from Mary Saums
I'm a flipper.
Some days, only books with hard core street-wise heroes appeal to me. The meaner, the more violent-prone, the sneakier, the better. On those days, the portrayal of the reality of gritty urban crime just can't be beat.
But, you know, some days, reality bites. Like the reality of your workplace, one that's maybe closer to an asylum? Or the reality of those two flat tires on your car when you had hoped to get home quickly. On days like that, my choice in reading material is, for the most part, gritless. I couldn't care less what literary critics or dark-crime-only proponents think or how much they might argue that humorous, lighter books are not to be taken seriously.
But then, what do I know. I'm just a wee lassie.
I flip back and forth across the line all the time. Sometimes, I dislike reading about cold mean handguns. Other times, I like a good shoot 'em-up and would love to be the good guy in pursuit with his hand on the trigger.
Here lately, the mysteries and thrillers are on hold on Mt. TBR.* All I've wanted to read is fantasy. Total, all-out werewolves and fairies and every other kind of Other. What I've been loving about them is the way the authors combine reality and fantasy elements in creating the heroes. Just like Flipper, Lassie and Trigger. They are intelligent, able and moral, just not 100% human.
In Cassandra Clare's steampunk YA fantasy Clockwork Angel, the young female lead doesn't know what she is. Neither do her protectors who are descendants of angel/human parents. These swordbearers have political agreements, and sometimes wars, with the rest of Victorian London's otherworld communities of vampires, warlocks and the like. All the young girl knows is she can transform herself to look like another person and hear their thoughts. She's more interested in finding her missing brother, who is the last of her family, and getting back to a normal life. I enjoyed this one and look forward to the next in the series.
Harry Dresden, a wizard P.I., walks the line down Chicago's mean streets and I do mean mean. This is the 8th in the series. By this time, Harry's work involves the wizard's council more and more. He must join forces with other regional wizards to stop a madman and his undead army from taking over the city. Very well done, written in a noir-y P.I. style that was fun. I listened to the audio version, narrated by James Marsters, he of the cheekbones, who did an amazing job with all the voices. You may remember him from the TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Oh, Spike-y ..... <sniffle> <sob>
Both of the above books rely heavily on known otherworldly beings. This is good, since readers are likely to accept and enjoy those characters readily.
Author Alex Bledsoe does something different. His latest book, The Hum And The Shiver, doesn't look like a fantasy at first glance.
It's set in the foothills of Appalachia in east Tennessee where a young woman returns from her tour in Iraq to recuperate. When her unit was ambushed there, she killed 10 attackers. Now her tiny hometown is swamped with reporters who want her story.
It's a tiny community with secrets. I loved the slow way the author hinted and revealed the story of the area and the people throughout. Most of all, I loved how realistic the characters were. Oh yes, and by the way, this book contains LANGUAGE in regard to activities between young men and women at their hormone-raging heights. It's a little more than I'm accustomed to, but I managed to struggle through. :) Seriously, this is a great book. The language and activities absolutely fit the characters and situations. I highly recommend this book, which I'm certain will be in my top five of the year.
So, what next? Have any recommendations for me? I can handle freaky. I think. To a point, anyway. And, of course, fantasy-types with super-hero animals who are good to the bone.
*Mt. To Be Read