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text 2018-03-29 00:43
Intense. Grim. Excellent ...
Year One: Chronicles of the One, Book 1 - Nora Roberts

...and I've decided to set aside until more in series gets published.


No fluffy romance here; intense post-plague future tale.  Gearing up to be complex with lots of characters, POVs and worldbuilding more in the style of something like King's The Stand.  


Not what I am in the mood for on these next two weeks of overcast, rainy days -- but, likely to suck me in if I read further.  So, no reflection on what should wind up being a new favorite series -- on hiatus.

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text 2018-03-15 17:31
Just came through library waitlist
Year One: Chronicles of the One, Book 1 - Nora Roberts

I've been wanting to read this one.  Nora Roberts is hit or miss with me (sometimes too formulaic or predictable) but I have really enjoyed some of her more fantasy/legend based books. Even my least favorite of her books made for an enjoyable read because well-written; just sometimes disappointingly predictable.

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review 2018-02-22 16:22
The Forever Year (The Hearts of Men Book 1) - Lou Aronica

The Forever Year (The Hearts of Men book 1) by Lou Aronica
Have read other works by the author and have enjoyed the books.
This one starts out with Mickey Sienna and he's 83 and his wife has been gone 4 years now and he's not himself. He ends up starting a fire in the kitchen and the neighbors rescue him while calling the fire department.
The grown children learn of it and they get together and decide it's time he goes into assisted living or a nursing home.
The youngest, Jessie, single says he will take him to live with him and the others sign off on it all together. Jessie is a writer who does feature stories and he has a girl Marina who is a schoolteacher.
Love how the father opens up about Gina-his first love because he nor any of the other siblings know anything about this. He confides in Marina and she does meet Mickey and they get along great.
Love the story inside the story and especially the care Jessie gives to his father while he's alive. Tragic at the end but also eye opening to understand what the father was trying to tell his son about his own life and how he wanted him to NOT walk in the same steps he had taken.
Excerpts from the authors other works are included at the end.
Received this review copy from the author and this is my honest opinion.

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review 2018-01-16 23:45
"Year One - Chronicles of the One #1" by Nora Roberts
Year One: Chronicles of The One, Book 1 - -Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged-,Nora Roberts,Julia Whelan

Year one is sort of urban fantasy twist on "The Stand". It tracks the path of groups of survivors of "The Doom", a virus which kills anyone who is not immune. As billions die, some of the immune discover latent magical powers and find themselves drawn to The Dark or The Light.


It's an easy to read entertainment that effortlessly manages the large number of characters and multiple initially parallel but eventually converging plot lines. The good guys are clearly drawn and instantly likeable. There are babies and a lab-cross dog. The bad guys are irredeemably evil and everyone else is either dead or consumed by fear.


Nora Roberts' accomplished writing kept me reading, in much the same way that high production standards make it easy to watch "Chicago Fire" or "Rookie Blue" but the good guys didn't become people I cared about and the bad guys seemed more like comic-book demons than people.


About halfway through, I realised that, although "Year One" was entertaining enough for me to stick with it to the end, something was preventing me from immersing myself in the story. It took me a while to isolate the cause: my lack of empathy with middle-class America. Most of the main good guy characters in this book come from privileged, sometimes very privileged, backgrounds. The Doom has destroyed their bright futures and now they have to adapt to survive.


It turns out that the secret to surviving the apocalypse is to band together with skilled people who embrace middle-class values, choose faith over fear, work together as a team and focus on "doing what comes next". Of course, emergent magical powers are also pretty useful.


There's nothing wrong with this. It might even turn out to be true. It's also not so far from the message of "The Stand". What spooked me about it in "Year One" is that Nora Roberts wraps such positive emotions around these values that they slid into my imagination already tagged as a Good Thing. Then I thought about the scale of loss, of the billions dead, of cultures across the world extinguished, of losing everyone you ever loved, of having the value of your previous life challenged or eroded and it seemed to me that the main characters react almost as if they're on medication. Their ability to focus "on what needs doing" is certainly a survival skill but the ease with which they do it, the unthinking adoption of the "I'll protect Us against Them" mindset and the strong link Nora Robers makes between this stance and The Light made it difficult for me to empathise with or care about these people.


Later, I struggled with Nora Roberts' obsession with the idea that some things are "meant", that they're part of a "destiny", that it isn't enough for people to be attractive, privileged, educated and have magical gifts, they also have to have some kind of pintable-tilting agents of fate on their side. This began to feel like the dystopian urban fantasy version of meeting Mr Right.


At about the same time, we got the sex scene between the Alpha witch couple, Max and Lorna, the two "good guys" that I liked least, and it surfaced everything I disliked about the book: the sex was glossy, the sentiment was saccharine and the allegedly spontaneous vows that followed were so cliché filled and delivered with such self-absorbed seriousness that I felt I'd dropped into the middle of a romance novel. I have less trouble accepting a world-ending-virus and the emergence of latent magical powers than I do believing that people actually talk to each other like this when there's no camera crew present.


I liked the end section of the book well enough, setting aside the drumbeat message about "doing what needs to be done". I disliked that fact that not one of the bad guys was given any motivation other than fear, ignorance or just being born that way. The idea of a Messianic "One" sent to save the world doesn't do it for me so I won't be bothering with book two in this series.


If this book appeals to you, I recommend the audiobook version. It's skillfully narrated by  Julia Whelan. You can hear her work on the SoundCloud link below.


[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/378462590" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

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review 2018-01-12 00:00
Year One: Chronicles of the One, Book 1
Year One: Chronicles of the One, Book 1 - Nora Roberts 4 stars

Spoiler Free!

I went into Year One without really knowing much about it. I haven’t read Nora Roberts in years and years, except for a re-read of Irish Thoroughbred that didn’t go well, but the premise of Year One piqued my interest. I was curious to see how Roberts handled the end of the world, and post-apocalyptic titles are right up my alley. Especially if there are zombies. There were none here, but the paranormal elements were fun anyway.

The first chapter or so of Year One are kind of a slough. I enjoyed them, but PooPenny, who is also reading this, found them boring and hard to get into. We follow a very unfortunate man vacationing with his family in Scotland, who is Patient Zero of the plague that becomes known as the Doom. He and his globe-trotting family then spread the nasty, always fatal virus around the world. As the virus gains traction, it kills indiscriminately, and after only a few weeks, has wiped out billions.

Some folks are immune. Those with paranormal abilities, The Uncanny, seem immune, and after the start of the Doom, their abilities, no matter how insignificant, grow stronger. Some people grow wings or have the ability to meld with trees. Others can fly or toss fireballs. It’s like a bunch of supernatural beings suddenly spring into being, leaving behind their less mundane selves as they embrace the power suddenly suffusing their bodies. Some people, those already leaning towards the unsavory and pushed over the edge by the end of the world, become evil, while others turn towards the light. It’s like Kylo Ren and Rey on steroids.

The struggle between Good and Evil is the major theme of the book. We follow small groups of survivors, some with paranormal powers, some without, as they struggle to find meaning in the ruins of what they once knew. I liked almost every character, and was a bit put out at the end when most of them are ignored. Without getting too spoilery, their safe haven is attacked, and Lana, the main character, flees to protect her unborn baby. The rest of the tiny town of New Hope? Who knows, and that drove me crazy. Throw me a bone, will ya? Are Rachel, Jonah, Arlys, and Fred still alive?? I have to wait a year to find out.

While not everything gelled for me, overall, I found Year One a tense, hard to put down read. I gobbled this up, and found the world immersive and scary. While I could see the betrayal by the bad guy a mile away, it still broke my heart. I am counting the days until Year Two hits bookshelves!
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