Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"The Obsession" by Nora Roberts

By now it should be clear that I salivate every time Miz Roberts publishes a new book.  I find her writing style relaxing and her attention to detail and characters hit all the right buttons to transport me to my happy place.  So when she releases her new stand alone novel I stalked the library until I could get my hands on a copy.

Summary:  Naomi wakes one stormy night before her birthday to see her father walking into the woods.  To find some relief from the oppressive summer heat - and maybe sneak a peek at her birthday present - Naomi follows her father into the woods.  After waiting for her father to leave the hidden cellar in the ground, she opens the doors hoping to see a new bike or puppy only to find a horror so unspeakable she can't breathe.  Instead of her hoped for birthday gift, she sees a woman bound and bleeding.  And proof that there had been more before her.  Naomi is faced with a choice that will tear her family apart and impact her future for years to come.

My Thoughts:  I love Miz Roberts and this book was satisfying on so many levels its hard for me to put my thoughts into words.

Nora Roberts' books are epic, her fans legion and with the mastery of her craft comes the ability to touch on topics that may be taboo, or at least left seen as risky, in the traditional romance industry.  And Nora takes those chances and runs with them.

For example, "The Obsession" focuses heavily on Naomi's life growing up as the daughter of a serial killer.  We spend time with Naomi as a child and teenager, learning how her father's legacy and media aftermath lead to trust issues and a brokenness that play a part in making Naomi who she is.  Someone who moves around a lot, trusts a little and can't quite find her place in the world.  Normally the focus of romance is on, well, the romance, but Roberts take's the story beyond the expected in a way that works and adds to the depth of the main character.

Despite her legacy, Naomi has a lot going for her.  She has a solid brother, fabulous Uncles that love her unconditionally (and big points to Miz Roberts for giving Naomi gay uncles) and a job as a freelance photographer that allows her to travel, be her own boss, and follow her passions.  She finds a run-down house that calls to her heart and decides to take a chance to set down roots as she rehabs the property.  (And let me tell you....rehabbing houses is Tami catnip.  I could read about that and nothing else and be happy.)  While working on the house, Naomi finds a place to set down her roots and starts to find love with local hottie mechanic Xander.  Naomi begins to define herself and her future outside of her past, a huge theme in Robert's books.

And then a copy cat serial killer appears and it all goes to hell in a deliciously creepy and terrifying way.

Rating:  This one will go into my Nora Roberts regular rotation.  It was that good.

Reviewed By:  Tami

Also Read by this Author:  I've read almost all of Roberts' catalog, which you can find at her website.  You can check my other reviews on Robert's books by searching for Nora Roberts in the quick search on the right hand side of the page, or by clicking individual links here:  Shadow Spell   |   Dark Witch   |   Thankless in Death   |   Concealed in Death  |  The Collector  |  Blood Magick  |  Blue Dahilia  |  The Liar  |  Dance Upon the Air

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Out of the Easy" by Ruta Sepetys

I really enjoyed "Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys so thought I'd give one of her books another try.

Summary:  "Out of the Easy" is the coming of age story of Josie, seventeen year old daughter of a French Quarter prostitute, employee of a local book store, mascot to a local whore house and someone desperate to change her lot in life.  As New Years Eve rolls around, Josie finds herself on the periphery of a local murder investigation that will challenge her loyalties and define her future.

My Thoughts:  Although "Out of the Easy" was written for a teenage audience, I really enjoyed the story.  The depth of the characters is extraordinary and their stories unfold in the perfect (for me) way---through showing, reacting and dialog instead of being told to the reader.

Josie is complex in the best of ways.  She's a child, only just 18 and has the innocence of someone young but with the street smarts and wisdom of someone who's been on her own for far too long.  Josie longs for her Mother's love while understanding that its a lost cause.  She loves and respects Willy but can't come to trust her completely because of the scars she carries from her Mother.  She has a place in the French Quarter but is desperate to leave and reinvent herself.  The choices she makes are absolutely believable but totally frustrating.

The setting is both exotic and compelling.  The underbelly of the French Quarter with its gangsters, prostitutes and gamblers is frightening making the bonds between characters both astonishing and raw.  Who would expect a Madam of a brothel to raise one of her girls' children as her own?  Or would expect information men to look out for the people they spy on?

Overall, I'd definitely recommend this story to anyone looking for something fast paced and engaging to ready.  Please note that it's probably not appropriate for tweens.

Rating:  I'll read this again some day when I want to be lost in the mystery of 1950s New Orleans.

Reviewed By:  Tami

Also Read By Author:  "Salt to the Sea"

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"Valor's Choice" By Tanya Huff

This book was lent to me by my aunt-in-law. She is a bibliophile and thought I might be interested in this sci-fi series. Note that I read the first two books published in one text, but this review is only the first book.

Summary: The galaxy is inhabited by a variety of intelligent species. In order to develop spaceflight and establish colonies on other worlds, all these species had to first develop their civilizations to a point where they were diplomatic, almost to a fault. The logic seemed to be that all species that were too violent would destroy themselves before they could become interplanetary. Dozens of these peaceful species found each other and formed the Confederation and thrived together for many years until the Others came along and brought war. All diplomatic attempts failed spectacularly and the Confederation quickly realized it did not have the temperament for war. And so they recruited the dumb and brutish humans to fight on their behalf.

Sergeant Kerr is the senior non-com for a platoon on recently pulled from combat duty. They are to escort some diplomats to a world where the dominant species is considering joining the Confederation. If the mission succeeds, they would be a new species with a penchant for violence that could fight the Others. If the mission fails, they might someday be enslaved by the Others and be set against the Confederation. Kerr is surprised that her combat troops are being used for what amounts to parade ground duty, and that is the first hint that something is not quite right.

What I Liked: Huff writes in a very natural style that is very easy to digest. Kerr is a great protagonist, someone worth cheering for and easy to identify with.

What I Didn't Like: I wish I had a more complete sense of life in the Confederation. This book tightly focuses on one story arc and it's hard to imagine what is beyond it.

Rating: Recommended. I will read more of this series!

Also Read by This Author: None

Reviewed by: Nick