BOOK & BLOG
December 2, 2007
Book of the Week: HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE by Jeaniene Frost and AGNES AND THE HIT MAN by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
I just finished Jeaniene Frost’s HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE, a book I’d been curious about for some time due to reader comments on the website. I admit to having some issues with the character and plot development in Frost’s book, but the premise (a half-vampire half-human bent on executing all vampires meets and bonds with a vampire hitman) was interesting enough to carry me through the book.
Catherine “Cat” Crawfield is certainly a strong character; she began trolling for vampires in bars when she was sixteen in an attempt to please her mother, who was allegedly raped by a vampire. Though Cat gets involved in this terrible lifestyle to please her mother, she seems to get nothing in return, and the grandparents with whom the two live are not warm fuzzy characters either. It seems a bit hard to believe that Cat, tough and capable but ready to love, came from this stony ground; and not meeting Cat’s family until the book is halfway over doesn’t help.
But still, when Cat meets Bones, the vampire hitman, sparks fly pretty quickly, and soon the two are heavily involved. Bones says that he’s one of the good vampires, and it’s the bad vampires he’s killing. Then the government intervenes, and to save her mother Cat must agree to work for them and abandon Bones. This is the sorry note ending the first book. Somehow, I think they’ll get back together . . . both characters have a lot of lively charm.
Right now I’m working on AGNES AND THE HIT MAN, a collaborative book written by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. Agnes, a great cook with quite a temper, and Shane, a government hitman, meet under strange circumstances. Agnes is a bit homicidal herself, and during the course of the books she learns to embrace her inner killer, a touch I didn’t quite expect. Her best friend advises Agnes to stop trying to act like she’s nice, when she’s really nothing of the sort; and this bit of reality shakes Agnes’s self-image. Shane becomes more responsive and Agnes learns some restraint as they romp through this adventure, which includes a missing five million dollars, a dead dad (two), a terrible mom (at least one), and a group of people are who paired off all wrong.
This book is great fun and has lots of original touches that I really enjoyed.
I’m coming off a crummy week where I got very little accomplished in the professional way, and actually not much accomplished personally, either. Family stuff took up a huge chunk of my week, as it does when you have a real life.
On the other hand, writing is part of my real life, too, and I’ve really missed it. My novella chugged along a bit, I read some stories for the next anthology Toni L.P. Kelner and I are editing, and I began to think about what to say to the authors about little changes we feel need to be made to a couple of those stories.
Though most writers are intelligent and realistic people, no one in the world likes to find out they did something less than perfectly, right? And no matter how experienced the writer, he/she doesn’t enjoy getting notes from another writer. “Why, I can out-write her with one hand tied behind my back!” I can picture contributors snarling, as they read our suggestions. This certainly may be true. But as I’ve had to admit over the years, the person who wrote the story/book/poem is the last one to see the glaring errors that others seem to spot so easily.
I hope tomorrow things will be a little more back to normal whatever that is and I can get some work done. I have a list of Christmas things to do, but I need to work. I can get the Christmas stuff done in two days if I really focus: the writing needs to be completed pronto. So wish me luck this week as I try to juggle an invalid daughter and household stuff with the needs of my profession. I know most of you do the same thing every week, it’s just that your job is different. Maybe we all need an extra dose of patience at this time of the year.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris