Thursday, June 28, 2018

Review: Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts (audio)

Title: Shelter in Place
Author: Nora Roberts
Narrator: January LaVoy
Published: May 2018, Brilliance Audio
Length: 15 hours 22 minutes
Source: Publisher

Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide.

It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies' room, hopelessly clutching her cell phone--until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.

But one person wasn't satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait--and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

My thoughts: I've been a fan of Nora Roberts for quite some time, especially her romantic suspense novels. I find them compelling and easy to get lost in, especially on audio. This latest one is, in my opinion, her best book to date, and one in which she tackles a subject that is only all too common in today's news - a mass shooting. It is an intense read for sure but also a very powerful one as well.

Right away, I was captivated by this story. The book opens with the shooting that takes place inside a mall. It happens quickly and then it moves on. It's intense and it's hard to's emotional and it's heartbreaking, yet it is something that we see happening all too often in our world today. Nora Roberts certainly grabs your attention with the way she writes her scenes and sets up this story - she had me in tears within the first few chapters! I had chills as I listened to this part. But she didn't overdo on it, in my opinion. She set the scene and then she moves on.

The rest of the book deals with how some of the characters move on as well as how one of the people involved in the shooting continues with their plan. How do you move on from such a tragedy? Does it change you? Do you let it destroy you or make you stronger? I think what is most impressive and really comes to light here is how Nora shows that through tragedy there can be growth and how it can help you redefine who you are, as she shows us with some of her characters. But equally chilling are the chapters she writes though the eyes of the actual mastermind behind the shooting. 

The character development in this story is top notch. Each character had their own intriguing story and it was hard not to become engaged and invested in them. They are all vividly portrayed, flaws and all, making them that much more relatable. And even more remarkable, was the seamless way the characters' lives were weaved together. It never really feels forced the way these characters come together.

As this is a romantic suspense,  you know there is going to be a romance, and it is a sweet one. I had it figured out who it was going to be, and I don't even think it's a big deal that I figured it out. To me, this is a secondary story line. It works and it plays naturally into the overall story line.

This is such an emotional read. I cried a few times during the first part - it was hard not too. And then I got angry at times during the second and third parts. But, there was also much laughing along the way as well. Especially when Reed gets his dog - oh the antics that come along with that! One thing for sure is that Nora Roberts certainly knows how to balance the heavy with the light to keep things from getting too deep. And this is also the case with some of the characters, too...Cici was great for a laugh or two just at the right moments!

This is the type of book that stays with you long after you finish reading is that powerful and intense a read. It's a tough topic, yet it gives a sense of hope for those who have been through such a tragedy.

Audio thoughts: This book was fantastic on audio and made all the more so by the excellent narration of January LaVoy. She really brought her A-game to this narration - she gave each character their own unique voice and infused just the right amount of tension and emotion into her voice as needed. Her pacing and tone were spot on and her voice was pleasant to listen to for the whole 15+ hours. As intense as this story was, January's narration really helped to bring the story to life. Job well done!!!


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