Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Review 2011

My first full year of blogging is complete.  What a ride.  I would have never thought that I would be bringing in another year with the blog up and going and my love for reading has grown so much over the past year.  

So recap this year, in my Where Are You Reading Challenge - I read books in 33 states and 6 countries.  In the Off the Shelf Challenge, I read 20 out of 50, pretty dismal, hoping to greatly increase that one this coming year.  I participated in a few Goodreads Challenges through the Red Dress Ink Fans group and loved loved loved them!!

I read 88 books for review, while I read 96 books of my own accord!  2 of those read were audio books.  I definitely want to increase this number next year, I enjoyed the two I listened to very much.

I flipped, tapped and shuffled 56,331 pages.

My total book reading count is 185 books, both ebooks, paperback and hardback.

What a great year!  I am so excited for 2012.  Maybe a goal of 200 in 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

December, a month to remember

December was a great month, full of holiday preparations and end of year things.  As I end the year at home after a whirlwind trip visiting family, it is nice to be back with the simple things and enjoying the quiet of our house.  

Books Completed:
1. Chocolicious by Geraldine Solon
2. The Call by Yannick Murphy
3. Georgia's Kitchen by Jenny Nelson
4. The Daughter She Used to Be by Rosalind Noonan
5. One Pink Line by Dina Silver
6. Any Color But Beige by Catherine Larose
7. A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl
8. A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant
9. Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr
10. When Ties Break by Margaret Norton
11. Deadly Reunion by Amy Manemann
12. The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow
13. A Life of My Own by Denise Skelton
14. All in Good Time by Tara Kuczykowski and Mandi Ehman
15. Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell
16. The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore
17. My Mormon Crush, My Dog Eats Poo by Lucy Liew and Lisa Lim
18. Don't Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley

Total pages flipped, tappled or shuffled: 5,102

Where Have I Been Reading?:
Palo Alto, CA
New England,US (not specified)
New York City, NY (2)
Chicago, IL
Montreal, Canada
Prospect, TN
Dubuque, IA
Virgin River, CA (fictional, Northern CA)
Wilmington, NC
Riverdale, IA
Fowler, MI
Philadelphia, PA
Ottawa, Canada
Salt Lake City, UT
Arlington, VA

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: One Pink Line by Dina Silver

One Pink Line by Dina Silver

Publisher: CreateSpace 
Pages: 260 
Format: eARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  Can the love of a lifetime be forever changed by one pink line? Dina Silver’s tender, absorbing novel, One Pink Line, is the warmhearted, wry story of love, loss and family, as seen through the prism of one singular, spirited young couple who find themselves in a predicament that changes the course of their lives, and those closest to them. 

With heart, humor and compassion, this debut work of women’s fiction is certain to stir anyone who relishes a good laugh, can stand a good cry, and, above all believes in the redemptive power of love. This unique, contemporary story gives readers a dual perspective. Sydney Shephard, a sweet-tempered, strong-natured college senior is young, in love with an exceptional man, and unexpectedly pregnant. Faced with a child she never planned for, she is forced to relay this news to her neurotic mother, relinquish her youth, and risk losing the love of her life. Then there’s Grace, a daughter, who believed she was a product of this great love, grows to realize her existence is not what she assumed, and is left with profound and puzzling questions about who she really is. 

Kritters Thoughts:  Two stories that twist and turn to finish at sweet endings.  One story centers around a woman who has found herself a senior in college and pregnant with a child that she isn't quite sure what to do with.  The other story centers around a young girl who finds out that her father isn't quite her actual father and wants to find out where she really came from.  

I loved the dichotomy of these stories and how the author approaches this situation from both sides.  On the one hand you felt for the woman who is wanting to finish college and get out into the world with just herself to worry about  and at the same moment you have a young girl who is finding out that her mother was in the same predicament and decided to keep her and raise her on her own until someone came along and wanted to love both her and her daughter.  I loved switching back and forth between the two stories and watching these characters grow as they were hit by serious situations.   

A wonderful piece of women's fiction that all readers can enjoy.  With a lot of heart, this story will make you fall in love with these two characters and any reader will enjoy the journey that they endure.

Rating:  absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from the author.  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, December 28, 2011

Where I Read in 2011

My first full year of tracking where the books I read took place.  I wanted to make the full list of States and Countries that were accomplished.  This is definitely a challenge I will be repeating next year!

Hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.

States and Countries in no particular order:

New York
Washington, D.C.
New Jersey
New Hampshire
North Carolina
South Dakota
South Carolina

So to sum up that is 33 states and 6 countries.  I would have thought my reading would have been less diverse, so I am very proud!

Here is a link to my map for 2011 - Where Kritter Read in 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What is Challenging You? 2012 Challenges

2012 Challenges

I don't tend to overwhelm myself with too many challenges because I don't want to do the upkeep for them throughout the year.  So here are the three challenges that I will be doing in 2012:

1. Where are you Reading 2012?
         A challenge that consists of me keeping up with a google map with all the locations of where the books I am reading take place.  This challenge only poses a problem when you reading those that don't really happen "here."  My 2012 map can be located - Kritters Map.  I loved this challenge last year, so I look forward to participating again.

2. Off the Shelf Challenge 2012
        A second year to tackle this challenge and maybe 2012 I can make a bigger dent off my shelf and see big numbers with this one.  I will try to be "On a Roll" with this one, challenging myself to 50 books again.  So now to gather books to start 2012 right with reading off my current shelves!

3. Ebook Reading Challenge 2012
       A new one for me this year, but after seeing how many ebooks I read last year, I think this one will be easily accomplished!  I am going to "MegaSize" this challenge and see if I can read more than 25 ebooks over the course of 2012.  

As I did this past year, I will still be doing the Goodreads Challenges in the Red Dress Ink Fans group.  

My ultimate goal is to have a good year of reading with diverse books that challenge and entertain me!

Happy Reading in 2012!

Monday, December 26, 2011

It's Monday, What are you Reading? (51)

It is the day after Christmas and I am headed down to South Carolina to spend time with the boy's family, with maybe a stop in our favorite city - Charlotte, NC.  I promise to share what arrived on Christmas in this coming Sunday's In My Mailbox edition, as we celebrate the new year back on our home turf.

A meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney.

Finished this past week:
When Ties Break by Margaret Norton
Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr
Deadly Reunion by Amy Manemann
The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow
A Life of My Own by Denise Skelton

Currently Reading:
Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell
All In Good Time by Tara Kuczykowski and Mandi Ehman

Next off the TBR pile:
The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  

I am spending the day with family and 
I hope that you are in the company of those you love!

Because I am with family, I will be skipping out on In My Mailbox.  
I can't wait to share what came across my doorstep and what happened under the tree!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Christmas Eve!

Christmas Eve on a Saturday means that I was off a full day yesterday and will be off a full day on Monday - whoopie!  I will be spending this day finishing up wrapping, completing my posts for this year and maybe some reading.  A great day to relax at home - are you getting some quiet time or are you out completing the to do list?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Review: The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman

The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman

Publisher: Atria
Pages: 272
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  A riveting and highly commercial debut novel about the rich and complicated friendships between twelve women who meet for a cookie exchange. 

Kritters Thoughts:  From the beginning, I fell in love with Marnie the main character and her group of friends.  The friends were diverse and from all walks of life which gave the book a realism because we pick up friends in our lives through many different ways.  As I prepare for my first cookie exchange this year, I loved reading how organized and committed these ladies were to this yearly tradition.  

Marnie has quite a group of ladies that surround her.  From a new co-grandma to a friend from high school, she gathers 12 women each year to exchange cookies, stories and their lives.  All while kicking off the holiday season - what a charming tradition.  With recipes for the cookies that are shared at the party, the reader was able to be a part of the cookie club.  My one negative thought was the chapters that described ingredients and gave the history of chocolate, sugar and so on - I thought this was a little weird and would have preferred maybe more back story to the characters than these inserted chapters.  

This is a sweet/sweat story that is worth adding to your list to read for next year's holiday season.  I may even try a recipe or two!  

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

GR Oct-Dec Challenge: Happy Holidays

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review: Chocolicious by Geraldine Solon

Chocolicious by Geraldine Solon 

Publisher: Solstice Publishing 
Pages: 288 
Format: eARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  A week after Blair Nightingale’s husband, Larry, dies, she learns she’s about to lose everything she owns due to a foolish mistake Larry made. In an instant, Blair’s life is transformed from rich, Silicon Valley trophy wife to poor, widowed single mom. Her only goal now is to provide for her daughter. As Blair begins to pick up the pieces, George—Larry’s best friend and the man she truly resents—seems to always be around. When Blair is overwhelmed by all the challenges she faces, she seeks comfort in baking rich, filled, three-layered cupcakes that her grandmother once taught her, and soon Blair's life is changed forever.

Kritters Thoughts:  Officially sitting on the fence in this book, a great story and I was moved  to read until the end to find out where Blair would find herself in the end.  Although there were something things that bothered me about the plot and the structure, so I think this is a good read, but I would warn that there were some things that I would have tweaked if I had been an editor

One change I would make in the telling of the story was throughout the book, the author quickly changed from speaking in the present to switching to a memory from the past, I wish there was a little more transition because at times I was lost whether she was talking about her current situation or was speaking about her past.   

The other change is about the main character Blair.  There were moments where from page to page there was something negative happening and it quickly get fixed, maybe a little too easily.  At the same time, she was just a depressing character to read and just spent most of her time whining when things were coming together way too easily.  Blair also had some weird character developments when she went from not liking a certain male to making out with him on the next page - I just didn't get it.  I saw growth by the end, but towards the middle I was worried for her and her story.

In the end, this was a story that centers around a woman who has to pick herself up for her and her child after her husband tragically dies.  She must obtain her first job and create a life that she loves, this part of the story was great to see empowerment in a woman and a drive to provide for her family.

Rating: enjoyable but didn't leave me wanting more

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Miss Charlotte "helping" to decorate the tree!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: The Burn by Annie Oldham

The Burn by Annie Oldham

Publisher: Createspace 
Pages: 234
Format: ebook
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  The Burn is full of nuclear fallout, roving gangs, anarchy, unreliable plumbing. That's what Terra's father tells her. She has lived her whole life in comfort in a colony at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. She hates it. And she would pay any price to leave. But when Terra finally escapes the colony, she finds out her father is right. 

She finds a group of survivors that quickly become friends, and every day with them is a race for survival. When she witnesses and commits unspeakable acts, she has to decide where her loyalty lies: with the colony she despises or The Burn, where every day is filled with nightmares.

Kritters Thoughts:  A little sci fi, a little dystopian mixed with a lot of heart.  I was completely intrigued by this other world or two worlds that Oldham created, she mixed current events to create the happenings that absolved the US and helped to create her underworld.

With an element of humanity as the center of this book, Oldham makes the reader think twice about how our world and government is made up and how easily it could all change.  We are each affected by our surroundings and upbringings and what if we knew there was more that was right around the corner and would you stick with what is or always wonder with what could be.  The violence fit into the story without being too much gore, although if you have a queasy stomach you may want to rethink when you read this one.

If you are a fan of dystopian with a twist, this book is definitely worth the read.   

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 the author.  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, December 19, 2011

Review: Georgia's Kitchen by Jenny Nelson

Georgia's Kitchen by Jenny Nelson 

Publisher:  Gallery
Pages:  336 
Format: paperback 
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads: At thirty-three, talented chef Georgia Gray has everything a woman could want—the top job at one of Manhattan’s best restaurants; a posse of smart and savvy gal pals who never let her down; and a platinum-set, cushion-cut diamond engagement ring courtesy of Glenn, the handsome entertainment lawyer who Georgia’s overbearing mother can’t wait for her to marry. The table is set for the ambitious bride-to-be until a scathing restaurant review destroys her reputation. To add salt to her wounds, Glenn suddenly calls off the wedding.
Brokenhearted, Georgia escapes to the Italian countryside, where she sharpens her skills at a trattoria run by a world-class chef who seems to have it all—a devoted lover, a magnificent villa, and most important, a kitchen of her own. Georgia quells her longings with Italy’s delectable offerings: fine wine, luscious cheeses, cerulean blue skies, and irresistible Gianni—an expert in the vineyard and the bedroom. So when Gianni tempts Georgia to stay in Italy with an offer no sane top chef could refuse, why can’t she say yes?
An appetite for something more looms large in Georgia’s heart – the desire to run her own restaurant in the city she loves. But having left New York with her career in flames, she’ll need to stir up more than just courage if she’s to realize her dreams and find her way home.

Kritters Thoughts:  One woman is not happy in her relationship, not happy at her job and can't figure out who to change it all.  So after the relationship falls apart and the job is gone, she heads to Italy to find a new balance in her life.  With kitchens in Manhattan and Italy at the center, food is a major character in the book and this author nailed the descriptions of each dish and made me quite hungry while reading!  

I fell in love with Georgia and wanted to become her friend which makes me fall deeper into any book - a connection the characters is key in my book.  Although there is heartache and relationships in this book, it was refreshing to have the woman try to find the balance in her life within herself instead of depending on others for it.    

A wonderful piece of women's fiction that will make you want to visit both Italy and New York for the food and the atmosphere.  A strong woman at the center and a depth to the story makes this book a piece of women's fiction in my mind and one worth picking up.

Rating:  absolutely loved it and want a sequel

GR Oct-Dec Challenge: Black, White and Red All Over

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? (50)

Another slow week, but with the holidays it is completely expected.  Now that my shopping is complete and half of my wrapping is done and under our tree - I may have a few more hours to curl up with a good book, the pup and a fire!

A meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney.

Finished this past week:
A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl
A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant

Currently Reading:
When Ties Break by Margaret Norton
Hidden Summit by Robyn Carr

Next off the TBR pile:
Deadly Reunion by Amy Manemann
All in Good Time by Tara Kuczykowski

In My Mailbox (55)

Another great week in my shopping adventures and what came across my doorstep in the mail.  A trip to Goodwill and a few for review made my week a definite treat.  I am still waiting for my elusive holiday swap package - anxiously awaiting its arrival!  

A meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Goodwill trip:
Fragile by Lisa Unger  (Goodreads  Amazon)
Save Me by Lisa Scottoline  (Goodreads  Amazon)

The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank  (Goodreads  Amazon)

According to Jane by Marilyn Brant  (Goodreads  Amazon)

The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow  (Goodreads  Amazon)
All in Good Time by Tara Kuczykowski  (Goodreads  Amazon)
A Life of My Own by Denise Skelton  (Goodreads  Amazon)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Review: What Stays in Vegas by Beth Labonte

What Stays in Vegas by Beth Labonte

Publisher: self-published 
Pages: 187
Format: ebook 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  Bored administrative assistant, Tessa Golden, is trapped in a life of lousy weather, irritating bosses, and mind-numbing secretarial work. Her dreams of being an artist have rapidly deteriorated into building things out of paperclips while on hold with tech support. To make matters even worse, the love of her life has gone off and married another woman.

So when Tessa is suddenly transferred to the Las Vegas branch of her company - playing wingwoman to her freshly divorced boss, juggling a client from hell, and catching the eye of one very eligible coworker - will her life finally be shaken up enough to straighten itself out?

Kritters Thoughts:  If you are looking for a cute and sweet chick lit read, this should be the first one you grab.  With just under 200 pages it is a light and quick read that is just cute to the touch.  From page one, you fall in love with Miss Tessa Golden as she fights the winter cold of Boston and is suddenly surprised with the opportunity to take a temporary position in her company in Las Vegas.  

A love triangle, the fun of Las Vegas and a single girl are great ingredients for a wonderful chick lit.  With the love triangle, the reader is kept in the dark a little about one of the male contenders, I loved that I wasn't completely in the know just as Tessa wasn't until the end.  There was much fun to be had in Las Vegas with a newly single boss and crazy clients - I loved experiencing the Vegas Clubs with her.

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of the chick lit genre.    

Rating:  absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from the author.  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, December 15, 2011

Review: A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant

A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Brant

Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 352
Format: paperback
Buy the Book:Amazon

Goodreads: It's not where you go.  It's what you take back with you . . .

On her 30th birthday, Gwendolyn Reese is given an unusual gift by her eccentric aunt: a summer grand European tour arranged through her aunt's Sudoku and Mahjongg Club.  Gwen recluctantly leaves her "almost fiance"  and heads to Europe with her aunt and a collection of offbeat club members. 

Abroad, Gwen is slowly but surely transformed.  She has conversations she'd never expected, is spellbound by London theater, touches a glacier, races through the Louvre, and shares a passionate kiss with a wild young physics professor.  And when her old life comes calling again, she must choose between the practical choices she's always made, and a world open to infinite possibilities.

Kritters Thoughts:  A story that centers around a newly 30-year-old who didn't celebrate her birthday quite like she had thought - no jewelry meant for the left hand was received, if you get my drift.  She ends up taking a trip around Europe with her Aunt and her wacky friends who find math, philosophy and history all interesting topics of conversation and debate.  

Although the characters were definitely interesting, I didn't fall in love with them and couldn't connect with them.  There was a quite a large ensemble cast to keep straight, it required a post it note!  The characters may have been off, but the location was spot on.  The way the author described the different tourist stops in Europe made me want to book a trip immediately.  I loved exploring the city along with the main character Gwen.

A great story concept that at times had me enjoying this one, but in the end the wordie philosophical aspect of the characters had me turned off.  If you are a reader who likes a little more wordiness to your women's fiction, this book would be the perfect one to add to your holiday wish list.

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

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from the author and Crazy Book Tours.  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, December 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Crafting Style

My talented sister is a super crafter and has inspired me to turn on my crafty side.  At her craft show this past week she enabled me to sell a few things with her (a book wreath and a frame that hangs on the wall that holds earrings.  The two things above are my attempt at being a crafter!  Here is the link to her store - Daydreaming Gifts.

Review: Shades of Gray by Andy Holloman

Shades of Gray by Andy Holloman

Publisher:  Triple J Press
Pages: 300 
Format: eARC 

Goodreads:  In the Fall of 2001, John’s life has fallen off a cliff. His six- year-old daughter, Lucy, needs a kidney transplant and his Durham, NC travel agency has been wrecked by the events of 9/11. He must find a way to secure a large amount of money quickly in order to pay for Lucy’s surgery. He’s been in tight places before but he’s currently out of solutions. 

Wanda, a client of John’s travel agency, has had her livelihood hit hard by 9/11 also. She can no longer transport cocaine via airline flights due to increase airport security. Like John, she is a single parent and has wanted to get out of her line of work for several years. She needs more money to allow her and daughter Tonya, to move from Durham to California and break free of her boss, Jamel. 

John and Wanda form a partnership around a plan to smuggle cocaine via cruise ships. His industry knowledge and connections would remove the transportation risks and she could handle the distribution and selling once they brought the drugs back to Durham. 

Kritters Thoughts:  In the first chapter you are introduced to John and his daughter Lucy and then suddenly a car accident happens and the reader is quickly taken back in time.  From the beginning I was intrigued as to how John and Lucy end up in a car with brakes that are not working.  

Set in a city that is close to my heart for many reasons, I love reading books that are set in North Carolina, but to read about the behind the scenes of the drug scene was eye-opening and appalling.  As the reader you start rooting for a drug dealer, I know its crazy, but it happens because you know that the money they make is needed for a family need (can't diverge, must read!)  There are a few story lines going on and they all come together at the end where the reader becomes finally informed of all the details and you can't believe how all it all fits together.

Suspenseful and sad all at the same time which made for a great read for a reader who wants to be surprised with each turn of the page.  I recommend this book to the reader who is looking for a read that can keep them guessing until the end.

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 WLC - Women's Literary Cafe.  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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