Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween!

source

Halloween - not my favorite holiday, but don't mind the candy!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Review: The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

The Painted Castle
by Kristy Cambron

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  It was supposed to be a one-week job: survey an art find, collect a hefty fee, and use that to settle historian Kiera Foley’s life back into balance. But from the moment she sets foot in the East Suffolk countryside, the mysteries surrounding the old English manor and the enigmatic art thief who’s employed her stir more questions than answers. Then, Kiera finds the existence of a portrait captivating enough to upend all of her expectations. This one could be a twin—a painting so close in composition to a known masterpiece, it may be rendered priceless if it truly captured the likeness of a young Queen named Victoria.

Kritters Thoughts:  Just as in the first two books in this series, there are three story lines in this book, with one present day and two different time periods.  This is book three in the series and each story is self contained, but there are characters from previous books and there are connections that I would say its best to start at the beginning, but not necessary.  

To review this specific book.  This may have been my favorite of the trilogy.  This book felt as though all three stories were connected and felt more cohesive than the other two.  Kiera is the star of the current storyline and she has returned to Ireland after some drama while she was trying to pursue her dream job.  Her dream job will come into play with the other storylines and I loved that.  

One storyline is from 1833 and follows a young woman who watches her father get shot and from there is trying to figure out what is next for her and her mother.  In 1944 England, Amelia Wood is a widow and living in a large home, she is "invaded" by the US army to take over her home as a base of sorts and interesting things happen from there.  Because I am more familiar with English history over Ireland or France, I think I could sink into these stories more and had to do less research to understand the implications of the time and place.  

I hope there are more to come in this series, I have enjoyed inhabiting these big castles and homes and learning about the history of the place in three different time periods, so interesting to see a home's function throughout the years.


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, October 28, 2019

Review: Swimming for Sunlight by Allie Larkin

Swimming for Sunlight
by Allie Larkin

Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Aspiring costume designer Katie gave up everything in her divorce to gain custody of her fearful, faithful rescue dog, Barkimedes. While she figures out what to do next, she heads back to Florida to live with her grandmother, Nan.

But Katie quickly learns there’s a lot she doesn’t know about Nan—like the fact that in her youth Nan was a mermaid performer in a roadside attraction show, swimming and dancing underwater with a close-knit cast of talented women. Although most of the mermaids have since lost touch, Katie helps Nan search for her old friends on Facebook, sparking hopes for a reunion show. Katie is up for making some fabulous costumes, but first, she has to contend with her crippling fear of water.

As Katie’s college love Luca, a documentary filmmaker, enters the fray, Katie struggles to balance her hopes with her anxiety, and begins to realize just how much Bark’s fears are connected to her own, in this thoughtful, charming novel about hope after loss and friendships that span generations.
 


Kritters Thoughts:  A book that starts in a divorce, but that is only the first chapter.  Katie moves back in with her grandmother and decides to reevaluate her life and figure out where she wants to go for herself.  She ends up entangled with her grandmother's friends who are remembering days of the past and decide to recreate some of the things they used to do.

I have recently decided to avoid all books about cheating and divorce - just not something I want to read about, so I was nervous about the basis of this book, but it really only is the first chapter and the book is more about Katie's arc to find herself and her passions again.  There are peaks of Katie reflecting on a relationship gone wrong, but they were dropped in at just the right moment and I felt as though they helped to drive Katie and the story forward.  

The characters were just great in this book.  With a large cast I wondered if I would feel lost in the shuffle, but the author does a great job of giving every character their own backstory, so the reader can feel connected to each one in a unique way.  

I loved this book.  It was the perfect escape during a busy season of my life.  It was easy to pick up and put down and not miss a thing.  I need to read more of Allie Larkin's backlist!


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 46 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.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Review: Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron

Castle on the Rise
by Kristy Cambron

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  When Laine Forrester travels to France to attend her longtime friend's vineyard wedding, she expects to find a bride on the brink of a fairy-tale life. But after a series of unforeseen setbacks--a devastating diagnosis, a castle restoration put on hold, and the emergence of deep-seated family dynamics that threaten to derail the new couple's fledgling marriage--it seems the storybook life Laine had imagined for her friend--and once, for herself--is suddenly crumbling before her eyes.

With hopes of resurrecting a happy ending for one of them, Laine throws support behind her friend and agrees to accompany the couple to the groom's family home in Ireland, where the merging of a mysterious inheritance, long-buried wounds, and a fractured family set out to upend the trip from the start. It's in the unlikely corners of a historic Dublin pub, and across the wide-open moors bordering Ireland's majestic Wicklow Mountains, that Laine is slowly drawn in by the land and the people, sparking hope for something she never imagined possible: the courage to heal. But with secrets of her own--and a heart afraid to trust again--Laine must determine how much she's willing to risk in mending the broken places within herself, and whether she believes that even through the depths of our pain, a beautiful story can emerge.


Kritters Thoughts:  The second in a series and this is one of those series where most of the story is self contained from one book to another, but I would really suggest starting at the beginning.  There are characters and things that have some backstory that take place in book one that you really need for this book.  

To also reiterate what I said in my review of book one, this is one of those books with three storylines and you may want a piece of notebook paper to take some notes so you can keep each of the storylines straight with all of the characters.  

I didn't love this book as much as book one.  With a limited knowledge of the history of Ireland and its upheavals, I was lost a bit during this book and had a hard time following what was happening to the characters.  I had to do a bit more google searching in this book more so than my usual for historical fiction reading.  It halted my reading flow and just stunted my enjoyment.  

I liked the characters in this story and of course the way the author described the setting was just magical.  This book made me want to book a trip to Ireland real soon!

I am excited to read and review the latest in this series, the third one on October 29th.  


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


Ebook 2019 Challenge: 45 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, October 22, 2019

Review: The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron

The Lost Castle
by Kristy Cambron

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 384
Format: ebook
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  A thirteenth century castle, Chateau de Doux Reves, has been forgotten for generations, left to ruin in a storybook forest nestled deep in France's picturesque Loire Valley. It survived a sacking in the French Revolution, was brought back to life and fashioned into a storybook chateau in the Gilded Age, and was eventually felled and deserted after a disastrous fire in the 1930s.

As Ellie Carver sits by her grandmother's bedside, she hears stories of a castle . . . of lost love and a hidden chapel that played host to a secret fight in the World War II French resistance. But her grandmother is quickly slipping into the locked-down world of Alzheimer's, and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family's history.

Sparked by the discovery of a long forgotten family heirloom, Ellie embarks on a journey to French wine country to uncover the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty--the castle so named for Charles Perrault's beloved fairy tale--and unearth its secrets before they're finally silenced by time.


Kritters Thoughts:  Aveline, Ellison and Viola are all from a different place in time, but in this book their stories matter to each other.  Ellison heads to France to find a missing story from her grandmother's past and in this journey she finds that and so much more.  

This was one of those books where you had to have a sheet of paper to take notes to keep the three storylines in check.  Two historical storylines and a current storyline made for three main characters and a whole slew of supporting characters and of course they all connected in interesting ways.  I liked this book, but taking notes felt as though I was having to do a little bit of work while reading!  

Sometimes when I read a book with multiple storylines I like them all the same, not so in this book.  I really enjoyed Viola Hart's storyline taking place in the 1940s in France with the Nazi occupation and the place this castle played into it was so interesting. I think this one was so closely aligned with the current storyline, which made me love it even more.  The storyline that took place in the 1700s was ok, but felt more of a reach to fit with the other two.  I understand why it was included, but the book could have been complete without it.  

I am excited to see how this series goes from here with two more books to read! 


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 44 out of 100


Monday, October 21, 2019

Review: Outspoken by Veronica Reuckert

Outspoken
by Veronica Reuckert

Publisher: HarperBusiness
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Are you done with the mansplaining? Have you been interrupted one too many times? Don’t stop talking. Take your voice back.

Women’s voices aren’t being heard—at work, at home, in public, and in every facet of their lives. When they speak up, they’re seen as pushy, loud, and too much. When quiet, they’re dismissed as meek and mild. Everywhere they turn, they’re confronted by the assumptions of a male-dominated world.

From the Supreme Court to the conference room to the classroom, women are interrupted far more often than their male counterparts. In the lab, researchers found that female executives who speak more often than their peers are rated 14 percent less competent, while male executives who do the same enjoy a 10 percent competency bump.



Kritters Thoughts:  Do you ever need a non fiction to remind you that you are a bad ass female?  Do you need a book that just reminds you how to operate at your fullest?  This is that book.  I started this book on an airplane with a guy sitting next to me who was "manspreading" and I sure hope he read the hot pink cover and my signals that he was talking up way more space than he should have been!

From the way women carry themselves to the way we speak, we have to make adjustments to make a room respond differently to us.  We must take up space as the book says and make sure that our speech is commanding and makes everyone pay attention, I loved the reminders in this book and appreciated the moments that I would quote and keep for later.  

I think this would be the perfect gift book for a college graduate who is entering the workforce and needs to be reminded to take up space and speak up when necessary.  


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 BookExpo.  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, October 20, 2019

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

I feel like I am back in the reading grove and it feels so good!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron

Currently Reading:
Swimming for Sunlight by Allie Larkin

Next on the TBR pile:
The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Review: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

The Giver of Stars
by Jojo Moyes

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.
The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky.
What happens to them—and to the men they love—becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. Though they face all kinds of dangers, they’re committed to their job—bringing books to people who have never had any, sharing the gift of learning that will change their lives.


Kritters Thoughts:  In a small town in Kentucky, five women decide to make a change in their community by encouraging reading and bringing books to their remote neighbors via horseback.  These women come from different backgrounds and together they can make a big change in educating those who are from from society, both literally and figuratively.

Alice Wright is the main character of this book and she has just made a big move from England to small town Kentucky for marriage and a new life.  With life isn't as she expected, joining the packhorse library ladies gives her a new pep in her step and a reason to stay in this foreign land.  

The other character that meant a lot to me was Sophia.  I was glad of the inclusion of this person of color and felt that it could probably be close to historically accurate with her staying behind in the library in the evenings to set things straight for the next day.  

I always love a historical fiction book that seems close to history with a bit of fiction sprinkled in and loved the sense of small town feel woven throughout the book.  There were just a few moments where the book's pacing seemed to slow down and I thought it could have been tightened up, but overall this was a great read and always nice to learn something new.  


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


Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Viking Penguin.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Review: The Lost Brothers by Jack El-Hai

The Lost Brothers
by Jack El-Hai

Publisher: Univ of Minnesota Press
Pages: 112
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  On a cold November afternoon in 1951, three young boys went out to play in Farview Park in north Minneapolis. The Klein brothers—Kenneth Jr., 8; David, 6; and Danny, 4—never came home. When two caps turned up on the ice of the Mississippi River, investigators concluded that the boys had drowned and closed the case. The boys’ parents were unconvinced, hoping against hope that their sons would still be found. Sixty long years would pass before two sheriff’s deputies, with new information in hand and the FBI on board, could convince the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to reopen the case.

This is the story of that decades-long ordeal, one of the oldest known active missing-child investigations, told by a writer whose own research for an article in 1998 sparked new interest in the boys’ disappearance. Beginning in 2012, when deputies Jessica Miller and Lance Salls took up the Kleins’ cause, author Jack El-Hai returns to the mountain of clues amassed through the years, then follows the trail traced over time by the boys’ indefatigable parents, right back to those critical moments in 1951. Told in brisk, longform journalism style, The Lost Brothers captures the Kleins’ initial terror and confusion but also the unstinting effort, with its underlying faith, that carried them from psychics to reporters to private investigators and TV producers—and ultimately produced results that cast doubt on the drowning verdict and even suggested possible suspects in the boys’ abduction. An intimate portrait of a parent’s worst nightmare and its terrible toll on a family, the book is also a genuine mystery, spinning out suspense at every missed turn or potential lead, along with its hope for resolution in the end.


Kritters Thoughts:  A little book that made me think about all the true crime tv shows that I love to watch and wouldn't mind an episode or two to continue this story.  This story is completely true and because of that it makes it almost that much sadder.   

In a town in Minnesota on a November day in 1951, three boys go out to play like they typically did on any other day.  Their older brother decided to stay back on this fateful day and it would set their lives on a course that no one intended.  These three boys never came home and nothing has ever come from any investigation.  This family continued to grow, but the older brother always felt a bit different because he remembered the days where the boys were in their lives.  

This book was so heartbreaking.  Each time I reminded myself that this was true I was so beyond sad for this family and those affected by this story.  I couldn't imagine in one afternoon losing not just one child, but three and to die not knowing anything at all or having anyone take responsibility would have broken my heart.  This was a little book, but so worth every page.

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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 40 out of 100


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, October 14, 2019

Review: What I Lick Before Your Face by Jamie Coleman

What I Lick Before Your Face
by Jamie Coleman

Publisher: Atria
Pages: 128
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  From the perks of face licking to considering what constitutes a good boy, these charming and laugh-out-loud funny haikus take us into the minds of our beloved pets. Capturing the quirky personalities of our dogs and their unique bond with us and illustrated throughout with adorable color photographs of dogs of all shapes and sizes, What I Lick Before Your Face is a fun and loving celebration of the canine spirit.


Kritters Thoughts:  The sweetest little book of haikus centered around everyday life with or as a dog!  From their thoughts to the things that dog owners love about having dogs, these poems were just spot on.  I laughed out loud a few times and maybe even teared up as I read this at a time that I was apart from my dogs for a trip.  If you are a dog owner or just a dog lover, this book would be a sweet addition to your collection.

I read this in ebook format and am waiting for the day for it to come out to purchase a physical copy, I want these poems and photos in my library!


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 38 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, October 13, 2019

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

Not as much reading time as I wanted, was watching too much playoff baseball!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron

Currently Reading:
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Next on the TBR pile:
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Review: Sweet Jiminy by Kristin Gore

Sweet Jiminy
by Kristin Gore

Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 240
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, Jiminy Davis abruptly quits law school and flees Chicago for her grandmother Willa's farm in rural Mississippi. In search of peace and quiet, Jiminy instead stumbles upon more trouble and turmoil than she could have imagined. 

She is shocked to discover that there was once another Jiminy - the daughter of her grandmother's longtime housekeeper, Lyn, who was murdered along with Lyn's husband four decades earlier in a civil rights era hate crime. With the help of Lyn's nephew, Bo, Jiminy sets out to solve the cold case, to the dismay of those who would prefer to let sleeping dogs lie.


Kritters Thoughts:  Jiminy Davis is sending herself in a new direction, but before that she goes to her grandmother's home to recenter herself.  When she returns home to find some secrets that she missed during her childhood, she decides to investigate and this small town in Mississippi may still have some issues that it was dealing with it years ago.  

I absolutely loved this book.  I love the subgenre of go home to recenter and then send your life into a new direction of women's fiction.  I love when a character goes back home and either finds out something about their family or the town or just things from the past - I always want to read more of these!  

Jiminy was a great character to follow.  She had heart and depth and just felt like someone I wanted as a friend.  I liked that she was trying to solve a mystery while also decide what is next for herself.  It wasn't all woo is me!

I want to read more from this author, this was easy to read, but wasn't fluff.  


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.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Review: Forgotten Bones by Vivian Barz

Forgotten Bones
by Vivian Barz

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Pages: 298
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  An unlikely pair teams up to investigate a brutal murder in a haunting thriller that walks the line between reality and impossibility.

When small-town police officers discover the grave of a young boy, they’re quick to pin the crime on a convicted felon who lives nearby. But when it comes to murder, Officer Susan Marlan never trusts a simple explanation, so she’s just getting started.

Meanwhile, college professor Eric Evans hallucinates a young boy in overalls: a symptom of his schizophrenia—or so he thinks. But when more bodies turn up, Eric has more visions, and they mirror details of the murder case. As the investigation continues, the police stick with their original conclusion, but Susan’s instincts tell her something is off. The higher-ups keep stonewalling her, and the FBI’s closing in.

Desperate for answers, Susan goes rogue and turns to Eric for help. Together they take an unorthodox approach to the case as the evidence keeps getting stranger. With Eric’s hallucinations intensifying and the body count rising, can the pair separate truth from illusion long enough to catch a monster?
 



Kritters Thoughts:  In a prologue with an interesting car accident that unearths a skeleton starting this book began in such a sweet spot, but with chapter and chapter and page by page this book didn't live up to the beginning and I was sad with my reaction by the end.

In a small town in California, two police officers are used to responding to the random small town things when the skeleton is unearthed and a recently released predator goes missing - SHIT hits the fan!  At the same time in walks a man who just moved to town and is seeing visions and decides to see if they are related to the drama in the small town.  

I loved the premise.  I loved the plot.  But I didn't love the execution.  I read a lot of mystery thrillers so I know I am extra at looking for clues, but I felt as though I figured out the ins and outs of this one way too early and that always disappoints me.  There were moments where I honestly got frustrated that things seemed way too obvious and knew that I couldn't recommend this one to my friends and family who adore this genre.  If you are a casual mystery thriller reader this one would be great for you.

The premise with a man who just moves to town and has a disorder that makes him unreliable added to the typical small town police officer book, but it didn't work as well as I wanted it to.  I was hoping that this would bring on some creep factor, but it just fell flat for me.  

I would read this author again, but would definitely have to really review the plot and premise to make sure that I would be into those things before diving in.


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

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 43 out of 100


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.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

I am so excited my large work event is now done and in the past.  I hope my evenings and weekends can get back to being full of reading time!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Outspoken by Veronica Reuckert

Currently Reading:
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Next on the TBR pile:
Swimming for Sunlight by Allie Larkin

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Review: Something Blue by Charlotte Armstrong

Something Blue
by Charlotte Armstrong

Publisher: Open Road
Pages: 159
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Johnny Simms, a young biology student from Columbia University, has just arrived in San Francisco for a wedding. The lucky bride-to-be is a childhood friend: twenty-year-old Nan Padgett. But the shy, unsure girl he used to know has suddenly blossomed into a radiant, confident, and ecstatically happy young woman. And why wouldn’t she? Richardson Bartee, a handsome vintner from Southern California, swept her off her feet during a whirlwind courtship. Then comes the call from Nan’s aunt Emily, her beloved childhood guardian, with a stinging warning: “You must not marry this man.”
 
Johnny fears that Emily is not just being overprotective. And when Aunt Emily suddenly dies under mysterious circumstances, Johnny begins an investigation into the past that draws him into the nightmare of the Padgett family tree—one so tangled with murder, lies, greed, and deception, it has kept Nan in the dark for twenty years, and so dangerous, it has yet to claim its last victim.



Kritters Thoughts:  I didn't know until after finishing reading this book, that it was repackaged and rereleased and was originally published in 1959.  I think my entire reading experience would have been different had I known, not sure if I would have liked it anymore.

Johnny Simms has been a friend of Nan Padgett almost their entire lives and quite possibly in love with her also.  When all of the sudden she is engaged to be married and her aunt detests the suitor and flies home from Paris to hopefully stop the wedding.  Johnny is bound and determined to help her aunt stop the wedding and he must solve a murder mystery to do so. 

Although not a long book, it took forever for the real drama to pick up and I felt as though all of the action took place in the last few pages and I was wishing for more buildup throughout the book.  I haven't read many classic murder mysteries and not sure after this one, I will seek any out.


Rating: not such a good idea

Ebook 2019 Challenge: 35 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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