BOOK & BLOG
Decemeber 10, 2005
Books: Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series
For those of you who havent yet picked up Rachel Caines Weather Warden books, you can use the Christmas holidays to catch up on this excellent series. There are four books so far: ILL WIND, HEAT STROKE, CHILL FACTOR, and WINDFALL. Since Im doing my reading for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, WINDFALL is sitting on my To-Be-Read stack, practically dancing up and down. Ive had to promise it to myself as a treat for when I finish my mandatory reading.
I dont want to spoil the originality of the books by revealing too many plot points, but this series is centered around Joanne Baldwin, a young woman who has a gift for controlling one aspect of the weather. At the beginning of the series, Joanne is more or less an apprentice, but a few of the more experience weather watchers understand that Joanne is more powerful than any of them. Joanne herself doesnt fully realize this. She is paired with a mentor, discovers he is corrupt, and kills him, more or less by accident. Then she has to go on the run because her own organization considers her a rogue.
Along the way, Joanne acquires her own djinn. In the way Joanne has of incurring ever more disaster, she falls in love with him.
One of the things I love about Rachels world is that its internal rules are quite coherent. Rachel is an excellent writer, and I cant tell you how wrapped up in her books I get. The only problem I have with Joannes adventures is that perfectly awful things happen to her, and the fact that she survives them in any form is simply amazing. Other writers accuse me all the time of putting Sookie through some awful hoops, but believe me, Rachel has me beat all hollow. The wonderful thing is, Joanne persists in her efforts to correct the corruption in the Weather Wardens, to save her lover, to be merciful long after I wouldve thrown in the towel on the lot of them. Of course, partly this is a matter of her own survival, but mostly its because shes tenacious and strong. Joannes a great character, and these are wonderful books.
The Value of Service
On my favorite mystery list, DorothyL, another writer recently posted about an unpleasant encounter she had with a bookstore clerk. When he asked why she was in his city, she said she had to attend a signing, that she was a mystery writer. He said something to the effect that, Thats hardly worth doing, is it?
Of course, I think its very much worth doing; in fact, I think being a mystery writer is a wonderful thing to do. This young man also criticized her choice of books. He was trying to ruin her day by establishing his own superiority. I dont think he managed. He did ensure shed never visit that bookstore again.
After a long day of Christmas shopping on Friday, I thought about how much easier clerks (in the many stores Id visited) had made the day. I dont like to shop, Period. I especially hate shopping for fragrances, because I think the top of my head is going to fly off after smelling more than one. (My idea of hell would be to work in a bath and body shop, or a candle shop.) But each year, I get my kids a bottle of cologne each, and of course, Im not just going to pick one at random. The clerks at the mens and womens cologne counters did the best they could to minimize my discomfort, and they were extremely helpful. Also outstanding was the clerk at Pier One, when I suddenly changed my mind about my purchase and decided to get something else instead. She may have inwardly wanted to nail my hide to the wall, but she was absolutely wonderful about filling out the required slip and swapping the items.
I fear these jobs are not well paid, but let me tell you, a store clerk can make a huge difference in your day. If every clerk I encountered had had the attitude of the young man in the bookstore, I would not have spent half the money I did, I would have gone home earlier, and I would have lost any Christmas spirit Id managed to drum up. As it was, the uniformly pleasant and helpful demeanor of every clerk I encountered made me feel almost light-headed with good cheer. They were happy, I was happy, my kids would be happy with the presents I was selecting for them . . .
This is just my little hats-off to store employees who go out of their way to make customers feel welcome. In the course of their day, they make life a little more pleasant for all of us.
® 2010 Charlaine Harris