Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Sunday, November 16, 2014

First Thoughts On First Frost

I finished Sarah Addison Allen's First Frost last night and as I write this review, it occurs to me that I have several strong thoughts/opinions to share. But first, a bit of background: First Frost picks up the story of the Waverley sisters, Claire and Sydney, back home in Bascom, NC, living settled, mostly happy lives in the shadow of their family legacy and the same, spirited apple tree living in the back yard. While all seems mostly well, there are undercurrents of dissatisfaction, and not just between the sisters: Bay, now 15, has revealed her feelings to Josh Matteson, who doesn't reciprocate, and nine year old Mariah, who has suddenly developed a friendship with a girl no one knows. There is also the presence of a mysterious stranger who doesn't seem to have the Waverley interests at heart.

So, on to my thoughts:

1) This book is filled with beautiful, luxurious statements that had me pausing to savor the words. A couple of my favorites: "...happiness isn't a point you leave behind. It's what ahead of you. Every single day." " was like she's brought the entire month of July with her." Gorgeous writing.
2) A story doesn't have to be about a big, sweeping tragedy or event to make it worthwhile. It can be about a series of small events that resonate with your life and cause you to think.
3) A touch of magical realism never hurts anything and generally helps.
4) We believe what we choose to believe.
5) Visiting with old friends, even old friends who need a good lecture, is always a welcome thing.
6) Sometimes, all it takes to get you out of a reading slump is one fantastically engaging book. This is it.

I loved this story, even if I did get frustrated at times, especially with Claire. I love all the characters, especially Evanelle and Fred; their interactions were genuine and touching. If I'm still not sure about the ending with Violet and Sydney (no spoilers here), I can still believe in it. Allen's writing is so vivid and alive, I would probably go along with an ending that involved unicorns and talking frogs (neither of which make an appearance, thankfully).

Every time Sarah Addison Allen releases a new book, I'm practically giddy until I finish it, and this is no exception. My biggest problem is that now I'll have to wait more than a year for her next entry. First Frost is as good as it gets, and I suppose I'll just have to bask in its glow until the next one.


Monday, November 10, 2014

A Thousand Pieces of You

Marguerite is mourning the sudden, violent death of her father, a famed physicist who, along with her mother and a couple of graduate students, has perfected a device that allows individuals to travel to alternate life dimensions. In a desperate attempt to track down Paul, the grad student accused of killing her father, Marguerite and the remaining student, Theo, grab the Firebird devices that allow them to go to other dimensions, and take off after him, determined to bring him to justice. Of course things do not go as planned, and it doesn't take long for Marguerite to begin to question Paul's guilt and her own convictions as she first slips into a futuristic world, then into a Russian world that hasn't advanced much past the turn of the last century, and finally into an oceanographer's dimension. In all of these worlds, she is Marguerite, but a slightly different version of herself; she occupies the bodies of the other Marguerites while trying to discover whether Paul has actually betrayed her father.

Confused? Well, yeah, it is confusing, but it's also not all that hard to follow, either. While my description doesn't really do the complexity justice, I found that as I read, I really did know what was going on and did understand what Marguerite was trying to accomplish (even when she wasn't precisely sure herself). There is some technical language that really doesn't make all that much sense as far as alternate dimensions go (though really, it's a novel, so it could be done however the author decides). What bothered me was the slipping into the alternate bodies and consciousnesses of the "other" Marguerites...where did they go while OUR Marguerite occupied their bodies? I never really got a satisfactory explanation, but again, if you don't think about it too much, it works.

Marguerite's a bit hard to get to know, and her immaturity (even with two graduate students seriously interested in her seventeen-year-old self) often made me want to scream. I understood her need to avenge her father, but she's often reactive rather than proactive once she arrives in another dimension. I'm not sure I buy the relationship she forms with one of the graduate students; there just didn't seem to be much chemistry between them. But Marguerite is brave and determined, and she uncovers layers of the mystery with every dimensional jump until the final big twisty reveal (which I actually figured out ahead of time...woot! for me).

Despite my misgivings about Marguerite, I did love the storyline and Ms. Gray is a very good writer who holds the reader's attention quite well throughout. The idea of alternate dimensions is fascinating, and while I might prefer the take of Anna Jarzab's Tandem (Many-Worlds) this is indeed a good entry that keeps you entangled in the story. I'm ready for Book Two.


Saturday, November 01, 2014


Full Disclosure: I didn't realize this was the second book in the series when I decided to read and review it. So perhaps I might have missed a bit of relationship building (okay, I missed a lot) and some background information that it might have been handy to know (sure, I was confused a few times). But for all that, Invisible is a rollicking good story that kept me swept up and reading, figuring out what was going on and keeping me intrigued enough to want to know more.

Joy Malone is involved with a Scribe from The Twixt, the enchanted world humans know nothing about but co-exists alongside ours. Joy has the Sight, which is normally a condition that means blinding by the Twixt, but apparently she's done things in the past that have saved her and others and resulted in her relationship with Ink, the hunky, hot, not- human Scribe. She is also friends with his sister Inq, and on good terms with a giant frog-like Bailiwick known as Graus Claude. Joy has ignited the wrath of The Tide, and they have defied an Edict of Protection by sending a lethal Red Knight to kill her. While evading the Knight, Joy becomes involved with a) a side business with the Bailiwick which puts her at risk, b) the Cabana Boys and a Den of Iniquity, c) her brother's strange behavior, and d) a wizard. When Joy's best friend Monica gets hurt during one of Joy's encounters, Joy risks her life and her relationship with Ink.

I really enjoyed this story, even if I didn't understand all the references to the first book in the series. Still, the author does an excellent job of world and character building, even if Joy at times acts rashly and a bit immaturely. But she is always loyal and brave, and above all, determined. Biggest gripes? I don't need to know what each of the Bailiwick's hands is doing every time we see him, and Ink comes off as wooden way too often (even if he is just learning to experience human emotion). But I'm in! I'm on board for the next book in the series and feel certain the first book must be just as engaging as this one since we know that the second books in trilogies often suffer from slow plot and pacing. Fun story and well worth the read.