Tuesday, March 2, 2021

The Speed of Light
by Elissa Grossell Dickey

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 290
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Simone is trying her best not to think of what she’s lost. Diagnosed with MS, she awaits the results of another anxiety-inducing MRI. She’s just walked away from Connor, “a fixer” but possibly the love of her life. And nearing the holidays, the sights and sounds of winter in South Dakota only prick memories of better years gone by. Then, on a December morning at the university where she works, jarring gunshots pierce the halls. In a temporary safe place and terrified, Simone listens and pretends this will all be over soon.

As she waits for silence, her mind racing, Simone’s past year comes into focus. Falling in love and missing it. Finding strength in family and enduring friendships. Planning for the future, fearing it, and hoping against hope in dark places. Her life has been changing at the speed of light, and each crossroad brought Simone here, to this day, to endure the things she can’t control and to confront those that she can.


Kritters Thoughts:  A riveting story that has two storylines from the perspective of one character.  Simone has recently been diagnosed with MS and she is still trying to figure out how to react to this chronic diagnosis.  In the same story, at the university where she works there is a shooting taking place and she must react in order to check on her co workers and also try to figure out who is doing this.    

What I loved most about this book was that I saw this character go through the acceptance of a disease, MS, and the limitations that eventually her body will make on her.  I know very little about MS and appreciate when fiction can enlighten me in a soft and easy way without all of the science.  I care more about reading about the feelings of diagnosis and how someone comes to grips with the path that their life will now lead.  

The way the author laid out the book kept me turning pages.  We go back in time a year before the shooting and read about Simone as the year unfolds and leads up to the shooting and the events of that day while at the same time the shooting slowly unfolds throughout the book.  For me this was a really satisfying way to keep me reading to the end and gave the book a little mystery as I was trying to find out who the shooter was alongside Simone.  

I was excited to learn when I finished that this was a debut book written by an author who is living with MS and I really hope there are more books to come from her!  


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 15 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Lake Union Publishing.  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 1, 2021



February started on the high from January, but ended on a slower month with an increase of work and home projects!  I am hoping that March will be a great end to the first quarter of 2021 and I will keep on the road of having the best reading year yet!

1. The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery
2. The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan
3. Cape May by Chip Cheek
4. Angels Burning by Tawni O'Dell
5. Helen in Love by Rosie Sultan
6. The Road to Becoming by Jenny Simmons
7. The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite
8. Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman
9. The Speed of Light by Elissa Grossell Dickey
10. The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close
11. Bring Me Back by BA Paris
12. Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina Gappah
13. A Child of My Own by Vanessa Carnevale
14. What the Heart Wants by Audrey Carlan
15. Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan
16. Meant to Be by Jude Deveraux
17. To Catch a Dream by Audrey Carlan
18. A New York Secret by Ella Carey
19. The Secret Stealers by Jane Healey

Total pages read, clicked and flipped: 6,973


Where having I been Reading?:
Walla Walla, WA
England (2)
New Jersey
Pennsylvania
Lincolnshire, England
South Dakota
Washington, D.C.
Africa
Australia
Colorado (2)
Savannah, GA
Kansas
New York City, NY
Paris, France



 



 

Friday, February 26, 2021

The Girl in the Missing Poster
by Barbara Copperthwaite

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 360
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  MISSING – Have you seen this girl? Nineteen-year-old Leila Hawkins was last seen on 24 June, 1994, when she left her parents’ anniversary party early and ran into the stormy night wearing her twin sister Stella’s long red coat. She was never seen again.

Stella holds the missing poster flat against the tree trunk and presses to make sure it’s secure. She tries not to look at the photograph on it. At the features so similar to hers. This time every year she decorates the small seaside town they grew up in with pictures of her beautiful missing twin. But after almost twenty-five years, is it even worth hoping someone will come forward?

The last thing Stella ever expects is a direct response from the person who took Leila. Wracked with guilt about the secret she’s been keeping since the night of the party, and completely alone in the world without the other half of her, Stella agrees to his strange request: private, intimate details of her life in return for answers.

But as the true events of the night of the party play out before her, Stella feels closer to Leila than she ever dreamed she’d be again – too close. Will it be too late before she realises she’s walked right into a deadly trap? Will she suffer the same fate as her sister?
 


Kritters Thoughts:  Stella has spent years looking for her lost twin who went missing one night and although many people have a reason to be involved, only one did it and they have gone without prosecution for years.  As the anniversary approaches, a documentary producer is into making a documentary that could put more eyes on this mystery and maybe bring some more clues to light. 

For me pacing matters when it comes to mystery thrillers and this one slowed way down in the back half and I was ready for it to come to a conclusion a bit before it did.  I could tell that I was waning in my reading as I was getting easily distracted 3/4 of the way in, but once the conclusion was in sight, the last bit was good.  

I did enjoy the unveiling of the killer and although I may have guessed it early, the way the reader finds out about it was creative and unique.  I also liked that once it was revealed there is a bit more to the book to find out the details from how and why Leila went missing.  

I would try another by this author, but would definitely want the synopsis to be something that I would be into.


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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 14 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, February 25, 2021

The Lost Apothecary
by Sarah Penner

Publisher: Park Row
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.


Kritters Thoughts:  Told from three perspectives, two from 1791 and one from present day.  In 1791 there is a female apothecary who inherited an apothecary business from her mother and she has changed the business a bit and her life takes a turn when a young girl, Eliza walks into her shop.  Eliza is the second perspective from 1791 as she is sent to get help from the woman she works for from the apothecary and she will set all sorts of things in motion!  The present day perspective is Caroline and she has gone a trip that was intended to be an anniversary trip and instead ends up being a solo vacation, but her story is still uplifting as she finds herself and her passion for history when she finds something mysterious in the Thames river.  

I love a historical fiction book that has a present storyline where you know the link between the two stories pretty early on in the book.  I don't love to have the mystery go on for too long and it overshadow the true story - not the case in this one.  The reader quickly knows why Caroline's storyline is in this book and her investigation was fun to follow.  I wish I could do what she did in this book and find an artifact and follow it until you uncover truths.  

Although I don't love a book where there is marriage strife, especially the cheating husband kind, I could look over it in this one as it didn't take complete center stage, instead for me the story really revolved around Nella the apothecary and the things she did for the women of her time.  

What a great historical fiction that took place at a unique moment in time, with a splash of present day to help move the story along.  And I found out after finishing, this was a debut, so I am hoping for much more from this author in the future!


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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 13 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Harlequin.  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, February 23, 2021

The Kitchen Front
by Jennifer Ryan

Publisher: Ballantine
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In a new World War II-set story from the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, four women compete for a spot hosting a wartime cookery program called The Kitchen Front - based on the actual BBC program of the same name - as well as a chance to better their lives.

Two years into WW2, Britain is feeling her losses; the Nazis have won battles, the Blitz has destroyed cities, and U-boats have cut off the supply of food. In an effort to help housewives with food rationing, a BBC radio program called The Kitchen Front is putting on a cooking contest--and the grand prize is a job as the program's first-ever female co-host. For four very different women, winning the contest presents a crucial chance to change their lives.

For a young widow, it's a chance to pay off her husband's debts and keep a roof over her children's heads. For a kitchen maid, it's a chance to leave servitude and find freedom. For the lady of the manor, it's a chance to escape her wealthy husband's increasingly hostile behavior. And for a trained chef, it's a chance to challenge the men at the top of her profession.

These four women are giving the competition their all--even if that sometimes means bending the rules. But with so much at stake, will the contest that aims to bring the community together serve only to break it apart?
 


Kritters Thoughts:  Four women from all different walks of life end up in a competition for a spot on a BBC radio program and while they start as fierce competitors they may end up needing each other's skills and talents to overcome their personal struggles.  

The four women are made up of one set of sisters who live in very different homes, one with three boys and a widow from the war and the other is childless living in a grand home with what seems like the perfect life.  One of the other women is a maid who lives in the grand home and is basically an apprentice to the head cook of the home.  The final woman has moved to this small country town to escape London for many reasons and finds the competition as a possible way for her to return to London.  

I always love books told through multiple perspectives as it allows each character to move the story along from their point of view and for me the story always feels fuller from seeing from multiple eyes.  As each of these women are drastically different from another it was easy to keep straight, but I still took a bit of notes, so I could remember who was who.

I loved seeing World War II through a completely different point of view.  In the lives of women back at the home front as they make do with the food rations and try to make do with the little that is offered to keep themselves and their children alive.  

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to the reader who feels they have read every book and every aspect of World War II, try this one.  


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 12 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Crown.  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, February 22, 2021

The Vineyard at Painted Moon
by Susan Mallery

Publisher: HQN
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Mackenzie Dienes seems to have it all—a beautiful home, close friends and a successful career as an elite winemaker with the family winery. There’s just one problem—it’s not her family, it’s her husband’s. In fact, everything in her life is tied to him—his mother is the closest thing to a mom that she’s ever had, their home is on the family compound, his sister is her best friend. So when she and her husband admit their marriage is over, her pain goes beyond heartbreak. She’s on the brink of losing everything. Her job, her home, her friends and, worst of all, her family.

Staying is an option. She can continue to work at the winery, be friends with her mother-in-law, hug her nieces and nephews—but as an employee, nothing more. Or she can surrender every piece of her heart in order to build a legacy of her own. If she can dare to let go of the life she thought she wanted, she might discover something even more beautiful waiting for her beneath a painted moon.
 


Kritters Thoughts:  Mackenzie Dienes fell into the perfect job through a relationship she fell into while in college, so up until the point of this book, her life has basically fallen into place.  When an interesting event sends her life spiraling, she must make some hard decisions about where she really wants to be and what her future will look like.

Although the factor that sent Mackenzie into reevaluation mode was based on love, I appreciated that most of the book was a self analysis of her career path because it was so closely tied to her relationship.  I loved watching Mackenzie take note of her passions and figure out where she truly wanted to go next.  Of course, some of the moves were predictable and I possibly rolled my eyes a few times, it didn't take away from the read and I still enjoyed the book overall.  

For me one of the most entertaining pieces was Mackenzie's mother in law, Barbara, what a hoot!  While possibly over the top, I still loved her reactions to the things life sent her way, I could also see her inability to change especially when the change was thrust upon her and not of her own accord.  

I love the Susan Mallery stand alone books and I appreciate the strong female characters she creates and depicts.  I hope she continues to work on these alongside her series.  


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 11 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.


Sunday, February 21, 2021

A great week in reading!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
A Child of My Own by Vanessa Carnevale
What the Heart Wants by Audrey Carlan
Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan
Meant to Be by Jude Deveraux
To Catch a Dream by Audrey Carlan

Currently Reading:
A New York Secret by Ella Carey

Next on the TBR pile:
The Secret Stealers by Jane Healey
The Blame
by Kerry Wilkinson 

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 427
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Paige, Richard and me. We thought we’d be friends forever. But everything changed the day we took the short cut home from school along the old railway line. I wish we’d gone the long way. I wish we hadn’t seen our classmate, pale and still in the undergrowth. And I wish we hadn’t promised to keep one, awful detail a secret just between us…

Twenty years later, I have a brand-new life, and try never to think about my old one.

But I’m dragged back when Paige calls out of the blue. Richard has been accused of something terrible. Everyone back home is whispering about the body we found years ago, and saying Richard deserves to be locked up…

Before I know it, I’ve returned to the small town I thought I’d never see again. Paige is almost the same as I remember – jet black hair, slender frame – but why does she seem so nervous? She’s adamant the only way to clear our friend’s name is to tell the truth about what we saw twenty years ago.

Can I really trust that Paige is on my side – or is she hiding her own dark secret? And if we clear Richard’s name, will the blame fall on me?

When we find a strange note in Richard’s flat, one thing is for certain: someone else knows the truth too. All three of us are in danger… 


Kritters Thoughts:  Once you are accused of one thing, it can be pretty easy for friends, enemies and the public to cast blame for other things.  Richard is arrested for the murder of a former teacher and a dead body that he and a friend discovered comes back up and becomes a part of the current narrative.  Told from the point of view of Harry, said friend who found the body of a classmate with Richard and who had left this small town in England for Canada a long time ago.  He is summoned back by their mutual friend Paige, so they can get to the truth and free Richard as she is convinced that he is innocent.  

This was a great mystery/thriller that had such great ups and downs and the clues were dropped at just the right spot.  Following Harry and Paige as they investigated in hopes of freeing Richard and finding the killer, I love it when the investigation is led by amateurs.  Without spoiling a thing, I can say I was so happy with the who of the who dun it and although it definitely came together real quickly at the end, if I read it again, maybe I could have found a clue or two a little faster!

I read a variety of books that are set across the pond as it will and sometimes the books read as though they could be set anywhere and the specific "english" terms aren't distracting, but they were so in this one.  Every once in awhile as I was reading, I had to almost decipher the word and figure out what they were really talking about and it took me out of the plot a time or two.  I say this in case you are a reader that avoids books that aren't set in the United States.  

I liked this one.  It was good, but not sure if it would be one that I would hope to continue to follow as I feel as though the book was completely self contained and maybe wouldn't work in a series form.  


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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 9 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.


 

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