Notes on Unreadable Books ~ Form Versus Function

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I was browsing the digital highways this afternoon when I came across this article on unreadable books.  We have all deemed a book as such at some point in our reading lives, adn I though this view on the subject was interesting enough to share.  I hope you enjoy.

Form Versus Function.

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Review: The Word Exchange ~ Alena Graedon

word exchangeISBN ~ 978-0345806031
Publisher ~Anchor
No. Of Pages ~370pages
Links ~ Penguin Random House, Amazon, Alena Graedon

Books, libraries, and newspapers have at last become things of the past. Now handheld Memes allow for constant communication and entertainment. They can even anticipate our needs, dialing the doctor before we know we’re sick, or prompting us with words we can’t recall. Yet a few dedicated wordsmiths are still laboring on the final print edition of the North American Dictionary of the English Language. But one evening, right before it’s released, Anana Johnson finds that the chief editor—her father—has vanished.

In alternating points of view, Anana and her bookish colleague Bart follow their only clue, the word ALICE, down the proverbial rabbit hole, into subterranean passages, the stacks of the Mercantile Library, and secret meetings of an anti-Meme underground resistance, racing closer to the truth about Anana’s father’s disappearance, and discovering a frightening connection to the growing “word flu” pandemic.

1 Thumbs-UpIt’s been a long time since I read a book like this, and I hope it will be a long time before I read another.  This is the only book I have ever read that by the magic page number of 119, I literally threw it aside in disgust.  To say it is a mess of ideas would be being generous, and I’m afraid to say I found it just to be a mess.

The main female protagonist is whiny and just downright annoying, coupled with her is the downright stalkerish alternate narrator combining into two characters I neither liked nor wanted to be bothered reading about anymore.  None of the other lesser characters shone through the pages either, and this would have been a redeeming factor that would have made me continue reading.

As any follower of my reviews will know by now, it takes a lot for me to actually close a book unfinished, but I found the footnotes and the sometimes having to refer to a dictionary to understand what the Author was writing about too much to bear.  In my opinion it was a very verbose piece of writing with very little plot and far too time consuming to be considered a novel.  If this had been written as non-fiction and a reflection on current society’s reliance on technology to the detriment of everything else it would have been much better received by myself; as it was it was relegated to the pile of books I will be parting with shortly.

The only saving grace that kept it from receiving zero thumbs was the cover.  I liked it a great deal and spent quite a time trying to link the cover images with the plot of the book.  I love the English language and the words that are no longer in general use, and this was what attracted me to it in the first place, however over use of the language was a big turn off and because of this I feel I really can’t recommend this book to anyone.

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Review: The Queen of Subtleties: A Novel of Anne Boleyn ~ Suzannah Dunn

queen of subtletiesISBN ~ 978-0060591588
Publisher ~ William Morrow Paperbacks
No. Of Pages ~ 320 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Anne Boleyn and Lucy Cornwallis: queen and confectioner, fatefully linked in a court rife with intrigue and treachery.   She was the dark-eyed English beauty who captivated King Henry VIII, only to die at his behest three years after they were married. She was both manipulator and pawn, a complex, misunderstood mélange of subtlety and fire. Her name was Anne Boleyn.

In The Queen of Subtleties, Suzannah Dunn reimagines the rise and fall of the tragic queen through two alternating voices: that of Anne herself, who is penning a letter to her young daughter on the eve of her execution, and Lucy Cornwallis, the king’s confectioner. An employee of the highest status, Lucy is responsible for creating the sculpted sugar centerpieces that adorn each of the feasts marking Anne’s ascent in the king’s favour. They also share another link of which neither woman is aware: the lovely Mark Smeaton, wunderkind musician—the innocent on whom, ultimately, Anne’s downfall hinges.

1 Thumbs-UpI picked this up in the local thrift store, and it will be heading back there just as quickly as it came home.  After my seemingly bad run of luck with books recently, I was hoping that a historical piece of fiction might help break the dam; it was not going to happen with this book and, to be honest I didn’t finish it either.

I had many issues with the book as far as I read.  The character of Anne Boleyn was rather insulting when compared to what is known of her from historical documents.  In this interpretation of her character she is portrayed as being the innocent pawn of her Families’ ambitions to rise higher within the Tudor Court, rather than the driven and confident woman who readers are used to.  As one of the narrators of the book, the language she uses is far too modern for the time period in which it is set, and this was the reason for my not finishing the book.  The language used by both Anne and the other narrator was extremely distracting and, I can’t help but feel the Author wrote this book in this manner to make her work more accessible to the modern reader.

I wish I could say something good about the contents of this book, but the only saving grace about it for me was the cover image, which I kept returning to look at time and again and this was the reason for my 1 thumb review.  I will not be reading anything else by this Author, and find it a hard book to recommend to anyone who enjoys a good historical novel.

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Review: Witches of East End ~ Melissa de la Cruz

WitchesISBN ~ 978-1401323905
Publisher ~ Hyperion
No. Of Pages ~ 272
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble

The three Beauchamp women—Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid—live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. Their beautiful, mist-shrouded town seems almost stuck in time, and all three women lead seemingly quiet, uneventful existences. But they are harboring a mighty secret—they are powerful witches banned from using their magic. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, there’s Freya, the wild child, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache,

For centuries, all three women have been forced to suppress their abilities. But then Freya, who is about to get married to the wealthy and mysterious Bran Gardiner, finds that her increasingly complicated romantic life makes it more difficult than ever to hide her secret. Soon Ingrid and Joanna confront similar dilemmas, and the Beauchamp women realize they can no longer conceal their true selves. They unearth their wands from the attic, dust off their broomsticks, and begin casting spells on the townspeople. It all seems like a bit of good-natured, innocent magic, but then mysterious, violent attacks begin to plague the town. When a young girl disappears over the Fourth of July weekend, they realize it’s time to uncover who and what dark forces are working against them.

I initially thought that this was going to be an engrossing and quick read starting as it did with a wonderful description of the town where the main storyline was to take place.  This idea was quickly dismissed when the younger of the two sisters was introduced.

The main characters of this book are the ‘witches’ mentioned in the title and, in my opinion, the Author could have left the younger sister out of the book altogether and it would not have done any harm.  She is written as being perfect in a non-perfect way and, after struggling through this book for almost half its entirety I finally got fed up of reading about her heaving boobs and put the book to one side.  I did like the character of the Mother; she was practical and quite strong with her elder daughter possessing a lot of her traits.  However, these two characters were not enough to keep me ploughing on until the end.

Locale descriptions were wonderful, and they make the reader feel as if they are walking the dunes, can hear the crash of the waves and, in some instances long for a life in a sleepy small town that the world does not mess with.  But again, this was not enough to keep me reading and was definitely not enough to bolster up a lacking plot, if in fact there were any in the book at all.

I can’t in all honesty recommend this book to any other readers, except those who are diehard fans of this Author, and I very much doubt that I will be reading anything written by them again.  For the pure reasoning of not finishing the book, it now holds the dubious place of being the only one I have reviewed that I did not finish and, therefore, have not given a rating to.

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