Beach Reads? Well, maybe not these . . .

I haven’t written much lately because life’s been going in a million different directions.

First – I had my presentation about my research into George Kimmel’s disappearance that I had to prep for (which went great, by the way, thanks for asking, none of my friends did). That took a long time because I had to go back over the material, and dig back into the depositions, and look at the newspapers from my personal godsend, . . . so that meant time away from writing.

Second – well, frankly, I don’t have a second. I’ve been reading books for the ICT Reads challenge (read 11 books, 11 different categories), and getting through my to-be-read list. And some of the books have been amazing! Now, if you’re looking for a ‘beach read,’ this is not that list. But if you’re looking for something that will make you think, here’s a few:

the-perfect-horse-The Perfect Horse, Elizabeth Letts – this book is about the fight to save the famed Lipizanners of the Spanish Riding School, during World War II. What I always heard was a dumbed-down version:  Alois Podhajsky, Director of the School, asked General Patton to save them, and convinced him by doing a riding demonstration of the stallions’ talents. Not necessarily true! There were many people – American and Nazi, Polish and Austrian – who worked tirelessly together to save these horses from being killed by the Russians. Note:  if you grew up during the Cold War like I did, this book will not make you like the Russians any more than you probably do now – which, if you’re like me, isn’t very much.

notes small islandNotes From a Small Island, Bill Bryson – hands down the best, funniest, and most heartfelt look at Britain ever written. If you don’t want to go to Britain, you will after reading this. Bryson doesn’t pull punches, but he manages to find something endearing even in the worst situations. It is absolutely laugh-out-loud funny in places, so be warned and don’t read it in public unless you’re willing to let others in on the secret!


dominionDominion, C.J. Sansom – I’ve read Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake novels, set during the Dissolution period (1530s – 40s) in England. So when I saw this cover, I felt compelled to see what it was about. Fact:  this is the absolute scariest book I’ve ever read. Forget Stephen King. Forget Dean Koontz. They write about monsters and crap that isn’t real. But this – When I explain World War II for my students, I tell them to think about it as a giant chess game:  all the people, all the pieces had to be in their precise place in order for the Allies to win. Hitler had to survive numerous attempts on his life; Churchill had to be pulled from the morass to become PM; Roosevelt had to be elected to an unprecedented third term; King Edward had to abdicate his throne, leaving it to his younger brother. But remove just one piece . . . and what happens? This book. It’s set in 1952, twelve years after Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany and became ‘allies’ of Hitler. Churchill never became Prime Minister, and there was no one to convince the people to fight. So now, the police work with the Gestapo to root out dissenters; the Resistance is trying to gain ground against a corrupt British government; and I feel such revulsion in knowing that this is all extremely plausible and could have happened. It makes you think. It makes you realize what might have been.

forgersspell-coverThe Forger’s Spell, Edward Dolnick – LOVE this book! Last year I bought a bunch of books for a YA novel I was toying with writing (still am, don’t go getting any ideas!), about art heists, forgeries, and the Nazi quest to steal all the great treasures of Europe for themselves. This one, I read first. Dolnick is an art lover, and a great storyteller. The book is about the ‘career’ of Hans van Meegeren, a hack painter (seriously, how anyone could mistake his crappy, creepy stuff for Vermeer is beyond me!) who made a fortune during the 1930s and 40s selling faked masterpieces to the Nazis. Dolnick does a great job of explaining precisely how van Meegeren was able to do this – and get away with it for so long. A great story, and highly recommended.


Now that I’m off for summer, I’ll be getting back to work on the novels (once I get over this stupid sinus infection and can keep my eyes open, anyway!), and writing about that process. I can tell you right now:  the theme of the summer will be rewrites. But for now, if any of these books tickles your fancy, do grab them!


Photo Challenge: Liquid

A few years ago, my photography club went to the local state lake to do some shooting. For once, the waterfall was in action. It was the first time I’d ever seen it, and I’m afraid I may have gotten carried away! It was so cool down on the river – we had to watch for snakes, of course, but the spray of the water, the mud sucking at our shoes, the roar over which we could just barely hear the birdsong – it was incredibly peaceful and beautiful.


waterfall 15vg bw

When a TV series leaves you heartbroken

As I write tonight, I’m totally heartbroken, and angry, and pissed off, and frustrated.

I know it’s completely first-world. I get it. But damn it, sometimes you just don’t care.

Tom-Ellis-as-Lucifer-1320694For the past three years, I’ve totally loved Lucifer. It is hands-down one of the most original, funny, sexy shows on television. Not to mention one of the best-written, and best-acted. I have a total crush on Tom Ellis (come on! Of course a tall dark handsome gorgeous Brit is going to be the Devil!), and the story lines are incredible spins on the biblical tropes we all know so well.

But now . . . it’s gone. All gone. All we know is that Chloe finally knows – really knows – that Lucifer has been telling her the truth all along. He never made any bones about what he was. Never went by an alias. Lucifer Morningstar. Right there on his driver’s license.

You know, network TV, THIS IS WHY NO ONE WANTS TO WATCH YOUR SHOWS ANY MORE. You rip them away from us! Without warning! You didn’t choose to cancel Lucifer when the writers could have wrapped it up and given us an ending – oh no, not you. FOX has to leave us on a total cliffhanger – Pierce/Cain dead, Lucifer (just when we think maybe he and Chloe will finally be able to be together!) gone back to being his full-blown devil self . . . and in walks Chloe.


I hate you, FOX. I hate you so much.

Here’s why I loved the show so much – besides Tom Ellis, of course:

The entire cast. ALL the characters worked so well together – flawed, human (even Maze, the quintessential demon!), and learning to care about each other. Linda, trying to figure out how to be a psychologist to angels. Chloe, just trying to do her job, even with the sexiest and most annoying partner in the world. Amendiel, trying to be the good son . . . and figuring out that maybe it’s not possible. Charlotte’s quest to overcome her past and redeem herself. It all just worked. 

The story lines. So much TV isn’t character-driven, but perhaps because this was based on work by Neil Gaiman, these story lines were definitely character-driven. Lucifer, the rebellious son, doing his best to rebel against whatever he thinks ‘dear old Dad’ wants him to do . . . his anger drove so much, and yet it was so easy to relate to, because who among us hasn’t rebelled against authority? It’s just that when you’re an angel, the rebellions tend to be a bit bigger, is all.

And on the story lines – I loved that this show took familiar ground and shook it up. The devil decides to leave Hell and move to Los Angeles to open a nightclub and freelance as a consultant with the police department? Who wouldn’t love that? I’m not Christian, so nothing about making Lucifer into the hero of the story bothered me. In fact, as a writer, I love it – it’s the perfect twist. Take the ultimate baddie, and make him into a tortured, misunderstood hero. It just goes back to the old adage that all villains see themselves as the hero of their own story.

It was funny. Just – funny! Seriously, the devil going to a psychologist (and yes, paying her with sex, but what do you expect?!). But it was also so heartfelt and all the characters felt so much for each other. Like a few episodes back, when Lucifer was heartbroken that Chloe and Pierce were getting closer, and Linda asked him “what do you – the devil – truly desire?” The dawning look of realization on his face . . . See, I’m tearing up just thinking about it.

But it really is about the romance between Chloe and Lucifer. Even if she was created especially for him (if you believe Amendiel’s story), there was never a clear path forward for these characters. I mean, a mortal woman and the devil? A mortal and an angel? How the devil (pardon the pun) was that ever going to work? He’s spent his entire time on earth denying that he even IS an angel, and then in the finale, has to embrace his true nature in order to save the woman he loves. Classic inner conflict! But we hoped. We hoped so hard. We hoped that he’d get over himself and his rebellious nature for five freaking seconds, and that she’d be open-minded enough to accept him for who – and what – he is.

We hoped.

I am not yet giving up hope.