Although we should all practice giving thanks throughout the year, November is the special month for most Americans, complete with a holiday. Thanksgiving usually includes spending some time eating and being charitable to others, and it’s also time to remember those people that mean the most. And besides family, I’m so thankful for my reading friends, those wonderful members of my book clubs and those fellow readers who always have a minute or two to talk about books. Where would we be without people who understand how easy it is to get lost in a good story? Or that a burning dinner isn’t nearly as important as finding out who the murderer is, or if Jake will mend his bad-boy ways and reach out and accept Jill’s love?
You know what I mean: It’s so easy to lose yourself in a book and less easy to explain the story to family members. So when you have a gathering on a regular basis of women who “get it,” well, that’s relationships that require a special degree of thanks. So, a huge thank you goes out to all our book club members who love to talk books and to those people I’ve met this year and rattled their ear off about books I loved and hated.
This season I’m also grateful to authors who have the imaginations and the skills to write tales to keep me entertained for hours. I know they do it just for me. Okay, maybe for you as well—I’m willing to share. (Note: See previous paragraphs for gratefulness.) But in the last week, I’ve had the opportunity to read two very special books—one that ends a beloved series and another that gives promise of an author returning to her roots.
Rachel Caine is well-loved by both YA and fantasy readers. Her Morganville Vampire series has a delightful twist on blood suckers. First, she sets the series in small-town Texas. Yes, way out in BFE Texas, with little around except tumbleweeds. Except it’s a small college town with an extremely odd population. Vampires. And Caine’s heroine isn’t a 16-year-old with absent parents, but a college freshman with parents who love her very much but wanted her to have the best education possible. And this all happened before new-adult books popped up on the scene. Imagine that! So, with Glass Houses (NAL; October 2006), Caine introduced us to Claire Danvers and a very interesting population of vampires and other creatures. Over the course of 14 more books, Claire matures to the point of graduate school at MIT but returns home in the final book, Daylighters (Razorbill; November 5, 2013), to find the town changed almost beyond recognition. While putting together all the clues surrounding the mysterious organization that promises to relieve Morganville of its vampire problem, Claire also must take steps to mend fences with her friends and boyfriend. All in all, the 15 books of Morganville Vampires series belong on your keeper shelf.
And if you’re not ready to let these characters go quietly, as I refuse to do, watch for the web series about the Morganville Vampires coming in spring 2014. They’ll all be coming to life on a screen near you, or at least near your wifi connection!
As thankful as I am for the successful conclusion of a series, it’s always a treat when a well-loved author returns to her roots, or doing what she does best. In the case of Jayne Ann Krentz, whose stories I’ve read for more years than I like to admit, as in before my daughter was born, it’s with great happiness and a huge amount of thanks that I found her next book would be without paranormal elements. Instead, River Road (Putnam; January 7, 2014) involves a strong relationship between a man and a woman, and a stunning amount of suspense.
The book is termed as a romantic suspense, and I’m so thankful for the romantic elements. I’ve been missing a suspense tale that’s light on the violence. Oh, yes, I do sometimes enjoy a thriller and the descriptions à la J.D. Robb of blood splattered rooms and bodies—but it’s so much nicer to settle in with a romance! Krentz, with her deft descriptions and dialogue, knows how to mix up two strong characters with a large supporting cast. These main characters aren’t just two people who need each other to heal. Instead, these lovers meld together to become tempered steel—sharper, stronger and in many ways more beautiful.
In River Road, an incident that happened as teenagers set Mason and Lucy on separate paths until they meet up again 13 years later. Lucy is now a forensic genealogy investigator: She hunts down missing heirs and/or establishes their veracity. It might sound mundane, but Krentz manages to educate us about a career we’re probably not familiar with, which is a stellar characteristic of her earlier books that I’ve missed. Mason is now a security consultant just coming off a case gone bad. They’re both back in Summer River, a charming California wine country town that has its share of secrets—some of them deadly. Lucy and Mason will discover they need each other, especially since someone is trying to kill one of them. If you loved earlier Krentz books like Family Man or Silver Linings, you need to pre-order your copy of River Road and mark your calendar for a January escape. Warn the family if you must!
So, in the spirit of giving thanks, what books are you particularly grateful for this year? Any special author? Or a reading buddy?
Sara Reyes is the founder and partner at FreshFiction.com, a popular fiction web site for today's reader with new titles, contests, over 50,000 genre fiction author profiles with backlists, and permanently archived reviews, plus all the industry buzz. Fresh Fiction has a biweekly segment (Buy the Book) on WFAA Channel 8 Good Morning Texas to talk about new books not to miss. Believing face-to-face interaction is as important as virtual communities, Fresh Fiction sponsors an annual author reader tea in June, a readers conference in November, monthly literary events, and book clubs. Follow Sara at @FreshFiction on Twitter or Facebook.com/FreshFiction.