Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

My take:

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for granting my request to read Good Luck With That.

I’ve dealt with weight issues most of my life. More like body image issues when I come to think of it. Having grown up in the sixties and seventies I wished I could look like the girls on tv sitcoms (Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, etc). Those girls were slim and had long straight center-parted hair and I was average shape with dark naturally curly hair that had a mind of its own. I remember the day the female freshman PE teacher weighed us and measured our height. I was 5’6 and weighed 120 lbs. I felt huge – so much taller and bigger than my classmates. Talk about poor self-image, huh? So that’s what I brought with me when I read Good Luck With That.

Kristan Higgins is on my trusted favorite authors list – meaning I’ll read whatever she writes. But this one was a tough read for me. It hit so close to home on a few levels. Not exactly though – because my mother wasn’t as purposely (cluelessly?) hurtful as Georgia’s. No, my mom was well-meaning and thought she offered positive encouragement. Sigh.

So this novel is about three friends who met at a camp for overweight teenage girls. They formed a bond that carried over into adulthood. As often happens after college they met less often and kind of lost track of one friend, Emerson, because she lived hours away. Sadly, their last time to meet is when she’s dying.

After Emerson’s funeral Marley and Georgia open an envelope containing the list they compiled at camp when they were seventeen. It’s a list of things they’ll do when they are skinny. Emerson has requested they do the things on the list and that leads them to examining their relationship with food, men, family, etc.

Good Luck With That is written in Higgins’ usual warm, emotional style. Her characters’ families drew laughs and winces from me. I loved seeing Georgia and Marley take more control of their issues and discover how empowering that control can be. Filled with (mostly) delightful and endearing secondary characters I have to say this novel grew on me. What started as a book I had to put down a few times in the beginning due to certain scenes and topics, I finished the second half in a few hours. I’m glad I had the chance to read it. I think it would be a good selection for book groups – there’s a reader’s guide at the end.


 

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

  • Title:  Now That You Mention It
  • Author:  Kristan Higgins
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  December 2017 – Graydon House
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.  

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments. 

With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter—a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was—Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family. 

But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.  (publisher)

My take:  Now That You Mention It is Kristan Higgins’ new stand-alone novel. Nora Stuart is a ‘glass half-full’ kind of person and that is what ends up saving her. She’s had to endure a lot over her thirty-five years which made her appreciate finally coming into her own as a doctor and as a woman. But recently she finds out life hasn’t finished whacking her upside the head when she gets hit by a van as she crosses a street. That is what brings her back to her mother’s house in Maine where her fifteen year old niece ignores her and her mother doesn’t know what to make of her.

As Nora gets her bearings and recovers from her injuries we learn about her background – the years of growing up on an island in Maine. Her family life was good until it wasn’t. Life changed one day and left Nora with unanswered questions that would have a lasting effect on her and Lily, her sister.

Nora will find out if one can really go home again. Now That You Mention It is a story about friendships, family and new possibilities. She might even get some answers to those long ago questions. I think fans of Kristan Higgins will be happy with this novel. Higgins’ typical humor, heartfelt story, colorful characters, etc are all there. I enjoyed it.


About Kristan Higgins:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award, Kristan lives with her family in a small Connecticut town that boasts a wonderful library, a great agricultural fair, a really good ice-cream stand and not much else. She is the mother of two lovely kids and the wife of a brave firefighter who is also (perhaps more important) a fantastic cook.

Previously a copywriter, Kristan began writing fiction when her children graced her life with simultaneous afternoon naps. Writing, she found, was infinitely more satisfying than folding laundry, and so began her first novel. Kristan holds a BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross, which means she can identify dangling participles, quote many great novels and play a mean game of Scrabble.

Kristan is an award-winning baker, devoted fan of the New York Yankees and an avid reader. She and her crew spend as much time as possible at the family home on Cape Cod, where they shiver in the Atlantic, ride bikes, swat horseflies and don’t catch any fish. Visit her at KristanHiggins.com.


 

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

  • on-second-thought-2117Title:  On Second Thought
  • Author:  Kristan Higgins
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  480
  • Published:  January 2017 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Two sisters, Kate and Ainsley, have recently suffered the loss of their partners. Kate’s husband of a few months has died and Ainsley’s boyfriend of eleven years broke up with her in a humiliating way. Kate is grieving her loss like one would expect and so is Ainsley.

Eventually the two sisters wind up living together in Kate’s home. This proves to be a second chance of sorts for the sisters to get to know each other. They are seven years apart and really only share a father. Ainsley never felt her step-mother, Kate’s mom, accepted her and that affected her relationship with Kate. Living together now as women in their 30s gives new perspective to both.

Yes, this is a novel about grief and going through the phases but it was also about sisters and the many facets of that relationship. I could relate. I loved Ainsley and Kate – very different women outwardly but quite similar at the core.

Kristan Higgins writes with her usual humor and ease about the human condition. I enjoyed On Second Thought very much and recommend to fans of Higgins and women’s fiction.

About the author:

Kristan Higgins is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the beloved Blue Heron series. She has won two RITA® Awards from the Romance Writers of America and is a five-time nominee for the Kirkus Prize for best work of fiction.

 

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

  • if you only knew (8:25)Title:  If You Only Knew
  • Author:  Kristan Higgins
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  August 2015 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expected…especially since his new wife wants to be Jenny’s new best friend. Sensing this isn’t exactly helping her achieve closure, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she’ll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel’s picture-perfect family life…and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbor, a guy who’s utterly irresistible and annoyingly distant at the same time. 

Rachel’s idyllic marriage, however, is imploding after she discovers her husband sexting with a colleague. She always thought she’d walk away in this situation, but her triplet daughters have her reconsidering her stance on adultery, much to Jenny’s surprise. Rachel points to their parents’ perfect marriage as a shining example of patience and forgiveness; but to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a family secret she’s been keeping since childhood. 

Both Rachel and Jenny will have to come to terms with the past and the present and find a way to get what they want most of all.  (publisher)

My take:  Kristan Higgins’ novel about sisters who face challenges and choices will be on my 2015 Favorites list. I loved how real the challenges were that faced Jenny and Rachel and how they met those challenges. Jenny, the strong and outgoing sister, is starting over in her hometown after her husband told her he didn’t want to be married to her anymore. She’s an optimist though and is determined to move forward. Rachel, the introvert who takes pride in her orderly house and life, thought she could keep her family safe and happy by spending every moment trying to keep them insulated from anything bad. I was pulling for them both and was so pleased with how Higgins brought them both through at the end.

The support characters are pretty wonderful too. A few are as well-developed as the primary characters and had a hold on my heart through the entire novel – I’m looking at you Leo and Evander and… well, you get the idea. Even though I wanted to throttle Leo a couple of times everything became clear in the end.

If You Only Knew is a book I’d recommend to book clubs whose members (adults) are of varied ages. I think that would bring a lot to the discussion because of the different perspectives. If you’re like me and aren’t a book club member I’d recommend it to fans of Kristan Higgins and women’s fiction.

Note:  I read most of this book while on the treadmill but I knew when I had about 100 pages left I would need to find a quiet room (and a box of tissues). So that’s my heads-up.

Audiobook: The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

the best man

  • Title:  The Best Man
  • Series:  Blue Heron, #1
  • Author:   Kristan Higgins
  • Narrator:  Amy Rubinate
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  February 2013 – Tantor Media
  • Source:  purchased from Audible

Synopsis:  Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she’s ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family’s vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there’s some great scenery there….

Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief – and best friend of her former fiancé. There’s a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it’s not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she’s having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.  (publisher)

My take:  Kristan Higgins is an auto-buy author for me. I pre-ordered The Best Man months ago and finally got around to listening to the audiobook.  When I buy a Kindle book there’s a good chance the audiobook edition will be offered at a reduced price at Audible. That was the case for The Best Man.

Kristan Higgins had me alternately laughing and sighing the more I got into the book. I loved listening to Amy Rubinate’s narration. She voiced the characters perfectly and her timing was a good match for Higgins’ story.

I loved Faith and Levi. They’ve known each other since early school days and then Levi was the best friend of Faith’s  fiancé. He’s also the reason Faith was left at the altar but not for the reason you’d think.

Both Faith and Levi had been wounded by the loss of a loved one when they were young. Despite that, or maybe because of that, they seemed a good match – first as verbal sparring partners and then as romantic partners. Their path to a ‘happily ever after’ was a bit twisty but I knew Higgins would wrap it up perfectly – and she did.

The Best Man is the first in the Blue Heron series and I can’t wait for the second, The Perfect Match. Good thing I don’t have to wait too long. It’s set to publish at the end of October.

Treadmill Reads: Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins

somebody to love

Synopsis (Publisher):  After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon’s Cove, Maine to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father’s wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she’s not thrilled…even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.
Having to fend for herself financially for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist’s assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn’t the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn’t the only thing that needs a little TLC…

My take:  Kristan Higgins did it again. She managed to make me laugh out loud one minute and the next minute was pulling the old heartstrings.  I loved the story of Parker and James and how they learned that sometimes you have to ask for a second chance and sometimes you have to give one. A sweet story that has me checking my shelves for another Kristan Higgins novel. Reading Somebody to Love made my treadmill time a breeze!

  • Title:  Somebody to Love
  • Author:  Kristan Higgins
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  April 2012 – HQN Books
  • Source:  I bought it

Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

Title:  Until There Was You

Author:  Kristan Higgins

Genre:  Chick Lit; Contemporary Romance

Published:  October 2011 – HQN Books

About:  (Pub. synopsis) Posey Osterhagen can’t complain. She owns a successful architectural salvaging company, she’s surrounded by her lovable, if off-center, family and she has a boyfriend—sort of. Still, something’s missing. Something tall, brooding and criminally good-looking…something like Liam Murphy.

When Posey was sixteen, the bad boy of Bellsford, New Hampshire, broke her heart. But now he’s back, sending Posey’s traitorous schoolgirl heart into overdrive once again. She should be giving him a wide berth, but it seems fate has other ideas….

My take:  Sounds like another fun Kristan Higgins novel, doesn’t it? Well, it is that and more.

Higgins’ trademark humor and sympathetic heroine-with-a-wacky-family are definitely there but, in my opinion, the true star of Until There Was You is Liam Declan Murphy.He is not your run-of-the-mill former bad boy. Liam Murphy is a complex man. He is also a widower with a teenage daughter. He’s just trying to be a good father and make a home for his daughter. I loved that Higgins revealed his layers throughout the entire novel and not in one pat description.

Posey is an ordinary young woman who wants to find what seems so easy for her brother and cousin – someone to love. She is such a relatable character that it was easy to cheer her on. What she finds is that her impression of people and events (present and past) may or may not have been accurate. That knowledge makes all the difference to Posey and her life going forward. Until There Was You  is charming and heartwarming. I really enjoyed it.

Recommended to fans of Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, and Kristan Higgins.

Source:  HQN

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