Thursday, June 6, 2024

Review: The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 295
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads: Survival is the name of the game as the line blurs between reality TV and reality itself in Alexandra Oliva’s fast-paced novel of suspense.

She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.

It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it human-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game.

Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes.

But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.


Kritters Thoughts:  A little bit Survivor tv show with a pandemic on the side and while this book was published in 2016, reading it in 2024 after a pandemic has really happened felt VERY surreal and added an extra element to my reading.  

Twelve contestants are dropped into the woods with camera men and producers, but are prepped to have days and challenges alone where they may not even know they are being filmed, so suspend belief a little, but not too far off from a truth.  With chapters that bounce back and forth in time without the reader getting info made for a few times of frustration, but once I got the gist, I enjoyed going back and forth in time.  While the chapters that take place more at the beginning challenge with all the contestants battling mixed in with the chapters that focus on Zoo/Mae as she is out on her own grappling with admitting to reality and slowly discovering what could have happened beyond the challenge.  

Without spoiling the book, I will have to say in general, I didn't love the ending.  I was left in such a place where I wanted one or more chapters to really feel like I could see Zoo/Mae off onto the next part of her adventure and life.  


Rating:



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

Saturday, June 1, 2024

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Not one book finished in April - so so crazy!  With warm weather, I spent more days in May at the beach in my neighborhood with a few good books.  


1. We Can Only Save Ourselves by Alison Wisdom
2. The Colony Club by Shelley Noble
3. The Churchill Sisters by Rachel Trethewey
4. Real Americans by Rachel Khong

Total pages read, clicked, and flipped: 1,456

Where Have I Been Reading?:
New York City, NY

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Review The Churchill Sisters by Rachel Trethewey (audiobook)

Publisher: St Martin's Press
Pages: 320
Format: audiobook
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Bright, attractive and well-connected, in any other family the Churchill girls – Diana, Sarah, Marigold and Mary – would have shone. But they were not in another family, they were Churchills, and neither they nor anyone else could ever forget it. From their father – ‘the greatest Englishman’ – to their brother, golden boy Randolph, to their eccentric and exciting cousins, the Mitford Girls, they were surrounded by a clan of larger-than-life characters which often saw them overlooked. While Marigold died too young to achieve her potential, the other daughters lived lives full of passion, drama and tragedy.

Diana, intense and diffident; Sarah, glamorous and stubborn; Mary, dependable yet determined – each so different but each imbued with a sense of responsibility toward each other and their country. Far from being cosseted debutantes, these women were eyewitnesses at some of the most important events in world history, at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. Yet this is not a story set on the battlefields or in Parliament; it is an intimate saga that sheds light on the complex dynamics of family set against the backdrop of a tumultuous century.


Kritters Thoughts:  There are a few reasons why this audiobook completely worked for me.  First, I love listening to non fiction, I haven't been able to find the right fiction genre to work for me in audio form, still on the hunt.  I also love all things royal or royal adjacent and Winston Churchill was surely royal adjacent and to hear more about his family was so interesting.  I also love history, so to hear about Winston's daughters but also more about the events of the time was just great.  

About this book.  I went into this book knowing nothing about Churchill's family from his wife to his daughters, so all of this book was new information to me.  To hear about the strong women that were in his family and the things they did to support him and his efforts, but also the way he encouraged each of them to have their own avenues - I loved it!  I knew nothing about his wife and while this book didn't focus on her, she made appearances and this book inspired me to go find out more and read more about the woman who stood beside such an influential man.  

This book accompanied me on car rides to run errands, many hours cleaning the house, and some time prepping the garden for this year!  I love how an audiobook can join you in life and it feels like you are accomplishing so many things at once.  


Rating:




Audiobook 2024 Challenge: 2 out of 24

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, April 1, 2024

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Just one book finished this month, ended up being a busy month with a lot of other things taking my attention - early garden prep, big projects at work, and a few other things!

1. The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin


Total pages read, clicked and flipped: 355


Where Have I Been Reading?:
Dakotas


Sunday, March 3, 2024

Recipe Review: Creamy Garlic Mushroom Chicken

For recipes for March, I accidentally purchased too much chicken, so March will be the month of chicken! The first recipe I tried, was my first foray into dredging and pan-frying chicken.  While the meal itself was a hit, I want to try a different technique than what was in this recipe for pan-frying chicken the next time; using no egg and just dry ingredients was interesting, but when I make a recipe I stick to the instructions the first time around!   

I made this meal on a weekend when I had my favorite handyman - my dad at my house to make some fantastic custom closets.  It was such a joy to be able to feed him while he was making three closets of my dreams!  AND thank goodness it tasted way better than it photographed!  It even reheated well as leftovers.     

I then made the meal during the work week for just myself and tried the pan fry again and tried to see if it would maybe photograph better! This is a recipe that I can now keep in my back pocket, minus the need to have mushrooms and heavy cream on hand which I don't always have.  

Friday, March 1, 2024


A month where life went a little off course, but for good reasons. My reading and workouts went off from the goals I set for this year, BUT I have not one but two brand new custom closets built by my dad and I, and the designing and building were the best experiences. SO things can take a turn and then the first of March, new goals can be set!

1. The Opera Sisters by Marianne Monson
2. Trailed by Kathryn Miles
3. Data Baby by Susannah Breslin
4. The Presence of Absence by Simon Van Booy

Total pages read, clicked and flipped: 1,080


Where Have I Been Reading?:
Appalachian Trail, VA
California 





Sunday, February 25, 2024

Recipe Review: Homemade Pasta Sauce

Three weeks in a row with pasta, BUT this one is extra special.  One reason is because my nephew Jacob was here to help make and taste test.  AND second because the pasta sauce was made from tomatoes that I grew in my garden last year and froze.  

My hope is that this is the first of many recipes that includes things from my garden and with four garden beds and a few grow bags, my 2024 garden should be bountiful.  

Now to the recipe.  I had low expectations as I am quite opinionated on pasta sauce, but this one quickly went into the notebook to use over and over again.  With the aid of my immersion blender (first-time use!) my tomatoes were easily thinned out and adding minimal seasoning, the tomatoes were the star of the show which made me even happier that they were fresh from the garden because are always 10 times better than store-bought.  

Jacob chose penne pasta and we added some meatballs and this was a great dish for a rainy weekend.  
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