I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Monday, April 4, 2016

Rememberance: A Mediator Novel by Meg Cabot


Yes, this is the Meg Cabot who writes the Princess Diaries books. Now, let's put that in a box and set it to one side because she is a versatile writer who cannot be stuffed neatly in one box like we all like to do. She's also written the YA series Abandon about a young woman who becomes involved with the guy who looks after the Underworld (Still waiting patiently for the next book in that series, Ms. Cabot. It's been three years, though. Just saying.). She has an adult mystery series about a full-figured woman (The Heather Wells Series). There's also the adult series Insatiable about a woman who can tell by looking at you when you're going to die. She also has a tween series called Allie Finkle's Rules For Girls. And let's not forget the various single title YA books like Jinx about a girl with bad luck or her many adult romance books.

Now that that's out of the way, this book is the seventh book in the Mediator series. The first book, Shadowland, came out in 2000. The sixth book, Twilight (Heaven Sent) was published in 2004. I read these books about ten years ago, or so. It is a fabulous series and she wrapped it up all neatly with a very lovely bow, so I was rather pleasantly surprised to see that she was writing another book in the series that picks up about six years after the end of the series. This book, however, will be found in the adult section, which makes sense, as Suze Simon, is now an adult, and it gives Cabot a lot of freedom with the characters and the plot. If you haven't read the series, you will not be lost. You will, however, know some things that could taint your experience if you decide to go back and read the series (which you really should). Of course, the argument can be made that after watching the Star Wars Trilogy, you know a lot of what is going to happen to go into the Prequels (And no, I am not comparing her wonderful books to those movies, that were not, perhaps, what they could have been).  So, it's your decision.

Suze (Susannah) Simon is getting her Ph.D. in psychology so she can become a counselor. Jesse de Silva, her fiancee now, is a medical resident. She is hoping desperately that they will finally get married next year as she has been waiting a very long time for him and Jesse respects her way too much to sleep with her before marriage, much less live together. He's also Catholic. And died in 1850. So his views can be a bit old fashioned. When they both went off to college, he insisted on keeping in touch by letter. She's finally gotten him to use a phone now. She's not having much luck though, on dragging him completely into the 21st century. Suze is doing an unpaid internship at her old high school, Junipero Serra Mission Academy, where Father Dominic is still principal and still offering up advice and help.  The school is also a historical site, so they get tourists all the time and have a gift shop, which helps pay to keep the place open. Suze's mouth always did get her into trouble and now there are swear jars in the office, her apartment, and other places, as some are trying to get her to clean up a bit (The really, really bad swear words you will have to fill in with your imagination, as they do not appear on the page. And that is not a complaint about the book, by the way, I respect and admire Ms. Cabot for this choice.).  Like that is ever going to happen.

Suze's unofficial, other nonpaying jobs, is a mediator. A mediator is someone who can see the dead who haven't realized that it really is time to move on, even if she has to kick their butt to get them to do it. On rare occasions, the NCDP (non-compliant dead person) may just need you to get a message to someone so they can move on. Usually, it's much more complicated than that and the ghosts are not always nice. Jesse was a ghost that haunted the home her and her mother moved into when her widowed mother married Andy Ackerman (of the TV show "Handy Andy" fame). Andy had three teenage sons: Jake ("Dopey"), Brad ("Sleepy") and David ("Doc"). There was also Max the dog, who could sense ghosts when he wasn't busy chasing Spike the cat. Suze's mom and Andy have sold the house and moved to L.A. Jake is a successful pot shop businessman, Brad knocked up his girlfriend, Debbie (Suze's enemy) right after high school with triplets and works at her father's BMW lot, and David is at Harvard studying to be a lawyer. Suze gets along a lot better with Jake and Brad now than when they were teens (she and Doc always got along and he knows about her abilities and has helped her in the past).

While at work Suze gets an e-mail from the last person she ever wanted to hear from again: Paul Slater. Paul, it seems, now owns her old house, the house Jesse died in. This is when the first of many mistakes she is going to make, happen in this book. She calls Paul. It seems that his grandfather has died and left him everything, including the old Egyptian texts that he had. Both Paul and his grandfather were mediators. According to these texts, if you tear down the place that was once haunted, " a demon disturbed from its final resting place will unleash the wrath of eternal hell-fire upon all it encounters, cursing even those it once held dear with the rage of a thousand suns." and that "any human who attempts to resurrect a corpse will be the first to suffer its wrath when the demon inside it is woken." When you do something there is always a cost. This is apparently the cost. But, Paul, of course, will not tear down the house if Suze will have dinner with him and all that comes after it.  Paul was always a sleaze, especially on graduation night. Sometimes, though, he could be helpful. This, however, was not going to be one of those times. It seems he was still holding a grudge on losing out on her to Jesse. And Suze can't tell Jesse. She never told Jesse about what happened on graduation night for a reason. She'd like to keep him out of jail. He'd really lose it if he knew about this. She would just have to put Paul off until she could figure something out.

From one crisis to another. In walks Sister Ernestine with a teenage girl, Becca, and her not so friendly ghost companion clinging to her, nearly dragging her down. While Sister Ernestine went into the office to call Becca's stepmother, Suze gets a look at her bleeding arm.  The letters STU have been cut into it and Suze is pretty sure this is not the first time Becca has done this. The big question is, is the NCDP the cause of it, or is it something else? When she tries to tend to her wounds, she finds out just how powerful the little angelic ghost is, because she comes right after her, believing that she is trying to hurt Becca. After an "earthquake" (they have a lot of those at the school), Suze has a few moments to try to get some information out of Becca. It seems her mother lives in New York now after an "accident" and when Suze asks about the horse necklace she is fingering, she clams up. The NCDP, whose name is Lucia, was wearing a riding outfit and holding a stuffed horse. Becca's stepmother then shows up and turns out to be Kelly Prescott, Paul's old girlfriend from high school. Poor Becca.

Suze turns to her good friend CeeCee, an albino she met in high school who became a huge help to her with her awesome research skills. CeeCee now works at the local paper She's not too happy to be looking up the name of another dead person when she only has the first name and no real idea when or where the person died. CeeCee is amazing, but she can't perform miracles, but this is for a kid, so she's game. Suze goes home to her apartment, which is protected to the hilt against humans and ghosts alike. The pool, however, is not, and when she goes for a swim Lucia shows up attacks her. Jesse and Suze had a connection when he was a ghost that never really went away when he was brought back to life. He always seems to know when she's in trouble. Like now, which is a good thing, because he is there to pull her out of the water away from Lucia. Of course now Jesse wants to have her exorcised and sent to hell. He is a macho, old-fashioned guy who doesn't like anyone coming after the woman he loves, who can usually take care of herself.

Father Dominic has finally returned back from his conference full of apologies for not noticing Lucia in the first place. Father Dom, is also a mediator and at the beginning of each school year he looks over each child carefully for spirits. The mission is also blessed often to try to keep spirits out as well, not that this works all the time. Father Dom insists on going over to Becca's house to try to mediate the situation and Lucia sends him down the stairs breaking many bones and sending him to the ICU. Suze is able to convince Jesse not to hunt down Lucia and exorcise her when she shows him the article about her CeeCee was able to dig up, once Father Dom made the connection as to who she might be. Becca and Lucia Martinez were friends in first grade at Sacred Trinity when she died from a horrible horse riding "accident" (the horse was also put down).  Lucia is still protecting Becca from someone who could harm her from that time period. All they have to do is convince a really angry, confused ghost to stop trying to kill them because they are here to help both her and Becca and to somehow get Becca to talk about what happened to Lucia all those years ago. A piece of cake, right? Yeah, no.

On top of that Suze still has Paul to deal with and to try to keep Jesse from finding out about it, which isn't easy as he is rather perceptive. But Suze always thinks of something. Does it always work out the way it's supposed to? Of course not. Nothing in life ever does. But that's what makes it exciting. And terrifying. This is, of course, why Suze really needs those boots she was bidding for on-line. This book is filled with lots of surprises and old friends. I was beyond pleased with it. I was over the moon and into another galaxy. I was quite content with the series ending the way it had, but I so very glad to be given this gift.  Meg Cabot has really topped herself.

Note: I am rather embarrassed by this, but feel you should have a little fun at my expense. I was watching Jeopardy last week and the category was something like statues in state capital buildings. They showed a picture of a man holding a cross and said that this statue was in California and was a man who had just been canonized by Pope Francis for setting up missions. This was the day after I had complete this book and I'm looking at the statue wondering who it was, thinking that it wasn't St. Francis, who is pretty much the only person I could think of. A woman rang in and said Father Serra and my jaw dropped because it never occurred to me that Father Junipero Serra was an actual person. It's an unusual name, to my ears. A name only a creative mind could come up with. In my defense, one, though I am a history nut, my knowledge of the eighteenth century California history is pretty much non-existent, and two, I'm not Catholic. It turns out, Father Serra went up and down the coast building missions to convert the Native Americans, by force, if necessary (depending, of course on your viewpoint and which texts you read). Suze, by the way, is accused of chopping off the head of the Father Serra statue at the mission while in high school.

Note: I found out after I read this that there is an e-book short story that came out a month before this with the title "Proposal". Downloading now.

When you’re a regular girl and a guy is horny for you, he invites you over to his house after school to watch videos. When you’re a mediator, he invites you over to study his grandfather’s ancient Egyptian funerary texts, so you can learn more about your calling.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 17)
I believe in facts. And the fact is,  I want to be with Jesse because he makes me feel like a better person than I suspect I actually am.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 23)
Even complete monsters can have one or two likable characteristics. Hitler liked dogs, for instance.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 23)
I was so stunned, I was temporarily unable to form a reply, even a four-letter one, which for me was unusual.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 24)
It’s completely humiliating that after nearly six years of post-secondary education, the only place in the entire state of California where I could find employment (and not even paying employment) is my former high school. But there are a few upsides. At least here I can tell when kids are lying to my face about the teachers.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 34)
This is why I needed a new pair of boots. You never knew when you were going to have to keep a ghost from using your computer to crush you (and a student) to death.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 44)
I’m certain when I die, if there actually is some kind of higher power sitting in final judgment of all our souls, mine’s going to take a really long time to read off all my sins, considering all the lying I’ve done, especially to people of the cloth.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 48)
“What did Sister mean by ‘the girls’? Do you have kids in this school?” “No, I don’t have kids in this school,” I stared at her, horrified. “Seriously, how old do you think I am?” “I don’t know. About thirty-sev-“ “Forget I asked. The kids are my brother Brad’s. Stepbrother’s, I mean.” Brad and I were actually the same age, but had always had vastly different tastes and attitudes. “He knocked up his girlfriend with triplets right after high school, and now their daughters are in kindergarten here. See what can happen if you don’t practice safe sex?”
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 50)
One of the things they’re always drumming into our heads in class is when in doubt, look to the patient’s home life, especially the mother. It always goes back to the mother. Thanks, Freud.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 52)
The professor had warned us in advance not to grow too attached to our rats. It doesn’t pay for clinical researchers to become emotionally attached to their lab animals, any more than it does for therapists or physicians to become emotionally attached to their patients. In order for the professional to best serve their client, they need to remain detached. And virtually every achievement in medical history owes its lifesaving advancements to animal testing. Eventually most lab rats end up getting dissected. But I only took the class because it was a requirement. I no more planned on getting into clinical research than I planned on becoming emotionally attached to my rat.  As soon as the final was over, I swapped out Romeo for a look-alike I’d found in a pet store. Rats are a lot cleaner and smarter than people give them credit for. Romeo and I have grown to share a genuine and totally unique personal bond. He’s paper trained, and likes to sleep on my shoulder while I watch TV. No way would I have left my little buddy in that lab for some PhD candidate to experiment on—possibly even kill—over the summer. Paul was right: I’m probably going to be world’s crappiest counselor.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 84)
Not that I believed for one minute that Jesse was going to sit still for a blessing—at least not without an explanation. He went to mass every Sunday, and on holy days of obligation, as well. If there was a demon living inside him, it was going to take one hell of a blessing to drive it out. I was probably going to have to come up with an imam, a rabbi, and a Wiccan high priestess in addition to Father Dom to get rid of this curse.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 92)
“Hey, kids,” I said brightly, reaching for my wallet. “Are you thirsty? Why don’t you go get a soda? I see some machines over there.” Shrieking with joy at the prospect of sugar, which they were not allowed at home, the girls snatched singles from my hand and tore from the reception area at top speed, nearly crashing into several people who were waiting to see the triage nurse. “Be sure to get lots of candy bars, too,” I called after them. “The kind that rot your teeth. And don’t talk to strangers. Look.” I turned back to Peggy, leaning in very close and lowering my voice so that only she could hear me. “I am not in the mood for this right now. You’re going to tell me where they’ve taken that priest, or I’m going to let those three unholy terrors you think are so cute get all hopped up on sugar, then turn them loose in your ER. I’m going to let them touch everything, and you do not want that, because guess what? They haven’t had any of their shots. Who knows what kind of weird diseases they’re carrying without even showing symptoms? Mumps. Polio.  Whooping cough. Measles. Did you know that measles is still one of the leading causes of death in children worldwide? That because it’s so infectious, nine out of ten people who haven’t been vaccinated against it who come into contact with someone who has it will catch it. Is that really what you want? All those vulnerable, unvaccinated babies in your maternity ward to come down with measles in a matter of hours?” Peggy’s eyes widened to their limits, and she scooted her wheeled chair away from me, “I’m…I’m …I’m…I’m going to go get my supervisor.” “You do that.” I said. “But remember, the longer you make me wait, the more contagions are festering on those little girls’ hands. I hope you have a vat load of antibacterial lotion nearby.”
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 141-2)
“Right,” I muttered. “Doctors. Everybody’s got a disorder.” “Counselors,” he shot back. “Everyone needs therapy.”
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 155)
“You’re the one who keeps insisting she’s an innocent child in pain.” “She is,” I said hastily. “I’m sure.” “You’d better hope so. Otherwise, if she murders Brad and Debbie in their sleep tonight, we’ll end up with custody of your nieces, since we’re their appointed legal guardians.” “Why do you think we’re here? Brad and Debbie don’t have life insurance. We can’t let them croak. We’ll have to put off having our own kids in order to be able to afford to raise theirs.”
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 178)
“David,” I said when I found my voice again, “That’s a great plan. Honestly. But it isn’t going to fly. Mediators can’t go popping back and forth through time without having to pay the consequences in the form of major loss of brain cells and cosmic tears in the universe.” Quoting Paul left a bad taste in my mouth. “That’s how this whole mess got started in the first place.” “Oh.” David sounded let down. “I hadn’t considered that.” “Yeah. And really, if time travel were that easy, don’t you think I’d be doing it all the time, trying to prevent plane crashes and Hitler and stuff?” Now he sounded shocked. “Of course not. That would be a complete violation of the grandfather paradox—“
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 207)
“And Jesse would never in a million years want to live there.” David’s voice went up several octaves. “Why not?” “Because our old house is where Jesse got M-U-R-D-E-R-E-D, remember?” The girls immediately began murmuring the letters of the word I’d just spelled, but fortunately got nowhere as it was too advanced for the kindergarten set. Plus reading at the academy was being taught by sight or “whole language” rather than phonetically, which meant most students were reading well below their grade level (an opinion I’d been told by Father Dom to please keep to myself).
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 207)
The second I said the name, her mouth twisted as if she’d just bit into the foulest tasting thing she’d ever had the misfortune to eat. I should have known. Even Sister Ernestine had a him. Maybe every single woman in the world has a him. Men, too. I’d had the misfortune of meeting Jesse’s him once.
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance p 234)
“Exactly. No parent who could afford Sacred Trinity would be caught dead in my car. Do you remember our names?” I could tell by the tilt of his head that he’d rolled his eyes. “Dr. and Mrs. Baracus. Am I supposed to be Greek?” “B.A. Baracus isn’t Greek. He’s a character from The A-Team, a television show, played by a man named Mr. T.” At Jesse’s disapproving expression, I said quickly, “Don’t worry, it’s a very old TV show, no one will remember it. Well, there was a movie, but I had to think of something fast. I didn’t expect  to get an appointment for a private tour on such short notice. But who cares? It worked, didn’t it?” “What if they decide to look up Dr. Baracus on the Internet?” “All they’ll find is that the word baracus means bad attitude. There’s a kind of poetic justice in that, don’t you think?” “Yes, considering I have in the trunk all the equipment I need to beat a confession out of the priest,” he said. “Everything Jake had in the house to subdue an intruder—“ I swiveled at him shocked. “Jesse, no! No one is beating a confession out of anybody. We’re on a fact-finding mission only.” “I think we could discover more facts more quickly if we handcuffed the priest to a radiator, then doused him with water, then shocked him several times with your stepbrother’s taser.” “I hate child killers, too, Jesse, but how about going for a more subtle approach that won’t get either of us charged with assault?” “Your attitude,” Jesse said, “really isn’t as bad as our name implies, Mrs. Baracus.” “I’m only asking that you think of our darling daughter, dear sweet little Penelope.” He shook his head. “No imaginary daughter of mine will be called Penelope.”  “You didn’t really put all that stuff in the trunk, did you?” I asked. “Of course. Along with Brad’s .22 Hornet.” At my disbelieving glance, he shrugged. “What was I supposed to do with it? He wanted to go raccoon hunting last night, remember? I had to hide it from him somewhere.” “So you brought it along today? Great. Just great, Jesse.” I eyed the armed guard who was checking each car before collecting their toll and then waving through the gate… “Do I have to remind you that you are not actually Dr. Baracus,” I asked Jesse, “but a medical student and former ghost, and one with forged identity papers?” “Actually,” he said, lowering his sunglasses and glancing at me, “I’m a medical resident, not a student. And why are you so suddenly concerned about my identity papers, Mrs. Baracus?” “I’m just wondering if driving with a rifle, handcuffs, and tasers in the trunk of a BMW that doesn’t even technically belong to you is such a good idea.” “Are you afraid I’ll be racially profiled on 17-Mile Drive? Nombre de Dios, Susannah.” Jesse clicked his tongue at me. “Have you so little faith in your fellow man?” I snorted. “Nothing I’ve heard lately about my fellow man has done much to restore it.” He grinned and slipped his glasses back into place. “I’ll have to work on that later. And anyway, I’m not Jesse de Silva, medical resident, anymore, but Dr. Baracus, wealthy plastic surgeon, father of Penelope, remember? They’d never check his trunk for implements of torture.”
-Meg Cabot (Remembrance P 241-3)

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Remembrance-Mediator-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B00XHRR3EE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499188731&sr=8-1&keywords=remembrance+meg+cabot

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