Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Friday, May 31, 2013

How to do a series right

Fall of Night finds our favorite heroine, Claire, leaving Morganville to go to MIT, a trip made possible by Amelie's promise. Claire's ambivalent about leaving her friends and boyfriend behind, but feels certain she needs to experience the world, so off she goes, moving in with former good friend Liz and working with former Morganville resident, Irene Anderson. Claire's brought VLAD--her device that would level the playing field when a vampire attacks. Little does she know that she's unleashing the downfall of vampires and putting everyone's life in danger.

What I really loved about Fall of Night is that we still see our characters growing and developing, and mostly, having to deal with the consequences of their actions. Claire, in her innocence (and a bit of arrogance), has no idea that she's putting lives in danger. She thinks the "real" world is safe and she can count on those around her, but nothing could be further from the truth. Shane is so attached to Claire that he cannot actually allow her to "leave" Morganville; he packs up and follows her, though he does stay at a distance. But when everything goes horribly wrong, Claire has to come to grips with the fact that it is, indeed, all her fault. As one of my teachers used to say, she's up an unsanitary tributary without the necessary means of transportation.

I love that this series, fourteen books in, still has life and is still taking us in unexpected directions. I love that the core relationships are still solid, and I love that things can spin so utterly out of control in such unexpected ways. I love that Claire has become my favorite kick-butt fighter; it shows that she has evolved so much over the course of the books. I do love the relationship between Shane and Claire, even if I did feel he was out of line in following her. This book ends on such a cliffhanger that I am going to be on pins and needles waiting for November to roll around. Excellent work, Ms. Caine! Other authors should follow your lead in how to keep a series fresh.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

So Disappointed

I usually try not to read too many reviews of a book before I write my own so as not to be influenced by others' opinions. This time, however, I couldn't help myself; I had to peek to see if other readers felt a distinct lack of emotion for this final installment into our beloved Sookie's tale. And while I won't go so far as to say this is the worst book ever written, I will agree with the reviews I've read: I am very disappointed overall.

There are some things I liked about Dead Ever After, so I will state them first. I liked the fact that I got to spend time with characters I've grown to know and love, including Mr. Cataliades, Diantha, Pam and Bill (despite his flaws). I liked that Sookie realized she has friends she can call on who will help her, no questions asked. I liked that there was resolution for Claude. Wait...I'm trying to think of more things. Oh, and despite my overall lack of enthusiasm, the story did move along fairly quickly and I kept turning the pages to see what would happen next. That's a positive, right?

But oh my gosh, the problems. This is going to be spoiler-y, so consider yourselves warned.

I'll start small. After being in financial straits for so long, suddenly Sookie receives a bequest from Claudine that will basically take care of her for life? Wow. How nice. Oh, that nasty break-up with Quinn? It's in the past and all's forgiven. That convoluted murder and arrest? Never would've happened, even if Alcee had not been under the influence of a voodoo object. Amelia's father wanting the cluviel for simply to control Amelia? Yeah, right. And where was Bubba?

But then...the Eric situation. It was handled so badly, even with the lead up from the last book, that it was unbelievable. These two loved each other madly, and yet Eric couldn't and wouldn't find a way to get out of the marriage with Freyda? I understand the problems with an ongoing relationship between an immortal vampire and a human, but there would have been something Eric would've done. For him to ride off into the sunset, even with his token gifts, was totally unacceptable, even if I did see it coming. And the non-chemistry between Sookie and Sam, no matter how much Sookie tried to make it sound wonderful, was anything but. Sookie would not, under any circumstances, have simply let go of Eric and moved on so quickly.

If I keep writing, I'm going to talk myself out of the three stars I'm giving this final novel. I wanted to love it, I was expecting closure, and hoping to at least like Sam and Sookie together, and got none of it. Let's just say I'll give it 2.5 stars and round it up for old times' sake.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Z is for Zelda

Therese Anne Fowler's Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, was recommended to me by two people whose opinions I highly respect when it comes to historical novels, so I picked it up in hopes of not only a good read, but one that would give me a sense of who the real Zelda was. I got both, and have to say I'm truly enamored of this book.

Told in first person, we follow wild Zelda from the time she meets Scott Fitzgerald in 1918 through the time of his death in 1940. To say Zelda's headstrong and a forceful personality would be an understatement; falling in love with a character almost her personality twin was a recipe for disaster. Zelda is led to New York City and the wandering life of her writer husband; between the two of them, much alcohol is consumed and much wildness ensues. For a short time around the birth of her daughter, Zelda and Scott try to settle down, but the drive to write and the need to party overtakes both, and they find themselves living in Paris, no true roots for either. Zelda watches as Scott continuously tries to write, his self-doubt and inability to focus almost destroying them, but she is not blameless either. Moving from one place to the next, always looking for a good time, their lives truly begin to disintegrate when Scott strikes up an all-encompassing friendship with Ernest Hemingway. Zelda grows jealous; Hemingway grows disdainful; Scott sinks into alcohol. Things go from bad to worse when Zelda essentially has a breakdown and ends up in a sanitarium, the first of many. There will be no happy ending for the Fitzgeralds.

I did not know much about Zelda beyond the basics when I picked this novel up, but it feels as though Ms. Fowler has nailed her impetuousness and her manic ways perfectly. Reading the author's note, much of what appears is based on the facts of the arrogant, nomadic lifestyle of two creative forces colliding. Along the way, I grew to love Zelda for who she was, reveling in the author's well-written interpretation of a life lived fully but wasted nonetheless. Definitely a story for the ages, and a highly recommended read.