“Are we allowed to be here? Should we leave?”
As FOX’s sophomore supernatural hit Sleepy Hollow breaks for midseason, it seems to have taken the “hollow” part of its moniker to heart. The show that surprised and charmed millions of viewers in the fall of 2013 with its combination of solid character work, whimsy and genuinely creepy lore — cinched by the chemistry of leads Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison — has lost its soul in its second year, becoming a rote, tiresome exploration of Crane family pathos.
Looking at an interview with TVLine, it appears that executive producer Mark Goffman may have no idea why that’s a problem. “One of the things I think we’ve looked at over the course of the season is what a really difficult position Katrina’s been in,” he says, going on to talk about how “this season is really about family, redemption and duty versus family.”
By “family” he must mean “the Cranes,” not the back-burnered Mills sisters and the harrowing history that was contained to one episode and then dropped. If he spent a lot of time thinking about Katrina’s position, he must’ve forgotten Abbie’s…thereby losing the series’ through-line. Because the foundation of season one Sleepy Hollow was a strong, female police lieutenant in a small town being thrust into an otherworldly situation and a partnership with a man from the past. Viewers saw that relationship from the very beginning, unlike the purported star-crossed love of Katrina and Ichabod, which largely played out before the first episode and is only parsed out in flashbacks over the course of a season and a half. Retroactive investment in a true love or a marriage is a lot harder to foster than the tangible thread of a friendship and mission we see from its inception. ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland made a similar mistake, packaging Alice and her genie lover as root-for before we even had a chance to care about who they were as individuals.
People tuned into Sleepy Hollow last year in for Abbie and Crane teaming up to fight demonic crime. Katrina and Crane’s epic reunion and the fate of their whack-a-doodle son were far lower on the list. Those issues were key, sure, but not worthy of taking over the entire canvas like they have this year. Certainly not at the expense of Abbie and Crane’s partnership, Abbie’s journey as a character and her relationships with her sister and her police captain. And definitely not to position Katrina as heroine in Abbie’s stead.
October was basically a horrible month, so it was really in November that I remembered to keep track of what I was reading. A lot of books, apparently! That must be why I survived to see December.
Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne (historical romance)
The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles (historical LGBT romance/paranormal, e-book)
Transmuted by Karina Cooper (out 1/26, steampunk, e-book)
Five Dates by Amy Jo Cousins (contemporary LGBT romance, e-book)
Can’t Buy Me Love by Rin Daniels (new adult/contemporary romance, e-book)
The Best She Ever Had by Shelly Ellis (out 12/30, contemporary romance/mainstream fiction)
Hades by Candice Fox (out 1/27, thriller)
Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall (LGBT fantasy/paranormal, e-short)
The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe Kennedy (fantasy/romance)
In Bed With the Transforming Alien Robot by Crystal Lattis (erotic romance, e-book)
Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin (steampunk/historical, e-book)
A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai (erotic romance, e-book)
Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress by Theresa Romain (out 1/6, historical romance)
Prisoner by Skye Warren and Annika Martin (romantic suspense, e-book)
Of course, I also read a lot of older titles. My A+ backlist adventures included Flower Net by Lisa See, Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale, Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas and Anne Stuart’s Lady Fortune.
I sort of forgot where August ended and September began, so you get a mega-list of two months’ worth of recommended reading! #sorrynotsorry. This is also the period during which I read a WHOLE LOT of Lisa Kleypas. No regrets, folks. None at all.
Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews (LGBT romance, e-book)
Evernight by Kristen Callihan (steampunk/paranormal romance)
The Hook-Up by Kristen Callihan (new adult romance/contemporary romance, e-book)
Code Runner by Rosie Claverton (suspense, e-book)
Engraved by Karina Cooper (steampunk/paranormal romance, e-book)
A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev (contemporary romance)
The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin (Young Adult)
Captivated by Megan Hart & Tiffany Reisz (erotic romance)
Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren (erotic romance)
Between the Sheets by Molly O’Keefe (contemporary romance)
The King by Tiffany Reisz (erotic fiction)
Intrusion, by Charlotte Stein (erotic romance, e-novella)
My backlist adventures included the following: Crux, by Moira Rogers; Perfect Day by Josh Lanyon; The Only Gold by Tamara Allen; and Devil in Winter, Scandal in Spring, Mine Till Midnight and Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas.
I feel like I read a LOT in July. Some for work, some for play. Fortunately, most of it was good stuff!
Visions, by Kelley Armstrong (out 8/19, urban fantasy)
Riding the Wave, by Lorelie Brown (contemporary romance)
Mean Streak, by Sandra Brown (out 8/19, romantic suspense)
Have Mercy, by Shelley Ann Clark (erotic romance, e-novella)
Fanning the Flames, by Victoria Dahl (contemporary romance, e-novella)
Truly, by Ruthie Knox (out 8/5, contemporary romance, e-book)
Winning Ruby Heart, by Jennifer Lohmann (out 9/1, contemporary category romance)
Lay it Down, by Cara McKenna (romantic suspense)
Forged By Desire, by Bec McMaster (out 9/2, steampunk/paranormal romance)
The Suffragette Scandal, by Courtney Milan (historical romance)
Never Marry a Viscount, by Anne Stuart (out 9/23, historical romance) *Look for my feature interview with Anne Stuart in the October issue of RT Book Reviews!
My one foray into the backlist was Jackie Collins’ classic Chances, and you better believe I snorted that crack right up. No one does glittery, sweeping, scandalous saga like Collins.
June’s over already? What? I don’t believe you. But here’s here’s what I read during the month that stood out:
Wicked Temptation, by Zoë Archer (historical romance)
What a Duke Dares, by Anna Campbell (out 8/26, historical romance)
Looking for Trouble, by Victoria Dahl (out 7/29, contemporary romance)
A Promise By Daylight, by Alison DeLaine (out 8/26, historical romance)
Witch With No Name, by Kim Harrison (out 9/9, urban fantasy)
*Check out my feature on the Hollows in the September issue of RT Book Reviews.
The Mark of the Tala, by Jeffe Kennedy (fantasy/romance)
Summer Rain, by Ruthie Knox, Cecilia Tan and more (contemporary/historical/sci-fi romance anthology)
Suddenly Last Summer, by Sarah Morgan (out 6/24, contemporary romance)
Fit, by Rebekah Weatherspoon (erotic romance, e-novella)
In terms of backlist catch-up, I kicked off June by reading Caught in the Act by Jill Sorenson, which I really liked.
I started reading The Uncanny X-Men in the 1990s, swiftly graduating from yoinking my brother’s weekly comic book haul to filling up my own boxes. My first major “X-Men event” was the Extinction Agenda storyline in 1990 and then I followed that into the blue team’s X-Men title and, of course, the 1992 animated series.
Why am I kicking off with my X-credentials? Well, you know, Fake Geek Girl, etc. Let’s just get that bullshit out of the way. I know my X-titles. I know Gambit. I stole his first real appearance (UXM #266) out of my brother’s box and haven’t given it back. I had at least four Gambit posters on my bedroom wall. I kept his trading card. I had t-shirts. Hell, Gambit and Rogue were one of my LiveJournal icons. Ask me to name my top X-Men and it’s pretty easy: Gambit, Wolverine, Rogue and Jubilee.
So, you can probably understand why I haven’t been a huge fan of the movies — shakier than the ever-changing comic X-canon, poorly written, miscast blockbusters that do no favors to characters I grew up loving. Fox’s X-Men film franchise has been more miss than hit, and the decision to cast Channing Tatum in a Gambit spin-off only furthers the death spiral of a lackluster series. Flash, bang and star power are not the X-Men and — ironically — Gambit’s story, more than anything, is one about how a weakness for pretty faces can spell your doom.
April and May were such crazy months that I combined my “hot reads” list, for the sake of my sanity. (Such as it is.)
The Copper King, by Vivian Arend (erotic paranormal romance, e-novella)
The Broken, by Shelley Coriell (romantic suspense)
Lost, by Laura K. Curtis (romantic suspense, e-book)
Bootie and the Beast, by Falguni Kothari (contemporary romance)
Stranger on the Shore, by Josh Lanyon (romantic suspense, LGBT, e-book)
Sweet Filthy Boy, by Christina Lauren (erotic romance)
Tank, by M. Malone (contemporary romance, e-novella)
Out of the Box, by Audra North (erotic romance, sci-fi, e-short)
The Saint, by Tiffany Reisz (out 6/24, erotic romance)
Collateral, by Roxie Rivera (erotic romance, e-novella)
Beyond Solitude, by Kit Rocha (erotic romance, e-novella)
Beyond Repair, by Charlotte Stein (contemporary romance, e-book)
The Girl in 6E, by A.R. Torre (out 7/8, erotic suspense)
In terms of older books, I went on a serious Anne Stuart glom with On Thin Ice, Risk the Night and Shadow Lover. I also zipped through The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho, Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas, The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan and last year’s excellent LGBT sci-fi debut from Jacqueline Koyanagi, Ascension.
Whew. That’s a LOT.
No wonder my Kindle chose May 29 to keel over. :/