Review of “Year One” by Nora Roberts

 

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goodreads.com

I was very excited to read Year One by Nora Roberts. First off, I have read close to thirty of her books. For a while there I was plowing through them. She writes great characters and exciting plots. Especially her later work. I also have read pretty much all the post-apocalyptic books I can get my hands on. Except for “The Road” which I won’t touch with a ten-foot stick.

 

My first observation is a positive one. The entire novel rests on an interesting, if not a slightly trite premise. World plague that decimates human the population. The thrilling thing is that the epidemic is based on lore mythology and magic. The disease is itself named “Doom,” and is made of these dark energies escaping and infecting the world. I think. Nora Roberts was a little fuzzy on it. In response to these increasing darkness and sickness infecting, a reaction in people with any spiritual and/or magical is that the latent power these people had increased exponentially. Another point I’m fuzzy on. Otherwords, some people get big woo-woo, others not so much. No idea what it is based on or why. Some people get nothing at all and remain human. Also no clue. It just is. Plot points like these that lay the foundation in novels, in my opinion, need to be rock solid. Otherwise, niggling questions remain and throw the reader’s mind out of the story.

The second observation is also a positive one. Nora Roberts knows how to write good dialog. It may be a little schmaltzy, but it flows like people talk. The dialog was well written. I may not have liked what the characters were saying, but she is damn good at writing it.

Character-wise, it is just damn confusing. She has some well-written ones in there that are fleshed out, and some that are flat as a board (I am looking at you Eric and Allegra) and you scratch your head wondering what the hell. Why are the ones that are vapid come from out of nowhere and give so much page time? Also, the pacing and plot arcs are jarring as hell. I have never read a novel that jarred me like a car accident from one vignette to another.

Lastly the third act of the story. I am going to speak in broad terms so as not to do any spoilers, but I spent 75 pages scratching my head. It was all so bland and wrapped up in a neat little bow. I didn’t give a damn about the characters at the end. The ones that I really liked and thought were interesting got unceremoniously excised from the last act of the novel which was a weird pacing and story arc thing to do. Maybe I was just slightly miffed at that. Where are my Arlys, Fred and Jonah? She should have at least nodded her head at them and told us a little of what was going on.

I want to be very clear here. This isn’t a crap book. Nora Roberts is a master storyteller, but this isn’t her best work. That’s ok not everything is going to be a shining star. It is a serviceable book with highs and lows and is very readable. I will read the next book in the series to see what happens. If I had to give it a rating, I’d rate it 3 out of 5.

ARC Red Rising – Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown

 

 

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The book of meh. image courtesy of goodreads.com

 

I received a Kindle Arc from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.

I really wanted to like this. No. Scratch that. I really wanted to love this. The four book story of red rising; “Red Rising,” “Golden Son,”  “Morning Star,” and “Iron Gold” is some of the best new fantasy I have read lately. Some say that it is too similar to Hunger Games but when I read it I didn’t get that vibe at all. The only thing that is similar to me is the factions for occupations. The characters are interesting and intriguing. The story has a great arc. That is why this is such a letdown. I wanted to love it but really I was only, “meh.” 

A little backstory on this graphic novel, it is a prequel to Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Series and revolves around one of the subsidiary characters in the 4 novel story, However, other characters that are in the Red Rising series are featured. That being said, this graphic novel can be read on its own but the reader will not get the nuances had they read the entire 4 book story beforehand. What is missing is Brown’s great writing. It just doesn’t have the same flow and storytelling that the novels do.  It seems much flatter. If you are a diehard fan of the Red Rising series, absolutely read this. Otherwise, you might skip it till you read the novels.

ARC – A Literary Tea Party by Alison Walsh

36227307I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely love the ideas in this book. I am a book lover, but also a lover of the ideas and scenes in books. Cooking can be a great storytelling tactic. Everyone has to eat, and many memories can be shared over tea or scones, or scotch eggs for example. Recipes whose sole purpose is to transport you back to a specific scene in a novel that you found evocative is such a fantastic idea. Many of the recipes are from well-loved children’s’ books. This opens up such a wonderful opportunity to share something special with your child and make a memory. The recipes are easy to follow, and the pictures are lovely and well framed. The writing is concise and easy to understand. I thoroughly enjoyed the ideas and writing in this book and look forward to testing out some of these recipes with my own daughter when she is older. For now, I will have to make some Winnie the Pooh Hundred Acre Tea with her and watch the movies.

ARC – Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega #5) by Patricia Briggs

I received this as an advanced copy from Netgalley.com for an honest review.

 

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Image courtesy of goodreads

When I first started reading this novel I felt pretty strongly that the story could have stood a trim and be better served as a novella. The plot felt too small and specific to carry an entire novel. This may be because I haven’t read books 2, 3, and 4 of the series and I am not as familiar with the characters as some. However, Patricia Briggs is, in general, a fantastic writer. I am a rabid fan of the Mercy books and pretty much anything she writes in that world. I didn’t think it would be a problem coming into the novel a little out of sequence, and it wasn’t. This is how I felt for the first 100 pages or so. It slogged a bit and the characters and setup just didn’t gel. Why is this plot important? Why do I care? What is the mystery that is trying to be solved? None of these questions came to much of a head till about 250 pages into the story. It is worth the wait. The climax of the story is absolutely worth the wait. But, I just don’t think this is one of her best books. It is heads above most writers out there, but all in all, it felt to slow for her normal pacing.

 

ARC of The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York by Peter J. Tomasi, Sara DuVall (Illustrations)

I received this as an advanced copy from Netgalley.com for an honest review.

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There are countless stories rich in history interlaced in the concrete, wire, and foundations of human civilization;  whether it be a tower in Pisa or a bridge that spans the waters between New York City and Brooklyn; every brick, trestle, and pylon could tell a story.  It is up to us, the stewards of the past, to recognize, learn from, and appreciate these works.  We would not be where we are as a society without people like the Roeblings. I can now say after reading this novel the Roeblings are added in my mind to the likes of Guggenheim, Olmstead, and Vaux.

The novel is not the dry telling of pounds per square inch of pressure in the caissons or the tensile strength of the wires; It is the story of a monumental project and the people who dedicated their lives to see it through. Specifically, a husband and wife team whose love and respect for each other are tantamount, as well as their mutual intelligence shines throughout the story much to the credit of the author Peter J. Tomasi. Graphically it is beautiful. They set the historical tone without being overly fussy and fastidious to detail. Sarah Duvall did her research into the period. Pictures of the bridge are not overly technical. I would assume this is a stylistic choice, yet they convey all the necessary information to the reader. This allows the story to move at a good place and pause when necessary for reflection. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who appreciates a good history lesson that is so intriguing it could be written as a work of fiction. I look forward to reading many more works by the author and enjoying the art of the illustrator.