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.
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.