Monday, August 31, 2015

Star Craving Mad
by Elise A Miller

Publisher: Warner Books
Pages: 246
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Single, adorable Maddy, a 30-year-old teacher at a Manhattan private school, must come back down to earth when she gets a little star struck by her students' celebrity parents.


Kritters Thoughts:  A teacher who is feeling extra single and is surrounded by celebrity things that she admires and she gets all mixed up in things that she probably should have steered away from!

I just didn't love Maddy, she was frustrating.  I didn't love how she was acting at 30 and as I am not far from her age, I just couldn't get on her page.  

The one part that kept me going were her students.  The classroom just made for great reading, I loved her students and the teachers (the principal, ehhh).  I loved how her writing was inspired by her students and I would have loved more of this.

I don't always love books, but to keep this blog real I want to share them alongside the ones that I adore.  Even though I didn't love this one, I would still read another by this author, I always give an author a few books before I write them off.  


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, August 30, 2015

This is two weeks worth of reading.  Last weekend was crazy with my sister spending some time over the weekend and getting a little rest and relaxation at my house with my zoo!  With a lot of baseball games, I had to fit reading in to any free moment!

A
 meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
Thrill Me by Susan Mallery
The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff
My Townie Heart by Diana Sperrazza
The 3rd Woman by Jonathan Freedland
A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
Wildest Dreams by Robyn Carr
Just the Facts by Ellen Sherman
Summer at Hideaway Key by Barbara Davis
White Dresses by Mary Pflum Peterson
Star Craving Mad by Elise A Miller

Currently Reading:
Again and Again by Ellen Bravo

Next on the TBR pile:
Starlight on Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs
Summer at Hideaway Key
by Barbara Davis

Publisher: NAL
Pages: 416
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  
Pragmatic, independent Lily St. Claire has never been a beachgoer. But when her late father leaves her a small house on Hideaway Key—one neither her mother nor she knew he owned—she’s determined to visit the sleepy spit of land along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Expecting a quaint cottage, Lily instead finds a bungalow with peeling shutters and mountains of memorabilia. She also catches a glimpse of the architect who lives down the beach….

But it’s the carton of old journals in the front room that she finds most intriguing. The journals were written by her mother’s sister, an infamous beauty whose name has long been banned from the St. Claire home. The journals tell a family tale Lily has never heard, of her mother and her aunt as young girls in Tennessee and the secrets that followed them into adulthood. As she reads, Lily gains a new understanding: about her family and about herself. And she begins to open her heart—to this place, these people, and the man next door. But can she ever truly learn to trust, to believe that love is not a trap but a harbor? And is it true that hearts, even broken ones, can be forged anew?

Kritters Thoughts:  A combo of mystery (not murder mystery!) and family drama with a little historical fiction thrown it made this book one that I literally read in 12 hours!  Lily St Claire was named after an aunt that she never met and she really didn't know why her mother never mentioned her and why they never saw her.  After her father dies and leaves her this mysterious beach cottage she comes to find out who her aunt really was and all the secrets in both her aunt's and mother's lives.  

I loved that Lily's aunt, Lily-Mae, had a voice through her journal entries and how they were seamlessly woven into the story as Lily discovered them.  They didn't just appear within the story and I appreciate the author taking the time to really make them work for the story.  

Throughout the story I had my thoughts of how the conclusion would go and in some thing I was right and in others I was wrong and I was completely satisfied with both!  I don't mind knowing the end if the journey is still satisfying.  

This is my second Barbara Davis read (also read The Secrets She Carried) and will definitely have to read The Wishing Tide soon!  I am adding Barbara Davis to my auto buy list and won't even need to know a synopsis!

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

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


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Just the Facts
by Ellen Sherman

Publisher: She Writes Press
Pages: 194
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When English major Nora Plowright finds herself staring at college graduation as if at the edge of a cliff, she decides to become a newspaper reporter—and right away, she manages to get a job at a local paper (which you could still do in 1978). Although fearful by nature, Nora pursues a tip from a stranger and soon is investigating corruption at the Maryland State Highway Authority regarding the controversial placement of a major freeway. The developing scandal, with its shady “players,” tests both her budding reportorial skills and her appetite for danger. Also, her passion for storytelling makes it increasingly difficult for her to stick to the facts.


Kritters Thoughts:  A young report straight out of college is at a small local newspaper reporting on the police blotter and obituaries when an interesting story falls in her lap and may have some major controversy behind it - a road project that could benefit some and harm others as well as the environment.  In the midst of her putting the pieces together for the story she is threatened by a few to stop her investigating and leave it all alone.

Nora was a great character to follow and I loved how "green" she was, but there were definitely some moments where I wanted to give her some self confidence and tell her to charge ahead and stop asking people's opinions!  I understood that she was feeling her newness, but I wanted her to get it together a little quicker.

The flow of the book was good, but not great.  I felt like it was a little jumpy at some moments and then at others it was reading so smoothly.  I feel like another editorial pass through could have helped this just a bit.

If you are a fan of books with a new graduate taking on their first job type books then this one is right up your alley.  


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.

Friday, August 28, 2015

White Dresses
by Mary Pflum Peterson

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  As a successful journalist at Good Morning America, Mary Pflum Peterson's persona is at odds with her complicated childhood, where she watched her brilliant yet emotionally vulnerable mother, Anne, unravel before her eyes. But their love of white dresses always united them—from their baptism dresses to their wedding gowns, white dresses embodied hope and new beginnings.

After her mother's sudden death, Mary dug deep to understand the events that led to Anne's breakdown. At twenty-one, Anne entered a convent, but lengthy periods of enforced fasting, isolation, and constant humiliation drove her to flee almost a decade later. Hoping to find new purpose as a wife and mother, she married, and was devastated when Mary's father revealed himself to be gay.

Anne retreated into chaos. By the time Mary was ten, their house was cluttered with broken appliances, stacks of mail, and teetering piles of assorted "treasures." But in spite of everything, their bond endured. Through the white dresses, pivotal events in their lives were celebrated, marking the journey through loss and redemption as Mary tried to save Anne from herself.
 


Kritters Thoughts:  A memoir that was unique from page one as the author told more of the story of her mother than of her own and I am used to memoirs being mostly about the author's own experiences.  The other thing that made this one unique that I did like was having a central theme to the book - White Dresses.  

I love how each story is centered around a white dress and made me realize how many white dresses can be present in a woman's life.  It challenged my view of how we visualize big moments and place white dresses in our lives.  I never realized how many moments in a girl's life not only were centered around clothing, but also contained a white dress.  I also loved that her mother although, yes a hoarder, placed a value on these dresses and the daughter could walk through both her and her mother's life through a closet of white dresses.    

I agree with the many reviews that I read after reading the book that it had a slow start, but stick with it and you will enjoy a mother/daughter relationship told in an interesting way.


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.








Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wildest Dreams
by Robyn Carr

Publisher: Mira
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Blake Smiley searched the country for just the right place to call home. The professional triathlete has traveled the world, but Thunder Point has what he needs to put down the roots he's never had. In the quiet coastal town he can focus on his training without distractions. Until he meets his new neighbors and everything changes. 

Lin Su Simmons and her teenage son, Charlie, are fixtures at Winnie Banks' house as Lin Su nurses Winnie through the realities of ALS. A single mother, Lin Su is proud of taking charge and never showing weakness. But she has her hands full coping with a job, debt and Charlie's health issues. And Charlie is asking questions about his family history—questions she doesn't want to answer.

When Charlie enlists Blake's help to escape his overprotective mother, Lin Su resents the interference in her life. But Blake is certain he can break through her barriers and be the man she and Charlie need. When faced with a terrible situation, Blake comes to the rescue, and Lin Su realizes he just might be the man of her dreams. Together, they recognize that family is who you choose it to be.
 



Kritters Thoughts:  Another episode in the Thunder Point saga and I didn't realize there was a hint in the last book that would lead us to the female lead in this book - Lin Su Simmons.  She moves to town to become a nurse for Winnie Banks who has ALS and knows that her health could deteriorate fast and needs help.  Lin Su has had an interesting childhood and even adulthood and is slow to trust and can't handle anyone else in control.  In walks a star athlete who also loves control and doesn't know that buying a home in Thunder Point will turn his world upside down.

Again another great solid romance from Robyn Carr.  This one moved at a much slower pace, but I loved it.  I loved how slow and steady this book went.  It felt right for these characters not to jump too soon.  Of course, the reader knows from the beginning who will most likely be our lovers in the book, but it isn't disappointing to know who because you don't know how or when.  

I think these books can be read on their own, but they are so much more when you read them in order so I suggest starting at the beginning, don't fret that this is book 9, they read fast!

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 Little Bird Publicity.  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, August 26, 2015

A Window Opens
by Liz Egan

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age. 

Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers―an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life―seems suddenly within reach.

Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up and her work takes an unexpected turn. Readers will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she―Alice Pearse―really want?



Kritters Thoughts:  Alice has been a part time employee and a full time wife and mom of three for a long time but as her husband's employment makes a change, her life will change.  She goes back into the workforce to a company that is not quite fit for a woman with a family and outside commitments and she must decide where priorities lie for her.

I am not a mom of children, but we have three dogs and I have a full time job and a husband and a home all of which need my time.  And having to juggle it all is a constant job and this book reminded me that everyone has things they juggle and have to make priorities.  I loved that even though what Alice was juggling may not be what I juggle I could still find commonalities with her.  

I completely adored this book and as a debut it hit home for me.  I can't wait to see what is next for this author and am hoping for a long career.  Elisabeth Egan knows what to write that feels real, honest and authentic and I loved it!


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

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.





Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Happy 3rd Anniversary to my husband!  



He doesn't make many appearances on the blog and he may roll his eyes at the amount of books that arrive at our house on a weekly basis, but he is definitely supportive of this crazy blog habit!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The 3rd Woman
by Jonathan Freedland

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 416
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  The United States have yielded to the People’s Republic of China – Beijing has written off trillions of dollars of US debt in return for a permanent military presence on US soil. America is now a former global superpower, dependent on and junior to China. And the evidence – cultural and political – is everywhere.
Madison Webb is a work-obsessed journalist who will do anything to get to the heart of a story; to expose lies and corruption. When her sister is brutally murdered, the police seem too eager to write it up as an isolated incident. Madison starts digging and uncovers a series of similar rape-murder cases.
As her investigation beings to attract the media spotlight, Madison draws the attention of some powerful people. And when she reveals the link between the victims, Madison will find out that the Chinese military makes for a terrifying enemy…

Kritters Thoughts:  Political dystopian thriller with a who dun it twist and it worked all together so well!  

Madison Webb is the middle sister with an overbearing older sister and a younger sister who she is realizing she didn't know all that well, but she is finding out all of these things as she investigates the mystery surrounding her sister's murder.  Intermixed with Madison's story are two political stories - 1. China has inserted themselves as they did not forgive the US debt and have taken up residence on the California coast 2. There is a political campaign going on and it could play an interesting part in the murder investigation.  

From the beginning of this book, I was HOOKED!  I read the first 120 pages without getting up and finished the book in just two days!  I had to find out how all of the storylines were going to intersect.  This book is definitely not short on the pages, but there isn't a moment that I would have cut out and I liked that the author took time to have each storyline develop before they really ran into each other.  

This was my first Jonathan Freedland read, but will most certainly not be the last.  From the beginning it felt like a unique book with the Chinese twist and then including a political campaign just took it up a notch and gave the book even more depth that I appreciated.  I loved this one.


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.




Friday, August 21, 2015

The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach
by Pam Jenoff

Publisher: Mira
Pages: 384
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Summer 1941  
Young Adelia Monteforte flees fascist Italy for America, where she is whisked away to the shore by her well-meaning aunt and uncle. Here, she meets and falls for Charlie Connally, the eldest of the four Irish-Catholic boys next door. But all hopes for a future together are soon throttled by the war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home. 

Grief-stricken, Addie flees—first to Washington and then to war-torn London—and finds a position at a prestigious newspaper, as well as a chance to redeem lost time, lost family…and lost love. But the past always nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.

Kritters Thoughts:  A historical fiction that doesn't span a lot of years, but has such a huge sweeping romance that as a reader I had to remind myself again and again that this book was really over just 4 years.  Addie leaves her home at a young age to live in America with her aunt and uncle and by chance they have a summer condo next door to a Catholic family with four boys and Addie will find a new kind of family with them.

I loved this different perspective on World War II and how through Addie's eyes the reader sees the impact of the war in the States on the Jewish community.  Throughout the story Addie travels to Washington, DC and Europe and in each place she shares how this war is impacting the community.  I absolutely LOVED the parts where she was in journalism and reporting on what was happening, I had never read about the journalist endeavors to help the war effort.

Even if you are a reader who has read a few books that take place at this time - this one is different with a unique perspective and view of the war.  And Addie was a great character to follow through the story.  


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.





Later today I will review The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach, my first Pam Jenoff read and now I get to share with you my interview of Pam Jenoff.

1.  What do you find yourself rambling about?

Verbally I ramble about my kids!  But my mind rambles to the places I've lived that have touched me the most, with kind of a decade appropriate soundtrack behind it.  There's always a part of me that is crossing Midsummer Common in Cambridge, England toward the boathouses before dawn, walking onto the main square of Karkow's Jewish Quarter at sunset on a Friday evening.  Those sorts of things.
2.  If you could put your book into one person's hands, who would that be?

Bradley Cooper.  I've finally written something (The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach) taht is perfect for him.  Is that wrong??  

Kritter - NO!  After reading Chelsea Beach, I totally agree!
3.  What part of the writing process do you love the most?

My process always begins with an image and then I turn on the computer and throw down thousands and thousands of words of the worst junk imaginable without stopping.  This goes on for months and it is paradise, low commitment like the early stages of dating.  I can do it anywhere and it just flows.  Then comes the hard part:  making sense of it all.
4.  What books/genre do you like to read?

Everything truly.  I mean historical of course, but also suspense, literary fiction.  Right now I'm toggling between books by Sara Gruen, Jamie Ford, Joshlyn Jackson, and Marian Keyes.
5.  Out of all of your books and main characters, which character has the most of you in them?

None of my books are autobiographical.  But The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach is based on a project I started almost twenty years ago.  So the protagonist, Addie and I have grown up very much alongside her.  It is fun to read the drafts from so long ago and hear my younger voice.
6.  What is next on your plate?

The Aerialist - inspired by two true stories, it is the tale of a girl who rescues a baby from a train of unknown infants headed to the concentration camps and finds shelter with a circus that is sheltering Jews.  Stay tuned!

Thank you to Pam Jenoff and Lisa from TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to send some questions your way.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thrill Me
by Susan Mallery

Publisher: HQN Books
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Meet the Mitchell brothers of Fool's Gold, California—five gorgeous men who've left a trail of broken hearts in their wake… 

Maya Farlow learned the hard way to depend only on herself, so when she fell too deeply for the bad-boy charms of Del Mitchell, she did the only thing she could—she ran. Stunned, Del left Fool's Gold to make his name and fortune in extreme sports. 

Now ten years later, Maya's been hired to promote her hometown's new slogan, The Destination for Romance. The celebrity spokesman is none other than Del, the man she dumped but never forgot. Awkward! 

Although Del's not the type to hold a grudge, he's determined to avoid falling a second time for the woman who broke his heart. He's a daredevil, not an idiot. Trouble is, in all his adventures, he never found a rush as exhilarating as Maya's kiss. Maybe risking his heart will prove to be the biggest thrill of all…



Kritters Thoughts:  The Mitchell brothers are the center of Fool's Gold and Del has returned to Fool's Gold for a quick trip to celebrate the father who wasn't really a father and while there he reconnects with a past flame from high school, but has the flame burned out or will the reconnect and end up together?

There is a usual formula for romance books and this one followed it and I loved it!  I loved the old love potential new fling situation and the will they/won't they part of the story.  I also loved that there was a story that put a lot of focus on her work life and how for this character Maya still found joy and satisfaction from her work life.

Another Fool's Gold book, but only my second read in this series.  The first book from this series that I read I didn't rate so well, but this one was good, the romance was great and it followed the normal flow of a romance novel.  Stable and solid.  



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.




Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Race for Paris
by Meg Waite Clayton

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Normandy, 1944. To cover the fighting in France, Jane, a reporter for the Nashville Banner, and Liv, an Associated Press photographer, have already had to endure enormous danger and frustrating obstacles—including strict military regulations limiting what women correspondents can do. Even so, Liv wants more. 

Encouraged by her husband, the editor of a New York newspaper, she’s determined to be the first photographer to reach Paris with the Allies, and capture its freedom from the Nazis.

However, her Commanding Officer has other ideas about the role of women in the press corps. To fulfill her ambitions, Liv must go AWOL. She persuades Jane to join her, and the two women find a guardian angel in Fletcher, a British military photographer who reluctantly agrees to escort them. As they race for Paris across the perilous French countryside, Liv, Jane, and Fletcher forge an indelible emotional bond that will transform them and reverberate long after the war is over. 


Kritters Thoughts:  A historical fiction that is completely based on truth and I loved that behind the fiction there was a layer of truth.  Jane is a reporter and Liv a photographer and they by chance meet covering a medic hospital nowhere near the front line.  Liv charges Jane with the idea to try to make it to Paris and the front line before everything is freed, so they can be the first to report - big problem is they don't have the credentials and will have to go without anyone knowing.

This was a fun adventure.  There was definitely a lot of war things which at moments weren't completely entertaining but they were necessary to know where in the timeline they were.  Usually I can say that historical fiction doesn't feel like a textbook, but there were moments where this one felt like a lot of facts.  

It was a great female empowerment book.  I love reading about when women take risks to move the female population forward and these women took HUGE risks and that made the book for me.  


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.



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