Friday, January 24, 2020

The Vineyards of Champagne
by Juliet Blackwell

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

Goodreads:  Deep within the labyrinth of caves that lie below the lush, rolling vineyards of the Champagne region, an underground city of women and children hums with life. Forced to take shelter from the unrelenting onslaught of German shellfire above, the bravest among them venture out to pluck sweet grapes for the harvest. But wine is not the only secret preserved in the cool, dark cellars...

In present day, Rosalyn travels to Champagne to select vintages for her Napa-based employer. Rosalyn doesn't much care for champagne--or France, for that matter. Since the untimely death of her young husband, Rosalyn finds it a challenge to enjoy anything at all. But as she reads through a precious cache of WWI letters and retraces the lives lived in the limestone tunnels, Rosalyn will unravel a mystery hidden for decades...and find a way to savor her own life again, inspired by the hope and defiance of the women who toiled to bring in the grape harvest during the war.


Kritters Thoughts:  This book should be right up my alley.  A present day storyline with a historical storyline weaving through with letters throughout, but for me it didn't completely work and I will explain why.  

Rosalyn is the main character in the present storyline and she lost her husband to cancer a few years ago and has still kind of been stuck in a rut until her boss sends her to Champagne, France to experience new things and possibly become a better asset to his company.  While on the flight there she meets an interesting woman who has historical letters that she is trying to piece together and when they land in France they will meet back up and go on an adventure.

I liked the characters in this book, that wasn't the problem.  The problem for me was I wanted more from the historical storyline.  There were chapters throughout the book, but I just wanted more!  I felt as though that storyline was lacking and I wanted to learn so much more about that time in France and the ins and outs of living underneath their land.  

I still love this author and will read future books, but for me this one isn't my favorite of her collection.  


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 63 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.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch
by Kimberly Potts

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 288
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  There isn't a person in this country who hasn't heard of The Brady Bunch. Whether it's the show they watched growing up, or the one their parents did--whether adored, or great to poke fun at--The Brady Bunch is unarguably one of the most enduring and inspiring TV shows of our time. It's lived a dozen lives, from its original comedy debut and big-screen movies, to the Emmy-winning TV auteurs it has inspired--everyone from Vince Gilligan to Jill Soloway--and promises to live many more.

In The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch, TV and pop culture writer Kimberly Potts will draw upon her deep knowledge of and appreciation for The Brady Bunch and television and pop culture history, as well as her contacts, connections, and experience, to provide an industry insider narrative of The Brady Bunch. With fresh interviews, The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch will examine the show's lasting effects on its audience and take readers behind-the-scenes and into the lives of our most beloved characters, all to document why The Brady Bunch was one of the most groundbreaking shows of its time--and why it remains to this day, unforgettable.


Kritters Thoughts:  I am a part of the generation that enjoyed The Brady Bunch through syndication and also enjoyed some of the extra spin offs and reunions in real time.  I was such a fan of this happy family who could solve problems in one episode and they were dealing with issues that me and my peers were dealing with - I loved it.  

I loved a book dedicated to the ins and outs of The Brady Bunch.  There were so many things I learned - both positive and negative.  I was so sad to learn about Robert Reed's disinterest in the show and his attitude to the creative team; it will taint my future viewing of him in the show.  I did love to read about how the entire team really made sure it was a great experience for all the kids working on the show.  I was glad to see that they put the kids first a lot.  

What I loved most about the book was that it was almost the culmination of a bunch of memoirs and other sources all in one book.  The chapters were sort of themed, so I liked that each chapter was about one thing or another from the conception of the idea of the show to behind the scenes antics.  Readers could almost read this and skip all the individual memoirs.  

I would love this author to do some other books on some other pop culture things from the past.  


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 Grand Central 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.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Calli
by Jessica Lee Anderson

Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Pages: 198
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Fifteen-year-old Calli has just about everything she could want in life—two loving moms, a good-looking boyfriend, and a best friend who has always been there for support. An only child, Calli is excited when her parents announce that they want to be foster parents. Unfortunately, being a foster sister to Cherish is not at all what Calli expected. First Cherish steals Calli’s boyfriend, then begins to pit Calli’s moms against one another, and she even steals Calli’s iPod. Tired of being pushed around and determined to get even, Calli steals one of Cherish’s necklaces. But this plan for revenge goes horribly awry, and Cherish ends up in juvenile detention.

Isolating herself from her moms, her boyfriend, and even her best friend, Calli wrestles with her guilt and tries to figure out a way to undo the damage she’s caused. When her moms are asked to take on another foster child, Calli sees an opportunity to make amends for her past mistakes.


Kritters Thoughts:  A definite young adult book where I felt as though I wasn't quite the target audience.  Some young adult books can be read by adults and adults can get some enjoyment, but this one just wasn't it.  With simple language and simple characters, this book was just ok for me.  

Calli is a young woman who has two moms and definitely not the conventional home life.  Her biological father isn't in her life and her moms have recently decided to start fostering children, so she a girl move in who is the same age and it doesn't go well.  This relationship makes Calli question everything and even makes her change herself into someone that she doesn't like.  Calli learns lessons the hard way in this book.  

Although this book wasn't for me, I would say this book would be good for a younger audience who may need exposure to some real issues.  


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, January 21, 2020

Everything My Mother Taught Me
by Alice Hoffman

Publisher: Amazon
Pages: 28
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In this haunting short story of loyalty and betrayal, a young woman in early 1900s Massachusetts discovers that in navigating her treacherous coming-of-age, she must find her voice first.

For fatefully observant Adeline, growing up carries an ominous warning from her adulterous mother: don’t say a word. Adeline vows to never speak again. But that’s not her only secret. After her mother takes a housekeeping job at a lighthouse off the tip of Cape Ann, a local woman vanishes. The key to the mystery lies with Adeline, the silent witness.


Kritters Thoughts:  In early 1900s Massachusetts a woman doesn't have many options when her husband dies, so her and her daughter are shipped off to help the lighthouse keepers and their families.  From the minute her father dies, Adeline decides to stop speaking, but you can still make great change without a physical voice.

From the minute they land in the remote area where the lighthouses are Adeline watches her mother make havoc on these families and she is determined to stop her mother from causing extreme damage.  I loved watching this young girl make expert moves without a word spoken.  

With minimal pages, this book still made an impact.  The ending was just spot on!  Made me want a sequel so bad!  


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 49 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, January 20, 2020

How Quickly She Disappears
by Raymond Fleischmann

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

Goodreads:  It’s 1941 in small-town Alaska and Elisabeth Pfautz is alone. She’s living far from home, struggling through an unhappy marriage, and she spends her days tutoring her precocious young daughter. Elisabeth’s twin sister disappeared without a trace twenty years earlier, and Elisabeth’s life has never recovered. Cryptic visions of her sister haunt her dreams, and Elisabeth’s crushing loneliness grows more intense by the day. But through it all, she clings to one belief: That her sister is still alive, and that they’ll be reunited one day.

And that day may be coming soon. Elisabeth’s world is upended when Alfred Seidel — an enigmatic German bush pilot — arrives in town and murders a local man in cold blood. Sitting in his cell in the wake of his crime, Alfred refuses to speak to anyone except for Elisabeth. He has something to tell her: He knows exactly what happened to her long-missing sister, but he’ll reveal this truth only if Elisabeth fulfills three requests.

Increasingly isolated from her neighbors and imprisoned by the bitter cold and her own obsession, Elisabeth lets herself slip deeper into Alfred’s web. A tenuous friendship forms between them, even as Elisabeth struggles to understand Alfred’s game and what he’s after.

But if it means she’ll get answers, she’s willing to play by his rules. She’s ready to sacrifice whatever it takes to be reunited with her sister, even if it means putting herself — and her family — in mortal danger.


Kritters Thoughts:  Elizabeth Pfautz lives in the wilderness of Alaska and has isolated herself for one big reason, when she was 11 years old her twin went missing and there were no clues to be found, but Elizabeth always felt as if she was still alive.  Now as an adult she still feels the pull to find her twin and despite many people warning her, she still looks for clues for her twin all the time.  

For me this was not a book I enjoyed and I was completely surprised throughout the reading that I just wasn't enjoying it. The story felt like it wasn't moving anywhere and kept having those hints of "I will tell you the secret, but not yet" and I just wasn't enjoying the tease.  

Throughout the book there were chapters sprinkled in that take the second person point of view and for me these chapters were hard to read and distracting from the main story.  I understand that they were there to help take the story back in time to when Jacqueline was alive, but changing the tense for me wasn't the right way to do it.  

Usually I try to find a reader for every book that I review, but this one could be the one that will be hard for me to recommend as the plot was just too slow for me.  


Rating: not such a good idea

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.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

It was such a good week in reading, I am really enjoying the streak I have going in January!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Wingspan by Chris Bohjalian
Lost Tomorrows by Matt Coyle
Intermittent Fasting for Women by Lori Russell
Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard

Currently Reading:
The Valedictorian of Being Dead by Heather Armstrong
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

Next on the TBR pile:
The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Zenith Man
by Jennifer Haigh

Publisher: Amazon
Pages: 23
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Whatever had been going on behind the closed doors of the shuttered old house, the couple who lived there kept it to themselves. Among the locals, there’s only chilling speculation.

Neighbors are shocked when Harold Pardee reports his wife dead. No one even knew the eccentric TV repairman was married. Within hours, horrible rumors spread about what that poor woman must have endured for thirty years. Until the Pardees’ carefully guarded world is exposed. New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Haigh delivers an endearing short story about our misguided perception of strangers, the nature of love, and the need for secrets.


Kritters Thoughts:  An interesting little story that is less than 25 pages, but so much is packed into just a few pages.  Harold Pardee wakes up one morning and his wife has passed away at some point in the night, he calls to report and maybe doesn't choose the best of words to describe the fact that his wife is dead and he is charged with his murder.  A young lawyer unfamiliar with murder trials gets a break . . .

With a short book/story, my review will be short and quick.  I loved it.  I always worry with short stories that with the limited pages will the story feel full and this one absolutely did.  I wanted more which for me is a good sign!  Pick this one up for a quick afternoon read this new year.  

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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 46 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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