Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Review: The Summer of Fall by Laura Lippman

Publisher: Scribd Originals
Pages: 62
Format: eARC

Goodreads:  “Lucky! I’M LUCKY, GODDAMMIT!” So Laura Lippman keeps telling herself throughout the course of a year when she seems everything but. Her marriage crumbles; a beloved friend dies suddenly; her sister’s health fails. Everything and everyone is falling apart. The calamities reach a symbolic climax in the summer of 2022, when she and her mother both suffer bad falls. (Her mom is ninety-one; Lippman herself is merely “exceptionally clumsy.”) Still, she insists, she is lucky.

And in many ways, she is. She has a great kid and a career she loves, and she’s healthy and more or less happy. Yet even a resilient optimist like her can’t deny that life’s catastrophes are indiscriminate and seem always to hit at once.

In this wry and honest memoir of a truly lousy time, she gives an intimate look at her private life — perhaps less hair-raising than her award-winning crime thrillers, but no less engaging. And it’s relatable. Even the most fortunate experience heartache, loss, and physical breakdown of some kind. Lippman’s account of her own hard knocks reminds us that, eventually, adversity comes for everyone.

But she has a more important message: While misfortune might not be a choice, how we respond to it is. Lippman chooses to be a happy warrior. When her friend Terry Teachout, the renowned theater critic for The Wall Street Journal, dies without warning in January 2022, she finds solace in the fact that he’d recently found joy in a new romance. When two friends make the spontaneous decision to marry during a writer’s workshop in Italy, she throws herself into the role of officiant, despite the flatlining of her own marriage. When she ruins her shoulder in a fall, she refuses to swap her fun shoes for something more sensible. She won’t let sorrow and pain get the best of her. Blessings abound, godammit, and there’s still so much to celebrate.


Kritters Thoughts:  I am a Laura Lippman fan, I have nowhere near read all of her books, but when I saw this book come across Netgalley I was excited to read some non fiction that Laura Lippman wrote and even more so wrote about her own life.  She was an avid writer but also journaled her own life and this little book came from her writing as she recounted a summer that was possibly one to not remember!  

With a separation/divorce, physical injury, family drama and more, after reading this book I wanted to go have a beverage with Laura Lippman and just gab about the ups and downs of life.  I loved that yes I read about a horrible summer, but also got a glimpse behind the curtain of the humanity of an author as they try to keep writing and working while life knocks them around.  

I would love to read more of these by other authors that I love and see both their personal life and professional life as they collide.  


Rating:




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, July 2, 2024

Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Publisher: Harper
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a T├Ątowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.


Kritters Thoughts:  A book I read solely because I saw that a mini series was created and I am a stickler for reading the book before watching the movie, the show or the whatever! So I picked up this book recently and read it and what a story.  I was glad that I could see someone's interpretation of it on screen and see how even the hardest of moments would be portrayed on a screen.  

Based on a true story, Lale Sokolov was a Jew who went to Auschwitz and eventually became the man who tattooed the incoming Jews; he aligned himself with the SS soldiers and was able to help his fellow men and women through various ways to survive the horrors that took place in Auschwitz.  Because of the way he took care of others, it saved his life so many times.  

It is hard to say I loved this book because most of it took place in a concentration camp, but to see humanity still trying to take care of each other in any way possible and to see a love story emerge, it was something else.  

Rating:




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, 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.  
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