Monday, October 27, 2014

Cate Culpepper's passing

It's all over Facebook, but, for those of you who don't know, we lost a giant this weekend.  Cate Culpepper passed away after a long illness.

I only met Cate once at a GCLS conference, but she has emailed me a number of times and posted frequently on Lesfic_Unbound.  She was supportive and funny and kind.  I didn't realize how ill she was or I would have written her more often.  It's one of those things that we always wish we had done.

Cate's books are amazing.  Her Tristaine series is well known, but, if you haven't read her stand alone books, you must.  They were always masterfully done and wonderfully told.  She didn't waste words, but painted clear and powerful scenes.  I can't think of one that I didn't enjoy.

If you can measure a person by the way she is remembered, then Cate led a full and purposeful life.  Many of our authors are posting better words than I can about her, but it is clear that she touched many lives, those people she met and the ones she inspired.  This is a terrible loss, but she left us something rich to remember her by.

Lynne

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Miss-Match by Erica Lawson and A.C. Henley

Publisher:                   Affinity Press

Miss-Match reads like an experiment that did not work.  It has to be difficult enough to write a book with two authors, but especially unwieldy when one of them is dead and cannot be consulted.  The pace of this book is extremely uneven and, while it’s supposed to be funny, it often feels forced to achieve that.  The company didn’t do this book any favors either.  It’s poorly set up as far as the pages, spacing and so forth, then the editing notes were left in it in places.

Clancy Fitzgerald is twenty-nine, single and the matchmaker she’s been using has run through all of the men she has available.  The matchmaker decides to set Clancy up with a woman, without telling her.  She also doesn’t tell the other woman, Carmen Pratka, that Clancy isn’t expecting a woman.  Carmen immediately realizes that Clancy’s problem has been all along that she’s really a lesbian.  Someone just has to prove it to her and Carmen wants to do that.  What follows is a silly dance between Clancy and Carmen to create a relationship and that gets caught up in the intrigue of a religious group to try and buy up all of the gay and lesbian bars in town to put them out of business.

Erica Lawson is usually a much better author than this and her books are better produced.  Perhaps it was trying to finish someone else’s story that created the problem.  At any rate, leave this one on the shelf and try a different book.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Falling Colours by RJ Samuel



Publisher:       Self-published

Let’s start by saying this is a fun book to read.

The major character Kiran is unique.  Although she was raised in Ireland, her parents are from India, where they now live.  From her father she has inherited the ability to be a vision painter.  A person can pay Kiran to paint what he or she most desires and it will come true.  Since she is the only vision painter in Ireland, Kiran has plenty of work, but it’s not easy.  The effort is draining and she must live by the restrictions imposed by the painters in India.  The most serious of those is that she is not supposed to bring anyone back from the dead. 

Of course, that is exactly what happens when Kiran meets Ron, who is devastated by the suicide of his wife Marge.  She was a terrible woman to everyone else, but he loved her and can’t understand why she killed herself.  All he wants is a chance to talk to her again.  Kiran has no idea what she is about to unleash.  Marge comes back just as dominating as she was in life and totally tuned out to what other people need.  Ron is thrilled, their daughter Ashley is appalled and Kiran has to fix this mess.  In the process, she falls in love with Ashley and finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery.

Samuel may not have intended this book to be so funny, but Marge takes it in a direction that can’t avoid it.  Once she makes it clear that she was murdered and did not commit suicide, Marge won’t give up until the mystery is solved.  The fact that she is a ghost and really shouldn’t be appearing in front of people doesn’t impress her in the least.  She exasperates Ashley and drives Kiran to a near nervous breakdown, but nothing will stop her on her quest.

RJ Samuel has used the theme of a person caught between two cultures before, but Kiran has a comic twist that makes her fun while revealing the struggle she goes through.  The book is a slapstick mystery in the best tradition of the old 1930s movies.  It would be great to have a sequel to this book to see where Samuels could take the characters, but Kiran would have to bring Marge back again.  That might be too much for any of them to take.

Read Falling Colours.  It’s fresh; it’s different; it’s worth it.






Giraffe People by Jill Malone

Publisher:       Bywater Books

Jill Malone is an award winning author for her previous books, but Giraffe People is probably more readable by the general public.  This is likely to due to the fact that it’s a coming of age story, something that most people can relate to.

Cole Peters is fifteen years old; a difficult age for anyone, but especially the child of a military chaplain.  Cole is trying to figure out who she is, what she wants and where she fits in the general scheme of the universe while dealing with the shifting impermanence of military life.  As she says in the book, “We never get to keep anything.  Never.  Temporary quarters, and temporary friends, and temporary school…”  It’s no wonder that Cole boomerangs all over the place in her emotions and perceptions.  She seems happy playing soccer and dating her boyfriend; then she seems willing to give them up for the rebellious life of a rock and roll band.  Is her admiration for Meghan, an older girl who is preparing for West Point, simply the normal hero worship for a role model or the budding of early lesbian interests?  Cole describes herself and her family by saying, “Nigel and Nate and I have the exact body of our dad: stooped, long-legged, with a narrow chest and flat feet.  We’re like giraffe people.”  Maybe what she’s saying is that it’s very difficult to be normal and different at the same time.

The reader can feel sympathetic towards Cole on a number of issues, mainly because she has so many issues to deal with – teenage, the military lifestyle, a girl in athletics, indefinite sexuality, and her father is a chaplain, bringing in the religious aspect.  What’s left for the poor kid not to have to deal with?  The most interesting one turns out to be the impact on the life of a military child.  This is an area most people never consider, but the constant shifting of areas and the inconstancy of friends and schools is destabilizing more than anything.  It provokes a question of whether or not families with children should be in the military or if they should be stationed in one place for longer periods of time.

Giraffe People is the least esoteric of Malone’s books, but perhaps her most thought provoking because it deals with issues almost anyone can relate to.  The reader can identify with struggles that have been experienced.  It might not be a good idea to give the book to an actual teenager however since it might upset more than help them.




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Walking the Labyrinth by Lois C. Hart



Publisher:       Ylva

Lois C. Hart does not issue books as frequently as some authors, but when she does have one come out the reader can be sure that it will be an interesting story that is well produced.  Walking the Labyrinth continues that pattern.

The death of her wife from cancer has caused Lee Glenn to descend into a private hell where she doesn’t eat, doesn’t leave her house and has cut herself off from everything.  Her life has come to a shocking halt until her friends finally stage an intervention and she is forced back into the world.  Lee and her partner in a successful private security company decide she will take on a protection detail for a spoiled ex-model who says she is afraid of her husband.  This should be an easy assignment to help Lee ease back into things because the client wants to return to a remote part of Canada where she was raised.  Lee doesn’t realize she is about to meet a unique group of people who are going to help restore her soul.

Lee Glenn, a woman in her sixties, is about to discover that there is life after disaster.  Her guide on that trip will be Gaelle Germaine, the spoiled model’s mystical, spiritual mother.  Gaelle is building a labyrinth to help with her meditation and she coaxes Lee into helping her with the job.  Lee thinks spiritualism is “hooey,” but Gaelle is fascinating.  Just as feelings develop between them, Lee discovers something about Gaelle that is horrifying and it causes her to flee from what can only be more pain.  Lee isn’t the same person however and she cannot forget what she has learned from Gaelle.  Now the question is, is she strong enough to follow a new sense of being?

Where to start with the wonderful things about this book?  First, the story is about older characters.  This is particularly enjoyable in a genre that seems to be dominated by younger people who are just beginning the lessons that older women have completed.  The book also has a very appealing spiritual quality to it.  It doesn’t advocate any particular system, but opens the reader to probing thoughts and questions that can be pondered outside of the book.  The characters are also interesting.  Many people have known someone who has been destroyed by the tragedies of life.  They also know that calm, reassuring person who seems to radiate wisdom from a place deep inside.  These are the people you want to be like when you meet them, if you can just figure out how they developed that state of being.  And all of this is wrapped up in a story that is completely understandable.  No convoluted vocabulary or esoteric ideas that confuse the reader and get in the way of the message.

Lois Hart isn’t finished writing yet, but Walking the Labyrinth may turn out to be her magnum opus.  If so, she couldn’t hope for any better.

This is a highly recommended book.  Read it and prepare to go on a journey of your own discovery.


On the Rocks: A Willa Cather and Edith Lewis Mystery by Sue Hallgarth


Publisher:                   Arbor Farm Press


There is nothing worse than a book that doesn’t deliver what it says it is.  If a title says it is a mystery, then there should be a mystery.


The book starts with a murder.  Willa Cather actually owned a home on Grand Manan, an island in the Bay of Fundy, and the story is set there.  While she and Edith Lewis are out in a boat one day, they see a man’s body thrown off of a cliff.  The rest of the story is more an explanation of village politics and the events that follow the murder than it is a mystery.  Who committed the crime and why becomes clear early in the story.


On the Rocks is more about the relationship between Cather and Lewis than it is about the mystery.  For people who are Cather fans, this might be interesting, except it’s based on conjecture.  The book assumes that Cather and Lewis were lovers.  That is a topic that is much discussed in the literary community, however, since Cather refused to address it herself and there is no direct evidence in either direction, writing the story this way reflects the author’s own interests more than the truth.  At any rate, that doesn’t make the book a mystery.


The book is rather bland for mystery fans and anyone else should remember it’s listed as fiction.  It isn’t challenging reading.  Keep that in mind if you decide to buy it.