Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for October 25th, 2013

Just Reviewed Ash Krafton’s “Blood Rush” at SBR

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Folks, I just reviewed Ash Krafton’s BLOOD RUSH at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always).  It’s a worthy sequel in many ways to the excellent BLEEDING HEARTS (previously reviewed at SBR), but it features one thing I had a really tough time getting past — an odd, almost completely nonsensical romance.

Normally, a book like BLOOD RUSH would be featured during SBR’s “Romance Saturday” promotion, but I just couldn’t do it this time because of the nature of this particular romance.  Krafton’s main character in both books, Sophie Galen, has taken up with the brother of her former lover, Rodrian Thurzo, for reasons that aren’t well-rooted.

It’s tough for me to review a book like BLOOD RUSH, which does so very many things right as it has great dialogue, interesting plotlines, excellent characterization, and fits Krafton’s own DemiVampire (DV for short) into the prevailing “otherworld” mythos alongside better-known magical races such as Vampires and Werewolves (note that Krafton does not use an -s for either DemiVampire or Vampire), but doesn’t root the romance to the same depth as all the rest of it.

I actually put BLOOD RUSH down for a whole month because I was afraid of what Krafton was going to do with the nascent Sophie-Rodrian romance.  Wisely, she found a way out of that morass (no, I’m not going to say how).  But going there at all didn’t make any sense to me.

Krafton’s writing is so good, I expected better from her even though this is only her second novel.  My guess as to why she’d put this strange romance into BLOOD RUSH is because she probably wanted to show that Sophie is just as human and fallible as everyone else despite having great power as an empath (which is why Sophie’s been called to become a Sophia, or wise counselor/problem solver, in the first place).  If so, I can understand why she did it even though I still don’t like it.

As a reviewer, I have to mention it whenever I have big problems with a plotline, no matter how much I love the rest of the book.  I did so recently with my review of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s DRAGON SHIP — those two are among my very favorite authors and have been so for a very long time.  I did so, most spectacularly, in my review of Debbie Macomber’s HANNAH’S LIST, even though there was a time in my life where Macomber’s Heart of Texas series helped me get through a nasty divorce (this being long before I ever met my wonderful late husband, Michael).

It’s tougher to do this with a novelist with only two novels under her belt as compared to a pair of authors with over a dozen (Lee and Miller) or someone with over a hundred (Macomber).  I don’t like doing it.  But I do a disservice to myself and my readership if I fail to point out something I really don’t like, even if the rest of the book is good and I still plan to read the rest of the series.

Overall, my hope for the third book in the Demimonde series is that either Marek will somehow be able to come back to Sophie or another strong character completely unrelated to Marek or Rodrian comes into the picture and is a worthy match for Sophie.  Anything else doesn’t make sense, and as a writer myself, I know I’d rather write a worthy foil for my romantic lead than someone who really isn’t up to par for this character, even if he might be a good match for 99 out of 100 other women.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 25, 2013 at 6:11 am

EMILYs List Endorses Mary Burke, Leaves Sen. Kathleen Vinehout Out in the Cold

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Yesterday, the influential group EMILY’s List (Early Money is Like Yeast) endorsed Democratic candidate Mary Burke for the 2014 Wisconsin Gubernatorial race.  Their stated reason for doing so, according to the President of EMILY’s List, Stephanie Schriock, is that Burke has “been quietly changing the world for the better for years, by breaking barriers herself and by making opportunities for others to get ahead.”

But as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s article said in an almost throwaway line, the person this really hurts is state Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma).  Vinehout, one of the “Wisconsin 14” who stood up to Republican Governor Scott Walker and left the state due to the controversial Act 10 repealing collective bargaining for most public employee unions, ran for Governor during the 2012 recall race but didn’t really have the money to contend with the two top Democratic candidates, former Madison County Executive Kathleen Falk and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Vinehout was my pick last time for Governor, mostly because I met her, listened to her positions, researched her, and knew that if the general public got any sense of her whatsoever — she’s a woman of substance who’s been a dairy farmer and a college professor, and is known as a “budget hawk” — I believed she’d beat Scott Walker.  Vinehout’s district is more Republican than not, yet she’s won re-election in that district, which means she has bipartisan appeal.

By EMILY’s List endorsing Burke — a woman who’s never been elected to state office, though she was appointed to state Commerce Secretary by former Governor Jim Doyle — this significantly hurts Vinehout.

Worse yet, Burke is a millionaire in her own right and a former executive at Trek Bicycle, a company her father founded.  (Please see this article from Blogging Blue about the problematic issues facing Burke if she continues her gubernatorial run.)  Which begs this question: Is big money the only reason Burke is getting these endorsements?

Currently, Burke sits on the school board in Madison.  While there’s nothing wrong with that, this is the only position she’s ever been elected to in her life.  Whereas Vinehout is a sitting state Senator who’s actually had to do something extremely difficult and take a stand — all while not getting paid in the process (as she is not wealthy, I’m sure this did not help her or her family much).

Overall, I’m deeply unhappy EMILY’s List has decided to endorse Burke.  From this vantage point, the only thing Burke has to offer is a whole lot of her own money to throw into the governor’s race.  She has no record to run on.  She has no idea how to improve things as a Governor because she’s never been elected to public office (excepting her current stint on the Madison school board).  She officially has “no platform” and has made “no promises,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal, which, as they put it, “has led some Democratic activists to express concerns about her candidacy” while union leaders and the main Democratic Party have largely been silent.

All these types of endorsements do is limit the prospects of candidates like Vinehout who might really have a chance if that big money came her way later on, favoring those who already have big money themselves or big money pledged, as now, from influential Democratic organizations.

Besides, I have a real problem with a woman who gets into a race but hasn’t a clue how to fix anything.  Especially when an outstanding candidate like Sen. Kathleen Vinehout is available.

If I were the state Democratic Party Chairman, Mike Tate, what I’d do is throw money at Vinehout.  Vinehout is by far the best chance we have in Wisconsin to take back the Governor’s chair.  She’s articulate, she’s funny, she’s an impressive candidate “on the stump,” she has been both a dairy farmer and a professor (you don’t get that combination very often), and she’s had to stand up for what she believed in by walking out of the Senate and leaving the state as one of the “Wisconsin 14.”

At an absolute minimum, I’d want a primary if I were Tate in order to improve Burke as a candidate.  Right now, Burke is a “one-percenter,” a millionaire who’s never had to face most of the issues most Wisconsinites face every single day.  Vinehout, on the other hand, is not wealthy and has had to face every single last one of them and can relate to most if not all Wisconsin voters.  If Burke has to debate Vinehout, Burke would either quickly improve or implode.

Either way, the state would win, the voters would win, and we’d get a far better chance to oust Scott Walker from the Governor’s chair.

One final thought: How does it improve democracy to run a well-heeled candidate with deep pockets who doesn’t have a clue how to run the state, especially when a much better candidate is available and all she needs is money to help her out?

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 25, 2013 at 4:26 am