Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison

Publisher: Random House 
Pages: 314 
Format: book 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  St. Petersburg, 1917. After Rasputin’s body is pulled from the icy waters of the Neva River, his eighteen-year-old daughter, Masha, is sent to live at the imperial palace with Tsar Nikolay and his family—including the headstrong Prince Alyosha. Desperately hoping that Masha has inherited Rasputin’s miraculous healing powers, Tsarina Alexandra asks her to tend to Aloysha, who suffers from hemophilia, a blood disease that keeps the boy confined to his sickbed, lest a simple scrape or bump prove fatal.
Two months after Masha arrives at the palace, the tsar is forced to abdicate, and Bolsheviks place the royal family under house arrest. As Russia descends into civil war, Masha and Alyosha grieve the loss of their former lives, finding solace in each other’s company. To escape the confinement of the palace, they tell stories—some embellished and some entirely imagined—about Nikolay and Alexandra’s courtship, Rasputin’s many exploits, and the wild and wonderful country on the brink of an irrevocable transformation. In the worlds of their imagination, the weak become strong, legend becomes fact, and a future that will never come to pass feels close at hand.

Kritters Thoughts:  The daughter of Rasputin takes the lead in this story as she is company for an ailing child of the Tsar as they are all held captive in the capital.  She occupies his time by telling him legendary stories of their parents and the past.  

Each story that Masha told Alyosha built the history of their parents and their country and then the end happened where they told of the fall of Alyosha's father and family.  I am so thankful that the author added Alyosha's journal to complete the story, so the reader wasn't left wondering about the details that occurred once Masha and Alyosha were separated.  I definitely wondered throughout the book what I could note was historically accurate and what was fiction - I love when a book keeps me guessing.  

I have always had a thing for the Russian world when Tsar Nikolay saw his downfall (maybe it started with the animated movie of Anastasia), so it was very fun to read a fiction take on this point in history.  This book made me want to find more to read from this time and place.     

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 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, February 26, 2013

Review: Yesterday's Sun by Amanda Brooke

Yesterday's Sun by Amanda Brooke

Publisher: Harper 
Pages: 336 
Format: ARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  A poignant debut novel from British author Amanda Brooke, finds a young woman having to choose between her own life and the life of her future child. 

When newly married Holly and her husband Tom move into a charming old manor house in the English countryside, she couldn’t have predicted that a mystical moondial would change her life—and her destiny. 
In the style of Jodi Picoult, with memorable characters, and tender, warm, prose, Yesterday’s Sun is a brilliant, suspenseful tale of free will versus fate; a heart-wrenching story of family and the risks we take to break from the past.

Kritters Thoughts:  A book that is so hard to sum into words and yet hit me right in the heart.  A woman moves with her husband to a small cottage to start the next chapter of their lives and something in the garden makes her stop and pause and take a second look at what the future may hold.  Her ability to look at a possible future and make a decision was one of the key elements of this book; the other one is motherhood and what kind of sacrifice a woman makes to become a mother and throughout motherhood.

I am not a mom, so maybe I took a few things a little differently out of this book, but I was still crying at the end.  The author keeps the reader captivated to the twist ending and even takes the ending somewhere that I couldn't have predicted in advance.  I will not sour the ending, but I was so prepared for our character to go down a certain road and never saw the other path in the distance - it made for a pleasant surprise!

Even not being a mom, this book struck me to the core, so to the moms - this book will hit your heart in so many good ways.  The lengths a mother will go to protect or help their children is beyond measure and that is the heart and soul of this story.  

As well, the other theme running throughout is if you knew what the future would hold, would you make a change to avoid the outcome.  I think this can hit home to any audience - what would you do with a peek into your future?  I am a planner to my core and the unknown gives me the hives, so maybe a little glance into the future could calm my nerves, but then what if I didn't like what I saw?  That is the ultimate question.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

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.

The tour schedule

Tuesday, February 12th: A Patchwork of Books
Monday, February 18th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, February 19th: Books in the Burbs
Wednesday, February 20th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Thursday, February 21st: Excellent Library
Monday, February 25th: Speaking of Books
Tuesday, February 26th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, February 27th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Thursday, February 28th: Giraffe Days
Friday, March 1st: West Metro Mommy
Monday, March 4th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag
by Jennifer Gilbert

Publisher: HarperCollins 
Pages: 224 
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  When Jennifer Gilbert was just a year out of college, a twenty-two-year-old fresh-faced young woman looking forward to a bright future, someone tried to cut her life short in the most violent way. But she survived, and not wanting this traumatic event to define her life, she buried it deep within and never spoke of it again.

She bravely launched a fabulous career in New York as an event planner, designing lavish parties and fairy-tale weddings. Determined to help others celebrate and enjoy life's greatest moments, she was convinced she'd never again feel joy herself. Yet it was these weddings, anniversaries, and holiday parties, showered with all her love and attention through those silent, scary years, that slowly brought her back to life.

Kritters Thoughts:  A woman who definitely hit life's speed bumps at full speed and had to overcome many obstacles on the way to finding true happiness.  I am so glad she chose to start the book with a light story about a bride having some troubles on her wedding day and then going back in time to where her world collapsed and she had to start putting the pieces all back together.

With all of the bad things that happened to her, I couldn't believe that she was able to keep picking up her head and moving forward.  The things Gilbert had to endure would have brought down many of the strongest for much longer than she was down.  It was an inspiration to read about someone who was able to forgive, move forward and keep looking for the next thing.

Another aspect that I truly loved was the party planning.  I do a bit of party planning on my job and with the recent planning of my wedding, I am even more intrigued by party planning and the ups and downs of it all.

If you are a fan of memoirs, this is a great one to read.  

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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

What a fantastic week in reading and I have no idea how it happened!  With the boy home every night I was prepared for a quiet week on the book front, but I think this quiet weekend made up for it!  

A meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
Another Forgotten Child by Cathy Glass
The Clover House by Henriette Lazaridis Power
The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs by Nick Trout
Staged by Ruby Preston
Gossip by Beth Gutcheon
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Currently Reading:
Haven's Wake by Ladette Randolph

Next on the TBR pile:
The Wanderer by Robyn Carr

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Review: The List by Karin Tanabe

The List by Karin Tanabe 

Publisher: Washington Square Press 
Pages: 384 
Format: eARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  Meet Adrienne Brown, a twenty-eight-year-old Wellesley College grad who recently left her glamorous job at Town & Country for a spot at theCapitolist. Known simply as the List to Beltway insiders, it’s the only media outlet in D.C. that’s actually on the rise. Taking the job means accepting a painful pay cut, giving up perks like free Louboutins, and moving back in with her parents, but Adrienne is certain that her new position will be the making of her career. And it is—but not at all in the way that she expects. The Capitolist runs at an insane pace: Adrienne’s up before five in the morning, writing ten stories a day (sometimes on her BlackBerry, often during her commute), and answering every email within three minutes. Just when it seems like the frenetic workload is going to break her, she stumbles upon a juicy political affair, involving a very public senator—and her most competitive colleague. Discovering that there’s much more to the relationship than meets the eye, Adrienne realizes she’s got the scoop of a lifetime. But should she go public with the story?

Kritters Thoughts:  Set in my backdoor of Washington, D.C., The List takes the reader behind the scenes of a news organization that does both print and online which makes the pace extremely intense.  Adrienne has left New York and a great, comfy job at Town & Country magazine to return to her hometown and work for this new type of media.  

Adrienne had to move back into her parents' home which is definitely a commute into D.C. and because she ends up so far away from D.C. she stumbles upon a huge news story that involves one of her co workers.  Following her investigation was so entertaining, I loved the lengths she went to find the story, but keep it mum from the rest of her co workers, friends and family.  Although I didn't love her sister that much, I did enjoy her role as a sounding board for Adrienne as she decides whether to go to print with the story.  I wish that her friend Elsa played more of a role beyond the first mentions in the beginning of the book.

I loved that I knew that this book was semi true as the author is a former writer for Politico, so there was always a hint of wondering what possibly really happened and what was definitely fiction.  I would definitely pass this book along to readers who love the behind the scenes action and are given the access to watch a huge new story unfold through the eyes of the writer investigating and trying to find the truth.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2013 Challenge: 8 out of 50

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Edelweiss.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: How to Forget Your (Boy) Friend by Kathleen Kitson

How to Forget Your (Boy) Friend 
by Kathleen Kitson

Pages: 123
Format: ebook
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads: How Long Is Too Long To Be In Love With Your Ex?

Ivy Stratton's best friend-turned boyfriend-turned best friend, Giuseppe, is the One That Got Away.

Ivy's the one who let him get away--and since then, Giuseppe has put her firmly in his friend zone.

It's nothing short of embarrassing that she still hopes there might be a second chance for their relationship.

But, no matter how hard she tries, Ivy can't imagine life without Giuseppe—until she inherits a time machine.

Kritters Thoughts:  A great companion after reading How to Host a Holiday, the reader gets to revisit with these adorable characters.  Ivy has a love/hate relationship with her semi ex boyfriend, Guiseppe.  He has a love for women and always has one, whether it be Ivy or some other lady on his arm at all times.  In this book, we leave Ivy's home and spend more time with her on the job and with her boss, Sy.  An interesting turn of events takes Ivy down a road where she discovers how one small change can affect many people and the outcome of their lives.

Of course, I can't divulge too much as this sweet and short book is hinged on one twist of events that takes Ivy down an interesting path.  I definitely enjoyed taking a step out of her apartment from How to Host a Holiday and into her job at a rare bookstore - who doesn't love a book that takes place in a bookstore!  Ivy is a character whom the reader knows needs a little molding, so she can find and enjoy happiness, but the reader just doesn't know how it will come about.  It does and I loved every moment of her trip.

A sweet chick lit that can be read from start to finish in one seating.  I am definitely excited to see where Ivy is headed next!   

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel (which we will!)

Ebook 2013 Challenge: 5 out of 50

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.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Author Interview: Holly Goddard Jones

Yesterday I reviewed a wonderful debut novel by Holly Goddard Jones - The Next Time You See Me.  Today I have the great opportunity to interview the author and share her answers, so here we go . . . 

1.  What do you find yourself rambling about?

I tend to ramble out of nervousness, which means that there’s no real about—I’m just trying to fill a silence with some inanity. Well, I guess there’s a nice kind of rambling I sometimes do with my husband, when we’re on a long car ride together or a couple of drinks into an evening out, and I start yammering without a filter about a new writing project or a book I’m reading.

2.       What part of this debut novel process have you most enjoyed experiencing?

 The nicest part for me is that safe space of anticipation, when I’m not yet contending with reviews or sales and can just enjoy the little thrills, like seeing the cover for the first time or getting a blurb.

3.       Before becoming a published author, did you have any speed bumps along the way?  If so, how did you overcome them?

 Oh, of course. Plenty of rejections from literary journals, to start. One failed novel attempt. Work and life problems. I don’t know if I overcame those bumps in the road so much as I trusted—perhaps stupidly—that it was all part of the process. I’ve been lucky, too, in the sense that I’ve often had something hopeful happen in close proximity with a rejection that might otherwise have set me to despairing. I won a writing award at about the same time I finally scrapped my first bad novel, for instance.

4.       If you could put your book into any one person’s hands, who would it be?

 Probably Stephen King’s, because he’s the writer I loved when I was first reading adult fiction and first thinking that this is something I’d like to do with my life. I’d be fulfilling the dream of a younger, more wide-eyed, less cynical me. Plus, he strikes me as one of those readers who genuinely goes to a book with the hope of loving it instead of judging it.

5.       I don’t want to spoil any endings - but did you know that these characters would end up where they did when you started writing?

 Not exactly. I had a general sense of where each of the three main characters would end up, and those trajectories became clearer and clearer to me as I made my way through the draft. But I’ve never, for short fiction or long, done much in the way of outlining or formally planning the plot. I rely on the process to teach me what I need to know about the characters.

6.       What is next on your plate?

I’ve started a new novel, and I have an unfinished short story hanging over my head. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones

The Next Time You See Me
by Holly Goddard Jones

Publisher: Touchstone 
Pages: 384 
Format: book 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

Goodreads:  Thirteen-year-old Emily Houchens doesn’t have many friends. She finds more comfort playing make-believe in the woods near her house in Roma, Kentucky, than with her classmates, who find her strange and awkward. When she happens upon a dead body hidden in the woods one day, she decides not to tell anyone about her discovery—a choice that begins to haunt her.

Susanna Mitchell has always been a good girl, the dutiful daughter and wife. While her older sister Ronnie trolled bars for men and often drove home at sunrise, Susanna kept a neat house, a respectable job, a young daughter. But when Ronnie goes missing, and Susanna realizes that she’s the only person in Roma who truly cares about her sister’s fate, she starts to question her quiet life and its value.

Kritters Thoughts:  Quite a mystery that makes you keep putting puzzle pieces together bit by bit until the very end and everyone in this small is interconnected by the drama that occurs in one way or another.  Susanna Mitchell is a wife, mother and a teacher at the local middle school, her husband is the band director at the high school, so you could define them as the All-American couple with their daughter completing the equation.  When her eccentric sister goes missing, she must try to keep her cool.     

There were definitely some twists and turns, with most of them coming from left field, but by the time the whole puzzle took shape, I was ready for the mystery to be solved.  There were definitely some parts that moved a little slow and I wanted the pace to increase to the climax where the reader finds out who really did the deed.  Of course, I will not share who the criminal ends up being - but I was pleased with the character and the reveal, it was definitely interesting.  

For fans of the mystery/suspense genre, I think this is a good book and definitely an author that I will be keeping my eyes on - I want to see what she has next up her sleeve!

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 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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