Has this ever happened to you, Gentle Reader? Somebody close to you tells you all about this FANTASTIC book that they’ve read this year and you just HAVE to read it now! And upon reading it, you are expected to tell them all about how it changed your life too and how you’re going to proselytize this “good book” all over hill and dale. Well, GR, this has just recently happened to me and the offending turd is none other than Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches.
Where do I begin? I’ll tell you where I’m not going to waste any time: the beginning. Nothing, and I mean nuh-thing, happens in this book of any consequence for the first 300 pages or so. From the NLS annotation (because Harkness and Amazon’s synopsis are ridiculously long):
After scholar and witch Diana Bishop requests an alchemical manuscript from the depths of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, she finds the magical power within the leather cover disturbing and hastily sends it back. But the book’s reemergence causes a chain reaction through the paranormal community. Descriptions of sex.
Diana Bishop is also descended from witches dating back to the Salem witch trials…because all witches in fiction are descended from Salem, MA. She is also considered a “reluctant” witch because she refuses to use her powers, which are, of course, super powerful and she has like the most powerful potential witch-powers in the history of the world. Aaaaaaaaaand, her boyfriend is a vampire. A broody, tortured, rich, handsome, 1,500 year old vampire. I’ll get back to
Edward Cullen Matthew du Clairmont in a minute.
I left the part about “descriptions of sex” in the NLS annotation because there significantly ARE NOT ANY. So, no real magic and no real sex. This book is a 592 page rip off of every magic/vampire/witch/romance/suspense/secret society novel ever written.
The vampire, Matthew Clairmont, is some kind of undead Forest Gump. He has met and/or worked along side EVERYONE of political, historical, or artistical(?) note of the past thousand years. Vampire Matthew fought in the crusades, the Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic Wars, and probably even the Korean War (it’s the forgotten one, you know).
And you laughed when I likened Matthew to Edward Cullen, but in the part of the book I’m suffering through right now, it has just been revealed that the witch and the vampire are destined to reproduce. Re-pro-duce. I could punch Stephenie Meyer for introducing that little nugget of literary license to the vampire/magic genre.
And I’m not even done reading the thing yet. I have been suffering through this book for 5 weeks now. It is 2 weeks overdue. I owe the Salem Public Library $3.45 to date. I have to finish this book because I have to go back and tell the recommender something about this lame book.
But wait, there’s more. There are about 100 pages left in this turd and it’s real obvious that nothing is about to be resolved. So, we’re looking at a series. There will be more. Dear Deborah Harkness: you either write a long-assed book that sucks or you write several medium- to short-assed books that suck collectively. You DO NOT write a series of books that are all as long as hell. Thank you, Me.
As usual, check this book out at your public library. Go today and get on the waiting list because it’s a best seller and you will need to wait for your copy. How and why? I don’t know.
I’m not joking. In an earlier post, A Preview of What’s to Come, I mentioned a certain type of pointless memoir that was the driving force behind this blog. The post featured a generic example of the memoir type that I find every month in the monthly download of new books to come. This month’s pointless book is called–in it’s entirety–Raven’s Gift: A Scientist, a Shaman, and their Remarkable Journey through the Siberian Wilderness by Jon Turk. From the NLS annotation:
Scientist and adventurer Turk [always with the author’s last name]explores connections between the natural and spiritual realms as he examines the trajectory of his life. Describes meeting Moolynaut, a Koryak shaman, while kayaking from Japan to Alaska in 2000. Discusses her guidance on relieving his pain and her lessons about the “other world.” 2009
For realsies? Why? For what purpose? I’m assuming that upon finishing this page turner that I’ll become complete and understand the trajectory of my own life. Or, at the least, understand lessons about the “other world.” And, just how did he meet this shaman while Kayaking from Japan to Alaska (wait, JAPAN to ALASKA)? I’m picturing Moolynaut floating by on a raft in some sort of mystically adorned shaman-tent. Turk raises his hand to hail her, “Excuse me, can you possibly spare some time to define ME?”
So, yeah, I don’t make this crap up. While the library is a wondrous place…probably the best place to spend some free time…you really should be mindful of where you step. There’s lots of good stuff, but there are also piles of crap all over the place. I’m starting to think that the “raven’s gift” might be a steaming pile and that Jon Turk should be fined for not cleaning up after this turd with one of those little mutt mitts that they keep at the dog park.
Any Jill Churchill fans out there? You just lurve those Jane Jeffry “novels?” Well, this post is [not] for you! For those who don’t know, Jill Churchill writes (among others) a series of books about a character named Jane Jeffry. The books are mysteries– cutesy, cozy, mysteries. As evidenced by Jill’s URL; cozybooks.com. Barf. Gag. Erp. Blech.
As a rule, I haven’t read “cozy” mysteries since I was in my mid-20’s. I used to be a huge fan of Qwill and his two cats, Koko and Yum Yum. However, I grew up and, while I accept that those stories have a huge place in “literature,” they no longer have a spot on my bookshelf. Sorry, I’m lying here. My collection of Lillian Jackson Braun books up to 1999 still has real estate in my home library.
My issue today isn’t with the “cozy” mystery genre. It is with Jill Churchill and her blatant rape of world literature, for personal profit, through the vehicle of this Jane Jeffry series. You see, every book in the Jane Jeffry series has a title that directly rips off another title from classic literature. I can’t stand this. Her titles include:
- Grime and Punishment
- A Farewell to Yarns
- A Quiche Before Dying
- The Class Menagerie
- A Knife to Remember
- From here to Paternity
- Silence of the Hams
- War and Peas
- Fear of Frying
- The Merchant of Menace
- A Groom with a View
- Mulch Ado About Nothing
- The House of Seven Mabels
- Bell, Book, and Scandal
- A Midsummer Nights Scream
- The Accidental Florist
How dare this hack ride on the backs of literary giants (yes, I said giants) to sell books? And, really, what did Shakespeare ever do to you, Jill Churchill? Why did you feel the need to bother the Bard twice? Every time I have to catalog one of this cow’s disgustingly pandering titles I groan, yes, groan out loud. Go to Hell Jill Churchill; I’m pretty sure Dante saved a special seat for you.
Actually, the book is called, The Bone Thief: a Body Farm novel, but please, some things are just too stupid. Apparently this is part of a series, so I’m sure there is at least one other literary piece of crap by this author with a similarly ridiculous premise.
From the NLS annotation:
Forensic anthropologist Bill Brockton goes undercover for the FBI after he discovers that corpes are being raided for black-market body parts. Meanwhile Eddie Garcia, from Bones of Betrayal, needs to have his ruined hands replaced by a cadaver’s.
Um, what? What body parts would be viable, yes, viable from a corpse? Isn’t that the whole point of the word, viable as in, capable of living, developing, or germinating (thanks, Free Dictionary). So, how would taking body parts off of dead bodies even be an issue? I mean, yes, I do believe there are laws against desecrating corpses, so sure, let’s investigate and all, but why try to dress this turd up by adding a completely superlative notion that these dead body parts are for sale in the black market? I’m sorry, this is so ridiculous that I can’t even really reason it out.
And then another what? moment when it mentions some dude from the last “book” (yes, those are technically air-quotes) who either causes the ruination of his hands, or somehow suffers some hand ruining, and then has to get “cadaver” hands attached to his wrists. I’m assuming these are going to serve in some vestigial capacity at this point since they can’t possible serve with any…here we go again…viability on account of the fact that they come from a DEAD BODY. Dead. As in, no longer living (thanks, Dictionary.com).
As always, happy reading. I’m catalogging this week so BOLO (be on the lookout) for more fascinating examples of American “literature.” Yes, I used air-quotes twice in one conversation. I do that.