Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review: Steal the North

Steal the North
by Heather Brittain Bergstrom

Publisher: Viking Adult
Pages: 336
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Emmy is a shy, sheltered sixteen-year-old when her mom, Kate, sends her to eastern Washington to an aunt and uncle she never knew she had. Fifteen years earlier, Kate had abandoned her sister, Beth, when she fled her painful past and their fundamentalist church. And now, Beth believes Emmy’s participation in a faith healing is her last hope for having a child.

Emmy goes reluctantly, but before long she knows she has come home. She feels tied to the rugged landscape of coulees and scablands. And she meets Reuben, the Native American boy next door.

In a part of the country where the age-old tensions of cowboys versus Indians still play out, theirs is the kind of magical, fraught love that can only survive with the passion and resilience of youth. Their story is mirrored by the generation before them, who fears that their mistakes are doomed to repeat themselves in Emmy and Reuben. 


Kritters Thoughts:  A heavy book that hits a lot of big subjects that can impact a teen's life.  Emmy is the main character and she is sent to an aunt's house that she never even knew existed to spend a summer where her mother and aunt grew up surrounded by the life that her mother escaped.  She must learn about the past and decide what path she wants for herself.

Told through almost every character's perspective, I enjoyed getting each of their point of views.  They each were able to share their side of the story while at the same time moving the story along.  With all of the basic teen angst subjects, there was an addition due to the location - the tension with American Indians and "white people."  I have not read a book that addressed this still current topic, so I enjoyed reading a fiction story that talks about a different race that is still feeling like a underclass minority.

This book may be categorized in the YA genre, but I would keep it to the older YA reader as there is definitely sex, drugs and rock n roll.  I didn't feel like the author was trying to cram it all in, but it was absolutely loaded with a lot of tough subjects.  

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 Penguin.  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, April 29, 2014

Review: Monday, Monday by Elizabeth Crook

Monday, Monday
by Elizabeth Crook

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
Pages: 352
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  On an oppressively hot Monday in August of 1966, a student and former marine named Charles Whitman hauled a footlocker of guns to the top of the University of Texas tower and began firing on pedestrians below. Before it was over, sixteen people had been killed and thirty-two wounded. It was the first mass shooting of civilians on a campus in American history.

Monday, Monday follows three students caught up in the massacre: Shelly, who leaves her math class and walks directly into the path of the bullets, and two cousins, Wyatt and Jack, who heroically rush from their classrooms to help the victims. On this searing day, a relationship begins that will eventually entangle these three young people in a forbidden love affair, an illicit pregnancy, and a vow of secrecy that will span forty years. Reunited decades after the tragedy, they will be forced to confront the event that changed their lives and that has silently and persistently ruled the lives of their children.


Kritters Thoughts:  A little historical with some truth, but mostly fiction as three people are impacted by a school shooting in 1966 and this one event turns everyone on its end and the characters even state the obvious a few times.

With quite a bit of drama, this one isn't for the faint of heart.  Pregnancy out of wedlock, extramarital affairs and sibling rivalry are all in this one, it almost got to be a little much.  I was overwhelmed with the amount of things that could occur to the three main characters and those that surround them.  I think because there was so much packed in, this book read a little slow for me.  

I did love the many reminders that one instance can change the whole trajectory of your life, so if you are a reader who enjoys a little drama in your books, you may enjoy this one more than I did.  

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 FSB Associates.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Review: The Island of Doves

The Island of Doves
by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Publisher: Berkley Trade
Pages: 384
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Susannah Fraser lives in one of Buffalo’s finest mansions, but her monstrous husband makes the home a terrible prison. When a local nun offers to help her escape, Susannah boards a steamship headed for Mackinac Island and a chance at freedom.

Magdelaine Fonteneau has seen her share of tragedy—a husband murdered before her eyes, two sisters lost—and she sees offering Susannah refuge in her island home as atonement for her many regrets. This act of kindness changes Susannah in ways she never could have imagined as she finds solace in the company of others who carry their own secrets and scars. Only together can they untangle their pasts—and find a future bright with the promise of new life….



Kritters Thoughts:  Susannah left her parents to cling to her husband and a sudden death of both of her parents and a husband who isn't living up to the marriage vows plunge her into a place that she doesn't find the hope.  A woman in 1835 doesn't have many options and through an interesting avenue is able to find a way out of her situation, but will her past come and get her. . .

Without this book set in 1835, the women's issues would be different, so the time was vital but also so very interesting.  I loved that even though it was set in a different time it was still easy to read, the author didn't make the language to out of it; although the setting and the dress of the time were described in perfect detail!  I can not say enough good things about how the time in history was set up so well, I got lost completely in it!

My second Kelly O'Connor McNees book and loved this one the same if not more than the previous one I read.  If you are a historical fiction fan, then this is an author to put on your immediate read list!

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel


Ebook 2014 Challenge: 23 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Penguin.  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, April 27, 2014

It's Monday, What are you Reading?


A busy week at work, but with the last minute decision to join the Dewey's Read a Thon, I spent a many good hours on Saturday and was able to finish some books!

A meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
Worth the Weight by Eileen Palma
Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched by Kim Barnouin
The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea
The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby

Currently Reading:
The Beach House by Georgia Bockoven

Next on the TBR pile:
Another Summer by Georgia Bockoven

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dewey's Read a thon 4/2014

Final Update: So I fell asleep and slept right through my alarm, so my 11pm update is accurate.  3 books completed for the readathon and I am very happy with that!  I will definitely participate again if I can clear the weekend plans.


UPDATE 11pm: A great few hours of reading while the pups snored away!  Going to try to start book 4, but may end up taking a little nap!  Hoping to wake up early and finish the 24 hrs reading!

Progress: 
Books finished: The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea
The Pink Suite by Nicole Mary Kelby
Current book reading:  The Beach House by Georgia Bockoven
Total pages read: 653

Time read: 10.6 hours


Mid-Event Survey
1. What are you reading right now? The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby
2. How many books have you read so far? 2
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? The Beach House by Georgia Bockoven
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?  just moved errand running to tomorrow!
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? yes, dogs and husband
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?  I am enjoying watching the twitter
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?  I would like to be more prepared with snacks and books!
9. Are you getting tired yet? not yet!  may need to take a power nap!
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?


UPDATE 6pm: I have eaten dinner and spent time with the husband before he heads off for a shift.  Once he is out the door, it will be non stop reading for a few hours, if the pups will agree to some quiet time.

Progress: 
Books finished: The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea
Current book reading:  The Pink Suite by Nicole Mary Kelby
Total pages read: 389
Time read: 6.6 hours


UPDATE 2pm: I have eaten lunch and moved outside to enjoy what little sunshine we may have until the rain begins!  Still reading The Unfinished Child, but should finish in the next hour!

Progress: 
Books finished: The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
Current book reading: The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea
Total pages read: 285
Time read: just over 5 hours

Mini Challenge:  6 words: Perfect reason to read all day!

UPDATE 12pm: So it is just before noon, 4 hours into Readathon and I finished one book - The Care and Management of Lies and well into the second - The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea (140 pages, just shy of half way!)

I am about to go make lunch, going to try to keep up the reading while making lunch!

Progress: 
Books finished: The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
Current book reading: The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea
Total pages read: 185
Time read: 3.5 hours


A little last minute decision this morning, cleared the calendar and going to read all day and maybe night!  Thankfully I have plenty to read!

I am reading from my grandfather's chair in my home library!  I am starting the readathon by finishing The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear, but I am excited about my next book - The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea.

I have some popcorn on the agenda, but since I am late to the game, I may have to rethink my dinner plans - pizza?

I participated in the readathon a long time ago and ever since have always had a packed weekend, so excited for a day devoted to reading!

I will be posting more updates and things on my instagram and twitter - @kdurham2.

Will post a final recap tomorrow morning.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

A Hundred Summers
by Beatriz Williams

Publisher: Putnam Adult
Pages: 357
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak. 

That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancé, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily's friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction...and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations. 



Kritters Thoughts:  Historical fiction with mystery, intrigue and quite a few twists around a few corners!  There are two story lines going on, with 7 years in between and it was different and I loved it!  Reading the story of how these friends met and got to know each other while at the same time reading them reunite and confront things from the past was so unique.

The reader knows from the beginning that there is drama and just can't wait to get all the pieces to put the puzzle together.  Although there were a few characters that I didn't love, that didn't keep me from loving the book, it was nice to read characters that were despicable and still love the story.  

If you are a reader that shies away from historical fiction, this would be one I would suggest as a beginners into the genre.  The story felt authentic to the time and place and was just overall a great read.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Penguin.  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, April 24, 2014

Review: The House at the End of Hope Street

The House at the End of Hope Street
by Menna Van Praag

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

Goodreads:  When Alba Ashby, the youngest Ph.D. student at Cambridge University, suffers the Worst Event of Her Life, she finds herself at the door of 11 Hope Street. There, a beautiful older woman named Peggy invites Alba to stay on the house’s unusual conditions: she’ll have ninety-nine nights, and no more, to turn her life around. Once inside, Alba discovers that 11 Hope Street is no ordinary house. Past residents include Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Parker, and Agatha Christie, who all stayed there at hopeless times in their lives and who still hang around—quite literally—in talking portraits on the walls. With their help Alba begins to piece her life back together and embarks on a journey that may save her life.


Kritters Thoughts:  If I only had two words to describe this book it would be magical and historical.  I am not a huge magical fan, but this book did it in such a way that this cynical reader could enjoy it!  Alba ends up in a house where women have taken refuge in times of need and with a limited stay they are encouraged to spend their time finding their true passion.

The house talks and although I am not a magical reader, the fact that they were historical figures, mainly female authors, I totally got into it.  I loved how the authors were giving these women encouragement and advice, I kind of wish I could have stayed there at some point!  There is a sweet twist at the end that really made the book for me!  

I would absolutely recommend this book to readers who aren't completely into historical and don't mind a little magic in their reading!  

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 Penguin.  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, April 22, 2014

Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths

The Collector of Dying Breaths
by MJ Rose

Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years René le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen's rivals.

But it's René other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That's when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene's secret to immortality.

Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next.


Kritters Thoughts:  A current story line and a historical line that takes very far back in 1573 as the art of perfume still has some magic to it.  Rene is a perfumer from the court of Catherine de Medici and she asks him to create perfumes for herself and some other concoctions for her to keep her place in the court.  At the same time Jac is a woman who has felt stories from people in the past and is newly mourning the mysterious death of her brother who was a perfumer trying to finish Rene's work.

This book bounced from the past to the present, but with fantastic editing it was easy to know what time and where the story was taking place.  Both stories are woven from the very beginning which I appreciated because there was enough mystery within the story.  The way the stories getting really woven in the end were seamless and fantastic - I loved it.    

I am a fan of MJ Rose and historical fiction, but there were some moments in the middle that moved a little slow for me, would have liked a little pick up in the pace!  If you have read MJ Rose before I would say you should read this one.

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 Meryl Moss Media.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Black Chalk by Christopher J Yates

Black Chalk
by Christopher J Yates

Publisher: Harvill Secker
Pages: 352
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  One game. Six students. Five survivors.

It was only ever meant to be a game.

A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.

Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round.


Kritters Thoughts:  6 students who are all freshman at university and they decide to start a game with levels of consequences and as you know from the cover, one student will not make it to the end.

Unfortunately, this book just didn't do it for me and I will tell you why.  For a time, I wasn't sure which of the 6 students was narrating in the present part of the book and I didn't love it.  As far as the format of the book - there are parts being narrated in the present and then the back story being told in chronological order.  There are NO chapters per say and roman numerals all over the place and I couldn't quite get the gist of them.  I would have preferred if in editing there had been something inserted to allow the reader greater ease as to know when it was present and when it was back during the freshman year.  

Having read Panic by Lauren Oliver before I read this one, I spent some time comparing and I enjoyed Panic a little more.  Although the characters were different ages, the overall concept was the same.  

As always, I like to point out which reader would enjoy this book even if I didn't.  I think readers who enjoy books in English universities where the cultural difference between Americans and English is right front and center would love it.  If you love a little mystery and having you as the reader left out of the loop a little, then you would enjoy this one more than I did.

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.



Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's Monday, What are you Reading?


What a great reading week!  A quiet weekend with fantastic weather meant some outside time for me and the dogs in out backyard!  With a May being a crazy travel month, I am hoping to get a few great reading weeks in first!

A meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
Monday, Monday by Elizabeth Crook
Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom
For Such a Time by Kate Breslin
Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini
Spin by Catherine McKenzie
Spun by Catherine McKenzie

Currently Reading:
Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched by Kim Barnouin

Next on the TBR pile:
Worth the Weight by Eileen Palma

Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

The Other Typist
by Suzanne Rindell

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 356
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  New York City, 1924: the height of Prohibition and the whole city swims in bathtub gin.

Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side. Every day Rose transcribes the confessions of the gangsters and murderers that pass through the precinct. While she may disapprove of the details, she prides herself on typing up the goriest of crimes without batting an eyelid.

But when the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist's spell. As do her bosses, the buttoned up Lieutenant Detective and the fatherly Sergeant. As the two girls' friendship blossoms and they flit between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the precinct by day, it is not long before Rose's fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession.

But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out?


Kritters Thoughts:  A historical fiction with a little bit of an eerie thriller twist.  Rose is telling the story from the future and it is obvious that from the start the story is going to go downhill at some point, but the reader just doesn't know when, where and why.  The who part is easy - it is clear that the new typist Odalie will be involved in some way.

Rose was a great character and as a narrator I enjoyed the way the story was presented.  It made it interesting to hear her tell the story from the future with her thoughts added in for good measure.  I also enjoyed the concentration on prohibition - I don't think I have read many books that focused on the time period in this way with a look at this very big subject matter.  A fun side note, I am a police officer's wife and I loved reading about the inner workings of an older time in a police office.

I enjoyed this one, but didn't love it.  I think I have read quite a bit of historical fiction mainly set in New York and as I have read them all recently, I compare them and this one didn't live up to the others, but was still good in its own right.  At times I felt like the pacing slowed down in the middle and then just went crazy fast at the end, so maybe I would have ranked it higher if the pacing was more even.

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 Penguin.  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, April 17, 2014

Review: Up at Butternut Lake

Up at Butternut Lake
by Mary McNear

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 384
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  It's been ten years since Allie Beckett crossed the threshold of her family cabin at Butternut Lake, Minnesota. Now, newly widowed after the death of her husband in Afghanistan, she's returned with her five-year-old son.

There, she reconnects with the friends she had in childhood-best girlfriend Jax, now married with three kids and one on the way, and Caroline, owner of the local coffee shop. What Allie doesn't count on is a newcomer to Butternut Lake, Walker Ford. 

Up at Butternut Lake follows these four unforgettable characters across a single summer as they struggle with love, loss, and what it means to take risks, confront fears, and embrace life, in all of its excitement and unpredictability.

Allie Beckett could never have imagined, when she ran away from her old life, that she was running into a whole new life, up at the lake…


Kritters Thoughts:  Allie is a young mother who has been widowed due to war and is trying to make a new home for her and her son without the memories that linger in their previous hometown.  She returns to a lake house from her childhood where there are a few people who knew her before this most recent tragedy in her life.  

The minor characters had a story of their own which added to the story, but didn't distract.  The owner of the local diner is a recent empty nester and is really feeling the loneliness without her daughter at home.  Jax is a mom of three with the fourth on the way and has kept a secret from her husband and she must confront this to move her marriage forward.  I enjoyed having these full stories settle within Allie's story.

The one thing that really stuck out with me with this book was the effects that our military families are having as their loved ones are leaving and possibly not coming home again.  At the beginning of this book, I was surprised as to the length of time she had lived without her husband, but the author really helped me realize the length of time it can take for a family to start the processing of finding a new normal.

A predictable romance that didn't surprise me, even when I wanted it to!  I just wanted a twist or a turn that made me excited for the conclusion - the book ended exactly how I thought it would after reading the very beginning.

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.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: Silence the Dead by Simone St. James

Silence the Dead
by Simone St. James

Publisher: NAL Trade
Pages: 384
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It’s known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?

Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman… or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.



Kritters Thoughts:  Historical fiction with ghosts, crazy PTSD soldiers and all in a home that is completely isolated from the world.  Kitty is a woman who has been running from a past for a very long time and she ends up in this historical home that has been converted into a mental hospital working as a nurse without the proper qualifications.  She learns that the past doesn't always stay in the past both the past of the occupants of the home and those in her personal past.  

I am a historical fiction fan and I liked this one, but I wish there was a little more to the story of the previous inhabitants of the house.  Once their part of the story started to unfold it was then done; I think it could have been woven a little more throughout the entire story.  I completely enjoyed that the house was almost a full character on its own - the author described this house to such detail that I felt I was there.  

If you like historical fiction with a dash of ghosts then you would love this one.

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 Penguin.  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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