Friday, July 16, 2010

Sons of Anarchy, True Blood and Ain't She Sweet

The list above encompasses what I've been doing over the past few weeks. I've been dragged a little kicking and screaming through two seasons of Sons, wait all week in eager anticipation for True Blood and went back to a comfort read, which is Ain't she sweet.

Sons is a show that is critically well received, and not watched by a ton of people. It's about a biker gang in California, gaining its inspiration from Hamlet. It's really well acted. If you still think of Katey Sagal as the annoying wife from Married with Children, well, one episode of this will forever change your mind on that one. She is a revelation to me, layering nuance over nuance in her character portrayal, and the show has moments of amazingness and dry humor. But I find the plot points, while compelling, get dragged out over two many episodes, and too much filler. When the show works it's amazing and whenever Katey Sagal is on the scream, it's remarkable, but when it falls, it's boring, and in this age, boring is hard to accept.

Especially when my other option is True blood, which is over the top, and at times, ridiculous and the plot point with Sam and his parents is dull, and I'll forgive the show anything. Not just for introducing us to Stephanie's boyfriend, but also for Alcide, and the tremendous energy they bring to the screen, and how so much is going on at all times, I am not for a moment, bored. They've given me over the top characters that I love. I've set up a shrine to Lafayette to my house and the writers seem to have an instinctive knowledge on how to keep everything moving, and keep me enthralled.

And then there is Ain't she sweet. I love this book. So different from what I've just written about, but in a story about how the bad girl goes back home and gets redemption, SEP, manages to make the story fast paced, emotional, and funny. Molly and I keep saying we're going to disect the books we love to try and determine what makes them tick. Then the only one of us who ever really does this is Maureen, and then we're lucky because she tells us what she's learned.

I'd start with Ain't She Sweet. There is no suspense plot, no paranormal elements, and yet, it never gets boring. And yeah, we have that wonderful main heroine, but we also have a supporting cast that are so well thought through. Each one is a point of tension for the heroine, so as soon as the main romance settles, we have the heroine working through her relationship with three other characters and it all works. I think SEP is one of the best plotters in the romance business, and that combined with Sugar Beth, well, it's one of my all time favourite romances.

That's whats kept me busy. Anything I should be watching, reading. Anyone out there read the Passage? Its next on my to be bought list.


Stephanie Doyle said...

Alcide and Eric are fighting for my love right now.

Alcide gained major points by taking off his shirt - but then was thwarted when Eric referred to Lafayette as Ru Paul.

So Eric is still in the lead. :)

Eileen said...

Ain't She Sweet was the first SEP book I ever read and I was absolutely blown away. I actually made a psychologist friend read it to see if she could figure out why I loved it so much. Maybe I should reread it, too, and we could all dissect it together!

I am reading my first Nora Roberts book. I know. How could I have gone this long without reading her? I think it was some stubborn rebellious thing inside me. Anyway, that woman can string some words together!

Maureen McGowan said...

Steph, I loved that Ru Paul line, too. That show is so funny. (And those guys are so hot.)

Sinead gives me credit for analyzing books, but I have no idea why Ain't She Sweet works so well, because it's one romance that really worked for me, too. I think it must come down to characters and pacing and voice. All easy stuff, right? LOL

Karen W said...

I love all of SEP's books.

Oh, and I've read The Passage. Amazing, loooong read, until the ending. That's all I'll say.

Though I've read it's the first of three, meaning there are two more to come, so quite possibly the ending isn't actually what it seems.

Sinead M said...

I feel as though I need to step in here and formally claim Alcide as my boyfriend before Stephanie gets him. i love how he had to practically dip his head to get through the doorways..

Because I really want Eric as my bf. Especially after that scene in the first episode of the season.
you guys remember that scene? The one with him naked.

Maureen McGowan said...

Karen, I was wondering when you said you were angry at the end of a very long book, whether it was The Passage... Sounds like I might have guessed right.

I feel like I need to read it, just because it's such a hot commodity and, well, fiction is my job (or I want it to be.)

I read another review that was lamenting the long wait for book 2 in the series...

Eileen said...

You know . . . one of the things I liked about Ain't She Sweet (just tried to make an acronym of that and, boy, was that a mistake!) was getting inside the Mean Girl's head.

I mean, we see so many stories where there's a Mean Girl who must be taken down. Now we get to see what was going on in her head, why she did what she did and how it affected her. SEP took a 2-dimensional stereotype and turned it into a 3-dimensional character that I cared about.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Okay - here is where I will bring down the wrath of DWT followers everywhere...

I've never read Ain't She. I think I started it and it was "too much" - can't remember why now it was so long ago. But I remember thinking... I don't want to deal with this.

That said I've loved other SEP books. I don't know why she's not an autobuy for me. But then I see her name and I'm like oh that's right I really like her books!

Sinead - you can have Alcide. I mean of course I was momentarily distracted by his chest... (what straight woman wouldn't be)... but Eric has that "something" that just makes me want to eat him back!

Eileen said...

I can't exactly slam you for not reading Ain't She Sweet when I'm reading my first Nora Roberts, now can I? :-)

Maureen McGowan said...

Eileen, I think you nailed why I liked ASS. LOL.

Emily Giffen did this with Something Blue, too... but I liked Sugar Beth more than I liked Darcy, I think.

I also loved this book because at the time I was writing it I was writing and/or submitting a book with a difficult heroine and so I was glad to see that these authors had pulled it off.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Eileen - very true. You probably should be banned from the romance community... but we won't tell anyone.

Which one is it? Nora at her best is very very good. The problem is you get tired of her because the themes and characters are so similiar. But picking her up for the first time... I think that's a real treat.

Born in Ice from one of her Irish series - favorite all time romance.

I just adopted two kittens (I know Sinead... you don't like to hear about the cats... LOL!) but their names are Hermione - one of my favorite heroines and Grayson - from the hero of Born in Ice.

Eileen said...

This one is Blue Smoke. The whole first half of the book is back story and I absolutely don't care. Nor is the head hopping bothering me. I mean, I notice it. I think that's an occupational hazard. I just am involved enough that I don't care.

I tried to listen to The Villa on CD and didn't much care for it.

Stephanie Doyle said...

For me... if you were going to do a Nora tour...

Her Category Work:

The MacGregor series or the MacKade brothers. You really get a sense of her "character" proto types with those books.


Born In Series, Dream Series or Chesapeake Bay. Her "Eve" character type can be seen her. And it's sort of where you get to know her. Eve will be the best version of this.

Rom Suspense.

Montanna Sky
- really her first breakout.

Private Scandals - that was more the pop/romance type stuff. If I'm thinking of the right book. But good and typical Nora.

You want to be depressed? Go print her booklist and take a look at how many books a year that woman is able to publish.

It truly is mindboggling.

Eileen said...

LOL. I was showing my mom the list of books at the front of Blue Smoke. It's pretty impressive.

Karen W said...

TWO kittens? Stephanie, you amaze me! My Stephanie just adopted a kitten, an adorable orange tabby male! He's sweet (and her third cat!)

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