Review: The hour I first believed

A friend of mine loaned me the book, The hour I first believed by Wally Lamb. I had to have it read quickly because she needed it back. At over 700 pages, it’s not a tiny book, still I gave it a go…and I got hooked.

It’s odd because this, again, is not my type of book. I’ve never read Wally Lamb and the characters suffer so much that I wanted to stop reading; I’m a big wimp when it comes to characters not being happy. But the story and the writing refused to let me go. This book haunted me for the two days it took me to read it.

The story is about Caelum Quirk who starts out as an unhappy man in his third marriage, stumbling around life and not being very successful at living it. Then, while things around him unravel, Caelum slowly starts to confront the knots that are keeping him prisoner in his own life.

A lot of books are great stories, but few are an amazing experience. This one is. I can see why Oprah would have chosen this author as one of her favourites and picked his books a couple of times. I can see why he made the Bestseller list.

Wally Lamb manages to write the ordinary, haphazard occurrences of Caelum’s life into a masterpiece of miracles. Along the way, Caelum is transformed. His beliefs and doubts have completely changed. And, as the reader, I got to see it all.

His wife, Maureen is a nurse at Columbine when tragedy struck. This book is based on that fact but the story is only born around it. Maureen suffers from severe PTSD and becomes one of Caelum’s challenges. Along the way, Caelum meets other characters who teach him and push him further along his journey.

There are many things that I absolutely loved about this book. Though I had to read it quickly, I can see how sitting with it and savouring it would be divine. It’s got details and little nuances that need to be noticed along the way. Nothing is really left to chance, this book is written carefully and with clear attention to detail. It took the author 9 years to write and, in my humble opinion, it was worth every moment of those years. From the tone of the narrator, to the pace, to the twists and turns, this is a book to cherish.

(credit: goodreads.com)

 

Up next in books…

My hubby was going to go to the hardware store…so I asked to be dropped off at the local bookstore and…

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Happiness followed.

So these are the books I’ll be rambling about in the next few weeks. I’ve already started Troublemaker by Linda Howard, so that one will come first.

Are you reading anything exciting? Share with me!

Review: Walk Through Fire

Walk Through Fire is the latest Chaos novel by Kristen Ashley. It was one I saw while buying groceries and I thought: ‘I’ll just take a quick read…’. Well, one chapter and I was done. Kristen Ashley is like that. I just can’t read one part. I’m hooked.

Please understand, I was shopping with my hubby at the end of a very long day. We were both tired, hungry and crabby. I didn’t have time to stop and read. I had things to do at home–namely his lovely mother was coming–and not a lot of time to do everything in.

I managed to read one tiny chapter while he put the groceries on the conveyor belt. That was all it took. I bought the book and took it home.

Millie Cross made a mistake a long time ago. A huge one and Logan ‘High’ paid for it. Now, she’s run-in with the old Chaos gang and she’s the most hated woman in the planet for them. They treat her like dirt–Logan included–and she takes it, knowing she hurt him. She hurts and tries to get by. It’s absolutely delicious angst.

Still, how on earth was Kristen going to reconcile these two?

Well, I’m not one to spoil things, so I’ll just settle for telling you that they do reconcile, it’s romance after all, but it’s a credible reconciliation and that was what made me a believer. Millie and Logan don’t just go from hurt to love overnight. Things are worked out and along the way there are misunderstandings and mistakes that are both adorable and believable.

We also find the reason why Millie did what she did. And I won’t reveal it here except to say it was both credible and understandable. Which made that angst all the sweeter because she was an undeserving victim of their hatred.

Like all of Kristen Ashley’s books, this one is a great, long read and that wasn’t a disappointment for yours truly. I love getting into her books because she’s a reliable author, who delivers a great story with solid characters and spicy romance. But a great aspect of her books is the length. There’s nothing better than knowing I’ve got a nice, thick book to read. Heavenly.

This is one I’d recommend for any reader of contemporary romance or those who are into edgy, urban romance. It’s one in the Chaos series but can easily be read alone and it’s certainly a great intro to Kristen Ashley. I would highly recommend it.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Review: Only a kiss

I actually took a while to pick up Only a Kiss. I had just finished another heavy round of work at my DayJob and it drained any of my free time. By the time I got home, I was usually too exhausted to do more than reconnect with my hubby, pet the dogs and crash. So the lovely book sat, untouched and unloved on my desk and I started to wonder if it was worth the read. Was Mary Balogh as good as I remembered or did I just become biased to her writing?

She’s not good. She’s unbelievable. Mary Balogh is absolute gold.

Only a Kiss is an incredible read. It’s part of the Survivors’ Club series but definitely stands alone by itself. It tells the story of Imogen, a widow who witnessed the death of her husband and still carries the scars of that war. She’s hiding, with a couple of friends at Hardford Hall and that’s where our hero finds her.

He’s Percival Hayes, Earl of Hardford and they are at each other’s throats from the get go. His first words to her are, “And who the devil might you be?” since the Hall is his home and he hadn’t expected her to be there. Imogen, though gives back as good as he does and we’re off to a feisty romance.

It’s a credit to Mary Balogh that she can credibly move the characters from dislike to love within the story and do so organically, without my carefully sharpened cynical antennae twitching. But, more than that, the love story was so real that I knew these two had to be together. They were destined for each other, like mint and chocolate.

One other thing I must mention is the inimitable humour in the book. Very British and subtle, it still made me chuckle out loud and turn the pages eagerly. The two ladies that live with Imogen are completely adorable characters who are just a little…off. They collect an assortment of rescued animals that cause the Earl to raise an eyebrow more than once and make the reader laugh at their antics. It’s funny without being ridiculous or forced and, not only does it do wonders for the story, the humour makes the serious parts all that more striking.

This one is an absolute keeper, but most of Mary Balogh’s books are. If you’re a lover of historical romance, don’t miss this one. It’s one of those gems you’ll love like a child and place in a cherished place on your book shelf. I know I have. What a wonderful book.

(credit: amazon.com)

(credit: amazon.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Review: Worth Any Price

I adored Lisa Kleypas’ contemporary books but I was doubtful about her historical ones. I’m very picky about historical romance. The dialogue has to be authentic, the characters true to the times and the plot must be captivating. I picked up Worth Any Price with a heavy dose of skepticism.

Nick Gentry is a man who’s seen the darkest part of society and lived to thrive in it. He’s a Bow Street runner, a sort of hit man who does the undoable for those who can afford it. His assignment is the capture of a Miss Charlotte Howard. Apparently, she has run away from her husband-to-be and is hiding from the man.

They meet under false pretences, but it’s soon apparent to Nick that Charlotte is not a wilful woman but a desperate one who is trying to avoid a fate worse than death at the hands of a very nasty man. In a short time, Nick goes from trying to capture her to offering her his help. The solution he proposes is marriage. To him.

I love stories about marriage of necessity. It gives the couple time to discover each other’s faults and gifts and, while they fall in love with each other, I end up falling in love with them both. Usually, they’re fantastic love stories and this one was no exception. The true journey of the characters starts when they marry and start to support and challenge each other.

Charlotte has to face her enemy and set him straight once and for all–something pretty intimidating for a woman of the time, since men held all the power back then. Nick has to accept his heredity and position in life–something he had been avoiding his entire life.

So was I impressed by Lisa Kleypas? Absolutely. Enough that I’m heading back to the used book store to find other historicals by her and enough that I’m encouraging you, my gentle reader, to give her a try. She has a way with a story that’s captivating and, if you’re a fan of historical romance, she does that beautiful period of time the justice it deserves.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Review: The Look of Love

The Look of Love is the first book in the Sullivan Series. I always like first books in a series because it means there are more to come and, if I like it, more awesome books. So I was really excited about this one.

Though this book deals with a very serious topic, wife abuse, it’s still a light and fluffy read. A great book to have for those hot summer days with a drink by a pool. We get to meet Chloe who ends up stuck in a ditch and meets Chase by accident (sorry about that pun).

Having just come out of a terrible relationship, Chloe is more than a little skeptical about Chase, who seems too good to be true. Still, he persists, helping her, giving her a place to stay and support when she needs it most. Chloe resists, very hesitantly at first then cautiously but Chase is the best sort of hero, patient, devoted and super kind. Eventually, he wins her love and things only get better for poor Chloe.

There is danger in The Look of Love but this story didn’t make me bite my nails. I felt safe and in good hands during the entire tale. Some might argue that it doesn’t do justice to such an important, difficult topic as spousal abuse, but I didn’t go into this story hoping for a realistic rendering, I was hoping for a love story and in that sense, this book delivers beautifully. It’s certainly a great, light summer read and that’s why I would recommend it.

(credit: bellaandre.com)

(credit: bellaandre.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Review: Heartbreaker

I picked out Heartbreaker on the recommendation of the store clerk in the used book store. I was heading for a flight and I needed something to read. I had never read Karen Robards but with those waiting lines at the airport facing me, I grabbed the book and dove in.

Heartbreaker is non-stop action, which is the best sort of book to have while you’re waiting to board a plane. I couldn’t care less that the person behind me just jumped ahead of me in line because I just kept reading. And it’s got humour weaved in, which is one of my favourite things in romance. It was awesome.

I loved Lynn from the start. I don’t smoke, but I could relate to everything else about her. She was trying to fit in with a bunch of outdoor enthusiasts and she was failing miserably. Lynn is going along with the group hoping to bond with Rory her teenage daughter.

Rory is a very realistic teen and I was desperately glad that she was authentic. There’s little worse than ‘perfect’ children in books. Kids who respect adults, obey, speak only in complete sentences and listen to their elders. Please! Rory was difficult with her mom, moody, defiant and moody. A completely credible teen.

Lynn has a tough time in the outdoors and her reactions to the other happy-go, enthusiastic members of the group are hilarious. Poor woman, things don’t get better for her. She and her daughter have an accident and end up pretty much stranded and hurt. Jess, one of the guides, drops down to help them and the adventure takes off from there.

With Jess along, they have to make it out of the mountains alive. Easier said than done in this mountain though. A group of cult members happens to also be there and they quickly decide that the trio must die.

It’s a pretty roller-coaster ride that had me moaning at the end of more than one chapter with dismay. I had no idea what was going to happen next and I was visiting relatives, which meant I couldn’t ignore them and keep reading. Closing this book was absolutely painful.

I would highly recommend Heartbreaker, especially if you’re going on a plane but certainly as a great summer read. It’s easy, fast, has great dialogue and witty humour. Best of all, it’s romance, so that fits me like a glove. Only one caution, relatives might not understand it if you bring the book along when you visit. 😀

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

Note: click on book to go to site.

Review: Fools Rush In

Fools Rush In is the first book I’ve ever read from Kristan Higgins and you might wonder what hole I’ve been living in because she’s quite a well known author and has more than a few titles to her name. Nevertheless, this one was my first. Still, this won’t be my last read of hers. The book was awesome.

The story has a set up that I loved immediately. Millie Barnes is a doctor coming back home to a small sea-side town. She has her own little house, a wonderful job and is trying to get in shape. She even adopts a friendly doggie from the pound. I adored her. Even better, she’s funny and her humour kept me glued to the book.

Now Millie is a dear but she’s blind as a bat because she’s determined to get a former crush of hers to fall in love with her no matter what and she won’t see reason. Meanwhile, the reader knows that the right guy for her is Sam, the police officer who’s just a sweetie and good-looking to boot but Millie just keeps trying, poor thing.

I had a wonderful time reading this one. It’s written in the first person which feels both intimate and funny. The writing is light with subtle references to TV that ground it and the love story is beautiful. Due to our heroine’s blindness, the attraction between Millie and Sam grows slowly. I didn’t mind that. I thought it felt organic and natural.

If you enjoy contemporary romance with a dash of humour, this one is a great read. A lot like Rachel Gibson or Susan Elizabeth Phillips with the laughter and light dialogue, Kristan Higgins delivered a great story with fantastic characters that made a great read.

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

(credit: kristanhiggins.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Review: Virgin River

Virgin River was the first book from Robyn Carr that I’ve ever read. It’s the beginning of the series of the same name and I was pretty taken just with the set up. The writing didn’t disappoint.

Virgin River is the story of Melinda; a nurse who grieving the loss of her husband. She moves to the tiny town of Virgin River to try and start over. The move, for someone who’s coming from the big city, is a complete culture shock and, of course, she ends up in a run-down cabin with a suitcase full of impractical, expensive boots.

Our hero is Jack Sheridan who runs the local hang-out/restaurant. He’s a former marine who moved to the small town to find peace and calm after several tours of duty. He’s tough, protective and a really good guy.

I loved the set up from the get go. I foresaw all sorts of small-town shocking adjustments and looked forward to each one. I liked Melinda who had integrity and values she defended. I liked Jack who was kind and protective. Most of all, I liked how the book took its time moving things along. I make up that one doesn’t get over someone they love and move onto a new relationship quickly. This story gave Melinda’s mourning time. She develops feelings for Jack cautiously and slowly, all the while wondering where she fits and if she should stay.

There are a ton of fun, quirky characters in the story and realistic turns of events that kept me interested and kept the book from feeling too ‘nice’. So, I would highly recommend it. Robyn Carr writes a beautiful love story in a gentle, romantic way that doesn’t shock or scare the reader. Even better, it’s only the first in a series, so you know you have lots of great reading ahead.

(credit: robyncarr.com)

(credit: robyncarr.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Trying out new things

I’m trying out new authors…well, new to me. A friend recommended Karen Rose and another recommended Robyn Carr, so I thought I’ll check them out.

Now, I think I might have mentioned I’m a bit of a scary cat. Well, Karen Rose took that fear to a complete new level…and that was just by reading the cover. Since she’s a romance author and highly recommended, I’m going to grit my teeth and give her book 100%…though I might have to hug my doggies while I turn the pages. I’ll definitely let you know how that goes.

Robyn Carr is sweet, contemporary romance and I’m super excited to read her book. The premise of this story is one I just adore so I’ve been stealing moments here and there to read. I’ll let you know what I thought and rant on and on about the entire thing.

Someone else also recommended Catherine Anderson. She too writes contemporary romance. I just haven’t got my paws on one of her books. Obviously, an emergency trip to the used book store is in order.

All this means that, after reading these, I could find a new beloved author…and that’s just amazing. I can’t thank my friends enough for sending me to Karen Rose, Catherine Anderson and Robyn Carr. Even if they don’t tickle my fancy, a recommendation is a gift full of good wishes and that in itself is awesome. If I do find a new great author, I’ll be over the moon.

(credit: gentlemenofsport.com)

(credit: gentlemenofsport.com)

What about you? Do you have any favourite romance authors you’d like to share? 😀