Sunday, September 30, 2018

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

A semi quiet week and a great boating weekend, maybe the last, so some good time reading!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
Second Chance at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer
Right Click by Lisa Becker
The Heart of War by Kathleen McInnis
The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

Currently Reading:
The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

Next on the TBR pile:
Watch the Girls by Jennifer Wolfe

Friday, September 28, 2018

Review: When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

When the Lights Go Out
by Mary Kubica

Publisher: Park Row
Pages: 384
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.

Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?


Kritters Thoughts:  Jessie Sloane's mother just died after a long battle with cancer.  She is trying to piece back together her life without her mother, but with a few problems with financing for college she gets dropped into her own mystery.  Another storyline that runs parallel to this story, is a woman named Eden who desperately wants a child and is doing almost anything to get one.  The stories collide at just the right moment and then bounce back and forth in just the right rhythm.  

I sit on the fence with books with unreliable characters.  As the story progresses and the reader knows that Jessie isn't sleeping you keep wondering if what she is seeing and saying is anywhere near the truth.  You want so much for her to not be losing her mind after everything that has happened to her.  There were moments when I didn't enjoy the unreliableness of her, but I loved all the other aspects of the story so I could forgo and forgive this part.  

And then the ending happened.  As always, I won't say much to spoil anything.  But right at the end something happened and it made everything else make sense.  I am waffling on if I like how it all ended or not, but I can say it made me think and want to go back and reread the book to see if I could have picked out the ending earlier.  

I am a Mary Kubica fan and only have two of her books in her backlist that I haven't read, so I look forward to seeing what is next from her.  


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, September 27, 2018

Review: What My Sister Knew by Nina Laurin

What My Sister Knew
by Nina Laurin

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 384
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  We're not just siblings; we're twins. We're supposed to be able to read each other's thoughts. Although Eli is a few minutes younger, he always seemed older, always one step ahead.

It turns out that Eli kept many secrets. And he told many lies. So although he was once seen as the golden child-while I stood by as the silent sister-his web of deception led to a guilty verdict for the arson that killed our parents.

Now his thirteen-year sentence has been served, and Eli is free. But we are still bound by a secret. Which is dangerous because he has nothing left to lose, and I have everything.



Kritters Thoughts:  A set of twins, a boy and a girl.  There are secrets old and new.  There are questions and maybe they will get answered.  

I loved this book.  I love when a book's purpose is to make me question if the narrator is reliable or not.  I wondered off and on if I thought that Andrew was "the good twin" and if she was not at fault for anything at all.  Of course, I will not divulge anything, but I loved how the whole twin part of the book went down.  

The other major part of the book in my opinion was the concept of your sins of your past still not being settled.  I loved how the secrets, the lies and the drama from the past kept coming up and nothing would get resolved until all of it came out into the open.  

I will say that I do read a lot of mystery thriller books and I probably predicted the ending a lot earlier than I wish I had.  I wish that it hadn't been as obvious where it was going to go, but I still appreciated the journey of the story.  

I liked this Nina Laurin book a bit more than her other, Girl Last Seen.  I will more than likely read her next one when it comes out!

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 Grand Central Publishing.  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, September 26, 2018

Review: The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell

The Lost Carousel of Provence
by Juliet Blackwell

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

Goodreads:  Long, lonely years have passed for the crumbling Château Clement, nestled well beyond the rolling lavender fields and popular tourist attractions of Provence. Once a bustling and dignified ancestral estate, now all that remains is the château's gruff, elderly owner and the softly whispered secrets of generations buried and forgotten.
 
But time has a way of exposing history's dark stains, and when American photographer Cady Drake finds herself drawn to the château and its antique carousel, she longs to explore the relic's shadowy origins beyond the small scope of her freelance assignment. As Cady digs deeper into the past, unearthing century-old photographs of the Clement carousel and its creators, she might be the one person who can bring the past to light and reunite a family torn apart.


Kritters Thoughts: A book with two storylines that converge at just the right spot.  The current storyline is about an American photographer named Cady Drake that has hit a few snags in life and is given the opportunity of a lifetime to go to Paris and France to photograph carousels.  Interspersed throughout that narrative are chapters from the past from a few view points and they tell the story of the inhabitants of this chateau in Provence.  Cady learns a lot of life lessons from this chateau and the older man currently living in it.

What a beautiful story.  I love when a small piece of history, in this instance a carousel is the catalyst for a whole bigger story of the time and the place and life in the present day.  I loved how Cady became a researcher and journalist through her photography and I loved hearing about how taking photos informed her life and made her literally see things differently.  

This book made me google carousels and Paris and watch youtube videos and sent me down a few rabbit holes!  I absolutely love it when books prompt me to do the google searching.  I always find I learn more when a book sends me into research mode.  

This was my first Juliet Blackwell book and will most definitely not be the last.  I will be on the hunt for her other books and will have to read and review them here.


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 Berkley.  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, September 25, 2018

Review: The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles

The Boy at the Keyhole
by Stephen Giles

Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Pages: 272
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Nine-year-old Samuel lives alone in a once great estate in Surrey with the family’s housekeeper, Ruth. His father is dead and his mother has been abroad for five months, purportedly tending to her late husband’s faltering business. She left in a hurry one night while Samuel was sleeping and did not say goodbye.

Beyond her sporadic postcards, Samuel hears nothing from his mother. He misses her dearly and maps her journey in an atlas he finds in her study. Samuel’s life is otherwise regulated by Ruth, who runs the house with an iron fist. Only she and Samuel know how brutally she enforces order.

As rumors in town begin to swirl, Samuel wonders whether something more sinister is afoot. Perhaps his mother did not leave, but was murdered—by Ruth.


Kritters Thoughts:  If you are looking for the perfect spooky read for October, pick this one up!  

A young boy is severely missing his mother who left suddenly in the middle of the night.  She left him with his nanny and he has no clue why she didn't wait to say goodbye properly.  Through stories with friends and clues and wonderment he starts to wonder if his mom left of her own accord or if she was forced to leave or is she even alive?

What a perfect short and sweet spooky book.  I curled up with this for a day and I couldn't stop reading it.  I went back and forth wondering what the heck happened and if anyone was responsible.  Some have said it was a slow burn and I can agree, but I read it quickly because I wanted to know how it was all going to conclude.  

I will not ruin the ending for anyone, but it was definitely satisfying in that I felt like it was the right ending.  It just all worked for me.  I hope Stephen Giles has another one of these up his sleeve, I would love to read one by him every October.  


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.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Review: Me, My Hair and I edited by Elizabeth Benedict

Me, My Hair, and I 
edited by Elizabeth Benedict

Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages: 336
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Ask a woman about her hair, and she just might tell you the story of her life. Ask a whole bunch of women about their hair, and you could get a history of the world. Surprising, insightful, frequently funny, and always forthright, the essays in Me, My Hair, and I are reflections and revelations about every aspect of women’s lives from family, race, religion, and motherhood to culture, health, politics, and sexuality.

They take place in African American kitchens, at Hindu Bengali weddings, and inside Hasidic Jewish homes. The conversation is intimate and global at once. Layered into these reminiscences are tributes to influences throughout history: Jackie Kennedy, Lena Horne, Farrah Fawcett, the Grateful Dead, and Botticelli’s Venus.

The long and the short of it is that our hair is our glory—andour nemesis, our history, our self-esteem, our joy, our mortality. Every woman knows that many things in life matter more than hair, but few bring as much pleasure as a really great hairdo.
 


Kritters Thoughts:  A book that focuses on something that mostly affects women and each woman has good moments and not so good moments with it - HAIR!  There are good hair days and bad hair days and maybe even bad hair months or years!  Each woman has a relationship with their own head of hair and through our lifetime we make changes for different moments in our lives and they tell a lot about ourselves and the people we are.  

Like in all short story collections, there were a few stories I enjoyed less than others.  BUT there were some stories that I completely adored.  I loved the stories that made me think about women with different hair and background as I do and how that defines them.  

I loved the stories that stepped me outside of my comfort zone.  There were many things I didn't know about different cultures and the way they approached hair both in childhood and adulthood.  It was so interesting to read about how hair is approached and how going against what your culture dictates can be a big deal.  

The story that sticks out the most to me is the cancer survivor that was in between treatments and had grown a bit of hair.  Knowing she was going to lose it again she went in to a barber for a shave and he did "hair tattoos" and through social media he now does them for cancer patients and survivors and how meaningful a purposeful hairdo can affect someone completely.  

I adored this collection and would love to find another collection in the same vain that takes a concept and looks at it through multiple lenses.  Anyone have suggestions of what other collections like this?



Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel


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, September 23, 2018

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

A busy week and a busy week of reading!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
What My Sister Knew by Nina Laurin
Shadow Child by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto
The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles
The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell

Currently Reading:
When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
Can We All Be Feminists? edited by June Eric-Udorie

Next on the TBR pile:
The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

Friday, September 21, 2018

Review: Moan by Emma Koenig

Moan
by Emma Koenig

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 240
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Imagine you could give an essay entitled "How to Make Me Come" to a past, present or future sex partner, free of judgment or repercussion. What would you want them to know? In this book inspired by Emma Koenig's wildly popular website, a diverse collective of women do just that. 

Emma Koenig was inspired to answer this question after a truly frustrating sexual experience with a partner. As she says, "THE SIMPLEST VERSION OF THIS STORY DEVOID OF ALL IDENTIFYING DETAILS: He thought I had an orgasm. I hadn't." She knew she couldn't be the only woman to have been mystified by an experience such as this, and so her Tumblr, How to Make Me Come, was born as a safe space for women to talk honestly and openly. The website touched a major chord. It received tons of press and garnered over a million page views in a month. And now, a broad range of the best of these anonymous essays have been collected into MOAN. 

The ways through which women achieve sexual pleasure are often ignored, devalued, or misunderstood. MOAN tackles the ideas surrounding the sometimes elusive orgasm head on. Here is a look into the spectrum of desire. Of frustration. Of experiences that have left an impact. From the hilarious to the tragic, from the intellectual to the erotic, these essays will leave you feeling inspired and excited to embark on your own journey of sexual exploration and empower women to do what most of the time is hardest for us: asking for what we want and don't in the bedroom and beyond. 


Kritters Thoughts:  This book is a little out of left field for me and is outside of my wheelhouse, but every so often I like to try something different and take myself outside the comfort zone.  

First a non fiction book is not my normal read.  Second a book with essays is not my usual.  Third a book about female orgasms is definitely not something I read about often.  

I loved the essay format for this one.  They didn't need to be long in length to get what the author of each essay was getting at and there were a few where I was glad it was short because I couldn't connect or didn't care about that author's viewpoints.  On the flip side there were a few that hit right home for me and really made me think about my childhood, my teenage and college years and my current self.  This book made me reflect!

I am glad I didn't read this all in one sitting; instead I read a few here and there and had this book as my break in between other books or even in the middle of reading a few books that were difficult.  I wouldn't mind finding another book like this that I can dip in and out of and not feel as though I was going to miss a plot point or significant moment.  


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 Grand Central Publishing.  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, September 20, 2018

Review: Shadow Child by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

Shadow Child
by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 343
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Twin sisters Hana and Kei grew up in a tiny Hawaiian town in the 1950s and 1960s, so close they shared the same nickname. Raised in dreamlike isolation by their loving but unstable mother, they were fatherless, mixed-race, and utterly inseparable, devoted to one another. But when their cherished threesome with Mama is broken, and then further shattered by a violent, nearly fatal betrayal that neither young woman can forgive, it seems their bond may be severed forever--until, six years later, Kei arrives on Hana's lonely Manhattan doorstep with a secret that will change everything.


Kritters Thoughts:  A set of Japanese twins are the focus of the book and a narrative on the side centers around a young Japanese woman who upon marrying is whisked away and is having to live a life she never pictured far away from what she knew.  

I loved the historical storyline so much.  Lillie is an orphaned Japanese child who is adopted and raised by a white couple.  She ends up marrying a Japanese man and is quickly ingrained in his family who don't even speak English.  The few quick chapters that I read of Lillie and Donald were just so interesting.  I was so intrigued by her wonderment of how she defined herself and where she felt she belonged.  I could see her struggle to fit in even though she looked the part, but wasn't raised with the history of the Japanese culture.  I wanted so much more of their story in this book.

The twin storyline was just ok for me.  There were a few parts where I was into the storyline and wanted to find out what would happen to each girl and then there were chapters of their story where I was plain confused and couldn't figure out where this all fit in into the bigger picture.  I wish I had liked this one more.  

After finishing the book, I went and read a few reviews just to see if my thoughts aligned with anyone else and it was so interesting to read that readers either really loved the historical storyline and wanted more of that like me or loved the twin storyline and wanted just that.  I agree with most that the storylines didn't seem to exist together well and that a reader would enjoy one or the other.   I absolutely wanted more of one and could have read a full book with just Lillie and Donald.  


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


Ebook 2018 Challenge: 75 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Grand Central Publishing.  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, September 19, 2018

Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox
by Christina Dalcher

Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 336
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial--this can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end. 

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.


Kritters Thoughts:  When I heard the concept of this book, I was ready to read it immediately, although it didn't quite go where I thought it would, I still enjoyed it.  The part that I had heard before going in was that women were literally being silenced by wearing a contraption on their wrists and it would shock them if they went above a certain word count.  Yes, this is in the book and what a concept, but the book goes somewhere I wasn't expecting.  

The book focuses on Dr. Jean McClellan who was close to discovering something that would help reverse a brain injury in the Wernicke's area of the brain that had people talking in gibberish, but she was halted by the new regime.  First let me say that this book made me do some googling and I was excited and surprised to see that this area is truth and does impact one's ability to compute and understand language.  I love that at the heart of this crazy story was truth.  The focus of the book was her discovery and how it could impact society in a possibly negative way.  

Although I was disappointed that the contraption and the literal silencing of women wasn't the complete main focus, the thing that hit me hardest was seeing this female doctor raise both genders and be limited in her words.  I think the family scenes really made me think about how any gender would be limited if they were limited to an amount of words per day.  I know we can all joke that women speak more, but this book made me think about how many words EACH of us says in a day and if we had to limit them how that would impact us on the job, at home and in all of our relationships.  

I love when a book makes me think and this one did and is still making me wonder about things.  I hope that Christina Dalcher has another book in this vein up her sleeve!


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

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Berkley.  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, September 18, 2018

Review: We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx

We All Love the Beautiful Girls
by Joanne Proulx 

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 336
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  One frigid winter night, the happily prosperous Mia and Michael Slate discover that a close friend and business partner has cheated them out of their life savings. On the same night, their son, Finn, passes out in the snow at a party -- a mistake with shattering consequences.

Everyone finds their own ways of coping with the ensuing losses. For Finn, it's Jess, a former babysitter who sneaks into his bed at night, even as she refuses to leave her boyfriend. Mia and Michael find themselves forgoing tenderness for rougher sex and seeking solace outside their marriage: Mia in a flirtation with a former colleague, whose empty condo becomes a blank canvas for a new life, and Michael at an abandoned baseball diamond, with a rusty pitching machine and a street kid eager to catch balls in Finn's old glove. As they creep closer to the edge -- of betrayal, infidelity, and revenge -- the story moves into more savage terrain.



Kritters Thoughts:  Mia and Michael Slate are going through something when their son Finn has a tragic accident.  This accident ends up affecting a lot of people and for me this book was watching how one night can change the course of many people's lives.  

Most of this book I didn't enjoy, but I kept reading and finished it because I really wanted to figure out what would happen with Finn after his accident.  His character arch was what kept me reading after the crazy drama from his parents.  This would have been a book that I would have quit if I didn't love Finn so much and want to know where he would end up.  

I liked the drama that Mia and Michael Slate were facing, but I felt as though it took a back burner to  how crappy they were as people and parents.  I didn't enjoy seeing them purposefully screw up things and would have instead loved to read more about the lawsuit and the financial and work drama that was lurking over their heads.  I didn't like where this book went in that regards.

This was my first Joanne Proulx book and although I didn't like it, when I don't like a book for its plot I am completely willing to read another book by this author.  It is when I don't like the writing where I feel as though I couldn't enjoy another book by the author.  


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

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Grand Central Publishing.  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, September 17, 2018

Review: In Her Bones by Kate Moretti

In Her Bones
by Kate Moretti

Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Fifteen years ago, Lilith Wade was arrested for the brutal murder of six women. After a death row conviction, media frenzy, and the release of an unauthorized biography, her thirty-year-old daughter Edie Beckett is just trying to survive out of the spotlight. She’s a recovering alcoholic with a dead-end city job and an unhealthy codependent relationship with her brother.

Edie also has a disturbing secret: a growing obsession with the families of Lilith’s victims. She’s desperate to see how they’ve managed—or failed—to move on. While her escalating fixation is a problem, she’s careful to keep her distance. That is, until she crosses a line and a man is found murdered.

Edie quickly becomes the prime suspect—and while she can’t remember everything that happened the night of the murder, she’d surely remember killing someone. With the detective who arrested her mother hot on her trail, Edie goes into hiding. She’s must get to the truth of what happened that night before the police—or the real killer—find her. 

Unless, of course, she has more in common with her mother than she’s willing to admit…


Kritters Thoughts:  I have read almost all of Kate Moretti's books and they are all unique and such good reads.  Lilith Wade was arrested for killing six women and usually a mystery/thriller would completely focus on her serial killing and her victims, but not this book.  This book focuses on her son and daughter that are left out in the world trying to live with the consequences of what she did.  

Edie Beckett was such an interesting character to follow.  She was on the cusp of being unreliable and I liked that I was wondering if I should trust if she was a good person in the middle of all of the chaos.  When one of the surviving victims of her mother's past is murdered and she was in the middle of it, Edie goes on the run and must solve the murder to prove her own innocence.  

I judge most mystery/thrillers on who ends up being the killer and if I feel like I missed some clues or if it is from left field - I HATE when it is from left field.  This one surprised me but in all the good ways.  I always say if I want to reread to see if I can find the killer faster the second time that is a good sign for a mystery thriller read.  I could have started this one the minute I finished to see if I can find the clues!


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


Ebook 2018 Challenge: 74 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Atria Books.  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, September 16, 2018

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

A quiet weekend at home made for some great reading time.

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia
In Her Bones by Kate Moretti
We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx
Vox by Christina Dalcher

Currently Reading:
What My Sister Knew by Nina Laurin

Next on the TBR pile:
Shadow Child by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto
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