marie. In an era of incredible artistic talent, Sand was the most famous female writer of her time. Her lovers and friends included Frederic Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugene Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and more. In a major departure, Elizabeth Berg has created a gorgeous novel about the life of George Sand, written in luminous prose, with exquisite insight into the heart and mind of a woman who was considered the most passionate and gifted genius of her time.

Kritters Thoughts:  Lots of love affairs and a little bit of writing and publishing, but nothing felt right given the time period.  Set in the 1830s and 1840s in Paris, a woman who wants to be a writer and is separating from her husband just didn't work for me.  I have since looked up Aurore/George Sand and know that the story is based in truth, but throughout my whole reading I just couldn't put my finger on why it didn't work for me and didn't seem at all plausible.  

Although George Sand becomes an interesting figure in publishing, I felt like the book didn't focus on that, but instead focused on the many love affairs and moves from home to home.  At a certain point, I didn't care about all the sleeping around and wanted more dynamic action from the story.  

As a complete fan of historical fiction, this one completely fell flat for me.  I wasn't both entertained and informed like I always want a historical fiction to do and it didn't make me want to read more on this historical figure or read more from the author.  I haven't read anything else by Elizabeth Berg and I know this is her first foray into historical fiction, so I won't count her out based on this one, but I will definitely think twice before reading another historical fiction book by her.

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, April 21, 2015

The Liar
by Nora Roberts

Publisher: GP Putnam's Son
Pages: 512
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …

The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.

Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning …

Kritters Thoughts:  From the start, Shelby Foxworth is a character worth rooting for and you know that she may make a big move, but her past will follow her until she confronts it.  I loved how although the plot was at times a little outlandish, the way Shelby responds to all of the things happening still felt real - I was able to keep my love of her and the way she reacted throughout the whole book.  

I had inklings as to what the twists and turns could be and although I was right most of the time, it didn't feel like I was spoiled and didn't make the reading any less worthwhile.  Some may call it predictable, but I didn't mind at all. 

A cross between a great mystery thriller and a "women's fiction" and romance make this book one where you sit on the edge of your seat, but also get to fall in love!  I haven't read many books of this kind and Nora Roberts has written quite a few, so I am excited to add her collection to my TBR pile.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2015 Challenge: 28 out of 100

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.

Monday, April 20, 2015

I Was Here
by Gayle Forman

Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.
When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

Kritters Thoughts:  Cody is left behind.  Her friend committed suicide and for Cody it felt out of the blue.  Her friend Meg was away at college and both Cody and her parents didn't see the signs and wish they had the chance to help Meg work through whatever issues she was dealing with.  

As most Gayle Forman's books go, this one is dealing with a sensitive subject - suicide.  I thought it was an interesting take on suicide as the friend, Cody, tries to figure out the why and how she could have maybe prevented it.  

I enjoyed reading Cody's journey, but kept forgetting that Meg didn't die from cancer or an accident and that it was suicide and it made me nervous that the seriousness of suicide may not have come across throughout the whole book.  I hope that young readers don't read this book and lose a sense of seriousness about suicide.

As part of the Gayle Forman shelf, I liked it.  It read smoothly and quickly, but definitely a tough subject to tackle.


Cody comes to find out that Meg went to a suicide support group online and ended up being mentored into suicide.  I had not ever thought that these existed and was intrigued to just read about this.  This is mostly why I love fiction - to be enlightened about things that I never knew existed.

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 Penguin Books.  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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