Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Night Circus should be read again and again

A long time ago I read EW’s (that’s Entertainment Weekly) review of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and I thought, “Hmmm…maybe.” I downloaded a sample of it on my Kindle (love that feature, BTW), but I never got around to actually checking it out. Fantasy is usually not my thing, and other titles kept stepping up in front of it.

Now that my daughter is at school two hours away and I’m making that drive once in a while, I needed something to help pass those times alone in the car, so I started listening to audio books. And I finally got around to The Night Circus. And I loved it. I may have to actually download the whole book and read it again. It’s that good.

It qualifies as fantasy because the whole plot of the book revolves around magic and Morgenstern creates a unique—and incredible—world within the circus itself. Otherwise, though, it’s very, very real.

I won’t tell you much about it because to do that would be unfair to you and the story. The Night Circus needs to be discovered by each of us individually. Morgenstern alludes to that in the final pages of the book, and I have stolen that paragraph and taped it to my mirror. It’s now my mantra as a writer.

Here’s what I will tell you, in case you haven’t heard of this book and I’ve piqued your curiosity: There are two magicians who like to compete with each other by setting their students against one another in a competition. The night circus is the venue for the competition. One day it’s not there, and the next day it is. Inside the tents are all sorts of amazing, fantastical sights. (Morgenstern’s descriptions evidence her other calling as an artist. I think this book is going to be a movie, and it will be a dangerous one to make because all of us who love this book are going to have very definitive ideas as to what the movie should look like!)

Within the book are stories of pride, love, loyalty, friendship, courage, strength, and betrayal. You may get teary eyed at the end. I did.

The Night Circus is so unique, so good. I can’t wait to read it again.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sons of Anarchy - Andare Pescare: Gemma's sacrifice

Tuesday’s episode of Sons of Anarchy was called “Andare Pescare,” which is Italian for (basically) “to go fishing.” It works, doesn’t it? Eli is fishing with the Sons to get his hands on Frankie for Frankie’s part in Eli’s wife’s death. Jax is fishing for proof that Clay was behind the break-ins, and he’s using Gemma as bait. I don’t usually have a lot of sympathy for Gemma, but that’s starting to change.

My opinion for the first four seasons was Gemma made her bed a long time ago—and played a part in the death of JT—so she deserved to get hit by any shrapnel that exploded around her. Ever since she took that beating from Clay last season, though, I’ve started to look at Gemma differently.

She was 19 when she fell for JT and became an old lady. She’d had two kids—and lost the oldest one—not too many years after that. As she herself put it, she was “all in” from Day One with JT. Her man, her club, her babies—that was her life, and she did whatever she thought she had to do to protect them. She still does. She’s a grown woman living the life a teenager designed for her, and she’s trying to make the best of it.

I don’t think she loves anyone more than she loves Able and Thomas—not even Jax. And now, Jax is leveraging that love to get what he needs from Clay—a confession—so that he can finally push Clay from the table and maybe even kill him. He’s becoming more Clay-like with each episode. When Gemma told him about how happy and “light” (I loved her use of that word) she felt when she was with Nero, I really thought Jax might give her a pass, that he might say, “You know what, Mom, I want you to be happy. Forget about what I asked you to do.” But he didn’t, did he? Clay wouldn’t have either.

So, Gemma is sacrificing a part of herself so that she can still have her grandchildren—and her son, I imagine to some degree—in her life. Her eyes looked so dead when she showed up at Clay’s house with the cortisone. I don’t know what will be left of Gemma when this is all over, and even with every bad thing she’s done, my heart (finally) goes out to her.

And then there’s Juice.

I love Juicy. I’ve loved him for a long time. He’s another one that got in way over his head (with Eli and the feds) and doesn’t know who to trust or how to fix it now. I think Juice has been swinging from that tree, gasping for breath, for a very long time now. It’s only a matter of time until gravity does what gravity is best at and he breathes his last. I will cry, truly cry, when we lose Juice. I agree with Bobby: “I’m tired of burning brothers.”

This has been a gut-wrenching season of SOA. Sutter (who is fantastic as Otto, IMHO) is fearless when it comes to his story lines, and I admire him for that. But I hope we’re about done losing Sons. I think Juice’s loss is inevitable, but I hope he’s the last one for Skeeter for quite a while.

Don’t forget … next Tuesday’s episode of Sons of Anarchy is 90 minutes! If you don’t (or can’t) watch it live, set your DVR accordingly. See you then.