June 25, 2013

Books of the Week:

  • The Reckoning, Alma Katsu
  • The Thing About Weres, Leigh Evans
  • Tracking the Tempest, Nicole Peeler
  • Free Fall, Chris Grabenstein

The Reckoning is the second book in Alma Katsu’s trilogy about the misfortunes of love and the mistakes we make when we try to mold our loved ones in our own images. Her characters have a lot of time to make these mistakes, since they’re immortal. Lanore, who needs every year of the century she has to mature, has walled Adair, her maker, into the wall of an old house in the first book (The Taker). You can bet he gets out in this book, since the title says it all. Even Adair can change, as the ending of The Reckoning shows, but there are enough unpleasant events to bear out his previous character. These are interesting characters, and I want to know what happens to them, but they’re not exactly lovable.

 

Leigh Evans is one of our own here on this website, and her second book, The Thing About Weres, is just as fascinating as her first. Hedi Peacock is waiting for her lover, Robson Trowbridge, to return from the land of the fae where she sent him when . . . well, it’s a long story. He does return, but time has passed differently in Merenwyn, and he’s now fifteen years older than Hedi instead of five. And he brings back Hedi’s brother Lexi, who was stolen away when the twins were small. Lexi, having spent most of his life in Merenwyn scrabbling to survive, is not exactly the boy Hedi remembers. And in Trowbridge’s absence, his pack has grown uppity. There are a lot of woes to remedy in Hedi’s world, and she’s just the impulsive young woman to do it.

 

Nicole Peeler has a lot of ardent fans, and it’s easy to see why. Her protagonist, the Halfling Jane True, is loved by the very handsome and very rich vampire Ryu, and she is nuts about him. In Tracking the Tempest, the second book in the series, Ryu wants to move their relationship to a different level, one Jane isn’t sure she’s ready for. While she’s visiting him for a weekend of fun ‘n games, all hell breaks loose, and they learn a lot about each other in the ensuring mayhem.

 

I’ve known Chris Grabenstein for at least a decade, and he’s always one of those people I’m glad to see at any conference. It’s an honor to know someone who used to write for the Muppets! And I’m always delighted to read one of his Ceepak/Danny books, too. Free Fall is just as good as any of the others, and it’s the eighth in the series. John Ceepak is a policeman on the Jersey Shore, and all the books are named for amusement rides. Ceepak acquired an apprentice, Danny Boyle, in the first book, and Danny, in whose voice the books are written, has grown with his admiration for John Ceepak, the world’s most consistent honorable man. In Free Fall, there are several crises in the community of Sea Haven, which is recovering from Sandy. A nurse is accused of assaulting a relative of her patient, John Ceepak’s alcoholic father returns despite his promise to stay away, and the community must recoup its losses from the hurricane or face more economic woes. These are wonderful mysteries, and Grabenstein writes great books for kids, too.

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Okay, here’s my current thing to puzzle over; creating memories. Since this concept first gained popularity a few years ago, it’s been a stunner to me. “Let’s go out and make some memories,” people say, beaming, cameras in hand.

 

Aren’t memories just images that you retain as your life progresses? Are they something you have to create? Will taking multiple pictures of some event make it happier, or more important, than it otherwise would have been?

 

This is one of those ideas I just don’t get.

 

I am much more likely to remember the time our middle child smeared blueberry pie on my drapes than I am to recall a vacation we took. Sure, vacations can be fun, but with three little kids, there’s an inevitable recollection of screaming toddlers who don’t like salt water, sand in swimming trunks, sunburn, and overall exhaustion. The blueberry incident still seems wonderfully funny to me, drapes or no drapes. And I didn’t prompt the incident (create the memory!) by handing Middle a piece of blueberry pie and telling him to go for the gold.

 

Surely memories are organic, not sponsored, as it were? Do you ever recall a day, or an hour, because you told yourself you were doing (whatever activity) in order to remember it later? Isn’t that sort of . . . cheating?

 

Probably this is just me having an Andy Rooney moment.

 

Charlaine Harris