I read so much Kristan Higgins that I thought this novel would be just like her Blue Heron romances. I was wrong. Though Kristan’s signature wit is ever-present, If You Only Knew is a more serious take on relationships, both romantic and familial.
Jenny Tate’s fickle husband divorced her and remarries… yet wants Jenny to remain his best friend. Jenny’s sister Rachel gives marriage and motherhood her all, only to find out her husband thinks she’s boring. Jenny and Rachel’s mom is no help at all, using passive aggressiveness to ensure she’s always the center of sympathy.
I love how Jenny and Rachel navigate their romantic relationships with each other’s love and support. Higgins shows that sometimes our love induces good intentions… that the receiver doesn’t really want. For example, when Rachel needs a shoulder to cry on, she doesn’t want Jenny to judge her husband, but Jenny doesn’t know any other way to defend her sister! Higgins wrote it so real that I could believe I was with my own sister, navigating our own real life issues. 🙂
Higgins’s characters develop realistically, also. They come to emotional crossroads that push them to change gradually. Jenny’s downstairs neighbor wasn’t ready for a relationship at first because he was, frankly, depressed. Higgins gives Leo plenty of turning points and opportunities for change before illustrating his healing.
Lest you think this is a melodrama, let me tell you there are plenty of laughs. Jenny’s dress-shop right-hand man is sarcastic and cynical and hilarious. One bride’s Momzilla gives everyone a run for their money, and Higgin’s description of her expressions is AWESOME.
If You Only Knew has lust, laughter, and lunacy, but it also takes a peek at the serious side of love. It isn’t the Kristan Higgins that I expected; it’s even more.
This second book in the Jessie Stanton series finds Jessie and Danny developing their relationship, the Feebs taking liberties with Jessie’s new life, and Jack Stanton getting a little bit of what he deserves. You’ll also find yummy shopping, fancy clothes wearing, and charming dates.
I enjoyed this book – love the characters, the detective work and the faith aspect. I’m ambivalent about Danny. He seems too good to be true. I guess I expect that in a straight up romance, but not in a mystery series, as light as it might be. I do appreciate Danny’s love for Jessie, the entrepreneurial spirit of Ms. Stanton (Hart!) — and the wonderful support of her friends.
The writing seemed to be a little looser than usual for a Bricker read. Overuse of the word “snickered” bothered me for some reason, and some of the chapters could have been tightened up.
I like Bricker’s talent for continuity, and for integrating faith issues in a realistic and subtle way.
Lucy has been living in Boston – the same city as her überfeminist mother for the past two decades. With her egomania and focus on art, Fiona has managed to simultaneously humiliate, neglect and drive away Lucy. So Lucy reaches out to her sister Juliet in the western Lake District of Cumbria, England. Juliet takes Lucy in, and there begins the roller coaster of estranged sisters, emotional numbness, putting on a happy front, and trying to find love in all the right places.
Though it reads like chick lit, Rainy Day Sisters illustrates some heavy inner conflicts. Hewitt masterfully describes the mental anguish of the sisters and their love interests. Totally believable. Alex’s daughters were written well, also, from the sullen and reserved teenager to the perky and innocent primary-grader. Best of all were the townspeople of Hartley-by-the-Sea. They were quirky but not over the top. They developed authentically and I was just as interested in their stories as I was in Lucy, Juliet, Alex and Peter.
I laughed and cried and sighed at the happily ever after… And then I ran to Amazon.com looking for the next one in the series. Which isn’t out yet. Because this one was just released. 🙂 But I was just so excited to hear more about the realistic, endearing, and lovely people in the HARTLEY-BY-THE-SEA.
I was supposed to read this two years ago when I first joined NetGalley. I just never got in the mood to read about football… until a couple of weeks ago when a near-and-dear-one started playing youth football. I figured this book might help me understand a few things, plus it appealed to the “I need to know how things work” geek in me.
Well, it’s certainly a scientific book. I mean, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist, but it would help if you can remember some basic high school physics and math. It’s also definitely a football book. The authors interviewed athletes and coaches, they use football lingo, and they refer to historical football games and their importance in the evolution of football.
I understood it on a basic level, but I certainly had LOTS of questions. I interrogated my go-to football expert about the no-huddle, a nickel, declaring eligibility for receiving passes, and his personal thoughts about football plays that bent the rules. Seriously. This book showed me how much I really don’t know about the game.
Even though I’m not well-versed in the grid-iron world, Newton’s Football was FASCINATING. I especially loved the examples of how changing one little thing in one particilar game had ripple effects in subsequent football games. And I appreciated the discussion on proper tackling and helmet safety. (There’s some progressive thinking in those chapters!)
Reading Newton’s Football was work for me, mostly because I went in pretty clueless about plays and positions. But if you’re a football fan and you want a fresh perspective on the sport — or if you’re not but you’re bold and curious like me — go for it.
Alrighty then. I didn’t expect that! Here’s a small Australian town with an outcast woman living uphill from a burning garbage heap, and the outcast’s daughter coming back after twenty years. For what? I think she misses her mom. Tilly does the good daughter thing, cleans up her incoherent and dysfunctional mother as well as the house she subsists in, and tries to find her place in a town that never wanted her.
And then Tilly starts making beautiful dresses for the townspeople – because she’s a talented pro with haute couture training. And they don’t pay her. And then we find out why Tilly left and why they all hate her so much. Personally I think they hate themselves and take it out on Tilly.
A new dressmaker arrives on Tilly’s heels and seems to turn the town upside down. Maybe her flawed dresses symbolize the townspeople’s real characters: uneven, backwards, trying to be something they’re not.
And from there on the story is a whirlwind of crazy. Affairs, financial ruin, secrets, deaths. I’m not sure how it all happened… I certainly didn’t expect any of it!
It’s dark and grim and clever and funny. And if it’s a mirror of life, it’s downright scary. A smart – and bizarre – read.
So I’m reading an advance copy of The Dressmaker, and the premise is terrific. The characters crack me up with their sly humor, and my heart breaks for Tilly as she has been excluded and harassed for all of her life. I love the setting, too, and the eccentricities and quirks of small-town living.
But the formatting. Argh. Take a look at the photo above. The first few pages of each chapter have formatting issues so bad that I can barely read the sentences. I’m sure I’m missing something important to the story.
And the plot development is killing me. Get to the point already! It seems like the several subplots are going somewhere… But WHERE?!
Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you ever started a book and it starts to disappoint you, but you hold out and keep reading?
I’m already in 50%, so I’m going to finish it. But I so hope it improves, because so far it’s just a book I Want To Love.
Rome in Love is the story of Amelia Tate, movie star on location in Rome. She meets a handsome man, and then needs to resolve a couple of challenges: one, she told him she was a maid; two, she has a fiancé; three, she keeps drinking too much champagne and passing out in the handsome man’s presence.
Hughes includes flashbacks to Audrey Hepburn via letters from Hepburn to a friend, and she also writes a subplot involving a princess who falls in love with someone other than the pre-arranged Prince-to-be.
I loved the on-location descriptions and “seeing” the sights with Amelia, Philip, Sophie, Theo, Veronique, and Greg. Traveling in Italy was wonderful — and no jet lag for me!
While I enjoyed all the threads of Rome in Love, it could have used some editing. It seemed every chapter began with a description of someone’s attire, with lots of brand-name-dropping… and most chapters ended with Amelia falling asleep. Too repetitive for me. Also, how many times does a young woman get drunk, pass out, and find herself in the same strange man’s apartment before she decides to stop? She was in a foreign country! I had to suspend my disbelief just a little too much.
Nonetheless, I was so enamored with the romantic gazes over espresso and the delicious food descriptions that I’ll be reading the next Anita Hughes novel, for sure!