Archive for February 2009
Well, secrets hate the dark, and if they’re the bodies of missing or killed people, Harper will doubtless bring them to light. She finds dead bodies for a living, and she feels their final moments when she does find them—a weird side effect of a lightning strike she survived as a teenager.
‘Small towns could really nurture evil as well as it could goodness…’ I’m glad to see this signature as strong as ever, if pretty disturbing, in the third installment of Charlaine Harris’s latest paranormal mystery.
For years, teenage boys have a habit of running away in Doraville, North Carolina—or so the folks and local law people of that town would prefer to believe: it seems they also have a habit of deliberately keeping themselves in the dark.
As much as they would eventually regret this, it could not change what happened—because terrible things happened in the dark. When the missing kids are finally located, by Harper in a frozen graveyard, their bodies revealed that they were raped, tortured, and then murdered.
Sometimes, I ask this question: what’s more evil? Doing evil, or doing nothing to prevent someone from doing evil? Does the town’s deliberate blindness over the years qualify as doing nothing?
This is part of why I like the Harper Connelly series—the layers, the conundrums, the contradictions in the human condition aren’t ignored, they are naturally part of what make the books tick. A one-dimensional book would not allow us to feel sympathetic towards a sadistic, serial-killer-in-the-making boy; it would not let me feel his story is the most tragic of all, over and above the innocent murdered children; a one-dimensional book would make me put down the book immediately upon encountering an unpleasant story development.
Because I did encounter one, and that’s about the dramatic shift in Harper and Tolliver’s relationship. Sure I noticed the tension from day one; sure I figured out things would eventually head that way; but I sure was disappointed that they did in a hurry. It’s as if Harris wanted this particular issue resolved and out of the way so she could concentrate on the mysteries.
But she must not have realized that we are after not just the mysteries but the total package, which includes the richness, the uncertainty in the Harper-Tolliver relationship. There surely will be more sequels in the offing, aren’t there? Why ruin a good suspense when you don’t have to?
Nevertheless, ICE COLD GRAVE was a great read. I was riveted, and swept up by the events unfolding in the book. I expected it; yes, there were a few strange turns, but, overall, I got what I wanted—which is a story and people as real as a book or characters could possibly be.
The ice would thaw soon enough, I think… Who knows what else it has been hiding all this time? Cameron, the missing sister, is still out there, waiting for Harper.
I say blessed are those who get New Moon—and the rest of the Twilight Saga.
They’re in the zone where life is at its most raw, where emotions are sweetest and harshest, and loneliness is vital company (so unlike the colorless one of the old and indifferent).
Never mind the juvenile writing nor the characterless Bella and Eduard—we are young (or would like to be) and are grateful for stories that indulge our fantasies, give us our catharsis, or let us be as immature as we wish, completely, for its sake alone, without the distraction of sophisticated narratives.
We just need to feel sometimes. Yes, sure, this book is flawed by such lackluster characters—but who cares for them? I am Bella… and someone else is Edward.
Who in all the universe are as fascinating as we, after all?
Teens are especially adept at taking on angst-ridden roles—they are angst! And some are willing enough to forget, that they can go back to a more simple life in which wants and desires are the center of the universe.
And hey, in terms of plotting and characterization, New Moon isn’t that bad… Eduard leaves Bella, after all his avowals of love for some misguided notion of protecting Bella from himself. Bella falls into depression. The four pages labeled simply October, November, December, and January—almost like wordless chapters—are as close to pure agony as a book could get to.
I stared at these wordless chapters, stunned out of condescension; then as the story of Jacob unfolded, I was bemused, because I finally was reading about real people, young people who only have each other to turn to for courage, and a bit of comfort, in a world that has turned upside down.
How do we make sense of a book—but to try to relate it to our own experiences?
I finally get it—and I’m afraid, I remember too. And I believe I’m truly and absolutely flustered about it.
Unfortunately, Bella becomes a doll again in the end. Team Jacob’s human spirit wasn’t strong enough to completely transform her into human.
Legends are born of ideas so captivating that they multiply into sequels. However wild, untamed the plotting, the story logic, the dialogue or the sex scenes, these ideas will bring in the unabashedly sensuous, the lovers of romance, the desperately lonely, the closet romantics, and everything in between.
In the Dark Prince, Christine Feehan constructs a world in which a race of powerful beings, the Carpathians, teeters on the brink of extinction. These beings live for centuries; have incredible physical and psychic strengths—they also must feed on humans for sustenance.
We know them as vampires. But in this world, there are two kinds: hunters and those who have turned.
Vampires are those who chose to feel again through violence. Apparently, immortality has a price: Carpathians lose the ability to see in colors and experience emotions over the centuries. Eventually, life becomes so bleak that they either must choose to end their life or give in to the temporary but addictive exultation of inflicting pain on humans.
Only a lifemate could save them. Because once they turn, their fellow Carpathians will hunt them down… With every kill, a Carpathian loses more ‘humanity.’
But finding a lifemate is not so easy. There aren’t any Carpathian women being born anymore. Children rarely survive their first year. Too many Carpathian men have chosen to seek the sun or turn vampire out of desperation. Their prince, the oldest of them all, has practically given up hope on saving his people.
Until a psychic human female make mind contact with him to cheer him up. Little did she know that there is no getting away from him after that.
“She came to him at dawn, his bleakest hour. As the beast raged inside him, threatening to consume him, he vented his centuries-old despair in an anguished cry that filled the waning night. And she answered, a ray of light, piercing his darkness.”
You can judge from the blurb: There is no waiting, no gentle persuasion, nor a gentleman’s sacrifice with this Vampire. He, and all his brethren, takes. I may not be impressed with the cheesy writing nor the oversexed chapters but I can’t deny the idea of immortal beings wanting no one else but one woman forever is compelling.
We know who the Dark Prince is. He is no one else but the Vampire of all Vampire-lover readers, the ideal of all passionate romance-lovers. Edward is more than pale, an infant, in comparison…
Don’t read this book looking for great writing; rather read it to indulge your imagination, maybe come up with better stories fed by the images and ideas from Feehan’s mind….. Which so many other authors did do, judging from the glut of Vampire Romance stories in the market.
I’m not sure if better stories got born, but readers sure sucked them all up.
Other books in the series (the Carpathians just get more powerful and passionate with each sequel, at the expense of consistency in story logic. Despite this and the repetitiveness, the sequels feed us romance readers—we hardly care.):
1. Dark Prince (July 1999)
2. Dark Desire (December 1999)
3. Dark Gold (April 2000)
4. Dark Magic (July 2000)
5. Dark Challenge (November 2000)
6. Dark Fire (August 2001)
7. Dark Dream (September 2001) (in the anthology After Twilight, reissued in Dark Dreamers)
8. Dark Legend (January 2002)
9. Dark Guardian (May 2002)
10. Dark Symphony (February 2003)
11. Dark Descent (May 2003) (in the anthology The Only One)
12. Dark Melody (November 2003)
13. Dark Destiny (July 2004)
14. Dark Hunger (August 2004) (in the anthology Hot Blooded) (adapted as a graphic novel in October 2007)
15. Dark Secret (February 2005)
16. Dark Demon (March 2006)
17. Dark Celebration (August 2006)
18. Dark Possession (August 2007)
19. Dark Curse (September 2008)
20. Dark Slayer (September 2009)
I love quotes; such nuggets of wisdom, our bite-size reminders for good times, our small comforts at bad times… especially in the workplace.
If there are desperate housewives, there are desperate professionals—who read up on volumes upon volumes of leadership and business principles, sharpen or add to skills with training seminars, or suck up to the boss for advancement.
To lighten the burden of professionals, to keep us thinking and doing clearly, thank goodness someone made the time and effort to reiterate what’s important and what’s not.
Here are a few random quotes (some are truly insightful; most are practical):
“Never confuse a memo with reality… most memos from the top are political fantasy.”
“Don’t take a newspaper to the bathroom.”
“Life in business is made up of ambiguous victories and nebulous defeats—claim them all as victories.”
“Don’t be late for meetings. If you are late, don’t make it a big deal, just apologize.”
“Don’t micromanage your people, your projects or your own life.”
“Never in your life say, ‘It’s not my job.’”
“Never assume you can keep major changes a big secret, because you can’t. Employees always know.”
“Don’t take sick days unless you are.”
“Make a ‘to do’ list every day. Crossing things off the list is very satisfying.”
“Never apologize for an idea that didn’t work—but always admit a mistake.”
“Make friends with the guard in the lobby—someday you will forget you i.d. badge.”
“You will never regret spending too much time with your kids.”
“If you think people don’t know what you are really after, think again.”
“The old model said that managers didn’t do anything but ‘manage;’ the new rules say that managers must do.”
“The size of your office is not as important as the size of your paycheck.”
“Keep your desk clean and you will think better.”
“It’s true. Sometimes you’ll be on a roll and everything will click; take maximum advantage. When the opposite is true, hold stead and wait it out.”
“Manage the paradox of being 100 percent committed to what you are doing while keeping an eye open for other opportunities.”
“Boil down your job far enough so that you can describe it to anyone easily.”
“Bring your kids to the office so they can see where you work.”
“Those who do the work should have a say in how it’s to be organized.”
“There is no such thing as job security.” *from top to bottom; how many CEOs have been axed now? *
“Learn to recognize people who are bad medicine and stay away from them.”
“Don’t listen to rock and roll in your office.” **well, you can if you’re wearing a headset*
“Don’t get a reputation for being a climber or a political animal; get a reputation for always doing what is right.”
“Never underestimate the ability of people to develop strange interpretations of anything you write, say, or do.”
“Don’t confuse extensive documentation with insight, and don’t confuse spreadsheets with analysis.”
“Don’t make people feel bad when they make a mistake.”
“A good raise is 10 percent.”
Finally, the ones closest to my heart:
“Being good is important; being trusted is essential.” *very cool*
“Become known for building ideas, not for finding fault.” *very uncool*
“Teamwork will become more and more important. Learn what it is and how to be a good player.” *Work with people, not work them, in other words.*
“Don’t create layers.” *Just get the job done, you know. It becomes clearer in time that layers are mostly self-serving.” *
“Keep the good pens in your desk, otherwise you lose them.” *sigh*
“Never sacrifice quality to make numbers.” *Or come up with a solution that allows you to satisfy quantity and quality.
“Be direct but not confrontational.” *making informed objections is but right and proper! *
“Support recycling. Avoid wasting paper.” *love Mother Earth. *
“The fastest way to create organization change is to change people.” *a ruthless shortcut or a cowardly way out? *
“The fewer the policies and procedures, the better.” *ah red tape, a bureaucrat’s security blanket; a results-driven person’s wet blanket. Procedures and processes are important, but never more important than the results. *
“Treat everyone in the organization with respect and dignity whether it be the janitor or the president. Don’t ever be patronizing.” *I’m appalled at how some people look down on others; they’re plain deluded.” *
“Be loyal to your career, your interests, and yourself.” *love your job but don’t fall in love with your company! loving you back is against the company’s self interest. *
“When someone tells you these are the best years of your life, believe it and act accordingly. They are.”
Quotes can be harnessed as a formidable business weapons too. So I’m keeping quote 206 to myself, because I believe it’s powerful beyond words :p.
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is pure collective genius.
Rarely do authors tap so perfectly into the universal mush and puerile yearnings of teenage girls worldwide. Rarely is an author so successful in satisfying the wish-fulfillment fantasies of parents for a gentleman-suitor for their daughters. Rarely does a publishing house’s marketing arm bring these escapist sentiments so loudly to light—that even crabby adults who have no business reading YA fiction (because they’re crabby adults) would become curious enough to read their kids’ fiction.
Where else but in this over-hyped YA could I find my long-lost Sleeping Beauty, revive my innate Juan Tamad*, and neutralize my healthy dose of reality. I am back once again to dreaming of knights in shining armor, with me the damsel in distress…
But darn it, I can’t believe it!
I must read this through until the end!
*Proverbial lazy guy, who waits for things to happen instead of reaching out for them. in this context, it means ‘I am a damsel in distress waiting for the prince.’ Yuck!
Even if Harper Connelly and stepbrother Tolliver Lang are in the business of finding dead bodies, they are just as much into the concerns of ordinary mortals as anyone else.
That they make time, bend over backwards to sustain such a connection, what with her strange career and affinity with the dead, and his vocation as bodyguard and manager to smart but vulnerable Harper, makes the yearning for the sweet domestic joys all the more poignant.
But this is really just the tip of the iceberg for these two.
After the disappearance of Harper’s older sister a few years back, their family was split apart. Their baby sisters were taken in by relatives, who weren’t very fond of the grown up kids, maybe even leery of Harper’s ability, a side-effect of surviving being zapped by lightning.
This ability lets Harper locate dead bodies, though, and sense the dead’s final moments. She and Toliver are on the road most of the year, hired to find missing persons suspected of being dead already, or to get a reading about cause of death.
This time, they stumble upon the body of Tabitha Morgenstern, the 11-year old who they failed to locate almost two years ago, dumped on top of a centuries-old grave.
The coincidence is unacceptable. The police suspects them of foul play and the media picks up the story. What’s more uncomfortable is that the two are again brought into the very unhappy circle of the Morgenstern family.
The situation escalates when another body was found in the grave the following morning. An FBI agent obsessed with Tabitha’s case and a private investigator enter the picture to also question Harper and Tolliver about what they know.
Meantime, the two, especially Harper, in the middle of another crisis, continue to dream of buying a house, maybe near Texas, where they can be near their sisters, who even if they don’t wish to have anything to do with their older siblings are, nonetheless, much loved by Harper and Tolliver.
This is why I gave this book 5 stars this time. Because as fun as the mystery was, it’s the people I really follow. I say people; because characters as well fleshed out as what we find in this latest mystery series by Charlaine Harris could only transform into persons we care about, or hate, or dismiss with every turning of the page.
The people are edgy, troubled, damaged, with secrets as often as not, but trying or failing to get by just like anyone else. Meeting them is like watching one of those short, tremendously powerful short films on the Hallmark Channel, in which the emotions of the present, the hopes and fears of the past compress into a few short minutes to convey in one blinding glimpse the future .
With a few pages, we get glimpses of lifetimes.
This power is akin to the ghost, the first detached paranormal entity Harper and Tolliver encounter in their lives, a side mystery that got entangled up in the mystery of the missing little girl. This ghost was powerful enough to manifest as a solid body; it showed up in one really creepy scene to save Harper from falling into his open grave.
Eventually, they told it to seek peace, not justice, so it moved on…. to wherever.
But we readers are not seeking justice, nor peace. So we remain haunted, until the next in the series comes along, and maybe not even then.