Friday, January 22, 2021

The Watchmaker of Dachau
by Carly Schabowski 

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 249
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Snow falls and a woman prepares for a funeral she has long expected, yet hoped would never come. As she pats her hair and straightens her skirt, she tells herself this isn’t the first time she’s lost someone. Lifting a delicate, battered wristwatch from a little box on her dresser, she presses it to her cheek. Suddenly, she’s lost in memory…

January 1945. Dachau, Germany. As the train rattles through the bright, snowy Bavarian countryside, the still beauty outside the window hides the terrible scenes inside the train, where men and women are packed together, cold and terrified. Jewish watchmaker Isaac Schüller can’t understand how he came to be here, and is certain he won’t be leaving alive.

When the prisoners arrive at Dachau concentration camp, Isaac is unexpectedly pulled from the crowd and installed in the nearby household of Senior Officer Becher and his young, pretty, spoiled wife. With his talent for watchmaking, Isaac can be of use to Becher, but he knows his life is only worth something here as long as Becher needs his skills.

Anna Reznick waits table and washes linens for the Bechers, who dine and socialise and carry on as if they don’t constantly have death all around them. When she meets Isaac she knows she’s found a true friend, and maybe more. But Dachau is a dangerous place where you can never take love for granted, and when Isaac discovers a heartbreaking secret hidden in the depths of Becher’s workshop, it will put Anna and Issac in terrible danger…
 


Kritters Thoughts:  Isaac Schuller has a skill that he never thought could possibly save his life.  As a watchmaker, he has the ability to fix a lot of things with motors and such and instead of working in a concentration camp, he is asked to go to the home of the supervisor and fix things in his home.  With a maid who sneaks him food and a place to work, this could completely alter his life.  

Yes, this is another one of those World War II books that as hard to read, but worth every page.  There were moments where I had a difficult time reading because the horror of what happened was weirdly beautifully written and captivating.  There are times when we each need to be reminded of what happened in the past, so we have the hope to not repeat it and this book presented what happened in a way that I could digest it and see the truth pain that was inflicted on a group of people.  

If you think you have read all of the World War II books, you should add this one to the list, but read with caution as it is hard and heavy.  


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 137 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, January 21, 2021

Aftershock
by Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell 

Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When an earthquake strikes San Francisco, forensics expert Jessie Teska faces her biggest threat yet in this explosive new mystery from the New York Times bestselling duo.

There’s a body crushed under a load of pipes on a San Francisco construction site, and medical examiner Dr. Jessie Teska is on call. So it’s her job to figure out who it is—and her headache when the autopsy reveals that the death is a homicide staged as an accident.

Jessie is hot on the murderer’s trail, then an earthquake sends her and her whole city reeling. When the dust clears, her case has fallen apart and an innocent man is being framed. Jessie knows she’s the only one who can prove it, and she races to piece together the truth—before it gets buried and brings her down in the rubble.

With Melinek and Mitchell’s trademark blend of propulsive prose, deft plotting and mordant humor, this rollicking new installment in the Jessie Teska Mystery series will shake you up and leave you rattled.
 


Kritters Thoughts:  The second in a series and while each book had a mystery contained there was major character development from book to book, so I suggest going back to book one and starting there!

Jessie Teska is a deputy chief medical examiner in San Francisco and she is on a construction site where a dead body may not be what it may seem - still dead, just maybe not a construction accident.  While she is just the medical examiner, Teska doesn't have much faith in the detectives to do the real digging, so she goes and does her own and then an earthquake happens!  

I loved this book and am hoping for many more in this series.  I find it so unique to see an investigation through the ME's perspective because of the clues she receives from reviewing the dead body and although she isn't really supposed to be investigating, she also feels like a naive investigator who shouldn't be pursuing the truth.  

The final outcome of this book was satisfying, but I am really hoping for more books from Teska's point of view!


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 138 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Harlequin.  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 19, 2021

Our Italian Summer
by Jennifer Probst

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

Goodreads:  Workaholic, career-obsessed Francesca is fiercely independent and successful in all areas of life except one: family. She struggles to make time for her relationship with her teenage daughter, Allegra, and the two have become practically strangers to each other. When Allegra hangs out with a new crowd and is arrested for drug possession, Francesca gives in to her mother's wish that they take one epic summer vacation to trace their family roots in Italy. What she never expected was to be faced with the choice of a lifetime. . . .

Allegra wants to make her grandmother happy, but she hates the idea of forced time with her mother and vows to fight every step of the ridiculous tour, until a young man on the verge of priesthood begins to show her the power of acceptance, healing, and the heartbreaking complications of love.

Sophia knows her girls are in trouble. A summer filled with the possibility for change is what they all desperately need. Among the ruins of ancient Rome, the small churches of Assisi, and the rolling hills of Tuscany, Sophia hopes to show her girls that the bonds of family are everything, and to remind them that they can always lean on one another, before it's too late.


Kritters Thoughts:  Three generations of women are each battling with their own issues and when things come to a breaking point, they end up taking a vacation to Italy that will hopefully change each of their lives.  Francesca is the middle of these women, she is a daughter and a mother and is trying to balance both of those parts with her stressful full time job at a company that she has created and is still growing.  The eldest Sophia is harboring a secret and is hoping that both of her girls can find peace.  Allegra is a daughter and granddaughter and she recently made a few wrong turns that could impact her future.

I love a book about family and especially female relationships and the ins and outs and ups and downs that happen between females in their family relationships.  Each of the women in this book had something they were dealing with and I loved seeing how this trip impacted how they were each reacting to their own struggles.  

The balance of family, love and professional life were perfect in this book.  There was just the right amount of each in the story.  

I read this book in winter which made me wish for a great vacation, but I think this could be read at any time of the year.  


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 136 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.


Friday, January 15, 2021

The Little Grave
by Carolyn Arnold

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 339
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Detective Amanda Steele stops just inside the doorway, recognizing the victim’s face instantly. He seems so vulnerable in death; soft, human, even harmless. But she can never forget the evil he has inflicted. Her heart is hammering as she remembers her precious daughter, with her red curls and infectious laugh, and how she was lowered into that little grave…

It’s been five years since Detective Amanda Steele’s life was derailed in the path of an oncoming drunk driver. The small community of Dumfries, Virginia, may have moved on from the tragic deaths of her husband and daughter, but Amanda cannot. When the driver who killed her family is found murdered in a motel room, she can’t keep away from the case.

Fighting her sergeant to be allowed to work an investigation with such a personal connection to her, Amanda is in a race to prove that she can uncover the truth. But the more she digs into the past of the man who destroyed her future, the more shocking discoveries she makes. And when Amanda finds the link between a silver bracelet in his possession and the brutal unsolved murder of a young exotic dancer, she realizes she’s caught up in something darker than she ever imagined and suspects that more girls could be in danger.

But as Amanda edges toward the truth, she gets closer to a secret as personal as it is deadly. Amanda has stumbled upon a dangerous killer, and she must face some terrible truths in order to catch this killer – and save his next victim as she couldn’t save her own daughter…


Kritters Thoughts:  Detective Amanda Steele still lives in the small Northern VA town of Dumfries, VA that she was raised in.  Her father a retired police chief she followed in his footsteps and is a homicide detective.  After the recent tragic loss of her husband and child, the drunk driver that killed her family is found dead and she wants to bring his murder to justice (and maybe thank them for taking his life).

It may be weird to say, but mystery/thrillers have become comfort reads to me and I love to dive deep into them and read the twists and turns and try to come to the conclusion before the main character.  They are an escape from whatever is going on outside!  For me there are two things that I rate this genre on, the main character who is doing the crime solving and the ultimate villain.  In this book, they were both five stars in my book.

I loved Detective Amanda Steele.  She wasn't perfect in any way and was still dealing with the demons that had wrecked her life.  The investigation went through great peaks and valleys and I am satisfied with the outcome - of course not spoiling!  

I hope there are more to come with this main character and more from this author.


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 3 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, January 14, 2021

Find Me in Havana
by Serena Burdick

Publisher: Park Row Books
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Cuba, 1936: When Estelita Rodriguez sings in a hazy Havana nightclub for the very first time, she is nine years old. From then on, that spotlight of adoration--from Havana to New York's Copacabana and then Hollywood--becomes the one true accomplishment no one can take from her. Not the 1933 Cuban Revolution that drove her family into poverty. Not the revolving door of husbands or the fickle world of film.

Thirty years later, her young adult daughter, Nina, is blindsided by her mother's mysterious death. Seeking answers, the grieving Nina navigates the troubling, opulent memories of their life together and discovers how much Estelita sacrificed to live the American dream on her own terms.


Kritters Thoughts:  A mother and daughter both take turns telling the story of the 1930s from California to Mexico to Cuba through many different types of drama and tragedy and how they each endured through it all.  Based in fact, this novel introduced me to a woman in Hollywood that I had no previous knowledge of and made me do some research to find out where fact met fiction.  

Estelita Rodriguez was a major film star, of Cuban descent, she ended up starring in nine Roy Rogers movies which made up a majority of her film career.  This book took place during quite a span of years, so the reader gets to see her before her career takes off and through and beyond her death.  

A minor hiccup for me in this book was the labeling of chapters.  Each started with mother or daughter and made it seem as though each chapter was written almost in letter form, but it really didn't read that way.  The chapter headers made the reading confusing and I had to write myself a sticky note, so I kept it straight as to who would be talking.  I think I would have labeled the chapters differently to make things a little easier to read.  

I did love that both characters were given the chance to tell their sides of the story throughout the book.  Seeing from Estelita, the mother's point of view, when she thinks she is doing what is best for her family and then Nina, her daughter, describing what she wished her mother would do or how she perceived the situations in a different way - it was interesting to see what mother daughter each wanted from the other.  

This was a good historical fiction in that it taught me about something I didn't know, but in an entertaining way.    


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 135 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Harlequin.  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 12, 2021

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
by Marie Benedict

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car—strange for a frigid night. Her husband and daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away.

The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. With her trademark exploration into the shadows of history, acclaimed author Marie Benedict brings us into the world of Agatha Christie, imagining why such a brilliant woman would find herself at the center of such a murky story.


Kritters Thoughts:  I was just recently advised about this moment in Agatha Christie's life and was excited when I heard this book was coming.  Of course it is fiction, so not factual, but I was still excited to hear that an account of sorts of this time in history would be written and loved that it was by Marie Benedict who has chronicled some great women in history already.  

Told through two different perspectives and in two different moments in time, one is through Agatha Christie's eyes as she meets and falls in love with Archibald Christie and the ups and downs of that relationship up until the time she goes missing.  The other time frame in the book is through Archie's point of view from the day she goes missing and through the investigation into her disappearance and his possible involvement.  The back and forth between these two was expertly put together and I loved seeing the relationship basically through both of their eyes and it helped for a novice like me to find out the back story while also reading about the days where she was missing.

It seems weird to admit, but I have not read an Agatha Christie book and after reading about the romantic part of her life with little glimpses into her writing life, I am now more intrigued to read more about her and read her own work.  Marie Benedict knows how to focus on a woman in history and paint a full picture while giving some historical context and entertaining a reader too!


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 129 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Edelweiss.  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 11, 2021

The Silent House
by Nell Pattison

Publisher: Avon
Pages: 392
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  If someone was in your house, you’d know . . . Wouldn’t you?

But the Hunter family are deaf, and don’t hear a thing when a shocking crime takes place in the middle of the night. Instead, they wake up to their worst nightmare: the murder of their daughter.

The police call Paige Northwood to the scene to interpret for the witnesses. They’re in shock, but Paige senses the Hunters are hiding something.

One by one, people from Paige’s community start to fall under suspicion. But who would kill a little girl?

Was it an intruder?

Or was the murderer closer to home?


Kritters Thoughts:  Imagine waking up and someone was in your home and killed one of your children, but because you are deaf you didn't hear a thing.  Elisha and Alan Hunter wake up and find that one of their three children has been murdered overnight and they are brought into being questioned and in walks Paige Northwood who can hear, but grew up in a family with deaf mother, father and sister, so she has essentially been an interpreter her whole life.  

Paige Northwood was a great character to follow during this story and I loved how she had a unique perspective on the deaf community and that in this town in England it is a tight knit group - so rumors can fly and quick.  Paige is intwined in this investigation due to her relationship to the local deaf community and as her whole to interpret for them during these high stakes conversations with the police.  I loved how the author put the parts of the conversations that were signed into italics, it was so easy to follow and helped me understand what was spoken verbally and what was signed.  

This is my second book this year that has deaf characters and again I appreciated reading about characters that are far from my life experience and give me a look into how life looks like from their point of view.  

I hope to read more by this author and with the way this book was put into Goodreads, it seems as though it is the start to the series, so I hope to see more of Paige Northwood.  


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 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.

 

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