Tag Archives: Romance

A Girl, a Mission, and a One-way Journey: A Review of Mars One by Jonathan Maberry

Tristan and Izzy have been in love since middle school. They have always known that there was an ending date stamped on their romance that loomed ahead of them. Since he was twelve, Tristan knew he and his parents were going to be part of a mission that will take them away from Earth forever as part of the small group of people who were going to colonize Mars.

Reality television has pulled out all the stops to capitalize on the teen’s romance, drawing on the legend of star-crossed lovers Tristian and Isolde. Tristian and Izzy’s romance has humanized the mission and touched the heart of millions in a way none of the other publicity has done. With all the world’s eyes on the Mars Project, they have become the darlings of reality television, much to their chagrin.

Tristian and Izzy only agreed because the money they would receive could give Izzy opportunities for college and a better life when Tristian was gone. As for Tristian, some of his share would be divided between the needs of the mission and a trust set up on Earth to help others in need. But the mission isn’t all glory and celebration for there are those on Earth who would see it ended before the colonists leave the planet.

NeoLuddite radicals want the mission to Mars scrapped, even if that means killing the colonists. They also strike against Izzy in hopes of grabbing attention and rocking the confidence of the mission. News breaks that China has also been planning a trip to Mars with their own group of colonists. Another concern is who will reach the red planet first and what will that mean for their voyage?

Then someone aboard starts sabotaging life support functions on the ships. Now in deep space the colonists must find the saboteurs before it is too late.  Who are the terrorists among them? Where will they strike next? Will any of the ships and their crew make it to Mars?

This tale of space exploration, mystery, and danger is told through Tristian’s eyes, following his courtship and separation with Izzy, the grueling training, and finally the voyage of no return. A genius in engineering, he can take anything apart and put it back together in record time. At this point, it will take all of his skills, ability with machines, and ingenuity to help make this mission a success and save the people he cares about. Filled with scientific facts and supposition about how a journey like this might become reality, especially if we continue to deplete our limited resources without finding other solutions.

In my opinion, at the heart of Mars One are two strong young teens that grow to love each other, grow apart, and go their separate ways, all while keeping their memories of each other alive. In the end, they use their love to leave something wonderful behind.

Format Available: Book, eBook

Review by Katy, Shawnee Branch

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This book  by Jojo Moyes was one that I really was not looking forward me-before-you to reading when the book club suggested it several months ago. I had heard from others that the story line was very reminiscent of many novels by Nicholas Sparks, and I had already sworn off his novels several years prior. After reading several chapters of this book, however I realized that there was a lot more to it than a sad ending.

The story revolves around 26-year old Louisa Clarke who has recently lost her job and is struggling to help support herself and her family. She reluctantly goes for an interview as a caretaker even though she has never worked in the field before. Camilla Traynor, a mother of a recent quadriplegic, hires Louisa out of desperation for her son’s mental health. Louisa starts work right away and meets a chilly Will Traynor. Will led an exciting and adventurous life before his accident, and has slipped into depression since.

Lou is immediately met with sarcastic remarks and an emotional wall with Will. She slowly chips away at his chilly demeanor with her silly remarks and her quirky clothes. Will quickly discovers an outlet for his energy in Lou. She has truly never lived her life and Will wants to make sure that she discovers what all life can be. Will has a secret though and Lou quickly finds out by overhearing his parents in conversation about Will ending his own life. Will has control over only one thing left in his life and that is how it will end. He is determined that he will not suffer anymore and he will end his own life in a dignified manner in less than six months.

After hearing this Lou is determined that she is going to make Will really live again, but what she doesn’t realize is Will is actually making her truly live for the first time in life. They enjoy concerts and even embark on a sunny vacation together. Will this be enough to change Will’s mind in the end though?

You will only find out if you read the book or take a trip to the movies to see the recently released movie based on the book. However after seeing the movie with the book club recently, I can certainly say my standard quote…”The book is almost always better than the movie!”

me-before-you-movie

Formats Available:  Book, Audiobook, E-book, Large Type

Reviewed by Sara, Okolona Branch

Key series by Nora Roberts

Sometimes family isn’t just about the blood that runs through your veins.  Sometimes family is also the bond you form in your most desperate of hours when it seems like all hope might be lost, and the love that grows from that, that could last a lifetime. This is what I often call my heart family, the ones who’ll stand beside me no matter what happens, not because we share blood, but because we share our hearts.

So, if you take that concept of a heart family, throw in a couple of Welsh and Celtic gods, cursed sister souls trapped in a box for a few thousand years and throw in the incredible writing skills of  Ms. Nora Roberts, what do you come up with?  Why that would be the KEY series of course.

keyolite

So our trilogy begins with three beautiful strangers who all live in Pleasant Valley but have never actually met, all of them twenty-something professionals on the verge of a major career change… or possibly a crashing and crushing end of those respective careers?  The first story (Key of Light) focuses on Malory Price, the art expert and manager for the town’s most successful gallery.  She knows her art and her customers too well, and quickly tangles with the owner’s new trophy wife (who, well, doesn’t know art) and puts her career and her future on the chopping block.  

keyoknowledg

Second comes (Key of Knowledge) and Dana Steele, the town’s highly skilled and super well-read librarian, and the go to girl for world class trivia challenges, who’s fighting both nepotism and budget cuts within the ;system’.  Third comes (Key of Valor) and Zoe McCourt a struggling but talented hairstylist, and warrior hearted mother to 9 year old Simon who has a jealous salon manager who’s bent on seeing her fired.

keyovalor

All three ladies are brought together on one dark and stormy night (yes, the classic line is finally brought to life in this series) for a cocktail party hosted by the mysterious Rowena and Pitt, an old souled couple who own Warrior’s Peak, the ethereal fortress of stone high up on the hill that overlooks Pleasant Valley… guardians of the valley, or so it seems. Shockingly, they are the only three guests to be invited, and there seems to be no connection between the three ladies at first, other than, of course their eerie and striking resemblance to the ‘Daughters of Glass’ a trio of demi-goddess sisters whose souls were cursed three centuries ago.

And therein lays the challenge of the gods…literally.  Can this valiant trio of women of women, in just one short cycle of the moon, find one of three lost keys?  These keys can, when brought together, unlock the prison box, and release the souls of those three trapped demi-goddesses before it’s too late and the curse lasts forever.

And what is their reward, just for accepting the challenge that they, at first, think is totally crazy?  Why $25,000 of course…each, upon acceptance of the contract, with an ultimate prize of $1 million for each woman should all them succeed in their quest.

And little do these three ‘sisters’ know that they are beginning the quest of a lifetime, (of many lifetimes and of many trios of women as it turns out) a friendship and sisterhood is quickly formed, and a family (of sorts) is born.

Enter Simon, the spitting image of his ‘pulled herself up by her bootstraps’ mom Zoe, whose spirit simply cannot be tamed and whose curiosity and energy knows no bounds.  Then there’s Flynn, Dana’s step-brother and his incorrigible beast of a dog Moe (if that’s what you dare to call an animal which is more wooly mammoth than actual pooch).  Flynn falls hard for, and ON, Malory the first time they met, with the help of Moe who has so much energy to burn he might be considered a hazard.  He’s a flirt (Flynn and Moe) and may just be more than Malory bargained for.  So, can she, the woman who’s planned her life out in detail and reset her plan yearly get passed the goofiness of Moe to fall for Flynn too. 

And Flynn is only the beginning.  He’s also one part of a ‘trinity’ himself, with two childhood best friends who all share a long history in the valley. 

One, Jordan, is the famous author and golden child success story of Pleasant Valley. He has a heart filled with regrets over a decision made in haste when he was no more than a boy, who, as a man, still pines for the woman whose heart he callously broke and for the love of the one woman he cared for, but sacrificed far too easily because he didn’t understand that real love, with that one, good woman (Dana) could cure any pain in his heart, even that of the loss of a parent.  Can Dana forgive the man, and risk her heart again to the boy who broke it?

The other friend is Brad, the rich boy from town and the heir apparent to the town’s lumber dynasty.  He fell head over heels for a woman he never met (Zoe) just from seeing her face in a painting.  Zoe, the poor white trash girl, who’s mom cut hair out of their trailer to feed her family, who never believed someone like him could fall so hard and so fast for a girl like her, much less the 9 year old that’s part of the package. But, alas, those are stories for the two sequels…ones well worth getting to know.

Formats Available:  Book, Audiobook

Reviewed by Tracie, Southwest Branch