Review: Anything for You by Kristan Higgins

Anything for You is the fifth book in the Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins. It’s the story of the other twin, Connor and the book that I couldn’t wait to read once I read Colleen’s story. Certainly it’s one of a series, but it’s also a fantastic stand alone book, so don’t let that deter you from this fantastic author.

Anything for You is Connor’s story. He’s been in love with a girl forever and then some. The only problem is that she doesn’t think they can work things out. So, Connor waits and hopes and waits.

Jessica met Connor when they were only little and in a terrible accident involving their dog and her little brother who happens to have special needs. Since then, they have both tried to move on and leave things be but couldn’t. Jessica in particular, has been busy trying to give her brother a good home, a supportive environment and a good income. In her mind, her brother, who has very special needs due to nothing he’s ever done, deserves to have things made as easy as she can for him. Since their parents were both alcoholics and completely unreliable, Jessica has taken it upon herself to give him the best future she can.

It’s not an easy situation for Jessica, she works without a break, moves them from a rental home to a more permanent house always, always putting her brother first. When Connor comes along supportive, loving and caring, it’s almost beyond her to push him away. She’s had a life of nothing but sacrifices. It’s almost inhuman to have to push her one love away.

But there are issues to work out and her brother is only one of the problems standing in their way. Their father suddenly reappears in town interested in establishing a relationship with them, there is someone at work creating trouble for Jessica and Connor wants more than a simple relationship from her. He wants forever.

The way these two work things out is yet another triumphantly beautiful story by Kristan Higgins. The town is fast becoming a favourite of mine with those lovely, hilarious secondary characters and their antics made me laugh out loud more than once. Still, they are secondary to this lovely story and finally, Connor and Jessica do get their happy ending.

Absolutely another book I’d recommend from Kristan Higgins. She’s truly a very special writer, one that can weave sadness and humour into her stories without belittling the struggles or dimming the humour. Her books are a great choice and I have yet to read one of hers that’s a dud. Still, this one is truly special, so if you’re looking for a great read, one that will take you in and introduce you to a great set of characters while telling you a beautiful love story, look no further.

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

Note: Click on cover to go to site.

Review: Still Alice

This is another unusual read for me. I picked up this book and got caught up in the premise. What happens when a renowned Harvard professor gets diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. How does she cope? How does her family cope? How do priorities change and how does the way they relate to each other change?

Alice Howland is that Harvard professor. She’s known far and wide for her knowledge and insight. She leads a very busy, fulfilling life with her husband, also a hard-working professional and their three grown children.

We meet her as she’s rushing from one conference to another, presenting here, lecturing there. She’s professional, intelligent, able to multitask…and then she can’t remember a word at her presentation. It’s nothing that hasn’t happened to everyone at least once, but it keeps happening to Alice. Then there are the little things that she just can’t find and one day, she gets lost while running the same, familiar route.

Not being stupid, Alice realizes something is wrong and goes to check it out. The doctor not only confirms something is wrong, he explains it has probably been wrong for quite some time, she has just been able to cope because she’s very intelligent and she hasn’t noticed.

Once Alice finds out her diagnosis, the book becomes a map through the coping mechanisms of Alice and her family. We get to see it all through Alice…though she isn’t always the most reliable witness and gets worse as her illness progresses. She forgets who the characters in the book are and, at times, we have to decipher where she is or who she’s talking to from clues in her description.

The relationships in the family change with the illness. The relationship that I found most interesting was the one with her youngest daughter. Alice’s most troubling daughter, Lydia slowly becomes a supportive ally. Alice has to learn to think differently when she can’t simply use dialogue and words to analyze others. And through her new lenses, she sees things in Lydia that she had missed before.

This is definitely not a romance book or something I would normally read but I found it fascinating. One, it was really realistic. I could tell the author had done her research on the disease. Two, it was paced really well and we went from not knowing to knowing, organically and smoothly. And finally, the writing was magnetic. I really couldn’t put the thing down. I wanted to know what was going to happen and what the result would be for Alice.

Certainly, it’s not a book I’d recommend for someone searching for romance. It’s a book I’d recommend for someone looking for an interesting, quick, captivating read. It’s a story of a family coping with a life-changing event and how their relationships alter and change as they do. The book’s portrait of the illness is respectful but still manages to carry a punch in the story. All of it added up for a great read for me and explains why the book became not only a New York Times Bestseller but also a movie.

(credit:goodreads.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

 

Review: Victoria

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is not my usual genre of books. It’s the story of Queen Victoria from the time she became Queen to when she married Prince Albert. It’s written by Daisy Goodwin who has a degree in history from Cambridge and has written other New York Times bestselling novels all about historical figures. I have never read a book by Daisy Goodwin and I rarely read nonfiction. I picked this one up for a moment, read a paragraph and was hooked. I tried to put it down, I actually did slide it back on the shelf, then I walked away and I knew that paragraph would be haunting me for the rest of the weekend and I’d have to return to find out what happened.

I bought the book instead.

I’m glad I did because Victoria was just delicious. I’ve gone and done a bit of searching since just to see if it was accurate and the truth is Daisy Goodwin got all the facts straight. On top of that, she wove them into a wonderful story. That certainly takes talent.

One of my favourite parts about this story is the transition of Victoria from the shy, protected girl we meet at the beginning of the book to the Queen we have in the end. It was quite the transformation. Her mother kept Victoria ‘protected’ while she was a child by not allowing her to see or meet anyone. She was carefully schooled by people she chose and saw only those she approved, which meant that, by the time she was eighteen, Victoria was so sheltered she was very ill equipped to reign.

Her mother’s plan had been to make her daughter dependent on her and so reign through her, but Victoria refused to become her mother’s shadow and to bow to her wishes. Instead, she tries to do things on her own. How she manages to not only succeed but to do so well is the meat of the story.

Queen Victoria was the longest reigning monarch in England until Queen Elizabeth II just surpassed her only a few years ago. She also married Prince Albert not out of necessity but out of love, something unheard of in that time period and had 9 children with him though she hated being pregnant. She was an incredible queen, something that was due to her determination, perseverance and talent because she started off with odds severely against her.

This isn’t a romance story, it’s historical fiction. But I was looking for something different. I like women’s lit and, in spite of the time period change, this is certainly the story of a woman coming of age and finding her purpose and role from a very challenging set of circumstances. It’s incredible how fast those pages turned when I read this book. It seemed to end too quickly.

I would absolutely recommend it. It’s got a fantastic story of triumph over adversity, historical facts, a love story and historical kings and queens all in one great book. Plus, it has a ton of intrigue but not a lot of fighting, which I adore. If you’re a fan of fiction or history, this one is a great one to try. If you do, let me know what you think of it.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Review: Waiting on you by Kristan Higgins

Waiting on you is the third Blue Heron novel by Kristan Higgins. It’s still a complete stand alone story and well worth picking up by anyone interested in contemporary romance. It’s the story of Colleen, one of the two twins who run their own little business in the tiny town.

Waiting on you tells the story of Colleen, a happy, beautiful girl who specializes in giving advice about love. She has made matches around the little town she lives in and they have all ended up at the altar. However, Colleen stays away from matching herself. She was burned years ago and once was enough. Now she’s happy with helping her brother run their pub and keeping others happy. Herself? She has her big, silly Rufus, her adorable Irish Wolfhound, to keep her company.

Lucas is our hero and the man responsible for Colleen’s heart break all those years ago. Lucas has been glad to stay away from the only girl who’s ever mattered to him. Years ago, life made him leave and he’s not one to ignore duty. He’s been dealing with it, working away for years.

Life, however has other plans for both Lucas and Colleen and suddenly, Lucas is back in town. Neither is prepared for what meeting again face to face will do to them. Easy-going, never quiet Colleen is at a loss for words and Lucas can’t seem to find his reasons for leaving the town again.

These two have a history, a beautiful delicious history that we get to see as the book goes on. They also have more than one reason to be together but they seem unable to see it.

Colleen and Lucas have to work out their history, unravel what happened to mess up their first attempt at love all while surviving the issues of their quirky families. The story of how they do just that is hilarious, touching and beautiful. I loved it so much I had to go back to the store to get the next book in the series. I just couldn’t go without another book by Kristan Higgins.

This one is certainly one I’d recommend to contemporary readers of romance but also to those who would like a book with humour and a great family story. Kristan Higgins’ secondary characters are absolutely a delight and in this instalment they certainly don’t disappoint. This one is a great read and a keeper on that wonderful keeper shelf.

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

 

Review: The next best thing by Kristan Higgins

The Next Best Thing is an absolute gem. It’s slightly different than the other Kristan Higgins books I have read and the differences are all good. It’s still got her fantastic humour and great characters but this one has a little bit more. I had to read it in one go. There was no way I could put this one down, I read it and I cried and laughed. It was just incredible.

The Next Best Thing tells the story of Lucy who is a widow while being in her early twenties. Her late husband was Jimmy and we get to know him well in the book, because Lucy still adores him.

Lucy met Jimmy through his brother Ethan, a friend she knew at cooking school. They met, saw each other and that was it. One look was all it took. They were married not long after and Jimmy died only months after that.

To say Lucy was devastated by the loss is to put it mildly. The book picks up the story five and a half years after Jimmy’s death when Lucy decides to start moving on but her heart has other ideas. She has panic attacks and crying bouts. It’s not easy to leave behind the love of your life.

Helping her through the entire mess is Ethan. He’s like a rock for her. Over and over, she insists that she and Ethan can’t take things to another level because she’s not ready and he respects that. It takes Lucy a long time to figure out what her heart has been waiting for and to find the courage to act on it.

Being happily married myself, I can’t imagine the sort of loss that Lucy bravely faces. I cried for her broken heart and the pieces that were gone. I truly believed someone would go through the grief and dark places that Lucy goes through. I understood her stumbling attempts at trying to put her life back together. Grief isn’t neat and orderly, it’s gripping and devastating. People don’t emerge from that sort of loss complete and without scars.

But the moving, incredible part of the story, was Ethan. Solidly supportive, he hides his own feelings in order to be there for her. And, though I was pretty ready to not like Ethan for taking Lucy away from Jimmy, by the end of the book, I adored this hero, who had stood by her for years waiting for his happily ever after.

There are also great secondary characters here, in Lucy’s family and friends. I won’t spoil the book by giving away too many details, but I will say that they were warm, funny and inviting. I would have loved to visit and meet them all.

There are twists and turns in the story. Things are revealed at the end that made me stare at my dogs in awe and get goosebumps up and down my arms. I cried and laughed and rejoiced when the book arrived at the ending. I couldn’t wait for Ethan and Lucy to get together.

I can tell this is one story where Kristan Higgins has put a lot of work. It’s not just a happy, go lucky contemporary book. This is one that would definitely win awards.

If you haven’t already realized it, I would strongly recommend this book to anyone. I really believe this is an example of romance writing at it’s best. Not simple fluffy story, this is a true love story in all its glory. It’s one to treasure.

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

 

Review: All I ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins

All I ever Wanted was not just another hit by Kristan Higgins, it was really special. It has the usual great elements I expect from this author, a great story, fantastic characters and hilarious humour but there was something really special about this one that made me want to start to re-read it the moment I finished it. Looking back, I can’t decide what is the one thing that made it stand out for me. There are quite a few.

For one Callie, the heroine, was so nice she might have gone over into the silly area if she hadn’t been called on her overly-nice issue. She’s literally nice to those who are mean to her. Thankfully, she wises up and even doses out a little revenge. Callie stayed happy, nice and safely away from being too sugary.

Ian is our hero and he’s just hilarious. He’s formal, tense and just about every awkward attribute you can imagine. He’s truly good looking but he seems unable to know what to do with all the attention that gets him and more than once he ends up tongue-tied and staring like a deer in the headlights.

The way they meet is delicious because, at the get-go, they actually dislike each other. That in itself created more than a few fireworks and the chemistry didn’t let up. Ian isn’t one for romance or poems. This is no Cyrano. He’s a great vet, realistic in that he gets alone with animals and freezes in front of a gaggle of little girls. I have to be honest and add that he reminded me of my hubby. I absolutely adored him.

Callie has an adoring dog and lives with her grumpy grandfather. I was cautious about this living arrangement at first. How could a grandfather be funny or interesting? This guy was absolutely hilarious. He’s grumpy and really funny.

In fact, one of the things I loved the most about this book were the secondary characters. This was a town I wanted to live in. Callie’s family, from the icy mother to the quirky sister are awesome and I looked forward to their interactions with each other and with her. They deliver great lines and drew more than one chuckle from me as I read.

Finally, Callie gets herself into some fixes that are just awesome in how comical they are. There are limitations to how funny an author can make a situation due to the fact that everything has to be translated into written words. Expressions, noises, smells, in real life they are powerful contributors to humour. Kristan Higgins does an amazing job with humour. I felt like I could hear, smell and see every hilarious detail. And they were simply delicious.

An absolute keeper, I can easily recommend this one as one of my favourites from this author. If you haven’t tried Kristan Higgins yet, do it and do it with this book. I know I was glad I found it and even gladder I tried her. She’s one of the best out there.

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

 

Review: In your dreams by Kristan Higgins

In your dreams was another gem by Kristan Higgins. Hard to know how she comes up with not only a great couple but a new, fantastic set of quirky secondary characters. Add a great plot and you have a great book.

Emmaline Neal not only has an adorable German Shepherd puppy, she also has an invitation to go to the wedding of her ex-fiance. Now, going to a wedding of an ex would be something I wouldn’t do because it’d be too difficult and I wouldn’t put myself through that, but Em is just a sweetie and doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, even her ex’s. So, off she goes. Still, she can’t go alone, so she asks super hottie, Jack Holland to go with her.

Jack has his own reasons to go. He’s in a bit of a private version of torture. A while back, he saved four children from drowning in icy water and the result has left him with attention he doesn’t really handle well and a bad case of PTSD.

I immediately loved that Jack wasn’t perfect. I don’t do well with characters that don’t have flaws and Jack certainly has them. I take off my hat to Kristan Higgins because she does a fantastic job of explaining PTSD from a male point of view. It was realistic, authentic and, at times, even funny.

Of course, there’s a twist and, this is a love story after all, Jack and Em end up together. Still, there is a wonderful story here with that hilarious humour I adore from Kristan Higgins and a ton of awesome characters to enjoy. From Jack’s ex-wife to Em’s family, there are just fun parts everywhere and I enjoyed every word.

I certainly would recommend this one. To be honest, just about every book I’ve found from Kristan Higgins has ended up with my recommendation. She’s a super-reliable author and has made it to my automatic-buy list because as soon as I finished this one, I was in withdrawal and the only thing that would end that pain was another book by Kristan Higgins. She’s just awesome.

(Credit: kristanhiggins.com)

(Credit: kristanhiggins.com)

Note: to go to site, click on cover.

Late Post – Review: Friction by Sandra Brown

Friction is another nail-biter from Sandra Brown. From the very first paragraph, to the last sentence, I was caught by the story and could not put the book down. Every time I got to the end of a chapter, something monumental would be revealed and I had to keep reading. A roller coaster of a book, this one is a definite keeper.

Friction is the story of Holly, a judge and Crawford, a Texas Ranger who’s trying to get his daughter back. They meet inside the courtroom where Holly is ruling on his custody plea. Before she can try and do that, there’s a commotion and a gunman enters the courtroom shooting.

I hadn’t read much about the back, I just started on the book and it pays to not know what is going to happen, because each turn and twist left me gasping, staring at the book in disbelief–and there are a lot of turns and twists.

I loved that Holly was a professional woman in a job that’s not usually reserved for the heroine. I liked that she had a job in law enforcement. And Holly takes that responsibility very seriously, further endearing her to me.

Crawford, on the other hand, has had a few too many punches from life and is a little cynical. He doesn’t care who understands him or who hates him. When he’s trying to help Holly out, his attitude sometimes backfires and causes more difficulties. He’s still hard to resist. Under all that tough bravado, he’s got a heart of gold and will give everything in his power to help out someone in distress. That’s hard not to like.

This one is a well-written, powerfully addictive book. One that I loved reading during the hot summer days and will enjoy again and again. If you haven’t tried Sandra Brown, check this one out and, if you’re a fan, don’t miss out. This one is a keeper.

(credit:sandrabrownbooklist.com)

(credit:sandrabrownbooklist.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Sneak Review: The Girl on the Train

I have to admit, the book is not romance and not on my list of books to read this year or even on my radar when I saw it. I shouldn’t have read it. I’m a romance fan and I should have integrity…but a friend lent it to me if I wanted to give it a try. It was free and in my hands. I just couldn’t resist.

The Girl on the Train is a thriller. It’s the story of Rachel, who travels back and forth on the train every day to London and, one day witnesses something on one of the houses nearby that makes her a witness to a tragedy.

Because it’s a thriller, I don’t want to reveal what happens, not even a little bit. You can go on line and find those spoilers there for you, but I don’t want to harm the reading experience of those potential readers by disclosing too much. Instead, I’ll ramble on about what I liked about this book and what I thought of it.

For one, the tone. It’s written in the first person and, when done right, that’s captivating. My impression of Rachel was both powerful and personal. I knew her inside out within a couple of chapters.

The other thing that’s done really well is the pace. It grew slowly and picked up speed gently, almost without letting me realize it, I was suddenly flipping pages and things were going nuts. I stopped doing anything else and ignored my husband because I had to finish this book.

Since it’s set in London, the tone and expressions of every character is very British. I loved that. It was so accurate that I could practically hear the accent. I particularly loved the setting and the tea references. So UK.

It was realistic. That was something else I appreciated about it immensely. It didn’t have a radical, extraordinary ending that threw everything else I had read into question. No, the ending actually answered questions and fit like a beautiful final piece into the rest of the story.

Now, if you’d like to try this book, I think you can already tell that I would definitely recommend it, it’s written by Paula Hawkins and it’s her first book. It’s a bestseller, so there are definitely a lot of people out there who’d recommend it but, since it’s her first book, there aren’t any more to read until she comes out with the next one. I have a solution to that dilemma. If you like this book, I’d recommend Sandra Brown. I know she writes romance but it’s thriller romance and absolutely a page-turner. If you like this one, you’ll also love Sandra Brown.

(credit:wikipedia)

(credit:wikipedia)

 

 

 

Warning: Obsession ahead

I have discovered Kristan Higgins and I can’t seem to be able to read anything else. There might be a fair amount of her books coming your way in the next bit or so. I’ll also read other authors, but I thought it’s only fair to warn my lovely readers that there might be a bit of a trend in the books you see reviewed here.

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

She loves animals, has a great sense of humour and is an awesome author…what’s a reader to do? 🙂