Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Review: False Step by Victoria Helen Stone

False Step
by Victoria Helen Stone

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 280
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Stay calm, keep smiling, and watch your step. In this marriage of secrets and lies, nothing is what it seems.

For days, all of Denver, Colorado, has worried over the fate of a missing child, little Tanner Holcomb. Then, a miracle: handsome, athletic Johnny Bradley finds him, frightened but unharmed, on a hiking trail miles from his wealthy family’s mountain home.

In a heartbeat, his rescuer goes from financially strapped fitness trainer to celebrated hero. The heat of the spotlight may prove too much for Johnny’s picture-perfect family, however. His wife, Veronica, despises the pressure of the sudden fame, afraid that secrets and bitter resentments of her marriage may come to light. And she’s willing to do anything to keep them hidden.

But when a shocking revelation exposes an even darker side to Tanner’s disappearance, Veronica realizes that nothing in her life can be trusted. And everything should be feared.


Kritters Thoughts:  Johnny and Veronica have been mostly happily married for a few years, but there are definitely secrets within this marriage.  Those secrets and others get exposed when Johnny becomes a local hero by finding a lost boy while on a hike and this event will change their lives forever.  

This book is less about the kidnapping and more about the after affects of a couple becoming somewhat famous.  I really had to stop and think about how I would personally react and also how my life could change around me if this happened to me. The likelihood of this actually happening is rare, but really made me stop and think about what reactions I would have.

The book takes an interesting twist and I will of course keep that to myself and it was just ok for me.  I was just on the fence about where it ended up going, it was just a pair of shruggie shoulders.  

I would read this author again, but would definitely make sure that I was into the plot.  


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

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.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Review: The Great Pretenders by Laura Kalpakian

The Great Pretenders
by Laura Kalpakian

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

Goodreads:  The daughter of Hollywood royalty, Roxanne Granville is used to getting what she wants--even if she has to break the rules. But after a falling-out with her grandfather, a powerful movie mogul, she has to face life on her own for the first time....

Roxanne forges a career unique for women in the 1950s, becoming an agent for hungry young screenwriters. She struggles to be taken seriously by the men who rule Hollywood and who often assume that sexual favors are just a part of doing business. When she sells a script by a blacklisted writer under the name of a willing front man, more exiled writers seek her help. Roxanne wades into a world murky with duplicity and deception, and she can't afford any more risks.

Then she meets Terrence Dexter, a compelling African American journalist unlike anyone she's ever known. Roxanne again breaks the rules, and is quickly swept up in a passionate relationship with very real dangers that could destroy everything she's carefully built.

Roxanne Granville is a woman who bravely defies convention. She won't let men make all the rules, and won't let skin color determine whom she can love. 



Kritters Thoughts:  Roxanne Granville is the granddaughter of Hollywood legends and after the recent passing of her grandmother she is trying to decide what is next for herself and that includes a job, but what should she do with a name like Granville.  Roxanne becomes an agent for writers in hopes of finding the next Casablanca!  

I liked this book, but didn't love it.  This may sound weird, but it felt like a constant name drop.  The author just kept throwing names and things at the reader and I didn't feel like I got to know any of those famous people or even the infamous ones.  I liked that Roxanne was entering a field that was dominated by men and even though she threw her famous grandparents names around, she got to do good work and pave the path for future women.  Roxanne was a great character to follow in this story, but she was the only one with true depth.

There have been a lot of behind the scenes of old Hollywood stories that I have read that I loved and this one just fell a little short compared to the others.  I wouldn't count this author out, I would read another one by her, but I hope that she would spend more time on the supporting characters no matter if they are real or fiction.


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

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Berkley PRH.  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, July 26, 2019

Review: Bad Axe County by John Galligan

Bad Axe County
by John Galligan

Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Fifteen years ago, Heidi White’s parents were shot to death on their Bad Axe County farm. The police declared it a murder-suicide and closed the case. But that night, Heidi found the one clue she knew could lead to the truth—if only the investigators would listen.

Now Heidi White is Heidi Kick, wife of local baseball legend Harley Kick and mother of three small children. She’s also the interim sheriff in Bad Axe. Half the county wants Heidi elected but the other half will do anything to keep her out of law enforcement. And as a deadly ice storm makes it way to Bad Axe, tensions rise and long-buried secrets climb to the surface.

As freezing rain washes out roads and rivers flood their banks, Heidi finds herself on the trail of a missing teenaged girl. Clues lead her down twisted paths to backwoods stag parties, derelict dairy farms, and the local salvage yard—where the body of a different teenage girl has been carefully hidden for a decade.

As the storm rages on, Heidi realizes that someone is planting clues for her to find, leading her to some unpleasant truths that point to the local baseball team and a legendary game her husband pitched years ago. With a murder to solve, a missing girl to save, and a monster to bring to justice, Heidi is on the cusp of shaking her community to its core—and finding out what really happened the night her parents died.
 



Kritters Thoughts:  Heidi White left Bad Axe County with a bad taste in her mouth for the town.  When the sheriff dies she decides to return and be interim sherif and eventually run for the full time position.  This will greatly impact her family and will push her deep into the drama of this town.  

With a lot of characters and storylines, this book felt like it didn't have a focus.  If anything I was frustrated that the main focus of the synopsis Heidi's search for the killer of her parents seemed absent during most of the story and only showed up at the very end.  The rest of the story had this large cast of characters in this town dealing with all sorts of crazy shit.  It was too much.  

I always know I don't love a book when it takes me a long time to read it and this one felt like I was reading for a full week which is a long time for me.  If you are a reader who likes a large cast of characters going in all sorts of directions, then this could be the book for you.


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 30 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.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Review: A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

 A Stranger on the Beach
by Michele Campbell

Publisher: St Martin's Press
Pages:  352
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  There is a stranger outside Caroline's house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she'd have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn't seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she's built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort...and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden's obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline's husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband's murder.


Kritters Thoughts:  Caroline has just finished construction on her dream home on the beach and she is ready to live the beach retired life when a stranger on the beach comes into her life and sets quite a bit of things in motion!

The first half of this book was really hard to read.  It bounced from perspective between Caroline and Aiden - the man on the beach and their chapters conflicted with each other so the reader is left to wonder who is telling the truth or are either of them?  I didn't enjoy this.  I don't mind one character where I question what they were saying but to question everything I was reading was exhausting.  I bounced back and forth between believing one or the other and by the time the truth came out I was tired of it all.  

The second half was good but it wasn't as awesome as I wanted it to be to overcome my feelings of the first half.  I more or less got through this book and that is never a feeling I enjoy.  

I would read another by this author in hopes that the formatting was different.  The characters were fine and the plot was interesting, but this book wasn't meant for me.  I could see how others would enjoy it and if you don't mind a book where you are second guessing everything then this is right up your alley.


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.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Review: Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen

Park Avenue Summer
by Renee Rosen

Publisher: Berkley PRH
Pages: 368
Format: book 
Buy the Book: Amazon 

Goodreads:  Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada as RenĂ©e Rosen draws readers into the glamour of 1965 New York City and Cosmopolitan Magazine, where a brazen new Editor-in-Chief--Helen Gurley Brown--shocks America by daring to talk to women about all things off limits...

New York City is filled with opportunities for single girls like Alice Weiss who leaves her small Midwestern town to chase her big city dreams and unexpectedly lands the job of a lifetime working for Helen Gurley Brown, the first female Editor-in-Chief of a then failing Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Nothing could have prepared Alice for the world she enters as editors and writers resign on the spot, refusing to work for the woman who wrote the scandalous bestseller, Sex and the Single Girl. While confidential memos, article ideas, and cover designs keep finding their way into the wrong hands, someone tries to pull Alice into this scheme to sabotage her boss. But Alice remains loyal and becomes all the more determined to help Helen succeed. As pressure mounts at the magazine and Alice struggles to make her way in New York, she quickly learns that in Helen Gurley Brown's world, a woman can demand to have it all.


Kritters Thoughts:  A fantastic historical fiction that blurs the lines of fact and fiction.  This story focuses on a fictional character, Alice Weiss, the assistant to the real life Editor-in-Chief Helen Gurley Brown of the Cosmopolitan magazine at a time when the magazine made a major change in its content and there were a lot of questions as to if it should and would it survive.  

First let me say, I absolutely adored this book.  It was exactly what I like in a historical fiction book, great characters, some truth and some knowledge of something I had no idea about!  Alice was a great character to follow through this story.  She felt genuine and real and someone I wouldn't mind being friends with.  I loved her juxtaposition with Helen Gurley Brown.  I hope that Helen was portrayed similar to how she is in real life or as close as possible.  I really enjoyed learning about some of the history behind the Cosmopolitan magazine and that it had some ups and downs.  It was interesting to read its history and how it almost folded and to think of what it is today.  This is the big reason as to why I read and enjoy historical fiction.  

I read and loved Windy City Blues also by Renee Rosen, so I may have to make a point of reading her other two backlist before her next one comes out.


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

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

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

Another busy work week and busy boating weekend, so only a few reading hours happened this week.

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell
Bad Axe County by John Galligan

Currently Reading:
False Step by Victoria Helen Stone

Next on the TBR pile:
The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: Roar by Cecelia Ahern

Roar
by Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 273
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In this singular and imaginative story collection, Cecelia Ahern explores the endless ways in which women blaze through adversity with wit, resourcefulness, and compassion. Ahern takes the familiar aspects of women's lives--the routines, the embarrassments, the desires--and elevates these moments to the outlandish and hilarious with her astute blend of magical realism and social insight.

One woman is tortured by sinister bite marks that appear on her skin; another is swallowed up by the floor during a mortifying presentation; yet another resolves to return and exchange her boring husband at the store where she originally acquired him. The women at the center of this curious universe learn that their reality is shaped not only by how others perceive them, but also how they perceive the power within themselves. 

By turns sly, whimsical, and affecting, these thirty short stories are a dynamic examination of what it means to be a woman in this very moment. Like women themselves, each story can stand alone; yet together, they have a combined power to shift consciousness, inspire others, and create a multi-voiced ROAR that will not be ignored. 


Kritters Thoughts:  A collection of short stories where each story revolves around a woman.  Some of the stories had an interesting magical realism bit to them and some felt super feminist, it was a wide range and there were some that I liked and some that were just ok and a few that I didn't care for.  It was an interesting collection that I am glad to pass on to a girlfriend who needs to be reminded of all the cool aspects of being a woman!

What I loved about this collection is it seemed that every kind of woman was represented.  I am a married, working woman with no kids and a squad of dogs and I felt represented.  I have a sister who is a stay at home mom to three kids and I could see her in this collection and my mother is a grandmother, mother and wife entering the retirement years and I could see her in this collection.  I loved that any woman could pick up this collection and find a bit of themself in at least a story or two.  I think she did a great job of representing the entire broad landscape of women.

I love short story collections to live on my nightstand for night time reading where you can read just a short story or two before bed.  They are perfect to read alongside your other books.  


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 30 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.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

It was a busy week all around, so two books is good enough for me.

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird
Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen

Currently Reading:
A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell

Next on the TBR pile:
The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Friday, July 12, 2019

Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
by Abbi Waxman

Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book. 

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They're all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She'll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It's a disaster! And as if that wasn't enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn't he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.

1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It's time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn't convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It's going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.
 



Kritters Thoughts:  I absolutely adored this book!!  No other book could have hit that sweet spot and felt like I was reading a book about myself or my dream self!  

Nina Hill works at an independent bookstore and as an only child of a single mother who has recently passed away she is finding solace in her job and her life.  Through glimpses into her planner, the reader gets an idea for who she is and oh that made me wonder what people could learn about me from my own planner!  She schedules reading time (so do I), she makes lists (so do I) and you can see her life's ups and downs all through those pages.  

When her dad becomes known to her through his death, it sends her life into a tail spin with new family members and a different life with chaos and people she never imagined.  Although this storyline has been seen before, it felt fresh and new and was just so entertaining.  

I gobbled this book up in one day by the pool and it was the perfect summer read to just enjoy amongst the chaos of life.  Abbi Waxman has sky rocketed up to a favored author in my book.  


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 29 out of 100


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Berkley PRH.  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 11, 2019

Review: Everything is Just Fine by Brett Paesel

Everything is Just Fine
by Brett Paesel

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 432
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Coach Randy is working mightily to keep it together, and not simply with his vaguely unhappy wife, distant child, and a new boss who's eliminating half the sales force. This season's soccer parents are a demanding bunch. Diane's wine-fueled group e-mails are almost unintelligible; team mom Jacqui's enthusiasm for the league verges on manic; a divorced couple can barely conceal their murderous rage at each other; and another mom is laser-focused on schooling everyone on what constitutes a healthy snack option. 

All the secrets and lies bubbling below the surface of their membrane-thin civility threaten to combust when Alejandro, a young, foreign assistant coach refuses to play by the Beverly Hills code, which is to mind your own business and don't look too deeply into anyone's soul. Especially your own. 

Kritters Thoughts:  A satirical look at suburban life and although this book takes place in Beverly Hills, this book could take in any neighborhood with a kids athletic league!  This book focuses on a soccer league with 10 year olds and their parents.  Some parents are separated, some are together, some are doing great and some not so much, but they are all thrown together as a team in a league with a coach who maybe puts a little too much value into being a soccer coach!  

Told through emails and narrative, it was an interesting reflection on the craziness of parents, families and kids.  I loved the way this book was written, that is probably why I loved it so much.  I don't have kids, but I have a full time job with email and oh the things that go through email are just as entertaining as the emails these parents send and receive.  The ups and downs that can go through email is just so fun to watch from the sidelines.  

As a fair warning, there was some sexy times and cheating and such in this book.  I could have done without half of it and would have loved the book so much more, some of the plot could have stood on its own without and seemed distracting instead of adding to the story.  I probably would have passed the book onto more people if it didn't have as much of this as it did.    


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.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Review: Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

Bethlehem
by Karen Kelly

Publisher: St Martin's Press
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  A young woman arrives at the grand ancestral home of her husband’s family, hoping to fortify her cracking marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed.

Inspired by the true titans of the steel-boom era, Bethlehem is a story of temptation and regret, a story of secrets and the cost of keeping them, a story of forgiveness. It is the story of two complex women—thrown together in the name of family—who, in coming to understand each other, come finally to understand themselves.


Kritters Thoughts:  There are two time periods in this book, in one in the 1960s, Joanna Collier moves into her husband's family home with his mother and grandmother which puts her in an interesting spot, she isn't quite the woman of the house, but she is trying to make it a home for her and her family.  In the other time period, it goes back further in time to her mother-in-law's time as a young woman in the 1920s in the same home and how maybe this home holds some bad juju.

For me neither of the time periods really grabbed my attention both were equally just fine.  I felt as though it took a long time for characters to develop and for action to start taking place and once things starting moving and happening the book was almost over.  I wish that there had been some sort of movement earlier in the book, it made it hard to get in and really enjoy the book.  

The atmosphere of the book made me the happiest when reading the book.  I could feel the eeriness of the setting and the home.  The reader could tell that this home held secrets and that maybe it even caused some of the pain in this family.  

This book was just ok with me.  As I read a lot of historical fiction, I am not sure I would recommend this one to my friends who do not read a lot in this genre, but for those friends who have read all the historical fiction, this was an interesting departure from the usual and doesn't take place in the heart of World War II!    


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 28 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.



Sunday, July 7, 2019

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

With a holiday and a few extra days off, I got a lot of reading done!!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Dining with the Dollar Diva by Elizabeth Fisher
Bethlehem by Karen Kelly
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Everything is Just Fine by Brett Paesel
The Great Pretenders by Laura Kalpakian
Roar by Cecelia Ahern

Currently Reading:
The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Next on the TBR pile:
Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird

Friday, July 5, 2019

Review: Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter

Summer by the Tides
by Denise Hunter

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 302
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Following a painful betrayal, Maddy Monroe's love life is a wreck, and her restaurant career is in shambles. When her grandmother goes missing, she and her estranged sisters converge at the family beach house in Sea Haven, North Carolina. Being with uptight Nora and free-spirited Emma at the place where their family broke apart is a struggle, and undercurrents of jealousy and resentment threaten to pull the sisters under. In the midst of the storm, sparks begin to fly between Maddy and Gram's maddening neighbor, Connor Murphy.

As the sisters pack up the family belongings, memories of idyllic, slow-paced summers are resurrected. But long-buried secrets also come to light as Maddy discovers that all was not as it appeared that last summer in Sea Haven--nor today in the seemingly perfect lives of her sisters.

As family tensions rise and Connor causes tumult in Maddy's heart, the sisters must find a way to accept each other for the women they've become before the bitterness of the past destroys their hope for a future.


Kritters Thoughts:  Maddy Monroe has both a professional and personal tragedy wrapped all in one and when her grandmother is discovered missing, this is the perfect escape from life, so she heads to small town South Carolina to find her grandmother and push a reset button.  Maddy's sisters Emma and Nora have had a battle for years about a betrayal from the past and all three sisters are called to find grandma and maybe also to confront the past and to hopefully heal.  

I love the dynamics of sisters who have had drama returning to a place of comfort and confronting it, it is a story that I will always love reading.  There is something special about sisters where we are required to be friends because we are family, but we probably hurt them the quickest and the easiest.  

The other thing that I loved about the book was that the author revealed the reason for the sister feud early in the book.  I don't love it when a reader is kept out of the dark and the characters know more than the reader.  Denise Hunter flashes back and the reader knows the basics early on into the book and then the details are revealed over time, the way this storyline was done was just on point.    

As a warning, Denise Hunter is a Christian fiction author and this one felt a little more infused with a message than other books have.  I wasn't offended by it, but I like to advise others in case that isn't something you like to read.  


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.

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