Thursday, December 31, 2015

December - the end of 2015


Another busy month with some work functions and all of the usual holiday plans and preparations and then actually celebrating the holidays!  Thankfully like in years past I took the week between Christmas and New Years to have a quiet week to rejuvenate and read!  January will be another busy month with my big corporate event, so I am thinking the reading of 2016 will not start out on a high note!

1.  The Seafront Tearoom by Vanessa Greene
2.  The Christmas Bridge by Elyse Douglas
3.  Ask Him Why by Catherine Ryan Hyde
4.  Medicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot
5.  What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan
6.  The Last Dreamer by Barbara Solomon Josselsohn
7.  Quicksand by Steve Toltz
8.  Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand
9.  Anything For You by Kristan Higgins
10.  Wildflower by Drew Barrymore
11. The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo
12. Novelista Girl by Meredith Schorr
13. How to Grow an Addict by JA Wright
14. The Union Street Bakery by Mary Ellen Taylor
15. Sweet Expectations by Mary Ellen Taylor
16. Binge by Tyler Oakley


Total pages read, clicked, and flipped: 5,464

Where Have I Been Reading?:
Scarborough, UK

New York City, NY (2)
California
France
Bristol, England
New York
Australia
Nantucket
New York
Venice, Italy
Huntington Beach, CA
Alexandria, VA (2)


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review: Anything For You by Kristan Higgins

Anything For You
by Kristan Higgins

Publisher: HQN Books
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Before you get down on bended knee… 

…you should be pretty darn sure the answer will be yes. For ten years, Connor O'Rourke has been waiting for Jessica Dunn to take their on-again, off-again relationship public, and he thinks the time has come. His restaurant is thriving, she's got her dream job at Blue Heron Vineyard—it's the perfect time to get married. 

When he pops the question, however, her answer is a fond but firm no. If it ain't broke, why fix it? Jess has her hands full with her younger brother, who's now living with her full-time, and a great career after years of waitressing. What she and Connor have is perfect: friends with an excellent benefits package. Besides, with her difficult past (and reputation), she's positive married life isn't for her. 

But this time, Connor says it's all or nothing. If she doesn't want to marry him, he'll find someone who does. Easier said than done, given that he's never loved anyone but her. And maybe Jessica isn't quite as sure as she thinks…



Kritters Thoughts:  Another Kristan Higgins home run!  Set in the same town as the Blue Heron vineyards book, but this one is different and it made me like that it came at this point in the series.  The fifth in the series, this book takes a break from the family the Holland family and instead someone who has lived in town her whole life and the reasons why she never left and what is keeping her trapped in the life she is in.  

As all romance novels, the ending can be predicted from the beginning, but for some reason this book felt a little more up and down than usual.  I didn't mind it, but it was definitely a roller coaster!

I definitely recommend reading this series starting at the beginning as the main characters featured in the previous books make appearances and you may miss out on an inside joke or even a small character movement without knowing what came before.  Even though this is book five, I say start at the beginning, these read fast and are great not too sexy times!


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 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.




Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review: Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Wildflower
by Drew Barrymore

Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 288
Format: audiobook
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Wildflower is a portrait of Drew's life in stories as she looks back on the adventures, challenges, and incredible experiences of her earlier years. It includes tales of living on her own at 14 (and how laundry may have saved her life), getting stuck in a gas station overhang on a cross country road trip, saying goodbye to her father in a way only he could have understood, and many more adventures and lessons that have led her to the successful, happy, and healthy place she is today. It is the first book Drew has written about her life since the age of 14.


Kritters Thoughts:  Read via audiobook and my new Scribd membership, I loved experiencing this book via audio!  As a side note, I have only listened to a handful of books, but all have been in the celebrity memoir genre and I have loved them all!

This was no exception.  It was less memoir and more a collection of short stories, but I loved it.  It did not go in chronological order, which may have bugged me a few times, but I can get over it.  I thought I knew most of Drew Barrymore's story as her personal life has hit the news throughout the years, but I loved "reading" through her eyes and her telling the stories that matter to her.

I absolutely recommend listening as Drew narrates it herself and she puts her own unique touch on certain moments.  She yells, she laughs and I even feel like I heard some teary moments, it was perfectly emotional and I would love to hear her read something else.


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








Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo

The Violinist of Venice
by Alyssa Palombo

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 448
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads: Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d'Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family's palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.

Adriana's father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice's patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana's marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana's own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.


Kritters Thoughts:  A sweeping historical fiction that spans almost the entire length of a woman's life as we meet her in her teens and the book finishes as she has reached full adulthood as a mother and a widow.  

Adriana lost her music when her mother passes away and in the beginning of the book she finds it through an interesting relationship and then she fights to keep it throughout the book and it was enjoyable to see her relationship with music affect her relationship with the people around her.

I do not know a lot about the theory of music and I know nothing about violins and music composition, so although I felt out of my element at times in this book, I liked it.  I enjoyed reading about creating music and could understand it at a high level and for some reason wasn't frustrated by my confusion at times.  Do not let the intense violin of this book deter you, you can still appreciate the book for all it is.

But at the same time I would say, if you are not a fan of historical fiction, this one is deeply historical fiction, so in that moment only read this if you like books where a female is married off and has no power in her destiny and the men run the show!


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 St Martin's Press.  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, December 27, 2015

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

The week of Christmas was both crazy and quiet!  I had a to do list, but I also had great moments of quiet with a book and the lights on the Christmas tree!  

A meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand
Anything For You by Kristan Higgins
Wildflower by Drew Barrymore (audiobook)
The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo
Novelista Girl by Meredith Schorr

Currently Reading:
How to Grow an Addict by JA Wright

Next on the TBR pile:
The Past by Tessa Hadley

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from ours to yours!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Review: Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand

Winter Stroll
by Elin Hilderbrand

Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Another Christmas on Nantucket finds Winter Street Inn owner Kelley Quinn reflecting on the past year as he writes a holiday letter to friends and family. Though the year has had its share of misfortune and worry, the Quinns have much to celebrate. Kelley, now single, at least is on better terms with his first wife Margaret, who is using her celebrity to lure customers to the inn in record numbers. Their son Kevin has a beautiful new baby, Genevieve, with the Inn's French housekeeper, Isabelle; and their daughter, Ava, is finally dating a nice guy--her devoted colleague, Scott. 

Now the Quinns are looking forward to celebrating Genevieve's baptism, welcoming Isabelle to the family, and enjoying the cheer of Nantucket's traditional Christmas Stroll. But just when a peaceful family gathering seems within reach, Kelley's estranged second wife, Mitzi, shows up on the island after souring on her relationship with the inn's former Santa Claus. Soon Kelley isn't the only Quinn entertaining a surprise guest from Christmases past as lovers old and new gather beneath the mistletoe. With jealousy, passion, and eggnog consumption at an all-time high, it's going to take a whole lot more than a Christmas miracle to get the Quinns--and the inn--through the holidays intact. 



Kritters Thoughts:  A sequel to Winter Street and it is a year after and a new holiday season at the Winter Street Inn.  Just as in the first book, many of the characters take turns moving the story along and I enjoyed hearing the story from multiple perspectives.  

I don't want to write a long review as this is a sequel and spoil too many things.  I hope that this is a series that Elin continues to put out once a year for many years to come.  I have loved having a Christmasy women's fiction book to read that reads swiftly and is just enjoyable!

I absolutely recommend starting at book one on this series and you will enjoy a great Christmas read!

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel














Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge

The Further Adventures of Ebenece Scrooge
by Charlie Lovett

Publisher: Viking
Pages: 107
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  On a hot summer day some twenty years after he was famously converted to kindness, Ebenezer Scrooge still roams the streets of London, spreading Christmas cheer, much to the annoyance of his creditors, nephew, and his employee Bob Cratchit. However, when Scrooge decides to help his old friend and former partner Jacob Marley, as well as other inhabitants of the city, he will need the assistance of the very people he’s annoyed. He’ll also have to call on the three ghosts that visited him two decades earlier. By the time they’re done, they’ve convinced everyone to celebrate Christmas all year long by opening their wallets, arms, and hearts to those around them.


Kritters Thoughts:  Most people have read or watched an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, so to introduce a sequel is risky, but could be really good.  And this one was.

Taking place in the summer time, Ebenezer has kept the Christmas spirit since he had the memorable night with the spirits, but there are a few people around him that may need to get pinched by the spirit!  So four people will be visited by spirits and hopefully will catch the bug and hep Ebenezer spread it around.  

I liked this one and like the book from yesterday I gave it to my sister to share with her girls.  I think it would be great to experience this when you experience the original.  This was another short and simple book that although doesn't take place during the holidays can be added to your holiday reading list.  


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 Viking.  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 21, 2015

Review: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
by L. Frank Baum

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 176
Format: book

Goodreads:  L. Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus was first published in 1902, two years after his Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Drawing on the attributes of Santa Claus from Clement Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (“The Night Before Christmas”), Baum chronicles Santa’s life from his childhood in an enchanted forest—the same forest that is the source of all magic in the land of Oz—to his destiny of sharing gifts and spreading love to his fellow man. Along the way we witness him making his first toys, learn the origins of the Christmas tree and Christmas stockings, and discover the stories behind many Christmas secrets, like why Santa slides down chimneys, how he picks his reindeer, and how he delivers all his toys in one night. Later adapted into multiple animated films, and published here with the original illustrations from the first edition, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus evinces the charm, warmth, and fantasy that made L. Frank Baum’s Oz stories American classics.


Kritters Thoughts:  Have you ever thought who Santa Claus was before he was the jolly grandfather figure?  Who raised him and how did all the traditions that go along with him begin?  This book answers all those questions and more.  

I had never even heard of this book's existence so when I got the email offering it to read and review, I knew I had to read and review it and share it here.  Divided into three parts, this great little book tells the reader of the story of this "man" from when a fairy adopts him and raises him in an enchanted forest and when he leaves them to share joy.  I loved how these magical creatures help him to find his life's work and then keep his life's work going.  

If you already knew about this book, let me know what memories you have of reading it.  I was excited to share it with my sister so she could share it with her girls!


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.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

What a crazy week!  A lot of holiday things and Christmas prep and a book that moved very slowly, so two is all for this week.

A meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
The Last Dreamer by Barbara Solomon Josselsohn
Quicksand by Steve Toltz

Currently Reading:
Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand

Next on the TBR pile:
The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo



Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review: The Last Dreamer by Barbara Solomon Josselsohn

The Last Dreamer
by Barbara Solomon Josselsohn

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 237
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Iliana Passing—wife, mother, and former acclaimed journalist—gave up her career to start a family. Almost fifteen years later, despite how much she loves her husband and kids, she can’t help wondering how she ended up with a life spent carpooling and running errands.

Ready to get back into the journalism game, Iliana searches for an exciting lead. When she discovers that Jeff Downs, the heartthrob star of an old TV show and her girlhood crush, now owns a nearby textile company, she thinks she’s found her story: teen celebrity and its aftermath. But as Iliana gets to know Jeff, the two grow closer than she ever could’ve imagined. Now that her teenage dream has walked into her present-day reality, how far will she go to entertain an old fantasy?



Kritters Thoughts:  This story centers around a woman who long ago gave up a possible career to raise the family and be a full time helper to her husband and kids and she is ready to dream and live out her dream.  Her family isn't ready to not have her full attention and this story is about the growing pains of the family as they are adjusting to a new normal.

Not a family lady myself, but I still feel these same pains of this family as my job has busy seasons and my husband and "family" or three dogs, can tell when I am not my full self.  I can understand the burden a family has to take on when someone they lean on isn't there anymore and is trying to do something new that takes them away from their usual duties.  So with all that said whether you are a mom and totally relate or not at all, read this one, you can find yourself in this character and you will be nodding in agreement with her often.

I loved how relatable the character is and just couldn't put this one down.

Rating: perfect beach read


Ebook 2015 Challenge: 52 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from BookSparks PR.  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, December 15, 2015

Review: What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

What She Knew
by Gilly Macmillan

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.  

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking...



Kritters Thoughts:  A mystery who dun it, but not your typical one.  In the first few chapters a child goes missing as he is out on a walk with his dog and his mom, she is still trying to recover from the separation and divorce from his father and this is just where the story begins.  

Narrated by both the mother and the lead detective on the case in alternating chapters there are also great tid bits thrown - blog posts, news articles with comments and current dialogue between the detective and his therapist as he reflects on the case.  These extra things added to the story, but if you don't love books with extras still try this one as 80% of the book is in usual novel form.

As I was telling my mom when describing this book and why I liked it, I said - yes a child goes missing and that is a major plot point, really this book is a family drama with secrets and betrayal at the heart of this book.  These secrets lead both the mother and detectives down roads of suspicion as they try to find her child.  The final culprit is satisfying, but really an afterthought as you watch this family dissolve.

If you have read a lot in this genre and may be burnt out, go ahead with this one as it felt new and fresh.

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 Partner in Crime 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.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Review: Medicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot

Medicis Daughter
by Sophie Perinot

Publisher: St Martin's Press
Pages: 384
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot’s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de M├ędicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.

Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul.


Kritters Thoughts:  Most people would put this book solely in the historical fiction part of the library or store, but I would possibly debate that this one could really go into the romance department, this one had a lot of romance at times for me and I wished for less of the romance drama and more of the court drama (although some may debate that there was a lot of this also).

If you love a book with a large cast of characters, then this one is for you.  This is one of those times where I had to get a sheet of note paper to write down a family tree and a court tree to keep things straight, I would have loved something in the front of the book to see and reflect.  

Yes, this book is long in page count, but more than that it was long in that the story moved VERY slow and I felt as though there were big unusual pauses in action.  I wanted more moments of action linked together for some reason I had a hard time keeping my attention on the book.

I am a fan of the court drama, but this one didn't work for me.  

I like to be honest here on the blog, but like to tell you helpful hints, so if you disagree with me you can run and pick this one up.  


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

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from St Martin's Press.  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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