Tag Archives: mystery/suspense

TGIF ~ Manifest

time

Happy Friday! For a week or so, I’ve been obsessed with the Netflix series MANIFEST. I highly recommend it, though some of you may have seen it since it’s a few years old now.

The basic premise is that a plane full of people (Flight 828) disappears en route from Jamaica to New York in 2014 and reappears 5+ years later. The passengers don’t know this though, and to them only a few hours have gone by. Their perception is that they passed through a severe lightning storm and were diverted to a NY airport upstate. So we begin with family and relationship dynamics among very confused yet elated people who are welcoming back loved ones they thought were dead.

The passengers are also confused, since their family and friends are all 5 years older now, but the 828ers are the same age as when they departed Jamaica. Something else is happening too: the 828 folks experience frightening hallucinations, in which voices implore them to take immediate action. Often, more than one passenger receives a “calling” simultaneously. Usually, the 828ers are compelled to go somewhere and save another passenger or someone connected to one.

There are also flashbacks to the flight itself, and other past events, to more fully flesh out the various relationships and connections. Some of these flashbacks occur in a calling and seem scary, while others are regular memories. Regardless, odd events occur to step up the drama and increase the danger to the 828ers in real time (2019). One of them starts a cult/religion called the Church of the Returned, which attracts a bunch of wackos, as you’d expect. Other nutballs believe that the 828ers are aliens or demons and should be killed before they trigger the apocalypse. Naturally, government agents are involved in this soup of strangeness, due to their own shadowy reasons.

Mostly the show focuses on one family, the Stones (dad, mom, kids, aunt), and people directly connected to the Stones, though as episodes roll on, we see that many more people are connected to them in a big web of weird. Some of the fam was on Flight 828 and some took a later flight. Mom Grace and daughter Olive were coping alone, and Grace had found new love, but now dad Ben and son Cal are back. Cal’s callings are the most extreme of the 828ers and he is also directed to create drawings that depict the future. Michaela (“Mick”), Ben’s sister, is a cop and had been engaged to another cop, Jared, who married her best friend during Mick’s 5 year disappearance. So they all have to deal with that. Cal and Mick get a calling to save a man in the snow, Zeke, who has been returned from a year frozen in a cave. That adds a whole new level of mystery as well as a romantic entanglement between Zeke and Mick.

Whew, that was a lot of info and there’s still so much more! I’m excited to finish S2 soon and watch S3. I’m avoiding spoilers! And I just read that S4 will be happening, probably this fall, yay!

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Genre Bingo 1

Gatsby cat book lederer

Before I began my genre bingo card on July 1, I’d read 39 books this year. That’s less than last year, when I was over 50 by this point and on pace to hit 100 by December 31. I’m not interested in doing that again, now that I’ve proven I can, as I’m socializing more this year and am also into some TV shows. But I enjoy the bingo challenges, particularly when they get me out of my reading ruts, and here are mini reviews of the three books I’ve read so far for the genre challenge.

1. Humor and Comedy. Gatsby and I loved Richard Lederer’s A Treasury for Cat Lovers, and gave it 5 stars on our chart. I thought it would be all jokes and puns, and while there are plenty of those, there is also cool cat info curled up in these pages. What a fun read! Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Lederer, and he’s just as funny and gracious in person as he is in writing. He’s also happy to share writing and publishing info with other writers.

2. Family Saga. Drowning with Others by Linda Keir defied my expectations. Usually, I don’t care much for stories in diary form, and there was a lot of that here, plus I’m not generally interested in high school antics and romances. But this book was free and ticked a box, so I tried it. I liked it! I found the protags quite compelling, and I wanted to discover who murdered the sexy poetry professor. But I didn’t care much for the ending. I awarded it 3 stars, which is a good rating. Four means I liked it a lot, and 5 means I loved it. Contrast that with 2 stars, which is meh/just OK, and 1, which means I totally disliked the book. If I truly hate a book so much I can’t read past a few pages, I won’t star it.

Van Gogh starry night

3. Chick-lit. Some peeps may not know what exactly chick-lit is, so I am here to say… neither do I! But I know it when I see it, even if it’s slippery to define. For some reason, the characters in CL are always ridiculously awkward and clumsy, especially the heroines. They mumble and stumble all over the place (without being drunk) and utter a ton of ers and ahs and uhs. Romance novels don’t have much of this, though there could be an initial clumsy moment to facilitate the meet-cute. CL’s don’t really have meet-cutes, just clunky banter and cringe blunders. That’s how I know I’m in chick-lit world ~ I am constantly cringing.

Now that we aren’t supposed to use the term chick-lit because it’s not woke enough, they’re calling it light women’s fiction. It’s not though. Women’s fiction generally features older heroines who have faced some stuff and are not all awkward and incapable of forming a coherent sentence around an attractive man. In fact, she may be his boss! WF is also not laser-focused on a romance and sexual attraction like RN’s; in fact, there may not be a romantic happily ever after in a WF novel. Women can be happy without a man! But CL is focused on a romance to the exclusion of pretty much everything else, and there is a HEA, though I find all the awkwardness detracts from any sexual tension.

That said, I did read a CL novel to fulfill my bingo square. It was actually a book of six short stories by various writers and called Summer Daze. I read 4 of the 6, so I think I’m entitled to my checkmark… and I also give the whole thing only 1 star. OMG, these stories were horrible. The only one I could somewhat tolerate was Sunny, with a Chance by Laura Greaves because it had a cute dog in it. The first two were awful, and the one following Sunny was so bad I had to stop. Life’s too short to read icky chick-lit!

Genre bingo challenge

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Darlings [fss]

Mask feather sexy woman dark night

The dark silhouette of a woman stood in the doorway, gestured for me to come forward, and whispered… “Welcome to the Hotel California.”

“Haha,” I said. “Actually, I’m here for the writers conference.”

She consulted her iPad. “OK. Did you want the pretentious poets seminar, the literary fiction curation, the bodice ripper mixer, or the sci-fi gala?”

I frowned. “None of those. I registered for the murder mystery treasure hunt. My name is Tiffany Twist.”

She typed something. “You’re all set.”

I waited, but she didn’t give me any more info. “Um. Thanks. But which room is it in?”

“That’s part of the mystery,” she said. “Now, if you could please move along. There are other guests waiting to check in.”

I glanced back and saw a large woman in a purple muumuu holding an iced pink champagne cupcake in one hand and a cat carrier in the other. “Hello, sweets,” she said. “I’m Amaryllis Rose, romance novelist.”

Pink cupcake

“I never would have guessed,” I murmured as I walked past the hostess and into the grand foyer. It was completely empty, but a faint light gleamed at the end of the hall to my left, so I went that way.

I peeked into a room where it smelled like colitas and a bearded young man in ripped jeans screamed, “Fuck the world! My pain is curled. Like a sleeping serpent. Baking in radioactive starlight. My love ignites.”

Ugh. Poets. I continued on until I found some fun people dressed up like furry monsters from outer space dancing under a mirrored ceiling. One of them handed me a key. “Go to the courtyard,” he hissed. “Hurry!”

“Will do,” I said. “Nice costume!”

“What costume?” he replied.

I ran down a maze of corridors until I came to a locked door. The key fit the lock and I stepped out into a stone courtyard where a Mercedes was parked crookedly. The driver’s side door hung open, so I glanced inside.

Mercedes car

“Michael! Darling!” I gasped in horror at the dead body with a steely knife stuck in his chest. Then I looked in the trunk where a second body lay sprawled with multiple stab wounds in his back. “Steve! My darling!”

A bewigged judge in black robes emerged from the shadows. “They’re dead, Tiffany, and we know you killed them. You weren’t supposed to take our advice literally. Your punishment is to rewrite your novel for all eternity, and each time you reach the end of a chapter, Word will reboot without saving anything.”

And that’s how I became a prisoner of my own device.

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Written for Fandango’s Story Starter 53.

Writing Stages

Writer

Dr. Tanya continues her Blogging Insights series this week by asking us to share our experiences regarding the various stages of writing a novel or any kind of book. She includes this quote:

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham

My favorite stage of writing is the first one, where I dream up a clever title and some great names for the main characters. I may envision a setting and an offbeat way for the protags to meet. I’ll creat a conflict and plot twist; sometimes I’ll include cats but usually not dogs. Occasionally, I’ll begin what I call an outline, but it’s really just a mishmash of notes. That’s usually as far as I get with most ideas until I’m on to the next one.

Walking in moonlight with umbrella

Sometimes I’ll actually begin writing a story I’ve dreamt up. After a while, I probably will hate it and realize my idea doesn’t work. But sometimes it does, so I plod on. Soon, it’s just work, not fun, and I’m easily distracted by other things. This is stage two, a boring slog, and where I often stop due to inertia. Years later I may pick it back up.

Stage three happens when I can see a finish line and I get excited about my story again. The writing goes faster during this stage, and I try not to get too obsessed with going back and fixing everything. Yet I do go back, because reasons. Sometimes I quit here, if it looks like I’ve botched things up too badly to fix. Other times I go on… and eventually get to type THE END.

And that’s where the real work begins: stage four, editing. This is when I try to eliminate the typos, grammatical errors, and tedious blocks of jabber. I also try to plump up the story with vivid description and sparkling narrative because I’m often light on that the first time. Then I go back through and delete most of that because ick.

Many times during these stages I will spend a ridiculous amount of time designing a cover, and then starting it over. I also may spend loads of hours researching stuff that never ends up in the book but seems very important at the time. After all this, I’ll plop the book on KDP where it sits for eternity, lonelier than the Maytag repairman.

Lonely alone

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Read Everything?

Books and butterflies

Dr. Tanya continues her Blogging Insights series this week with a quote from George R.R. Martin about how we (as writers) should read everything we can. You know, of course, that Martin is the author of the Game of Thrones books, not that everyone has read those or even seen one episode of GOT on TV. How do we know when people have no interest in GOT? Easy… they’ll announce it repeatedly! Anyway, Dr. Tanya would like to know how we feel about Martin’s advice: “You need to read everything. Read fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers. Read history, historical fiction, biography. Read mystery novels, fantasy, SF, horror, mainstream, literary classics, adventure, satire. Every writer has something to teach you, for good or ill. (And yes, you can learn from bad books as well as good ones — what not to do).”

I don’t read everything. Life is too short to read boring books or genres we dislike, which is why I usually eschew history, historical fiction, and biography, though naturally I have read some or else I wouldn’t have discovered it isn’t my cuppa. I also don’t read much non-fiction in general, though there are exceptions for owls and other interesting creatures. Real people aren’t usually that interesting to me, which is why I prefer fiction most of the time ~ imaginary characters and situations are vastly more intriguing than real ones, with a few exceptions. I don’t read a lot of science fiction or fantasy, but I can be hooked in on occasion, especially if a story contains something cool like a dragon. I dislike horror these days, though I read a bunch of it in the past (King and Koontz, mostly). Same goes for erotica. Yawn…

I note that Martin doesn’t include romance in his list, which I’m sure was just an oversight. There are a ton of good romance novels out there, some of which are now classics, such as Pride and Prejudice. I go in phases of reading Regency romance, but sometimes I prefer stories set in the present day. In fact, lately I’m more intrigued by what writers do with the world as it exists right now and how the protagonist deals with the challenges presented by current political realities, Covid-19 concerns, the insane economy, etc. One of the problems I have with romances is that they’re too fantastical with little acknowledgement of risks and consequences or dollars and cents. Yet other times they offer me a nice escape from all that; it just depends on my mood.

I don’t read many magazines and newspapers these days, though I check the news online from several sources a few times per day. Many of the articles online feel rushed and poorly proofread (if at all), which is something to learn, as Martin says, about what not to do, such as toss off a crappy piece of work just to meet a deadline. I began a couple books lately and didn’t get very far before abandoning them. Focus on one character at the start of a story. Hook us in by creating an emotional attachment to the protag (good or bad). Give us some action before droning on about the protag’s parents, street names, HOA rules, and other boring nonsense. Most of that should be cut on an edit anyway. I periodically remind myself of all this too when I have the time and energy to work on my stories.

Happy writing!

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Happy World Book Day

Books and butterflies

In honor of WBD, I will read review some books… and then I will read new ones! I just bought new books to read and discuss with my various book clubs, and also Amazon has a special going on of 10 free books from around the globe, so naturally I had to get those too. This is on top of all the books I have queued up to read already, yikes. Good thing I love to read.

SPOILERS GALORE!

Cell by Stephen King: I just finished this suspense/horror novel last night. Generally, I love King, but this 2006 book was pretty meh overall and I gave it only 2 stars. I liked the premise of every cell phone user turning into a murder zombie, but we never find out who causes this or why. The novel hinted at a war of some kind, but who is the enemy? China, Russia, aliens, demons, or what? An “intelligence” caused the initial phone “pulse” and is refining how the zombies act, as well as their ability to communicate with the “normals,” but who is the leader and what do they hope to gain from turning the world into zombieland? We don’t know. It’s annoying to slog through page after page of gross, bloody, gory, eyeball-exploding ick and never have these issues resolved. It seems as if King was merely indulging himself by taking wild stabs at the overuse of tech (as well as rightwing politics) without a real plan to stitch it all together. As always though, King creates memorable characters. The narration is through the eyes of a cartoonist, who interacts with interesting side characters, and King is flawless in keeping to a single POV and doing zero head-hopping, which is a pleasure as well as a good lesson for a writer.

On the other hand… I also recently read Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This novel broke many of my rules, but it was so compelling I awarded it 5 stars regardless. Reid head-hops within a scene, flips back and forth in time, creates throwaway and sometimes clichéd side characters, etc. Yet I dare you to put this book down once you begin. I simply could not. The family dynamics were so fascinating I had to discover how they would ultimately play out. Reid builds such complex main characters that you can’t predict their next move, yet each action makes sense in retrospect. TJR is fond of foreshadowing, but it isn’t annoying the way some authors tease the reader with Mysterious Secrets parceled out in stingy clues. Another thing Reid does particularly well is create a world within a world that seems so real you have to remind yourself that this is fiction. Her stories are seamless; not once do I say wait this couldn’t happen this way, since it all seems perfectly possible. I highly recommend both of the books I’ve read by TJR: Malibu Rising and Daisy Jones & The Six. I plan to read lots more by her… as soon as I slog through some of the material piled up on my Kindle!

I also read The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, and I gave it 3 stars. I loved the premise of a romantically inexperienced but highly successful businesswoman resorting to hiring an escort to teach her about sex and courtship. Usually, the roles are reversed, so it was great to see a woman in the financially dominant position. So far, so good. But our protagonist Stella supposedly has autism, though it never impacts her success in business, only in romance, and this seems too farfetched. To be fair, her job involves data crunching, so maybe that is OK, but her rampant cluelessness about the most basic of human interactions gets too mind-boggling for me. I mean, she is supposed to be a total brainiac, yet she immediately insults Michael’s entire family upon meeting them. Michael is a great character in his own right, though it’s a bit unclear how he could make so much money as a once-a-week escort to deal with his family’s colossal expenses. Why not ditch both escorting and his menial work at his mom’s dry cleaners, get a real job, and support his family that way? This is not explained, but then again most romance novels fail at explaining jobs and finance properly. I enjoyed the story overall ~ though not enough to inspire me to read anything else by HH.

That’s all. Go read a book!

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Curve vs Never

Compare

Recently I read both A Curve in the Road (CITR) by Julianne MacLean. and Never Let Me Go (NLMG) by Kazuo Ishiguro. NLMG has received loads of praise and award noms, plus was made into a film; CITR is a typical novel in the women’s fiction genre, and Julianne also has received loads of kudos for her writing.

I was disappointed in NLMG because it reads almost like a young adult novel ~ not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it was not what I had expected. The narrator, Kathy, is uncertain of many of her memories, which is okay, as I can enjoy unreliable narration, but it was annoying as if I were forced to listen to someone ramble on about the past in a disjointed way for no apparent purpose. She’d describe a schoolyard event and then go, wait, a year before that this other incident occurred. Everything was so trivial and high school clique-ish, due to their ages. And no one questioned where their parents were or anything of that nature.

I kept thinking the story would get better and make some kind of important point, but it never did. Once I understood what was going on, about halfway, the rest of the book was simply tedious and didn’t adequately explain the science, or even inadequately. Where did these kids come from exactly? Were they born or what? Why were they all infertile? I gave it three stars for at least tackling an unusual topic and diving into mortality themes.

3 stars

I also gave CITR three stars, but for different reasons. The protagonist/narrator, Abbie, also is unreliable due to her head injury from the accident, but her strange dreams and hallucinations are vivid and dramatic, so they hold my attention much more than Kathy’s rambling. For a while, I had this crazy idea that Abbie’s husband was still alive and attempting to drive her insane a la Gaslight. The suspense was very well plotted and there was none of that bs about a Big Thing the reader isn’t allowed to know yet. Hate!

I liked Abbie, her son, and some of the other characters, but MacLean made Abbie’s FIL such an over the top obnoxious man it threw me out of the story. I also disliked the huge, completely unbelievable coincidence that formed the basis for this novel. It didn’t have to be so ridiculous! I loved the dog ~ Charlie was awesome. (I think NLMG could have used some pets.) The ending was neatly sewn up in an HEA, and that bothered me for some reason. I liked reading about the chaos and death more than the resolution.

shrug woman

~*~
©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

Two for Tuesday ~ Cold Hearts [repost]

bear water plunge dive

1. Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag. I read 8 chapters (117 pages) of this suspense novel before giving up. I think that’s a fair shot. And the thing is, I don’t really have anything bad to say about the book. It’s well-written, very suspenseful, gory, and exciting. I could have easily continued on to watch poor messed up Dana emerge from her confused mental state following her horrific ordeal at the hands of a madman. I could have hung on for the ride as Dana figured out exactly what the hell went on 7 years ago with her best friend Casey and that handsome tormented soldier turned pizza guy who of course will turn out to be some kinda hero there in the small town in Indiana. Dana has to return to said ‘burb as she recovers from the madman attack in order to be cared for by her sweet mom and her creepy rich politician stepdad, who just has to be some kind of nogoodnik, right?

But I just don’t care. That’s the thing, I guess. In those 117 pages Hoag has not made me care about Dana enough to plow on through her physical therapy and nightmares and stuff. That’s all a lot of work for me, the reader, and I suppose I’m a bit lazy these days. You gotta make me care about the protag if I’m gonna slog to her doctor’s appointments and deal with her anxiety attacks. Hoag has Dana freaking out at every shadow and that gets tiring really fast. See, Dana was this super pretty blonde high school girl who hung around with this super pretty brunette Casey yada yada and then… something happened to Casey, we don’t know what yet, maybe she’s dead, we’re not sure, but Dana went on to college and began her perky journalism career in Minnesota until the madman attack. But so? Why should I care? What about Dana is compelling here? Why should I hold her hand as she struggles for words and freaks out at every little trigger? Some of it is so gory that it’s triggering for me and I am not invested emotionally enough in the protagonist to bear with the story.

That’s what a writer needs to do. Make us care. If this were a movie, I might stick with it because it would be filmed dramatically with voices, expressions, music, etc., and it would engage me in a more visceral way. But reading is a different experience. Scenes play in my mind, with some input from me to fill out the descriptions, and the writer needs to engage me emotionally by making me identify with the protag, in order for me to want to turn those pages. I probably would have cared more about Dana if she’d been an ordinary high school girl instead of a popular perfect girl who never struggled. I’m supposed to relate to a cheerleader? Meh. And Dana does nothing remarkable during her career to make me root for her during her recovery. There was a hint she may have done a heartwarming story about an animal shelter… now that could have grabbed me. Make Dana an animal rescuer, yeah! But… nothin’. Just a pretty pretty princess. Feh.

(Obviously I’m in the minority here because this book has racked up loads of fab reviews.)

2. Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas. Ah, now this one I loved! This was a traditional hot old-fashioned romance novel, set in London in… idk, whenever they were messing up the tenant farmers’ way of life by ripping up the land with railroads (1850s?). Our hero Devon inherits an earl’s title and some lands plus a decrepit castle, and before he sees any of it has already decided to sell off the lot because he doesn’t want to be bothered with any earlish nonsense. His younger drunken brother agrees with this plan and both gents are totes hilarious, as one would expect from well-educated snotty Brits. Lisa doesn’t make me care about these two at the start ~ they’re obnoxious after all ~ but I’m drawn in regardless because they’re so funny and I want to see what happens.

Next we meet Kathleen, the late earl’s widow, who’s a total icy bitch. Now, CHR gets a lot of bad reviews because readers dislike how Devon treats Kathleen at the start, but hello he is a COLD-HEARTED RAKE, remember? And he’s not treating some sweet little miss to his cold-hearted rakishness and causing her to have an anxiety attack ~ he’s being rakish to someone who can take it, freeze it over, and fling it right back in his snarky face. A match made in heaven! I enjoyed their witty banter so much. I loved the supporting cast too: brother Weston, as mentioned, the late earl’s sisters, the servants, the tenants, etc. Lisa took great care to give all her characters distinct and interesting traits. I know there will be more novels coming with some of the other characters in starring roles and I hope to read those as well.

Lisa drew me in by first creating interesting characters, though they certainly didn’t seem like nice people. That’s not necessarily important (many of us were riveted to Tony Soprano’s antics week after week and he was an asshole). Devon and Kathleen were complex. I wanted to figure out what made them tick; I wanted to see what they’d do next. And the story itself was interesting ~ it seemed impossible that the castle and lands could be saved. How would they get the money? As D&K worked on the estate, their personal relationship deepened, and they changed. They began to care more about each other, and then about things beyond themselves. I know, I know, some of you think romance novels are soooo shallow. But the good ones are not.

This was one of the good ones.

~*~

Image from Pixabay.

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Why I Quit The Affair

Couple silhouette romance

No, not mine, silly ~ I’m talking about the Showtime series via Prime. I’m late (again) to the party, as this show ended in 2019, but just in case… here is your spoiler warning. SPOILERS BE HERE! This will also be a long, meandering, pointless post about my feelings regarding storytelling, motivations, sex scenes, family dynamics, and Oreos, among other things. Fair warning, I’m on vacay for a while, so there may be more pointless meanders hitting your feed in the next week or so…

I randomly clicked on The Affair the other week after being disappointed in so many movies. I generally prefer a movie to a series because I like to invest two hours and be done forever, but I do occasionally get into a good dramatic series, such as Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, etc. And it is known that I was quite fond of Game of ThronesThe Affair drew me in immediately because of the stylish opening and the utterly awesome theme song “Container” by Fiona Apple (video at the end of post). The premise isn’t that exciting ~ bored, frustrated husband (Noah) lusts after young, pretty waitress (Alison). Gosh, where have we NOT seen that before, amirite? But we were teased with loads of twists, such as a dead child, a murder investigation, and Noah’s issues with writing a second book after his first didn’t do so well. Ah, writing woes! Now I can relate.

At first, I was enamored of the he said/she said narrative device, which dovetailed with their questioning by a policeman. As Noah is interrogated, we experience his point of view as he flashes back to years earlier to when he met Alison. Then it’s Alison’s turn to be questioned and we see the same scenes from her POV, and we have to rejigger our thoughts because she recalls some of the conversations/events quite differently from Noah. The one thing I had a problem with initially (and it persisted throughout) was why Alison would have been attracted to Noah at all. Whitney (Noah’s teenage daughter) observes later in the season that it’s ridiculous since Noah is a dull, middle-aged man, while Cole (Alison’s husband) is extremely hot. I agree with Whitney!

In real life, we can shrug and say attraction is inexplicable, but a writer should make it clear why two characters can’t resist one another and present motives for their actions. We can understand Noah’s selfish egotism, and of course Alison is super-sexy, but what about Alison’s attraction? Well, it turns out that she is self-destructive and suicidal because of the death of her only child two years ago, so her life means nothing to her. She’ll supposedly cheat on her husband and transport illegal drugs too, without caring how any outcome will hurt her or anyone else. OK. But why Noah? Alison has had two years to destroy her marriage before he comes along, and indeed her boss Oscar has been panting after her all this time, so why not him? Actually, Alison does sleep with Oscar later on, which makes it even more puzzling why she “waited” for Noah. She could have had any number of men and wrecked her marriage before this guy appeared. 

I guess we just have to accept it. Their sexual chemistry on-screen certainly shows us how passionate they feel toward one another. But around E3 I get tired of the chronological whiplash. Not only do we have the “present,” which involves Alison and Noah being interviewed by the cop, plus the flashbacks, but now we also have some flash forwarding to the future. Argh! And this is just S1 ~ from what I understand, this time hopping gets even crazier as the show progresses. But that’s not why I quit watching The Affair.

During the S1 finale, I realized that I hated all the characters and their stupid decisions. Cole seemed to be the “hero” for a while, but he sells cocaine, so nah. I don’t care how noble his purpose, and saving a piece of real estate isn’t that noble when he could just go get a job, dealing coke is not on the list of character traits for a hero or even a decent person. Alison is a fragile mess, Noah is a colossal jerk, and Noah’s wife Helen is not only annoying but also a bad mom. I did not like her from the beginning when she stood helplessly in the restaurant as her younger daughter choked on a marble (Alison helped Noah save her).

Writing likeable bad guys is very tricky. Tony Soprano loved animals and had a great sense of humor, which are attractive traits. He did terrible things, but we also saw his caring side. He loved his children fiercely. What are Noah’s redeeming qualities? We don’t see anything except one scene where he’s doing a good job teaching Shakespeare to a bunch of indifferent teens. That’s not enough. We don’t even get a sense he loves his kids all that much. He ends up having sex with Alison in his own house when he can’t find a hotel room during the holidays, which is just disgusting and made me dislike both of them even more. He tells his friend Max (also a jerk) that what he and Alison have is “true love,” but then he goes and screws every woman he can find in the season finale. Yeech.

Characters can behave impulsively and inconsistently, but their actions have to make sense for who they are. We can buy Alison’s path of self-destruction, and we can understand why the death of a child would cause someone to lose their moorings, but why would Noah act crazy, ruin every relationship he has, and jeopardize his job? I don’t see the motivation for these behaviors. When Walter White “broke bad,” he did it methodically. He, like Noah, was a high school teacher, and we witnessed his destruction step by step. It made sense that Walter wanted to protect his family from the bankruptcy that his cancer treatment would cause, so we accepted that he’d do a bit of “cooking” to make a pile of fat stacks. He destroyed himself incrementally from the outside as the cancer was eating away at his insides. But it’s just not believable that Noah fooled everyone for 45 years by faking a family-man persona when deep down he was a sex-crazed lunatic. Unlike Walter, Noah throws his life away for nothing.

Of course Noah’s next book, which he pounds out while he’s suspended from teaching, is utterly fab and gets him a $400,000 advance. Right. That can happen. Another implausible situation was the idea that Helen’s rich, grumpy dad was funding so much of Noah and Helen’s lifestyle, but she has to keep running some gift shop instead of staying home with her children, who clearly need her. She’s so cold to them too whenever they need attention. At least, that’s how it seemed to me. As far as Oreos, I quit believing anything Alison said when in S1, E7 she told her friend she remembered childhood Oreos “as big as your face.” What? Oreos have always been small.

Ruth Wilson, the actor who played Alison, left the series after S4 possibly because of all the nudity and intense sex scenes, even though a body double was often used. At times, the show seemed unnecessarily pornographic, which makes the idea plausible that there could have been a conflict over some scenes. I have no issue with spoilers, so before I decided to give up on The Affair, I read recaps on Wikipedia. Apparently, both marriages broke up, which makes sense, everyone has new love interests, and the characters are scattered about geographically. This didn’t sound interesting to pursue, especially given all the above problems I had with the show.

PS: Speaking of problems, I had to delete my previous post and copy all the text into a new one because IDIOT WORDPRESS stuck the entire thing as a “caption” to the photo when I pasted the text from another document (I don’t always write posts directly on the site). GOD THEY ARE ANNOYING!!!

~*~

Image from Pexels.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

HC13: Ghost

Ghosted novel

Welp, I could not pass up the opp to plug my novel Ghosted. It’s received some good feedback, so if you haven’t read it yet, please give it a try. It’s an atypical romance/mystery and you may be left wondering if our heroine did experience something supernatural or simply a series of coincidences. I like to leave that to the individual reader’s interpretation. I look forward to any comments and also will love you forever if you leave a review on Amazon. Click here to purchase. Thanks in advance!

~*~

Image is mine. Written for Tourmaline’s Halloween Challenge.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.