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22 December 2011 @ 02:55 pm
#42 - #45  
Jazz in Love, Neesha Meminger

I was really hoping that this wouldn't suck. Spoiler: it did. I don't know why - maybe it's the pervasive Western influence on my life - but I do love stories of children rebelling against strict, traditional upbringings, no matter the source. I loved Bend It Like Beckham because the family weren't vilified, but at the same time they came to learn to accept Jas for who she was - which meant abandoning some of their traditional viewpoints. Meminger loved Bend It Like Beckham too, because most of this story is ripped off from it, right down to the main character's name.

There were serious problems with her writing - I know she's trying to get into the head of a teenager, but there's still no need for triple exclamation marks - and some of the plot points were just ludicrous. The take-home message was 'you don't have to decide when you're seventeen that you love someone or indeed anyone', but it would have been nice if she'd, you know, flagged that at any point along the way. She also called the BBC 'British radio'. Enough said.

Spoiled, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Yes! It's the Fuggirls' book. I had high hopes of finding this entertaining and it was. It was clearly intended to be a semi-parodic take on teen movies with a dash of anti-Paris Hilton thrown in. The plot was a bit lurching and Molly, as a character, was long-suffering to the point where she was almost robotically emotionless, but it was funny. Brick Berlin, in particular, shone as a well-meaning but totally deluded and Hollywood-warped movie star. I have a feeling he's probably the most accurate portrait in the book.

Brooke often thought Brick was a perfect example of why literacy was overrated. He believed anything holistic-sounding as long as more than two posters on a message board agreed with it.

Massive props, too, for using 'fuck' instead of the lameass watered-down swear-words these books always come up with. I never know why. I think teenagers can handle profanity. They use it themselves with such alacrity.

Brooke, on the other hand, was least convincing. This wasn't because I didn't buy the self-infatuation of spoiled rich kids, but rather I didn’t buy that the child of a famous movie star in 2011 wouldn't be well-known already in her own right, HI PEACHES GELDOF, or that she couldn't break into acting with the snap of her manicured fingers. Proving yourself through the medium of a school play sounds like what you'd do if you had no pull whatsoever, and that's where the authors are coming from. I don't think they delved hard enough into the scary weird place that is the childhood of a rich, famous person's offspring.

It also dated quickly and badly – Fall Out Boy were broken up by the time they released this, but probably not by the time they submitted it.

For a student body of no doubt wealthy and well-travelled kids, her classmates seemed remarkably horrified by proof that there was human life outside the Los Angeles metro area.

This, I like.

"I'm Molly," she said, feeling a smile spread across her face. "And this is the longest conversation I've had all day."
"Well, it's a lost art," said Teddy. "I'm just proud of us for getting through the whole thing without trying to sell the other person a screenplay. It's so rare these days."

It was hard not to fall under the spell of Teddy and Max. They were exactly the kind of well-fleshed out secondary characters I like to see. The Danny storyline was brilliant as well, from the unbelievably cute motif of sunflowers to the believable way that it didn't fix what was wrong in their relationship. Roll on book two!

Rainbow Valley, LM Montgomery

I thoroughly loved this! It was funny and the characters were charming, particularly Norman and Ellen. I just LOVED their romance. I was horrified by the maltreatment of Mr Meredith's children, though. What started out funny quickly became full-blown neglect, and no one did a damn thing about it. Still, she's back on the side of poking fun at religion. Yay!

"Mr Wiley used to mention hell when he was alive. He was always telling folks to go there. I thought it was some place over in New Brunswick where he come from."
Mary is way more like what an orphan servant would be than Anne ever was.

"Fancy!" said Mary. "I saw the main street in Charlottetown once and I thought it was real grand, but I s'pose it's got nothing on heaven."

"We are bringing ourselves up, you know, because there is nobody to do it."
Faith says a variation of this to Mr Meredith about three times and he feels HORRIBLY GUILTY and then does fuck-all about it. What a shit dad.

A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness


Let's start from the end: her acknowledgements. Somewhere in the middle, when I thought the fucking thing would NEVER END and I wanted proof that it did, I read these. Apparently five people read her book chapter by chapter as she wrote it. My first thought? Wow, she is so lucky that five people would do that. My second thought: wow, her four best friends and her mother HATE HER.

This acknowledgement also recommends that you read a book about Darwin if you want more information on events in the story. What book is this, you ask? Oh, Janet Browne's biography on him. WHO THE FUCK IS JANET BROWNE AND WHY AREN'T YOU SUGGESTING THAT WE JUST. READ. DARWIN?!

I seriously hate this woman, actually, for putting me through this. (Sure, I could have stopped reading - as several people who watched me read it suggested - but how would I know how much I hated it if I didn't? It's Middlemarch all over again.) I hate this book so much I did something I have never in my life done before, even as a child: I DEFACED THE BOOK WITH MY OWN HANDWRITING. The same people who watched me read watched me do this (I've been in day ward; it's very quiet) and I read out a few of my comments for their amusement. It's the only amusement this book afforded, let me TELL YOU.

So basically it's Twilight for smart people. Bella - I mean Diana - is an Oxford/Yale graduate who's written a zillion books and is a PhD. However, her life was empty of any actual feeling or events until she meets Edward I MEAN MATTHEW who is a stark-white turtleneck-wearing shy vampire who is consistently presented and talked about as this fearsomely vicious creature, but as this all happens offscreen and all we ever see him do is be shy and bashful and wear turtlenecks I call bullshit. Diana herself wears nothing but black sweaters and LEGGINGS I KID YOU NOT, not jeggings or leggings under dresses but actually spandex leggings AS CLOTHES, and her hair is a mess, but OF COURSE she's fantasically beautiful.

We spend about 1,700, 453 (okay maybe 200) pages watching them drink wine together because they are SOPHISTICATED ADULTS OKAY and nothing like those Edward and Bella losers except THEY TOTALLY ARE. In fact by comparison Bella and Edward have a healthy, admirable relationship. There's never any question - aside from a token aside to create tension in a tensionless kidnap scene - that they are both SO IN WUV with each other and what keeps them apart is not that they question each other's feelings or motives or the fact that one of them is two billion years old, but a nasty old agreement made a thousand years before. Oh, and did I mention that Diana is a Mary-Sue with the hidden powers of every strand of witchcraft EVER? Oh yeah. That happened.

There are pages and pages and PAGES where nothing actually happens. I bet Harkness is proud of having produced such a monster - at 680-some pages it probably shakes out at over 140,000 words - but only about 40,000 of those are viable, story-related words. The rest are stuffing. And not even nice, yummy turkey stuffing, they're the stuffing that comes out of cheap pillows and smothers you in the FACE.

FOR EXAMPLE, every cup of tea Diana drinks is annotated. Same with every bath or shower she takes. I’m surprised, actually, given Harkness’ fascination with her character’s bodily functions, that we didn’t follow Diana to the bathroom every time she took a dump.

Now I'm going to write out all my comments with the phrases that provoked them. I'm sorry to have defaced a book but it's THIS book, so I think I'm even. My comments are in bold as I always use inky pens - DEATH TO ALL BIROS - it takes a super speshul technique not to smudge it and I am SUPER SPESHUL LIKE DIANA MY HAIR EVEN LOOKS THAT SHIT RIGHT NOW - and that's what they look like in the book.

My fingers might be able to tell me about the book without even cracking open the covers. Aunt Sarah always used her fingers to figure out what was in the mail before she opened it, in case the envelope contained a bill she didn't want to pay. That way she could plead ignorance when it turned out she owned the electric company money.
So totally illogical I have no words ... it’s one thing figuring out what's in letters, although it seems like a total waste of energy, but the electric company don't care if you opened the letter or not once you pay it, I am PRETTY SURE

Witches ... daemons - creative, artistic creatures ... 'rock stars and serial killers' ... vampires, ancient and beautiful, who feed on blood and will charm you utterly...
Leaving humans as ...?
I was horrified and insulted that she consigned humanity to a credulous bumble of idiots who didn't have any of the gifts of 'creatures,' yet still the creatures bowed to the notion that they must hide themselves from those same humans. Without magic, creativity or awesome blood-sucking skills, I don't know what she left for humans to fight back with, except that history is on our side. It's FUCKING STUPID, aka a running theme in this book.

Sarah's worst suspicions about vampires would be confirmed if she knew they drove Jaguars while she drove a broken-down Honda Civic

The vampire avoided wearing white
Then why does he own a white shirt?!!
I think this is the first of many times where Harkness is clearly writing to fill space, and never goes back to erase totally irrelevant and even contradictory information, because editing is below PROFESSORS OF SOCAL UNIVERSITY DON'T YOU KNOW.

She informed her son over chocolate biscuits that she also knew he was unlikely to marry the girl next door, who was infatuated with him.
Lookit my token gay character, whose coming out story is a Hallmark card! What do you mean I should give him a decent backstory or character? He's GAY. He has the personality of GAY because he is GAY. Jeez. What more do you want?

...looking more than ever like a Renaisssance angel focused on some celestial mystery.
Oh no you DIDN'T

[shirt] had a funny collar that stood up in the back and winged towards my face before descending in a V-shaped neckline. The arms were relatively snug and ended in long, stiff cuffs that flared out slightly and ended up somewhere in the middle of the back of my hand.
WHAT. NO. You did not just dress your lead character like 1999 Buffy. ALSO WTF THAT SOUNDS HIDEOUS.
Note: usually Diana wears leggings, runners and a sweater. The cameltoe must have been beyond belief.

"What's the truth in the story about vampires not being allowed inside without an invitation?" Having pressed him on his diet, I focused on the entrance protocols.
Harkness LOVES doing this. Instead of 'show don't tell' she heard 'show then tell'. EVERY. LINE. OF DIALOGUE IS LIKE THIS.

My eyes floated up to his.
Hope she put them back in after.

Wine ... tasted of flowers and nuts and candided lemons and of some other, long-past world
Can't it just taste of wine???

Some deal had been struck, the particulars of which would never be disclosed to me
And you are ... okay with that. Okay.

It [flying a private plane] was far easier than flying a commercial airline through London's Heathrow or Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport.

[painting by Vermeer] was unfamiliar - not one of the artist's few known canvases.

I hated [hard hats for riding], but they were a wise precaution.
Girlfriend likes having her skull cracked open.

... feel like a turtle's shell - uncomfortable and unwieldy.
Don't think turtles feel that way...

Like German printing, the early days of English drama were a subject for later discussion.
Oh yes, let's keep on with the utterly boring shit instead!

Wine: 'raspberries and rocks.'
What do rocks smell of? Aside from wine.

All I needed was a pen and a piece of paper.

Noted the seventeenth time she's used the adjective 'tiny' in one chapter. WITH RAGE.

"Take this."
"I don't need it."
"You'll take the crop, Diana."

I'd devoured three helpings of stew, insisting all the while I wasn't hungry.

Seeing Matthew, naked and gleaming, was like witnessing a classical sculpture brought to life.
So he has a tiny dick.

Louisa had been useful as bait or as a spy, depending on the situation.

Marcus and his father often played [chess] together while Em and I cleaned up.
How nice and gender neutral.
The saddest thing about how Harkness relegates Diana to the love interest/domestic goddess role from being a self-sufficient, happily single PhD is that Diana is so, so, SO clearly a self-insert, right down to the shitty hair and overwhelming interest in black clothes. She's a fucking professor for god's sake, you'd think she'd know a little bit about how uncomfortable her portrayal of Diana's life choices comes across.

her soft accent betraying that she was born in the South.
South of where? So fucking Americo-centric that the South is automatically 'America's Deep South' but it needs clarifying that Heathrow is, in fact, in London. FUCK YOU.

Seeing how tired he was, I decided my questions could wait.
Said the Stepford wife to the vampire who only needs to sleep once a month.

Complete lack of medical knowledge when her main love interest is a doctor:
preparing the hollow needle
Needles aren't hollow. Cannulas are.
"A bad sprain accompanied by superficial first and second-degree burns."
Second-degree burns aren't superficial.
Sarah was treating Matthew like a first-year medical student on grand rounds.
Grand rounds are lectures. You aren't on them, you're in them.
"Painkillers, a diuretic to minimise swelling and a broad-spectrum antibiotic."
"Tachycardia. I'll sedate her."
Even leaving aside Matthew's over-eager readiness to sedate everyone, a) someone that clapped out with a BP in their boots won't ever be agitated enough for you to even think of anxiolytics and b) FLUIDS FLUIDS FLUIDS OMG.

Her conception of time-travel is that, if you go back in time, you REPLACE YOUR FORMER SELF. I have to applaud her for the amazing originality of her fuckwittery. Now please make her never write again.

Current Music: i'll be here when you wake // the reindeer section
(Deleted comment)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Timepunching: teapotsscoradh on December 23rd, 2011 09:17 am (UTC)
See, quote is too generous a phrase. I think they're more kidnapped words who've been trapped in her book against their will.
Alysseannealysse on December 22nd, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
How...How did you make it through the last one? Never before in my life have I given up on a book after starting it, but that monstrosity would have been an exception. Just the small snippets you've offered have me wanting to cry/kill the author.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Timepunching: peacockscoradh on December 23rd, 2011 09:19 am (UTC)
Ever since 2008 I've finished every book I start. And it's refreshing to read something like this every so often. It proves that you could have all the writing talent in the world but you don't need a square inch of it to get published.
murklinsmurklins on December 22nd, 2011 05:42 pm (UTC)
Ahahah, your notes on THAT BOOK. I laughed a lot.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Timepunching: back of girl's headscoradh on December 23rd, 2011 09:23 am (UTC)
Hey gurl. :)

Have you read it yourself? UGH. And even more frustrating are the reviews on goodreads. They keep saying things like "I found Diana to be a useless twit but the book says she's not so I must be wrong LOLS". Even the two stars! And one said "if you like female protagonists"!!!!!!! Because you might not?? You might object to their gender alone?!!!!!!!! HELP.

Mind you, she's got exactly the fans she deserved.
No Apologiesaidenfire on December 23rd, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
As sorry as I am that you had to suffer through that, I'm glad you did because the notes were hilarious! :)
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: disco ballscoradh on December 23rd, 2011 09:25 am (UTC)
I always find my own outrage funny. Other people take it seriously which ... puzzles me. Lol
JRevalangui on December 23rd, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
her soft accent betraying that she was born in the South.
South of where? So fucking Americo-centric that the South is automatically 'America's Deep South' but it needs clarifying that Heathrow is, in fact, in London. FUCK YOU. --> They don't even remember their continent has a southern part! Like the quote about L.A., obviously they would be very surprise to learn there is life outside the US (Not America, they can't steal my continent for their fucking country, ty) The other day in Glee the Irish character (and I'm being nice and assuming he's from NI) dedicated something to his family and to the king.

The diuretic thing was... amazingly stupid.