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Nora Roberts Challenge – Month 9

I’m almost done, and I’m grateful for that. This is…a lot. I always read a lot, but I think I read slightly less than 220-something books, and they normally span genres more. I had another pretty productive month – some good books, some bad.

Sanctuary

Honestly, I tried to read this one back in May or so, and couldn’t get into it then, so I put it off, thinking it was just a mood thing. It’s not, I just don’t particularly enjoy this book. It’s not bad, just not near as good as other books from her that I love. It’s a bit dry and dull, particularly at the beginning, and I simply never connected with it.

Homeport

This was the same as Sanctuary to me. I just don’t love it. I read them back to back so that at least they’re off my list, but in my opinion, these are just not worth the cost. If you’re desperate for a Nora Roberts book to read and can get it from the library, maybe you’ll enjoy it more than I did. Of the two, Sanctuary was the better one.

Carolina Moon

In contrast, Carolina Moon? Still amazing. Set in small town South Carolina, the story follows a woman from childhood, when her best friend was murdered, through to adulthood, when she returns to the town to find out not much has changed. Some of the characters are particularly fun – Aunt Rosie comes rushing to mind – and the layers of the story are perfectly executed. This is one of those books that is just so well-written, you’ll be engrossed and read it in one night.

Midnight Bayou

This novel is…fine. It’s definitely not bad, but it’s one where the supernatural element is a pretty crucial factor to moving the story along, and it just doesn’t work as well as it does in The Pagan Stone trilogy or some other novels. It’s weird, because I would expect to love a book set in Louisiana, with the whole voodoo and mystical vibe to the area, but it just doesn’t work quite as well as I’d hope.

Hideaway

This book was pretty amazing. A wickedly smart child is kidnapped, but before anyone can save her, she saves herself. Unfortunately, she then has to spend the rest of her life dealing with the fallout of that one day of her life. There’s rich and well-developed characters, a thrilling storyline, and some serious emotional scenes to tie everything together. I adored this book, and highly recommend it.

Under Currents

This book started strong. The first third of the novel had me completely enthralled, and then as she moved onto the bulk of the story, I was loving some of the characters. However, somewhere around 60% in, it kind of lost steam. The end result was a little more disjointed and repetitive than I would have liked. I think the different storylines could have been tied together a bit more, and resulted in a better book, because all of the other elements were there. It’s still worth a read, it just didn’t hit top notes for me.

Shelter In Place

If you want to see the pure skill in Nora Roberts’ writing, this book is a work of art. It starts out with detailed descriptions of one character and her life, so that you can picture her like a movie, and it throws you right back into being a teenager. Then, for the initial action, she switches to staccato sentences with no visual detail – and that just makes the events seem more horrifying. I literally had my hand over my mouth and was just holding my breath for several chapters. The book continues on with varying levels of suspense and horror, and the romance, while present, is certainly secondary to the main storyline. This was amazing – I feel like it branched out from Nora Roberts’ normal milieu but she nailed it. Quite possibly, one of her best!

The Witness

Ok, so this book was good. I think most of it was fine, interesting, but not riveting. However, I really loved that she twisted things up a bit at the end – not a lot, just enough to keep you on your toes. There’s a fair amount of suspension of belief required, although Roberts nailed teenage invincibility and arguing tactics.

The Collector

This book was…a bit hard to get into. I never really felt invested in the characters, this was another that was pretty big on suspension of belief. I just didn’t love this. And with over 200 books out there, I would have a hard time saying you should read this. There are a lot of other ones that are much better. That said, it isn’t a straight up romance, so that automatically puts it ahead of a lot of the books from the 80s.

Chronicles Of The One Trilogy

So this is one of her more supernatural books, which are always hit or miss for me. And on top of that….it’s a trilogy about a pandemic that I read…during a pandemic. That may have been a bad choice. Some of it was a bit too on the nose for me, some of it too fantastical. I didn’t really connect to the characters, which didn’t help. Right now, I’d call this one of my least favorite trilogies. However, I may revisit this sometime in the future to re-evaluate, just because I’m really not sure I was completely open to it.

High Noon

This book was pretty good. I won’t say it was her best, but it was definitely solid. I liked that she didn’t have the typical relationship drama – the focus was on the overall story, which was nice. There were a couple of twists, and I really appreciated those, because it kept the book from being predictable. By the end, there were a few loose ends that never really got cleared up, but nothing that took away from the story.

The Search

OK, I kind of LOVED this book. Again, I’m not sure it was a top ten or anything, but it was another that didn’t really have much relationship drama, instead focusing on the murder mystery. That just feels more realistic to me than people jumping from one end of the love-hate spectrum to the other, and back again. Also, I don’t think I’m giving anything away, but having the female MC be a dog trainer who trains search and rescue dogs is such a unique career choice that it really starts you off feeling like this is a new story. Not top ten, but it might be top twenty!

Chasing Fire

This book is good, I’ll say that. However, I’ve read it before and more than once, so I kind of think that’s skewing my opinion of it a bit. It’s well-written, solid characters, but it doesn’t necessarily feel unexpected in any way. I don’t really remember it EVER feeling innovative or unpredictable. But it could just be because I’ve read it a few times.

Three Fates

Ugh. The book just started off annoying, and never really recovered. I didn’t like the main characters, I didn’t like the villan, I didn’t like the plot. I didn’t want to actively hit anyone, so it’s not one of my most hated books, but I found everyone in it annoying. I expect better from Nora Roberts.

Moon Shadows

This is one of the anthology books Roberts did with other authors. Generally, these aren’t her best work, just by nature, because she has to wrap the story up in somewhere around 60 pages, and she shines on her longer novels. On top of that, this is a supernatural collection, which we all know just ain’t my cup of tea. And of all the supernatural types, werewolfs. No, just no. If you’re a Twilight fan, you might have a different take, but for me? No.

The Circle Trilogy

Vampires and trashing Lillith? I don’t like it. I had actually kind of hoped this would be similar to the Pagan Stone trilogy, which, in my opinion, is supernatural done very right, but it just didn’t live up to it. At all. On any level. I flew through all three, mostly because I just wanted to get them done.

Reflections/Dance Of Dreams

This is a pair of books from the 80s stretch of romance novels. They don’t compare to some of my favorites, like Montana Sky, but for straight up easy romances, these are pretty good. Do I find the plot just a bit dull and predictable? Yes. But the characters are interesting and the writing is so well done that you really get invested. I wouldn’t pick these up too often, but if I want a light beach read, this could totally make it on my list.

Ok, so 21 books! That’s pretty good. I will definitely finish by the end of the year and I’m down to just a few favorites and some new books (to me) that I’ve never read.

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