Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: Off: Your Digital Detox for a Better Life by Tanya Goodin

Off: You Digital Detox for a Better Life
by Tanya Goodin

Publisher: Harry N Abrams
Pages: 122
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Walk down any street, stroll through any park, step into a bar or restaurant, and everyone is glued to their mobile devices. Many of us struggle with the near-constant urge to check our phones—the average person interacts with their device more than 2,600 times a day—and this dependence is affecting our relationships, our work, and our quality of life. It seems the technology that was supposed to connect us has tipped us in the other direction, creating unnecessary stress and distance in our lives.

Off: Your Digital Detox for a Better Life isn’t about reverting to a tech-free way of life—it’s about balance. Digital entrepreneur Tanya Goodin offers a guide that will free up hours of your time and lead you back to the pastimes (and people) you love. Learn to cultivate a healthier relationship with your digital devices by adopting simple practices that encourage mindfulness, deeper connection to others, more restful sleep, and increased creativity. Illustrated with serene and inspiring photography, Off will help you free yourself from technology and be more present in your own life.

Kritters Thoughts:  A short and sweet little book that makes you stop and take a minute and reevaluate your habits.  With beautiful photos it was easy to sit down with this book and take a minute and sink in and really read it simply for what it is.  

Although none of the tips were things that I hadn't heard of before, reading them in a book took more meaning than in an article online and made me stop and take note of how often I am on my phone.  I think with everything in life it is good to have boundaries and limits and this little book reminded me that everything is good in moderation!

I kept this book to get it out every so often and remind me to take a breather from all things electronic and enjoy a view!

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Review: A May Bride by Meg Moseley

A May Bride
by Meg Moseley

Publisher: Zondervan
Pages: 124
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  She’s prepared for her wedding all her life … but she forgot a few things.

Ellie Martin, a country girl in Atlanta, often de-stresses from city life by tending the flower beds of a church near her apartment. She has dreamed of a traditional wedding all her life, a wedding like the one her younger sister is planning back in their hometown. Their single mom will pay for Alexa’s wedding, but Ellie started her own wedding fund years ago. She only needs to find a groom.

She bumps into a man who’s a guest at a wedding on the church grounds. She’s noticed him around the neighborhood, but today he introduces himself as Gray Whitby. They embark on a whirlwind romance, but her mother doesn’t trust freewheeling men like him. Standing up to Mom leads Ellie to stick up for Alexa too. When Ellie risks her own plans for her sister’s sake, Gray feels betrayed. Will he always play second fiddle?

Will Ellie and Gray reconcile their differences so her dream wedding can come true, or will the romance they’ve begun come crashing down?

Kritters Thoughts:  A christian fiction novella length story that is a part of a collection.  A collection of monthly bride books was published in 2014 and I was intrigued to read a few of them - this was one.  

This one centers around Ellie Martin who is a new real estate agent in Atlanta, GA and comes from an interesting family that takes over her thoughts often.  You can tell from early on in the book that her family has made an impact on her and maybe not the most positive impact.  In walks Gray Whitby who will try to sweep her off her feet and in any romance book nothing can go just right.  

I think the big problems I had with this one was the author was trying to go from 0 to 60 in 120 pages and it just felt too much in such a short space, so it made feel too much like a roller coaster.  She was trying to jam a full romance novel into half the time and romance novels need the pages for the couples to have the ups and downs of a relationship, so this felt rushed and just off putting.  

I would read this author again, just may prefer to try a full length novel next time.

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

Ebook 2018 Challenge: 43 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from netgalley.  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, May 29, 2018

Review: The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable

The Summer I Met Jack
by Michelle Gable

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

Goodreads:  Based on a real story - in 1950, a young, beautiful Polish refugee arrives in Hyannisport, Massachusetts to work as a maid for one of the wealthiest families in America. Alicia is at once dazzled by the large and charismatic family, in particular the oldest son, a rising politician named Jack. 

Alicia and Jack are soon engaged, but his domineering father forbids the marriage. And so, Alicia trades Hyannisport for Hollywood, and eventually Rome. She dates famous actors and athletes and royalty, including Gary Cooper, Kirk Douglas, and Katharine Hepburn, all the while staying close with Jack. A decade after they meet, on the eve of Jack’s inauguration as the thirty-fifth President of the United States, the two must confront what they mean to each other. 

Kritters Thoughts:  A Polish refugee has made her way to Hyannisport, Massachusetts and she is just living her life day to day when she meets a member of the famous family that has a compound in this small town and she quickly gets swept into their world.  

I had to remind myself often while reading this book that I was reading fiction because I so wanted the story to have the complete truth to back it up.  I knew it was based in truth, but I wanted every word to be the truth!  I enjoyed reading about JFK through a different set of eyes.  We read about him through his family and through Jackie Kennedy, so to see him through eyes that loved him for a time, but also saw all of his flaws and was honest about them was something really new.  

I really adored Alicia as a character.  I loved that we read about her beyond her time with Jack.  I thought the title was deceiving because the book was so much more than the summer she met Jack, but it was more about how that summer set her life in a new direction.  The celebrity cameos were just so perfect.  She was name dropping and it was so entertaining!

A cross between historical fiction and just an epic fiction book, if you don't read a lot of historical fiction, don't shy away from this story.  The book doesn't take place that long ago and the characters and story are so epic, that is worth the try.  Also don't be swayed by the page count, this book reads so fast you won't want to put it down.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook Challenge: 46 out of 100

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.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Review: How Far She's Come by Holly Brown

How Far She's Come
by Holly Brown

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

Goodreads:  Oh, how far she’s come…but how far will she have to go?

Twenty-four-year-old Cheyenne Florian has just received the kind of job offer that dreams are made of. On the strength of a few vlogs, she’s recruited to be the new correspondent on the recently hatched Independent News Network, INN.

With its slogan “Because independent thinking is the only way out,” INN strives to be exciting and innovative. Yet once Cheyenne joins the INN team, she’s disappointed to find age-old dynamics in play. A few of the female staff resent her meteoric rise, while some of the men are only too happy to welcome her. Even Edwin warns her to watch her back. And then there’s the diary left for her anonymously, written by a female broadcast journalist icon named Elyse Rohrbach in 1991. The mysterious diary is accompanied by a note, urging Cheyenne to learn from the past. Is it meant as inspiration and friendly advice—or as a warning? Still, she can’t see how it has anything to do with her…until disturbing events begin.  

As more unsettling events unfold—events that appear as if someone is engineering the similarities in Cheyenne’s life to match those from Elyse’s past—it becomes clear that she is a pawn in a very twisted game. But Cheyenne is determined to rewrite the rules and play her own game. Though they’re separated by more than twenty-five years, Elyse and Cheyenne are learning the same lesson: Nothing is more threatening than a woman who doesn’t yet know her own power…

Kritters Thoughts:  This could be deemed the first book to come out of the #metoo movement and it seemed like it came out very fast.  

Cheyenne Florian is a journalist right out of college and she is presented with a one of a kind opportunity - to join a news organization that is going to be the new one in the field and should break all grounds and the mold for what news organizations should look like.  

I loved the concept of this book.  I loved Cheyenne and her story.  I am starting with the things I love because there were a few things that I didn't love with this book.  I loved Cheyenne's internal dialogue about should she report the abuse, does she have anything to back her story and hearing how women hesitate to report things for many many reasons.  I appreciated reading from her point of view why a woman wouldn't immediately tell her story and maybe even justify the abuse.  

What I didn't love was the story from the past that was told through diary entries.  It made the cast of characters huge and confusing.  I felt as though I could have enjoyed the book with just Cheyenne's story, the diary entries didn't add much.  Each time I finished a chapter that included a diary entry, I started the next chapter thinking I could have skipped that and still enjoyed the full book.    

I also didn't love how Cheyenne unfolded the whole mystery in two pages.  It was like snap your fingers and she knew the who what where and when and it just folded up too quickly for me.  

I am a Holly Brown fan, so I will still read her next book, but this is maybe not the one of hers that I would recommend to readers.    

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

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from HarperCollins.  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, May 25, 2018

Review: Happier Thinking by Lana Grace Riva

Happier Thinking
by Lana Grace Riva

Pages: 58
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Changing how you think is possible. I wasn't always so sure that was true until I experienced it myself, but I know now we don't have to just accept unhappiness. Not always anyway. This book is my collection of tips and suggestions that have helped me achieve happier thinking. It's sort of a gym for my mind. I'd love to tell you it was easier than the real gym but well… it's not really. It takes time, effort, and practice but it's absolutely well worth the rewards.

Kritters Thoughts:  A sweet little book that challenges the way you think and charges you to keep your thoughts happy.  With different pointers on simple ways to alter your thinking, Lana Grace Riva's believes that we can each become more positive people little by little.  

The first thing that really struck me was in the beginning that if you define yourself as a negative person and you think there is no way to change the way you think, this author disagrees and thinks that with a little effort every day you can start changing the way you think.  I can find myself thinking on the negative side of life and I liked knowing that I am not stuck in that way of life, but can change who I am.

I would recommend reading this book with a chapter a night like I did.  I liked curling up at night and reading a little bit at a time and ending my day with a reminder to start the day in the positive.  The chapters can seem similar, so I wouldn't recommend just sitting and reading this in one chunk, instead it makes more of an impact bits at a time. 

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 the author.  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, May 24, 2018

Review: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

The Silent Companions
by Laura Purcell

Publisher: Viking
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.

Kritters Thoughts:  An interesting gothic mystery book that from the beginning made me slow my reading down and read with an attention to detail.  With two storylines featured, with the same character at the center.  In one storyline Elsie is a young pregnant widow and is moving into her deceased husband's home and is going to try to put the pieces back together.  In the other main storyline, Elsie is older and a fire has just happened and she is in a mental hospital and can't figure out what happened.  There are other chapters that at the beginning confused me completely, but these are from a Bainbridge relative from the distant past.  

Let me start by saying I was completely confused for this first portion of this book and it took me two tries to get into it and to really understand what the heck was going on.  It was the other viewpoint that really threw me off because after my first try I read a few reviews and couldn't place where this was coming from.  In the end I loved its inclusion, but it had me pondering for the beginning.  I kind of wish the author had waited and introduced that storyline after the reader is familiar with the other two Elsie storylines a little better.

I don't read a lot of historical fiction mystery/thrillers, so this was both in and out of my familiar reading.  It was interesting to combine the elements of a historical fiction with a creepy mystery thriller addition.  It was extra because the timing of the story was so far back so the element of mystery was specific to that time and just felt different from what I normally read and I both liked it and had a hard time getting into it.  

If you read a lot of Victorian fiction whether it is mystery/thriller or just fiction, you would probably like this more than I did.  If you read mystery/thriller and you feel like each one is feeling the same and the same, this could be something that is out of left field that you could enjoy.

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

Ebook 2018 Challenge: 42 out of 100

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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review: Becoming the Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden

Becoming the Talbot Sisters
by Rachel Linden

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 336
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Twin sisters Waverly and Charlie Talbot have drifted far apart as they pursue opposite dreams of stardom and service to the poor. On an astonishing journey across Central Europe, they must come together to face their fears, find their courage and fight for what they love.

Celebrity chef Waverly Ross has built a successful career with her home-entertaining show Simply Perfect. Yet she and her husband, Andrew, have never been able to realize the true desire of Waverly's heart: to become a mother. Meanwhile Waverly's twin sister, Charlie Talbot, buries her bitter disappointment and shattered idealism beneath a life spent serving others as an international aid worked in Budapest, Hungary.

When the beloved aunt who raised them passes away, Waverly and Charlie come together in their grief after living years on separate continents. Struck by a fierce desire to bridge the distance between them, Charlie offers Waverly and her husband the selfless gift of surrogacy.

But soon the sisters find they are each in danger of losing their jobs, seemingly putting their dreams on hold once again. When Waverly shows up unannounced in Budapest with a plan to rescue Simply Perfect, the sisters embark on an adventure across Central Europe that could save them both from occupational hazards. Though the twins haven't had to rely on each other since childhood, an unforeseen dangerous turn in their journey across Europe forces them to stand together to save their careers, the baby, and each other.

Kritters Thoughts:  Waverly and Charlie are twins.  After the death of their parents and graduating from high school, their lives went in two different directions.  Their aunt who raised them has recently passed and her death brings them back together where they vow to keep their relationship intact.  

This book frustrated me so much.  The beginning of the story I was so invested and loved both of these sisters and their reconnection seemed so genuine and real.  I loved what they had going and even loved one of the reasons that was going to keep them together.  And then further along in the book something happened and my believability and enjoyment went downhill.  I won't spoil anything, but just to say at a certain point I went OH NO and was glad I was near the end and could race through it.  I didn't like where the plot went and felt it was a little over the top and just a little too dramatic for my taste - at least when it comes to a good women's fiction book.

All in all, I liked the writing and the characters.  I wouldn't rule out this author, but I would hesitate to read another and would maybe read the synopsis and some reviews before doing so!
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.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Review: Delancey by Molly Wizenberg

by Molly Wizenberg

Publisher: Simon Schuster
Pages: 241
Format: audiobook
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When Molly Wizenberg married Brandon Pettit, he was a trained composer with a handful of offbeat interests: espresso machines, wooden boats, violin-building, and ice cream–making. So when Brandon decided to open a pizza restaurant, Molly was supportive—not because she wanted him to do it, but because the idea was so far-fetched that she didn’t think he would. Before she knew it, he’d signed a lease on a space. The restaurant, Delancey, was going to be a reality, and all of Molly’s assumptions about her marriage were about to change.

Together they built Delancey: gutting and renovating the space on a cobbled-together budget, developing a menu, hiring staff, and passing inspections. Delancey became a success, and Molly tried to convince herself that she was happy in their new life until—in the heat and pressure of the restaurant kitchen—she realized that she hadn’t been honest with herself or Brandon.

Kritters Thoughts:  With a push to listen to more books this year, this one was on my list as one to listen/read.  I knew before this year I like to listen to non fiction so I knew that I could listen to more of that, but I am hoping to even listen to some fiction and try that out this year.

Ok, now for the review of this book!

For audio books, I care deeply about the narrator and I tend to enjoy it when the author reads the book themselves.  Molly Wizenberg did not narrate, but it was a female narrator so you could almost pretend it was her!  I have never heard Molly's voice, but I just wish she had because I feel as though the author gives more character to their own words than a narrator does as they are not their own words.  But I did love how the narrator jokingly did the male voices almost as if she was making fun of her own impressions, it felt so real and true to how the author had intended it.  

With recipes throughout the book, I did feel like listening to the book I was missing out on being able to recreate some of her dishes, but I can absolutely go get a copy from a library and do them then.  But listening to her adventures in constructing, opening and operating a restaurant was beyond entertaining for my morning and evening commutes.

I had a personal connection to this book because my parents used to live in Seattle and frequently travel there for my dad's job.  I have challenged my mom to listen to this book and then visit the restaurant and provide feedback!  I hope she does both soon.  

Rating: the perfect listen!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Netgalley.  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, May 20, 2018

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

Another great week of reading!  A few novellas and some good books in a great series!

 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
I See Life Through Rose Colored Glasses by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax
A May Bride by Meg Moseley
A June Bride by Marybeth Whalen
Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax

Currently Reading:
Cooper's Charm by Lori Foster

Next on the TBR pile:
The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable

Friday, May 18, 2018

Review: The Italian Party by Christina Lynch

The Italian Party
by Christina Lynch

Publisher: St Martin's Press
Pages: 336
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany's famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.

When Scottie's Italian teacher--a teenager with secrets of his own--disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael's dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate and love to a new kind of complicated truth.

Kritters Thoughts:  Newly married couple, Scottie and Michael have moved to Italy for his job.  She will take on the responsibility of creating and maintaining their home while he ventures out to make the income.  Through some interesting escapades she ends up interacting with quite a few locals and ends up helping Michael with his job in the end.  

I liked this couple.  I loved the dynamic of being newly married and not knowing much of each other and also picking them up and putting them in an interesting circumstance - in a country where she doesn't speak the language and is overall clueless.  

I waited a few days to write this review and I am still on the fence about this book.  I loved the setting of Italy and the underlying espionage theme, but the book pacing or movement was just too slow and felt as though it was going on and on.  I went and looked up reviews after I finished and I agree with the love of the food in this book and every time they sat down for a meal, I was excited to hear about what they were eating, but this does not make a book for me.  This one will just end up being ok for me.  Definitely not a hate, but not a love either.    

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.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Harry by Katie Nicholl

by Katie Nicholl

Publisher: Hachette Books
Pages: 257
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads: On the eve of his wedding comes the most intimate and informative portrait yet of Prince Harry, from royal expert Katie Nicholl, author of the bestselling William and Harry and Kate.

Respected biographer Katie Nicholl details the most insightful book on Prince Harry to date, based on exclusive interviews with former Palace aides, courtiers, friends, and family members, and including stories, clandestine lovers, family feuds, and family secrets never before revealed.

Kritters Thoughts:  Prince Harry, has many other names and titles, but he has been known his whole life.  There have been millions of photos and stories both truth and outlandish and Katie Nicholl the author tries to separate fact from fiction and with perfect timing puts this book out in what some may call the year of Harry!  With his wedding coming in just a few days, I was excited to read and review it here on my blog.

Katie Nicholl starts at the very beginning and hits the highs and the lows of Harry's years up until the current moment.  I thought before I started this book that I knew pretty much all there was to know about Prince Harry, but I was only half right.  The most interesting thing that I learned about Prince Harry was about his military career.  I was aware that he had a military career, but the ins and outs were interesting.  I am surprised at how much they had to go through to allow him to go to the front line and fight two times.  

I would recommend this book to readers who are already fans of the royals (I am!) and know that some of the book is a repeat and things you know.  But in the end after reading this book, I felt like I knew him a bit more and was interested to see all the choices and thing that took place to get him to where he is now - a great place with a wonderful woman standing next to him ready to serve with him.  

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, May 15, 2018

Review: Bridal Girl by Meredith Schorr

Bridal Girl
by Meredith Schorr

Publisher: Henery Press
Pages: 276
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Warning: exposure to the contents of this book while eating or drinking could cause laughter-induced choking. Read at your own risk. 

Sassy book blogger-turned-author, Kim Long, thought her life couldn’t get any pinker when she received a two-book publishing deal and a marriage proposal in the same night. The wedding plans are coming together seamlessly, from the catering to the flowers to her much-coveted appointment at the exclusive and world famous Kleinfeld Bridal. Her debut novel is flying off the shelves to celebrated reviews, and her second book is practically writing itself. 

If only the above wasn’t a big fat lie. 

If only Kim could drown out the conflicting opinions of her overzealous bridal party, most notably, her sister and future sister-in-law, who haven’t stopped bickering since day one. 

If only everyone would adore her first book—or she’d take Nicholas’s advice and stop reading reviews—she might not second guess every new word she writes. 

If only Nicholas’s past would remain there rather than threaten their future.
The pressure is on, the clock is ticking, and in walks Hannah Marshak. 

Will the former “mean girl” lend a helping hand or make things worse? Will Kim ever write “The End” on her sophomore novel? And, will she and Nicholas make it down the aisle to say those two precious words: I do? 

We’ll never tell. So, put on your reading glasses, fill your champagne flute/cup of tea and prepare to laugh with (and sometimes at) Kim as she rewrites her happy ending until it’s worthy of five pink champagne flutes.

Kritters Thoughts:  The third in a series and a series would I completely recommend you starting at book one.  This series is a book for book readers and a book specifically for book bloggers!  Kim Long is a book blogger and in book three she is prepping for her wedding, dealing with her first novel's slow success and trying to write her second book - she has quite a bit on her plate and she is the personality that doesn't ask for help (don't blame her!!).  

I absolutely adore these books because they are light and breezy and I can completely relate to the main character.  I love that like me she has a full time job and book blogging is a happy hobby and I remember planning my wedding and doing full time job and book blogging and the overwhelming time commitment of all of those things.  I completely laughed out loud at moments in this book because I related so so well to it!

If you are a fan of the light and breezy genre of women's fiction or chick lit, this is a perfect addition to your collection for the summer.  I would definitely start at book one and start with Kim Long before she is engaged and in the middle of all the things.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2018 Challenge: 30 out of 100

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