Sunday, March 31, 2019

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

Another all around busy week both at work and home, so impressed with the reading that I accomplished.

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan
Dead in a Week by Andrea Kane
The Cliff House by RaeAnne Thayne

Currently Reading:
Sophie Last Seen by Marlene Adelstein

Next on the TBR pile:
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T Lee

Friday, March 29, 2019

Review: The Goodbye Cafe by Mariah Stewart

The Goodbye Cafe
by Mariah Stewart

Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can't wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and leave Pennsylvania. After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.

But Allie's divorce left her tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter's private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curve-ball or two to toss in Allie's direction—she just doesn't know it yet.

She hadn't anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she'd certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater's renovation fund dried up.

With opening day upon the sisters, Allie's free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of her family be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep?


Kritters Thoughts:  The third in a series and although each book moves from one character point of view to another, I would absolutely advise to start at the beginning of this series because there is so much groundwork with these sisters that you will need from book one to book to this one.  

This book centers around Allie Monroe who came to Pennsylvania from California and her daughter is spending the summer with her mom and aunts and gets really connected to the happenings in Pennsylvania and maybe they both realize that their life in California is in the rear window.  

I loved the added storyline in this book that made it more than the other two by adding in the mother/daughter relationship.  These books could be defined as romance and in each book each sister finds a man to compliment their lives, but there was more to this one and I loved that.  I am keeping my thoughts brief because I don't want to spoil too much and I really think you should start at book one for this series and meet the sisters there.

This series and this author are nice easy reads that I love to insert in the middle of mysteries or historical fictions when I just want something nice, easy and breezy.  I like this genre for its vacation like feel and enjoy reading them throughout my reading life.  


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 12 out of 100


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

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Review: The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

The Winter Sister
by Megan Collins

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

Goodreads:  Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.


Kritters Thoughts:  Sylvie is the younger sister and one night she makes a decision that affects her for the rest of her life.  Her older sister Persephone doesn't come home one night and days later is found murdered.  It is now many years later and Sylvie is returning home to take care of her mother as she battles cancer and in returning home she decides to really figure out what happened to her sister all those years ago.

I always love a book where the main character goes back home and in that revisits things from the past and finds the truth.  I loved watching Sylvie follow the clues and I was completely satisfied with the resolution - always a big thing for me in a mystery book.  

I loved this dysfunctional family.  It was a lot of drama, but never felt like too much.  There were a few times where I wanted to smack someone into honesty or maybe roll my eyes, but what is fiction without a little drama!

I don't want to spoil but I was distracted a bit because I swear that the thing that Sylvie finds guilt in was also in a recent book I had read.  I still can't figure out what book used the same device, but I swear I had read those exact words before - if you have read this book have you read that before?  Sorry to be vague, trying to stay away from spoilers!

I liked this one.  I was impressed to find out after finishing it was a debut and it makes me excited to see if Megan Collins has more up her sleeve!


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 17 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Touchstone 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, March 26, 2019

Review: Into the Night by Sarah Bailey

Into the Night
by Sarah Bailey

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 404
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  After the shocking murder of a high-profile celebrity, Gemma Woodstock must pull back the layers of a gilded cage to discover who among the victim's friends and family can be trusted--and who may be the killer.

Troubled and brilliant, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock finds herself lost and alone after a recent move to Melbourne, brokenhearted by the decisions she's had to make. Her new workplace is a minefield and Detective Sergeant Nick Fleet, the partner she has been assigned, is uncommunicative and often hostile. When a homeless man is murdered and Gemma is put on the case, she can't help feeling a connection with the victim and his lonely, isolated existence. 

Then Sterling Wade, an up-and-coming actor filming his breakout performance in a closed-off city street, is murdered in the middle of an action-packed shot, and Gemma and Nick have to put aside their differences to unravel the mysteries surrounding the actor's life and death. Who could commit such a brazen crime? Who stands to profit from it? Far too many people, and none of them can be trusted. Gemma can't imagine a pair of victims with less in common--and yet as Gemma and Fleet soon learn, both men were keeping secrets that may have led to their deaths. 


Kritters Thoughts:  The second in a series where the main mystery is contained, but there is character development for the main characters from book to book.  I always suggest with these to start at book one, so my review may contain spoilers if you haven't read it.  

Gemma Woodstock is back in book two and her personal life is a little nutty.  With her personal life in an upheaval, she spends much more time and energy on her professional life.  With a high profile celebrity murder in the middle of a zombie movie, Gemma and her coworkers are put into the middle of a big case that has a lot of media attention.  Just before this murder a homeless man was murdered and maybe they are connected?  

I usually rate a mystery/thriller based on the culprit and of course, I won't divulge, but I was definitely satisfied with the ending on this one.  I liked the twists and turns and the clues and when they released, there were very few moments where I could put this one down because I wanted to know what came next.  

I can't wait for the next Gemma Woodstock edition and will be wondering what she will get into next 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 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, March 25, 2019

Review: Go On Girl by Hilary Grossman

Go On Girl
by Hilary Grossman

Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Executive, wife, and mother of an outgoing first-grader, Sydney Clayton crushes her day-to-day obligations at work but flounders in the cutthroat world of parental politics.

She manages to avoid the local drama until she’s faced with an ultimatum: join the Forest River PTA or risk her daughter becoming a social outcast. Sydney reluctantly becomes treasurer, and takes the recently vacated position of the president’s sidekick. If protecting the children’s freedom of speech, one best friend ban at a time, isn’t complicated enough, Sydney and her husband receive an unexpected offer for their house they don’t think they can refuse. 

Embroiled in the deception and manipulation rife among the elementary school moms, Sydney struggles. Should she sell the home she worked so hard to build in a town where betrayal runs rampant? Or should she stay put to avoid the fallout from uprooting her child? As Sydney focuses on what is best for her daughter, and lets go of her judgments, she finds friendship can develop in very unexpected ways.


Kritters Thoughts:  What a fun story!  Sydney Clayton is new to the world of moms of school age kids with a first grader entering school she is swept into the world of PTA.  Being a working mom, she wants to be involved, but has to keep her commitments in line and being surrounded by moms who are not working and can commit more time is frustrating.  

My mom was an active mom in my school.  She did many things while I was at school and I was aware that she was a part of my school experience.  I am not a mom, but I work full time and I understand the inability to balance everything that a person would want to do with the limited hours that we get in a day, week or month.

I absolutely adored this story.  Even without knowing the ins and outs of motherhood, this book was so entertaining.  I loved the group think mentality and seeing a bully in adults compared to their children.  This book made me laugh out loud and completely cringe!  I wanted to call up my friends who are moms and have them read this book and tell me if this is close to the truth of the positives and negatives of PTA!

The other thing I completely loved about this book was the drama of home ownership and buying and selling and renovating and so on.  I live in a fixer upper and I felt the pains that this couple felt as they decide if they want to move into a dream home that needs a lot of work or stay where they are.  Home ownership is enough drama without anything else!

I loved this book.  It was a great read with just the right amount of funny drama but no where near a soap opera!

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel


Ebook 2019 Challenge: 2 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.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

It was a surprisingly great reading week, getting back into the reading mode feels so good.

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Becoming by Michelle Obama (audiobook)
Say You're Sorry by Karen Rose
Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly
Glory Road by Lauren K Denton

Currently Reading:
One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan

Next on the TBR pile:
The Cliff House by RaeAnne Thayne 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party
by Lucy Foley

Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 336
Format: book
Buy the Book: Harper

Goodreads:  All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?


Kritters Thoughts:  Have you ever read a book at just the right time?  That was the case for me with this book.  I curled up with this book on a cold winter weekend and as the characters traipsed through piles of snow, I could feel it.  A group of friends get together once a year and take a trip over the New Years holiday.  This year one of the last to join the group, Emma planned it and took them up to the Scottish Highlands to a remote lodge where they will be the only group and will have the place to themselves.  

This is a book with a big cast of characters, so I would warn that you may want a piece of notebook paper to help you keep all the couples straight and maybe something to distinguish one from another.  I liked having notes to refer to as the chapters switched perspective and I could remind myself who was with whom and how they related to the rest of the group.

This is one of those thrillers where you know a bit of the what the beginning, but you have no clue of the who and it jumps in time just a bit, so you get clues in the present and in the past.  The culprit was a surprise but a pleasant one at that.  There were a few times where I thought the author was trying to throw us with some other culprits, but I caught her!  

I liked this mystery, it seemed different from the genre and I appreciated something a little different than the norm.  I am intrigued to try a book from Lucy Foley's backlist and see if I like it as much as this one.  


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

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from 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, March 21, 2019

Review: In the Blink of an Eye by Jesse Blackadder

In the Blink of an Eye
by Jesse Blackadder

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

Goodreads:  The Brennans — parents, Finn and Bridget, and their sons, Jarrah and Toby — have made a sea change, from chilly Hobart, Tasmania, to subtropical Murwillumbah, New South Wales. Feeling like foreigners in this land of sun and surf, they're still adjusting to work, school, and life in a sprawling purple clapboard house, when one morning, tragedy strikes.

In the devastating aftermath, the questions fly. What really happened? And who's to blame? Determined to protect his family, Finn finds himself under the police and media spotlight. Guilty and enraged, Bridget spends nights hunting answers in the last place imaginable. Jarrah — his innocence lost — faces a sudden and frightening adulthood where nothing is certain.


Kritters Thoughts:  Finn, Bridget and their son Jarrah narrate this heart wrenching story in turn and I was glad to receive this story from three different points of view.  This review will be on the short side because thankfully there isn't a spoiler in the jacket copy and I don't want to spoil either.

This family endures a major tragedy and as these three narrate how each react to the tragedy and how they possibly recover was quite a story.  The tragedy made me cry and also made me think about how we each take blame for big and small things and how we are a part of a bigger picture.  

The thing that made me not love this book as much was all of the cheating and lies.  I try to avoid books with betrayals by spouses because it is just something I don't like to read, call me naive but I don't enjoy reading about it and it isn't healthy for me, so I didn't love that there was so much in this book and I didn't feel like half of it added to the story.  

When you get down to it though, this book was about the family and how they disbanded and the regrouped and the ups and downs of it all.  I enjoyed it, but it wasn't one of my favorites.


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 16 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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review: The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

The Last Year of the War
by Susan Meissner

Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Elise Sontag is a typical Iowa fourteen-year-old in 1943--aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.

The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.
 


Kritters Thoughts:  Two young girls are ripped from their normal both due to the ethnicities of their fathers and the effects of war.  These girls start to form a new normal in an internment camp in Texas when again their lives are upended.  There are a few moments in the current day as Elise has decided that she needs to find her friend from those days before it is too late for her to reconnect.  

I have said this a lot on this blog, but one of the big reasons why I love to read historical fiction is when I get to learn something that I didn't know while also being entertained by a story.  I was aware of internment camps, but had read only of them in California with the asian population, to read that there was more and that more than that one ethnicity was affected really surprised me.  I also didn't know about the process to get into internment camps and appreciated that this author presented two avenues as to how these people ended up in these places.  Not the most positive points in America, but something that we should all be aware of not to repeat it!

Every book of Susan Meissner's that I read I loved, have you read any over her books?  I haven't read them all, but have given all the ones I have read either four or five stars.  I want to make an effort to complete her backlist and then keep up with her releases as they come out.


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel


Ebook 2019 Challenge: 15 out of 100



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.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Review: The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio

The Beautiful Strangers
by Camille Di Maio

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:   1958. Kate Morgan, tethered to her family’s failing San Francisco restaurant, is looking for an escape. She gets her chance by honoring a cryptic plea from her grandfather: find the beautiful stranger. The search takes her to Hotel del Coronado, the beachfront landmark on the Southern California coast where filming is underway on the movie Some Like It Hot.

For a movie lover like Kate, it’s a fantasy come true. So is the offer of a position at the glamorous hotel. And a new romance is making her heart beat just as fast. But as sure as she is that the Coronado is her future, Kate discovers it’s also where the ghosts of the past have come to stay. Sixty years ago a guest died tragically, and she still haunts the hotel’s halls.

As the lives of two women—generations apart—intertwine, Kate’s courageous journey could change more than she ever imagined. And with the Coronado wending its way through her soul, she must follow her dreams…wherever they may lead.


Kritters Thoughts:  A book that takes you behind the scenes of filmmaking which has been done before, but this one feels unique and fresh.  Kate Morgan decides to take the biggest risk and leave her family in San Francisco to follow her grandfather's words to go find the beautiful stranger; these words take her to the Hotel del Coronado and in the middle of a film set.  

I will always love books that take you behind the scenes of any profession, but something gets me about reading about being on a film set.  Of course, a film set that has Marilyn Monroe on it makes it even more special and reading (yes fiction) about how she was on set and how the public and her cast and crew reacted to her was so fascinating.  It made it feel even more special that it was a famous actress that we were following behind the scenes.  

Kate Morgan was a great character and I loved reading through her point of view into this world that felt so big to her.  Of course the little romance storyline was sweet and a little extra to enjoy.  

I have read two out of four of Camille Di Maio's books and after reading this book, I want to move the other two up my TBR and get to them sooner rather than later.


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 14 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.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

It was a hard rough week all around, so one book was all I finished and I am just ok with this.

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Into the Night by Sarah Bailey

Currently Reading:
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Say You're Sorry by Karen Rose

Next on the TBR pile:
Little Lovely Things by Maureen Joyce Connolly

Friday, March 15, 2019

Review: The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick

The Woman in the Lake
by Nicola Cornick

Publisher: Graydon House
Pages: 320
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  London, 1765

Lady Isabella Gerard, a respectable member of Georgian society, orders her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it, its shimmering beauty tainted by the actions of her brutal husband the night before.

Three months later, Lord Gerard stands at the shoreline of the lake, looking down at a woman wearing the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this was not his intended victim…

250 Years Later…

When a gown she stole from a historic home as a child is mysteriously returned to Fenella Brightwell, it begins to possess her in exactly the same way that it did as a girl. Soon the fragile new life Fen has created for herself away from her abusive ex-husband is threatened at its foundations by the gown’s power over her until she can't tell what is real and what is imaginary.

As Fen uncovers more about the gown and Isabella’s story, she begins to see the parallels with her own life. When each piece of history is revealed, the gown—and its past—seems to possess her more and more, culminating in a dramatic revelation set to destroy her sanity.



Kritters Thoughts:  This was quite the gothic historical fiction with a hint of magic of sorts and I didn't completely love it.  

With a golden dress at the heart of the story and a prologue that sets the reader up for guessing, there were moments where I semi enjoyed the book and then moments where it just didn't completely work for me.  In the historical storyline there are two narrators, the lady of the house Lady Isabella Gerard and her maid Constance.  In the current storyline Fenella Brightwell takes the lead and I think it was her storyline that I liked less.  

Lady Isabella Gerard is in an abusive relationship and she decides to escape to the country to possibly change her situation for the better.  With her maid in tow, she goes to the country and oh the drama ensues.  I love a historical storyline where the woman is trying to better her situation and since it is in the past and all of her wealth and prestige is in the man she is marrying it makes it harder to make her life better - for some reason this is all interesting to me.  The use of the dress in this storyline was so interesting and I loved how it was more than just a dress, but had a purpose.

The thing that I didn't enjoy about the current situation was the magic behind the dress.  I felt as though it took on a life of its own and it just wasn't entertaining.  I felt as though it took away from the story and I could have liked the current storyline if the dress had just been a dress.  

If you are a reader of more gothic stories that you could like this one more than I did.  I wanted more from it in different places.  


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.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review: Woman 99 by Greer Macllister

Woman 99
by Greer Macallister

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Charlotte Smith's future is planned to the last detail, and so was her sister's - until Phoebe became a disruption. When their parents commit Phoebe to a notorious asylum, Charlotte knows there's more to the story than madness. Shedding her identity to become an anonymous inmate, "Woman Ninety-Nine," Charlotte uncovers dangerous secrets. Insanity isn't the only reason her fellow inmates were put away - and those in power will do anything to keep the truth, or Charlotte, from getting out. 


Kritters Thoughts:  Charlotte Smith decides to get herself admitted to an asylum so she can free the older sister that stood up for her throughout her life and quite possibly could be there because of Charlotte's own doings.  With an unfiltered view of an asylum of the time, this book had a few difficult parts that made me thank goodness for the time and place that I live in!

I love when a historical fiction book makes me do some looking to find out where the truth and the fiction are.  I was so intrigued by this asylum's make up and the different wards and how things were organized, I truly wondered if such a place existed and how a doctor came to decide to organize these women this way.

The main character in this book mentions Nellie Bly a few times and this has prompted me to want to do some research and read a few books about her, have any of you read anything that centers around Nellie Bly and her story?  I am inspired to go pick up something fiction or non fiction to get a little more of Nellie Bly's story.

In the end, I enjoyed this book, but didn't love it as much as some other historical fictions reads that I have read recently.


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 13 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.

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