Year One by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts was an author I once read much of.  Two particular trilogies that I still think of are her Three Sisters Trilogy (Dance Upon The Air) and her Three Keys Trilogy.  Although I have followed her incredible production of books, I have not picked one up in quite a few years.  This one though – this one… intrigued me.  ~Sheila

 

The sickness came on quickly.  People everywhere were getting sick, yet this was much worse than a flu epidemic… people by the thousands were dying. Then hundreds of thousands.  Many panicked, stores were looted; cleared of food and pharmaceuticals.  The world became every man and woman for themselves.  Survival was of the utmost importance ..

if you could.

Some such as Lana and Max, discovered they had powers… abilities that they were unsure where they had come from but they tried to learn how to use.  Unfortunately, not all those who gained powers were using them for good.  As New York becomes more and more frightening, and each person you meet could be either friend or foe, survival becomes the front most thought.

 

Nora Roberts never ceases to amaze me.  Her books can be so diverse from her writing as Nora, to her writing as JD Robb.  Dystopian fiction though?  I did not see that coming.

I enjoyed this start to a new trilogy, and felt that Nora Roberts rolled into this genre impressively so.  While an outbreak of a disease that wipes out most of the population feels like it could be scary real – the magic not so much, which levels this book from feeling to realistic to more of a fantasy sway to it that I enjoyed.  Remember those two trilogies I mentioned previously?  Both have magical elements to them.  Cant help it.. I am a girl who likes powers.  🙂

This book to me is a “yes try it”  to any lovers of fantasy.  While there are elements of Nora Roberts trilogies that seem to sprinkle through all of her trilogies – this is one where I say forget what you know about this author and jump in with an open mind.  This is one that if you did not know who the author was – you would not guess by reading it.

I am looking forward to the next book!

 

A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness (w/ Bookies Book Club review)

Patrick Ness has amazed me with his writing in the past (his Chaos Walking series is still a book series I recommend to those who enjoy YA Dystopian like myself).  A Monster calls, while completely different – still rang true with the unique writing style of Ness that I find irresistible.  ~Sheila

 

13-year-old Conner is having nightmares.  His nightmares in fact are so dark that he dare not speak them out loud.  So when the Yew Tree comes to him at night furiously pounding on the walls of Conner’s house, Conner proclaims he is not scared, he has seen worse. 

Yet the Yew tree returns to his again and again, big and looming with a message that he claims had been beckoned by Conner himself.  Although Conner claims that he could not have possibly called upon the tree. 

Conner’s mother is sick with Cancer and his Grandmother is making herself a little too at home for Conner’s liking.  When Conner’s father shows up after a long absence Conner starts to wonder how seriously sick is mom, and does anything going on with her or what is happening at school have to do with the trees visits?

 

While you may say this is a children’s book – I believe this book offers so much more.  I found the writing to be deep, profound, and engaging.  The symbolism of the tree touched me.  Perhaps I was just in the right frame of mind to read – but I sat down Sunday afternoon and finished this that same afternoon.  It messed me up a bit emotionally, but Patrick Ness tends to do that anyway.

I look forward to seeing the movie.

The Bookies Book Club had a good discussion around this book.  Discussions of dealing with loss and letting ago of were tapped into.  For the most part we agreed it was a unique read, and while most of us enjoyed the book, a few did not.  Thus the beauty of a book club. 

We also had great food.  Early on in the book Conner and his mother are eating an Indian Dish called Chicken Vindaloo.  In this part of the book it is described as “they ate great plates of this and were farting and laughing by the time they got to the car.”

Of course I was curious about the dish and had to make it, teasing the Bookies that I was seeing if it would have the same effect on us.  As far as I know it did not, however we did not eat large plates of it (although I think I could have – it was pretty tasty.  😉

Great night with the Bookies.  A book I would recommend and would love to hear your thoughts on.  The movie is out and I am looking to give that a try as well. 

Books & Beans: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova


Books and Beans is a book discussion I host at a local coffee shop once a month.  This is our second month doing this and this mornings discussion (with a great cup of coffee) was with the book Left Neglected by Lisa Genova.

If you have not read Lisa Genova, you are certainly missing out.  Lisa is the author of Still Alice (which was also a movie), and Inside The O’Briens ; both of which I have read, as well as the author of Love Anthony and the soon to be released, Every Note Played.  she is one of those authors that once you have read one of her books, you will more than likely be searching for another.

Today’s discussion was good.  We had a great group of women who were highly engaged in discussing the novel.  Left Neglected, the story of Sarah Nickerson, a highly driven business woman who while trying to squeeze in one more phone call while driving looks away from the road a second too long and her overfilled life suddenly comes to a halt.  When Sarah awakens in the hospital she finds that she has had a traumatic brain injury, one that has left her without the use of the left side of her brain referred to as left neglect.  Sarah finds that her once carefully scheduled to the minute world is now one she must release to the control of others while she struggles to rehabilitate herself in a whole new world.

We touched on some pretty important topics through our discussion.  One of these topics was status and what drives people to the point of feeling they need that acceptance form the outside world to feel complete, useful.  One of the ladies in the room said something that stuck with me.  She said,

Status, relies on other people.

I had never really thought of it like that before.  The discussion continued on that this need of acceptance/approval can stem back to childhood. 

Another one that stuck with me was about the loss of a child. 

Losing a child changes how you view the world.

 

This is also something that hit me.  It’s true… 100%, I just never quite put it into these words.  But yes.. absolutely yes, the world becomes a different place.

We had a wonderful 2 hour discussion on this book and probably could have went longer.  Left Neglected brings much to the table to talk about.  If you have not read Left Neglected, I highly recommend it.

 

Still Me by Jo Jo Moyes


Jo Jo Moyes had me with Me Before You all those years ago… the follow up of After You did not spark such a light in me, but held me for what I think turned out to be this moment… this moment where Jo Jo Moyes once again blows my mind and this time… I felt strongly connected to Louisa and fully got what she was doing in Will’s memory.  Smoking hot 3rd in this series do not pass go – THIS IS THE BOOK TO READ.  ~Sheila

 

In Still Me, Louisa Clark has taken on a job as an assistant to the wife of a well to do family in New York.  At first Louisa is unsure what her role will be and why a woman of Agnus’ status needs someone to be with her all day but very soon this is all made crystal clear.  Agnus, the 2nd wife to the very rich Mr. Gopnik is having a hard time keeping up with her expected status.  She has not made friends with those that fall into the first Mrs. Gopnik’s circles, and has nothing in common with her friends she had before she was given everything she could have ever dreamed.

As if that is not enough, Louisa is also struggling being away from her boyfriend Sam the paramedic who is still back at home while she seeks for her calling in New York.  When an attractive woman is partnered with Sam, things become even more difficult, and when a good looking guy who looks much like Will starts flirting with Louisa – well… there is much to sort out as Louisa learns that not all is as it seems at face value and the only way to your goals – is to start by taking a hard look at yourself.

Insert wow here.  Maybe it was the fact that I read this on vacation in St Lucia….  but I don’t think so.  Still Me wowed me.  And honestly it wowed me because some of the quotes or memories Louisa has of Will… hit me right in the heart – to the point I decided  that Louisa and I were in a way, kindred spirits, both trying to do the right thing while honoring and remembering someone who lived so large… it is incredibly hard to feel the space they left behind.

Like Louisa, I am still willing to try.

…briefly, I understood what Will was trying to explain to me two years previously:  for those few moments, my mouth full of unfamiliar food, my eyes filled with strange sights, I existed only in the moment.  I was fully present, my senses alive. my whole being open to receive the new experiences around me.  page 11…

Seriously… the wisdom in Jo Jo’s words…. you can find MUCH of it in all her books..

When people we love die young it’s a nudge, reminding us that we shouldn’t take any of it for granted, that we have a duty to make the most of what we have.  I feel like I finally get that.  ~Louisa Clark Still Me

Bottom line, if you loved Me Before You – you will LOVE this book as well.  It left me wanting more of Louisa Clark…  and I hope we do see her again.

 

My reviews of:

Me Before You
After You

Interview With The Vampire by Ann Rice

Ann Rice has been on my hit list for quite a while.  She feels to me like one of those authors you should experience at least once.  I tried reading this one a long time ago and it didn’t take.   For Christmas, one of my friends sent me her beautiful copy of the Vampire Chronicles so  could give it another try as she said I must.  Wanting to read the book, as well as the beauty of the book and gesture brought me to this moment… where I can tell you – yes, read Interview With The Vampire.  ~Sheila

 

As the book begins, Daniel Malloy is set to interview the vampire named Louis.  Louis is wanting to share his life story from the time he was human and the details surrounding his change as well as the time and events that followed.  Daniel, nervous (as one would expect) yet excited for this opportunity, records the telling.  Louis shares his life from human form, to the events surrounding his change and the time and happenings that followed.

 

The copy I received form my friend Amanda
The copy I received form my friend Amanda

It’s still a little hard for me to explain all that this book is even though I finished it a few days ago.  I always have enjoyed reading stories that are not a cookie cutter outline of other stories and this one certainly fits the breaking the mold description.  Ann Rice’s idea to write a book about a vampire sharing his life (and death) story is in my opinion, brilliant.  I devoured the book.

I preferred Louis to the Vampire Lestat, not only because it is Louis’ story – but that Louis still for the most part, maintains some feelings for the preciousness of human life and does not (for the most part) use his new ways for evil.  I think that helped me ease into this book, knowing that Louis still maintained somewhat of a heart and feelings.

I found the book to me enlightening. Once into it – I could not put it down.  I wanted to know what would happen to all of them involved and in the end…  it was somewhat sad.

My rule on spoilers is you need them if the book is less than 20 years old and not well-known you dont allow them in a review.  In this case, I feel it is safe to say that I wish Louis would have found love and I hoped he would in Claudia, or in Armand, and I was saddened that as much as he wished to find others like himself, when he did, he found them wanting and for the most part – lived a life of solidarity pushing others who cared for him away.

Overall, I enjoyed this read and I am glad I finally read it.  There are three books within the book I was given – The Vampire Lestat is the second and Queen of the Dammed is the third.  While I am taking a break from them at the moment, I do plan to one day return to this book and read on.

 

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green w/ Bookies Book Club Review


Ahhh John Green… you are one of those authors that can do no wrong.  When I hear you have a book coming out my spidey senses tingle and I eagerly await the release date to see what brilliance you are going to add to my life as well as how the tears will this time form in my eyes.  ~Sheila

 

16-year-old Aza is constantly in a battle with her own mind… germs, ways to die, diseases occupy her thoughts beyond her control.  She is trying so hard to be like everyone else but if they only knew.

When her friend Davis’s billionaire dad disappears and there is a hundred thousand dollar reward on the line, Aza’s best friend Daisy is eager to get involved solve what happened and claim that reward.  Imagine what they could do with that kind of money!  Aza wants to be a part of it all despite all that goes on within her, and doesn’t it just feel good to be of something?

A long time ago I was told that when someone reads John Green, their first John Green will be their favorite.  I will never know if that is true as my first John Green was The Fault In The Stars and yup – that was my favorite.  I have since read all of his books and still feel while they are good, nothing has come close to The Fault In The Stars.

Coincidence?

I still hold to that after reading Turtles All The Way Down.  The book is good, it is a John Green after all which is like owning something classy and name brand, like “OOOH… is that a John Green?”    Yet my thoughts, as well as my book club who recently read it, is there is no big WOW.  Much happens, and perhaps this one is sadder in its own way as a John Green book goes – and plenty to think about – yet left none of us with a big WHOA.

Should you read it?  Yes.  If you have liked John Green in the past, or even if you are new to John Green – yes.  It is after all a John Green… it is deep, it is about young adults, and it hold its worth, for me however it landed as an average read.

In Bookies fashion of course we had food for our review… there were plenty of Turtle candies, a mock turtle soup, and extras.  One of the girls even made turtle bars… gooey caramel and chocolate… need I say more?

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

This book hit the spot and was the right mix of quirky crazy physiological craziness to make me laugh and cringe and SOOOOO glad I chose this book as my first book of the year.  ~Sheila

 

Paul Strom is so excited.  He is finally getting away for a lovely weekend with his wife Mia.  She has not been feeling well lately and Paul feels that perhaps this break from the pressures of running a household, working and their children has been perhaps a little too much for her lately.  This day- THIS DAY, will be the best day ever.

Yet things are not as they seem.  Mia seem out of sorts and edgy, and Paul is having interference from people calling him that know they should not be calling him.  He has already gone over this.  How can he keep their day on track and keep it the best day ever?  And in they could just get to their special place, so he can give Mia the special surprise he has awaiting for her.  She will be so surprised!

 

Oh I needed this.  I absolutely loved listening to YOU by Caroline Kepnes  and reading this synopsis made me wonder if lighting could possibly strike twice.  The answer, is awfully darn close.  While Paul does not quite hit the craziness level of Joe in YOU and Hidden Bodies, he sure is a good runner up.

I devoured this book.  I could not get enough of the story line and where it was going.  I wanted badly to know what was going to happen.  Paul made me laugh and he made me think…  professional crazy at its finest.

If you love a good physiological thriller, that is not over the top graphic or gory – this book is one to try.  An absolute delight on audio – Graham Halstead (Narrator),‎ Amy McFadden (Narrator) nailed it.