REVIEW: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

First book in the All Souls Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches is a paranormal romance settled in a modern world that little differs from our own except for the Demons, Witches and Vampires (the supernaturals, if you want) that live in it alongside humans.

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WARNING, this book has been rated T for Twilight

Goodreads Synopsis: Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. 

I don’t know where to start writing this review because there are so many bad things about this book. And believe me, I’m not one who loves saying it.
First of all, this book is underdeveloped and I would also say it wasn’t thought out that much. It seems that someone took one of the drafts and published it instead of going on with the editing (which is a problem of its own).

The idea of this story isn’t bad. Maybe it’s not unheard of, humans living unknowinlgy alongside supernatural creatures who have their own things going on. But one can do a lot with a simple idea, right? Harry Potter is kind of based on the same principle, in the end.
However it seems that the author never went anywhere with that concept and so does the narration. There are huge chunk of text that could’ve easily been left out because they are useless to the the plot, its development and the characters. Plus, they heaviliy slow down the reading process and that’s not something you want in a big book.
This gives a huge kick to cohesion in the whole text, add that for some reason we have 2/3 of the book dedicated to the romance of the two main characters instead than letting the story proceed and here you have it. A feeling of dismay. The sensation that you read nothing for the past hour. Five chapters of nothing.

The romance is another problem of mine. What I hated is that, in some way, the romance stopped the main plot completely. Don’t get me wrong: romance is fine, romantic scenes are fine, but you can’t treat the two things like they’re not happening at the same time. Which is another point agains the development of the story and its cohesion.
The romance is the second most horrifiying thing in here. I’m not a fan of instalove romances. Most of all I’m not a fan of pretended edgy romances where the man is so sad and broody, poor thing, and so do whatever I say because I could get really angry. But that’s only because I’m protective, because I love you.
I wouldn’t define it as abusive, in my opinion it’s just a bad use of a bad trope that glorifies unhealthy dynamics in a relationship. It’s degrading for both the female and the male in it, because makes the former look like a scared doe who can’t do anything alone and the other like some kind of psycho parent who wants you to behave if you don’t want to trigger *bad reaction here* (and this really is abusive, come to think of it).

Last, but not least, the characters are bad and have less depth than a carton-shaped human figure. Diana, the scholar, is supposedly brilliant and intelligent but she comes out as plain stupid and without an inch of mental strength or personal boundaries. Rad Vamp Dude (i can’t recall his name, sorry) comes into her life and she immediately obeys to what he says and is happy to annihilate herself. She doesn’t get mad even when her mother-in-law admits she drugged her without her consent. Rad Vamp Dude tries to be the coolest vampire in town, but he’s too tropey so the mask fell at page two. Sorry.
The only two cool things were Diana’s lesbian aunts (the only two in the book to show a scrap of intelligence and to tell her that RVD treated her more as a thing than a living being) and the cat. Because he a cat.

This book got one star on Goodreads just because no star is not considered a rating. It’s not something I do often, because I try to look at what’s good in a book. Unfortunately, this time there was nothing to be spared. On the brighter side, that doesn’t add to the pile of series I yet have to finish.

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farewell

I go upstairs, the tray in my hands. It’s early, and it’s Saturday morning and I’m happy because I managed to sneak out of bed and prepare breakfast. We can sit on the bed, drink the coffee and watch cartoons.

It takes five seconds when I get in the bedroom to understand that something’s wrong. Who died? I find myself to think that and immediately push the thought out of my mind. The worst things come into my mind at all times, so it’s just me being dramatic and overly anxious. Maybe it’s something else.

The cat died, you say. And everything else is silenced.

***

My boyfriend’s cat passed away. She went away for five days, but she was used to stay outside. She was a hunter, she spent nights out in the fields and brought back rats, mices and birds. She didn’t came home every day, so we didn’t mind – although on the fourth day we were uneasy. We worried she could’ve fell in one of the traps the farmers put out to catch those big rats that destroy crops.
Tuesday night we found her in the garden and immediately took her to the vet. She hadn’t eaten in days and it was clear she was in pain.She drunk a bit, and seemed to faint every now and then, her breath quick and shallow. I touched her and she was cold and that’s when I understood how sick she was. It scared me. Cats are warm. Always.

The vet told us she had kidney failure and she staied at the clinic. I didn’t worry. I didn’t thought death was a possibility. She was put in intravenous feeding and they were going to cure her in the best way possible, because that’s what’s supposed to happen.

The truth is, I don’t know what happened. We don’t know why she got so sick in a span of four days. She was healthy. And she was strong.
You could feel her muscles under her fur, when you pet her. She would jump on your laps when you sat on the couch and let herself be petted until she tired. Then she would jump off and go out again. Off to who knows what adventure she found herself in. You could hear her meowing at night. Keeping the other cats in the neghibourhood in their place.
She was beautiful, the fur black sparkled with black and cream. She always seemed to smile, but in a playfully malicious way. Like she knew something and wouldn’t tell, like she was always up to something and would keep the secret for herself.
To think that all this energy and vitality is now vanished. It hurts.

My boyfriends thinks he’s partly responsible. He was sick yesterday and we didn’t go to the clinic to visit her. I don’t think that killed her. She came back home. Despite being that sick, she came back home. Cats usually die away from where they live, they go out and find a place for themselves to wait for their final moment. She was too much a fighter and I really believe she fought with all the energy that lasted in her.
But yes, the only regret we can have is that we didn’t have the opportunity to pet her one last time. That we didn’t get to be there.

I’m probably going to do something for her, after dinner. Some sort of departing ceremony, to be able to give her a proper farewell. To salute her one last time before she finds her way into the Underworld.

Farewell, little one. You were stong and beautiful, and what will stay with us is the way you fought every day, until your last day. May your spirit find its way to the realm of the Underworld and may you be embraced by the Goddess, in the darkness of her womb, until your day to come walk with us again.

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silent mind

I’m having a bad time writing for the blog. I told myself it’s because I don’t have much time, but I come to understand that’s not the problem.

The problem is me.

When I look at the draft page, or at the blank page, thousands ideas come to my mind. There are so many things I want to talk about, so many things I need to talk about. And yet, when the pen touches the sheet, my mind empties and I do not know what to write anymore.
It seems that I can’t put two words together, that I don’t make any sense, that nothing is going to come out. I can’t make sense of what I experience or see, because writing is my best tool for it.
It seems my ties with the world are severed, I panick because I feel like I’m living into a bubble and that nothing I do will ever help me.

If writing is a way to give meaning to my life, then it must be obvious that it is difficult to do it sometimes. Some things take a long time to be processed, other simply you can’t move yourself to say – even to yourself.
I would say this is surely part of the reason why I can’t successfully express myself, but the truth is that I also lost the habit of talking. Talking to people.

It must seem completely crazy, to say such a thing. I always was a reserved person, since my adolescence at least. There has always been stuff I wouldn’t talk about, but with my friends I talked freely about everything. Then things became too difficult to be said. I lost some friends, like it happens in life, and then I simply stopped trying to connect to people.
Sometimes it’s because I don’t care or I feel like I don’t need to tell anything. Other times I simply don’t have anything to say. Most of the time, I don’t think anyone is interested in what I have to say and I think it worthless to try share a bit of myself with people who don’t care.

Instead of being a reason to write more, to free myself of all the stuff that need to be said, I even stopped writing my diary. Like I stopped even talking to myself. My mind chases stupid thoughts, without really fixing itself on a serious idea, like it used to.
This all seems impossible, and maybe it is. Maybe it’s just another way my brain is using to tell me how crazy I can be sometimes.

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Biannual Bibliothon, day 2

I have worked both yesterday and today, so I didn’t manage to read as much as I wanted to.

I’m now at 50% of A Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet and I’m really liking it so far. I love how many alien species are there, and how detailed their culture are. I love Dr. Chef, and Sissix, and Jenks and I like how they have been described, although it doesn’t feel like you gave anything in your hand up to this point. I think that, as it’s a series, the characters will be better explained in the rest of the story – but I still have half of it, so maybe it’s just me judging hastily. I must admit, though, that something is putting me off about it, but I’m not quite sure about what is it, yet. 

Tell The Wolves I’m Home is a delicate, yet powerful story. It reminds me of cinnamon hot chocolate and snow, and how much I wanted to have a place of my own when I was 14 years old. A place just for me, in a world different from this one. I like how genuine June’s responses are, how she really acts as a 14yo girl. How her characterisation doesn’t fall into complete silliness or fake maturity. She’s smart, but she still is young and sometimes she doesn’t know better. Like we all do. I read the first 30%, but it doesn’t seem a long read. Although the pace isn’t actually fast, its chapter are rather short and that easily makes me saying “just another one” (and I end up reading for another two hours and oh! The book’s finished!) 

I hope to finish at least one of these books tomorrow! I don’t  want to find myself with another 5 or 6 half-read books 😄

Summer Biannual Bibliothon TBR

At this point, you’ve probably understood how much I like to participate in readathons. July is here, after all, so even if I still have to hand in a project for uni I want to relax and have fun. And I really enjoy how readathons can connect you with other readers, helping you finding reading buddies and new books to read.

As you can see from the title, the readathon I’m participating in this time is the Summer Biannual Bibliothon. This summer edition starts tomorrow, July 3rd, and will finish on July 9th.
Hopefully, I’ll cross many books from my list, but I’m going to play casual because…it’s too hot. I don’t want to sweat more than necessary. This is also the reason why I won’t take part in every challenge, I choose a couple and will stick with that (maybe that will help me read more, who knows?)

My free choice/wild card books are three books I already started, but I haven’t read much of any of them:

  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Brison – I’ve started this for the TBRTakedown, but I got through the first two parts of it (sounds a lot, it’s only 20% of it. It’s a looong book, guys). This is a science-y book, trying to explain how we got from the Big Bang to…here!
  • The Long Way To a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, I put this book down when I realised that it was too great to be read casually during exam session. So, I put it back and kept it for a more quiet time, to really dive into it and enjoy the story. It’s probably my most anticipated reads of the year.
  • Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, as this is really not my genres I had to proof-read it before deciding to actually start the book seriously. I believe is a coming-of-age story about a girl who just lost her dear uncle. It is much like The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Love Letters to The Dead.

One of the challenges is to read a book with your favourite mythical creatures. I’m a fantasy geek, so I have love for any magical creature walking out there, but dragons are – by far – my beloved. They are awesome, magical and perfect in any way. My choice for this challenge is:

  • Dreamwalker by James Oswald, I don’t know much about this story (despite having owned the book for more than a year! I’m the worst) except that dragon are slowly disappearing from Gwlad (which, I guess, is the world the story is settled in).

Authors you’ve never read before:

  • When God Was A Rabbit and A Year of Marvelous Ways by Sarah Winman, I never read anything of this author, but I was so inspired by the beginning of When God Was A Rabbit, that I bought them without a single thoughts. I’m really looking forward to read them and I have high expectations about them. Let’s pray they live up to them!

As usual, you can find the readathon on Youtube and Twitter! And let me know if you decide to come read with us! 🙂

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