Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: The Road Home by Kathleen Shoop

The Road Home
by Kathleen Shoop

Publisher: Oakglen Press
Pages: 418
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  1891—Living separately for three years, fourteen-year-old twins, Katherine and Tommy Arthur, have done their best to make each boarding house feel like home. But unrest grows as they are driven to questionable actions just to survive. Meanwhile their desperate mother is confronted with breaking yet another promise to her children. Then a miracle descends. Hope rises on a cold, rainy night and changes everything. If Jeanie could just get word to Katherine and Tommy, she knows she can set their lives right again. Agitators, angels, and dangerous “saviors” illuminate the Arthurs’ unmatched determination and smarts. 

1905—Though she tries to forget the awful years that hurt so much, the memories still haunt Katherine. Now, tearful mourners at her mother’s funeral force her to revisit a time in her life that both harmed and saved her in the most unexpected ways. Tommy grieves his mother’s passing as well. He too is thrust backward, compelled to rediscover the events in his life that shaped the man he has become. Will he commit to reconstructing his broken life? The Arthurs come to understand that forgiveness is the only way back to hope, the only way to find all that was good in the misfortune that transformed their lives forever.
 


Kritters Thoughts:  An epic story that takes place in just under 500 pages.  Katherine, Tommy and Jeannie all take turns telling this epic story that takes place in two moments in time - 1891 as the family is separated and trying to get back together and then in 1905 as Jeannie the matriarch has passed away and the children are trying to deal with the loss.

This book wasn't wordie it just had a lot of action in it and even at its length it didn't feel too long as in it had good pacing and I wouldn't have taken anything out.  The thing I would add was a little more detail in the timing, I would have loved (especially in the 1891 section) to have months and a little more concept of time, I felt as though it was the year that wouldn't end!  

This is the second in a series and I didn't even know it until I was well into the book.  After finishing the book, I read the reviews and I agree that you don't have to have read the first one to get this story, but I kind of wish I had.  So take that with a grain of salt, but I am a reader who loves to start at the beginning!

For me, I tend to like to read these hefty epic stories in the winter time, when I want to curl up, so I may have loved this book more if I had read it then instead of the middle of the summer.

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 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.




Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

The Wonder of All Things
by Jason Mot

Publisher: Mira
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators, killing and injuring dozens. But when the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds miraculously disappear. Ava has a unique gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. But now the whole world knows, and suddenly Ava is thrust into the spotlight. People from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to glimpse the wonder of a miracle. But Ava's unusual ability comes at a great cost, her own health, and as she grows weaker with each healing, Ava begins searching for an escape. Wash agrees to help Ava, but little does she know he has his own secret he's been harboring, and soon Ava finds herself having to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to save the one she loves most.


Kritters Thoughts:  An interesting book set in a small town that gets overthrown by a new story that will take the town by surprise and affect everyone.  During a very fun day in Stone Temple, NC, an air show is taking place with the comeback kid doing stunts in his airplane when his engine shuts down and he crashes, in the wake of his crash - Ava heals her best friend Wash and basically saves his life.  From there the whole town wants Ava to heal their family members or themselves, but when Ava heals people, she takes on their pain and is recovering less and less with each healing.

Yes this book had a little magic to it, but it was enough to enjoy, but not too much that I didn't like it.  I liked that yes Ava healed Wash and a few others in the book, but the story was more than her healing it was more about relationships and especially parent child relationships.  I loved reading the ups and downs of parent child relationships and I am not sure I read a ton of books that deal with small children and their parents and I enjoyed this one.

I would definitely recommend this book and even more so if you are hesitant to read books with magical realism.

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, July 28, 2015

Review: Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J Ryan Stradal

Kitchens of the Great Midwest
by J Ryan Stradal

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 320
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine—and a dashing sommelier—he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter—starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience.

Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal’s startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life—its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises. It marks the entry of a brilliant new talent.
 


Kritters Thoughts:  A book about a girl Eva, yet only one chapter is told from Eva's point of view; the rest of the chapters are told from people who are around Eva from family to friends to new acquaintances - it was new and unique.  

The book starts with a chapter "before" Eva as the reader meets her parents and her life from the beginning.  Then with the second chapter Eva takes the lead and then the next chapters come from the view points of those around her.  I also loved how each chapter had a food "theme"; some are subtle and some not so much, but I loved watching Eva grow from a hesitant girl to confident businesswoman and the food that took her on that journey.

There was only one chapter where I felt like Eva didn't play a big part and it wasn't my favorite (the second to last), but it didn't change my feelings for the book.  I loved how Eva came in and out of the other chapters and it felt all "six degrees of Kevin Bacon".

A great combination of fiction, food, family and friends and I loved reading Eva's adventure.


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 and 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.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri

The Witch of Bourbon Street
by Suzanne Palmieri

Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Set amidst the charming chaos of The French Quarter and remote bayous of Tivoli Parish, Louisiana, Suzanne Palmieri’s The Witch of Bourbon Street weaves an unforgettable tale of mystery and magic.

Situated deep in the bayou is the formerly opulent Sorrow Estate. Once home to a magical family, the Sorrows, it now lays in ruins, uninhabited since a series of murders in 1902 shocked the entire community. When Frances Green Sorrow is born, the family is on the brink of obscurity and the last remaining Sorrows cling to the hope that she is the one who will finally resurrect the glory of what once was.

However, Frances has no wish to be the family’s savior. Disillusioned, she marries young, attempting an "ordinary life," and has a son, Jack. When her marriage fails and she loses custody of her boy, she runs away to live a quiet life on the dilapidated Sorrow Estate, where she practices solitary magic amid ghosts and gardens. But when Jack disappears, she is forced to rejoin the world she left behind and solve the century-old murder that casts a long shadow over Tivoli Parish and its inhabitants in order to find her son.


Kritters Thoughts:  Witches and magic and the modern day.  This book was an interesting take on the modern day witch with a family history.  Although I am not always the fan of the witch books, I wanted to read this one to see a modern take on it.  Frances ran away from her past and denied her abilities, but in this book she comes back into the fold of the family and finds her place.

This book is more than a dual narrative, almost everyone involved gets their own chapter or a part of a chapter to help move the story along and tell from their point of view.  I loved that all the characters shared the responsibility of telling the story.  I also loved that this book was more than the abilities that the members of this family can do, but really about the family as a whole and their relationships.  

The book was definitely wordie and although I never do this I read a few reviews when I was at the halfway point and agree that it was very slow to start and most to all of the action was saved to the bitter end which I didn't love.  If you like a slow build you would enjoy this aspect much more than I did.

If you are a witch skeptic like me, you may like this one with the intense focus on family instead of all the witchery!

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

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.




Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

Another busy week at the work front and some baseball games took away from the reading time, but the weekend was pretty quiet and full of books!

A
 meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J Ryan Stradal
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
The Road Home by Kathleen Shoop
The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri

Currently Reading:
The Ones We Trust by Kimberly Belle

Next on the TBR pile:
The Best of Enemies by Jen Lancaster

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld

The Man of My Dreams
by Curtis Sittenfeld

Publisher: Random House
Pages: 288
Format: book 
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Hannah Gavener is fourteen in the summer of 1991. In the magazines she reads, celebrities plan elaborate weddings; in Hannah’s own life, her parents’ marriage is crumbling. And somewhere in between these two extremes–just maybe–lie the answers to love’s most bewildering questions. But over the next decade and a half, as she moves from Philadelphia to Boston to Albuquerque, Hannah finds that the questions become more rather than less complicated: At what point can you no longer blame your adult failures on your messed-up childhood? Is settling for someone who’s not your soul mate an act of maturity or an admission of defeat? And if you move to another state for a guy who might not love you back, are you being plucky–or just pathetic?

None of the relationships in Hannah’s life are without complications. There’s her father, whose stubbornness Hannah realizes she’s unfortunately inherited; her gorgeous cousin, Fig, whose misbehavior alternately intrigues and irritates Hannah; Henry, whom Hannah first falls for in college, while he’s dating Fig; and the boyfriends who love her more or less than she deserves, who adore her or break her heart. By the time she’s in her late twenties, Hannah has finally figured out what she wants most–but she doesn’t yet know whether she’ll find the courage to go after it. 



Kritters Thoughts:  One could call this book a collection of short stories or vignettes from Hannah's life as the reader gets a small view in at different moments when Hannah is in search of love.  

The reader first meets Hannah as her home life is in chaos and she isn't sure what the future holds but she knows that she is going to start her hunt for a guy.  I loved how this book went from childhood to adulthood but wasn't 500 pages long.  The set up for this book made for such a fun and different read since the reader gets to know this character but also gets to see her at different points in her life.

With a few moments that revolve around sex that are mostly tame, I would recommend this book to young readers as a fun view of how the man of your dreams can change as you grow into adulthood.  What you valued previously may not matter later in life and in contrast some things become very important when looking for the man of your dreams.

Rating: perfect YA read










Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade

Orphan Number Eight
by Kim van Alkemade

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In 1919, Rachel Rabinowitz is a vivacious four-year-old living with her family in a crowded tenement on New York City's Lower Eastside. When tragedy strikes, Rachel is separated from her brother Sam and sent to a Jewish orphanage where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research. Subjected to X-ray treatments that leave her disfigured, Rachel suffers years of cruel harassment from the other orphans. But when she turns fifteen, she runs away to Colorado hoping to find the brother she lost and discovers a family she never knew she had.

Though Rachel believes she's shut out her painful childhood memories, years later she is confronted with her dark past when she becomes a nurse at Manhattan's Old Hebrews Home and her patient is none other than the elderly, cancer-stricken Dr. Solomon. Rachel becomes obsessed with making Dr. Solomon acknowledge, and pay for, her wrongdoing. But each passing hour Rachel spends with the old doctor reveal to Rachel the complexities of her own nature. She realizes that a person's fate--to be one who inflicts harm or one who heals--is not always set in stone.



Kritters Thoughts:  Rachel becomes an orphan in a very tragic way early in the book and from there the book swapped between chapters from her childhood and going forward to adulthood with chapters within her adulthood.  I loved how this author formatted the book and although sometimes the flow was hard, each chapter felt like a short story within a bigger story.  

Rachel was a great character, in that although she had a very hard childhood she didn't use it as an excuse to be a deadbeat adult, but instead she found a fire in herself and wanted to find her own true passion to get her out from under anyone.  I loved seeing her childhood and its impacts immediately in the adulthood chapters.  This book almost felt like a dual narrative but with Rachel narrating both her past and her present - I loved the intermix of the stories.

The other thing that stuck out for me in this book was the social issue of homosexuality and reading the reaction to this community in the time.  No matter how you stand on the issue it was interesting to read about how people were reacting to this way of life and how much the same arguments and thoughts are being used now.  

This was an unique historical fiction and after reading a lot of them this was felt different and I am so glad!  


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.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review: Losing Me by Sue Margolis

Losing Me
by Sue Margolis

Publisher: NAL
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Knocking on sixty, Barbara Stirling is too busy to find herself, while caring for her mother, husband, children, and grandchildren. But when she loses her job, everything changes. Exhausted, lonely, and unemployed, Barbara is forced to face her feelings and doubts. Then a troubled, vulnerable little boy walks into her life and changes it forever. 


Kritters Thoughts:  Barbara is a grandmother, mother, wife, daughter, teacher and an active member in her community and as things start to unravel she starts to unravel and those around her some help, but some assume that she will just take care of herself as she has always done.

I don't tend to read a book with a main character is of the advanced age, but I love this author, so I wanted to try this one out and I wasn't disappointed.  Although I am not in that stage of life, I still was able to relate with the character in that I am also a woman who wants to be there for anyone and be all things for everyone, so I loved seeing that at any age a woman can get overwhelmed and need a break from life.  

So if you tend to shy away from books that have women who are in their later years, try out this one, you should enjoy it.  

Do you read books with only characters your age?  (I tend to!)  Would you rather read books with characters older or younger than you?


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

Ebook 2015 Challenge: 39 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Berkley NAL.  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, July 20, 2015

Miss Emma's Birthday!




My husband and I spent the weekend with one of our nieces - Miss Emma Otey.  We took her to her first baseball game - the Nationals.  

She got a special treat to visit my husband on the job!



We ate lots of treats and had a great weekend! 




Sunday, July 19, 2015

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

It was a good week, but a crazy weekend with my niece in town to celebrate her birthday with us!  Tomorrow I will not have a review but will instead have some photos from our weekend!

A
 meme hosted by Sheila at BookJourney. 

Finished this past week:
Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade
Losing Me by Sue Margolis
The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld

Currently Reading:
The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

Next on the TBR pile:
The Legacy of Us by Kristin Contino

Friday, July 17, 2015

Review: Bum Rap by Paul Levine

Bum Rap
by Paul Levine

Publisher: Thomas Merzer
Pages: 334
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  NFL linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter has had it with shifty clients, dirty prosecutors, and a legal system out of whack. It’s enough to make a man want to leave Miami and never look back—until he gets a call from Victoria Lord, the better half of hot local legal team Solomon & Lord. Her partner in life and law has been arrested for murder. What’s worse: the only person who can clear him has fled the city. Now it’s up to Jake and Victoria to track down the witness—a stunning “Bar girl”—before she’s roped in by the feds…or eliminated by the Russian mob.
Jake knows that if he doesn’t get to the witness first, his client’s case is lost. Luckily, he’s got some good advice from his college football coach: “Buckle your chin strap and hit somebody.” And sometimes, the only way to win a tough case is to do just that.

Kritters Thoughts:  Number 11 in a series, but the first I have read and just like an episode of CSI the investigation was contained in this book, but I definitely was missing out of some character development, but didn't feel clueless!  Jake Lassiter has a reputation by this book and it was easy to get on his team and "help" him discover and piece together the clues.  

I enjoyed the investigation and trial for this story, not sure if I would go all the way back to book one and start the series over, but I might look back and see if the storyline interested me in a few of them.  I loved Paul Levine's writing style and enjoyed the flow of the book, so I will definitely be keeping my eye out for his next book.


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.






Thursday, July 16, 2015

Review: A Necessary End by Holly Brown

A Necessary End
by Holly Brown

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Thirty-nine-year-old Adrienne has tried before to adopt a child, but this time, nothing is going to get in her way.

Sure, her husband, Gabe, is ambivalent about fatherhood. But she knows that once he holds their baby, he'll come around. He's just feeling a little threatened, that's all. Because once upon a time, it was Gabe that Adrienne wanted more than anything; she was willing to do anything. . . . But that was half a lifetime ago. She's a different person now. There are lines she wouldn't cross, not without extreme provocation.

And sure, she was bitten by another birth mother—clear to the bone—and for most people, it's once bitten, twice shy. But Adrienne isn't exactly the retiring type.

Enter Leah. At nineteen, she bears a remarkable resemblance to the young woman Adrienne once was. Which is why Adrienne knows the baby Leah is carrying is meant to be hers. But Leah's got ideas of her own. If Gabe and Adrienne let her live with them for a year, they get the baby, free and clear. All Leah wants is a fresh start in California, and a soft landing. Or so she says.

It seems like a small price for Adrienne to pay to get their baby. And with Gabe suddenly on board, what could possibly go wrong?



Kritters Thoughts:  Adrienne has been wishing and hoping for a child for years and after being burned once she is having a hard time trusting.  In walks Leah who is pregnant but is in need of a new and fresh start and wants to use Gabe and Adrienne for this start.  She will provide the wanted baby if they provide the new life.

This was such a fantastically twisted story!  All characters involved had their own personal motives in mind and definitely did not have anyone else in mind whenever they made a decision.  As a reader it was hard to choose who to root for and to pick sides (which is my favorite part sometimes), so I was frustrated because no character did I really like.  

Both Adrienne and her husband Gabe take turns narrating the story, but I had wished for a few moments from Leah's point of view.  I did enjoy Gabe's part of the story and I wouldn't take it out, but I really wished to hear from Leah at a few moments throughout the book.  I think she would have provided an interesting take on Adrienne and Gabe's relationship and would also have provided her own viewpoints on how she was feeling as she rollercoastered after giving birth.

I definitely enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down, but it was definitely twisty and turny and at moments I felt as though I was ready for some resolution!


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, July 14, 2015

Review: Olivay by Deborah Reed

Olivay
by Deborah Reed

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  We don’t believe that our lives can change in an instant—until they do.

Olivay, widowed for a year and sleepwalking through life, meets Henry by chance. She takes him to her Los Angeles loft, thinking it will just be for the night. But the following morning, bombs detonate across the city; mayhem and carnage fill the streets; and her loft is covered in broken glass and her own blood. Henry is skittish, solicitous, and strangely distracted. Who is this man she’s marooned with as the city goes on lockdown? Why is she catching him in lie after lie? Is he somehow connected to her husband’s death and the terrorist attacks outside?



Kritters Thoughts:  Olivay endures a tragedy at the beginning of the book and this tragic event will shape the person she is for the rest of the book - her husband dies almost right in front of her and she has to put the pieces of her life back together.  A year later a man enters her life and he will send her life reeling out of control.

A combination of love story with a political thriller this was an interesting read.  With bombings and potential terrorists, this book made me think of those who are there when these major events happen - those in the city on 9/11 or in Boston during the marathon; these people who are caught up in history and are on the news but would rather not be newsworthy.  I really enjoyed thinking about the people behind the new stories, the family of the accused of massive shootings or those who are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Even after finishing the book, I am still not sure I got everything, I feel like I have missed some details and feel a little unsettled about the book.  I enjoyed this one, but didn't completely love the ending.


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 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.

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