Monday, December 4, 2023

A Christmas in the Alps
by Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell
Pages: 176
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth.

During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who's on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone's family's clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

Kritters Thoughts:  Simone has spent the last few years taking care of her family and now that her family is gone, she can concentrate on herself and when she finds a mysterious note amongst her great-grandmother's things, she is sent on a mission!  Her great-grandmother has left a treasure, but it is across the Atlantic ocean and Simone has a great fear of flying that she must first conquer before she can find the treasure, but it is a great excuse to go to the French Alps and find where her family comes from and reconnect with them.

I may have been a little nervous in the beginning with Simone's intense vibes regarding her seatmate on the plane but those soon went away when she got to France and the book got underway.  I loved all the characters and that there was some realism with not all the French characters speaking English and there needing some translation help throughout the book.  I know this plotline is used often, where someone must go track down relatives without the aid of anyone, but for me it is one I enjoy to read!

This was a sweet novella of sorts that I would suggest for a weekend during this holiday season with the snow on the French Alps and taking place just before Christmas, this is a great book to curl up with during this season.  

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

Ebook 2023 Challenge: 8 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.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

It Happened One Christmas Eve
 by Jenn McKinlay

Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Pages: 121
Format: audiobook
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Claire Macintosh is about to get engaged to a man she doesn't love at the holiday gala she is hosting as director of the Museum of Literature. Her mother, Hildy Macintosh, has made it clear that if the museum is to continue to receive the enormous donations from the family trust that Hildy has approved all these years then Claire will marry the man Hildy has chosen for her and start to produce some grandbabies. At forty and single, Claire feels she has no choice. But when the horse and carriage arrive at the gala with the driver dressed as Santa to deliver Claire's engagement ring, she just can't go through with it. She hijacks the horse and carriage with Santa still on board and escapes!

Reporter Sam Carpenter thought he was being so clever convincing his friend to let him step in as Santa so he could get up close and personal to the subject of his upcoming magazine expose. He is completely unprepared for the events that unfold and finds himself dashing through Central Park with a runaway would be fiancé. Now the only way to save his story is to broker a deal with Claire Macintosh. In exchange for his help in getting her to her cottage in Maine by Christmas Eve, she'll grant him an exclusive interview. As their journey takes a series of unexpected twists, turns, and misadventures, both Claire and Sam realize that there's more than their careers on the line. And it's going to take a Christmas miracle to find their happily ever after.

Kritters Thoughts:  Claire is on the cusp of an engagement that would set her life down a very certain path when all of the sudden she decides to take a different route.  A man who has been on the perimeter of her life now becomes a main character as Sam Carpenter a reporter who has written about her and her family helps her escape and this book is their adventure.  

I love all those road trip adventure books, but only every so often.  It was fun to combine that sub genre with a little Christmas cheer.  I think what helped this book the most was their lack of funds and the inability to get them, so forced some creativity for them to get to their destination.  Of course, this was an easy enemies to lovers romance where I felt like the enemies part was believable and their romance wasn't too quick as they had some history leading into this adventure.    

This was a great audiobook read while driving during the lead-up to the holidays and then while decorating the house.    

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

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, November 27, 2023

We Must Not Think of Ourselves
Lauren Grodstein 

Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads: On a November day in 1940, Adam Paskow becomes a prisoner in the Warsaw Ghetto, where the Jews of the city are cut off from their former lives and held captive by Nazi guards, and await an uncertain fate. Weeks later, he is approached by a mysterious figure with a surprising request: Will he join a secret group of archivists working to preserve the truth of what is happening inside these walls? Adam agrees and begins taking testimonies from his students, friends, and neighbors. He learns about their childhoods and their daydreams, their passions and their fears, their desperate strategies for safety and survival. The stories form a portrait of endurance in a world where no choices are good ones.

One of the people Adam interviews is his flatmate Sala Wiskoff, who is stoic, determined, and funny—and married with two children. Over the months of their confinement, in the presence of her family, Adam and Sala fall in love. As they desperately carve out intimacy, their relationship feels both impossible and vital, their connection keeping them alive. But when Adam discovers a possible escape from the Ghetto, he is faced with an unbearable choice: Whom can he save, and at what cost?

Kritters Thoughts:  A historical fiction set in the time period of World War II, but thankfully we are not inside a concentration camp, but conditions are close in this Warsaw Ghetto.  A teacher, Adam Paskow is living in an apartment with two other families as they are just trying to survive until this war ends.  Adam is asked to document the lives of those living in the Warsaw Ghetto and recording the big and the small of life inside in hopes that it can be shared when all is said and done.  

While I do read a lot of historical fiction, I tend to limit my reading of World War II books because it all just seems so sad and while I am not denying the horror of it, I don't want to read too much of it.  This one sounded interesting from the synopsis and it lived up to my wonder of how this author would share this community at this time.  I loved how Grodstein made me feel the humanity of these characters, they weren't just a number in a war, but instead we learned of their back stories and I liked reading the mundane of the day to day survival of it all. 

My first read of Lauren Grodstein and will by no means by my last.  I would love to read her two previous novels and then I surely hope for more in the future.  This is a book I will recommend to readers who haven't read a lot of World War II AND for those who feel they have read it all!  

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

Ebook 2023 Challenge: 7 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Algonquin books.  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, November 1, 2023

The first month this year, where I felt like reading took a front seat and I spent a lot of time reading - a COVID diagnosis and lots of time curled up with books was the to do list for this month! 

1. Faking Christmas by Kerry Winfrey
2. Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison
3. Ignorance by Michele Roberts
4. Distant Sons by Tim Johnston
5. And Again by Jessica Chiarella
6. Young Queens by Leah Redmond Chang
7. The Second Home by Christina Clancy
8. Anthony Bourdain Remembered by CNN
9. Actually the Comma Goes Here by Lucy Crisps
10. The Takeaway Man by Meryl Ain

Total pages read, clicked and flipped: 3,179

Where Have I Been Reading?:
Chicago, IL
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
New York City, NY

Thursday, October 26, 2023

And Again
by Jessica Chiarella

Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 320
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda—four terminally ill patients—have been selected for the SUBlife pilot program, which will grant them brand-new, genetically perfect bodies that are exact copies of their former selves—without a single imperfection. Blemishes, scars, freckles, and wrinkles have all disappeared, their fingerprints are different, their vision is impeccable, and most importantly, their illnesses have been cured.

But the fresh start they’ve been given is anything but perfect. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have been lost. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a Congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her. As each tries to re-enter their previous lives and relationships they are faced with the how much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your heart, your body?

Kritters Thoughts:  Four people were all dealing with something that made their lives debilitating until the SUBlife program came into their lives.  Hannah, David, Connie and Linda were barely living with cancer, paralysis and AIDS and this program gave each of them a new body to live in and a big life do over.  How will they all react to this reset?

I love a book that allows each character to tell their story from their point of view.  The author gave each Hannah, David, Connie and Linda chapters throughout the book that were fantastically labeled!  I always wonder going into these books if I will favor one and dislike another, but thankfully I actually enjoyed each of their journeys and loved reading each person's point of view.  There are some sexy scenes, so if you are sensitive to that kind of reading, I would be aware before going in.  

I feel like this book is sort of dystopian with a program where you can get a new body that has been aged to match your current age and matches your DNA, but not full dystopian with a full new world order, so if you have hesitated diving into this genre, this book could be one to read before trying others.  

I always love to look up an author after I finish and I was sad to see there was only one other book published in 2021 (that I haven't read) and then nothing else.  I hope there is something in the works! 

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 Touchstone.  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 24, 2023

Girl on Trial
by Kathleen Fine

Publisher: CamCat Books
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads: Does doing one bad thing make you a bad person?

Sixteen-year-old Emily Keller, known by the media as Keller the Killer, is accused of causing the deaths of four family members, including young children. Emily is one of the youngest females to be accused of a crime so heinous, making this the nation’s biggest trial of the year. But what really happened that fateful night―and who’s responsible―is anything but straightforward.

Living in a trailer park in Baltimore with her twin brother and alcoholic mother, Emily’s life hasn’t been easy. She’s had to grow up fast, and like any teen, has made questionable decisions in a desperate attempt to fit in with her peers. Will her mistakes amount to a guilty verdict and a life in prison? It’s up to the jury to decide.

Kritters Thoughts:  Before I dive into my review, I want to give some content warnings, this book has some tough scenes to read that involve inappropriate relationships, drugs, and alcohol.  While I don't have kids this age in my house, I could see if you do that this may be difficult for you to read and I do have them in my life and this made me think twice about making sure that I and the other adults in their lives are aware of what they are doing and who with!  

Emily Keller is sixteen years old and she did some things and some things were done to her and because of a sequence of events she finds herself in a courtroom with murder being spoken.  The book bounces between her trial and going back in time to before the main event and up to it.  Thankfully the book is clearly edited, so the reader knows when and where they are and can easily follow the timelines.  

This was not an easy read and I had to stop a few moments to gather myself because I felt so much for Emily for the childhood and life that she was building and how hard it was with what she was given.  Her childhood was so different from mine and I couldn't imagine trying to start life the way she did.  I wish she had the opportunity for more attentive parents that could possibly have interjected and prevented her from so many of the events and it was hard to watch the dominos fall knowing that she would end up in a courtroom.  

A hard, difficult read where when I finished I knew I needed to switch genres and read something completely different, but I was glad I read it.  A debut novel that I would encourage to read, but with the content warnings given above.  I hope Kathleen Fine has another idea up her sleeve, because the way she pulled this story together was so good and I would love to read another by her.  

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

Ebook 2023 Challenge: 6 out of 100
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.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

The Second Home
by Christina Clancy 

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 341
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Some places never leave you...

After a disastrous summer spent at her family’s home on Cape Cod when she is seventeen, Ann Gordon is very happy to never visit Wellfleet again. If only she’d stayed in Wisconsin, she might never have met Anthony Shaw, and she would have held onto the future she’d so carefully planned for herself. Instead, Ann ends up harboring a devastating secret that strains her relationship with her parents, sends her sister Poppy to every corner of the world chasing waves (and her next fling), and leaves her adopted brother Michael estranged from the family.

Now, fifteen years later, her parents have died, and Ann and Poppy are left to decide the fate of the beach house that’s been in the Gordon family for generations. For Ann, the once-beloved house is forever tainted with bad memories. And while Poppy loves the old saltbox on Drummer Cove, owning a house means settling, and she’s not sure she’s ready to stay in one place.

Just when the sisters decide to sell, Michael re-enters their lives with a legitimate claim to a third of the estate. He wants the house. But more than that, he wants to set the record straight about what happened that long-ago summer that changed all of their lives forever. As the siblings reunite after years apart, their old secrets and lies, longings and losses, are pulled to the surface. Is the house the one thing that can still bring them together––or will it tear them apart, once and for all?

Kritters Thoughts:  Three siblings enjoyed a few summers on the Cape at a family home until one summer when a few events splintered the family and they were all forever changed.  The parents of this family have passed and the three siblings must now reconcile to make big decisions about the original family home and The Second Home.  

I may say this often on this blog, but it is the truth, I love it when authors put multiple points of view in one book and I love it even more when it is clearly edited, so the reader knows who is taking the lead in each chapter to tell their side of things!  Ann, Poppy and Michael each get moments to tell the story and I loved seeing the events unfold through each of their eyes.  Without spoiling too much, this book definitely has some hard scenes to read, but I think the author did such a great job taking these characters through some stuff and out the other side!  

This was another book that has been on my shelves for a long time and I was excited to dive deep into the TBR and read this one and hope to read her other backlist - Shoulder Season very soon!

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 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.


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