Friday, November 29, 2013

The Rest of Us by Jessica Lott




I'm not sure how I stumbled on this novel.  I think I was in the bookstore and I just happened past it.  I actually picked it up, I started to buy it, but I talked myself out of it (as I have forced myself to do many times since getting Kindell, the Kindle and his brother, Irving, the Kindle Fire).  I put it down, walked away, returned, pondered it again, dismissed the idea, left.

Promptly went home and pulled it up on Irving.

Pondered, again.  It wasn't free.  It wasn't discounted (much).  I could wait, right?  Besides, I'm already reading something.  It's not as if I needed anything else on my to-do-list.  Besides, don't I have enough to read already (when I have time to read, that is)?  I mean, seriously.

But I succumbed to the allure and seduction of the title and the promising story within the pages of a long lost love affair  rekindled...

Such a sucker, am I not?

So, I bought it via Irving, thank you Amazon.com, my favorite website ever since discovering you years & years ago.  Move over, Disney - Amazon.com is my happiest place on earth.

Ah, but I digress.  We're here to talk about "The Rest of Us" by Jessica Lott.

This is one of those intellectual reads, where the characters are far too refined for me to relate to - altho, at first I felt I was relating quite well to Terry, aka Tatie, as her beloved Rhinehart calls her, with her unexceptional existence, an empty life of unlived dreams, wheels spinning in place on an endless NY street...

She is very static.  She's existing, not living.  She moves slowly through her days, maybe pushes, although without vigor, through her days is a better description, thru a suffocating force that seems to be holding her, stifling her, in place.  Her life languishes, as if she's waiting for something to happen to her instead of her stepping up, or would that be stepping out?, to make it happen for herself.

And so we enter into this thick fog of a story meeting the aimless Terry, just as she's read the shock of Rhinehart's untimely death.  Just a quickly, she runs into him, Christmas shopping, and learns it was a terrible, terrible mistake.  Did she miss the retraction?  Apparently, so...  What comes next is a story of second chances - Rhinehart's second chance at life (even though he was never at risk of losing it to begin with) and Terry's second chance at having a relationship with him - this time, platonic, because, her Rhinehart has married.

We learn Rhinehart is a bit aimless, as well, having once been a keen and celebrated poet, he has fallen into the ordinary life of aging scholar and henpecked husband.  They are each holding on to their past - Terry by staying in place, as if changing anything might mean Rhinehart couldn't find her should he seek her out, and Rhinehart by keeping a photograph Terry took in his study where he can see it daily, altho it seems to have stifled his words instead of inspiring them to come forth.  And so, the reunion rebirths them both - Rhinehart from the dead and Terry through a renewed interest in her art.

Their relationship begins slowly - oh, so slowly - through a carefully stepped friendship after Rhinehart and his wife separate.  I find Terry quite frustrating, and boring - so brooding and such a pushover to both Rhinehart and her best friend, Hallie, that my eyes would have glossed over had I not been rolling them every few sentences into the back of my head!  What is the point of this story, I wondered?  Where is the promise of romance, when will I be captivated by the forbidden affair (after all, he is now separated from his wife, so there is no rush of excitement, no thrill of secrecy to keep me at bated breath!), what did I spend my money on, after all???

But then, out of nowhere (according to dear Irving, 40% into the book), the ordinary Terry blossoms into the tantilizing Tatie, and suddenly I am transfixed by the promise of her replenished creativity, her renewed interest in her chosen career, the allure of New York's art world, her interesting and engaging banter with Rhinehart, and now I am swept away into their life, their struggles to reconnect and rekindle their relationship.  Their need to not repeat the same mistakes they made before...  As Tatie's confidence grows, her opportunities flourish!  She plays a dangerous game of friendship with Rhinehart's soon-to-be ex-wife.  Rhinehart, an immigrant from the Ukraine who came to America with his mother as a very young child, begins an emotional affair with his Ukrainian family history, a pursuit that takes him out of the country indefinitely, leaving Tatie behind to try to piece the puzzle of their relationship into a picture she can see, hold, understand and hang on the wall.

Over the course of many months, but less than a year, Tatie & Rhinehart come together, drift apart, pick one another up and fall together again.  Tatie, the weak & stale Terry I first met - the girl who couldn't say no and was bullied and prodded into doing as others wanted instead of what she wanted - turns out to be one of the strongest and most amazing of characters I think I've ever read.  I think she will stay with me for a very long time, which is why I felt so compelled to write about this story as soon as I read the last line.  I don't want to forget her - I want to know her, I want to hug her, I want to tell her she's going to be just fine.

But, you know, I'm not worried about Tatie.  I know she's strong, she's stable, she's in New York, and she's living her dreams.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

REJECTION

How far would you go to be published???



Lucky me...  I stumbled up on this book in one of my "free download for Kindle" accounts - what a blessing!  This book hooked me quick and kept me intrigued.  Totally believable, albeit a bit gruesome (ugh!), I just fell right in and took my time crawling back out.  I loved the mystery of the crime story, loved that the main character is a bit of a buffoon - a sloppy, overweight, lazy numskull who is just counting down the days until he retires off the beat.  What I wasn't expecting, but really loved, was the way things began to work out for him.  Circumstances beyond his control put him in dire straits - and he accepted it and was bearing the weight.  But then, out of blue - and also out of his control, things start to turn around.

An added bonus was the insight into the publishing world & the tormented life of would-be writers.  That was the icing on the cake.

I think good writing gives you something to take with you after the story ends and this book did exactly that.  I'm considering it a teaching tool for me as I attempt to hone my skill.  I'm really impressed with how Matthews coordinated his plot lines, drafted his scenes and developed his characters - I want to do that!

So!  We had an intriguing mystery, great writing, well-thought out plot, believable characters, interesting sidebars going, good dialogue, descriptive scenery...   what more could I ask for?  

Dennis Lehane, you still have my undying devotion!  John Sandford, Lucas Davenport still has my heart!  But we might need to make some room for Thomas K. Matthews & his Lou Drake.  

Just sayin'.



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

too much of a really good thing!

Kindell, the Kindle, is a blessing and a curse.  I can now buy books with such ease!  Long gone are the days of pondering & justifying my book-purchasing-fetish.  Now, with one-click shopping @ Amazon.com, I get instant gratification.

What.  A.  JOY!

Except...  I'm probably a little out of control.  OK, not probably.  Am.  And not a little, but alot.  I am out of control.  I can't stop.  I already admitted, via the 161 project (which I bet, if I counted, it'd be more like the 200 project), that I have more books than I can possibly read.  So what do I do?  I buy more on the Kindle.  Hmmm...

I've discovered Kindle Freebie Websites, too.  There's Pixel of Ink, and I Love E Books, not to mention, Amazon itself contributing to my obsession.  They just make is soooo easy!

And even tho I need to stop, I need to envoke self-control, what do I do today?  I buy a trilogy.  That I don't have time to read!

Seriously????

Product Details   Product Details  Product Details

Somebody stop me.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Falling off the face of the earth & climbing back on again...

That is me.  I am re-emerging from a detour I didn't know I had taken.  It started earlier when a Facebook friend posted that his wife had written an e-book and I decided to buy it.  Not becauses I'm really interested, but because I'm really supportive that way.

Besides, it was only $1.99.

I had to register with Smashwords and that's when the fun began...  I had to go to my email to get the confirmation.  WHAT A SHOCK when I saw that I had 3160 unread messages!  So I scrolled down & saw that I had not checked messages since April 27.

2012.

Over an entire year ago.

What the hell happened?

I truly do not know.  I can tell you I've had good intentions.  I can assure you I've overloaded myself.  But, still.  53 weeks worth?  Really?

~sigh~

Well, the good news is I whittled it down to 85 messages in my inbox and I'm posting to my blog.  Not how I expected to spend my evening but apparently HOW I needed to.  And, I have new followers on Twitter and several friend requests on GoodReads (more neglected social media!).

All in all, all is well.

But, please, I ask of myself, don't let another 53 weeks go by before I do it again.

~sigh~

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Class of '65 turns 65

What Really Happened to the Class of '65?

What  REALLY Happened to the Class of '65? 

Well, I don't know.

But back in '78 (or so) I did.  I knew cuz I read the book.  A mere child of 11 or 12 and I'm reading THIS book.  Why???

Cuz I was born in 1965.

My sister & I would walk to the store - it might have been an Eckerd Drugs - and would buy candy, lip gloss, MAD Magazines and the occassional paperback book.  This was one of those books.  My sister wanted to buy it, I'm sure she coerced me into chipping in by pointing it out it was about THE YEAR I WAS BORN!  How could I possibly NOT want to read it, too? 

I have no idea where our copy is but I remember it fondly, altho sporatically.  It was the pictures in the middle that fascinated me the most (but I did read it, not just look at the pictures.  Honest.)  I can still see the portfolio picture of the beauty queen - gorgeous!  And the girl who had just had a baby (literally - her boobies were showing!).  The guy - I think his name was Brock - who was the hunk, became an actor, then killed himself (I forget how).  I think there was a story about him that he dunked a basketball in the wrong goal scoring for the other team.  Story upon story of admitted drug use, sexual exploits (oh my!), arrests, and just plain sadness.

Hopes, dreams, expectations, realizations, defeat, acceptance, life.

These stories never left me, although, now they're vague.  I kept them for years, definitely through my own graduation and several years after.  Whenever I think of where I am, where I thought I'd be and whether or not I'm truly OK with it, I think of this book.  As young as I was, it was a real eye opener for me.  The saying "we plan, God laughs" truly comes to mind.

So, after all these years and my own dog-eared copy long gone who knows where, why now do these men & women come to mind?  I really don't know.  In a fit of insomnia recently, it popped in my head.  And I started doing the math...  the Class of '65 would be... turning 65!  Wow.  That was too good to not comment on.

I understand there are follow ups but I haven't delved that far yet.  Maybe soon.  I'm more in awe of the fact that these kids, who were only 10 years out of school when I stumbled upon their stories, are grandparents & great grandparents now.  Their careers are coming to an end, they're thinking about retirement.  They're probably paunchy, wrinkled and gray...

And I am not far behind them!  Just tonight I sent out a Facebook message to a few classmates reminding them that this was our 30th Reunion year.

Ouch.

And touche.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

from John Sandford

I have a few "favorite authors" - those that I will read absolutely everything they write that I can get my hands on.  Dennis LeHane is one, I've mentioned him many times.  So is Jennifer Haigh.  And then there are writers that I read regularly, not necessarily because they're my favorite writers but maybe because I'm following their character thru a series (Sue Grafton's Kinsey Malone) or because I started with their first book & am numbly making a collection (John Grisham), or because I enjoyed one of their books & am hoping I'll enjoy more (but haven't quite yet, as would be the case with Scott Turow).  There's more, many more but amongst the collection is a stand-out.  This writer has had my heart from the first opening line I read and I've followed him & his characters (yeah, he has more than one), through book after book after book, and I've stalked him on Facebook, repeatedly check his website and joined his forum.  He is the writer I hold high above the rest.  He is not just my favorite of my favorites, he's THE BEST storyteller I've ever read, and if I thought about it, I'd have to say, he's the writer I respect the most (Stephen King would be a close second).

Who is this highly regarded phenomenon?  None other than...




I met him, in the literary sense, when my flight attendant roommate brought home "Rules of Prey," a paperback a passenger gave her as he exited her plane.  I picked it up & didn't put it down until I turned the last page.  I immediately went to the bookstore - Waldenbooks - and picked up his next two novels - same main character, same series, all have the word "Prey" in the title - already out in paperback.  I read them both within a few days and said, "when's the next book coming out?" 

Ahhhh, herein lies the problem: because I'm quirky (I admit it), I can't buy the hardbacks because I started my series collection in paperback.  Yeah, really.  Soooo, not only do I have to wait for the new books to release, I have to wait for them to be released in paperback!!!  That's, like, forever!

But I've made it through, and have even included his spin-off series in my reading collection.  I harbor every word, I covet every book.  I think this man humbly walks on water.  Such an inspiration to me (he started out as an investigative journalist), I'm in awe of him - and the reason I'm posting all this about him now is because this is what he posted today on
Facebook:

I've got a complete draft of Silken Prey, but it still needs a lot of work. I'll spend the next month doing that, the editing, take a week or so off, and then get started on the next Virgil Flowers novel. I think one problem that beginning writers have is that they try to make the first draft perfect -- and perfection is tough. I don't work that way. I try to get a decent first draft, then really bear down on the rewrite. A rewrite's a lot easier to get done when you know the whole arc of the novel. In the first version of this novel, for instance, the personality of the chief villain, a woman whose name is Taryn Grant, is a little too vague. I need to punch her up a bit, but really, that only takes a few hundred words, and because I now know all of her appearances in the novel, I can spread those words out to the appropriate places. (A novel has a certain pacing, which is damaged if you put in big blocks of description ...or characterization. You can take all the information from those blocks, break it up, spread it around, achieve the same end, and nobody notices.)


Feel like that is written just for me!  He's saying, "you can do it, but ya gotta just do it."  Damn.  He's not just a great storyteller, he's a great writing coach, too.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

...Sinister...


image from Wikipedia

OMGosh...  humored my son & let him drag me to see this movie.  Sinister.  The name says it all.

A true crime writer, in hot pursuit of his next "big thing" that will re-put him on the map - his "In Cold Blood" as he himself tries to explain to his reluctant & fed up wife, stumbles upon a wealth of information about horrific,gruesome,  ritualistic entire-family deaths, including the death of the family that lived in his house before he and his family moved in... 

His immediate reaction is to contact the police, but then he realizes the information is his & his alone - this could be "it" for him.  He decides to continue his research on his own.  Eventually, his research leads to history repeating itself.

Once you know the story in it's entirety, you can't help but wonder if it would have made any difference in the end if he had brought the police in...  And you ponder if his situation - his "secret" knowledge - was unique to the fact that he was a true crime writer.  Had you or I stumbled upon the information, most likely, we wouldn't have kept it to ourselves - we would have called the police immediately.  So, the previous victims that were stalked...  did they have knowledge of the previous crimes??? 

Just curious.

The ending leads to alot of post-thought, which means it's pretty good, right?  If it was "silly" or "stupid" we'd dismiss it right away.  But this one keeps me thinking, has me wondering, "what happens next???" 

Was the film worth the $62 we spent for the 3 of us to go (three tickets + food & drink) and me losing my phone (we found it!)?  Uh, yeah, I think it was.

A good creep-me-out for Halloween is always welcomed!

BOO!