Check out this great post by All About Romance about what’s coming up in romance and not-romance in books. There are quite a few gems out there that look just amazing.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my hubby is about to leave for a week. An entire week without him is a sad thing so I’ve tried to explain things several times to our fluffy doggies. Each time, though, I’ve been met with licks and reassurances. They’re not worried.
If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the snow is falling thick and fast over here. No matter what the Groundhog said on that February day, I fear an early spring is not in the cards.
So how am I going to survive without my hubby for a week? Well, I have a plan with levels of need:
Level 1: The fluffies. My doggies are amazing at getting in the way, bothering me and basically making sure I realize I’m not alone. I have complete confidence in their ability to continue to do so.
Level 2: Books. I just did a bit of book shuffling and I now have credit at the used book store. One or two books will do the trick…
Level 3 (to be used only as a last resort): The bed. It’s daunting to sleep on our big bed all alone. I might just have to invite our doggies to sleep with me. This of course will probably result in none of us getting any sleep, so it’s a solution only for dire emergencies…
How about you? How was your week? Is it snowing over there?
A huge thanks to Eclectic Alli for hosing Coffee Share and to you, my lovely reader, for reading!
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.
Note: click on cover to go to site.
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.
My hubby was going to go to the hardware store…so I asked to be dropped off at the local bookstore and…
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!
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.
Note: click on cover to go to site.
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.
Note: click on cover to go to site.
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.
Note: click on cover to go to site.
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.
Note: click on cover to go to site.
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. 😀
Note: click on book to go to site.