Key Of Valor by Nora Roberts (#2)

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So here we are the second book of the year completed, and yes another re-read.  I felt a need to reconnect this past couple of months and have been devouring old favorites.  It’s fun to see if lightning does indeed strike twice.  ~Sheila

So Nora Roberts is not a go-to author for me.  However…

there are always exceptions.

A long time ago I read two trilogies by her that blew me away.  Mostly because they had in them the elements that I LOVE and are kind of like “book crack” to me.  I love a book about strong independent female characters.  I always have.  AND I love books with a bit of magic to them…. or powers (I guess that ties in with strong independent women).  AND I like books that have to do with books….  books stores, book owners, book lovers, book store staff, authors…  like the Forest Gump of books.

Both of the trilogies I speak of dealing with all of the above.  The Three Sisters Trilogy and the Key Trilogy.  This book is the third and final book of the Key Trilogy and it is the final book in the two Roberts series that I have devoured these past weeks.

In the Key of Valor, the final trial is upon the girls.  It is now Zoe’s turn to find the last of the three keys and right the world.  Malory and Dana both (in the two previous books) had completed their quests, but Zoe has more at stake.  She is the only of the three that has a son, Simon, who she is not willing to risk for anything…  and being the last to be challenged, there is more at stake for Kane, the Dark Force as well.

This time around in this book was I would say just as satisfying as the first time.  With Nora Roberts, you kind of know what you are going to get in her trilogies.  There will be three (men or women) who each book will focus on one of.  They will – most likely find love by the end of that book and this will continue with each through the trilogy.  Knowing that – while a pattern – is helpful.  You kind of know you are going to get into a love connection while reading which is not a top topic for me… however acceptable when it leads to something more…in this case, magic, a goal, power….

Anywho, yes.  Read this if you like strong female characters.  Definitely read this if you like Roberts.  And please try it even if Nora Roberts is not your thing… the magic to me, changes it.

Oh and what’s with the number after the title of the book?  I am trying to keep better track of my book count this year. 🙂

The Summerhouse by Jude Deveroux (#1)

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The first book of the year… a re-read that was not quite as the first time, but almost as delicious… ~Sheila

In The Summerhouse, three women, Ellie, Madison and Leslie are each about to turn 40 years old.  Their lives have not turned out as they had hoped and each woman is dealing with something heavy and what appears to be irreversible.  When the decision is made that they spend a weekend together after not seeing each other for 19 years, they all come to the same conclusion, “What do they have to lose?”

Over a weekend in Maine, over cocktails and good food, the women all catch up by sharing their life stories – from the dreams of a dancer, model, and author, to where they are now and what brought them to this point.  When given an opportunity to visit a small shop in town with a woman called Madam Zoya who gives them an opportunity to go back to a time in their life when they could have made a different decision, again the women think, “what do we have to lose?”

It is soon discovered – they only have things to gain.

 

I read this book originally in 2003 with my book club.  At the time, the book spoke volumes to me.  Our book club at the time was only a couple of years old and we were still sticking with familiar genres and authors.  The discussion of this book I recall was incredible.  Our group all shared a time in their lives where they would like to go back to and make a different decision -in a way, in those early years fo the Bookies, it was one of the initial steps that really bonded us to one another.  And truthfully, why this book holds such a special place in my heart and on my bookshelves.

While I have picked up this book since that initial date, I have not read it in many years.  Over the last couple of months, I have been digging into reading (and listening to) old favorites.  If I were to diagnose that, I would say that over the Holidays with it being a harder time of year for me, I find comfort in books I know that are safe and familiar.  I have been popping through these books like my favorite candy.

This time, I have a few things to say that are probably different than my past reviews of this book.  In fact (I just peeked) the last time I read this book was in 2008 and after I write this review, then I will read that review to see how they are similar – or not.

So…. The Summerhouse.  I have to say that some of the beginning really annoys me.  I wont go into it here as I do not want to spoil it for anyone, but if you want to know I am writing about it under a spoiler page… so those who have read this can join me in a rant if they so wish.  Basically what I will say here is that there are some things in the early chapters before you did into the heart of the book that are just too unrealistic.  Not only unrealistic but what bothers me more is that it would have been so simple to have changed this to make it believable, it’s almost silly and unfortunately could be a deal-breaker for some readers.

That said… once you get into the book where the women are together again and share their stories.  THIS.  This is why I love this book despite the crazy early chapters.  The stories in details of their lives that they share is sooooo good.  And what happens next makes this a book that despite my complaints, will always hold its place as a favorite with me.
My advice?  Give it a try.  It really is good.  And then, come back and click that spoiler link so we can hash out what we loved and what was not so much.

Note:  Fun (or not so) fun fact.  They have changed how to add posts to “pages” on wordpress so while I have a perfectly fun snarky spoiler post about this book… I am unable to post ir under the Spoiler page as I used to be able to simply do by selecting that page.  *sigh*  If anyone knows the magic solution please let me know.  I spent an hour last night on this and too much time today on it and just found it annoying and much too complicated so had to stop trying.  

First Books of 2020 (In all Their Glory)

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First up, Happy New Year.  Thank you to all of you who sent me a picture over the last few weeks of the book you are reading into the New Year.  It is, as I have said many times, a big harry deal to me.  So thank you for following me down the rabbit hole.

Below, you will see the pics of the books sent in.  In the mix, you will find Authors Brian Freeman, Kaira Rouda, Randy Susan Meyers and Nadia Hashimi with their first books.  LOVE THAT.  There are also friends and book acquaintances, leaders in the book industry, champions of the written word…  you get the drift.

I chose The Summerhouse by Jude Deveroux as my First Book of 2020 because this book has wonderful memories for me and has a storyline that left me thinking about it for weeks… well years really, afterward.

Summerhouse is about three girls who meet back in their school days, Leslie, Madison, and Ellie.  They become friends over the fact that they share the same birthday.  Well, life happens and they all go their separate ways and onward with their lives.  

Then, as they are about to turn forty, they all have different things going on in their lives that are not as they had hoped.  They decide to meet up at a Summerhouse in Maine and connect over a weekend of catching up.   The girls all spend the first evening opening up about what is going on in their lives and they talk long into the night.  In the morning, they decide to go out shopping for gifts for one another and go into town and split up with plans to meet up later.  When they do meet up, they all find out that somewhere along their shopping time, they all received a little card inviting them to Madam Zoya’s.  Thinking it would be a hoot, they decide to do it.  Once they arrive, they are offered a chance to go back in time to a time when they made a choice that really set their future path and have an opportunity to make a different decision…  thinking why not… its all just smoke and mirrors, they all decide to do it.

The result is a book that still holds a coveted spot on my bookshelves.  It is still a book I hand out to friends and is considered a “book rescue” meaning if I see a used copy somewhere I have to purchase it so someone else can take this magical journey.

I have been reflecting a lot lately.  Perhaps that why I chose this book for now.  I know the great discussion my book club had around it when we read it in 2003.  I know it will hold a different message for me now.

Happy reading all.  May 2020 lead you to books that you too will hold as treasures long after you have read them.
~Sheila

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A Little Ditty About First Book…

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For those of you who have been around these last 10 years (EEP), you know I was once quite the blogger/book chatter/writer girl.  This site… if you dig through the glorious archives is not only an artifact of my love of books… within the posts, is also the story of me.

And…
If you have been with me all these years.  You know much of that story… much of my strong review years, what slowed me down to now (life, loss, change) to this, my eventual pop in once in a while.
Because of all of that I just said, I keep this site active as it does hold much of me… a bit of a Horcrux (but not the evil kind).

Ok – this is not meant to be about that.  I wanted to share a little history of First Book – the one consistent I have held on this site.

First Book started with me, long before I knew what a blog was.  I always made a big deal out of my first book of the year… making it a “no rules book” – just merely guilty pleasure – a book I was reading not because it was the next hot thing, not because it should be read next, not because it was for my book club – etc etc…. First Book to me was a book that I wanted to read for me.  It could be anything.  A re-read of a favorite.  One I had put off for a while (years even) due to time restraints etc…, one that was not in my normal genre circle but I longed to give it a try…

Seven years ago I brought First Book to Book Journey.  Opening up my silly tradition to the masses – anyone else who wanted an excuse to read something they really wanted to read for no reason at all then they wanted to read it.

It has been a lot of fun. as you can see by the posts and the pictures of those who shared their first book (some of you are represented year after year!)

2019 First Book

2018 First Book

2017 First Book

2016 First Book 

2015 First Book

2014 First Book

I keep it going for many reasons.  It connects me to the book lovers/reviewers that I have come to know through the years – heck, I even met quite a few of you that are not in my everyday world.  It is also fun to see if there is a book that is selected many times (last Year Crawdads and Michelle Obama’s book Becoming were featured frequently).  And if I am completely open and honest – I do it because it gives me a project to get through the New Year and focus on something positive instead of losing myself in loss.

That all said… I do hope you join in this year.  It’s easy – you just send in a picture of yourself with the first book you plan to be reading into the New Year.  You can email me at sdechantal@gmail.com or PM me on Facebook – or even add it to a Facebook post I wrote about First Book.

Thanks All!  Happy Holidays!

Sheila

First Book of The Year 2020

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Here we go – year 7.   I am THRILLED to continue this tradition, even when I don’t stay as well connected as I once did on this space. Thank you to those who have messaged me to ask if I will be doing it again.

The answer is…

Of course we are doing it.

My life has changed quite a bit.  Now working as a Full-Time Event/Promotions coordinator, and involved in a few non-profits, I don’t have the reading time or writing time that I used to.  I do write a bit at I Guess I Am Doing This (also a work in process… but I am not giving up.)

So what is First Book?  First Book to me, is that first book you plan on reading for the New Year.  It can be a long-coveted read you have not had time for, a guilty pleasure read like a re-read of a favorite…  really it can be anything – it is, after all, YOUR First Book.

Make it AWESOME.

Then, once you have picked what it will be, email/ Facebook message me a picture of you with the book (send it to sdechantal@gmail.com).  This adds to the excitement of the First Book.  You have between now and December 31st to send in your choice.  On January 1st I will post all the pics in a collage format of all of you around the world that are doing First Book.  I do hope you will join me – friends, family, fellow book lovers, a friend of a friend of a friend… this event each year and your willingness to do this with me makes my heart smile.  🙂
Here is some (yes some)  of what came in last year:

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Remember – this should be the first book you plan to be reading into the New Year.  Yes, you can start it New Year’s Eve. :p  You can send the picture (sdechantal@gmail.com) anytime between now and December 31st so I can prep the collage.  Thanks, everyone… having this project to work on makes the New Year fun.

Sunset Beach my Mary Kay Andrews

I think I have read just about everything Mary Kay Andrews has written.  She is one of those authors that is like cleaning the palate of your mind – her books tend to be lighter, yet interesting and characters that I totally want to hang out with.  ~Sheila

Drue Campbell is trying to keep it all together.  She is working a dead end job, has no relationship with her father, no siblings and she just buried her mother.  Her absentee father Brice, a personal injury Attorney, just showed up on the scene offering her a job with his firm extending the olive branch to reconnecting.

Oh – hells no.

Yet, as luck (or lack thereof) would have it, Drue is let go from her job and finding that she had inherited her Grandparents Beach home in Sunset Beach, near her fathers firm – she decides to bite the bullet.  How bad could it be?  Upon accepting the job offer, she meets the Office Manager – who is her frenemy from 8th grade… AND just happens to now be her dad’s wife.

WAIT.  WHAT?

Add in some quirky co-workers, a potential love interest, a case of wrongful death that may or may not have involved her father, a missing woman….  we have ourselves a pretty good story.

 

Ok what can I add to that?  I loved the book.  I enjoyed this one on audio while mowing the lawn, planting and weeding and even while cooking dinner.  The characters are a delight and our protagonist is someone I definitely want to hang out with at one of those local bars mentioned in the book.
Definitely a perfect read for this time of year, it left me wanting to know what is next from Mary Kay Andrews AND have I missed any of her other books.
Recommended?  You betcha.  Grab a margarita and settle in.

 

A Rip In Heaven by Jeanine Cummins

The things I don’t know about this world often astound and shock me… what the human mind can handle when it comes to tragedy and what we sometimes cannot unsee does as well.  ~ Sheila

A Rip In Heaven is the true story of Tom Cummins and his two cousins Julie and Robin Kerry and what happened to them one evening while hanging out late in April 1991 on the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St Louis Missouri.  It is a story of true terror, unthinkable murder and what a mess media can make of things.

 

It’s hard to talk about this book without giving too much away.  I find in this case it is better for the events to unfold to each reader as they turn the pages, much as I did… having hope, having shock, having sorrow…  it is indeed a personal journey.

What I can say is that I found this book at the recent Friends of the Library Book Sale.  True crime, has always piqued my interest – I hate saying that, but it is true.  I am astounded not only by the actions of those who commit such crimes, but also the incredible spirit of those who become – survivors of such acts of the unthinkable… the families of victims, the friends – and even when the victim themselves survive.  A Rip In Heaven is about all of that.  Not only about what happened, but what happened in the following years to a broken family, and to those involved.

I read this book mostly in one sitting – unable to put it down and wanting to know what happened.