Thursday, June 30, 2011

Giveaway: The Wedding Writer by Susan Schneider

This Giveaway is closed.

It's your lucky day - I have just been advised that one lucky follower could win a copy of The Wedding Writer by Susan Schneider. Just fill out the form below for your entry.

Contest to end July 11th.

The Ramble: Library Sale

Hello readers, I have fun news to share. A week ago (Friday, June 24th) mom and I had the great opportunity to stop by the local library sale - their 22nd annual. We had no idea what we were walking into, but boy were we surprised and the happiest of campers.

Here is a vlog with pictures below to share the load I came home with:

The Lucky Ones by Rachel Cusk
Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson
The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank
Hello Goodbye by Emily Chenoweth
Another Thing to Fall by Laura Lippman
The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
Envy by Anna Godbersen
Rumors by Anna Godbersen
Splendor by Anna Godbersen
Lust, Loating and a Little Lip Gloss by Kyra Davis
Prayers and Lies by Sherri Wood Emmons
The Doctor's Wife by Elizabeth Brundage
One True Theory of Love by Laura Fitzgerald
Airhead by Meg Cabot
The Condition by Jennifer Haigh
Devil's Corner by Lisa Scottoline
In a Heartbeat by Rosalind Noonan
The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine
Beyond Summer by Lisa Wingate
Defiance by Carole Maso

I spent 42 bucks, but the sticker price would have totaled over $390!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guest Post - Susan Schneider autho of The Wedding Writer

I would like to welcome Susan Schneider to Kritters Ramblings. We are lucky to have a exclusive guest post just for us, so here it goes . . .

Ambitious Women, Yay or Nay?

The main character in The Wedding Writer, Lucky burns bright with pure ambition. At first it seemed that this would be a problem with selling the book. My agent loved the writing, but she didn't love Lucky. "Gee, can't you make her just a little nicer?" she asked plaintively. So I did - but not enough for my editor at St Martins. "Nope," she said. "Lucky isn't sympathetic enough." I saw their point - Lucky is a tough cookie - but then I was in a dilemma. How could I make her more likable but keep true to the kind of character I knew she had to be?

I decided that I could deepen Lucky so that the reader could understand her if not want to invite her to brunch. I wanted readers to see where Lucky was coming from, how she got to be the person she was, and so I worked really hard on a section about her visit to her family in Christmas. I wanted the reader to think "Ah ha, now I get it!" Overall , I'm glad I rethought Lucky, because I myself ended up liking her (and understanding her) a lot more.

I admit she isn't the easiest character in the world to warm up to; however, after working for many years in women's magazines, of which bridal is a very big part, I know that you have to be tough, especially if you come to the industry without connections. Then you have to fight even harder, and you have to steel yourself to take disappointment on the chin. And this s truer more now that ever, when jobs are scarce and getting scarcer.

Having said this, I still think that people often have a problem with ambitious women - even in these post-feminist days. As a single mom, I've been plenty torn about it: how much did I give to my job and how much to my daughter? And hey, how about me?

I've been Lucky myself and I've been the opposite of Lucky. But I admire my girl's ambitions, if not all her methods. I see where she's coming from. Sometimes my heart really goes out to her - I hope that when she finally reaches the top, it won't be too lonely. More than that, I hope she has a second chapter filled with love.

Check out my review yesterday of The Wedding Writer here on the blog.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: The Wedding Writer by Susan Schneider

Goodreads: Four talented women, one glossy wedding magazine: life should be as perfect as a bridal catwalk . . . right?

Lucky Quinn writes up weddings for one of the hottest bridal magazines. And it wasn't easy to get there. From humble beginnings, she outsmarted her way into the center of New York's glamorous magazine industry - making up for her background with a sharp mind, whip-thin physique, and ceaseless ambition.

Then, in one day, her life is utterly transformed; two of the magazine's major competitors fold, and Lucky is named Editor-in-Chief, replacing the formidable, but aging Grace Ralston, who had been at the magazine's helm from day one. Grace taught Lucky everything she knows, but now it seems that she taught her to well . . .

Kritters Thoughts: A great girlie chick lit to get an insider's look into the magazine world and more specifically the bridal magazine world. I absolutely adored that at the center of this book were women who held powerful positions and took the reigns on the professional lives. Ironic, that only one of the main characters was in a successful marriage with child.

Being a woman who always wanted to be in the working world and never seeing myself as the stay at home mom - nothing wrong with that role, my mom was an excellent CEO of the household - I just don't see myself as handling that kind of a job! I loved reading a book where women are in a professional situation and are succeeding. The interactions between women in the workforce is unique, as we are a more feeling gender, in the most part, I think it is extra hard for us to check our feelings at the door of our offices. I am guilty, but I think with each year I am in the workforce I realize that a job is a job and friends are friends.

Spoken from different perspectives, it was easy to realize which character was speaking. I think they each had a unique voice that made for a full story to be told. From beginning to end, I was rooting for each woman to find success in her own way - may it be out of the office, in a relationship or on the homefront. I honestly would love to see a sequel and see where the women end up and how through their relationships they affect one another beyond the workplace.

A great piece of women's fiction that is perfect for a weekend read. Light, but full of heart I would recommend it to any age group.
Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Pages: 320

Monday, June 27, 2011

Review: Dreams Unleashed by Linda Hawley

Goodreads: It's the future year of 2015, where technology governs life. No one on the globe is free from being tracked through government RFID. The worldwide underground organization, GOG, is the one group equipped to fight against citizens' loss of privacy. Ann Torgeson is a technical writer working for a tidal energy company - living a seemingly normal life in the Pacific Northwest - when her vivid dreams turn real. Is her training as a paranormal CIA agent when she was nineteen years old now altering the doorway between her subconscious and reality? When Ann starts to dig into her past, her present begins to unravel, leading the reader through events that twist and turn everything upside down.

Kritters Thoughts: Read in one day between two sittings, this book was filled with ups and downs. There were things that I absolutely loved about this book that kept me flipping pages or pushing the next button on the Nookster. And then there were two things that I wasn't absolutely gung ho about.

Start with the things I would have changed to end with what I loved. There were parts of this book that made mention of the current political environment, including Obama, our financial crisis and the going ons in the world. Maybe I am naive, but being in the year 2015, I wish that this part was either left out or made more fictional instead of so realistic and truthful. The other part that maybe I wouldn't change is the ending. (I am not a spoiler) But we are left with a major cliffhanger and by gosh, I would have rather a little more closure before heading into book 2 in the series.

Now onto the good stuff. I loved the dystopianish part of being a future world where the government is taking more and more control. It is sad, but being tracked through my drivers' license doesn't scare me, so they know that I am headed to the grocery store. I guess I don't mind because I don't find myself getting into trouble and so what if the gov't knows that I am headed into work or to a dog park. But with my mind set I still loved the book and the issues it brings up with how much control should a gov't have in our citizens' lives.

A read for the women and men folk. I think if you are politically minded you may enjoy it a little more - being in DC, I find myself a little more interested in the going ons of our nation's capital. I had a hard time picking a shoe category for this one - so I went with the heels.

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

Pages: 264

Cover Challenge April-June: Plain Jane

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's Monday, What are you Reading? (27)

Another Monday is about to begin. It should be an eventful week since I was out a lot last week with the graduation and family in town. We shall see how the reading goes now that he is at home and the tv is back on!

A meme hosted by Book Journey.

Currently Reading:

The Wedding Writer by Susan Schneider

In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannon

Next off the TBR pile:

Dreams Unleashed by Linda Hawley

In My Mailbox (36)

No vlog this week, after a long week of hosting family and the computer in the shop. I have a short list this week with a vlog to come on Wednesday with the load that I brought home from the Library Sale.

A meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Paperbackswap or Bookmooch:

A Goodwill trip:

Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Interview: Melissa Foster author of Megan's Way

Melissa Foster - author of both Megan's Way and Chasing Amanda and founder of the Women's Nest. A current resident of Maryland, with another book - Come Back To Me almost complete (synopsis after the interview).

I was given the great opportunity to send some questions her way and she so kindly responded with answers within an hour! Here it goes . . .

1. What do you find yourself rambling about?

It depends on who you ask. If you ask my kids, I ramble about things we want/need to do as a family. If you ask my husband, I ramble about my characters and plots, and if you ask my friends, I ramble about everything from The Women's Nest and my books to my kids and my cat.

2. When looking at your female leads, do you put a piece of your own personality into the characters?

I don't try to, but people who know me say that I do, so I'd have to say sometimes, yes. I have really worked on getting out of that habit for my third novel, Come Back to Me. I think you'll find the female lead quite different than both Megan, of Megan's Way, and Molly, of Chasing Amanda.

3. As a current resident of the DMV (DC, MD, VA area), what is one historical landmark that is on your must visit list?

We have so many great historical sights around our area, that you'd be missing out if you are unable to visit any of them, but one of my favorite spots is the Smithsonian, the building itself is magnificent, and the contents, of course, are interesting and exciting for all ages. If you are looking for an outside venue, then Swain's Lock is one of my favorite places to escape.

4. When did you realize you wanted to be an author? Have there been any speedbumps along the way?

Speedbumps . . . hmmm . . . I've never called the little people who run around my house that before, but yes, there have been. I have wanted to write since 1990 (at least) and was unable to focus my attention on it until all six of our kids were in school full-time. Time with the children moves so quickly -- although I recognize that while you're in the thick of raising toddler and small children, days can seem like months -- but I also know how quickly time passes. I wanted the time with them while they were at the age to want to share their time with me. I'm happy that I waited to write. I appreciate every second I spend in front of my keyboard and every moment with my chlidren.

5. What is next on your plate?

I'm almost finished with my third novel, Come Back to Me, an international love story/tragedy, and I've started my fourth, Shades of Gray, a YA/women's fiction crossover.

Sneak peek at Come Back to Me:

Tess Johnson has it all, Beau, her handsome photographer husband, a thriving business, and a newly discovered pregnancy. When Beau accepts an overseas photography assignment, Tess decideds to wait to reveal her secret - only she's never given the chance. Beau's helicopter crashes in the desert.

As Tess struggles to put her life back together and deal with the pregnancy she can no longer hid, a new client appears, offering more than just a new project.

Meanwhile, two Iraqi women who are fleeing Honor Killings find Beau alive in the middle of the desert, his body ravaged. Suha, a doctor, and Samira, a widow and mother of three young children, nurse him back to health in a makeshift tent. Beau bonds with the women and children, and together, with the help of an underground organization, they continue their dangerous escape.

What happens next is a test of loyalites, strength, and love.

I am definitely putting this book on my wish list. Thank you Melissa for your answers - I definitely see that children are great speedbumps on the road we call life!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Ramble - the boy graduates from Police Academy

A nonbookish ramble this week, but I had to share photos and my pure excitement to the boy who graduated on Wednesday from the Police Academy! It was a grueling 5 months spent apart after a 6 month application process. SO after a year of ups and downs - it is official - I live with the law!

We were blessed to have both his family and my family here to be a part of such a great day. The pomp and circumstance was fun to watch, but definitely made the ceremony quite lengthy.
Just a great day! Now to live with the shift, who knows when we will celebrate holidays from here on out!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Megan's Way by Melissa Foster

Goodreads: What would you give up for the people you love?

When Megan Taylor, a single mother and artist, receives the shocking news that her cancer has returned, she'll be faced with the most difficult decision she's ever had to make. She'll endure an emotional journey, questioning her own moral and ethical values, and the decisions she'd made long ago. The love she has for her daughter, Olivia, and her closest friends, will be stretched and frayed.

Meanwhile, fourteen-year-old Olivia's world is falling apart right before her eyes, and there's nothing she can do about it. She finds herself acting in ways she cannot begin to understand. When her internal struggles turn to dangerous behavior, her life will hang in the balance.

Megan's closest friends are caught in a tangled web of deceit. Each must figure out how, and if, they can expose their secrets, or forever be haunted by their pasts.

Kritters Thoughts: A wonderful blend of paranormal effects melted into a women's fiction plot. As some followers may know - I am not big into the paranormal world, but this part of the plot was so beautifully woven into a bigger story that took your breath away from the very beginning. A woman's decision to let her cancer take hold early instead of fighting it until the bitter end was the heart of her struggle and the effects it would have on her "family."

Each character that made up her "family" unit was unique and genuine. I could picture some of my friends in their roles. Their close knit bonds are those that everyone craves and only a few have in their lives. The story twists and turns, but leaves you wondering. As I sit here, I am still unsure as to whether I wish that everything had been wrapped up nicely in the end - still on the fence. As I am not a spoiler, I will let readers answer this question after they go find this book and finish the last page.

A book for both genders, but beware I definitely shed some tears and may at not the most opportune times - in a restaurant waiting for my family or at work on my lunch break. This one was definitely a tear jerker, maybe a little too emotional that I need something light and very happy to follow!

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

Pages: 304

A review copy was provided for a honest opinion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Interview with Jamie Lynn Braziel - Declaring Spinsterhood

After reading Declaring Spinsterhood, it was a great joy to send the author some questions - so away we go . . . .

1. What do you find yourself rambing about?

Anything and everything. Name a subject, and I'll talk about it. I love to talk to people about anything. It's a great way to gain insight about yourself and others.

2. Is there a piece of your personality in any of your characters?

There is definitely parts of my personality in my characters. I think authors can't help but write something of themselves into their stories. Sometimes it's subconscious, and others, it's absolutely intentional.

3. Declaring Spinsterhood was a great chick lit book. Have you written anything or wanted to write another genre?

Thanks! I've written many things, most of which are not published. I've explored many genres and would consider writing any of them except science fiction. It's just not usually my cup of tea.

4. When did you want to become an author? Have you experienced any speedbumps along the way?

I've pretty much been an author since before I could hold a writing utensil. I told my stories until then. The only speedbump I've ever hit was lack of time due to classes and homework, but that's over now.

5. What is next on your plate?

I just finished graduate school so I'm taking a little time for myself. Immediately after that, I'll be working on my second novel. I've already started some preliminary character sketches and plot outlines, so stay tuned.

Thank you so much for answering my questions, I will definitely be staying tuned for what is coming out next from you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: Keep the Change by Steve Dublanica

Goodreads: In America, tipping is (usually) avoidable, but not thinking about voluntary gratuities is completely impossible. Every day, we are confronted with awkward decisions about who to tip, how much to pay for different services, and even how to share our loot. There is no doubt that we succomb: Each year, we Americans spend $66 billion on tips, but as Waiter Rant author and blog keeper Steve Dublanica knows from hard experience, tipping behavior ranges widely from patron to patron and from profession to profession. To test the waters, or more specifically the outstretched palms, Dublanica traveled the continent, inquiring about handout habits everywhere he went. The venues fit almost every description; from working class bars and family restaurants to barbershops, beauty salons, public bathrooms and strip clubs.

Kritters Thoughts: What an insightful book! From the author of Waiter Rant, which I will soon pick up - he dives into the details of tipping for every profession. A topic that affects every person in the USA - how much should I tip?

I thought going into reading this book that I knew a lot about who to tip and how much to tip - in some cases this book proved me right and in other cases I was so wrong. I loved how he designed the hotel chapter, to go through how each job should be tipped by means of the order that you meet them when you check into a hotel - doorman to maid and beyond. There were some jobs that I couldn't believe were tipped at all and then learning about those who rely 90% on tips, unbelievable. So I will be keeping this book on hand for future reference and to loan out to others.

A recommendation for male and female of all ages. Even an interesting read to give to a recent college grad who is entering the world of paying all bills on their own, even ones that include tips.
Rating:definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Pages: 320

Off the Shelf Challenge 2011: 12 of 50

Cover Challenge April-June: I Heart Shopping!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Declaring Spinsterhood by Jamie Lynn Braziel

Goodreads: What can you do when your family harps on you to get married (already!), when your delicious and alluring ex-boyfriend - cheater to the core - believes that you've fallen for another guy and sets out to woo and conquer (again), and when you suddenly realize that you have fallen in love with your best friend, the guy whose shoulder has always been available . . . but is presently being enjoyed by another woman? Braziel explores the world of 30-something single women, the pressures they face to tie the knot, and what happens when that knot begins to feel more like a noose. In the world of Emma Bailey, nothing is sacred. Including, and most especially, marriage.

Kritters Thoughts: A great chick lit read to break my reading slump. I read this after a few downers and loved the cute, sweet story. A woman who is surrounded by a family that is counting her biological clock for her. She decides to end her dating disasters and become an old maid at a young age. Just as she makes this decision she is having feelings for a "friend" and a previous fling.

A great book with a love triangle - a girl at the center trying to find herself and what she wants in her mate and two guys who waffle between wanting her as a friend or lover. As triangles always do, I spent the entire book trying to decide which guy I would rather and which guy she should end the story with. No spoilers - but I am sure glad she ended it all with the one.

A sweet story that will put a smile on your face. A little twist at the end sends the closing pages into a whirlwind that you just can't predict, but can't wait to find out where it will all end. A pefect book to take on a trip to the beach or pool - the sweet story will perfectly accompany the day in the sun.

Rating:perfect beach read

Pages: 284

Cover Challenge April-June: Wedding Season

Review: Ghellow Road by T.H. Waters

Goodreads: Ghellow Road is a literary diary of a young girl's journey through the tangled labyrinth that is her life. Theresa's story begins in a large midwestern city where she is born to loving parents in 1965. For a brief moment in time, her life is full, as is her heart, and the world is hers to receive without consequence. As time passes and Theresa grows, supernatural forces begin to shape her existence, no matter how carefully her father colors the empty spaces of her world. After a series of tragic events, Theresa and her family seek refuge in a small Minnesota town nestled near the shores of Rainy Lake. She creates a new life for herself there, sharing adventures with friends and riding the ups and downs of adolescence. Yet through it all, her mother remains forever lost in the prison of her own mind and forever lost to Theresa. The young girl feels as though she is leading a double life, one that no one else could possibly understand. She begins to peer at the world as if looking through a thick, black veil, never certain which pieces are illusion and which are not. Through the kindness and support of the townspeople, she eventually summons the strength to survive.

Kritters Thoughts: An emotional ride that left me sitting on a happy note - thank goodness.

I now have a love/hate relationship for memoirs - hear me out. I love knowing that author is writing this book from within the framework of their own history and sharing some intimate secrets that may help me discover another person's history and world. I hate that I know it is true, so when bad things happen, I can't escape the feeling of wishing it had never happened to this person.

The life of this little girl who graduates and heads to college in the end was pretty rough. I am not sure I would have been able to open all the history and write such a story. Waters painted a picture of a mother who doesn't know how and doesn't want to mother, surrounded by a family that is falling apart with every day that begins. Going into foster care and eventually living with extended family, I can't imagine bouncing around as much as she did. I thoroughly appreciate the constant loving family that I grew up in with very little drama and two parents that cared for me from day one.

A memoir worth picking up to get to know someone else's true story. I had a hard time putting it down and a hard time knowing with each emotion that this story was someone's history.

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

Pages: 302

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It's Monday, What are you Reading? (26)

A Monday that starts a very eventful week. A graduation, time spent with his parents, and a fun DC harbor cruise are in the works. With all of these on the agenda, the reading time may be a little low.

A meme hosted by The BookJourney.

Currently Reading:
Declaring Spinsterhood by Jamie Lynn Braziel
In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan

Next on the TBR pile:
Lot's Return to Sodom by Sandra Brannan

What are you currently reading?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

In My Mailbox (35)

Here is what arrived in my mailbox this week. Sorry no video - getting ready for the boy's graduation and his parents arrival!

A meme hosted by The Story Siren.

A trip to Goodwill:
The Pearl by Angela Hunt
Diary of a Mad Bride by Laura Wolf
Runaway by Meg Cabot

A trip to Barnes and Noble:
The Godmother by Carrie Adams
Another Mother's Life by Rowan Coleman

Goodreads winnings:
Life in Spite of Me by Kristen Jane Anderson

Paperbackswap and Bookmooch:
Forget Me Knot by Sue Margolis
Mother of the Bride by Lynn Michaels

What arrived in your mailbox?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: Ordinary Beauty by Laura Weiss

Goodreads: How can you make someone love you when they won't?

And what if that person happens to be your mother?

Sayre Bellavia grew up knowing she was a mistake: unplanned and unwanted. At five months shy of her eighteen, she's become an expert in loneliness, heartache, and neglect. Her whole life she's been cursed, used, and left behind. Swallowed a thousand tears and ignored a thousand deliberate cruelities. Sayre's stuck by her mother through hell, tried to help her, be near her, be important to her even as her mother slipped away into a violent haze of addiction, destroying the only chance Sayre ever had for a real family.

Now her mother is lying in a hospital bed, near death, ravaged by her own destructive behavior. And as Sayre fights her way to her mother's bedside, she is terrified but determined to get the answer to a question no one should ever have to ask: Did my mother ever really love me? And what will Sayre do if the answer is yes?

Kritters Thoughts: A hard book from the start for many reasons. A deep and dark subject matter with very rough characters and I just couldn't get into the story at the beginning, but once in the middle, I couldn't stop.

A young adult who has endured the hardest childhood, but through it all is still able to find a hope for a different and better future for herself. I was straight appalled at the life she had to live with an abusive and alcoholic mother. It hurt me so much to see her stay there through all of the abuse because no child should have to live through the words she heard from her mother. With the ups and the downs, I was clueless as to how this book would end.

At first, I wasn't so sure on how it was written. You meet Sayre in present day, but there are short glimpses into her past and then towards the middle you find out the details of her past. As I refuse to ruin this book - the way the story unfolds is priceless.

A book for young and old alike - I had moments where I was angry and moments where my heart ached for this girl. A definite read, just take a moment to get into the meat of the story.

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

Pages: 320

Cover Challenge April-June: 4, 5 and 6

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: Safe Haven by Nicolas Sparks

Goodreads: When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.

But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo's empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

Kritters Thoughts: Nicholas Sparks - a genre of his own. Sweet love stories with an added element of drama. I have laughed and cried in every one of his books. I have been made fun of for reading his books, but I will always be a fan of Sparks' books.

A woman who has a rough past has relocated to a small town in NC outside of Wilmington to start a new life. She gets a job at a local restaurant and starts renovating a cottage on the beach. After living in this small town for awhile, she falls in love with a man with two kids who lost his wife due to a disease.

As my sister was advised, if you get two thirds of the way through this book, you should sit and finish it. The last 70 pages are hard to put down - so make time to finish it one sitting. I am not sure the men would enjoy this one or most of his books, but the ladies will definitely enjoy this tender and dramatic read.

Rating:absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Pages: 340

Cover Challenge April-June: Tried and New

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: The Ten Best Days of My Life by Adena Halpern

Goodreads: A heavenly novel about what truly matters in life.

In this hilarious and heartwarming first novel, twenty-nine-year-old Alexandra Dorenfield suddenly finds herself in heaven after an unfortunate encounter with a Mini Cooper. The seventh - and highest - level of heaven to be exact. Her dog Peaches is with her; she is reunited with her beloved grandparents; she has the wardrobe of a movie star; and she lives in the house of her dreams next door to a handsome guy. This is heaven!

But there's a catch. Alex must prove she led a fulfilling existence by writing an essay on the ten best days of her life - or she will be demoted to a lower level of heaven, where the clothes are last year's styles, the men aren't quite as handsome, and worst of all, Peaches and her family won't be nearby.

Kritters Thoughts: A sweet read with a dark subject - death and the afterlife. Stepping back and taking a look at the book and the subject matter, I realized that this was a cute way to approach the subject of does your life matter and what are you doing to better the world around you. In a twisted way, I was inspired to evaluate where I spend my time, money and emotions - do they help those around me or am I wasting it all away?

Before I dive into a deep though provoking, off topic tangent - the book. A girl just my age is walking her pup and is hit by a car and they both die - tragic, but she ends up in heaven and what a heaven it is! She is surrounded by all the things she wished and coveted while on earth plus more. BUT she has to write an essay about her ten best days and prove that she deserves to stay where she is. This is where the meat of the story unravels and you learn about her from her childhood to the day she dies.

I absolutely adored the way the story was told. I loved learning about her life through her account of her best days and the stories that evolved. I think women should pack this in their beach bags and take a few hours to soak up the sun and read this one this summer.

Rating:perfect beach read

Pages: 272

Cover Challenge April-June: Morning, Noon & Night

Off the Shelf Challenge 2011: 11 of 50

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It's Monday, What are you Reading? (25)

Another Monday is approaching, my last full week before the graduation is upon us! This week will be full of cleaning and getting ready for the big day.

Currently Reading:
Ghellow Road by T.H. Waters
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Next to come off the TBR pile:
Dreams Unleashed by Linda Hawley

Saturday, June 11, 2011

In My Mailbox (34)

Another attempt at a vlog! A meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith
The Evolution of Charlie Darwin by Beth Duman

Bookmooch and Paperbackswap:
Trust by Kate Veitch
Relatively Famous by Jessica Park

Room by Emma Donoghue

Review: Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

Goodreads: Julia and Michael meet in high school in their small, poverty-stricken West Virginia hometown. Both products of difficult childhoods - Julia's father is a compulsive gambler and Michael's mother abandoned his family when he was a young boy - they find a sense of safety and mutual understanding in each other. Shorty after graduation they flee West Virginia to start afresh. Now thirty-somethings, they are living a rarified life in their multi-million-dollar, Washington, D.C. home. From the outside it all looks perfect - Julia has become a highly sought-after party planner, while Michael has launched a wildly successful flavored water company that he sold for $70 million.

But one day Michael stands up at the head of the table in his company's boardroom - then silently crashes to the floor. More than four minutes later, a portable defibrillator manges to jump-start his heart. Yet what happened to Michael during those lost minutes forever changes him. Money is meaningless to him now - and he wants to give it all away to charity. A prenuptial agreement that Julia insisted upon back when Michael's company was still struggling means she has no claim to his fortune, and now she must decide: should she walk away from the man she once adored, but who truthfully became a stranger to her long before his near-death experience - or should she give in to her husband's pleas for a second chance and a promise of a poorer but happier life?

Kritters Thoughts: After meeting the author and discussing the book at book club at One More Page bookstore, I can now say I love this author and this book even more. A story set near my home with two characters that throughout the book, I both loved and hated. Julia, a woman who grew up in a volatile household and was always trying to ensure that her future was better than her past. Michael, a hardworking guy who as time has passed spends more time at his office than at his home. Their communication was basically absent and their relationship was more like roommates than lovers.

I adored this story and I will absolutely refrain from spoiling such a good ending - so this may be short and sweet. At this time in my life this was a perfect read as I have recently grown accustomed to the boy being away and I have learned to fill the time with more of the hobbies that I enjoy. When our journey ends which is soon, I will have to relearn how our lives mesh and we will be able to restablish our relationship. As Julia has done, I have learned to lean on a close friend for companionship during the week (and the pup of course) I understood Julia's struggle to try to understand how to be back in a relationship and learn to trust her feelings with him.

I can't say more because I loved this book and I want everyone to go find it and read away. The writing was easy for a day at the pool or curled up indoors. It was definitely one where you sit down to read and then hours just easily pass by. A great reflection on the relationship we have and the value we must hold in building and nuturing each relationship from friends to husbands to family.

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

Pages: 327

Cover Challenge April-June: Springtime

Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Goodreads: When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old idential twins Meldoy and Harmony were seperated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody's doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Kritters Thoughts: What a read - before starting this book, I was set to read my second dystopian and in the back of my mind was my love for Delirious by Lauren Oliver. Yes, this was a dystopian, but there is no way to compare or contrast this book with that one. So I ended up reading another book in the genre, but enjoying another aspect of it.

A world where a woman beyond the age of 18 loses the ability to have children or so they think. Adults must rely on teenagers to grow their family. A responsibility that any teenager should not bear on their shoulders for fear that it may get out of hand - and in this book it does. These girls are put into positions that make them grow up faster than they should have and completely changes their ability to slowly grow from young girl to young adult.

In a video on Goodreads, the author speaks about the craze about young girls getting pregnant and how that was the first thing that started her brainstorm that created this book. Although, the underlying theme is teenage pregnancy, I think the larger message is that our teenagers should not be put into positions to make adult decisions. Instead teenagers should still be making safe decisions that don't gravely impact the rest of their lives. I may be taking away a completely different message than intended.

A book for young adults. A definite read for women of the older generation as well.

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

Pages: 336

Cover Challenge April-June: Don't I Know You?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review: I'm Kind of a Big Deal by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor

Goodreads: Whether she's driving a limo for former Family Ties star Justine Bateman, dancing in the dark for a rarely seen Bob Dylan music video, or stalking a bachelor reject from TV's Love Connection, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is kind of a big deal - at least in her own mind. Smart, screwy, and scathingly funny, her tell-all essays capture every cringe-worthy moment of her kind-of famous life. From bombing as a stand-up comic for born-again Christians, to winging it as a singing waitress in an Italian restaurant, to posting open letters to Angelina Jolie and David Hasselhoff, this unstoppable L.A. transplant refuses to give up on her dreams - no matter how ill-advised - and shows us a side of Hollywood better kept hidden.

Kritters Thoughts: A snarky collection of stories to create a great memoirish read. Some of the stories were down right hilarious - I may have laughed out loud, but there were a few that fell below the line. A great book to read by the beach or in spurts over the summer.

My absolute favorite was the story of her getting a tattoo or at least trying. Her thoughts and reactions would be exactly like mine. I couldn't get a tattoo if you paid me for two reasons: I couldn't make a decision on what I would want or where I would want it, so it's a no go for me.

If you are a reader of Jen Lancaster - this would be a great one to add to your collection. For women who love the snarky humor, I would add this to your summer reading list. A quick and short review, but definitely a book to pick up.
Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Pages: 256

Cover Challenge April-June: Two in One

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A day at the shooting range to get comfortable before the boy graduates from the academy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review: Easter's Lilly by Judy Serrano

Goodreads: It was Easter Sunday; the day Lilly's life went from safe and comfortable to dangerously unfamiliar. Her transformation takes her from a small town girl having an affair with a low ranked gangster in the Montiago crime syndicate, to a woman of grace and fortitude married to the head of the organization.

Kritters Thoughts: A drama of sorts that made me feel like I had turned on a soap opera. A tale of four brothers and the woman who got all tangled up in the family. With twists and turns, I had no idea where this book was going to end up. Dirty cops and drug dealers made the book interesting and full of violence.

To be completely honest, I still don't know where I stand on this book. It was a page turner and it ended with a great cliffhanger that had me wondering what would come next. But with all the sex, lies and guns - this book was full of pure drama. I stepped onto the set of a soap opera where the woman sleeps with two brothers and has children with two different men.

I don't tend to go for the extreme drama in books, so I am not sure if I will pick up the next one in the series, but I am sure going to wonder about what happens beyond the major cliffhanger.

I was provided a copy of this book for review for the blog tour hosted by Tristi Pinkston Virtual Blook Tours.

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

Pages: 296

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's Monday, What are you Reading? (24)

Another Monday has begun, this work week will be crazy busy as I fill in for a colleague who is away at a conference. I have to be honest I am a little nervous about filling in this spot, we shall see! Also, must get ready for the in laws and others to be visiting for his graduation. The reading may be lacking for a bit.

Currently Reading:
Easter's Lilly by Judy Serrano

Next on the TBR pile:
Room by Emma Donoghue

Saturday, June 4, 2011

In My Mailbox (33)

No vlog this week, have an eventful day that I must get ready for! Headed to the National Zoo with my sister and niece! Happy Reading!

For Review:
Megan's Way by Melissa Foster
Chasing Amanda by Melissa Foster
Repairing Rainbows by Lynda Fishman

Bookmooch and Paperbackswap:
L.A. Woman by Cathy Yardley
Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso
Foursome by Jane Fallon

Borders Tent Sale (a little disappointing):
The Fate of Katherine Carr by Thomas H. Cook

Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: The Great Santini by Pat Conroy

Goodreads: Step into the powerhouse life of Bull Meecham. He's all Marine - fighter pilot, king of the clouds, and absolute ruler of his family. Lillian is his wife - beautiful, southern-bred, with a core of velvet steel. Without her cool head, her kids would be in real trouble. Ben is the oldest, a born athlete whose best never satisfies the big man. Ben's got to stand up, even fight back, against a father who doesn't give in - not to his men, not to his wife, and certainly not to his son.

Kritters Thoughts: A book picked out for my book club - I would have never placed this one on my read list. And even after a rousing discussion with the ladies, I am still not sure how I exactly stand with this one.

Upon beginning the book, I completely despised Bull Meecham - his presence, his attitude and basically just him. I kept telling the boy that I would NEVER live with this man, let alone have four children with him. As the book went on, my feelings for him kept moving to the dark side along with the book. Somewhere just before the end, I decided that I didn't hate the book due to the plot being acceptable - BUT I still hated him.

Then came book club. One of the ladies stands by Pat Conroy and loves everyone of his books. Intrigued, she advised us that this book was autobiographical and the overbearing father that made my feelings boil was in fact based on his own father. Crazy. It is said that because of this book, his family has disbanded and a lot of controversary was made of it.

A book that I would put into the male audience's hands much quicker than the females. A story with a family at the center, women would be intrigued, but beware the man at the center of this family is not one you will fall in love with.

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

Pages: 440

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