Friday, May 27, 2016

Death at Breakfast
by Beth Gutcheon

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Retired New York City private school head Maggie Detweiler and her old friend, society matron Hope Babbin, are off on a weeklong vacation to Maine, to visit Hope’s son and attend a master cooking class at the picturesque Oquossoc Mountain Inn. The worst tragedy they anticipate is a boring fellow guest or a fallen soufflĂ©. 

But their quiet idyll is disrupted by the arrival at the inn of a boorish couple, Alexander and Lisa Antippas, and Lisa’s sister, Glory. Imperious Hollywood one-percenters, Alex and Lisa are also the parents of the latest pop sensation, teen icon Artemis. Discord enters with the family, closely followed by disaster. When a suspicious late-night fire at the inn is brought under control, Alex’s charred body is found in the ashes. 

Enter the local deputy sheriff, Buster Babbin, who is Hope’s long-estranged son and a former student of Maggie’s. Buster needs a success, and Hope and Maggie, informed by a lifetime of observing human nature, coupled with a certain cynicism about small town justice and a healthy dose of curiosity, decide there is role for them to play here.

Kritters Thoughts:  Two friends go on vacation and end up in the middle of a murder/crime scene and become quite intrigued to help out the local jurisdiction with their investigation - it helps that one of them is the mother of the local policeman.

The location of this story was great.  I loved the secluded inn in a small town in Maine.  I read very few books that take place in Maine and have never travelled there, so reading a book set there is always fun.  For me this was the highlight of the book.

What didn't work for me was the pacing and plot.  This was a shorter book, with less than 300 pages and it moved very slow.  I didn't enjoy the pace at all and wanted things to move a little more swiftly.  

I don't know how to describe it, but the book felt bland, it was just ok.  Maybe I read too many mystery thrillers and my standards are high, but this one just so so and if at the end there is a hint for a sequel, I am not sure I would pick it up.

Even though I didn't love this one, it doesn't rule out this author and I am still wanting to read some of her other books.

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.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Leaving Blythe River
by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 322
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Seventeen-year-old Ethan Underwood is totally unprepared to search for his father in the Blythe River National Wilderness. Not only is he small, scrawny, and skittish but he’s barely speaking to the man after a traumatic betrayal. Yet when his father vanishes from their remote cabin and rangers abandon the rescue mission, suddenly it’s up to Ethan to keep looking. Angry or not, he’s his father’s only hope.
With the help of three locals—a fearless seventy-year-old widow, a pack guide, and a former actor with limited outdoor skills—he heads into the wild. The days that follow transform Ethan’s world. Hail, punishing sun, swollen rapids, and exhausting pain leave him wondering if he’s been fooled yet again: Is his father out here at all? As the situation grows increasingly dire, Ethan realizes this quest has become about more than finding his dad.

Kritters Thoughts:  First, I don't read a ton of adventurie stories with hiking and bears and wilderness and I don't read a lot of books with males or even younger males as the lead.  This was a departure from my usual, but with an author that I have read and loved!

I loved how it was formatted.  I loved how the story lets you know from the beginning that Ethan's father is going to go missing, but we need to start before he does to set the foundation.  I am so glad we meet Ethan and his parents before his move to Wyoming and before his dad's disappearance, so we the reader are somewhat informed.

The people that surrounded Ethan on his adventure were so full and rich.  I enjoyed watching them guide him in all ways and teach him lessons that his parents didn't have or make the time to do.    

This was another great book from Catherine Ryan Hyde and I will definitely read her upcoming things and hope to check out her extensive backlist.  

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 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, May 25, 2016

Liberty and Means
by Kristin Dow

Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Someone is tracking Shannon Clark, altering the course of her life in a most unexpected, thrilling way. But as the familiar is gradually stripped away, she starts to feel disconnected and doesn’t know who to trust. Family, friends, dating, work...nothing is the same and everything is complicated. Will Shannon learn to embrace her new world filled with golden opportunity or get lost amongst its trappings? She now has the chance to follow her dreams. Trouble is, she doesn’t know what they are. 

Kritters Thoughts:  With a vague synopsis, I went into this book with little to no to go on and I liked it.  So I will try to review it without giving much more away because it is worth reading without the details.  

Shannon Clark is being followed and with the help of a longtime family friend she finds out who the person is and what they want with her.  They will be giving her something that is going to send her life down a completely different path and it affects her friendships, job and potential relationships.  I have never been dealt the cards she was and I loved reading how it affects every facet of her life.  

I loved it.  I talk a lot on this blog about pacing because you can have great characters and a great plot but if the book doesn't feel good, then the actual reading experience isn't enjoyable.  I loved how this book moves and it wasn't full of car chases or explosions (maybe mini ones!) but there was constant action and I just loved reading it.

This is my first Kristin Dow read and it will most definitely not be the last.

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

Ebook 2016 Challenge: 14 out of 50

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from the author.  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, May 24, 2016

The Memory of Us
by Camille Di Maio

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Julianne Westcott was living the kind of life that other Protestant girls in prewar Liverpool could only dream about: old money, silk ball gowns, and prominent young men lining up to escort her. But when she learns of a blind-and-deaf brother, institutionalized since birth, the illusion of her perfect life and family shatters around her.

While visiting her brother in secret, Julianne meets and befriends Kyle McCarthy, an Irish Catholic groundskeeper studying to become a priest. Caught between her family’s expectations, Kyle’s devotion to the church, and the intense new feelings that the forbidden courtship has awakened in her, Julianne must make a choice: uphold the life she’s always known or follow the difficult path toward love.

But as war ripples through the world and the Blitz decimates England, a tragic accident forces Julianne to leave everything behind and forge a new life built on lies she’s told to protect the ones she loves. Now, after twenty years of hiding from her past, the truth finds her—will she be brave enough to face it?

Kritters Thoughts:  An epic love story that with war pending made the book seem even more heavy than your typical love story.  Julianne finds that she is a twin and her twin brother has been put in a home as he is "different."  Julianne has been raised with a father who has a fairly negative opinion about Catholics so when she is visiting her brother behind her parents' back and meets a man that is Catholic and pursuing to be a priest - Julianne's world is turned upside down.

Sometimes it is just nice to curl up with an epic love story and this one hit the spot.  I loved Julianne as a character and enjoyed reading the conflict she had between pleasing her parents and becoming an adult and going her own way.  

After thinking about this book, I would also put it in the coming of age category.  Coming of age as in becoming an adult who makes their own decisions and has to live with both the positive and negative consequences that come from those decisions.  I liked that it was coming of age, but not YA.

There is one part that threw me for a loop and of course I can't share or it would ruin things, but it sent the story down an interesting path and I am not sure I loved it, but it certainly didn't ruin the book for me.

Not that I expect less from a debut author, but I had to go back and double check because I loved the flow of the story so much.  For me that can be lacking in a debut author, but this story just kept moving at a great pace from beginning to end.  I can't wait for her next one!  

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 BookSparks.  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, May 23, 2016

The Secrets of Flight
by Maggie Leffler

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Estranged from her family since just after World War II, Mary Browning has spent her entire adult life hiding from her past. Now eighty-seven years old and a widow, she is still haunted by secrets and fading memories of the family she left behind. Her one outlet is the writing group she’s presided over for a decade, though she’s never written a word herself. When a new member walks in—a fifteen-year-old girl who reminds her so much of her beloved sister Sarah—Mary is certain fate delivered Elyse Strickler to her for a reason.

Mary hires the serious-eyed teenager to type her story about a daring female pilot who, during World War II, left home for the sky and gambled everything for her dreams—including her own identity.

As they begin to unravel the web of Mary’s past, Mary and Elyse form an unlikely friendship. Together they discover it’s never too late for second chances and that sometimes forgiveness is all it takes for life to take flight in the most unexpected ways.

Kritters Thoughts:  Two stories are woven together in such a great way - through the writing of a memoir.  Mary Browning is in her later years and has been a member of a writing group filled with other folks around her age and in walks a teenager who will help Mary discover some truths.  Elyse is the teenager that enters her world and she has some dramas of her own - her parents are separating after a battle with cancer and her grandmother is in ailing health, so Mary will be able to help Elyse just as much as she is helping her.

I am not sure if I would say if this is extremely dual narrative - but it felt like it and I liked it.  I liked how Mary's story told through short stories also fit into the bigger story of having Elyse help her write her memoir it made the book feel natural and the two storylines weren't forced together.  

I don't think I knew much about the female flight program during the war and I loved reading the stories of how they were able to qualify and then how the program worked.  My favorite thing about historical fiction books is learning something without feeling like I am reading a textbook or doing research.  

The other thing that I loved and learned was the aspect of how Jewish people living in America felt as World War II was affecting their family and friends overseas.  I think most of the books I read during this time period that focus on Jewish folk do not take place in the States.  It was interesting to read how the sentiment of the Germans was bleeding over to Americans and how getting into college could be difficult due to a last name.

This is my first Maggie Leffler book and I am excited to see what she comes out with next.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

With a rainy weekend in the books, I spent the time reading away in my library.  It was great to have a weekend with minimal plans and maybe ignoring my to do list!

A meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
Re Jane by Patricia Park
The Memory of Us by Camille Di Maio
The Secrets of Us by Maggie Leffler
Death at Breakfast by Beth Gutcheon

Currently Reading:
Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Next on the TBR pile:
Liberty and Means by Kristin Dow

Friday, May 20, 2016

Re Jane
by Patricia Park

Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  For Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place she’s been trying to escape from her whole life. Sardonic yet vulnerable, Jane toils, unappreciated, in her strict uncle’s grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of nunchi (a combination of good manners, hierarchy, and obligation). Desperate for a new life, she’s thrilled to become the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops, and nineteenth–century novels, Jane is the recipient of Beth Mazer’s feminist lectures and Ed Farley’s very male attention. But when a family death interrupts Jane and Ed’s blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind.

Reconnecting with family, and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Jane begins to wonder if Ed Farley is really the man for her. Jane returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is.

Kritters Thoughts:  Let me start by saying, I have not read Jane Eyre, so as I know that this is a retelling or reimagining of sorts - for me this was a fresh read.  Yes, I do plan on reading Jane Eyre eventually, but there are just so many good books that come out every Tuesday it is hard to go back that far!

Re Jane was such an interesting read with a character who is half Korean and half American and doesn't feel like she quite fits in with either.  She has been living with her uncle and living by his rules until she is offered a job that gets her out of the home and gives her the opportunity to become an adult.  A family tragedy sends her to Korea where she gets to experience the other half of herself and her family there, but ultimately she returns to New York to find her place.

I loved this book.  It was a sweet coming of age story but with the twist of not fitting in ethnically to any group.  I loved that she learned different lessons from different people and they all didn't revolve around love, but honestly what type of person do you want to be.  I love when characters going through this moment in life are right out of college or finishing it up and embarking on adulthood, that is my favorite coming of age story.

I think if you have never read Jane Eyre or have read it multiple times, you can enjoy this book as the stand alone that it is.

Rating: perfect beach read

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Penguin Random House.  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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