Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Don’t be Mad Lauren. I didn’t like Fallen by Lauren Kate


LaurenMy cousin Lauren told me “Fallen” was a must read.  She is a very cool and smart young woman.  She loves the Beatles, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter and Glee.  She is a truly talented photographer and she loves books like her ol’ cousin, me.  When she recommended the book I had to give it a read.  Alas, while our tastes run closely together on many things we must part ways at Fallen.

Fallen is supposed to be about unrequited and everlasting love. It is supposed to be about the recurring romance between Lucinda and Daniel and I guess it is in a general way.  Seventeen year old Lucinda has been sent to a very strict boarding school called Sword and Cross.  She is sent there because she was a person of interest in the burning death of her ex-boyfriend Trevor.  Her parents were at a loss how to help her and sent her to the boarding school on the recommendation of Luce’s psychologist. She has always felt on the outside and freaky.  She see shadows no one else sees and they terrify her.  Upon entering the school she meets Arien, Penn, and Cam.  She becomes friends with the 2 girls and finds herself oddly attracted to Cam.  I guess it isn’t so odd since the guy is drop dead gorgeous and seriously charming.  She also meets Daniel who seems to be the exact opposite of Cam except he too is drop dead gorgeous.  In fact, her first encounter with Daniel includes him flipping her the “Bird”.  Even with his rude and sulking behavior Luce wants to know more.  She feels like she knows him somehow.  Arien takes her on a tour of the campus and when they end up at the cafeteria she has a confrontation with the obvious mean girl Molly who takes great pleasure in humiliating her.  Then there are the oblivious and naïve teachers who don’t seem to notice all the kids breaking the rules even though the campus is riddled with cameras.  The exception to this is Ms. Sophia who turns out to be a real wacko. Add in the very gothic campus including the old scary cemetary where wonderful and horrible things happen and I have read this story before.

The story continues as Luce pursues Daniel who in turn responds and rebuffs her attentions.  Cam pursues Luce with gifts of jewelry, limo rides and intimate picnics.   I know what is going on and who the hero of the story is because Lauren told me but really it doesn’t take much to line up the good and the bad.

Daniel is a good angel and Cam is the bad one.  I am not sure if they are both Fallen but it seems Daniel isn’t on the Big Guy’s favorite list either. We find out that Lucinda and Daniel meet and fall in love and then she dies. This happens every 17 years. Luce never remembers the previous incarnations until she fully falls in love with Daniel and the moment she knows what happens she dies…until now.  This time is evidently different because her parents aren’t religious and therefore didn’t expose her to the whole God, Angel and Hereafter concepts.  So finding out about their history doesn’t kill her…hurray!  Even though Luce is wildly attracted to Daniel she is tempted by Cam.  Somehow all this sets up a scene of a major heaven versus hell battle with Luse’s everlasting soul hanging in the balance. 

This story has lot’s of problems.  The backstory jumps in and out without rhyme or reason.  There is no real explanation for the shadows that haunt Luce.  There is no explanation for Cam’s desire for Lucinda.  There is no explanation why she is so important in the Angelic scheme of things.  I didn’t feel the love between the two main characters.  At first I thought that was because I am in my 50’s and these are kids but no.  I think it is because the Ms. Kate did more telling of their love than showing their love.  I appreciate a good love story whether it is between two teens or puppies.  I felt like I was dropped in the middle of a series and missed the first two episodes.  I wasn’t let in on the secret.

The ending was no greater or lesser than the beginning.  There was no character arc with great choices or consequences.  This story was hyped to be a bang but for me was really just a whimper.  Sorry Lauren.  I’m gonna stick with Harry and Jane Eyre.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Allison Brennan is a new author to me and I am glad to meet her


Recently I enjoyed two books from a new author to me, Allison Brennan.  I read “Love Me to Death” and “Kiss Me Kill Me”.  These tightly written romantic thrillers are the first two installments in her new Lucy Kincaid/FBI series.  Lucy was a secondary character in the previous trilogy “No Evil.”  In that series Lucy, a seventeen year old girl was a victim of a crazed serial rapist and killer.  With the help of the FBI, several of whom are her brothers, she is rescued but in the process she ends up killing her perpetrator. Now, eight years later Lucy has recreated herself into a strong woman who will never be a victim again.  She has earned a doctorate degree in criminal psychology and interned in every possible place she could to earn enough experience and credentials to make it into the FBI, including a stint in the morgue and working for a non-profit victims rights organization to bring down cyber-predators.  She wants to work with the FBI, the organization that helped bring down her attacker and knows she has an uphill battle. 

In the first book, “Love Me to Death” pedophiles Lucy has been tracking start showing up dead.  It appears to be the work of a vigilante.  Because of her connection to the victims and her personal history she becomes a suspect. Unbeknownst to her another threat is stalking her.  So begins a twisted thriller where you don’t know if it is her past chasing her or if it is a whole new threat.  She feels isolated and alone when she turns to her bother’s partner Sean Rogan for support.  He becomes her protector and wants to become so much more.  The story has so many twists and turns the ending comes out of nowhere.  I put this book down wanting to know more about the Kinkaids and Rogans.

The next book, “Kiss Me Kill Me” picks up the story about six weeks later and Lucy has taken her exams and completed the interview for the FBI.  Meanwhile Sean who has become her official boyfriend has received a call from a relative asking him to look for a female cousin who has gone missing.  Once again the story takes off quickly and I was spinning trying to keep up with all the red herrings and left turns.  Does Lucy get the job?  Will they find the cousin?  Who is killing all the girls?  Do Lucy and Sean ever get to vacation? While the first book was all about the crime and the family was only introduced to fill in a couple of blanks, “Kiss Me..” delves further into Lucy and Sean as individuals and their relationships with siblings.  Family issues rear their ugly heads which makes for a nice balance to the almost super hero skills of Lucy.

There is a cast of secondary characters in the Kincaid books that are useful to move the story forward but they really take a backseat to Lucy, Sean and the crime-solving.  You know in Stephanie Plum and Eve Dallas tales the supporting characters are critical to the main characters.  Not so in the Kincaid stories.  I hope this doesn’t cause the series to get stale too soon.  Maybe some of the other characters will move more center and expand the plots. 

Just a note I was reading a little of the bio for Allison Brennan and boy is she cool!  She worked for the California State Legislature as a consultant.  She married and had 5 kids.  She was crazy busy and wrote through it all, mostly after the kids went to bed.  She didn’t write because she thought she was going to be famous or otherwise but because it is what she does and who she is.  I can relate to that.  She wrote a book so she could say she did it.  It was in 2004 when she sold her first book “Prey” and it took off from there.  I am completely inspired by her.  It gives me hope that one of these days someone will be blogging about my book.

In closing I just want to say how proud I am of myself for sharing my thoughts on these stories without giving away any of the plot lines.  It would be a shame to give any of it away.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

So Pick Already Stephanie!

At seventeen I knew I wanted to be an actress.  I had the hots for a gorgeous boy with long brown hair and blue eyes.  I didn't think about much else.  .  In "Smokin' Seventeen" by Janet Evonovich Stephanie Plum seems very similar to my seventeen year old.  She knows she wants to be more and she has the hots for a gorgeous guy.  Okay, make that the hots for two gorgeous guys.  The difference between these two teen personalities is my biggest worry was whether or not my softball team was going to State while Stephanie has dead bodies showing up with notes attached addressed to her.  Other than that Stephanie is no more mature than a seventeen year old.
If you didn't figure it out by the title this is the 17th novel in the Stephanie Plums Series.  I have read everyone one of these books and for the majority of the time laughed my fool head off.  I LOVE Stephanie and the gang but I hate to say it, it is time now for Stephanie and the humor to grow up some. 
In this installment the bail bonds office is situated in an RV while the building is rebuilt after being burned down.  Trouble shows up when dead bodies start being dumped in the lot in shallow graves. Trouble increases when the bodies start seeming to be gifts to Stephanie.  Trouble switches to her love life as she navigates two lovers, Joe and Ranger.  She says she loves them both but she sees a future only with one even though her body can't help but say yes to the other.  It feels rather uncomfortable when she starts bed hopping between the two.  This isn't NYC, LA or London.  These aren't jet setting swingers.  We are talking about the Burg in New Jersey where the hair is big and so are most of the families.  Bladder infections from sex are not funny and even less so with multiple partners.  STD's have never been funny.  Okay, the granny panties were.
I get it Janet.  The formula has been working.  You are still laugh out loud funny in parts and I want to keep laughing for a long time to come but and this is a big but. (Not Lula big butt).  It is getting old.  Stephanie is getting old.  I want to see Stephanie to grow and change like I have grown and changed.  Maybe I haven't matured but I am different than I was 16 years ago.  Stephanie isn't.  Joe isn't.  Ranger isn't. Lula isn't.  It is time.  I don't think the series needs to end but I do think it needs to change.  Stephanie needs to move, get married, hell go transgender but she needs to change.
Just as a note I recently read there is a movie of the series coming out sometime this year.  Check out the picture of the cast!  That explains a lot of things.  John Grisham's writing lost it's grip and read like a screenplay after his book "The Firm" was turned into a movie.  I could almost tell you who he was looking to cast as I read the books.  I quit reading after a while.  The same thing has happened to Charlaine Harris now that "True Blood" has taken over Sookie Stackhouse.   This might be what is happening here.

Please Janet, don't make me quit reading you.  If you get any deeper into one dimensional and sad writing there won't be enough of us to bail you out!