Lately I've been rereading the Cut & Run series and I've been really enjoying getting reacquainted with Ty and Zane. The first book was a little rough with the character development and I found myself getting the two men mixed up frequently. As the series grew and with it the writing the characters started to develop their own voices. It's been great fun seeing these men grow both individually and as a couple. Right now I'm reading Armed & Dangerous again, it's the book that I left off with when I stopped reading the series. I can't wait to catch up with the boys and see how they're doing.
The transition from two authors a single author was seamless, not to diminish Madeleine's contribution but a lot of the characterization issues have been smoothed out now that Abigail is writing both characters.
Lost In The Forest
Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig
and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:
maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,
a cracked bell, or a torn heart.
Something from far off it seemed
deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth,
a shout muffled by huge autumns,
by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves.
Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig
sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance
climbed up through my conscious mind
as if suddenly the roots I had left behind
cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood--
and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.
Already, you are mine. Rest with your dream inside my dream.
Love, grief, labour, must sleep now.
Night revolves on invisible wheels
and joined to me you are pure as sleeping amber.
No one else will sleep with my dream, love.
You will go we will go joined by the waters of time.
No other one will travel the shadows with me,
only you, eternal nature, eternal sun, eternal moon.
Already your hands have opened their delicate fists
and let fall, without direction, their gentle signs,
you eyes enclosing themselves like two grey wings,
while I follow the waters you bring that take me onwards:
night, Earth, winds weave their fate, and already,
not only am I not without you, I alone am your dream.
Beloved of the rivers,beset
By azure water and transparent drops,
Like a tree of veins your spectre
Of dark goddess biting apples:
And then awakening naked
To be tattoed by the rivers,
And in the wet heights your head
Filled the world with new dew.
Water rose to your waist,
You are made of wellsprings
And lakes shone on your forehead.
From your sources of density you drew
Water like vital tears
And hauled the riverbeds to the sand
Across the planetary night,
Crossing rough, dilated stone,
Breaking down on the way
All the salt of geology,
Cutting through forests of compact walls
Dislodging the muscles of quartz.
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way than this:
where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
― Pablo Neruda
This has to be one of the best books I've ever read and that's saying quite a bit given that it's an anthology and it's quite easy to hit a wrong note when there are so many authors playing. But everything is perfectly pitched and simply took my breath away. Picture a roller coaster and the building up to the first hill, the amazing view and breath taking realization that the world is just about to drop out from underneath your feet and then the heart pounding twists and drops that follow. That's the ride that this anthology takes you on, just when you think ok I've got this yet another drop or twist just steals your breath again.
It started off with Arvin's story, which not surprisingly is poignant, thought provoking and tightly woven. It's yet another peak into this man's amazing mind. This was just the start of the brilliance however. Next we have Roux and while I was slightly unsure how she'd fit in with this group, those doubts quickly evaporated when I was introduced to the men of 211. Their story was quick, brutal and passionate. Without being preachy or melodramatic she gave a voice to a group of men fighting a losing battle for their lives and yet finding the humanity to love despite the futility of their situation. Peterson was unflinching in revealing the deepest darkest and most depraved parts of the human soul. It was dark, violent and brutal but I couldn't look away. When I just think that I've been treated to the most heart wrenching story up came Huffman-Black who in just 3 and a half pages managed to steal my breath. He held no punches when he introduced a character that I related to and then unflinchingly delved right into the heart of human pain with his masterful ending. McAuley reminded me of my first love and how bittersweet endings can be and that sometimes endings are really just a beginning of something better. Then there's Klune's John and Jackie. I can understand why he had troubles writing this in earlier drafts, because frankly he needed Arvin to show him what such devotion is like. The story is raw, real and unforgettable. The life time of love that Klune is able to show us in such a short space is masterful. From first to last kiss John and Jackie are what we all want in love and yet so few of us find. Klune manages to write a love story that's poignant and not overly sentimental. John and Jackie just are, and that's how it was meant to be.
This is one anthology that left an indelible mark and when I recover from my first trip into the Crack I fully intend to revisit these stories multiple times. I simply can't convey how simply amazing and masterful this collection of stories is. These are once in a life time journeys and together they create one hell of a ride. I wasn't overly familiar with many of these authors prior to this anthology but I trust Arvin’s brilliance and once again it paid off.
Honestly I didn't quite know what to say about this book. First the cats really aren't that magical or helpful. Their owner is clueless and overly naive. All the characters were underdeveloped, to the point that I had no idea who was who among the secondary characters. I honestly thought that two of the ladies were lesbian lovers only to find out towards the end of the book, that they had a grandmother/daughter relationship. There were several story lines that were undeveloped and really served no point. Why were people so focused on the dilapidated manor and the colony of cats that lived there? Why was it so amazing that Kathleen was adopted by two of the manor cats? When the murderer was revealed as a reader I was expected to believe that the crime was committed due to love and loyalty. None of which was demonstrated earlier in the book. That coupled with the fact that I really didn't feel like I knew anyone in the book, made the motive fall flat. Over all I felt that this book was terribly underdeveloped and that the author was unable to translate a good idea to the page.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the story and the mystery was very interesting but the characters lacked consistency. About half way through the story I was unsure I'd be reading the next one because the main character, Lily alternated between self pity and being a sanctimonious know it all. Luckily the author managed to redeem her by the end. It seemed to me that the author just didn't know which direction to take the character, which isn't unusual with the first book in a series. This series has a lot of promise and if the characters continue to grow I'll continue to read. I loved the paranormal mystery, which was well crafted and it was obvious that the author did a lot of research into witch craft and the history of it. Sometime it was a little too much detail but hopefully that will even out as the series continues. I'll be reading the next book in the series and hopefully I'll find that some of the rough edges in this entry have been smoothed out.
This was an excellent start to a a series but it had some of the flaws of a new series. There were some sudden POV changes, for about 3/4 of the book we were seeing things through Josse's eyes and then things flipped to Helewise and then to other characters. I do see why she switched POV but it was jarring when the voice changed suddenly. The mystery was tightly woven and very well done. There were no easy answers here and I really enjoyed how things were resolved. It wasn't a tidy ending but it was realistic. I look forward to the rest of the series where I am sure that the author's writing will mature. :)