Friday, June 11, 2021

The Beach House
by Jenny Hale 

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 300
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  “Oh, my goodness,” she whispered. At the bottom of the box was a stack of letters. Tied with a ribbon, the pages were faded with age. “These are all addressed from here,” she said, “but they’ve never been sent.”

When her gram passes away, Melanie Simpson feels utterly lost. She has no idea what to do with her life after she has devoted years to looking after her beloved grandmother.

But Gram’s will may hold the answer, instructing Melanie to use her inheritance to buy a crumbling house in Rosemary Bay. They used to visit the village every summer, sit by the sparkling gulf on a beach the color of a fresh pearl, and daydream about turning the place on the corner into a bed and breakfast.

Fulfilling her grandmother’s legacy, Melanie decides to restore the beach house to its original glory. She sets out on renovations of the wrap-around porch weathered by the coastal breeze, and the peeling white paint faded by the sun.

When Melanie runs into local carpenter, Josh Claiborne, whose eyes match the dazzling sea, she jumps at the chance to ask him for help. But that’s the last thing he wants. He’s off to New York soon, leaving his troubled past behind. Over a game of darts Melanie gets her wish, even if Josh isn’t happy about it.

As they work together, Melanie tries to ignore their undeniable chemistry and how Josh’s rare smiles take her breath away––because soon they’ll be thousands of miles apart. But hiding in a closet is a yellowing stack of letters that could change everything. The looping handwriting reveals the mystery of the rickety house––a buried history that touches everyone in Rosemary Bay. Will its secrets bring Melanie and Josh together or tear them apart?

Kritters Thoughts:  Melanie returns to Florida to the dream home that her gram always adored when they visited and she has decided to repair the house and open it as a bed and breakfast.  When she heads to Florida she doesn't realize the state the home is in until she arrives and it will be quite an undertaking, but of course in walks Josh, a local who is a carpenter and after losing a bet ends up helping her get the house back up to a living standard.  

This is one of those romance books that just makes you happy while reading.  Of course from the beginning, Josh and Melanie aren't bitter enemies but it isn't love at first sight, so it is a slow roll for this romance and I enjoyed the journey.  I loved the ups and downs that they had.  They didn't feel forced but like they could have happened in real life.  

A book that would be perfect for a week at the beach this summer or some days by the pool.  These characters were fun and charming and who doesn't love a good home project!  

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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 69 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, June 10, 2021

The Edelweiss Sisters
by Kate Hewitt

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 437
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  1938, Salzburg. A powerful story of hope, forbidden love, and incredible courage, about three sisters who will risk everything—even their own lives—as part of the resistance movement in Nazi-occupied Austria.

Johanna, Birgit and Lotte Eder have always lived quiet lives, working in their father’s clockmaking shop and helping their mother in the house. But like many other Austrians, they find it impossible to ignore the changes in the world around them.

At first Johanna finds it hard to believe the Nazis pose a real threat. But then her father hires Franz to help in his shop. He’s kind and soulful, with dark eyes that twinkle with intelligence. But he’s Jewish, and as Johanna falls for him, she realizes that loving him puts them all in danger.

Then comes the Anschluss—the reunification of Austria and Germany under Nazi rule. The three sisters’ lives have become ever more separate with Lotte joining the convent at Nonnberg Abbey and Birgit’s secret involvement with the Resistance. But as Johanna realizes how mistaken she was about the level of danger, she begins to see that it may be down to her to protect the man she loves.

She knows that she can’t do it alone though. She will have to turn to the people she trusts the most: her sisters.

The three of them work together to try to get Franz to the safety of Switzerland, and they soon prove invaluable to the Resistance. But they’re risking everything. Can three women who would die for each other, also be prepared to die for what is right?

The sisters’ subsequent journey from Nazi-occupied Salzburg to the devastating concentration camps of Ravensbruck and Mauthausen will show the strength of human spirit like never before. As, out of the darkness, a tiny seed of hope flowers…

Kritters Thoughts:  Another book about World War II and another time where I felt as though the story was so unique that even though it took place in a moment in time where I have read quite a plethora of books, the characters and setting made the story feel different from all the ones in this historical fiction sub genre.

Three sisters who are all very different from each other are trying to find their passions and direction in life as World War II is entering Austria where they live.  The oldest Johanna has spent a lot of time in their family's kitchen and would rather stay there and disregard what is going on outside their home.  Birgit the middle has apprenticed under their father the clockmaker, but has dreams to become a part of the resistance and fighting the German invasion of their country.  The youngest Lotte is known for her singing voice, but goes a completely different route in entering the abby as a nun and her perspective on the war is so interesting.

I appreciated that the author included three sisters who while at the heart of things believes the same values, but they each go about it in completely different ways.  This epic story really shows how the war impacted a family and how each responded differently.  I loved how each sister was given the opportunity to share their perspective and while reading I often wondered how accurate this book depicted families as war invade their countries and their homes.

I have read a few of Kate Hewitt's contemporary stories and loved that she brought the same character development and plot movement to a historical fiction book and made these characters come to life.  

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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 68 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.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Her Tuscan Summer
by Vanessa Carnevale

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 266
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When I go to sleep at night, all I see is your face. All that matters to me is your happiness. I’d do anything for you. But don’t expect me not to fight for you. I’m prepared to lose you, but not like this.

Mia Moretti has always dreamed of becoming an artist. But after a fierce battle with a devastating illness that she is terrified will return, Mia is heartbroken to find herself unable to paint like she used to, and is forced to give up her place at art school.

So when an opportunity to spend the summer in Italy presents itself, Mia jumps at the chance for a fresh start. She hopes that by travelling to the sun-drenched streets of Florence, surrounded by art and Tuscany’s rich green vineyards and sweeping hills, she will finally be able to heal.

What Mia doesn't count on is meeting handsome local mechanic, Luca Bonnici. With his easy smile, endless warmth and irresistible joie de vivre, Mia can’t help but fall for him. And, as she slowly lets down her walls and opens her heart to Luca, Mia starts to fall in love with life again too.

But just when she is ready to let go of her past, tragedy strikes. Will Mia’s strength and her love for Luca be enough to save them both, or is it already too late?

Kritters Thoughts:  Mia has dreamed of spending time in Italy and while life has thrown a few speed bumps her way, she is finally in Italy to find her passion again and to have some new experiences.  Luca is a young man who lives in Italy and ends up crossing paths with Mia and they will have some ups and downs but as in most romance books, the happily ever after should happen . . . 

After reading this book, it solidified my feelings that I love a book where the romance is either a slow burn or rekindled after time apart.  This book went from zero to eighty in two seconds and I didn't love how quickly these two were madly in love with each other.  If you like those books where it goes from meeting to unequivocal love then this one is the perfect romance for you.  Mia and Luca went from meeting to declaring their undying love for each other and it just didn't make the book believable to me.  I wish they either had more time together to slow the build or maybe even a chance meeting and then a return.  When I read romance books, I love the journey to get to the destination and this journey felt way too fast and made it hard for me to love.

This was my second Vanessa Carnevale book and while this one wasn't completely my speed, I loved her other and would love to try her other two on the backlist that I haven't read yet.  I would give her a second chance because for me this one just wasn't my kind of romance book and it was completely due to my personal preferences after reading quite a plethora of romance!  

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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 67 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, June 3, 2021

The Warsaw Orphan
by Kelly Rimmer

Publisher: Graydon House
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In the spring of 1942, young Elzbieta Rabinek is aware of the swiftly growing discord just beyond the courtyard of her comfortable Warsaw home. She has no fondness for the Germans who patrol her streets and impose their curfews, but has never given much thought to what goes on behind the walls that contain her Jewish neighbors. She knows all too well about German brutality--and that it's the reason she must conceal her true identity. But in befriending Sara, a nurse who shares her apartment floor, Elzbieta makes a discovery that propels her into a dangerous world of deception and heroism.

Using Sara's credentials to smuggle children out of the ghetto brings Elzbieta face-to-face with the reality of the war behind its walls, and to the plight of the Gorka family, who must make the impossible decision to give up their newborn daughter or watch her starve. For Roman Gorka, this final injustice stirs him to rebellion with a zeal not even his newfound love for Elzbieta can suppress. But his recklessness brings unwanted attention to Sara's cause, unwittingly putting Elzbieta and her family in harm's way until one violent act threatens to destroy their chance at freedom forever.

Kritters Thoughts:  Just when I think I have read all of the World War II books and I knew everything about all of the people affected by this war, I read another one that gives an unique perspective that makes me see it from a different view.  

Two young people live in two different worlds that are mere miles apart.  One is living in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw and the other is living in a nice apartment on the other side of the wall.  Their lives will intersect and they will impact each other more than either could imagine.  Roman is living in the Jewish ghetto with his family, but he himself is only half Jewish and could pass as he doesn't have the typical physical traits.  Elzbieta is living "free" in Warsaw with a family that has taken her in and she waits to help in any way she can.  

I have read a few books that feature moments in a Jewish ghetto, unsure if it was Warsaw particularly, but no book has had so much of the book take place there and really shown the living conditions that took place and the misinformation that was spreading about life in the ghetto or the life of those who were leaving it.  I appreciated the way the author really presented life and it felt very real, almost too real and hard to read.  

And the other big lesson I learned from this book was the life in Poland after the Germans left.  While the people were glad they (the Germans) left, life under Soviet control wasn't any better if not worse for many.  I was really unaware of this whole moment in time for Poland and it was eye opening to see that life was just fine after the Germans left at least not for Poland.  

This was another one of those really hard to read World War II books, but worth it to learn something new in an entertaining way.  

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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 66 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.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

East of Manhattan
by Amanda Johnson

Publisher: Books to Go Now
Pages: 234
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Julie and Scott Cutter made a deal: 2 years. Scott will spend 2 years working as a butler for a rich reality TV star and then they will start the family Julie has always dreamed of. This makes total sense according to Julie’s life plan.

This situation was all well and good until Julie learns that, at 35, she is approaching pre-natal geriatric status. Julie never considered herself old, but biology says different. For the first time her plan is in question. She debates if she should cough up the money to freeze her eggs, as her doctor suggests, or start trying to get pregnant earlier than expected. This is complicated by the fact that her husband lives in the basement of his celebrity boss’s Manhattan mansion instead of with her, across the East River in Queens. Oh, and Scott casually announces over brunch one morning he doesn’t want kids anymore.

Convinced spending an idyllic Fourth of July weekend in the Hamptons will change his mind, Julie saddles up on the back of Scott’s motorcycle for the holiday festivities. A chance confrontation between Scott’s celebrity boss in the Hamptons confirms her worst nightmare but also leaves her with a glimmer of hope. She returns to the city confused, alone and with a really great idea that might just be the beginning of a new future.

Kritters Thoughts:  Julie and Scott Cutter are married and have their lives planned out due to their jobs and when they want to start a family.  With Scott in a new job that is lucrative they need two years to get set up and start a family, but this job is interfering with their lives and may break them apart instead of setting them up for the future.

I weirdly related to this book and the character of Julie.  My husband works interesting hours that are completely different from mine and there are many times where we pass and don't connect and I could relate in that a marriage may take a hit when there isn't a ton of good quality time spent together.  I wanted to go out for a coffee or a drink with Julie and commiserate on how jobs impact relationships.  If it weren't for a great well rounded character like Julie, I wouldn't have loved this book as much.  

I enjoyed this book, it was the right book for me at the right time.  I was on a beach vacation when I read this book and it was easy to get into and out of this book and keep the story straight.  This was one of those books that is easy and breezy that is best read between thicker, denser books or when you are in a situation where your attention span could go in and out.    

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

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 65 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.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The same amount of books I completed in January! I have no idea how I completed this many books other than a few rainy days kept me cooped up in my library with a pile of books!

1. Her First Mistake by Carey Baldwin
2. The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews
3. It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark
4. Twice a Daughter by Julie Ryan McGue
5. The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman
6. The Girl I Used to Be by Heidi Hostetter
7. Del Rio by Jane Rosenthal
8. Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti
9. The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle
10. The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan
11. If She Dies by Erik Therme
12. Little by Edward Carey
13. Aftermath by Terri Blackstock
14. The Secretary by Catherine Hokin
15. Beth and Amy by Virginia Kantra
16. The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley
17. Talk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley
18. A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin
19. America's Wife by Celeste De Blasis
20. The Lost Boys of Montauk by Amanda Fairbanks
21. The Mix-Up by Elizabeth Neep
22. The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer
23. East of Manhattan by Amanda Johnson

Total pages read, clicked and flipped: 7,900

Where having I been Reading?:
San Diego, CA
New York City, NY (4)
Chicago, IL
New Jersey
North Carolina (2)
Paris, France
Atlanta, GA
Berlin, Germany
Montauk, NY
Warsaw, Poland


Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Mix-Up
by Elizabeth Neep

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 350
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  What if you meet the love of your life, but he thinks you’re someone else?

Anna and Marley are best friends. So when Anna rings Marley, panicking because she has to miss a tour of an exclusive wedding venue, Marley agrees to go in her friend’s place.

After being totally ignored by the glamorous receptionist who can tell she doesn’t belong there, Marley meets handsome hotel manager Cameron. He assumes she’s Anna and instead of admitting that she’s not the blushing bride, but the unlucky-in-love single friend, Marley plays along to see what it’s like to be Anna for a day.

After all, Marley is unemployed, single and was woken up that morning by her flatmate playing the bagpipes. Anna has a high-flying career and is planning the perfect wedding. Why wouldn’t Marley want to be her?

Only she wasn’t counting on Cameron being so smart and funny. Or this spark between them that she can’t ignore. She hasn’t felt this way about a guy in forever. But he thinks she’s somebody better.

Marley needs a way out of this mix-up to get her shot at true love. But her fictional fiancĂ© is now standing in her way and it’s harder than she thought to stop living someone else’s life…

Kritters Thoughts:  Marley is a struggling actor and has just gone to another audition that didn't go her way when her best friend called her and asks for help she figures it is something that can eat up some of her time.  So she goes to a hotel and for her friend Anna, a possible wedding venue, is mistaken for Anna and antics ensue!  

This was such a fun read.  It was perfect for a weekend where I was getting ready for a trip and just needed something light to dip in and out of.  Everyone was keeping secrets and it was fun to see them hide their things and then when all the details came out there was still more book to go, so the reader can have a satisfying ending and not be left with a lot of questions.  

Marley was a great character.  It was hilarious to watch her to try to become her friend Anna and act engaged and as if her life was all put together.  And then to see Anna's life as it partially unraveled and although from the outside it looked as though she had it all figured out, it was enjoyable to watch these friends find the truth in each other's lives and their friendship to go deeper.  

I have one Elizabeth Neep backlist book that I need to read - The Spare Bedroom and I could see myself taking this one to the pool this summer for a fun poolside read!

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 64 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.

Copyright 2010 Kritters Ramblings.

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