Friday, February 28, 2020

The Women in Black
by Madeleine St John

Publisher: Scribner
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Sydney in the late 1950s. On the second floor of the famous F.G. Goode department store, in Ladies' Cocktail Frocks, the women in black are girding themselves for the Christmas rush. Lisa is the new Sales Assistant (Temporary). Across the floor and beyond the arch, she is about to meet the glamorous Continental refugee, Magda, guardian of the rose-pink cave of Model Gowns.


Kritters Thoughts:  Set in Australia in the late 1950s in a department store where ladies make up the majority of the workforce.  This little book rotates between characters and their different storylines and what is impacting them as they go through the holiday season.

I liked this book, but didn't love it.  I think the lack of length stunted the story and with more pages the story archs could have felt more fluid and full.  It felt as though just as I was getting involved with one of the characters and their storyline, the chapter would stop and jump to someone else and with the overall book length it felt as though a lot was crammed into just a few pages.  

I wish this book had more because I think it needed more especially as the author tried to give a large cast a lot of time to each character and there wasn't one that was solely focused on with a large secondary cast.  I wanted and wished for more with this one.


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 69 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.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
by Kim Michele Richardson

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 308
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.


Kritters Thoughts:  A book that I only heard about due to a bit of controversy, but I am glad that I read it fully to compare and contrast against what everyone was saying.  I will not compare this book to another in this review, but will say it was interesting to read this against the other.  

It is 1936 in rural Kentucky and Cussy Carter is a pack house librarian.  She spends her days delivering books to the outskirts of Appalachian and visiting with different families.  She is unique herself as she is the last living female of the "Blue People" lineage.  

Most of the plot of this story revolved around her being blue and how that impacted her daily life.  The people in her town defined a blue person as a "colored person" and this whole plot line made me do a few google searches and learn about the lineage and family and how they were treated throughout the years.  I felt as though the book focused on this more than the idea of the pack horse library.

There were some sweet moments as Cussy visited her "neighbors" and delivered books and I loved those, but the logistics of the library were sort of glossed over and didn't get as much attention.  

I liked this book, but didn't love it.  I felt as though it was placed in a historical time and place, but it didn't feel rooted there.   


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

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, February 25, 2020

The Secret Life of Mrs. London
by Rebecca Rosenberg

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 348
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.


Kritters Thoughts:  Jack London is in the middle of his career and has already been through some interesting personal things and is currently married to a woman who is both a muse and almost a personal assistant as she is helping move his career along.  Charmain London was older than Jack London and really was a big part of the second half of his career and this book focuses on her life.

Going into this book I didn't know much about Jack London - his career or his life.  I loved reading this book through the lens of his wife, Charmain.  It was so intriguing how vital to his career she was enough that it really dwarfed and impacted her own pursuits and how diminished she was standing next to this larger than life character.  I think seeing this story through her the reader was really able to see her true feelings.  

With a bit of spoiler one of the things I enjoyed was that the story went beyond his death.  I was glad that the author didn't end Charmain's story with his death because she had a life after his death and it was interesting to see the parts where she is dealing with his death and trying to decide what she wants to do with herself apart from him.  

I liked this book, but it wasn't one of my favorite historical fiction books.  It was more with the writing and the flow of things that just didn't always work for me.  I was glad to learn about these historical figures and get a peek into their lives, but the arc of the story didn't have the flow that I usually like when reading historical fiction.


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 13 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.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Batter Up
by Robyn Neeley

Publisher: Dreamscape
Pages: 172
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Bakeshop owner Emma Stevens has a secret. A delicious premonition she shares every Monday evening with the bachelors of Buttermilk Falls as they gather at the Sugar Spoon bakery for Batter Up night.

Investigative reporter Jason Levine just found himself as the man candy for a bachelorette party in Las Vegas. Roped into attending the Vegas nuptials, was he hearing things when the groom shares that the only reason he’s getting married is because a small town baker conjured up the name of his soulmate in her cake batter?

Sparks fly when Jason tries to expose Emma as a fraud, but reality and logic go out the window as he begins to fall under her spell.


Kritters Thoughts:  A sweet little romance that I didn't completely love, but mostly loved!  I will explain. . . 

Emma Stevens owns an interesting little bakery in a small town in upstate NY.  On Monday nights the local bachelors come to her store to get revealed their true love and Emma has quite the matchmaking record.  A reporter comes to know about this interesting thing happening and decides to go make a story of it.  

For me, I wish the author had a few more pages to make the story flow better.  I felt as though we go from Jason and Emma meeting and having one encounter to a full on romantic episode and I wish there had been more build up to get us to the point that it did.  

I loved the concept of the book and most of the plot, it just didn't completely work for me.  The characters were great, I wanted more of a complete story arch for them.    


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 12 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, February 23, 2020

Two weeks worth of reading since last weekend ended up with me nursing a dog back to health and I didn't get this post up!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Open Book by Jessica Simpson (audio)
Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel
A Year Without a Name by Cyrus Grace Dunham (audio)
Female. Likes Cheese. Comes with Dog. by Lauren Cribb
The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne
Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar
The Ghosts of Eden Park by Karen Abbott
Vanishing Girls by Lisa Regan

Currently Reading:
American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Next on the TBR pile:
One Little Lie by Colleen Coble

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Girl in White Gloves
by Kerri Maher

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

Goodreads:  A life in snapshots…

Grace knows what people see. She’s the Cinderella story. An icon of glamor and elegance frozen in dazzling Technicolor. The picture of perfection. The girl in white gloves.

A woman in living color…

But behind the lens, beyond the panoramic views of glistening Mediterranean azure, she knows the truth. The sacrifices it takes for an unappreciated girl from Philadelphia to defy her family and become the reigning queen of the screen. The heartbreaking reasons she trades Hollywood for a crown. The loneliness of being a princess in a fairy tale kingdom that is all too real.


Hardest of all for her adoring fans and loyal subjects to comprehend, is the harsh reality that to be the most envied woman in the world does not mean she is the happiest. Starved for affection and purpose, facing a labyrinth of romantic and social expectations with more twists and turns than Monaco’s infamous winding roads, Grace must find her own way to fulfillment. But what she risks--her art, her family, her marriage—she may never get back.



Kritters Thoughts: Grace Kelly is a name that brings to mind images that most anyone could describe.  A woman who was held to an extreme standard for poise and physical appearance, yet I didn't know much about her life.  This book although a fictional tale, pulls back the curtain on Grace Kelly's years before she became a legit princess and then through the transition and into her years as a parent and a full fledged princess.

As much as I loved this book, there were moments where the pacing fell off for me and I felt as though it dragged a bit.  I wouldn't have minded the book being shortened just a little and getting more interesting glimpses into moments in her life.  There were parts that felt repetitive and redundant.  

Reading this book at this moment in time felt ironic with Harry and Meghan's changing of their royal intentions.  Grace made me think of Meghan in her inability to please the people of Monaco due to her "americaness" and just wanting to serve them, but also missing a piece of her life without her ability to pursue the career dreams that she had held for so long.  I really read this book with Meghan in the back of my mind.  

This book made me go and look at my TBR and look for some more Grace Kelly books to see her through a few more perspectives.  


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 Penguin Random House.  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 20, 2020

The Antidote for Everything
by Kimmery Martin

Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 352
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Georgia Brown’s profession as a urologist requires her to interact with plenty of naked men, but her romantic prospects have fizzled. The most important person in her life is her friend Jonah Tsukada, a funny, empathetic family medicine doctor who works at the same hospital in Charleston, South Carolina and who has become as close as family to her.

Just after Georgia leaves the country for a medical conference, Jonah shares startling news. The hospital is instructing doctors to stop providing medical care for transgender patients. Jonah, a gay man, is the first to be fired when he refuses to abandon his patients. Stunned by the predicament of her closest friend, Georgia’s natural instinct is to fight alongside him. But when her attempts to address the situation result in incalculable harm, both Georgia and Jonah find themselves facing the loss of much more than their careers.


Kritters Thoughts:  The second book by Kimmery Martin and I am officially a fan of her writing.  Both of her books center around the medical community and both handle some hard topics.  They are not a series, but I would high suggest reading both of them.

This book centers around a man and a woman who have an intense friendship - enough to make each other their healthcare power of attorney.  Georgia Brown is a female urologist which is unique (something I learned), she has been in her field for a long time and prides herself on being a good doctor for each of her patients.  Jonah Tsukada is a primary care physician who is willing to treat all sorts of patients, he has many who are transitioning or are queer and being a gay man himself can provide an extra dose of empathy when treating them.  

These two and their friendship really made the book for me.  I love how they played off of each other and how they supported each other.  I wouldn't mind another book about this pair.  They reminded me of a few friendships that I have where you can support one another but also push each other to become better people.  

The other thing that made this book for me was the topic that she tackled - private medical care being able to make decisions about who they do and who they don't treat.  I knew before reading this book that this was a fact, but to read about it just really made it real and heartbreaking.  I can't imagine having hospital executives tell me a doctor who I can and can't treat due to social decisions that the patients make - that just blows my mind.

I love Kimmery Martin's writing, characters and plot.  It also helps that her books have been set so far in cities that I love - Charlotte and Charleston.  She is definitely worth picking up and spending some time with.


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

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.


 

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