Sunday, May 24, 2020

I had a busy weekend last weekend, getting ready for the boat season, so I missed getting this post up.  This is two weeks worth of reading.

 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck
The Great Pet Heist by Emily Ecton
Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner
Red Sky Over Hawaii by Sara Ackerman
The Prisoner's Wife by Maggie Brookes
The Summer House by Lauren Denton
The Good Fight by Jana Kramer and Mike Caussin
Victoria's War by Catherine Hamilton

Currently Reading:
The Magnolia Sisters by Alys Murray
Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume

Next on the TBR pile:
Sweet Pea Summer by Alys Murray

Friday, May 22, 2020

 Carolina Breeze by Denise Hunter 

Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
Pages: 320
Format: book 
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  Rising Hollywood star Mia Emerson is looking for a safe place to land in the wake of a public breakup and scandal, and she finds it in the lake town of Bluebell, North Carolina—the location of her canceled honeymoon. She wants nothing more than to hide and wait for the tabloids to die down.

Soon after her arrival at the Bluebell Inn, Mia meets Levi Bennett, who runs the inn along with his two younger sisters. Drawn to one another from the start, Mia trusts Levi to keep her location from the press, and Levi confides in Mia about the financial state of the inn—a secret he’s been keeping from his sisters.

When Mia and Levi discover an old journal that hints at a rare diamond necklace hidden in the inn, they set off on a treasure hunt to find the long-lost heirloom. What they don’t expect to surface are feelings they thought were safely locked away. Mia and Levi must decide if falling in love again is too big a risk—or if it will uncover a treasure of its own instead.

Kritters Thoughts: The second in a series and although this book centers around a different sibling, I would completely suggest starting at book one.  This book focuses on the older brother Levi and an up and coming Hollywood star Mia Emerson.  Levi came home to help his sisters renovate their home into an inn and is contemplating returning to Colorado and the life he had before the tragedy and in walks Mia.  Mia is escaping some drama that she got wrapped into in California and needs a quiet place to regroup.

As in the first book, this is a romance story with a great plot.  As this is by a Christian fiction author, the romance story lacks the sexy times scenes that you can see in most romance books.  I like this because then the author can't lean on a sexy scene to move the plot forward, instead there is plot and creative scenes where the characters interact and woo and flirt!  Also as in the first book, this one has secrets that when revealed could possibly cause drama and I enjoyed reading to see how the characters were going to react and if they could overcome the situation.

There will be a bit before the third in this series releases and I can finish the trilogy and am assuming that this third book will focus on the youngest sibling, Grace and her story as she is now a high school graduate and must make some big life choices!

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.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Lake Season by Denise Hunter

Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
Pages: 352
Format: book 
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  When their parents die in a tragic accident, Molly Bennett and her siblings pull together to fulfill their parents’ dream: turning their historic home back into an inn.

Adam Bradford (a.k.a. bestselling author Nathanial Grey) is a reclusive author with a bad case of writer’s block. Desperate for inspiration as his deadline approaches, he travels to a North Carolina lake town, the setting of his next novel. There he immediately meets his muse, a young innkeeper who fancies herself in love with his alter ego.

When Molly finds an old letter in the walls of her inn she embarks on a mission with Adam to find the star-crossed lovers and bring them the closure they deserve. But the guest she invites along has secrets of his own. Past and present collide as truths are revealed, and Molly and Adam will have to decide if love is worth trusting.

Kritters Thoughts:  The first in a series about a set of siblings who have come home after they tragically lost their parents in a car accident.  Molly and Levi return home to their younger sister Grace who has two years left of high school and are able to finish the renovations to the inn that their parents were doing and provide Grace a place to finish school.  

This first story centers specifically around Molly.  She is a lover of romance stories and is a big fan of the bestselling author Nathaniel Grey who is an author who has always hidden his identity.  Unbeknownst to Molly, he arrives in this small North Carolina town to regroup and outline his next novel.  He is in need of some inspiration and Molly and her family inn is the perfect place.

This was a great first story in a series as it set the place and location to the story and introduced the reader to the entire family while also telling a complete story about one of them.  I loved Molly.  She was such a great character to set the stage.  She is the middle sibling and felt as though she was the glue that held the family together.  I enjoyed the story arc between her and Adam Bradford.  I love mistaken identity and secrets and watching as all of them come out and seeing how the character will react to the truth.  

Denise Hunter does a great job of combining the romance genre and giving a great plot while keeping it true to the Christian fiction roots and leaving out the steamy scenes, but still having a great love story.  

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

Happy & You Know It by Laura Hankin 

Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 384
Format: eARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  After her former band shot to superstardom without her, Claire reluctantly agrees to a gig as a playgroup musician for overprivileged infants on New York’s Park Avenue. Claire is surprised to discover that she is smitten with her new employers, a welcoming clique of wellness addicts with impossibly shiny hair, who whirl from juice cleanse to overpriced miracle vitamins to spin class with limitless energy.

There is perfect hostess Whitney who is on the brink of social-media stardom and just needs to find a way to keep her perfect life from falling apart. Caustically funny, recent stay-at-home mom Amara who is struggling to embrace her new identity. And old money, veteran mom Gwen who never misses an opportunity to dole out parenting advice. But as Claire grows closer to the cool women who pay her bills, she uncovers secrets and betrayals that no amount of activated charcoal can fix.

Kritters Thoughts:  Claire left a band before it really hit big and she doesn't know what her future looks like now.  She wants to stay in the business of music, but doesn't know what to do next.  She returns to a job she had prior to the band where she is playing for kids group.  A playgroup invites her to be their musician where they meet out of someone's apartment in NYC and she gets integrated into the group very fast.  

With women of all sorts of different personalities and creeds, the playgroup was greatly diverse and I loved getting to know all the women and their reactions to new motherhood.  All the women were first time moms except one and Gwen was glad to be the mom expert of the group.  Even though I am not a mom, I have a love for mommy drama books.  This seems weird to say but I enjoy reading about mom guilt and I think this is because even though I don't have kids we can all feel a little bit of guilt about where you spend time and if you are using and spending your time to the best of your ability and in the places that matter to you most.     

I went into this book a little blind and was happily surprised by some of the things that happen, so I will be a bit vague because I would love for each of you to experience the book just like I did.  I will say that there were some great and satisfying twists and turns and the plot and the characters kept me reading where I read this one in one satisfying sitting!

This was my first Laura Hankin read and I was excited to see that there is one book in her backlist, so I hope to read it very soon!

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel
   Ebook 2020 Challenge: 41 out of 100   

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Berkley.  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, May 19, 2020

This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: Park Row
Pages: 336
Format: eARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.

Kritters Thoughts:  I have read half of Heather Gudenkauf's books and each keep me completely on the edge of my seat until the end.  Told through multiple perspectives and even some therapy transcripts and some news articles, this book had interesting ways to move the story along.  Eva Knox disappeared 25 years ago and with the discovery of a new piece of evidence her friend, Maggie, who is now a police officer in their hometown is reopening the case and will revisit all of the details as an adult and will hopefully find her killer and close the case.  Eva gets the chance to tell the timeline of the day she died through her own words as we flashback in time and Maggie and Eva's sister Nola also get opportunities to move the story along from their viewpoints mostly told in the present day.  

I absolutely adored this book.  I loved the switching of perspectives.  It was edited well, so the reader doesn't get lost at all and it is obvious as to the time and place, so the story moved quickly along.  I didn't write down the characters for this one, but it could help so you can remember key facts about each one and how they relate to the others.    

I rate mystery/thriller books based on who the killer ends up being and if I am ok with how the clues led up.  Don't worry I will not reveal who it is, but I will say that I am happy with the outcome.  I was glad it was someone who was there throughout the story and didn't come out of left field at the end and had the same amount of want to have Eva and her secrets shut down than almost anyone else in the story.

I have been trying different genres in the midst of the quarantine and each have their own special way to distract me from the news and the pacing of a mystery/thriller has often taken the cake.  

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row
 Ebook 2020 Challenge: 42 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Park Row.  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, May 18, 2020

The Sun Sister by Lucinda Riley
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 656
Format: ARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  Electra d’Apli├Ęse is a woman who seems to have it all: as a top model, she has beauty, fame, and wealth. But beneath the glittery veneer, she’s cracking under the pressure of it all. The last straw comes when she finds out her father has died and she turns to alcohol and drugs to ease the pain. As friends and colleagues fear for her health, Electra receives a shocking letter from a complete stranger who claims to be her grandmother.

In 1939, Cecily Huntley-Morgan arrives fresh from New York to Lake Naivasha in Kenya for the exciting chance to stay with her godmother, the famous socialite Kiki Preston. But after a sheltered upbringing, she’s completely astounded by the hedonistic antics of the other ex-pats in the infamous Happy Valley set. Celia soon grows to love her stunning but complicated new home, and she even accepts a proposal of marriage from Bill Forsythe, an enigmatic older cattle farmer. After a shocking discovery and with war looming, Cecily feels isolated and alone. Until she meets a young woman in the woods and makes her a promise that will change the course of her life forever.

Kritters Thoughts:  The sixth in a series where each book focuses on a different sister in this unique family.  You definitely don't need to read these in order, but I do suggest at least starting with book one as it sets up the ins and outs of the family and then you can hop around the family if you choose.  I enjoyed reading them in order as it goes in birth order and I always wonder if there is something to do with how a person grows up depending on their birth order and size of their family.  

Electra is the baby of the family and has relied on her beauty for years and when her father dies she takes a stroll to rock bottom with alcohol and drugs.  Thankfully her friends and coworkers help her get on a path to healing while at the same time she meets her biological grandmother who has a story to tell her of her ancestry.  This story is told in the other storyline in the book.  Each storyline, Electra's and her family's past are both novel size, but expertly woven together to create this epic story.  

When I read a book that has dual narratives I can tend to lean towards one or the other, but not so in this one.  They are both weighted the same and have such fantastic characters to follow that there was no skipping one for the other!  Electra's family story starts with a white woman venturing to Kenya for a fun vacation that extends to more and it does take a bit to figure out where Electra's grandmother comes into the story, but it was so worth the wait!  

I don't want these books to end!  I wish there were many more stories than the seven told in the first book.  It is sad to know that this series will be ending very soon.  

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel
 Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Atria 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.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Administrations of Lunacy by Mag Segrest

Publisher: The New Press
Pages: 384
Format: eARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  A scathing and original look at the racist origins of psychiatry, through the story of the largest mental institution in the world.

Today, 90 percent of psychiatric beds are located in jails and prisons across the United States, institutions that confine disproportionate numbers of African Americans. After more than a decade of research, the celebrated scholar and activist Mab Segrest locates the deep historical roots of this startling fact, turning her sights on a long-forgotten cauldron of racial ideology: the state mental asylum system in which psychiatry was born and whose influences extend into our troubled present.

In December 1841, the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum was founded. A hundred years later, it had become the largest insane asylum in the world with over ten thousand patients. Administrations of Lunacy tells the story of this iconic and infamous southern institution, a history that was all but erased from popular memory and within the psychiatric profession.

Through riveting accounts of historical characters, Segrest reveals how modern psychiatric practice was forged in the traumas of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. Deftly connecting this history to the modern era, Segrest then shows how a single asylum helped set the stage for the eugenics theories of the twentieth century and the persistent racial ideologies of our own times. She also traces the connections to today’s dissident psychiatric practices that offer sanity and create justice.

Kritters Thoughts:  An in-depth look at not only a mental institution, but the people and the time and place that it existed.  This mental institution was large and located in an interesting place especially at an interesting time in our nation's history - the south pre and post Civil War.  With its location it had a trying relationship with race relations and how that fits into mental health. I have read other books, mostly historical fiction about mental institutions and the study of mental health and this was a different look at how it fits in the surrounding time.     

I initially started reading this book via audiobook and had to stop and return it after three chapters as it wasn't keeping my attention and wasn't working for me, so I switched to ebook form and finished it reading that way.  

The parts that I loved about this book were when it focused on a doctor or a patient inside the halls.  The moments where the author took the reader outside of the asylum didn't interest me as much.  I understand that she was trying to give context to what was going on at the same time, but for me those parts took up too much space and took away from the central reason for the book.  

I didn't deduct any "points" from trying to read the audiobook and it not working out.  I blame the narrator and I would never have that impact my review in the negative.

Rating: enjoyable, but didn't leave me wanting more
  Ebook 2020 Challenge: 43 out of 100

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

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Bark Park
by Brandi Dougherty

Publisher: Andrews McNeel Publishing
Pages: 96
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Scout's a little dog with a big appetite for solving mysteries with her friends! From Epic! Originals, Bark Park is an adventure-filled series about the strange things that happen at Scout’s local dog park.

With a little sleuthing and a lot of blueberries, Scout follows her nose to help her friends Maggie, Rocky, and Gus solve the mysteries of the popped ball, the cone of shame, and the missing bone!

Kritters Thoughts:  I don't typically review kids books here, but I am always a fan of a dog themed book, so I thought I would read this one and give some thoughts.

There are three chapters in this book and each is almost a little short story in and of itself.  Each is a small mystery that Scout wants to solve in the dog park.  From a punctured ball to a missing bone, they were cute and sweet and would be perfect for an early reader or even younger to be read to.  

This is a book that I will be ordering for my niece and nephew to enjoy and to even learn a little bit more about dog life.  

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 26 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.


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