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May Copy Alotment: what’s coming up

August 7, 2014 Leave a comment

 

Welcome to the May 2014 edition of WRT’s What’s coming up.

 

eloDB78343 North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

Boston. Pirio is helping her godson’s father Ned on his lobster boat, when they are hit by a freighter. Pirio is recued after four hours in the frigid ocean, but Ned is not. When signs suggest foul play, Pirio investigates. Strong language, some violence, and some descriptions of sex. 2014.

The Boston Globe calls Elo’s novel, North of Boston, a “murder mystery, an environmental thriller, and a domestic drama.” Apparently it’s a modern day story that just sounds old in the annotation. Pirio is the daughter of Russian immigrants, her family owns a perfume business(?), she has an uncanny sense of smell, she’s mysteriously impervious to hypothermia, and she’s kind of a wild-woman. The reviewer goes on to talk about a series of twists and turns that will satisfy the reader.

The review on Kirkus Reviews tells us right off that this is the beginning of a new series starring Pirio Kasparov. Overall, the reviewer likes the book and says that it’s “well-laid” groundwork for the rest of the series, but didn’t offer much more than another description of the novel.

Our trusty Goodreads commenters are the first to give us an idea about how people actually “feel” about Pirio. With an average review of 3.67 stars our of 5; most people are impressed that this is the author’s debut novel. Some detractors called the book “contrived” and that the author sometimes “rambled” on about unimportant things. But, to be honest, I had to go through 4 pages of reviews to find one that was actually negative. Many reviewers gave 3 stars, but still wrote favorable reviews about the writing, characters, and plot.

 

wilson_DB78357 Cold City. Repairman Jack; the Early Years: 1 by F. Paul Wilson

New York City, 1990. After losing his temper and severely injuring a coworker, twenty-one-year-old college dropout Jack dives into the seedy side of the city. Soon Jack is toting a gun and smuggling stolen goods—and uncovering secrets others want hidden. Violence, strong language, and some descriptions of sex. 2012.

An independent reviewer’s blog, LayersofThought.net calls this, the first of a set of prequels in the Repairman Jack series, a “fun, action-oriented piece of escapism.” Critically, he is not happy with this book having so many loose plot threads. His complaint is that most books in series will at least wrap up a single story or have a clear climax but that this book did not. The reviewer gives this book 2.5 stars out of who knows how many so it’s tough to gauge the severity of the rating.

Amazon readers give Cold City 4.5 out of 5 stars and some highlights claim that the book is an excellent introduction to an already well established and well loved character, but that, without knowing this character as well as fans already know him, you might not get much out of this book. So, hearing that, keep in mind that a new reader to Repairman Jack should probably not start out with the prequels of the character.

The website for Crimespree Magazine’s reviewer points out that this book has almost no supernatural elements (which explains the Amazon reviewers’ points) but that the book is still a great example of “pure crime fiction done at its best.” Quite conversely, this reviewer says that this book is a great read even for series first-timers and that, if this book is any indication of what’s to come, the reader is in for a “hell of a ride.”

 

Panic_HC_JKT_des4.inddDB78376 Panic by Lauren Oliver

In the poor town of Carp, New York, graduating high school seniors enter a high-stakes game called Panic. Contestants work through deadly challenges all summer, hoping to win the grand prize of more than $50,000—and to start a new life. Some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2014.

The Guardian’s U.S. edition reviewer calls Panic “brilliant…fast paced and even when the pace drops, the plot still keeps you hooked.” Obviously we’ve moved on from vampires to dystopian society so here is another book to recommend to those who have liked The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.

Goodreaders have given 3.59 out of 5 stars but some of the reviewers are a little tired of the Hunger Games’ trope and are dubious that this book will truly be a “stand alone” in a world where it’s almost illegal for a YA writer to write a single novel to tell a story. One YA reader posted an entertaining review made almost completely from GIFs. As you read through the reviews, though, you see that teens must rate books with more stars than you would expect based on their actual reviews. Looks like the kids may be over the Hunger Games, Battle Royale, and everything in between.

Deseret News out of Utah calls Panic “well-written, unpredictable and entertaining.” This review is provided by an adult reader and mother. She briefly comments on the language, sexual references, and injuries that take place in the book.

 

leonardDB78385 Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard

Dragons once called Caithen home, but five hundred years ago the Empire conquered the kingdom and bound them into service. Now the dragons want Corin, crown prince of Caithen, to free them. His task seems hopeless—until he meets Tam, a seer, and realizes her powers may be his salvation. 2014.

So, right off the bat, from reading the joint review at Dear Author, I learn that the dragons in Moth and Spark owe a lot to Ann McCaffrey’s dragons in the Pern series books. So, keep that in mind when recommending this book. They did complain a bit about the world building and called it confusing because it’s supposed to be a Europe inspired world, but, unfortunately, uses place names that are very similar to the names of known places from ancient Greece. They enjoy the story, the politics, and say that it’s not as heavily detailed as many sci-fi/fantasy novels usually are. They called it a “romance in a fantasy setting” which might work for romance fans who are getting bored and looking for a change of pace but aren’t ready to give up romances yet.

Another reviewer, however, at GoodBooksandWine.com says that the book is very dense and that the author goes into great detail really setting the scenery. She did enjoy the book and says that if you liked Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell that you will like Moth and Spark. I happen to have really liked that book so maybe I’ll have to check this one out. She gives 4.5 out of 5 stars on her own scale.

Goodreaders give 3.3 out of 5 stars which is on the liked-it low-side of things. The most recent review spells it out pretty clearly. This reader DNFed (did not finish) this book 15% into the story because there was very little magic or fantasy and the main female character is unlikeable. She actually says that she “hates” her and agrees that that’s pretty strong emotion for a fictional person. I can kind of relate. I hated A Discovery of Witches but read it c2c (cover to cover) but DNFed the second book after 5 pages. While that’s totally irrelevant, I just felt like sharing. I’m pretty sure nobody reads these, but it’s kind of my job so I’ll keep it up for the typing practice.

 

weirDB78389 The Martian by Andy Weir

Six days after becoming the first man to walk on Mars, astronaut Mark Watney is caught in a windstorm. Though his support crew thinks he died, Mark survived and now faces abandonment, failed machinery, and a hostile environment. Strong language. Bestseller. 2011.

The Martian will be released as a feature length movie in 2015, starring Matt Damon, so it’s no surprise that Entertainment Weekly took the time to review the book. They give it a B on an A-F grade scale. The reviewer says that it’s “relentlessly precise” and has plenty of suspense. He specifically notes that that the book has more science than fiction, so that’s probably good to keep in mind for a science minded reader.

The A.V. Club’s reviewer gives The Martian an A grade. She says right in the review title that the books “makes the tale of an engineer stranded on the red planet gripping.” She also points out that the book does not focus solely on the main character, Watney, but also spends time on NASA and the spaceship and crew that accidentally leaves the main character behind, describing it as an “Apollo 13-style look at the organization in crisis mode.

Lastly, our friends at Goodreads have given the book 4.33 out of 5 stars—high praise! I won’t bother with any specifics of their reviews because the people who liked it…and that was almost all of them, REALLY really liked it. Like, 5 stars-why aren’t there 6 stars?-liked loved it. So, space nerds, science nerds, survival nerds, nerdy nerds, and book nerds should pick up The Martian by Andy Weir.

 

jacobsenDB78452 Operation Paperclip: the secret intelligence program that brought Nazi scientists to America by Annie Jacobsen

History of the clandestine program that brought top minds of the Third Reich to the United States after Germany’s defeat. Focuses on more than a dozen scientists who contributed their expertise in rocketry and medicine to help America during the Cold War. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2014.

The New York Times reviewer, who also happens to be a Hitler and Nazi scholar pens a review that basically gives us all a history lesson and explains pretty much all of the book…in detail. She mentions that the book is “crowded” in places and that the narrative becomes “muddled” when stories of various Nazis are told along side of the stories of present-day historians. I guess she didn’t hate it though because she titled her article “Willkommen” and not “Scheisse.”

The NPR book review “staff” (sorry, no individual listed) also provides an audio interview with the author. I didn’t listen because I was…well, I was busy trying to get this review post done. I’m only writing May’s reviews in early August, so yeah, I’m way past any deadline that may have existed. Let’s just assume that NPR liked the book though, because I’ve never heard them do an interview with an author and be all like, “Yeah, your book. It seems to be horribly written and completely irrelevant.”

The Goodreaders give 3.81 out of 5 stars. One helpful review calls it a “very readable book about a very ugly story.” Another reviewer says that although it’s long and detailed that it’s still very readable. Probably a great suggestion for a history buff or WWII enthusiast.

 

nesbitDB78457 The Wives of los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

1943. Women from across America and overseas follow their husbands into the desert of Los Alamos, New Mexico. As the men toil on a top-secret project, their wives try to adapt to this strained, military community with its rationing and censorship. 2014.

Boston Globe correspondent Daneet Steffens reviewed Wives in February and praises the author for bringing to life a story about the scientists’ wives of the Manhattan Project. She does say that it may take a while to really get in to the author’s style but that it will be worth it overall to stick with the story.

The Santa Fe New Mexican book reviewer enjoyed the novel and says that it belongs in the canon of other such stories told about Los Alamos during WWII. She also comments on the unique prose style but it seems like she enjoyed it as well. We learn during this review that TaraShea Nesbit is a first time novelist. No star out of star ratings given to either of these reviews.

Our Goodreads friends gave the book 3.31 out of 5 stars which is sort of on the low side and, you guessed it, it was the unique style that really put off the detractors. Apparently the story is told from a first person plural style. One review, to illustrate the annoying style writes, “We didn’t like this book. We don’t like stories told in the first person plural. We felt this made the story unnecessarily vague …We felt that the author perhaps…” and so on. But those who enjoyed the book really enjoyed it. The ratings were almost exclusively 1-2 or all 5.

That’s it.  See you in September when I’ve be telling you what’s coming up in June.  Timeliness is mine!

 

April Copy Alotment: what’s coming up

June 24, 2014 Leave a comment

 

Welcome to the April 2014 of WRT’s What’s Coming Up.  Someday soon I hope to be caught up.  But for now…

 

stashowerDB78103 The Hour of Peril: the secret plot to murder Lincoln before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower

Details the plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln in Baltimor while he was en route to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration in February 1861. Profiles Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and widow Kate Warne, America’s first female private investigator. Some violence. 2013.

The New York Times called The Hour of Peril “swift and detailed” but neglects to tell us how many stars it’s worth! Overall though, it’s clear that the reviewer enjoys this non-fiction account of Lincoln and Pinkerton’s story. The Barnes & Noble site features several reviews, but the overview, provided by bestselling suspense writer, Harlan Coben, calls the book “…history that reads like a race-against-the-clock thriller.” Overall B&N readers and reviewers have given The Hour of Peril 4 out of 5 stars and note that the book has received several honors in 2013 and 2014 for notable non-fiction and tru-crime. Overall the Goodreads readers have given the book 3.67 out of 5 stars. They love it just like everyone, were surprised by the swift way the book reads, and only a few found the details daunting.

 

tessaroDB78151 The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

In 1955 London newlywed Grace Munroe learns that her husband cheated on her and that she has inherited a fortune from an unknown Parisian woman. Grace travels to France to investigate her relationship to her deceased benefactor, Eva d’Orsey, and asserts her newfound independence. 2013.

The Goodreads readers REALLY love The Perfume Collector and show that devotion with 3.95 out of 5 stars. They’ve read it in audio and print and they feel like it transcends both media. They call it a great story of love and loss and an interesting picture of 1920’s Europe. They do say, however, that it was horribly edited—lots of grammatical and word use errors in the print book which make me curious about the NLS narrator’s handling of these problems…it will be interesting to see what our readers think. Publishers Weekly used words such as “contrived banter,” “mildly clichéd,” and calls the main character’s love interest choice predicable. PW neglects to give any kind of star rating which begs the question, “How will we know what to think about what you think if you don’t use stars?” I’m going out on a limb though to say that PW wasn’t all that wild about The Perfume Collector. The Historical Novel Society found the story “enticing” and says that it’s a “refreshing read that combines a bit of mystery, love, nostalgia and self discovery.” HNS says the history and locations are well described and worth the read.

 

lynchDB78165 The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Locke Lamora, who as an orphan was sold to crooks, grows up to be a con artist impresario and leads a band of fellow thieves. When a coup throws their country of Camorr into chaos, Lock must become a hero. Violence and strong language. 2006.

I’ve since learned that The Lies of Locke Lamora is from the Gentleman Bastard series, but as it’s the first book in the series, adding it to the What’s Coming Up list isn’t a bad idea. BestFantasyBooks.com reviewed Lies almost three years ago as it’s a few years old. Their review is quite detailed and worth the full read if you are thinking of recommending this book to a sci-fi reader. They praise the author’s resourcefulness in solving plot conflict, the rich and well written characters, and the “startlingly impressive” finale. It is noted that this is the author’s debut novel. Goodreaders have given it 4.27 out of 5 stars and repeatedly draw it’s similarities to Ocean’s Eleven. One Goodreader artfully pastes images that suggest it’s as if Ocean’s Eleven and the Godfather had a love child. Another Goodreader posits that Ocean’s Eleven would have been perfect if it had taken place in a fantasy version of the Renaissance…oh wait…we have it now and it’s called The Lies of Locke Lamora. Either way, I’m adding it to my list mainly because I’ve gotten caught up in the fervor of a bunch of four-year-old reviews!

 

bruchacDB78176 Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac

In a distant future, Native American girl Lozen hunts genetically modified monsters for the tyrants who are holding her mother, sister Ana, and little brother Victor hostage. With each kill Lozen’s unique powers grow. Violence and some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2013.

The first review I’ve selected is by a blog called Rich in Color; a blog “dedicated to reading, reviewing, talking about, and otherwise promoting young adult fiction starring people of color or written by people of color.” Lozen is an Apache hunter in a post apocalyptic world in which technology has failed, monsters are loose, and we’re living in a new “steam” age. The overall recommendation from Rich in Color says get the book now and read it fast because it’s a “fun, quick read, and…a distinctive addition to the dystopian genre.” Sounds like, if you enjoyed the Hunger Games series, you’ll like Killer of Enemies. Good Reads readers give it 3.7 out of 5 stars and say that they are happy to see a protagonist of color, a book where the “Indians aren’t poor,” and has excellent action. Hilariously enough though, one reviewer was happy that the “heroine didn’t shame her name sack” and is “…tall (above 6”).” Six whole inches tall. Wow. Now I’m even more interested in this book than I was already! In August 2013 Kirkus Reviews called Killer of Enemies a “good bet for fans of superhero fiction and graphic novels and readers in search of superpowered female warriors. Done.

 

hannahDB78198 The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah

Louise Beeston misses her seven-year-old son, who is required to board at Saviour College School to perform with the school’s choir. Meanwhile, her neighbor keeps her awake playing loud pop and rock music and –more recently—choral singing. Strong language. 2013.

The UK Independent’s reviewer likes the The Orphan Choir and is familiar with the author’s previous work. Apparently this is Sophie Hannah’s first attempt at ghost, or supernatural fiction; she normally writes psychological suspense. Of the book, the reviewer says “…innovative score and an eerie twist.” The Goodreads readers have only given Orphan 2.71 out of 5 stars though. They use words like “infuriated,” “disappointed,” “extraordinarily bad novel,” and say that the main character is “unlikeable.” Ouch. I guess that most of the book is exposition and that the supernatural ghosty stuff doesn’t even take place until the last 50 pages or so. As a person who recently spent six months reading nothing but haunted house fiction, this book would have gotten a toss across my living room in no time flat. Just kidding, throwing a book, even a bad book, is rude. The rest of the reviews are mostly independent review blogs and they seem split. Half of them “really enjoyed” it and the other half basically say, “meh.” So, take that to the RA desk and do what you will.

 

stroudDB78207 The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Plagued by malevolent spirits, London turns to ghost-hunting agencies staffed with you sensitive to paranormal activities. Anthony Lockwood, George Cubbins, and Lucy Carlyle join together to become Lockwood and Co. –but after bungling a job, their only chance at redemption is clearing a dangerous haunted house. For grades 6-9, 2013.

The Screaming Staircase is book one in the Lockwood & Co. series. The blog Fantasy Book Critic loves the book and calls it “interesting, captivating, and just all out amazing.” He notes that even though it’s a YA novel it will work for adult readers…but due to the graphic descriptions of the ghosts, avoid readers who are too young. In late 2013 the New York Times reviewed this book and another called The Clockwork Scarab. The reviewer enjoyed both but particularly liked The Screaming Staircase for its lightheartedness, thrills, and themes of friendship and friends at the right time. I’d like to find a review by a young reader again as in an early book featured on What’s Coming Up…but we’ll have to settle for Goodreads and assume that at least a few of the reviewers were actually YA readers. Turns out they really like The Screaming Staircase and give it 4.23 out of 5 stars…wowser. “Reccomendation of the month…this book is awesome…brilliantly written,” and even “BEST. CHARACTERS. EVER!” An underlying theme in the reviews is that most readers thought it was going to be something else, either boring or another re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes with paranormal overtones and ended up really really…really enjoying this book. Get thee to BARD or the library ASAP and read this book!

 

Some things do not bear repeating…

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

…and yet, I’m going to any way. Mainly with the intent that I won’t have to look at crap like this any more. One of my pet peeves is books with historical anachronisms. Two situations in historical novels are the biggest offenders: dialogue and women protagonists. Malice of Fortune
One such offender, in a sea of many such, is a book called The Malice of Fortune.  From the NLS annotation:

Italy, 1502.  Damiata, former mistress of Pope Alexander’s murdered son Juan, is sent to Imola to investigate who was behind his death.  There, she meets and enlists the aid of Niccol Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci.  Violence, strong language, and some descriptions of sex. 2012.

Damiata is a woman.  And she’s officially, or unofficially, investigating a murder.  Presumably she meets with some level of cooperation as an investigator.  Please, I am sick of this need in modern literature for there to be more positive female rolls IN EVERY GENRE AND PERIOD OF LITERATURE.

My belief becomes seriously unsuspended when a writer just stuffs a female into an historically inappropriate roll.  I’m sure if I read the forward or afterward that Michael Ennis has some explanation about how one woman, in one corner of the world, in 1502, was actually a private investigator–they always manage to dig up one as an example.

I’m all for strong and empowered female characters, and I really enjoy post 19th century women detective novels, but it seems so patronizing when they shove these square pegs into round holes.

Anyway, we get it–women are important in all periods of history–and I mean that…for centuries, women had their place…was it right, or was it wrong?  I think that our history bears that keeping women in their place was wrong, but, that being said, let’s stop re-writing history in novels…it’s hard enough getting a straight deal out of a grade school history book without littering Barnes and Noble’s shelves with this malarkey.

The Troubleshooters* Series; ft. Everything. *with 10% more stuff you don’t need!

June 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Book 16 in Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series is on it’s way to an NLS library near you!  What does this mean?  I have no idea.  I’ve never even read any of these books.  But, I feel comfortable telling you what I already know I don’t like about them.  Too much!  As in, there are just too many things going on in the annotation for Breaking the Rules.  As in, Suzanne Brockmann has too many letters in her name!  As in, naming a series the Troubleshooters series is also, just, TOO MUCH.  Too many letters!  Too long of a word.  Too ridiculous.  From the NLS annotation:

cover art for Breaking the Rules

Izzy Zanella helps fellow navy SEAL Danny Gillman and Danny’s sister Eden–Izzy’s estranged wife–rescue their gay brother Ben from their abusive stepfather.  Ben’s new friend, sixteen-year-old Neesha, also needs their aid after escaping kidnappers and eight years of forced prostitution.  Violence, strong language, and explicit descriptions of sex. 

 

Is this for real?  So, according to above 50 words, Breaking the Rules, in 528 pages (too many pages!), covers the following concepts:

  • Navy SEALS
  • siblings
  • marital problems
  • homosexuals
  • abuse
  • stepfathers
  • teenagers (am I right?)
  • kidnappers
  • prostitution

Obviously that is TOO many bullet points for one novel!

So, Izzy Zanella is a boy?  I just pictured him as a her until I read about “Danny’s sister Eden–Izzy’s estranged wife–” and I was like, wha-huh?  And this is book 16 in the series.  So these two Navy SEALS have been running around in these convoluted suspense novels 15 other times? 

Now, I’m not sexist (yes, I am) but I’m a bit dubious of a woman writing a book about Navy SEALS and not having it be a romance.  This is mostly why I assumed that “Izzy” was a girl.  For those of you not in the know romance novels in which good looking, dashing, daring, Navy SEALS get the girl have a HUGE following.  So, when I see a Navy SEALS novel about two SEALS in a sweaty adventury suspense novel with no romance, I’m going to assume gay subtext.  But then when I see that a woman has written the many adventures of this dynamic duo, I’ve got to pause.  Either there IS gay subtext (I believe they call it “slash” in the fanfic world), or Suzzaanne Brockkmaann is just writing crappy “suspense” novels that are really just romance vehicles. 

Somebody who has read this series about Batman Izzy and Robin Danny comment here and let me know?  Romance?  Honest suspense?  Overly convoluted story lines?  Gratuitous sex, violence, and strong language?  Inquiring minds want to know…

The Tale of Halcyon Crap

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment

The Tale of Halcyon CraneSorry Reader,  I know it’s been a long time.  I’d like to say that my absence from this blog has been due entirely to the fact that I haven’t stumbled upon any poopy books.  Alas, that isn’t exactly true.  I can admit to you, my friend, that although I’ve been cataloging like crazy for the last three months, I haven’t been paying much attention to the individual books’ contents.  Does this mean that I’ve been a bad cataloguer?  I can’t answer that.  I will tell you though, that I’ve been reading a shit ton of books since August…which enhances my qualifications, not only as a cataloger, but also as a judge-er of books.

This week’s submission is called The Tale of Halcyon Crane.  I have both cataloged this turd and read it cover to cover.  And here is what I have to say: what a waste of time.  This book is 328 pages in print, and 9 hours, 52 minutes in audio.  This book should have been about 1 hour, 30 minutes, or a whole lot less pages.

From the NLS annotation:

Journalist Hallie James learns the mother she thought had died thirty years ago was, until recently, alive–and a famous photographer. Hallie travels to remote Grand Manitou Island on the Great Lakes to seek the truth but instead encounters hostile locals and ancestral ghosts in her childhood home. 2010.

The NLS annotation doesn’t give any indication of what a fart bag waste of time this book will be.  Basically, this person (being a journalist really doesn’t come into play much at all in the book so don’t worry about that detail) Hallie James has lived in Washington since her mother died in a fire when Hallie was 5 years old.  Since that time, Hallie lived with, and later near, her father, who was an important, and well renowned educator in, I want to say…mathematics?  Changed people’s lives, stand and deliver, etc. etc., you get the picture.

Anyway, one day Hallie gets a letter from her “dead” mother.  The woman has tracked her down and is telling her, by letter, that she is her mother and invites her to come to Grand Manitou Island.  Unfortunately, the woman died before the letter was recieved by Hallie.  Hallie asks her father about her “dead” mother, and then later that night, he suffers a heart attack, or stroke, or something and also dies.

Hallie jets off to Grand Manitou Island to GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THINGS.  Without telling any of the locals (and she talks to a lot of them) that the famous photographer woman claimed to be her mother, she learns that the woman had a daughter named Halcyon who drowned, with her father, about 30 years ago.  She hears this alot.  From all the locals she talks to.  And yet…

And yet it takes this moron nearly half of the book to realize that Hallie MIGHT, just might, be short for Halcyon.  Ohmygod, she’s the girl who was thought to be dead!!  Just like her [now] dead mother is the woman whom Hallie thought to be dead for all of these years.  Is this supposed to be a mystery because it just seems like patronizing poopcakes.

There’s a ghostly family history that and elderly family servant shares with Hallie/Halcyon that explains…over the course of a few weeks (or days)…how the family got to the events of the death-by-fire, drowned-in-the-lake misunderstanding.

It never occurs to Hallie that the old woman can’t possibly know all of the intimate details of the people who’s stories she is relating to Hallie.  I mean, if this idiot is really a journalist, shouldn’t she start having SOME doubts about point of view and narrator?  The woman is telling the story in a first person omniscient sort of way and you’re not a little curious about how she knows all of this?  It also never dawns on Hallie that this old lady is only seen by Hallie and NOBODY else? [SPOILER ALERT (highlight to view): the old lady is the ghost of a witch.]

And that brings me to my usual, willing-suspension-of-disbelief, gripe.  Hallie’s dad faked their death, the mother had been looking for her for years because she didn’t believe that her daughter was really dead, and yet NEVER found her?  The father didn’t exactly “go underground.”  Later you find out that he had an accomplice, and it becomes even more far fetched that this accomplice woman stayed quiet–and stayed on Grand Manitou without spilling the beans–for 30 years.  Even after she gave birth to the man’s illegitimate son and raised him as a single mother.  Please…it’s Grand Manitou…not outer Mongolia…where even THEY have heard of child support.

Anyway, the ghost story part of this book is solid.  Unfortunately, it’s wrapped in wadded up soiled toilet paper masquerading as a “novel” and should be avoided at all costs.

Jill Churchill Owes Literature an Apology

July 13, 2011 2 comments

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:

War and Peas cover

Turd of the Week, War and Peas, by Jill Churchill

  • 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.

Bone Head: a disbelief unsuspended novel

July 8, 2011 1 comment

The Bone ThiefActually, 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).

So, if you’re looking for a book to MST (Mystery Science Theatre 3000; here, let me Google that for you) this summer, The Bone Thief by Jefferson Bass may just be the book for you.

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.