Sunday, May 31, 2015

This was the week of BEA, so although it was a week of bookish goodness, not much reading occurs, so I am just impressed with what I did read!

A
 meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
Disclaimer by Renee Knight
Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa Lafaye

Currently Reading:
The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts

Next on the TBR pile:
All the Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank

Friday, May 29, 2015

Balm
by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Publisher: Amistad
Pages: 288
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life. 

Born with magical hands, Madge has the power to discern others’ suffering, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. To mend herself and help those in need, she must return to Tennessee to face the women healers who rejected her as a child. 

Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she, too, cannot fully engage her gift.

Searching for his missing family, Hemp arrives in this northern city that shimmers with possibility. But redemption cannot be possible until he is reunited with those taken from him. 

In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a desperate, unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest. 



Kritters Thoughts: Three main characters: Sadie is a widow who can talk to dead soldiers and slaves and people and has moved from Pennsylvania to Chicago into the home of her deceased husband; Madge is a born free "colored" woman who comes from a line of women who can heal people and has moved from Tennessee to Chicago to escape her mother and aunts and start her own life; finally there is Hemp and he is a newly free "colored" man who is trying to find his wife and daughter who were sold right before he was freed and hopes to find them in Chicago.  

These three characters will intersect from the beginning and will each help each other in various ways.  I appreciated that these characters were in and out of each other's lives from the beginning.  I also appreciated the secondary characters that surrounded them that had almost full stories of their own.

This was a weird combination of magical realism and historical fiction.  If you have followed this blog for some time you know I am a sucker for historical fiction, but magical realism isn't usually cup of tea.  I was intrigued to see the combination of women who could heal and see spirits with the Civil War and it just didn't do it for me.  

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

Ebook 2015 Challenge: 36 out of 100

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 28, 2015

Changing Everything
by Molly McAdams

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 112
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Paisley Morro has been in love with Eli since they were thirteen-years-old. But after twelve years of only being his best friend and wingman, the heartache that comes from watching him with countless other women becomes too much, and Paisley decides its time to lay all her feelings on the table.

Eli Jenkins has a life most guys would kill for: Dream job, countless women, and his best friend, Paisley, to be the girl he can always count on for everything else. But one conversation not only changes everything between them, it threatens to make him lose the only girl who has ever meant anything to him.

When tragedy strikes his family and Eli is forced to reevaluate his life, he realizes a life without Paisley isn’t a life at all. Only now, he may be too late.


Kritters Thoughts:  Told through both Eli and Paisley's point of view, each are given the opportunity to tell their side of their story.  Eli has loved having Paisley as a best friend and a wingman who can help get a girl or block a girl from his life, but he doesn't know that Paisley wants to be THE girl in his life until she has the conversation that sends him into a tail spin!

I absolutely adored the concept of this book - the forever friends who have to make a decision as to stopping the friendship or starting the relationship.  Most everyone can relate to having a long time friend of the opposite sex and that moment where the friendship stays in the friend zone, ends completely or turns into something and it was so fun to read both from the female and male perspective.  

As a novella in a series, it was great to see other characters make an appearance, but I am ready for another full size book in this series!  And just as a caution this is definitely in the new adult genre so sexy times are definitely going to happen.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2015 Challenge: 13 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Edelweiss.  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 26, 2015

It's Not Me, It's You
by Mhairi McFarlane

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 544
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong.

When she proposed and discovered her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else – she thought it was her fault.

When she realized life would never be the same again – she thought it was her fault.

And when he wanted her back life nothing had changed – Delia started to wonder if perhaps she was not to blame…

From Newcastle to London and back again, with dodgy jobs, eccentric bosses and annoyingly handsome journalists thrown in, Delia must find out where her old self went – and if she can ever get her back.
 



Kritters Thoughts:  Delia is ready for marriage or so she thinks, so she purposes to her boyfriend and come to find out he has been cheating and her life takes a major turn.  She decides to make a move and gets out of small town and moves to London with a friend and is looking to make a career change.  After a few ups and downs she ends up in a spot that she never thought she could have imagined. 

I love these chick lit books where a woman has to make some major life changes and although it may not start positive there is hope that it will end somewhere positive.  In particular, I loved that this book had both career changes and love changes that were made.  Delia's changes may have been spurred by love, but she used it as the perfect catalyst to get herself into the perfect job.

There were twists and turns but they weren't out of left field and it all felt right.  The book was so fast paced that the pages just flowed from one to the next and it isn't even a mystery/thriller!

This is a chunky chick lit that is perfect for a week at the beach or a weekend at the pool.  I will definitely be looking into Mhari's other works.  


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.





Monday, May 25, 2015

The Year My Mother Came Back
by Alice Eve Cohen

Publisher: Algonquin
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  For the first time in decades I’m remembering Mom, all of her--the wonderful and terrible things about her that I’ve cast out of my thoughts for so long. I’m still struggling to prevent these memories from erupting from their subterranean depths. Trying to hold back the flood. I can’t, not today. The levees break.

Thirty years after her death, Alice Eve Cohen’s mother appears to her, seemingly in the flesh, and continues to do so during the hardest year Alice has had to face: the year her youngest daughter needs a harrowing surgery, her eldest daughter decides to reunite with her birth mother, and Alice herself receives a daunting diagnosis. As it turns out, it’s entirely possible for the people we’ve lost to come back to us when we need them the most.

Although letting her mother back into her life is not an easy thing, Alice approaches it with humor, intelligence, and honesty. What she learns is that she must revisit her childhood and allow herself to be a daughter once more in order to take care of her own girls. Understanding and forgiving her mother’s parenting transgressions leads her to accept her own and to realize that she doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good mother.
 



Kritters Thoughts:  What an interesting take on a memoir.  Spanning only a year of Alice Eve Cohen's life, she tells the story of how her mother who had been gone for a long time reappears as Alice's life is basically falling apart.  She also includes little moments from her past that help the reader learn more about Alice and her mother and their relationship.  

There were many times reading this book where I couldn't believe that all of this was happening to the same woman at the same time.  Cancer, major surgery for her daughter and another daughter wanting to connect with her birth mom - that is a lot for a life time let alone a year!  Although I am not a complete believer in ghosts or dead people reappearing, I could understand how Alice needed her mom at these moments and would imagine her there by her side - it didn't feel too far out in left field!

If you are a memoir fan this is a good one.  I love memoirs that read in the vein of fiction and this one did just that.


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.






Sunday, May 24, 2015

A busy week at home and work and then a semi busy weekend, but I accomplished my goals before I head to BEA on Tuesday.  I head to a book conference but never read a page while I am there!

A
 meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna

Currently Reading:
Disclaimer by Renee Knight

Next on the TBR pile:
Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Friday, May 22, 2015

The House of Hawthorne
by Erika Robuck

Publisher: NAL

Pages: 416
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Beset by crippling headaches from a young age and endowed with a talent for drawing, Sophia is discouraged by her well-known New England family from pursuing a woman’s traditional roles. But from their first meeting, Nathaniel and Sophia begin an intense romantic relationship that despite many setbacks leads to their marriage. Together, they will cross continents, raise children, and experience all the beauty and tragedy of an exceptional partnership. Sophia’s vivid journals and her masterful paintings kindle a fire in Nathaniel, inspiring his writing. But their children’s needs and the death of loved ones steal Sophia’s energy and time for her art, fueling in her a perennial tug-of-war between fulfilling her domestic duties and pursuing her own desires.

Spanning the years from the 1830s to the Civil War, and moving from Massachusetts to England, Portugal, and Italy, The House of Hawthorne explores the tension within a famous marriage of two soulful, strong-willed people, each devoted to the other but also driven by a powerful need to explore the far reaches of their creative impulses. It is the story of a forgotten woman in history, who inspired one of the greatest writers of American literature.…
 


Kritters Thoughts:  Sophia Peabody is a daughter, sister, wife and mother.  Many know her husband the famous author - Nathaniel Hawthorne, but many don't know the story behind their introduction and their love story.  Through five stories and moments, the reader gets to meet Sophia before she has meet Nathaniel and then as they meet and then into their marriage and old age.  

I loved this way of story telling.  I loved seeing glimpses at moments of their life instead of only a book that focuses on one of these moments.  To read about their full story without a huge chunk of a book was nice, I felt like I got a full glimpse of their marriage and life.  

Side note - I went and saw Erika Robuck at my local indie - One More Page and it was so fun to hear here tell how this book idea came to her and the research that went in to make the facts feel real but the story have heart.  

The author mentioned during her chat at the bookstore about how they completely complimented each other in their marriage and I agree.  I loved reading about a couple that were equals of that time and he loved and respected her just as much as she did him.  Being a happily married lady it was nice to read a historical fiction with a solid marriage!

I am a fan of Erika Robuck and will continue to read everything she writes!


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 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.





Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Intern
by Dale Wiley

Publisher: Smashwords
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  It's 1995. Things are going great for new Washington, DC intern Trent Norris. He's out on his own, he's found a fabulous woman to date, and if he doesn't love his internship, he doesn't hate it either. Life is nice.

But things can change in a moment in DC, and Trent finds himself the prime suspect in two murders and a slew of other crimes. Overnight he becomes the most wanted man in America.

Trent has to find a way -- any way -- out. He finds a way to hole up at The Watergate on a senator's dime and enlists a comely call girl as his unwitting ally. But with the media eating him alive, he knows he doesn't have long before they catch up with him. Can The Intern find his way out of this mess?



Kritters Thoughts:  A Washington, DC adventure that takes you all around the DMV metro area and in and out of government buildings.  Trent is an intern at the National Endowment of Arts and he stumbles into something and in an instance things spiral out of control.  

Trent was a great character.  He was the most unlikely to become a suspect, but I loved that he came out of nowhere and somehow the clues could have pointed to him as a bonafide suspect.  

There were just a few moments where the writing felt a little elementary.  It felt very and then I went here and then I went there and I would have loved a few more descriptive words.  It didn't take away from the flow of the book, but I wish it had a little more at moments.

As a resident of DC, this book was probably even more enjoyable because I could envision every step of Trent's adventure.  I read this in two sittings and it was incredibly hard to put it down as this book had non stop adventure from the first page to the last!


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 Partner in Crime 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 20, 2015

Love and Miss Communication
by Elyssa Friedland

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 400
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Evie Rosen has had enough. She's tired of the partners at her law firm e-mailing her at all hours of the night. The thought of another online date makes her break out in a cold sweat. She's over the clever hashtags and the endless selfies. So when her career hits a surprising roadblock and her heart is crushed by Facebook, Evie decides it's time to put down her smartphone for good. (Beats stowing it in her underwear--she's done that too!)

And that's when she discovers a fresh start for real conversations, fewer distractions, and living in the moment, even if the moments are heartbreakingly difficult. Babies are born; marriages teeter; friendships are tested. Evie just may find love and a new direction when she least expects it, but she also learns that just because you unplug your phone doesn't mean you can unplug from life.



Kritters Thoughts:  Do you read lighter books when the weather starts heating up?  If your answer is a yes, then grab this book and throw it in your beach bag!  Evie Rosen is single and not quite happily single and when her job situation suddenly changes she is thrown into a spiral.  Where she used to find a lot of personal value in her job, she is now having to reevaluate and refocus her life.  With this, she is going to take an internet hiatus and put down the smartphone and log off of everything!

Evie was a great character to spend a book with.  She definitely had her moments and I wanted to tell her to buck up a few times, but it never lasted longer than I could handle!  I was so thankful that Evie was both in pursuit of a relationship and the right career path - the book didn't focus on one or the other and I liked that.  

After reading this book, I realized how much time I spend online and how I text my friends instead of call and just end up spending hours trolling around the internet and could be doing other things.  I made a pact with myself to limit my frivilous online time, but as my job revolves around the computer and online things, I can't do a complete cleanse!

I would absolutely recommend this book if you have been reading some heavy things and need a break from it all.  It was pure entertainment!


Rating: perfect beach read

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, May 19, 2015

The Balance Project
by Susie Orman Schnall

Publisher: SparkPress
Pages: 250
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Katherine Whitney has it all. She’s married, has two daughters, is the COO of Green Goddess & Co., a multi-billion dollar health and wellness lifestyle company, and with the release of her book on work-life balance, she is not only a media darling but she is a hero to working moms everywhere. In reality, though, Katherine’s life is starting to fall apart, and her loyal assistant Lucy Cooper is the one holding most things together. But when Katherine does something unthinkable to Lucy, Lucy is faced with a difficult decision. Will she choose to change Katherine’s life forever or continue being her main champion. Her decision could change the trajectory of both of their lives. The Balance Project is a story of loyalty, choices, and most of all balance as it explores the hot-button issue that all women struggle with. 


Kritters Thoughts:  Lucy Cooper is an executive assistant to a woman who preaches about the work life balance and her boss Katherine even wrote a book that is all about achieving the work life balance while also being a full time wife, mother and boss.  But Lucy Cooper has everything in her life but balance - a great boyfriend, an ok job (she wants something else) and great friends and family, but she can't do any of it full time as the job she has is taking up a lot of hours!

I am an executive assistant and there a few moments where both my work life and my personal life are exploding at the same time and I wish for an assistant for this assistant!  This book hit a nerve with me and a good one!  I loved reading about how interesting of a job it is to be someone's assistant and help them with both personal and professional tasks.  I loved her boyfriend and how he was pressing the marriage issue and although I didn't relate to her divorced parents aversion to marriage, I did understand his annoyance with the times that work just comes first.  

For some this book could be on the fluffy side, but for this reader, it hit close to home and I loved every minute of it.  I would love to pass this book along to the skeptics of what I do and how interesting of a lifestyle it is!


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


Ebook 2015 Challenge: 35 out of 100

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, May 18, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children
by Sarah McCoy

Publisher: Crown
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.

Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. 


Kritters Thoughts:  A dual narrative with one story taking place right before the Civil War begins and a current story line that from the start of the book intersect and weave in and out of each other.  Sarah Brown is a gifted artist and a daughter of John Brown an up and coming abolitionist.  Eden is our modern day character and she has moved into an old home and is finding hidden things in the home to help her uncover the secret history of this home and town she is living in.

Usually when reading a dual narrative, I fall in love with one character and shy away from the other, but in this book both narrators and their stories were equally interesting.  I loved the apparent similarities between the characters and how Eden's discoveries help unfold Sarah's story.  The puzzle pieces were revealed at just the right time with enough anticipation, but not feeling like the author was holding things for too long.

I loved that Sarah's story was not in the thick of the Civil War, but instead on the onset just as things were start to bubble up - it gave something to the story.  Although I knew the outcome of how things were going to happen, I was still on the edge of my seat as to how it would affect Sarah and her friends and family who were fighting to free slaves and create a movement in the nation.

I would recommend this book to both fans of historical fiction and those who may not read the genre often.  The history didn't feel like lessons, but instead a full story.  


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.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


The week of Bout of Books started well with a lot of quiet time, but with two book events and a date night with my husband the middle got busy, but I did end on a productive note with a quiet weekend!

Total book count: 6 books!
Total page count: 2,149 pages

Day 1- Monday, May 11 Total 370 pages
Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland (finished, 370 pages)

Day 2- Tuesday, May 12 Total 210 pages

The Intern by Dale Wiley (finished, 210 pages)

Day 3- Wednesday, May 13 Total 135 pages
The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall (read 135 pages)

Day 4- Thursday, May 14 Total 153 pages
The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall (finished, read 153 pages)

Day 5- Friday, May 15 Total 460 pages

The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen  (finished, read 288 pages)
The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck  (read 172 pages)

Day 6- Saturday, May 16 Total 433 pages
The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck  (finished, read 223 pages)
It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane  (read 210 pages)

Day 7- Sunday, May 17  Total 388 pages

It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane  (finished, read 321 pages)
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (read 67 pages)


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