Alas, this is the first year I fell on my face during NaNoWriMo. The typical mojo escaped me. Unfortunately, I'm far from the only person in my group to experience creative abandonment. The last few weeks have rarely involved writing, and when I do write, it's somehow wrong. Between struggles at work and concerns born of our current climate, I can no longer wander through the dark worlds I have created. At least not right now.
While my words evade me, I have taken comfort in worlds created by others.
The All Souls Trilogy
Deborah Harkness can certainly write. I set down her books several times, impressed by how quickly I fall into the world she created. Her descriptions and pacing are spot on. The second book in the series, Shadow of Night, is a combination of historical fiction and the fantastic. I can't imagine how much research went into the piece and found the details fascinating. I often find an excess of description tedious, but she struck a balance.
I do struggle with a large element of her work. The relationship between Diana and Matthew is fraught with violence. Matthew is persistently on the verge of giving in to the blood rage that boils beneath the surface. His love for Diana brings out every protective instinct him, diminishing his control. He's even destroyed at least one woman in his past. The character, Diana, devotes a large portion of page time to rationalizing her true love's behavior, trading control for passion. All at once she loves and fears him--for good reason. In typical vampire fashion, he broods and attempts to scare her away for her own good, which only stokes her urge to fix what's broken in him.
Sure, Diana's own temper is fiery. My problem is that her superhuman lover teeters on the razor's edge between loving and destroying her. The dynamic is very typical of the genre, and I wonder why we accept it so readily. A supernatural monster devoted to a woman to the point of destroying everything around her seems to be okay as long as he also protects her from an external physical threat. The mounting violence he feels towards the heroine is channeled into fighting others. The main character even fears him, knows that if she runs he will hunt and hurt her. His instincts are too strong for him to be predictable if she caves into her fear and flees.
The romantic relationship is very reminiscent of Twilight, but the writing is stronger. Despite my issues with the trope, I enjoyed the series.
I have been known to read everything from literary fiction to erotica, but when I saw the title and cover for Lady Pirate, I suspected I would find it rather ridiculous. I was pleasantly surprised! This book is witty and smart. Laughing out loud happened several times. I enjoyed the main characters, and there were mysteries and mishaps to balance out the miscommunications between the love interests that are typical in romance. I finished the book in a day and highly recommend it despite a questionable scene on a beach...
Big Little Lies
Liane Moriarty is my new favorite author. She captured my attention from the outset with an Audrey Hepburn/Elvis Presley costume party, an old woman who converses with her cat, and a murder. That's just the first chapter! I simply adored the ending. I can't wait to see how HBO handles the content (plus Alexander Skarsgård #TeamEric). If you enjoy Gillian Flynn but wished for a little humor to balance things out, you'll love this book.
Movies and Books continued
If you haven't seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I highly recommend it. My husband and I went with the nieces, and I fell in love with the character Jacob Kowalski. Because I found the movie delightful, I've finally caved in and purchased the Harry Potter series. I know, I know. Every time I confess I've never bothered to read the series I get a chorus of horrified proclamations (my favorite being my niece's reaction: "HOW COULD YOU???"). I'm halfway through book two, and I'm beginning to see why so many people fell in love with Rowling's world.
I'm always looking for new books to check out. Let me know in the comments what you thought of any of the books above or if you have a recommendation of your own.