Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell

Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell

Publisher: Random House 
Pages: 190
Format: ebook 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  They met over their dogs. Both writers, Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp, author of Drinking: A Love Story, became best friends, talking about everything from their shared history of a struggle with alcohol, to their relationships with men and colleagues, to their love of books. They walked the woods of New England and rowed on the Charles River, and the miles they logged on land and water became a measure of the interior ground they covered. From disparate backgrounds but with striking emotional similarities, these two private, fiercely self-reliant women created an attachment more profound than either of them could ever have foreseen. 

The friendship helped them define the ordinary moments of life as the ones worth cherishing. Then, several years into this remarkable connection, Knapp was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Kritters Thoughts:  An honest look at friendships between women - a relationship that should hold just as much value as the one between spouses.  My mom always told me that your significant other can not be your only relationship, they can't be everything for you.  This book drove that lesson home page after page.   

Yes, the vital role of friendships between women is the platform for this book, but I took home something a little more close to my soul.  The relationship between dog and human.  As you may all know if you follow along for awhile, I have a pup (Charlotte) who is my child, companion and best gal.  (Especially when the boy is on duty in the late evening hours)  So as it stands right now Charlotte is also my child and I treat as such, I am maternal and the disciplinarian.  This Christmas will be 3 years of Charlotte in our household and I still can't imagine our lives without the little 16 pound bundle.  Both of the women in this book found their dogs to be a vital part of their lives, yes relationships with humans matter, but a relationship with a dog is a whole different thing.

Although, I am not the target age audience for this book, I would still urge a younger group to read this book to remind ourselves that relationships beyond the romantic ones we have with our spouses need to be nurtured and help shape who we are.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2012 Challenge: 60 out of 25

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Runaway Mind by Maggie Reese

Runaway Mind by Maggie Reese 

Publisher: Xlibris 
Pages: 172
Format: ebook
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Amazon: What if you always knew you were special…and then one day you found that being “special” wasn’t a good thing? In fact, it was very, very bad. I was a high school cross-country track star on a full-ride scholarship to the college of my choice when I was hit hard with the most severe form of bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness). Little did I know then that the only way my speed was going to help me was to escape from a maximum-security mental institution! Bipolar. 

On one hand, the word is loaded with stigma. On the other, so many celebrities, star athletes and other notable people have it that it’s often used as a buzz-word on the front pages of newspapers. The fact is over 3% of people have bipolar disorder – and its onset almost always hits during the fragile teenage years. My “lows” took me to the depths of anxiety and pain. By comparison, my “highs” seemed magical…but how long can you live on 2 hours of sleep a night? My poor parents, fearing for me and my safety, hired bodyguards to try to protect me from myself and the predators who surrounded me. One stood by me throughout my long road to recovery. He’s been my rock for 16 years – and my husband for 10. 

I am sharing my personal story, including my shocking extremes of behavior, to help other families understand what is happening to their loved ones. When my parents tried to understand what was happening to me, the only books they found were dry, clinical accounts of sad, mad, lost people – not exactly encouraging words for a mom and dad desperately clutching at straws. Most people find it hard to believe what I experienced, how I managed to survive, and how I can be thriving now. My story proves that you can go away and come back again, and that no matter how bad things look, there is hope for a better future.

Kritters Thoughts:  A memoir that centers around a young woman who is battling a mental disease - bipolar.  Not only does the reader hear from the woman in the middle of battle, but her mother, sister and best friend all share the gift of telling the story. 

Maggie graduates high school and heads to the perfect situation - a great university as a star athlete.  You could not predict the reaction she would have to the stress of school and athletics.  I understood both her not understanding or her parents not understanding the difference between homesickness and depression.  To have parents, family and friends as a great support system should encourage others to find a foundation to help them through any difficult situation.  I loved the honesty that you felt in each woman's take on how to help Maggie get through the storm. 

My one piece of criticism is the timing of the chapters.  There were a few moments where I felt that her mother, sister or best friend shared their parts of the story before Maggie was able to tell us from her point what happened.  I thought that Maggie should share her story and the others could give their points of view after the reader hears it from her first.

This book is a perfect read for a family member or friend that is in the middle of helping someone find their footing with bipolar.  I also think that someone who has bipolar could read this, but maybe only after they have found balance.

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row (an emotional one)

Ebook 2012 Challenge: 61 out of 25

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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

It has been another great week in reading.  I was able to read some holiday reads to review in December; I am excited to share those with you - I will be reviewing a holiday read every Tuesday from the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to the Tuesday of Christmas.  

This next week in reading may be a little different because on Thursday (pending this crazy Frankenstorm) my mom and I are headed to NYC to attend the Random House Open House.  We are so excited, but I am sure that my reading will be lacking - but I will have some fantastic stories and pictures to share when I return!

A meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:

There Goes the Bride by Holly McQueen
Presidential Retreats by Peter Hannaford
Dangerous Past by A.F. Ebbers
The Twelve Days to Christmas
All I Have to Give by Melody Carlson
Blood Line by Lynda La Plante

Currently Reading:

Making Piece by Beth Howard
Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie

Next on the TBR pile:

These Things Happen by Richard Kramer

Across my Doorstep

So a lot has come across my doorstop over the last two weeks and I can't make a video, but wanted to share what has been added to my bookshelves.  So here are some pictures to enjoy.  

For Review:

The Love Song of Johnny Valentine by Teddy Wayne  (Goodreads  Amazon)
Cash Out by Greg Bardsley  (Goodreads  Amazon)
Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto  (Goodreads  Amazon)
These Things Hidden by Richard Kramer  (Goodreads  Amazon)
Moranthology by Caitlin Moran  (Goodreads  Amazon)

Happily Ever After by Susan May Warren  (Goodreads  Amazon)
The Perfect Match by Susan May Warren  (Goodreads  Amazon)
Pieces of My Sister's Life by Elizabeth Joy Arnold  (Goodreads  Amazon)
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (Goodreads  Amazon)
Chosen by Chandra Hoffman  (Goodreads  Amazon)
Confetti Confidential  by Holly McQueen  (Goodreads  Amazon)

From mom:
The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland  (Goodreads  Amazon)
Twelve Months by Steven Manchester  (Goodreads  Amazon)

From lil sis:
The Fame Game by Lauren Conrad  (Goodreads  Amazon)
Lauren Conrad Style by Lauren Conrad  (Goodreads  Amazon)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Return to Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

Return to Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs 

Publisher: Harlequin 
Pages: 320 
Format: book 
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  Sonnet Romano's life is almost perfect. She has the ideal career, the ideal boyfriend, and has just been offered a prestigious fellowship. There's nothing more a woman wants - except maybe a baby.sister? When Sonnet finds out her mother is unexpectedly expecting, and that the pregnancy is high-risk, she puts everything on hold - the job, the fellowship, the boyfriend - and heads home to Avalon. Once her mom is out of danger, Sonnet intends to pick up her life where she left off. But when her mother receives a devastating diagnosis, Sonnet must decide what really matters in life, even of that means staying in Avalon and taking a job that forces her to work alongside her biggest, and maybe her sweetest, mistake - award-winning filmmaker Zach Alger. So Sonnet embarks on a summer of laughter and tears, of old dreams and new possibilities, and of finding the home of her heart. At once heartbreaking and uplifting, Return to Willow Lake plumbs the deepest corners of the human heart, exploring the bonds of family, the perils and rewards of love, and the true meaning of home.

Kritters Thoughts:  Sonnet grew up in a small town and couldn't wait to escape to explore the world beyond the small town.  She was raised by a single mom who was pregnant at a young age, so their bond is like no other.  So when her mom calls with good and bad news, she drops her entire life and returns to the small town with the history of her childhood to confront.

I came from a small town.  I left for college and have only returned to the small town for weddings, funerals and an occasional visit.  Since my parents relocated, I don't have the pull that Sonnet had to return, but I appreciated her issues with returning home and life there being different from what you remember.  I understood her pull between two men, one from the past and one from the present.  Although at times it was predictable, the story was so sweet and moved so well, I didn't care that I knew where everyone would end up.

It may be the time of year to curl up with a good book and a blanket, but this book could also do quite well on the beach, so no matter the time, I would grab this one and pack it to go. 

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Little Bird Publicity.  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, October 25, 2012

Review: Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth

Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth

Publisher: William Morrow 
Pages: 352
Format: ARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  I'm sitting on my couch, watching the local news. There's Chloe's parents, the mayor, the hangers on, all grouped round the pond for the ceremony. It's ten years since Chloe and Carl drowned, and they've finally chosen a memorial-a stupid summerhouse. The mayor has a spade decked out in pink and white ribbon, and he's started to dig.

You can tell from their faces that something has gone wrong. But I'm the one who knows straightaway that the mayor has found a body. And I know who it is.

This is the tale of two fourteen-year-old girls, best friends, and one terrible summer when lies, secrets, jealousy, and perversion ended in tragedy more tangled and evil than a tight-knit community can possibly believe.

Kritters Thoughts:  A dark dark book that deals with depression, death and bad relationships - a hard read because at times I just wanted to rescue this character from this world and deposit her into something with sunshines and rainbows.  Lola is surrounded by negative things from her home life to her school life to her personal life - the author paints this dark world for her to live in and try to survive.  With a little too much whine to her, I fell more in love to her quirky best friend Chloe who had her moments also.

This book spans quite a few years with some chapters taking place in the past before the death and despair while other chapters occur in the present with Lola and Emma trying to recover from their horrendous childhoods.  While in the past in school, Chloe, Lola, and Emma were an odd threesome.  It was hard to root for this friendship of three because they each were mean to each other in a way.  One of the other things that kept me perplexed was the writing of the parents - the parents that were described were only partially involved in their children's lives and didn't seem real to me at all, they were also quite unloveable.  

I would not recommend this one to the reader who doesn't like a dark book, there is no breath of fresh air in this book.  But for the reader who enjoys a dark character in a dark world - this book did not drag, but instead the drama kept unfolding piece by piece.

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

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

Tuesday, October 16th: My Book Retreat
Wednesday, October 17th: Stiletto Storytime
Thursday, October 18th: The Book Bag
Monday, October 22nd: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, October 23rd: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, October 24th: Twisting the Lens
Thursday, October 25th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, October 29th: As I turn the pages
Tuesday, October 30th: Sweet Southern Home
Wednesday, October 31st: Book Hooked Blog
Thursday, November 1st: A Soul Unsung

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

A little bit of fall outside our condo!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: There Goes the Bride by Holly McQueen

There Goes the Bride by Holly McQueen

Publisher: Atria books 
Pages: 416 
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  "Happily ever after isn't always what you expect..."Polly Atkins, a Londoner living in New York City, is headed back across the pond for her wedding, a grand affair that has her older sister, Bella, in a whirlwind of excitement. Bella can't wait to take over the wedding plans--and neither can Polly's best friend, Grace, whose life as a wife, housekeeper, and mother is making her feel older than her twenty-eight years. She's desperate to see Polly settle down in the same city--and the same life.

The only one who isn't bursting with enthusiasm is Polly. Which is why, before things can get any more chaotic, she calls the whole thing off and lets go of the most perfect man on the planet. There's no way that Polly is going to tell anyone why she's changed her mind. Some secrets are best kept hidden. But Grace and Bella are determined to get Polly and her fiance back together if it's the last thing they do. After all, solving someone else's problems has got to be better than dealing with your own. . . .

Kritters Thoughts:  Two sisters and one best friend each take turns telling this story of how one moment in time can change lives forever and how forgiveness can take such a big role in how we operate on a daily basis.  The men in this book were mostly unappealing, so if you are looking for a swoon worthy character, there was only one in my book that I wanted to hear more and more about!  The three different women were all going through a struggle that most women can relate to - starting a family, a struggling marriage, and hesitant to commitment - I loved the authors approach to each and thought she presented them each fairly.  

These characters were all entertaining, but I sure wanted to smack a few upside the head every so often, if only I could have given them a call and told them what I saw from the outside looking in!

There is quite a lot of infidelity in this book and being a newlywed, it was kind of hard to read.  I am still in the blissful stage that life will always be roses and the harsh reminder that there are ups and downs was off putting.  Don't get me wrong though, I was not rooting for the "victim" in that marriage, he wasn't guiltless and innocent either.  

Set in London, this book wasn't too "Londony", so if you are hesitant to read a book set across the pond, this book was pretty tame in its London references.  Overall a great chick lit that could entertain any crowd.  And for being a chick lit, it had quite a few turns that were unexpected and quite enjoyable.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Simon and Schuster.  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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