BOOK & BLOG
February 24, 2009
Books of the Week:
A strange jumble this week; three paranormals and one literary. Colum McCann is an award-winning writer of novels, short stories, and novellas. And I’m not talking dime-a-dozen awards; I’m talking prestigious. So you can take it from many people besides me that McCann is a great writer. The book jacket is not very clear on whether McCann grew up in Ireland; he now lives in New York City. However, his work is set in Ireland, and it’s poetic, gripping, incredibly precise, and . . . sad. Really, really sad.
MARKED is the first in a young adult series by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast. The premise is interesting. Half Native-American Zoey Redbird is suddenly Marked as a fledgling vampire, which means she has to leave her Oklahoma high school and go to the local boarding school for vamps. Since she not only has big troubles at home, but a stupid boyfriend and a silly best friend, this suits Zoey just fine. This book is entertaining, no doubt about it, but the world in MARKED is divided into those who worship Nyx (this religion is adopted by all vampires and is a mixture of witchcraft and vampire lore) and those who belong to People of Faith. The People of Faith are uniformly horrible. I mean, there’s not a nice person amongst ‘em. I confess that bothered me more and more as I read, but I did like the quick-moving plot.
Kelley Armstrong is one of my favorite writers, and I liked MEN OF THE OTHERWORLD a lot. Werewolf Clay is one of my favorite characters, so a collection of the chapters she put on her website about Clay’s origins makes a wonderful book. If you liked BITTEN, you really have to read MEN OF THE OTHERWORLD.
LOVER UNBOUND, of course, is one of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood novels. Ward is compelling writer with a great talent for dissecting relationships, and she packs enough plot in each book to last me for three or four.(I stand in awe of her ability to control story arcs.) Ward can write great sex, and her characters are complex and anything but one-dimensional, even though they’re hunky huge warriors with supernatural skills. It’s an amazing balancing act.
Shopping is not my thing. I would rather bid for something on E-Bay than try on clothes at a store. Trying to select an outfit to wear to last year’s “True Blood” premiere was a nerve-wracking, excruciating ordeal that my friend Paula suffered through with me.
Shopping is also not my daughter’s thing. She’s a jeans-and-Ts kind of girl. We can manage buying those together. But life does not consist of jeans alone, and at least once a year, we have to buy her something for a special event.
The worst shopping trip ever was when she was invited to be in a wedding several years ago. She had to have three outfits, besides the long dress. The long dress had already been selected by the bride, a welcome relief. We just had to pick out the shoes at the same bridal store. The saleswoman, to our (barely suppressed) amusement, showed us shoes she assured us were “dyed-able.” That part went okay, but when we had to select suitable dresses or skirts for the bridal shower and the rehearsal dinner, we had the Shopping Trip from Hell. Only the presence of Daughter’s very calm friend saved Daughter and me from choking each other in the dressing room. I felt like we’d been through American Gladiator by the time we got home with the required clothes.
But we learned from that trip, and here’s what we do. We ALWAYS take a buffer. This is usually a good-natured friend of Daughter’s. I also learned to provide a carrot: “You can buy a pair of jeans after we get the dress and shoes to go with it.” Clearly defined goals also help: “Today, we have to buy a dress for the party and a nice sweater to wear with jeans to the play.” What’s helped most of all, of course, is the fact that Daughter has grown up, and now accepts the fact that you have to wear appropriate clothes to various events.
Finding her prom dress had the potential to be another nightmare, but we took the precaution of inviting TWO buffers, doing some research before we drove to the nearest city (Texarkana), and putting a time limit on the shopping trip. Also, we had enough flexibility to go somewhere else on another weekend if we couldn’t achieve success that day.
First we went to a small shop called Reeds, and within an hour we had the dress, the shoes, and the jewelry. Though it’s not a posh-looking place, it had a good selection and great saleswomen. Also, we knew we had time to visit another shop or two if Reeds didn’t work out, which took the pressure off. To our great good fortune, the second dress was The One. I had braced myself so thoroughly for this trip that I felt almost let down when we achieved our goal so painlessly.
To celebrate, I came home and bought some jeans on EBay.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris