Thursday, December 31, 2020

December - the close of 2020


The best month of the year with a lot of quiet vacation time, I got a lot of reading in! The best way to finish a year.

1. Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson
2. Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green
3. The Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry
4. The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict
5. A Timeless Christmas by Alexis Stanton (audiobook)
6. The Return by Nicholas Sparks
7. Savage Road by Chris Hauty
8. The Winter Berry House by Caroline Flynn
9. The Silent House by Nell Pattison
10. Rachel to the Rescue by Elinor Lipman
11. The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little
12. Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd
13. If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier (read half of it)
14. The Watchmaker of Dachau by Carly Schawbowski
15. You Cannoli Die Once by Shelley Costa
16. Take Mum Out by Fiona Gibson
17. Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst
18. Better to Wish by Ann M Martin
19. The Long Way Home by Ann M Martin
20. Best Kept Secret by Ann M Martin
21. Home is the Place by Ann M Martin
22. Aftershock by Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell

Total pages read, clicked and flipped: 7,156


Where having I been Reading?:
Washington state
Pennsylvania (2)
South Carolina
England (2)
New Bern, NC
Washington, DC (2)
Michigan
Alaska
Scotland (2)
Italy
Maine (2)
New York City, NY
Princeton, NJ
San Francisco, CA








Wednesday, December 30, 2020

First Book of the Year

I have made my first read of the year a significant pick for a few years in hopes that it starts the year out on the right reading foot!  I picked Those We Love Most by Lee Woodruff for a few reason - it is a book I need to review on Netgalley and for me I want to actively try to read and review more of my Netgalley TBR AND this is a book I own a physical copy and I would love to read and pass on books from my physical TBR.  

For 2021.  I would love to tackle two TBRs at the same time!  I have quite the lists that overlap, so this will be a new goal that I plan on keeping track of in 2021 and will really aim to achieve!  

Sunday, December 27, 2020

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

A holiday week full of great reading time!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
The Watchmaker of Dachau by Carly Schawbowski
You Cannoli Die Once by Shelley Costa
Take Mum Out by Fiona Gibson
Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst
Better to Wish by Ann M Martin
The Long Way Home by Ann M Martin

Currently Reading:
Best Kept Secret by Ann M Martin

Next on the TBR pile:
Aftershock by Judy Melinek and TJ Mitchell

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Review: An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer

An Island Christmas
by Nancy Thayer

Publisher: Ballantine
Pages: 224
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  As Christmas draws near, Felicia returns to her family’s home on the island to marry her adventurous, rugged boyfriend, Archie. Every detail is picture-perfect for a dream wedding: the snow-dusted streets, twinkling lights in the windows, a gorgeous red and white satin dress. Except a lavish ceremony is not Felicia’s dream at all; it’s what her mother, Jilly, wants. Jilly’s also worried that her daughter’s life with daredevil Archie will be all hiking and skydiving. Wondering if their handsome neighbor Steven Hardy might be a more suitable son-in-law, Jilly embarks on a secret matchmaking campaign for Felicia and the dashing stockbroker.
 
As the big day approaches and Jilly’s older daughter, Lauren, appears with rambunctious kids in tow, tensions in the household are high. With the family careening toward a Yuletide wedding disaster, an unexpected twist in Nancy Thayer’s heartwarming tale reminds everyone about the true meaning of the season.



Kritters Thoughts:  Felicia just wants to marry the guy she wants to, but she decides a Christmas wedding on her favorite island will help her mom possibly accept the marriage faster and she will get to introduce her intended to a place that she holds close to her heart.  

Felicia is the complete opposite from her older sister Lauren and her mom Jilly.  Felicia reminded me of my little sister!  She isn't sure if she wants kids, she wants to travel and have a whole host of experiences and live a pretty unconventional life.  Her mother and sister went down the typical path with marriages and children and are living pretty "normal" lives and in walks Felicia with her fiance Archie.  I love how Archie mixed things up and after most of his exploits the family found him to be a positive addition to their group.  I loved the character arch of all of the characters in this book.  

What a sweet little book.  This little novella is a perfect read for the holiday season.  This is one that you can easily curl up with and read in just one sitting by the lights of a tree and the perfect holiday candle burning!  I always hope for books like these to read amongst the crazy of the holidays!


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.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Review: Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson

Christmas in Winter Hill
by Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell
Pages: 176
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Krista Galloway is not a fan of Christmas. After her rough childhood in multiple foster homes, the holiday season just brings too many bad memories to the surface. But when she accepts a job as a city manager in the mountain town of Winter Hill, Washington, Christmas is part of the deal. The small town is famous for its Christmasville celebration, something that the city manager . . . well, manages.

As she tries to make her tiny new apartment feel like home for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily, Krista begins to wonder if this move was a mistake. She doesn't always feel welcomed in the close-knit town, and Emily continually wonders, "Where's the snow?" Can a friendly stranger and his family help restore Krista's Christmas spirit before the big day?


Kritters Thoughts:  Krista Galloway has escaped to a small town in Washington state with her daughter to start brand new life, but moving to a small town that makes a big deal out of Christmas isn't her best idea.  She has had a bad string of horrible Christmas seasons, so she would just rather skip it all and get into a new year, but maybe this town will change her mind about the whole holiday.

I loved the balance in this book between Krista's professional life and a bit of romance.  With the limited pages, I always get nervous that there will be some instalove, but Melody Carlson was able to write it in a way that felt that the two characters had enough interactions to naturally fall sweetly in love!  I also loved the little bit of mystery that took place in her professional life - it was a great addition that gave the book depth.  

This was my last hoilday read for this year and it was a good note to end on.  This sweet town reminded me of all the great things about this season that I love.  


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 127 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.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Review: Romancing the Holidays by L Austen Johnson

Romancing the Holidays
by L Austen Johnson

Publisher: Lore and Lyre
Pages: 210
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Lucky Fall

After her parents’ death, Sarah felt like there was no luck left in the world. With her siblings’ newly out of the house, she’s free, for the first time in years, to do something just for her. So when her best friend surprises her with tickets to Dublin for the week of St. Patrick’s Day, she’s thrilled. She’s on a mission to reconnect with her parents’ past and visit the places in their photographs.

But when she falls—literally—into the arms of an attractive if snarky Irishman at a pub, Sarah might just have to add another quest to her list: find out said man’s name…and relationship status.

*

Pawsitively Perfect

After a rough breakup and particularly difficult winter, veterinarian Leigh feels ready to engage in the outside world again. That is until her dog, Pogo, slips his leash in a park and invades the picnic of gorgeous ex-Marine, James. It’s doubly humiliating when Leigh finds out that James just so happens to be the head of the non-profit that she’s is expected to work on an event.

Can Leigh get over her embarrassment and her fear of being hurt again to seize the reins—erm, leash—on love? Or do the two different types of “vets” just not mix at all?

*

All Thanks to You

When aspiring vet tech Rosalie meets a guy at a Halloween black cat adoption party—perhaps even The Guy—she fails to understand that he’s asking her out. They say goodbye with only the promise of a cat adoption in their future, and she thinks that is that…until she walks into her younger sister’s parent-teacher conference and realizes Jonah from the cat event is Mr. Keene, high school English teacher extraordinaire. She wants to date this lovable nerd, but after her bad luck with past relationships and her experience seeing her parents get divorced, she’s afraid to let Jonah in.

Will she find love with a fellow cat-lover, or will it all fall to pieces by the first snow?

*

Beaver Creek Resort

Claire is fine being a single mom. Contrary to what her sister Sydney thinks, she doesn’t need anyone new in her life, not after Mitch cheated on her when she was pregnant five years ago. And she absolutely doesn’t need a cheesy, Christmas-themed singles' event at the Beaver Creek Resort to help her find someone suitable.

Besides, the only attractive man she’s even met at the ski resort so far is the guy she crashed into earlier, and he was a total jerk. It’s not like he’s going to show up to the singles event and magically become charming and nice and caring…right? That’d be a Christmas miracle.


Kritters Thoughts:  A book with four short stories that each center around a holiday from St Patrick's day to July 4th to Halloween to Christmas.  

Typically when I read short story collections, I don't typically love them because I want so much more from the stories and they feel short and choppy with the limited pages, but not so in this one.  I felt as though the author was able to create full stories in quick pages and nothing felt as though it was instalove!  Each story had a great intro, heart and conclusion and there wasn't one that I didn't like less (although I am partial to dogs over cats!).  

I read this book around the Christmas and before reading I didn't know different holidays were included, so I wish I had been able to read each story around the holiday it is focused on, so I suggest that to future readers!


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 124 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, December 20, 2020

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

It was such a good week and weekend of reading!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
Rachel to the Rescue by Elinor Lipman
The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little
Find Me in Havana by Serena Burdick
Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd

Currently Reading:
The Watchmaker of Dachau by Carly Schawbowski

Next on the TBR pile:
Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst

Friday, December 18, 2020

Review: The Last to See Her by Courtney Evan Tate

The Last to See Her
by Courtney Evan Tate

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

Goodreads:  A woman disappears into the dark city night…

Gen is on the verge of a divorce from her cheating husband. When her sister, Meg, has a convention to attend in the Big Apple, she invites Gen along to celebrate her newly found freedom. But the perfect sisters’ getaway quickly goes awry when a tipsy Gen defiantly throws her wedding ring off the hotel room’s balcony. Then, wanting some fresh air, she decides to take a late-evening walk alone and vanishes without a trace.

The investigation that follows uncovers secrets—and betrayals—between sisters and spouses that will twist the truth in on itself until nothing is clear.

What really happened to Gen and who, besides Meg, was the last to see her?


Kritters Thoughts:  Gen and Meg are sisters and as Gen is finalizing her divorce, Meg invites her to New York City as she is attending a conference and Gen can make a girls weekend out of it.  It is all fun on the first night as they drink and have a good time, but that is it - Gen goes missing and Meg must drop everything to try to find her sister.  

Switching between the here and now and into the past and switching between multiple perspectives, this book kept me reading, as the pacing was on point, but towards the end of the book when the clues started to fit together - it got weird!  As this is a mystery/thriller, I don't want to spoil too much, but I must say that I was on board with the who and the what up until a point and then I wasn't.  A lot of my ratings of a mystery/thriller are based on who ends up being the culprit and how I feel about the reveal and this one was just ok in my book.    

I would read more from this author because I liked the writing and the pacing which matter in this genre.  I will judge her plotting on more than one book, so will have to come back to my thoughts on that after another read or two.  


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 123 out of 100

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

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Review: the Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

The Twelve Dates of Christmas
by Jenny Bayliss 

Publisher: GP Putnam's Sons
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  'Tis the season for finding romance in this hilarious and uplifting holiday read

When it comes to relationships, thirty-four-year-old Kate Turner is ready to say "Bah, humbug." The sleepy town of Blexford, England, isn't exactly brimming with prospects, and anyway, Kate's found fulfillment in her career as a designer, and in her delicious side job baking for her old friend Matt's neighborhood café. But then her best friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises to help singles find love before the holidays. Twenty-three days until Christmas. Twelve dates with twelve different men. The odds must finally be in her favor . . . right?

Yet with each new date more disastrous than the one before--and the whole town keeping tabs on her misadventures--Kate must remind herself that sometimes love, like mistletoe, shows up where it's least expected. And maybe, just maybe, it's been right under her nose all along. . . .
 


Kritters Thoughts:  Kate Turner is back in her small hometown in England and there is an extreme lack of eligible men coming into her life, so she signs up for the perfect rotation of dates, twelve of them leading up to Christmas.  

As in every romance book, the journey is really the reason for the book.  The reader knows where the book will probably end up, happily ever after is a good reason to read romance!  I liked Kate and Matt's story, even though I have read my fair share of romance and especially ones with holiday themes, this one felt unique and I wouldn't mind seeing it be turned into a Hallmark or Lifetime movie for next holiday season.  

My favorite thing about this book was all the ups and downs of the dates.  I couldn't wait to read the activity and the character that Kate would meet next and see where each one went.  I want to sign up a single friend for this and see how twelve dates during the holiday season go!

I hope to read more from this author both in and out of the holiday season!


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 109 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.


Monday, December 14, 2020

Review: The Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry

The Perfect Love Song
by Patti Callahan Henry

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Can one song change the course of a life?

Brothers Jimmy and Jack Sullivan live a nomadic life doing what they love: touring with their band, The Unknown Souls. But Jack’s recent engagement to Kara has everyone looking forward to a Christmas destination wedding in Ireland.

Unlike his brother, Jimmy never expected to fall in love. But he feels a sense of peace and happiness whenever he’s around Kara’s best friend, Charlotte—which has him wondering what he’s missing. Over Thanksgiving, Jimmy and Charlotte write a song while sitting together on the back porch. When the band sings it at a Christmas concert the next night, Jimmy insists it’s the perfect love song—but a manager for another famous duo is adamant that it’s the perfect Christmas song. Before Jimmy knows what’s happening, he’s on tour with the hottest country band around and suddenly everyone knows his name.

But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Jimmy finds himself far away from those he loves—especially Charlotte. Only a Christmas miracle—or two—will be able to lead Jimmy back to Ireland, to his brother, and to love.


Kritters Thoughts:  Two brothers are the heart of a band, but after one writes a story to express his love for his girlfriend he is discovered and starts making decisions that are out of his character and are putting his priorities out of alignment.  

All around this book was just an ok read for me.  The characters were fine and the plot was ok, but nothing stood out and made me want to send this book to all the readers in my circle.  With a cast of characters, I had to take some notes to keep everyone straight as to who was in love with whom and some main quantifiers about each.  With a short and sweet holiday book, this felt distracting and took away from my reading experience.  

On a book blog, this is weird to say, but I think I would rather see this storyline in movie form rather than book.  I think it could make a sweet Hallmark/Lifetime holiday movie and I probably would really enjoy it!

I could argue that this book isn't as much a Christmas book as the others that I read during this season.  Yes, there was a wedding on Christmas day and a song, but for me this book didn't feel like Christmas.  This is completely a personal opinion, but for me this book didn't give me that holiday vibe like the others I have read.  


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 126 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, December 13, 2020

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

It was a great week and weekend of reading, counting down the days til I close the laptop (on work) and get to spend countless hours reading!!

A
 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
The Return by Nicholas Sparks
Savage Road by Chris Hauty
The Winter Berry House by Caroline Flynn
The Silent House by Nell Pattison

Currently Reading:
Rachel to the Rescue by Elinor Lipman

Next on the TBR pile:
The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little

Friday, December 11, 2020

Review: Vacation by Jane Green

Vacation
by Jane Green

Publisher: Kensington Books
Pages: 325
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Just when she’d sworn off men for good, Sarah Evans met Eddie. Sarah was a magazine editor, living in Manhattan, and loving her life—except for the heartbreaks. A successful real estate developer, Eddie was a breath of fresh air, a meeting of minds—and bodies. Soon came wedded bliss, baby number one—and the proverbial move to the suburbs . . 
 
You just sit there like a slob while I do all the work. Nine years later, this is increasingly what goes through Sarah’s mind when she looks at Evan, propped in front of the TV with a beer, ignoring their two children. The truth is, she misses her old life. She misses the old Eddie. She can’t help wondering if she’d be happier alone . . .
 
When Eddie’s job sends him to Chicago indefinitely, Sarah shocks him by suggesting a trial separation. But she knows it’s just a precursor to divorce—even if Eddie chooses to think of it as a “vacation.” Yet a lot can change—on both sides—as time goes by. And once Christmas arrives, Sarah and Eddie might re-discover gifts they’d forgotten they had . . .


Kritters Thoughts:  An interesting story that takes place right before the holidays as a couple takes a break from each other to see if a permanent break is best for them and their family or if they can take the "vacation" and remember what they love most about each other.

Sarah and Eddie had the perfect relationship with love and laughter at the center.  With kids and jobs and the crazy of family life, they have grown apart and aren't making the effort to work daily on their marriage and their relationship.  I love how this separation came about and was easy for them to call it temporary and see if it would eventually become permanent.  I appreciated the journey as both characters made changes to potentially be better in the relationship.  

This book isn't a typical holiday book and I wouldn't put it on your must read during the holiday season.  The Christmas holiday is where the book concludes, but doesn't play a large role in the book itself.  It can be read all year round, but it is a nice short and sweet book to read in the middle of those larger heftier reads.  


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 125 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.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Review: One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

One More for Christmas
by Sarah Morgan

Publisher: HQN
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  For sisters Samantha and Ella Mitchell, Christmas is their most precious time of the year—a time for togetherness, love and celebration. Most of all, it’s about making up for everything their childhood Christmases lacked. But this year, they’ll be buying presents for the most unexpected guest of all—their estranged mother. It’s been five years since they last saw each other. But when their mom calls out of the blue and promises that this Christmas will be different, Samantha and Ella cautiously agree to spend it all together…

Gayle Mitchell is at the top of her career, but her success has come at a price—her relationship with her daughters. She never seemed to say or do the right things. Her tough-love approach was designed to make them stronger, but instead managed to push them away…until a brush with her own mortality forces Gayle to make amends. As the snowflakes fall on their first family celebration in years, the Mitchell women must learn that sometimes facing up to the past is all you need to heal your heart…


Kritters Thoughts:  Two sisters who had a hard childhood both reacted in different ways to the hard times they had, but through it all they found solace in each other.  Samantha is the older sister and from her childhood has put all of her focus into her career as she books dream vacations that create unforgettable holiday experiences.  She doesn't let any one close other than her sister and finds work success to be the true measure of her self worth.  Ella is the younger sister and love and family are the most important thing to her.  She has decided to be a stay at home mom and put her husband and child first and go in the most opposite direction from her childhood.  Their mother has her own story and I don't want to spoil as those details come out in just the right way and illuminate how these girls have become the adults they have and one Christmas season will change everything.

I love that this author allowed each woman the chance to tell their side of the story throughout the book.  To switch between each woman and see from their perspective, the reader gets to see their true intentions and understand why they do the things they do.  A mother daughter and sister love story where these three women can learn to love each other's past and present and the gifts they each bring to the table.  

A sweet story that could happen at any moment in time, but has something extra when it takes place in Scotland during the Christmas season.  This is another one of those stories that I wouldn't mind seeing on the Hallmark or Lifetime channel really soon!  


Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 121 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.



Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Review: The Christmas Swap by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Swap
by Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell
Pages: 176
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  All Emma Daley wants this holiday season is a white Christmas. But the young teacher and struggling musician sure can't find that in sunny Arizona. Luckily, there's someone living in a perfect mountain home in the Colorado Rockies looking to make a vacation trade this year.

Tyler Prescott is an in-demand songwriter and talented musician who put his own singing career on hold to write songs for celebrity acts to perform. When his mother convinces him to do a vacation trade for Christmas, he never imagined one of the houseguests would be so sweet--or so strikingly pretty. Naturally, he decides to stick around, and, to get better acquainted, he poses as the house's caretaker. But when Emma's friend Gillian discovers his true identity and sets her sights on him, things get . . . messy.


Kritters Thoughts:  Emma Daley has spent many holiday seasons with her friend and their family as her parents are doing volunteer work in Africa and put this work ahead of spending the holidays as a family.  This holiday season they will escape the heat of Arizona and she will see her first snow as they house swap and head to Colorado.  

Tyler Prescott is ready to house swap and see some sunshine during this holiday season.  His family heads there as he is delayed, but maybe he will just spend this season under a guise and have a great holiday season with some strangers.

I always get nervous reading books, especially romance books that are light on the pages.  I feel as though the romance can seem rushed and instalove, but that wasn't the case in this one, for me this book progressed so well and with ease that these fears were calmed quickly.  

I love the innocence of Melody Carlson.  As a Christian fiction author she keeps the sexy scenes out of her books and I think that allowed for this love story to bloom slowly but surely because they didn't have to jump into bed!

If you love the holiday Hallmark movies, then this will be a great one to curl up with during the holiday season. 


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

Ebook 2020 Challenge: 105 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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