Wednesday, December 31, 2014


What a crazy crazy month!  This month was packed with holiday shopping and holiday events, but ended on a quiet note!  So the reading started out real slow, but thankfully the holiday break was full of some quiet moments!

1. The Undertaking of Tess by Lesley Kagen
2. The Resurrection of Tess Blessing by Lesley Kagen
3. Another Night, Another Day by Sarah Rayner
4. Passionate Nutrition by Jennifer Adler
5. What is Found, What is Lost by Anne Leigh Parrish
6. Always on My Mind by Susan May Warren
7. Evergreen by Susan May Warren
8. Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd
9. Windy City Blues by Marc Krulewitch
10. Before I Go by Colleen Oakley
11. He Texted by Lisa WInning
12. The Unimaginable by Dina Silver
13. After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson
14. A Sister to Honor by Lucy Ferriss
15. The Other Shakespeare by Lea Rachel

Total pages read, clicked, and flipped: 4,308

Where Have I Been Reading?:
Wisconsin (2)
Brighton, England
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Cambridgeshire, England
Minnesota (2)
Chicago, IL
Athens, GA
Thailand
Liverpool, England
Massachusetts
London


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What is Found, What is Lost
by Anne Leigh Parrish

Publisher: She Writes Press
Pages: 180
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Freddie was raised on faith. It's in her blood. Yet rather than seeking solace from the Almighty when she loses her husband of many years, she enters a state of quiet contemplation until her daughter, and then her sister, each come home with a host of problems of their own, and her solitude is brought to an end. As Freddie helps her daughter and sister deal with their troubles, her own painful past a wretched childhood at the hands of an unbalanced, pious mother begins to occupy her thoughts more than ever, as does Anna, the grandmother she's always wished she'd known better. Freddie feels that she and Anna are connected, not just through blood but through the raising of difficult daughters, and it's a kinship that makes her wonder what unseen forces have shaped her life. With all that to hand, a new family crisis rears its head and it forces Freddie to confront the questions she's asked so many times: What does it mean to believe in God? And does God even care?


Kritters Thoughts:  A multi generational story that takes you back and forth through four generations of women and each of the issues they have lived with and tried desperately to overcome.  Freddie is the main character of the four and with her daughter, mother and grandmother each telling their stories and the moments that make up their lives.  

My favorite part about multigenerational stories is the ability to see the effects of previous generations decisions on the next.  As well seeing the personality traits pass on or skip generations, I love it!  

Sometimes I find books that go back and forth between time periods hard, but this one skipped a little, but then gave you a good chunk set in one time or another - this made it easier to distinguish which character was taking the lead in the story.  

The character I felt the most disconnected to was Lorraine which is probably for obvious reasons as she definitely abandoned her girls, but I just wanted to hear more from her and the stories that she had to share.

If you love a book filled with women who are just telling the stories of their lives, then this book is right up your alley and definitely worth the read.

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 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, December 29, 2014

The Resurrection of Tess Blessing
by Lesley Kagen

Publisher: SparkPress
Pages: 325
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  After she's diagnosed with breast cancer, forty-nine-year old Tess Blessing sets forth on a mission to complete her TO-DO List before, what she's sure is, her impending death. She needs to make peace with her estranged sister, Birdie, scatter her mother's long-kept ashes, rescue her daughter, Haddie, from the grip of an eating disorder, guide her teenage son, Henry, through a bumpy adolescence, and reignite the spark in her almost thirty-year marriage to her husband, Will. 

Tess is aided on her quest by narrator, Grace, who lends the story its most brilliant elements: subtle magical realism and deep psychological complexity. Is Grace an imaginary friend, guardian angel, or a part of Tess that knows better than she? The Resurrection of Tess Blessing is by turns poignant, gritty, spiritually uplifting, and hilarious as hell.


Kritters Thoughts:  A book with quite an interesting character who is trying to keep a lot of things in the air and I am not sure she is doing it all that well.  Tess has grown up a lot since the novella reviewed this morning and she has created quite the to do list to accomplish.  She has quite the hurdles in her life to overcome - a medical diagnosis for her and for her daughter, a husband who doesn't seem connected in the relationship and a son who is doing the teenage years.

This as well as the novella have an interesting narrator - an imaginary friend.  I am not sure that I enjoyed having this really different narration - I didn't mind it as much in the novella due to the girls being childhood ages, but being adults and having this imaginary friend tell the story was just a little odd.  AND it was hard to read at a few times, I wish Tess had told her own story, it made me feel less connected to Tess.

After reading this book, I lost some value in reading the novella.  The childhood tragedy that happens in the novella is mostly recounted in the book, there are some details missing, but nothing that I really thought gave value for the novella to stand alone.

I am not sure about this one, since the narration put me off so much it was hard to completely connect with the story and Tess and I think that is why I felt that this book moved at an extremely slow pace at times.


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 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.

The Undertaking of Tess
by Lesley Kagen

Publisher: SparkPress
Pages: 118
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  During the summer of 1959, ten-year-old Theresa “Tessie” Finley has her work cut out for her. Not only is she attempting to come to grips with the devastating loss and guilt she feels after she witnessed her father’s drowning, but her kid sister, Birdie, refuses to believe that their beloved Daddy is really gone. Tessie needs to make sure that she does before their Mom gets wind of how much “weirder” her sister’s getting. Stronger, and more down to Earth than ethereal Birdie, she’s always watched over her sister, so it’s only natural for her to come up with a plan that she jots down on one of her never-ending TO-DO LISTS. If Tessie can’t achieve her goals, she’s desperately worried that the beautiful, but self-occupied Louise, might send emotionally fragile Birdie to the county insane asylum.

Her daddy always told her, “A Finley never throws in the towel,” so more than anything Tess wants to make him proud, but despite her resourcefulness and grit, she’s smart enough to know that the odds are stacked against her and her time is running out.



Kritters Thoughts:  A prequel novella that comes before the book I will be reviewing later today.  The reader is introduced to two sisters - Birdie and Tess as children before a major life event occurs that will send their childhoods into a tail spin.  Both girls are affected by this event and will react in different ways.

I enjoyed the introduction to the girls knowing that I would have a whole book to follow with a story, so it was nice to start in their childhood.  I would have loved to learn a little more about their mother, but it was obvious that her absence was a part of the story.  I just wanted more!

The narration was interesting and continued to the full novel, so I will talk more about that later today.

As a concept I like prequel novellas, but I definitely like to read them before I dive into the book and/or series.  


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

Ebook 2014 Challenge: 72 out of 100


Sunday, December 28, 2014


What an eventful week!  Two christmases, a road trip and my husband's birthday!  Thankfully there were some quiet moments that allowed for some reading!  A few more days before the year is done and a new reading year begins! 

A
 meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
Windy City Blues by Marc Krulewitch
Before I Go by Colleen Oakley
He Texted by Lisa Winning
The Unimaginable by Dina Silver

Currently Reading:
After the War Is Over by Jennifer Robson

Next on the TBR pile:
A Sister to Honor by Lucy Ferriss

Friday, December 26, 2014

Let it Snow
by Maureen Johnson, John Green & Lauren Myracle

Publisher: Speak
Pages: 352
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.


Kritters Thoughts:  Three short stories that are sweetly linked and I loved them all individually and together!  Having each story told from a different character allowed each author to use their own distinctive voices, but as their characters make big appearances in each other's stories it linked them so geniusly.

The first story takes you on a train trip to the North Carolina setting and while introduces the reader to the upcoming characters still has a plot of its own.  The following stories take their characters on rides, but still includes the previous characters - how they did this I have no idea and I want to know!!

I would love to have another set of stories like this with Christmas at the center or not - wouldn't matter to me!


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel




Thursday, December 25, 2014

To each and everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Another Night, Another Day
by Sarah Rayner

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 416
Format: ARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Three people, each crying out for help.There’s Karen, about to lose her father; Abby, whose son has autism and needs constant care, and Michael, a family man on the verge of bankruptcy. As each sinks under the strain, they’re brought together at Moreland’s Clinic.  Here, behind closed doors, they reveal their deepest secrets, confront and console one another, and share plenty of laughs. But how will they cope when a new crisis strikes? 


Kritters Thoughts:  Three people each are confronting different issues that have the ability to take a person to their knees and each of them do and must seek help to overcome each of the things they are dealing with.  

I am so thankful that the author does not start the book in the clinic, but instead before each character goes there and gives each of the character a back story and some depth.  This definitely created a longer book, but I am so thankful for those moments.  I loved that these people would never have interacted without being introduced at the clinic and from there they are linked and will impact each other for a long time.  It was interesting to read how even though they were all at rock bottom, they could help each other.

I loved the prologue, but it absolutely set me up to think a lot of negative thoughts - knowing that someone wasn't going to make it to the end was so hard to read.  I was definitely surprised as to who it was, but it was an interesting surprise.  

This is my first Sarah Rayner read, although I have her other books on my shelf - I am going to have to pick them up soon.


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

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.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Save Me
by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Daphne Mitchell has always believed in cause and effect, right and wrong, good and bad. The good: her dream job as a doctor; Owen, her childhood sweetheart and now husband; the beautiful farmhouse they're restoring together. In fact, most of her life has been good--until the day Owen comes home early from work to tell her he's fallen head over heels for someone else.

Unable to hate him, but also equally incapable of moving forward, Daphne's life hangs in limbo until the day Owen's new girlfriend sustains near-fatal injuries in a car accident. As Daphne becomes a pillar of support for the devastated Owen, and realizes that reconciliation may lie within her grasp, she has to find out whether forgiveness is possible and decide which path is the right one for her.
 



Kritters Thoughts:  A couple that has been together since childhood and may have lost a little bit of that loving feeling and Daphne may not want to admit it.  Owen decides to spend time with a co worker instead of confronting his feelings about their relationship and the roller coaster begins.

Although there were quite a few ups and downs in the book, it felt sort of real and I liked hearing Daphne's internal debate.  I absolutely appreciated that she had friends and family who would challenge her thoughts and feelings - I liked their honesty.  Without their honest feelings, I probably wouldn't have loved this story as much.  

I don't normally love books with relationships that are going south, but I absolutely adore this author so wanted to see how she would write it.  I still don't love this type of story, but Kristyn Kusek Lewis did it as right as it could have been done.  

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 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.







Sunday, December 21, 2014

This was the absolutely most craziest week, but somehow I was able to get some reading in between all the holiday activities.  The week of Christmas is just as crazy, BUT the week of New Years is quiet as a mouse!!

A meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
What is Found, What is Lost by Anne Leigh Parrish
Always on My Mind by Susan May Warren
Evergreen by Susan May Warren
Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd

Currently Reading:
Windy City Blues by Marc Krulewitch

Next on the TBR pile:
After the War is Over by Jennifer Robson

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Each year, I like to sign up for a few challenges to keep my reading interesting.  I am going to repeat two the challenges, but going to skip out on the one that I have completely failed the last two years (the off your shelf challenge)!  Check out the sidebar throughout the year to see my progress on these challenges and my reading stats!

Where Are You Reading?

In this challenge, I keep a Google Map (link to my google map for 2015) and place a pinpoint at each spot where a book takes place.  The link to my google map will also be in the sidebar all year round, so anyone can check out where I have been reading!

If you would like to participate - check out Book Journey.



Ebook Challenge

I found this challenge in 2013 and completely surpassed my goal and came close in 2014, although I haven't found anyone hosting it this year, I am going to challenge myself to reading 100 ebooks in 2015.  I am excited to see how much of my reading is in electronic form.




Friday, December 19, 2014

Winter Street
by Elin Hilderbrand

Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 256
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket's Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them grown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can't get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley's second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines. 

As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who's playing Santa at the inn's annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley's ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn.

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.
 



Kritters Thoughts:  Kelley Quinn is the owner of an inn in Nantucket and is the father of four children from two different relationships.  Kelley, both current and ex wife and three of the kids narrate the book, so although it was hard to remember who was narrating, I loved getting the story from multiple points of view.  

Over the course of a few days this story unfolds and drama definitely ensues!  I loved that each character had some sort of drama that they were dealing with so the book didn't revolve around one character, but that each had something going on.  I would love to have a sequel with all characters involved to update the reader on each characters story beyond Christmas.

If you love Elin Hilderbrand and you love wintry christmas reads, then this is perfect to curl up with on a winter weekend and enjoy!  


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Outrageous Optimist
by Lyne Noella

Publisher: WavePlay
Pages: 327
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Outrageous Optimist is the story of family, friendship, romance, failure and fresh starts. Lisette Latour shutters her San Francisco marketing agency and returns to Playa Tiempo to regroup after over-investing in Silicon Valley startups. While applying for work, Lisette discovers that her San Diego County hometown has blossomed in her absence, with citizens as creative and unorthodox as those she left behind in San Francisco. An exploding microbrewery scene, a handsome but elusive attorney, clean skies and intrigue beguile Lisette, making it difficult to choose between family and friends in Playa Tiempo and the opportunities and lifestyle of the big city.


Kritters Thoughts:  Lisette has left San Francisco to go back to her home town regroup and decide what is next for her.  She closed her own marketing agency and isn't quite sure what is next on her plate.  Thankfully her sister has a house for her to stay in and a lead or two on some temporary work that will keep her going while she looks for her next move.  

A slow start for me, but once the book got going it went fast!  It is like a coming of age for the after mid life crisis group of people.  I loved that this book concentrated on Lisette's pursuit of career and love came alongside.  It was nice for a contemporary fiction book to not completely focus on her sad love life.  

Before you judge, I didn't love the title or cover, so don't judge this book by its cover or title.  


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

Ebook 2014 Challenge: 68 out of 100

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, December 16, 2014

A Leg to Stand On
by Colleen Haggerty

Publisher: She Writes Press
Pages: 244
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When Colleen Haggerty lost her leg in an accident during her senior year of high school, she could have retreated from life and let her disability become her defining quality and no one would have blamed her for it. Instead, she went the opposite way. In the years following her accident, Haggerty explored her physical world with vigor, testing the limits of her body by joining a ski team, playing with a co-ed soccer team, and taking up kayaking and backpacking. She also tested the limits of her heart, pursuing love and passion with restless men. In A Leg to Stand On, Haggerty recounts her life as a disabled woman, from redefining herself as a young woman after tragedy fierce and able, but haunted by hard choices and suppressed grief to choosing marriage and motherhood. That choice comes at great cost to the physical freedom Haggerty has fought for, but ultimately she redemption, fulfillment, and self-acceptance in the bargain. No one will read this book without being inspired to accept their past and create the future they always wanted." 


Kritters Thoughts:  A moving memoir that takes you into one woman's life before and after a tragedy that completely changes her life.  Colleen Haggerty found herself in an accident where she loses one of her legs and each day after the accident she learns something about herself and how the accident didn't just change her physical life but also her emotional life.

I absolutely appreciated that Colleen included a few moments before the accident and the accident itself - although the fact that she was awake for most of it was completely scary to read.  It helped the reading experience to know her life before the accident during and then knowing that most of it would be after the accident.  

Although I have been aware of the physical challenges that a disabled person would have; I don't think I really knew it until I read this story.  I had never thought of the gaining weight whether in pregnancy or just in life and the need for different legs if that were to happen.  The biggest thing that I don't think anyone "sees" is the emotional toll it can take and that it is a constant thing that a disabled person doesn't really ever heal from.  

I love it when I read a book that I know in my heart is true, but it reads like fiction with such ease.  I also adore when I really feel connected and honestly believe that I am learning something that will make me a more informed human and make me a little more sensitive to someone that I may not know personally.  Such a great 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 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, December 15, 2014

The Thursday Night Club
by Steven Manchester

Publisher: The Story Plant
Pages: 152
Format: ebook
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Five college friends, three men and two women, have been getting together every Thursday night to share humble meals and an abundance of laughter. But when tragedy takes one of them, leaving the others to question the fairness of life, the Thursday Night Club decides to embark on a contest in the memory of the generous spirit of their fallen brother. The objective of the contest is simple: whoever performs the kindest deed by Christmas night wins the pot – four quarters. And there are only two conditions: the benevolent deed must be anonymous, and it cannot cost a single penny to pull off.

As the four friends undertake the contest, the healing begins and they become inspired beyond their expectations. There might be a winner in this competition, but it is very clear there will be no losers.



Kritters Thoughts:  A short novella that takes the reader on a great ride in just a few pages.  Five college friends are in their senior year and the boys decide that they will try to out prank each other.  In the middle of the game, a tragedy occurs and the friends must take the game in a new direction.

Most books concentrate on one gender or another and if both genders are involved someone is in love - not so with this book, it was great to see a group of friends who were just friends and just enjoyed each other's company.  This book took me immediately back to my senior year of high school and that year where you are starting to change from a student to a full fledge adult and reminded me about the people that were there at that time.  

Steven Manchester was already an author that I completely adored and this novella is perfect to curl up with in the middle of the holiday hub bub.  If you haven't read a Steven Manchester book, try this one and then keep reading through his catalog - you won't be disappointed!


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2014 Challenge: 67 out of 100


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.

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