Book review of Shelter in Place


What started out as a fun-filled day at the mall – watching movies, shopping and grabbing a bite to eat – became a memory that people there would never forget. They heard the term “shelter in place” many times before, but only then did they really understand what that meant. Sometimes hiding meant the different between life and death.

Nora Roberts, a New York Times best-selling author, weaves a tale that unfortunately mirrors real life all too often. Shelter in Place, published in 2018, shows how average people doing everyday things can quickly become victims and sometimes heroes while a nightmare unfolds around them.

Sixteen-year-old Simone Knox, who by a stroke of luck was in the restroom when the first gunman entered the movie theatre where her best friends were sitting, had the presence of mind to call 911. Her actions saved a lot of people that day, and she was heralded as a hero. Inside, however, she felt like a coward for not doing anything to protect her friends that day, even though the operator told her to stay hidden. Once old enough to be on her own, Simone tried to escape the pain by running as far away as she could from her hometown.

Reed Quartermaine was working at his after-school job and was on a break when the second shooter came into the mall. As he ran to hide, he spotted a scared little boy looking for his mom. Scooping him up and hiding him from the bullets saved both of their lives that day. Reed too was hailed as a hero. To deal with his pain, he went on to become a cop so he could try to prevent more crimes against the innocent.

Little did they know there was one person left from that night who was the mastermind behind the terror, and she wasn’t done with her plans yet. One by one Patricia Jane Hobart was coming after the people who survived the carnage, and that included Simone and Reed. Now in a relationship and looking forward to their future, they will once again have to fight for their lives and the lives of those around them.

Shelter in Place is a book about the courage and resilience of everyday people who are forced to confront evil, not once, but twice. Will Simone and Reed escape with their lives once again, or will Patricia succeed the second time around?

To find out more about this book and the author, please visit

Written for The Woodbridge Magazine in the UK.


A different kind of New Year’s resolution


How many times have you promised yourself you would lose weight in the new year, or maybe stop smoking? And how many times have your New Year’s resolutions been broken by February 1st or even sooner?

Instead of promising to give up or do something to make yourself feel better, how about making a resolution to make others feel better? If you’ve always wanted to volunteer, find a cause that you can embrace and sign up to make a difference. After all, it’s easier to break a promise to yourself than it is to others who are relying on you for basic needs.

If you love animals, volunteer at an animal shelter or rescue group. For those avid readers, what about signing up with Literacy Volunteers of America? Or, if you like crafts, think about spending time at a nursing home teaching residents how to crochet or knit or whatever it is you are talented at? If you’re musically gifted, you can also play some music for the seniors and maybe show them how to play a simple tune or two.

Doing something for others will also make you feel better about yourself. The rewards of volunteering are not just experienced by the recipients, but by the givers as well.

In an article by Hilary Young, titled Why volunteering is so good for your health, it was stated that people who volunteer say it makes them feel healthier, lowered their stress levels, enriched their lives, and improved their mood and self-esteem. Some of them even reported “that their volunteer work has helped them manage a chronic illness by keeping them active and taking their minds off of their own problems.” Aren’t these some of the results we’re looking for when making those New Year’s resolutions?

Whatever your interests or talents, there is a cause looking for help. People find it easier to give money, which by all means is sorely needed. But it’s getting out there and joining with other people who have the same goals in mind that makes volunteering more meaningful.

Written for The Country Register published across the U.S. and Canada.