I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Liar by Nora Roberts

This latest book by Nora Roberts is my favorite non-trilogy book I've read by her.  Maybe I am a little biased.  The main character is named Shelby, as is my daughter.  She has red curly hair.  I have red hair and would kill to have her curls.  She also lives in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, which I have visited often when traveling to Kentucky to see my Dad's family.  I can still picture the area in my mind.  Its God's country.

Shelby, her husband Richard, and their three-year-old daughter, Callie were supposed to go on a boating vacation, but when Callie gets sick, Shelby stays behind with her and her husband goes ahead and becomes lost at sea, presumed dead.  Soon, Shelby's eyes are opened up to what, if not who, her husband really is.  Nothing has been paid for: not the cars, the house, the ugly furniture, even the jewelry turns out to be fake.  She is left in millions of dollars worth of debt and she cannot go home.  At least, not until she has paid as much off as she can.  Inside of one of his jackets that she's preparing to sell at a consignment shop, she finds a safety deposit key and when she uses it to open the box, there are three fake IDs for Richard and $250,000.  She takes all of it and leaves.  She uses some of the money to pay off one of the eleven credit cards and buys a cheap van.

Now, its time to go home and face the music.  When Shelby met Richard at a club she was singing at, during her summer break from college, he sweeps her off her feet and off to Vegas where they marry without telling anyone.  Over the years, she would try to make trips to see her family, but Richard would not allow her to go and he had control over everything, including her life.  She missed weddings, births, and funerals.  Now that he is dead, she is ashamed that she let him control herself like that.

Her large family take her back and she makes amends with her old best friend Emma Kate who is living with her boyfriend, Matt, that she met while working as a nurse in Maryland.  Matt's construction and home repair business partner, Grif, came along with him.  Grif immediately falls for Shelby and while she thinks she may have feelings for him, she doesn't quite trust her judgment yet.  Especially when a woman arrives in town saying that she is Richard's wife and that Shelby was just a cover for their scam operations with another guy who has just escaped from jail.  They are looking for the three million dollars worth of diamonds and stamps they lifted from a woman five years ago.  She does not believe that Shelby knows nothing about it.  A PI is also sniffing around. 

Shelby goes to work at her grandmother's beauty parlor part-time as a helper and sings on stage on Friday Nights, at the local bar that is owned by a friend she had in high school.  With the exception of the death of the woman who was Richard's wife and the people who may be coming after her for the diamonds she does not have, her life is really beginning to come together.  The debt is slowly coming down, she's with her large family again, and she's falling in love with a really great guy who will treat her right. 

There is a threat looming over the horizon that will put it all in jeopardy.  Is there any doubt that Shelby and Grif will get together?  No.  They do not even doubt it; its just a matter of time.  Will you figure out the ending?  Maybe.  But that does not matter.  Its such a joy getting there and these characters are so much fun to be around you will not mind if you have an idea of what is to come.  This is truly a great book and one of her finest yet and the best way to start off your summer reading.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

All Clear by Connie Willis

This is the spectacular sequel to Black Out, the story of three historians from 2060 who have gone back to World War II to observe events.  Eileen, on her first mission, is sent to the country to be a maid at an estate that takes in children sent from London to stay in the country for their safety.  There she meets the poor, dirty, demon children, the Hobbins.  After she finds out her drop to take her back to 2060 is closed, she heads to London to try to find Polly, whom she knows was spending the Blitz working as a shop girl.

Mike, who thought he missed his chance to witness the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1939, goes to sleep on an unseaworthy vessel and finds himself halfway there, with a teen and his great-grandfather going there to do their bit.  While there he saves the boy, the boat, and a soldier who would later save over 500 men, and Mike damages his foot.  His drop is now not working either, so once he gets out of the hospital, he heads to London to also find Polly, hoping that her drop will work.

Each of these historians had slippage during their drop.  The scientists have always believed that this was due to being unable to land in the designated area at that time due to such things as a person being in the vicinity who might see them.  But the slippage has become a real problem.  They are losing days instead of hours.  By the time Polly arrives in London, the Blitz has been going on for a week.  At first, she receives a frosty welcome from those at the air raid shelter, but a kind gentleman, Sir Geoffrey, an older man, and famous stage actor, who develops a crush on her and sees her as Violet from Twelfth Night.  Soon the group begins to put on performances for those avoiding the bombs in the subways.  Polly knows where the attacks are coming up until the end of 1942 and in December of 1943, she has already been in England elsewhere working as an ambulance driver.  If she does not get out before this date, a paradox will occur and she will die.

The group remembers that another historian is supposed to be there around the time of St. Paul's bombing on December 29, 1942.  When they arrive, they are immediately swept up in the events happening around them.  Mike finds himself helping the fire brigade and saving two men from a collapsing building.  Eileen takes over an ambulance when the driver is hurt and with the help of the Hobbins' kids takes the wounded to various hospitals and saves many lives.  Somehow, however, they miss the historian and his drop.  Not knowing what else to do, they fall back on the time-honored way of communicating with the future historians who may be looking for them by placing ads in the personals of the papers with secret messages letting them know where they are.

In a surprise twist, it turns out that Mr. Humphries, the man in charge of the historians was the last person to be able to make a drop where they were, but his drop no longer works.  Worse, he has news from the future.  The time slippages are likely the historical time line trying to correct itself.  Everyone these historians have met is in danger of being killed just for having come into contact with them.  It seems that they may have changed history and the Allies might not win the war.  Their only hope is the young man Collin, who as a teenager had a crush on Polly and swore to her that he would rescue her if she ever needed it.  Mr. Humphries also has a deadline and it's only a few months away.

Not all of them live or make it out of London.  This book is truly fascinating in its details of the time of the Blitz of London during World War II and the effects it had on the British people.  It also makes you think of the impact you have on others in this life and how everything can change on a dime and turn out differently than planned.  These are the dangers of playing with time travel and how it can cause a whole world to unravel.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/All-Clear-Connie-Willis/dp/0553592882/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473426620&sr=1-1&keywords=all+clear