Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Mother's Fault
by Nicole Trope 

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 372
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  I am cooking spaghetti, his favourite, while he plays in the garden. But when I look up, he’s gone. I call the police, my hands shaking so much that I hit the wrong digits twice. ‘My son is missing.’

When the police turn up, I’m trapped in the web of my lies.

I have hidden the truth from eight-year-old Riley, my little boy who loves climbing trees and always has scraped knees. I have hidden my secret from everyone.

Riley knows his father is dead but he has no idea why. He doesn’t know his dad’s real name, and there are no pictures in the house. Not a single person knows what happened eight years ago.

I love my son more than anything but the truth is, I have always feared for him. When the first gift arrived in our mailbox, wrapped in blue paper with silver stars, I realised I was right to be afraid.

Now, I can see the question in the detectives’ eyes. Am I a mother with a missing child or a mother with a lot to hide? I need them to save my son – but how much can I tell them without losing him forever?

Kritters Thoughts: A boy goes missing but that is just the tip of the iceberg for this story.  Beverley is a single mom and she has devoted her life to raising her son and providing him with everything that he would need or want.  His biological father is gone and Beverley doesn't have any other family, so her son Riley is everything until one night while making supper he is gone.  

Told through three points of view, this story moved so quickly I read it in one day.  The author unfolded the story in just the right way that I literally couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know more and more.  I felt for Beverley as she had put all her eggs in this basket and had devoted everything she had to her son Riley and for him to disappear and for her to not have an explanation was heartbreaking.  When the conclusion came with each point of view giving an epilogue, I loved that the author gave all three the opportunity to tell their ending to the story.  

My first Nicole Trope book, but will definitely not be my last.  

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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 129 out of 100

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, October 18, 2021

Bright Burning Stars
by AK Small

Publisher: Alongquin
Pages: 304
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

Kritters Thoughts:  Marine and Kate become quick friends in a heightened situation as they are both competing for the one prize in a prestigious ballet school.  When these students are living together and competing against each other, life is stressful 24 hours out of the day - there is no break from the stress.

Kate is an American from Virginia and a fish very out of water in Paris France.  Marine is Parisian, but has her own hurdles as her twin recently passed away and dancing was a passion they shared.  These girls want to become the best in their school to be able to move onto corps de ballet and there is only one spot.  They will do almost anything to get that top spot and win the prize.

The pacing in this book felt frenetic and it felt as though it hopped from one spot to another.  I know it read quickly for me, but it still felt as though the book was written with chaotic pacing in mind.  

While my ballet days were numbered, I took all sorts of classes from the age of 5 up to college, when an injury stunted my ballet days, I grew to love watching it just as much and I love reading books in the world also!  This book reminded me that I need to seek these books out more and read them here and there.  Are there any ballet books that you would recommend? 

After finishing the book, I immediately curled up and watched the movie adaptation, Birds of Paradise on Amazon Prime.  I know it is an adaptation and the book is more an inspiration, but I felt as though it could have been a little closer to the plot.  There were a few scenes in the book that I wished had been in the movie.  As I said before the book felt like it moved at a quick pace, the movie instead floated and felt a little more fantasy.  There were moments where it felt like it was far from the book and was an artistic choice.  As I usually do, I loved the book more!

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

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Algonquin.  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, October 17, 2021

A busy busy week and weekend, so little time for reading.

 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
When the Nightingale Sings by Suzanne Kelman
A Letter From Nana Rose by Kristin Harper
Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman

Currently Reading:
Fan Club by Erin Mayer

Next on the TBR pile:
Find Me at Whisper Falls by Ellyn Oaksmith
The Girl on the Platform
by Ellie Midwood 

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 351
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Berlin, 1939: The inspiring true story of Libby Schulze-Boysen, a German girl who refused to back down to the Nazis. In the face of evil, she vowed to live by the truth––or die by it.

“Be brave. Don’t run. Fight.” With her eyes tightly shut, tears rolling from under her dark lashes, she felt his lips gently touch her burning cheek. The train on the platform whistled, and he disappeared into the steam.

Nineteen-year-old Libby moves to Berlin to escape her suffocating family––but instead of offering freedom, the city is under siege by the Nazis. Jewish books are burned, storefronts smashed and every day innocent people vanish into thin air. Libby cannot––will not––turn a blind eye.

When Libby meets Harro, she knows there’s more to him than his dazzling smile and cornflower-blue eyes. The whip marks on his back, scars from the SS, tell his true story: he is a resistance fighter.

Libby and Harro fall madly in love, devoted to each other and to tearing down Hitler’s regime. Knowing they can make the greatest difference from the inside, Harro works for the Air Ministry, infiltrating government secrets.

Together, they smuggle classified documents and hold clandestine meetings in the middle of the night, with blackout curtains and a single candle burning. Under the cover of darkness, they distribute leaflets, exposing the Nazis’ hideous lies.

In the frostbitten winter of 1942, Libby is certain the Gestapo is stalking them––their every move watched, their phone calls recorded. In the end, they must decide what is more important: to be free or to be brave? To survive or to stand up for the truth?

Kritters Thoughts:  Another World War II book, but once again I can say this one felt unique as it took place in the heart of Berlin through the eyes of Libby Schulze-Boysen as she was trying to find her role in the resistance and fighting the rise of Nazi party and the persecution of Jews.  

Libby was such an interesting woman to follow.  At the beginning of the book she takes a job with the Berlin office of MGM (which I didn't even know existed) and she is hopeful to start in the promotional department, but has dreams for so much more and then the Nazis come to power and there are better uses of her time.  Reading about Libby and her husband, Harro, and their relationship both personal and professional was so enjoyable.  I loved that at a time where women weren't expected to do much outside of the home, Harro encouraged Libby to play a role in the resistance and was such a supportive husband - that was fun to read.  

I would recommend readers add this to their historical fiction/World War II pile as it gives a distinctive view of resistance within Germany and the avenues the people used in hopes of ending the war and in their favor.  

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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 128 out of 100

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.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

A Lighthouse Christmas
by Jenny Hale

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 276
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  A totally perfect and heartwarming page-turner about everyone’s favorite time of year––the beauty of being at home with family, believing in second chances, and the magic of Christmas, when anything is possible… A gorgeous festive treat for fans of Debbie Macomber, Pamela Kelley, and Sheila Roberts.

When Mia Broadhurst’s grandmother passes away, Mia returns to the quaint seaside village of Winstead Cape, where Grandma Ruth ran the historic lighthouse on the edge of the coast. Mia can’t bear to part with the last piece of her grandma––the lighthouse that has been in their family for generations––but with her life back in New York, she has no choice.

With the snow falling, Mia works with real estate agent Will Thacker to restore the old lighthouse. She tries not to get lost in his deep blue eyes that match the Atlantic Ocean. After all, she’s only back for Christmas…

As a fire crackles, Mia packs up Grandma Ruth’s belongings. Waiting for her is a black-and-white photograph with a faded inscription on the back—the key to a family secret hidden for decades. Could the truth save the lighthouse and show Mia where her heart belongs?

Kritters Thoughts:  One of my favorite things to do is to pile up the holiday romances and just read away.  I read this one during a weekend where I was recovering from a minor medical thing and these holiday romances are the perfect read when you need something light and easy, but filled with love and the magic of the holiday season.  In this book, Mia Broadhurst has returned to Virginia where her grandmother passed away to pack up the pieces and put up for sale the lighthouse and cottage that has been in her family for years.  She wishes she could keep it, but with it comes a load of debt and work that neither her, nor her sister, nor mother are prepared to handle.  

Mia was a great character to follow in this story.  While I may have rolled my eyes a few times at the troubles she was dealing with with her ex or soon to be ex, I kept my respect for her and her work ethic as she worked hard to prepare the lighthouse for sale with a very cute real estate agent!  

While not my favorite sub genre of literature - relationship dying, do I want to save it, oh maybe it is a good thing it died!  With the focus not completely on this dying relationship, but also on her sister and mother and this property from her grandmother, I was glad that there was more to this book than the ex lingering in the background.  

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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 121 out of 100

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.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Mom Rules
by Hilary Grossman

Pages: 246
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Donna Warren is not who everyone thinks she is….

It's no secret - to survive in a superficial town like Forest River, New York, where perfection is a requirement –a mom must follow the rules.

For the past five years, Donna has worked hard to exceed social expectations. She held the prestigious role of PTA treasurer, and her best friend, Jackie, is the most powerful woman at the elementary school.

But in a town where most mothers earn their black belt in backstabbing before their offspring enter pre-k, something was bound to go wrong…

And it did. Now, her former bestie has become her mortal enemy and destroyed Donna's reputation. Eagar to believe the rampant rumors, half the elementary school mommies think Donna is a drama queen and the rest believe she is a vindictive witch.

As she and her children's social standing dangles on thin ice, Donna is willing to try anything to fix her mistake. Unfortunately, all her efforts backfire, and she makes everything worse. Just when Donna is about to give up, she receives some shocking news. Forced to face the most difficult situation of her life, will she finally become the woman she wants to be?

Kritters Thoughts:  The fourth in a series where I highly suggest you start at book one as the characters and events build from book one to this conclusion.  This book focuses on the events that took place in book two, but from Donna's point of view which was really interesting.  Donna was Jackie's sidekick and in book two you see events unfold, but you don't get to hear things from her side of the fence, so I appreciated that the author gave Donna a book to give her point of view.  

For me, as I stated in my review of book three in the series, this book and book two were a perfect pair and I would have had them go back to back.  They seemed like a duo all on their own as the reader gets one side of the story and another between these two books.  I loved how the author did this, but I would have lined up the books a little different within the series.  

This book reminded me that when you see things from only one perspective you take that as truth and there are always at least two sides to a story and maybe the truth somewhere in the middle!  Relationships among women can get emotional and hard when fact and fiction are blurred, so I appreciated while seeing a heightened version, reading this story and reminding me to make sure to nurture the women relationships in my life, but to also try to see the story from all points of view.  

I enjoyed this series and couldn't believe the things that can go on in a PTA, I am thankful that I won't have to participate or watch the PTA drama, while I deal with my own drama in the other things that I participate in!

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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 127 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.

Mom Boss
by Hilary Grossman

Pages: 241
Format: ebook
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Welcome to Forest River, New York, where perfection is a requirement. The Lululemon-clad moms are perfectly toned, expertly highlighted, and magnificently manicured. The women spend their days practicing Pilates, shopping for shoes, and doing everything in their power to ensure their children never experience a difficult day.

PTA president, Jackie Martin, is the envy off the mothers. She has a loyal and handsome husband, she host's elaborate parties, and her eldest daughter, Hayley, is the most popular child in the fifth grade. Her life appears flawless, but is life ever what it seems to be?

After receiving a painful blow, when Hayley was in kindergarten, Jackie clawed her way into PTA power. She lived her life by the adage, "Proper planning prevents poor performance." Her attention to detail (okay fine – her control freak nature) served her well until she experiences the ultimate betrayal.

Angry and hurt, old emotional wounds are ripped open as Jackie realizes she doesn't know who she can trust. Jackie must reevaluate her life, her friendships, and the choices she has made. Will she finally let her guard down and show the world the real Jackie Martin?

Kritters Thoughts:  Set in the same suburb of New York and in the same elementary school with the same PTA moms, this is book three in a series that I highly suggest starting at book one before moving forward.  

This book is different from the first two as it goes back in time to when these women first meet as moms of kindergartners.  This book gives the reader the back ground information that I believe would have been helpful when reading the previous books.  Going back in time and learning how these personalities all came together was so enlightening and would have given so much color to the previous books, but I was thankful to have one more book after this one to read with this knowledge.  

This book is the rise of Jackie, the PTA president and how she came in like a tornado and shook things up.  To see how she became a part of the PTA and the things she was willing to do just made me thankful that I do not have to deal with this type of politics in my life!  Reading these books reminded me of reading about girls in middle school and the rivalries and back stabbing - goodness gracious!      

Rating: absolutely enjoyed it and want a sequel

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 126 out of 100

Mom Genes
by Hilary Grossman

Pages: 185
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  The meddling moms of Forest River live for a good scandal. Speculation surrounding Claire Conroy's sex life has fueled the rumor mill for years. Now, when Claire returns home from a trip to Italy separated from her husband of thirteen years, the imaginations of the Lululemon-clad ladies' who lunch spin into overdrive. As the gossipmongers create their own scandalous backstory for the separation, blaming Claire's infidelity, she learns the hard way just how mean mommies can be.

Eager to begin her new life as a single mom of three Claire puts her trust in Jackie Martin, the president of the PTA, to help tell her truth and free her of the false accusations and scandal. But the plan backfires, and Claire is put further into the spotlight when an embarrassed mom declares war.

As Claire dusts off her resume, fights the daily urge not to strangle her ex-husband and his new girlfriend, and dips her toes into the dating world one dud at a time will she find the happiness she craves or succumb to the pressure of the mean girls?

Kritters Thoughts:  The second in a series and you should absolutely start in book one in this series and I may say things that are spoilers for book one in the review below.  

Claire Conroy is a mom of two with an estranged husband who is out of the home and he is not really helpful when it comes to his children and responsibilities.  Claire is trying to pick up the pieces and create a new and better life for her and her children.  She is looking for a part time job that can help keep her kids in their childhood home and is also a part of the PTA which is a job in and of itself!  This PTA is extra and the members are beyond drama and while I am not a mom, I love to read these books and watch the drama unfold like a trainwreck!

I loved that the author uses emails to add to the story.  The emails are sent and forwarded amongst the ladies and it provides humor and information to the reader to help make the story seem so much more full.  I like this format where emails are within the story, but they don't make up the whole way the novel is written.  

I enjoyed this one, but definitely couldn't read this series in a row as the petty drama can only be enjoyed in doses!  So I will be reviewing the rest of this series throughout today, but I spaced these books out amongst my other reading.  

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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 124 out of 100

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.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

A quiet week and weekend made for a lot of time to curl up with a book or two!

 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Mom Rules by Hilary Grossman
The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski
Wrapped Up in Christmas by Janice Lynn (audiobook)
The Girl on the Platform by Ellie Midwood
The Mother's Fault by Nicole Trope
Bright Burning Stars by AK Small

Currently Reading:
When the Nightingale Sings by Suzanne Kelman

Next on the TBR pile:
Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Mother Next Door
by Tara Laskowski

Publisher: Graydon House
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  GOOD MOTHERS…
Never show their feelings.
Never spill their secrets.
Never admit to murder.

The annual Halloween block party is the pinnacle of the year on idyllic suburban cul-de-sac Ivy Woods Drive. An influential group of neighborhood moms—known as the Ivy Five—plans the event for months.

Except the Ivy Five has been four for a long time.

When a new mother moves to town, eager to fit in, the moms see it as an opportunity to make the group whole again. This year’s block party should be the best yet... until the women start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose the quiet neighborhood’s dark past—and the lengths they’ve gone to hide it.

As secrets seep out and the threats intensify, the Ivy Five must sort the loyal from the disloyal, the good from the bad. They’ll do anything to protect their families. But when a twisted plot is revealed, with dangerous consequences, their steady foundation begins to crumble, leaving only one certainty: after this year’s block party, Ivy Woods Drive will never be the same.

Kritters Thoughts:  A mystery that takes place at the perfect time of the year, the lead up to Halloween as these neighborhood mothers try to plan the perfect Halloween party every year.  Theresa has just moved to a suburb of DC and these moms have high expectations for the lives they curate for their kids and their families.  Theresa is brought into the fold, but there are mysteries and secrets behind every door.

The mothers take turns telling this story as there are two timelines included in this book, one takes place during the lead up to Theresa's first Halloween and the other storyline is during one of the Halloween parties where the biggest of dramas unfolded.  I loved that there were two storylines and while the reader knows sort of how they are connected, bits and pieces are still coming out as the story progresses.

While I am not a mom, I could appreciate the politics that goes into the mom culture and how hard it can be to keep your child's best interest in mind while also dealing with the personalities of other parents.  

I read this book at the perfect time at the end of September when I was decorating our home for fall.  It was the perfect addition to my reading at this time of year while I was prepping for the seasons to change.  

Rating: absolutely loved and want a sequel

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 125 out of 100

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