Tag Archives: Cassie Alexander

July 17, 2014

Books of the Week:

  • Shattered,  Kevin Hearne
  • Zoo City, Lauren Beukes
  • Shapeshifted, Cassie Alexander

 

I had the pleasure of hanging around with Kevin Hearne at Phoenix ComicCon. In fact, he took me and two other writers to Rula Bula, the bar that features largely in the first two or three Iron Druid books. We had a kind of guided tour of the topography of Atticus’s world, and it was fascinating. Shattered is something of a departure for Hearne, since it’s not only his first hardback Iron Druid book, but it’s also told from three points of view now that there are three Druids. Finally, Atticus discovers the identity of his secret enemy, and there’s a pitched battle. The newest Druid, Granuaile, becomes more and more a strong character in her own right. Of course, Shattered is as action-packed as its predecessors.

 

Lauren Beukes is not the kind of writer who likes to explain what her world is like. She’s an immersion writer; she plunges you into the protagonist’s world and lets you swim to shore on your own. And it’s a strange South Africa. Murderers carry animals with them perpetually, animals that have sought them out. These animals (the protagonist, Zinzi, has a sloth) both mark the carrier as a criminal and yet give a particular gift. Zinzi is a finder of lost things. This is one of her more reputable means of making a living. Zoo City is spellbinding and dazzlingly original.

 

Shapeshifted is the third Cassie Alexander novel I’ve read, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first. Edie Spence, Alexander’s nurse protagonist, has a real talent for getting into trouble and somehow getting out of it, but each time she seems to have sacrificed something, even if it’s only her couch. And she’s so often sleep-deprived, I worry a little about her patients. But Edie is loyal and tough and determined, and these are all characteristics you want in an urban fantasy hero, which she certainly is. In this book, Edie finds her mother has cancer, and Edie wants some vampire blood to cure her. But Edie’s being shunned by the supernatural community. How’s she going to get it? A loose plot point or two get tied up in this book, but other threads are left open. We can all look forward to what happens next.

 

 

Blog

 

Last week, I was invited to the Hallmark Channel’s party, held to introduce the press to what the channel’s going to be doing in the new TV year. For one thing, it’s changing its name, to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This signals a change of direction, though I don’t think it’s a huge one; Hallmark viewers have always liked mysteries of the milder sort. There’s a huge viewership – huge – that doesn’t like provocative programming. And that’s where I come in. Aurora Teagarden, the heroine of my first mystery series, is perfect for the Hallmark demographic. If all goes well, there’ll be a series of two-hour movies, each one based on one of the Aurora books.

 

And, as you perhaps already know, Candace Cameron Bure will be Aurora. I’ve already heard a number of protests about this casting, but I’m delighted. She’s a Hallmark viewer favorite, she’s charming and lovely, and she can act. It was a pleasure meeting her at the party (we talked about our children), and I’m pretty excited about the whole process.

 

This year, the event (usually held in an auditorium or similar arrangement) was held at a mansion rented for this purpose, in the hills above Hollywood. The view from the terrace was spectacular, and the theme was Christmas in July.

 

I did not wear the right clothes or jewelry to this shindig, I’m sorry to say, and yet I didn’t suffer unduly. Obviously the right thing to wear is a short form-fitting dress and some killer heels, and I don’t have the shape to wear either the garment or the shoes, so I have to cobble something together. In this case, I wore a black leather jacket, a dark blue tank, and black pants.  And a major necklace. I got my toenails painted dark blue and I wore black sandals with an inch heel. I’m telling you all this so you can appreciate the torturous process I have to go through when I get invited to something like this. I have to say, I was comfortable (except for the shoes; I simply  hate heels) and when the sun went down, I was glad of the jacket. Sometimes you win; sometimes you miss the mark. But now I don’t feel bad about it, so that’s an improvement!

 

The people who work for Hallmark (Crown Media) were all very friendly. And here’s who I spotted at the party: Morgan Fairchild, Bruce Boxleitner, Andie McDowell, Greg  Harrison, and Jon Voight. (I’m still stumped by his presence, because I missed the explanation.) There were many more actors who are familiar to Hallmark watchers, but they were new to me. I look forward to sampling the Hallmark programming in preparation for this experience.

 

And here you go — interesting tidbit: When my media escort (a lovely young woman assigned by the studio to match me up with interviewers) took me into the mansion’s dining room, underneath the vast table was a glass floor, through which you could see the swimming pool. Wow.

 

Charlaine Harris

 

April 14, 2014

Books of the Week:

 

  • Nightshifted, Cassie Alexander
  • Possession, Kat Richardson
  • Night Broken, Patricia Briggs
  • Sparrow Hill Road, Seanan McGuire
  • Derek’s Bane and Wolf at the Door, MaryJanice Davidson

 

Nightshifted was an unexpectedly appealing book. It sounded interesting, and I bought it on a whim. Paid off in spades! Cassie Alexander’s first book about Nurse Edie Spence is dark and energetic. Edie Spence works at much-despised County Hospital because she has made a deal with the Shadows who inhabit it; her addict brother’s life is safe as long as she works on ward Y4. Y4 has its own elevator, it’s so secret. This ward is for supernatural creatures with medical problems. Edie is new, and she makes mistakes. Mistakes on Y4 can have dreadful consequences. You’ll really enjoy this book; I’m looking forward to reading the others in the series.

 

Kat Richardson is long-time friend of mine, and I’m an admirer of hers. I think Possession is the best book in her Graywalker series in a long time. Not that any of them have been slouches, because Kat is a very good writer – but Possession is baffling and exciting. Three “vegetative” patients suddenly start exhibiting talents they’ve never had, with no awareness they are acting. Harper is called in by the sister of one of them, and as she explores this phenomenon she becomes more and more aware that something terrifying is going on, something that must be stopped at any cost.

 

I hesitated over reading Night Broken, because I personally dislike old girlfriend/first wife reappearing plots. But Patricia Briggs can make such a tired trope sing. Mercy’s Adam has a first wife that is so frustrating you want to scream, because Christy has a talent for making other people love her and want to help her. And she’s not evil. She’s “just” manipulative in the extreme, perhaps not completely consciously. There are pack members who still think Christy was a more desirable wife for Adam than Mercy is. Of course they’re wrong, and we proceed to find out in the course of a truly harrowing book why Mercy is the lead female in the pack, though she’s a coyote.

 

Sparrow Hill Road is Seanan McGuire’s May book. In fact, it comes out the same day mine does. This is a departure for McGuire, as “Midnight Crossroad” is for me. Other than that, they’re completely different. Sparrow Hill Road is about a ghost, Rose Marshall, and her struggles to live in the ghost world and to avenge her own death. It’s fascinating, the way anything by Seanan McGuire is, but it’s not as lighthearted as her Incryptid books. Enjoy the story of Rose and her tribulations in the afterworld.

 

I needed a dose of funny last week, so I reread MaryJanice Davidson’s Derek’s Bane (werewolf Derek is charged will killing Dr. Sara Gunn, whom a visionary werewolf believes is the reincarnation of the evil Morgan le Fay), and Wolf at the Door (werewolf accountant Rachel is sent to Minnesota to spy on the Queen of the Vampires, our very own Betsy, but in the process meets another accountant, Edward Batley, who is trying to make his life more interesting. He succeeds beyond his wildest dreams. Davidson is always fun, and somehow I feel more optimistic about things in general after I’ve read a book of hers.

 

 

THE WORLD IS WATCHING

 

While watching the news recently, I saw a few minutes of testimony in the Oscar Pistorius trial in South Africa. I’m sure most of you are familiar with this case, that of the Blade Runner and the young woman he shot to death, Reeva Steenkamp. Whatever your opinion of his state of mind at the moment of shooting (Did he truly think there was an intruder in his house, or did he knowingly kill Steenkamp?) you have to be aware he’s putting on the performance of his life.  So is the prosecutor.

 

How much does being watched change the event being watched? Do you think televising a trial make it a different event altogether? While theatrics in the courtroom are nothing new – lawyers have been summoning up the drama since there was such a profession – having a crowd of onlookers in a courtroom can’t compare with the thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, who are passive participants in a televised trial.

 

Is it remotely possible to block that from one’s awareness?

 

Since the words said in that courtroom are echoing around the world, in effect, the defendant is on trial twice: once in the courthouse, and in secondly in the court of public opinion.

 

Sure, it’s always been that way, at least to some extent. I don’t imagine Lizzie Borden was a popular dinner guest after her acquittal – but most likely if she travelled, she would not be recognized. Reaching further back in time, probably no one was anxious to sip tea brewed by Scotland’s Madeleine Smith, who ended her days in America in secret. And these two were acquitted, as possibly (though not probably) Pistorius may be.

 

Now that we have such universal and instantaneous information networks, I don’t believe there’s any way for the verdict reached in a courtroom to be the final one. I think we’ve all joined in being judge and jury.

 

Charlaine Harris