Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What Doesn't Kill You: "The Last One" by Alexandra Oliva

Right from the opening sentence, which tells us that the first one on the production team of the new reality series In the Dark to die will be the editor, we know we are in stay up all night and read this to the end territory!
At the beginning of this blockbuster reality show the producers have nicknamed their chosen 12 contestants according to their physical attributes or skills or sometimes by both. Zoo, a wild life educator whom the editor has pegged as "fan favorite",  Tracker, a man with a winner's expert survival skills,  Black Doctor, Airforce, Carpenter Chick, Waitress, Rancher, Banker, Cheerleader Boy, Biology, Engineer and Exorcist. We will learn more about each of them as they face the group and solo challenges to come.
They have been given a safety phrase, and anyone who wants out at any time, is to say "Ad tenebras dedi" (Latin for "To the night, I surrender" ) and be whisked away. Those words must be said in order for them to be able to leave. With that in mind, the competition is on. Will anyone break and say them? Who will make it to the end? You'll find out as the book weaves back and forth between the action in the woods and Zoo's perspective of her challenges. We, the readers, will learn that something happened outside the massive setting of In the Dark and while these contestants fight to survive there is an even greater survival challenge awaiting them.
This is Ms. Oliva's first book and one that's sure to make her a "Fan Favorite"! It is so visually written you might feel as if you've been watching In the Dark instead of reading The Last One! The Recommender cannot recommend this book enough!  If you read one book this summer... this should be it! Due out July 12th. Thank you, NetGalley, for the DRC!

And a music video that seems to capture "Zoo's" spirit...Kelly Clarkson singing "Stronger" thanks to Youtube!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bad Blood: "Obsession" by Nora Roberts

When you work in a library you get to know what patrons like and over the years the Recommender has checked out and in a heck of a lot of books by Nora Roberts (plus another heap by J.D. Robb)...and yet, I had not read a single one.
I was perhaps falsely under the assumption that anyone who is THAT popular and can write THAT many books... may not be as good as people claimed.
All that changed when a co-worker (Jessica) said "I think you'd like this book. It's dark."
Me? Like something by Nora Roberts? And...do I have a reputation for reading "dark"??? (I do like subject matter that deals with the world ending or missing people or vampire romances or, of course, Phantom of the Opera themes, so yes, that part is true!).
The book that caused me to realize Ms. Roberts is a writer that grabs you right from the start...or at least her latest book Obsession did. It's a book you don't want to put down and it begins with a brave little girl. One who performs an act so daunting and heroic and one that changes her life and the lives of her extended family.
Naomi Bowes, unable to sleep because of the heat one summer night, watches out her window and sees something odd. Her father going into the woods with a flashlight.
Could he be going down to the creek to cool off? Scrambling after him she follows behind, not to the creek, but deeper into the woods. She watches him uncover something, then disappear into the ground.
What could he be doing down there? Maybe putting together a new bicycle for her birthday. She hides until he leaves, but there is something about her father, a strict religious man who was an upstanding member of the community... that frightens her.
Holding her breath, she waits until he is out of sight, then opens the door in the ground and makes her way down, following a series of strange sounds. Maybe he got her a puppy, she thinks, but it is no puppy awaiting her. Instead, she sees a naked teenage girl. One who was beaten and bloody and tied up with tape over her mouth.
Without hesitation Naomi releases the girl who is so injured and weak that Naomi must help her to navigate the woods into town and to the police dept. In her search for something to free the girl from her restraints, Naomi finds evidence of other crimes. Crimes too horrible to imagine.
We'll stop there. This is already too much information, but the book jacket gives you this much right up front. And like most of the books the Recommender looks for, it is one that will keep you up all night. Naomi is a wonderful, admirable character and the reader will follow her through this ordeal and into the future. You'll have to get a copy of Obsession to see what Ms. Roberts has in store for Naomi.
Needless to say, I have a lot more respect for Nora Roberts and all those checkouts!

And in another mix/tape review, this song, 'Bad Blood' by Alison Mosshart, was featured on "The Walking Dead" as a theme for Carol and it seemed to fit Naomi as well. Thank you Youtube!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Reach Out of the Darkness: "The Rainbow Comes and Goes" by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

A lot of us remember when Anderson Cooper reported from New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and how he seemed truly concerned for the victims. That was just one instance in a long career, but it showed a compassion rare in today's media market.
Gloria Vanderbilt has been in the eye of the media for most of her life. From the time she was born into a wealthy family, through a world famous custody battle. The media covered her marriages and her design career, her ups and downs. She survived some things that many others might not.
Anderson is Gloria Vanderbilt's son, and for those who never knew that, this book celebrates that relationship.
In a year long e-mail conversation, these two make public some very intimate details about their lives. It is a brave, heartbreaking and enlightening endeavor, for Mr. Cooper and Ms. Vanderbilt ... and for the readers.
As someone who has admired both Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt (I have always adored her beautiful art and collage work) this book was a look into their lives, in their own words. It's an idea many could embrace, or wish we could still reach out to those whose lives we'd like to know more about. It's never too late to open the door to a conversation like these authors did. After all, Mr. Cooper was in his late 40's when they began. Ms. Vanderbilt was 91.
The title comes from a poem by William Wordsworth. It can be read here:
Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

This song seemed apropos: Reach Out of the Darkness by Friend&Lover (thank you, Youtube!)