Monday, May 1, 2023

Your Table is Ready
by Michael Cecchi-Azzolina

Publisher: St Martin's Press
Pages: 304
Format: audiobook
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  A front-of-the-house Kitchen Confidential from a career maître d’hotel who manned the front of the room in New York City's hottest and most in-demand restaurants.

From the glamorous to the entitled, from royalty to the financially ruined, everyone who wanted to be seen―or just to gawk―at the hottest restaurants in New York City came to places Michael Cecchi-Azzolina helped run. His phone number was passed around among those who wanted to curry favor, during the decades when restaurants replaced clubs and theater as, well, theater in the most visible, vibrant city in the world.

Besides dropping us back into a vanished time, Your Table Is Ready takes us places we’d never be able to get into on our own: Raoul's in Soho with its louche club vibe; Buzzy O’Keefe’s casually elegant River Café (the only outer-borough establishment desirable enough to be included in this roster), from Keith McNally’s Minetta Tavern to Nolita’s Le Coucou, possibly the most beautiful room in New York City in 2018, with its French Country Auberge-meets-winery look and the most exquisite and enormous stands of flowers, changed every three days.

From his early career serving theater stars like Tennessee Williams and Dustin Hoffman at La Rousse right through to the last pre-pandemic-shutdown full houses at Le Coucou, Cecchi-Azzolina has seen it all. In Your Table Is Ready , he breaks down how restaurants really run (and don’t), and how the economics work for owners and overworked staff alike. The professionals who gravitate to the business are a special, tougher breed, practiced in dealing with the demanding patrons and with each other, in a very distinctive ecosystem that’s somewhere between a George Orwell “down and out in….” dungeon and a sleek showman’s smoke-and-mirrors palace.

Kritters Thoughts:  In the middle of a reading season that is similar to a drought, so trying different things to bring reading back into my life.  While on a car trip, I decided a non fiction audiobook could be a great companion and it was.  

I enjoyed the behind the scenes look at the restaurant scene in New York City and while I was never a waitress, I have enjoyed a plethora of restaurants in New York City and beyond, so it was fun to hear all the things that you don't see while dining!  My favorite stories were the dealings with not just the celebrities but the known in New York City and the negotiations about dining times and tables - may have rolled my eyes a few times!

A fair warning that this book had moments that made me blush!  A few penis stories with some sexual harassment on the side and some drugs and excessive drinking, but I appreciated the honesty of it all.  I would recommend this one to those who love the food memoirs as this perspective from someone other than the owner or chef made it feel unique.      

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

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Netgalley.  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, March 13, 2023

A Groovy Kind of Love
by Karen Wojcik Berner

Pages: 316
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads: After placating to his father’s demands that he play Little League baseball and major in computer programming in college rather than his beloved English literature, Thaddeus assumed that several years into his career, he would finally get some peace and quiet.

Then he met Spring Pearson, the younger, free-spirited daughter of hippy parents, at a book club meeting. Instantly smitten, Thaddeus finally worked up the courage to ask Spring out. But will an old college pinkie-swear promise Spring made fifteen years ago get in the way of this bibliophilic romance?

Kritters Thoughts:  The third in a series that I have been meaning to finish for the longest time and I was so glad I took the time to curl up with it and complete this series.  Each book in the series centers around a character or two from this book club and I have loved making the rounds around this group and finishing this one.  

Thaddeus and Spring are the center of this book.  Starting with Thaddeus' childhood and then going into Spring's we see each of these characters and how their younger years shaped them into the adults that showed up in the book club.  I loved how this story started and how the reader really got to know each of them slowly and surely and they each had such a full back story before they even met each other.  

Without spoiling the story too much, this was a great closed door romance with some sweet scenes not only between Thaddeus and Spring, but this great cast of characters.  And all of the book references made me want to write a few down and may have even lengthened my TBR!  

After finishing this one, I was excited to see there is a Christmas novella to read, so will be holding onto that one for the holiday season!

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

Friday, January 20, 2023

The Undercover Secretary
by Ellie Midwood

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 254
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  France, 1942. “I forced myself to hold his gaze. My heart thrashed inside my chest like a bird battering its wings. They knew who I was. They knew what I’d done.” This heartbreaking and unputdownable World War Two novel tells the incredible true story Dora Schaul, who risked her life by coming face-to-face with enemy—the monsters who killed her loved ones.

Dora has lost everything to the Nazis. Her dearest friends have disappeared into thin air. Her parents have been imprisoned in concentration camps and murdered for the crime of simply existing. She has no idea if her darling husband, the devoted and brave Alfred, is still alive.

Though her world is crashing and burning around her, Dora refuses to give in to Hitler’s tyranny. The Nazis may have broken her heart, but they will not break her spirit.

Secretly working for the underground network in France, Dora risks her life on the most dangerous mission in the history of the local resistance. She goes undercover as the secretary of the Head of Gestapo; a soldier with a brutal reputation. A cold-blooded killer.

She is tasked with leaking the names of the SS to the British press. Every day, she rubs shoulders with the enemy. She makes coffee for the people she despises. She types letters for the monsters who killed her family. At any second, she could be found out…

Can she survive, turning the tide of the war and saving thousands of lives? Or will those she loved the most in the world, and millions of other innocent people, have died in vain?

Kritters Thoughts:  While I feel as though I have read every book and every aspect of World War II, this book gave me a unique glimpse at another person's journey through this hard time in history.  When I read a historical fiction book, I typically rate my experience by my need to google and find out more and with this one I kept finding myself wanting to learn more than what was on the page.  

Dora a young woman who leaves her family in hopes of being able to create a life that they may join in the future takes a large leap of faith and the journey is epic.  I found myself holding my breath and while a chapter would end, I was "flipping the pages" (read on a kindle) quickly to get into the next chapter.  While at times it was difficult to read knowing there was truth underneath it all, Ellie Midwood wrote a story that needed to be shared and highlighted within this sub genre of World War II fiction.  

My third Ellie Midwood read and for sure will not be my last.  I love the way this author uses a story rooted in complete truth, but keeps me reading with plot and characters that I care about from early on in the book.  This author is quickly becoming a must read for me and I will wait not so patiently for her next one!  

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Bookouture.  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, January 2, 2023


2022 ended up being the craziest of years with a new job and a major life change.  I was excited to see the calendar switch to a new year and I know that there are a lot of fun things coming up ahead, so hoping that 2023 will be full of more books and more ramblings!   

So with that here are my goals for my reading life for 2023.  

1. I want to read a minimum of 123 books.  I am taking my goal significantly down from the past just knowing what is coming, but hoping to increase my reading from 2022.  

2. I am switching up my order of my goals this year, and next I want to increase my Netgalley percentage and sadly it went down this past year, so I have a large hill to climb.  I want to keep this goal and challenge myself to aim high to get my percentage up to at least 25%.  

3.  While I said in goal 2, I would like to increase my Netgalley percentage, I would also love to increase my reading of my physical library this year.  I miss curling up with literal pages in my hand and I hope to do more of this in 2023!

And the challenge that I love to do each year is:

Where Are You Reading?
In this challenge, I keep a Google Map 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.  She hosted this challenge in the past, not sure if she is hosting again, but as this is my favorite thing to do, I am continuing! 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

    So this was probably my worst reading year in a very long time,   so while this will be a sad comparison, I am hoping to compare a   wonderful 2023 to this 2022.  

  Let's compare 2022 to 2021.  

Total number of books I read in 2022: 91 - my lowest number in a long time
Total number of books I read in 2021: 219 (just shy of 220!)

Total number of pages I flipped, clicked, and so on in 2022: 29,355
Total number of pages I flipped, clicked, and so on in 2021: 73,312

I have been keeping track of WHERE my books were taking place all year. Below is the outcome.  There are 18 states that I "visited," which is worse than last year, but probably partly due to the amount of books I completed.  I would like to travel more in 2023

States that made the list:
Maine                    Vermont            Pennsylvania
Massachusetts        New York          Washington, DC
North Carolina        Florida              South Carolina
Louisiana               Arkansas           Missouri
Texas                    Minnesota           Idaho
Nevada                 Washington        California

My country number went down from 13 to 9 this year, so I am sad that I didn't travel the world as much this year, but probably also again due to the amount that I read being down this year.

Countries accounted for:
Guyana            Canada            Australia
Ireland             UK                  France
Italy                Poland              Germany

Saturday, December 31, 2022

As I have done in years past, I am hoping to make my first book of the year something important and to set the stage for a year of reading!

This year I want to read books that give me peace or entertain me.  After a year where reading took a backseat, I want reading to be a place that I crave and make space for.  For me, the mystery thrillers captivate my attention quickly and hold it for a long time, so I want to start here this year.  Have only read one Ruth Ware, so would love to read another one, especially one with snow on the cover to make it feel seasonal!    

One by One 
  by Ruth Ware

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

Thursday, December 29, 2022

I have been missing on this blog this year and I have missed this blog this year.  In the middle of this year, my life took a turn and I ended up in a place I never imagined.  Going through a divorce and away from the home, garden and library that I had cultivated over years.  I am now putting the pieces back together in a different way and finally finding comfort in the things that I loved.  

I have family and friends who caught me and helped push me back up the hill and I can't thank each of them enough.  I am hoping that 2023 will be the year where I make some big decisions and find peace.  

The pup Charlotte has been by my side and our short and long walks have helped both of our physical and mental health!  

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