Showing posts with label Nora Roberts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nora Roberts. Show all posts

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Nora Roberts’ “The Liar” Book Review

Nora Roberts "The Liar" Book Cover - Source: Amazon
Nora Roberts “The Liar” Book Cover

I’m a huge fan of Nora Roberts’ writing and have read most of her books (including her “In Death” series under her J.D. Robb nom de plume). I had purchased the audiobook of her 2015 romantic suspense novel “The Liar” as soon as it came out, but somehow it got lost in the shuffle in my Audible library. Coming across it again recently – and finally getting to listen to it with my husband – was a treat!

The things we enjoyed most about this book are that it's:
  • Authentic. One of the things we’ve always loved about Nora Roberts’ writing is her thorough research. This makes her characters and locations very believable, so it’s easy to be transported into the world she creates for each of her stories.
  • Detailed. Roberts’ characters, for the most part, are fully formed. She provides enough detail and history and weaves in enough backstory to make us feel as if we know each character personally. We feel like they have lives beyond just what’s in the story.
  • Well-paced. One of the hallmarks of Roberts’ writing is her excellent pacing. She doesn’t rush through the telling, but she also never lets the story drag. She doesn’t use adjectives for their own sake, like many other authors. Her descriptions are all well thought out and help move the story forward.
  • Dialogue-driven. Roberts is an acknowledged master of dialogue. Like all her books, “The Liar” is told largely through conversations. I’ve always appreciated her very sparing use of speech tags (e.g., “he said,” “she asked,” “they exclaimed”). She gives every character a distinctive, recognizable speech pattern, so readers can easily identify who’s saying what without naming the speakers every time. For example, Viola speaks straightforwardly and with authority, but also with the slightly formal, slightly flowery language of a proper Southern lady when she’s addressing someone outside the family; whereas Forrest, a cop to the core, speaks tersely and uses adjectives sparingly.
There were a couple of things that felt a bit off. Melody’s character seems a bit forced. She’s surprisingly one-dimensional for a Roberts character. She never shows even a hint of remorse and it’s hard to feel any sympathy for her. Also, my husband thinks Griff seems too good to be true. He always has time for Shelby and Callie. He always does the right thing. He doesn’t make even a single misstep. In a true romance, we need to follow the lines of both characters. But although Griff is the romantic foil, this is Shelby’s story, and in some ways he’s a supporting player. We never learn much about his backstory or any of his previous relationships. Fortunately, neither of those issues prevented us from thoroughly enjoying this book.

Although I also own the Kindle version, I much prefer the unabridged audiobook of “The Liar”. Narrator January LaVoy does a fabulous job of giving both the male and female characters distinctive voices. In many audiobooks, it can be hard to tell which character is speaking without speech tags, but that was never a problem with this one. LaVoy also makes the men sound like men and the women like women – a skill narrators often lack. Even more impressive is her totally believable voicing of three-year-old Callie. Her excellent narration brings an added dimension to the storytelling. This audiobook will keep you happily engrossed for 16 hours, 31 minutes.

Main Characters in “The Liar” Include:

Shelby Pomeroy Foxworth – a young wife and mother who grew up in rural Tennessee; former Homecoming Queen

Richard Foxworth – Shelby’s snobby, cold, jet-setting husband

Callie Rose Foxworth – Shelby and Richard’s three-year-old daughter

Viola MacNee Donahue – Shelby’s vivacious, ambitious, straight-shooting and wise grandmother, owner of Viola’s Harmony House Salon and Day Spa

Forrest Jackson Pomeroy – local cop and Shelby’s big brother

Ada Mae Pomeroy – Shelby’s mom

Emma Kate Addison – nurse and Shelby’s best friend

Matt Baker – Emma Kate’s boyfriend and partner in The Fix-It Guys

Griff Lott – Matt’s partner in The Fix-It Guys; originally from Baltimore

Melody Bunker – Shelby’s main nemesis in high school; second runner-up in the Miss Tennessee pageant; manager of the Artful Ridge artisan craft gallery

“The Liar” Synopsis

This novel is broken into three sections: The False, The Roots and The Real.

The False
Pretty redhead Shelby Pomeroy Foxworth learns that her husband, Richard, is missing and presumed dead. Richard Foxworth was everything Shelby wasn’t – urbane, suave, worldly, wealthy, sophisticated and well-traveled. He quickly swept her off her feet and into an unfamiliar world of glamorous jet-setting and an expensive lifestyle. When she met Richard, he had been attentive and flattering, but that didn’t last long. After their daughter Callie was born, he became increasingly insulting to Shelby and had little time and even less affection for their sweet, pretty, vivacious daughter.

Shelby discovers that everything she thought she knew about Richard was false. The man she had married, the father of her darling Callie, had been not only a liar but also a successful con man. Shelby had never suspected that Richard hadn’t purchased the fancy house in Philadelphia, elegant clothes and all the other trappings of their wealthy lifestyle outright. And he had racked up $3 million in debts that now fell squarely on Shelby’s slender shoulders. 

The Roots
Shelby sells all of Richard’s belongings and most of her own, as well as the huge, fancy house he had purchased (without consulting her) and the expensive custom furnishings she had always hated. Then she takes Callie back to Rendezvous Ridge, Tennessee, Shelby’s beloved hometown, determined to raise her daughter surrounded by three generations of Shelby’s close-knit, loving and supportive family.

Shelby moves back into her parents’ home and starts to build a new life for herself and Callie. She makes up with her best friend, Emma Kate, who has been angry at Shelby ever since she had taken off with Richard and seemingly ignored her family and friends back home. Emma Kate’s boyfriend and his business partner, Griffin Lott, have a fledgling construction and remodeling business. Griff falls hard for Shelby and Callie. He quickly wins Callie’s heart, but Shelby is reluctant to put her own on the line again or risk Callie’s getting hurt. 

As this section progresses, Shelby, Callie and Griff find themselves increasingly in danger. Shelby’s policeman brother Forrest tries to protect them while he figures out and tracks down who is responsible for murder, both attempted and successful. Things comes to a frightening head.

The Real
The last section consists of the final chapter and an epilogue. Telling you anything about them would be a major spoiler, so you’ll just have to read “The Liar” to find out what happens. It’s a worthwhile ride!



“The Liar” book reviewed by:
Margaret Schindel




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Monday, July 30, 2018

Reviewing Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

Reviewing Northern Lights by Nora Roberts
I enjoy books written by Nora Roberts, specifically the romantic suspense books that she writes. Northern Lights is at the top of my list of my favorite books. Recently, I've been so tired that it has been difficult to concentrate on new material and find myself stuck reading the same paragraphs night after night. I decided to read something familiar and that wouldn't require so much concentration but couldn't find my print copy of Northern Lights. I looked to the internet for a digital copy. Because Nora Roberts is a prolific writer, with well over 200 titles published, I found that this book may be lost among them so I decided to highlight one of my favorite stories by this author.


Northern Lights in Lunacy, Alaska


Ignatious Burke (Nate) is a Baltimore cop who accepts a job in Lunacy, Alaska. The baggage he brings, that doesn't fit in his carry-on bags, includes the trauma of watching his partner die on the street in Baltimore. Nate can't shake those feelings of guilt. So he accepts a job in a tiny, remote Alaskan town. So remote that he arrives by small plane.


"Strapped into the quivering soup can laughingly called a plane, bouncing his way on the pummeling air through the stingy window of light that was winter, through the gaps and breaks in snow-sheathed mountains toward a town called Lunacy, Ignatious Burke had an epiphany.
He wasn't nearly as prepared to die as he had believed." - excerpt from Northern Lights 

As you would expect, in Lunacy, there is a cast of eccentric characters. To be expected as the 500+ residents of Lunacy refer to themselves as Lunatics. Nate's job duties include, but are not limited to, Moose versus vehicle incidents, taking care of drunks, and watching over his quiet little town. Quiet until the remains of a body - clearly murdered - is found preserved in an ice cave.

The murder victim is Meg's father. 

Meg was born and raised in Lunacy, is a bush pilot, and is quite able to fend for herself. She lives with her dogs, outside of town. Meg is described by some reviewers as unlikable and cold. I describe her as efficient. She is not needy or clingy. Meg begins in a casual physical relationship with Nate but over time it begins to become a more meaningful connection. 

Like small town life, the story line is in no rush. Other reviewers refer to the story line as a "gradual climb" and a "slow burn". I agree and I would add that it is comfortable. When Meg's father's body is found the story begins to become more tense and we begin to find reason take a closer and more suspicious look at the many eccentric residents of Lunacy.  

Who has killed Mr. Galloway - keeping the secret for all these years and walking the snowy streets with the unsuspecting Lunatics of Lunacy, Alaska? And now that the body has been found, who will the killer go after next in order to cover his/her/their tracks?


Additional things to consider about Northern Lights  


Because I am recommending a book that won't be everyone's cup of tea, I feel I should add a few side notes and warnings.  

  • There is a bit of "gore" (there's been a couple of murders after all - one in Alaska and one on Baltimore). 
  • There is profanity. 
  • There are a couple of sex scenes (4 sex scenes for a total of 10 pages is what another reviewer counted). 
  • This novel was written years ago, about a setting years before that (published in 2004, with a journal entry in the book dated February 12, 1988). It is not PC by some standards today.
  • There is also a review that reports a dislike for how the Alaskan residents are portrayed. 
This story will not be everyone's style. It is mine. I like gritty and a bit of gore. Swearing typically doesn't bother me. I tend to like my fiction slightly caricaturized - after all, why read a story if the character is as mundane and boring as I am? And finally, I am very familiar with people who talk, think, and behave just like the people of Lunacy. So this level of alleged political incorrectness was not shocking to me. But I have read a couple of reviews (out of hundreds) in which readers seemed to be significantly triggered so I felt I should give this bit of information in the interest of full disclosure.

If you are curious, but not sure about the story, Amazon provides a sizable "look inside" sample. If the story sounds intriguing but you aren't quite sure, take a peek at the Northern Lights free sample. 

I enjoyed this story, characters, and setting very much. I have read this book multiple times and have it downloaded to begin again. In my opinion, reading about snowy Alaska during the tired, heat-wave days of summer is a great escape. 




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Monday, August 15, 2016

Two Mid-Atlantic Women Writers

Photo by Dawn Rae
There are two women authors that I read on a regular basis. These two women live and write the Mid-Atlantic life. While I have been an avid reader since the time I learned to read, I had not read either of these authors until I moved to the east coast a decade or so ago. I want to share what I know about these two talented women so you will be able to decide if they are your cup of tea too. This is my review of Tawni O'Dell and Nora Roberts.

I read a wide variety of styles and genres. I read every day and the main reason I love to read is for the escape. I want a story that takes me away to the theater in my mind. A scene that the author creates so vividly that I can imagine it with ease. As though I am also in that kitchen, walking near that river, or running from that bad guy. I need characters real enough to feel familiar - as though they are neighbors or family.  As though I am privy to their secrets because I am a part of their lives. I want to suddenly laugh, cry, or yell. Both of these authors take me away to those other worlds and to that place of escape.


Author Tawni O'Dell - Pennsylvania


If I remember correctly, I discovered Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell during one of my wanderings through a local stick and mortar book store some years ago. I read the book and related to it so much that I had to read everything she has published since.

Ms. O'Dell describes herself  -


"My roots: I'm half Pennsylvania redneck and half southern white trash. Growing up, I never really fit in. I always thought I was a freak because I liked books and living animals." 

Her books are set in Pennsylvania, in coal mining communities. While I've never lived in coal mining areas, I do know people similar to the characters she writes about. I love her characters and the way she handles very tough and raw topics. I would describe her writing stark, dark, and humorous. You giggle when you least expect it, right in the middle of some really tough situation.

When describing her writing, others use words such as: raw, tense, captivating, touching, titilating, and unique. I agree. After reading her books, and I have read all of them except the most recent, I feel as though I know what life in coal mining community might be like.


Back Roads - An Unforgettable Debut Novel



Back Roads is Tawni O'Dell's debut novel. The setting is Pennsylvania mining country. Ms. O'Dell tells us the story of nineteen year old Harley Altmyer. He is an angry, unlucky, and did I mention angry young man who is left to raise his younger siblings. This in not a story for the faint of heart. Harley had reason to be angry, and it is unlikely you will forget this story about a dysfunctional family. I will never forget the thoughts Harley had during one of his sessions with his therapist. As someone who works with children, over the years I had already imagined that some of my clients have had very similar thoughts during our meetings.  Thank you Ms. O'Dell for taking me for an unforgettable ride down a dark, bumpy, and frightening dirt road to the Altmyer home.


Back Roads
Note:  If you like to read a book before the movie comes out, you'll want to read this soon. According to Tawni O'Dells website, this Oprah Book Club's pick is "soon to be a film".

Author Nora Roberts - Maryland


Nora Roberts.  I thought she was strictly a romance writer. Old school romance isn't my thing.  Based on my assumptions about romances, I had never picked up one of her books. After moving to Maryland, someone either told me that she writes more than romance or they just handed me one of her books. I can't recall exactly how I came to read these romantic thriller stories, but I was hooked from that moment on.

What can I possibly say about Ms. Roberts that hasn't already been said?  My guess is that, if you are an avid reader, you've at least heard of her and probably have read her. She is a book writing machine who began her writing career when she was snowed in at home with her young children. I love the story of how she began. 

In an interview with BookBrowse she says: 

"The blizzard of '79 hit in February, and I was stuck in the house with two small children. Any mother out there knows what it is to weep bitter tears when the radio announces that there will be no morning kindergarten" .... "I'd never thought about writing as a career. I thought everyone made up stories in their heads. But after days of being trapped by the blizzard, I was tired of playing Candy Land and was desperate for some sort of release."

It was then she took pen to paper and immediately fell in love with the process of writing. 

I love both her characters and her story lines.  With many other authors, I like either their character development or the plot movement, but often I don't enjoy both equally.  I do with Ms. Robert's writing. Both the characters and the story stick with me - often for years later. 


The Witness - A Story of Good Versus Evil and a Woman's Will to Live


With 200+ books, there is likely something for everyone to choose from. I prefer the stories that mix romance with suspense. I want my hugs and kisses to be mixed in with evil people lurking in bushes and bouts of self-defense. I want my romance to be about strong women who are busy doing their own thing, standing on their own two feet, before becoming weak in the knees with love and lust.

The Witness is one such story, and much more. A young lady, who reminds me VERY much of some of the spectrum kids I've worked with over the years, witnesses one violent crime after another. She is able to escape alive but spends the remainder of her life running and hiding.  Because she is brilliant and has certain skills, she is able to stay a step ahead of those who want her dead - despite having no family (who says only step-mothers are evil?) or friends to help her.  Years later, she begins to experience the possibilities of love and home. Just as she begins to have a desire to put down roots, evil finds her again.


The Witness



Related Links:


Tawni O'dell - Read more about Ms. Odell, her books, news, and upcoming releases and events on her website.

Nora Roberts - Read more about Ms. Roberts, her books, upcoming releases, and events on her website. 

Inn Boonsboro - Boonsboro is a small town that I had driven through on one of my long, winding "Sunday Drives" when I first moved to Maryland. The surrounding area is gorgeous countryside - dotted with interesting small towns. I was surprised to learn that Nora Roberts and her husband own the Inn Boonsboro. Her husband owns the bookstore next to the Inn - Turn The Page bookstore. Someday, I will stop and stay in Boonsboro, rather than just drive though. Perhaps, I will re-read The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy while I'm there. 


A Few More Favorite Books:




Fragile Beasts

Northern Lights

The Search





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Monday, July 7, 2014

A Few Favorite Things

Review This! is a group blog, written by a double handful of women who are passionate about writing.  Our personalities and topics vary greatly but we are all passionate about a common thing. We all are excited about sharing information about the things we love.

As the someone who loves to wander around the mid-Atlantic region I usually share the places I love to visit during my travels.  Today I’d like to share a few of my favorite things instead of places. Interestingly enough, many of these things have something to do with my adventures in this region.


I love simple and functional things like my Bubba Tumbler. As I write this, I am sipping an iced mixture of Cranberry-Pomegranate and water drink with a sprig of mint that was grown in my vertical garden on the balcony. I am not the most gifted gardener, add this to the logistics of my living in a teeny third floor apartment, and gardening is not always a success in my world.  But I’m not alone in gardening passion in the world of blogs.  There are many gardeners who write and I never grow tired of reading their helpful and creative ideas.  I probably would not have tried to grow mint on my balcony until I read about it from fellow writers. Now, I not only grow it successfully, but I use it daily.

When I’m not writing, I am often reading.  I read everything from children’s books about the places I see, like the magical ‘wild pony Island’ (our family nickname for Assateague Island) and the Scientists who care for the pony population to adult romances, dramas, and memoirs that are situated in the mid-Atlantic region.  My three favorite authors live and write this region.  The very talented story tellers gift me with plenty to do on the days I want to kick back and relax with a good book.

I think today is one of those days. 




Image Credit: ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved 





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Monday, April 7, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Authors

Just in case you have not noticed, I love the Mid-Atlantic region. I’d love for everyone to experience a part of this area, whichever part they would enjoy most. Whether that enjoyment would come from the beach or the mountains, quiet countryside or bustling city, hot summer nights or cold snowy days... I wish everyone could have a personal experience here.

I realize that traveling and vacations are sometimes difficult.  Luxuries like travel are becoming increasingly difficult as the economy has taken such a toll on so many people.

When I can’t travel, and I usually can’t beyond this region, I turn to books.  I can read about faraway lands and adventures that I may never take. I already feel as though I’ve done a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail, even though I have only done a short walk on a couple of different portions of the trail in this immediate area. That is the magic of books.


I’d like for you to know about my three favorite Mid-Atlantic authors.

Suzanne McMinn writes about her life in rural West Virginia.

Tawni O’Dell tells us stories about coal mining areas, and the people who live there, in Pennsylvania.

Nora Roberts tells too many stories to list, but I want to point out that she tells us stories that take place in BoonsBoro, Maryland and on the Chesapeake Bay.

I hope you check out these authors and their stories.  And if you are interested, I’ve given you a place to help review these books and to browse more of their writing.

Until you can come to the Mid-Atlantic in person, pick up a book and travel here through the magic of words. Enjoy your adventure! 


Image Credit: Image is ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)



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