Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023 wrap up

WELL, I thought 2022 was going to be my saddest reading year, but 2023 was worse.  It was a year full of other hobbies taking center stage - making a new house a home, setting up a new garden, and welcoming a new puppy into my house!  All of these things took my time and attention, so hopefully 2024 reading will take up more of my time!

  Let's compare 2023 to 2022.  

Total number of books I read in 2023: 49
Total number of books I read in 2022: 91

Total number of pages I flipped, clicked, and so on in 2022: 14,483
Total number of pages I flipped, clicked, and so on in 2022: 29,355

I have been keeping track of WHERE my books were taking place all year. Below is the outcome.  For the second year in a row, my lack of reading absolutely impacted where I traveled.  I didn't even read a book in my home state of Virginia!  I visited 12 states this year and this is a number I would for sure like to increase in 2024.

States that made the list:
Maine                     Connecticut                Illinois
New York                Massachusetts          Colorado
Maryland               Ohio                             California
Pennsylvania        Wisconsin                   Washington

My country number went down again this year and I would love to travel more in 2024, so I want to try to keep an eye on this number and be intentional with my reading.  

Countries accounted for:
India        France            United Kingdom

Come back on January 2nd to see what I hope for in 2024! 

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Review: A December to Remember by Jenny Bayliss

A December to Remember
by Jenny Bayliss

Publisher: GP Outnam's Sons
Pages: 413
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Three bickering half sisters. One unique antiques shop. The coziest holiday season of their lives. Wildly different half sisters Maggie, Simone, and Star have hardly seen one another since their sprightly summers at Rowan Thorp, their eccentric father Augustus’s home. Known for his bustling approach to the knick-knack shop he ran, Augustus was loved by all and known by none, not even his daughters. Now, years later, the three estranged women are called upon for the reading of Augustus’s will and quickly realize he's orchestrated a series of hoops through which they must jump to unlock their inheritance—the last thing any of them want to do. But Maggie and Star desperately need the money. And who would Simone be to resist? Through hilarious goose chases, small-town mishaps, and one heart-warming winter solstice celebration, love, hope, and reconcilation is in the air, if only the three sisters can let themselves grasp it.

Kritters Thoughts:  A story that I have read before where a family member has passed and they have left their kin with a charge in their will and their goal is to bring the family back together.  These three half sisters all shared one father who was eccentric, but cared for each of his daughters and hoped that they would have each other when he was gone.  Augustus left his daughters a treasure hunt and a challenge.  

This was such a fun ride.  I loved the uniqueness of the sisters and I believe that all readers could find themselves in at least one of them and they are each at crossroads in their lives where having their sisters will help them cross each bridge.  While there is some romance in this book, it isn't the full focus and instead the role of both your internal family and found family in a community really shines in this book.  

My second Jenny Bayliss holiday book and now an author that I hope to read during each holiday season as her books are just fun to read with great characters and a wonderfully joyful holiday setting.  

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

Ebook 2023 Challenge: 9 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.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Review: Christmas Presents by Lisa Unger

Christmas Presents
by Lisa Unger

Publisher: Mysterious Press
Pages: 260
Format: audiobook
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads: Madeline Martin has built a life for herself as the young owner of a thriving business, The Next Chapter Bookshop, despite her tragic childhood and now needing to care for her infirm father. When Harley Granger, a failed novelist turned true crime podcaster, drifts into her shop in the days before Christmas, he seems intent on digging up events that Madeline would much rather forget. She’s the only surviving victim of Evan Handy, the man who was convicted of murdering her best friend Steph, and is suspected in the disappearance of two sisters, also good friends of Madeline’s, who have been missing for nearly a decade. It’s an investigation that has obsessed her father Sheriff James Martin right up until his stroke took his faculties.

Harley Granger has a gift for seeing things that others miss. He wasn’t much of a novelist, but his work as a true crime author and podcaster has earned him fame and wealth—and some serious criticism for his various unethical practices. Still, visiting Little Valley to be closer to his dying father has caused him to look into a case that many people think is closed—and some want reopened. And he has a lot of questions about the night Stephanie Cramer was killed, Ainsley and Sam Wallace disappeared, and Madeline Martin was left for dead, bleeding out on a riverbank.

Since Evan Handy went to jail, three other young women have gone missing, most recently a young college dropout named Lolly. Five young women missing in the same area in a decade. Are they connected? Was Evan Handy innocent after all? Or was there some else there that night? Someone who is still satisfying his dark appetites?

As Christmas approaches and a blizzard bears down, Madeline and her childhood friend Badger return to a past they both hoped was dead—to find the missing Lolly and to answer questions that have haunted them both, discovering that the truth is more terrible and much closer to home than they think.

Kritters Thoughts:  A book I read solely via audiobook and what I believe to be my first thriller audiobook experience and will absolutely not be my last!  Not my first Lisa Unger book, so I knew before going in that I was probably going to enjoy, but to experience in a different medium was fun to try.  

The main character is a bookstore owner, a future dream of my own, and she is living in the same small town that she was raised, but is trying to forget and hide some things of the past.  BUT in walks a famous author who has a history of digging into things of the past and putting together podcasts to uncover secrets of the past.  Madeline Martin may be a bit worried as to what Harley Granger may find and what she may have to confront.  

Listening to the book was such a fun experience.  To listen to a thriller and have the same joy of wanting to keep reading and reading and not stopping was awesome!  I kept cleaning parts of my house and sitting in my car while running errands so I could continue listening to this riveting thriller.  

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, December 12, 2023

Review: The Princess by Wendy Holden

The Princess
Wendy Holden

Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 416
Format: book
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Britain, 1961: A bouncing blond baby is born to Viscount Althorp, heir to the Spencer earldom, and his wife Frances. Diana grows up amid the fallout of her parents' messy divorce. She struggles at school. Moving to London, she takes menial jobs as a cleaner and nanny. Her refuge throughout is romantic novels. She dreams of falling in love and being rescued by a handsome prince.

In royal circles, there is concern about the Prince of Wales. Nearly 30, Charles remains unmarried; the right girl needs to be found, and fast. She must be young, aristocratic and come to the royal family without any past liaisons.

The eighteen-year-old Diana Spencer is just about the only candidate. Her desperation to be loved dovetails perfectly with royal desperation for a bride. But as the ruthless Palace machine starts up, there are challenges for Diana to face plus mysteries she can't fathom, from the strangeness of life within the palace walls to a certain Mrs. Parker Bowles. Can her romantic dream survive the forces that shape her into a global icon?

Kritters Thoughts:  The third in a series that I have just adored reading.  Each book has focused on a woman that is in one way or another connected to the royal family and I have loved each one - maybe because I am a little obsessed with all things ROYAL!  

This book focuses on Princess Diana, but it goes back in time before she was the woman we all fell in love with.  And the way in which the author presented her story was just genius - without spoiling too much, Princess Diana is recounting her story to an old friend that she reconnects with and I loved hearing her story from her own point of view.  

We all know the Princess Diana story or most of us do, but I even learned a few things while reading this book.  I know this is historical fiction and the author may have taken some liberties, but I loved how she presented Princess Diana.  For me one of the things that stood out was Diana's age and how young she was when she was thrust into the spotlight and was confronted by the world's opinion.  I really thought about her age when it comes to Charles and Camilla and how naive she was and how much she may have not realized until it was just too late to change.  

I am sad to say I think this was the last of a trilogy, but I sure hope Wendy Holden has something else up her sleeve because the way she writes these real people is just magical.  

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

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, December 4, 2023

Review: A Christmas in the Alps by Melody Carlson

A Christmas in the Alps
by Melody Carlson

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

Goodreads:  After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth.

During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who's on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone's family's clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

Kritters Thoughts:  Simone has spent the last few years taking care of her family and now that her family is gone, she can concentrate on herself and when she finds a mysterious note amongst her great-grandmother's things, she is sent on a mission!  Her great-grandmother has left a treasure, but it is across the Atlantic ocean and Simone has a great fear of flying that she must first conquer before she can find the treasure, but it is a great excuse to go to the French Alps and find where her family comes from and reconnect with them.

I may have been a little nervous in the beginning with Simone's intense vibes regarding her seatmate on the plane but those soon went away when she got to France and the book got underway.  I loved all the characters and that there was some realism with not all the French characters speaking English and there needing some translation help throughout the book.  I know this plotline is used often, where someone must go track down relatives without the aid of anyone, but for me it is one I enjoy to read!

This was a sweet novella of sorts that I would suggest for a weekend during this holiday season with the snow on the French Alps and taking place just before Christmas, this is a great book to curl up with during this season.  

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

Ebook 2023 Challenge: 8 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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