Tag Archives: 1 star

Cozy and Popular How?!: My 1 Star Reads from 2019 (Part 4)

LAST ONE I PROMISE. 

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

An expanded universe where the Scarlet Pimpernel retires and the Purple Gentian and Pink Carnation take over as British spies in post-revolutionary France? Um, yes. But alas, no. The story switches between a pointless side story about a modern day woman working on her PhD trying to undercover the identity of the Pink Carnation and actual story of the Pink Carnation. The former bored me. The latter is a trashy, bodice ripping romance novel whose very existence besmirches the name of one of the greatest works in the English language. Poor, maligned Percy. 

The Perfect Kiss by Anne Gracie

I moderately enjoyed the first book in this series and decided to give it one more try with The Perfect Kiss. It sucked. The heroine was fine, I guess, but the lover boy was a pushy jerk who couldn’t take no as an answer. Decent writing could not make up for a trash story. 

The Spy Who Loves Me by Julie Kenner

Walter Mitty meets the female James Bond. They fall in love because reasons. The end. Oh wait, no, there is a Bond level villain who wants to start WWIII because reasons? He has a sexy, evil female sidekick who will try and seduce the main lead because…reasons? The end. No? There is a super predictable mole within the agency that the reader will figure out in chapter 1 because..reasons? None of this made sense.

Tightrope by Amanda Quick

Don’t judge this lovely book by its cover. It is terrible. It cannot make up its mind what year it is set in, the dialogue feels super forced, and the romance is insta-lust. Oh, and it is also book 3 in the series but nothing on the book will inform you of this. Sigh. So pretty. So terrible.

The Duke’s Marriage Mission by Deborah Hale

Take the worst parts of The Secret Garden, add it to the worst parts of Jane Eyre, then multiply by ten. I give you this book. Nothing spectacularly wrong with it but also nothing spectacularly right. The couple’s immediate attraction, stupid misunderstandings, and lame fights left me irritated. And the “moral” of the story (marriage doesn’t mean giving up freedom!) came as subtle as a fence post to the head.

Temple of the Dawn by Anne Hampson

I wanted to find some books set in Bangkok, Thailand and I found it surprisingly challenging to do so. This book did not actually disappoint me much there. It was fun reading about places I’ve visited. But the romance! The romance was beyond terrible. I almost did not finish with 6 pages to go. The climax/conclusion of the book was so out of nowhere that to even hint at it would be a big spoiler. But if you want the spoiler, check out my full review on Goodreads and avoid this one.

 


Cozy and Popular How?!: My 1 Star Reads from 2019 (Part 3)

In which I pay penitence by confessing to all the books I finished and hated in 2019. Part 3.

How To Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn

I won’t repeat my Goodreads rant about novels that create heroes only barely better than villains but I will say that this otherwise mediocre Regency romance irritated the snot out of me with an entitled jerk for a hero who rages until the heroine agrees to wed him. 

Starting Now by Debbie Macomber

I really need to take a vow not to read any more books that have a female attorney as the main character. They are universally terrible. This was a mediocre read that jumped right onto my “hate” list by having a stereotypical female attorney as the main character and tackling questions about career and motherhood with a heavy-handed horribleness that left me wanting to go work more billable hours. Awkward and overdone and all the romances sucked.

Naughty Neighbor by Janet Evanovich

I give the relationship a year. I thought maybe I could shuffle this one under 2 or 1.5 stars but the ending just left me gagging. The “political thriller” bit totally fell apart. The relationship itself is all lust and hormones. It won’t last. And if it does? Well, I’d be sad for the heroine. She gets the short end of the deal. She should dump the loser and go to law school. 

The Big Kahuna by Janet Evanovich

Despite the fact that Evanovich appears on this list twice, I actually was really enjoying her Fox and O’Hare series. They consistently received 4 stars from me. Then this book happened. The biggest problem? This is a heist series but this is not a heist book. The jokes fall flat and the characters pretend like the last two books never happened. Evanovich switched co-writers for this one and I’m wondering if that is where it went wrong. 

Rumble on the Bayou by Jana Deleon

In general I enjoy Jana Deleon’s cozy mysteries but this one fell quite flat. It is basically a reverse Louisiana Longshot. Instead of a female government agent in a small Louisiana town sparking up a romance with the overly qualified and good looking male deputy, it is a male government agent in a small Louisiana town sparking up a romance with an overly qualified and good looking female deputy. Even the towns come across interchangeably. Except where Louisiana Longshot keeps things lighthearted and funny with a series of quirky side characters, Rumble on the Bayou focuses on the couple and not for the better. 

Belle of the Ball by Pam McCutcheon

Her name means beauty but Belle is not beautiful. Her sister’s name means charming but Charisma is not charmig. Her other sister’s name means grace but Grace is not graceful. If that is the kind of heavy-handed characterization you like, you might like this book. It is full of on-the-nose plot points and awkward, overstated jokes. The best thing this book has going for it is its $0 price tag. 

A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray

All the technical plot points are there to make this an exciting, fun adventure story but it falls quite short. The problems are twofold: annoying characters and unclear plotting. The heroine demonstrates all of two reactions at any given moment: seasickness or judgment. She’s got the soul of a poet but keeps it firmly in place in case she finds herself tempted to crack a smile. She is joined on her journey by the sort of person one meets so regularly in fiction and so rarely in real life: the irresistible man. And that is about all the depth his character has. Wrapped up with some unclear plot-lines (ghosts? time travel?), this story truly misses the mark.


Cozy and Popular How?!: My 1 Star Reads from 2019 (Part 2)

It is the time of the year where I get revenge on all my least-favorite books! Begin Part 2 of Amy’s Least Favorite Reads of 2019. 

This Pen for Hire by Laura Levine

The minute the heroine explained her name was “Jaine Austen” because her mother loved Jane Austen but couldn’t spell, I knew this wasn’t a mystery for me. But I unwisely kept reading anyway. Jaine likes eating, mocking skinny people, drinking margaritas, and whining about her lack of love life. When not doing any of the above she solves a murder. Her motivation made no sense and I found the book in general really irritating. 

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Virginal descendants of Alexander the Great who go around killing unicorns? Heck yeah. If only the plot lived up to its amazing premise. Alas, the execution of the story is rather mediocre. The characters are underdeveloped and the villain downright cartoonish. Finally, a behind-the-scenes rape added solely to push the story along left this book solidly into one star territory. 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I did not connect with this book on any level. And I feel kind of bummed about that fact. I appreciate the way the author kept certain information and slowly released it. It made me wonder if I somehow missed something but actually I just hadn’t been told it. But that is about the nicest thing I can say about this book.  I did not like the writing; I did not like the commentary about sex. I did not like any of the characters. I didn’t so much hate it as feel generally disappointed and disgusted. 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

So, admittedly, the problem partially lies with me because I was under the impression this was a middle school novel. It most definitely is not. It also contains a whole list of thing I personally dislike: precocious children (à la The Little Prince and Be Frank With Me), child narrators for adult readers, attempted profoundness, confusing plots that jump everywhere, multiple unclear narrators, casual discussion of a sexual encounter, kissing…sisters?, angst, so.much.angst.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Unfortunately, this book lost me pretty quickly and never regained ground. I stayed perpetually irritated right up until the end. Not even turning the Beauty and the Beast plot into the story of Psyche and Eros (my favoritest myth ever) salvaged it. The hero is as bland as butter. The heroine is a moron who does literally the opposite of what she is told no mater the consequences. Lots of lust-fueled attraction. Not a series I will continue with. 

Bespelling Jane Austen by Mary Balogh, Colleen Gleason, Susan Krinard, & Janet Mullany

Jane Austen retellings with a paranormal twist. The Northanger Abbey retelling was clever. The other three made me want to gouge my eyeballs out with a spoon. Very TMI.

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

So, you are part of an elite team of scientists sending two people into the past to retrieve a long-lost manuscript of Jane Austen’s, do you:

A. Send two people who actually look like the siblings they are posing as
B.  Find two people mature enough not to give into their lust and endanger the entire mission by becoming lovers while posing as siblings
C.  Choose two people who won’t run afoul with the racist and anti-Semitic attitudes of Regency England
D. None of the above

What? None of the above? Well, you would get along fine in this book! The rest of us will stand over here rolling our eyes. 


Cozy and Popular How?!: My 1 Star Reads from 2019 (Part 1)

Did you know the first time I compiled a list of worst reads, I only had five 1-star books? That blows my mind. I have 27 for 2019. Many were cozy mysteries. Many are quite popular with other readers. But while I finished all of them, each definitely earned its place on the list for “Worst Reads of 2019.”

The Unscrupulous Uncle by Allison Lane

It started off promisingly enough. Cinderella-like, the orphaned heroine acts as housekeeper for her garish relations and marries a hero with barely a conversation. If you think I’m giving much away, that’s just the first few chapters. Unfortunately, those were the most interesting chapters in the book. The remainder involves predictable misunderstandings, constant rehashing, and underdeveloped scenes. Most damning of all, the plot sets up the main couple as ‘like brother and sister’ and then spends the rest of the book trying to explain why they actually were never like brother and sister. But the lady protests too much and the result is something much more awkward than it otherwise would have been

To Catch a Bad Guy by Marie Astor

A book that cannot decide which angle it wants to take. It is a legal thriller…no! It is a paper trail of corporate espionage…no! It is a spy story…no! It is a chick flick…no! It is a psychological thriller about really uninteresting characters….nah, I’ve got nothing. While any of those alone might sound interesting, together they create a mishmashed story where every character gets a backstory (no matter how irrelevant their role in the book) and a POV. The main couple’s horrendous insta-love is just icing on the cake. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Joanne Fluke is a fairly iconic cozy mystery writer and I was looking forward to reading her Hannah Swensen series. I barely made it through this one. Disjointed and repetitive, the story hits all the cozy mystery cliches (Midwesterner, small business owner, hassled sister, hints of a love triangle, etc.) without really adding much. The murderer was obvious. I suppose the only thing that makes the book somewhat interesting is the interspersed cookie recipes, but I do not bake so didn’t help much.

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

Basically, your typical opposites attract storyline with main characters suffering from lust and parental issues (not necessarily in that order.) The main character randomly goes on about how much she loves the book of Job (and apparently she has a copy of it lying around? Like, just of the book of Job. Not a Bible) and for a moment I thought maybe I accidentally stumbled into a Christian romance. Then it got super sketch. I skimmed the last quarter. Not worth it. 

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Possibly the most universally popular book I hated this past year. I think I literally liked nothing about this book. The story follows a severely messed up woman who twenty-five years earlier starred at her mother’s murder trial by naming her brother the culprit. When some new evidence crops up, she joins forces with a secret society set on clearing her brother’s name. The story switches from present day to the day of the crime. Despite the interesting premise, I found the book vulgar and excruciatingly boring. The twist further irritated me with its very senseless and pointlessness. 

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly

I think this book made me hate Jane Austen, just a tiny bit. The premise intrigued me because it involved a professor who loves both Jane Austen and trashy Regencies. So many Jane Austen spinoffs involve heroines who act like they wouldn’t know a Harlequin if it bit them on the bottom. So I figured, worth a shot. But it wasn’t. I hated the insufferable characters, the over-the-top quotations, the ridiculous plot. I hated the predictability of it all. Do yourself a favor and watch the movie Austenland instead. (Or read the book, but the movie is better.)

The Barefoot Princess by Christina Dodd

Been ten months but I still feel the heat of my rage towards this book. Forget setting women back a decade. The Barefoot Princess sets women back to the stone age. The hard part is the book contained enough potential to make me think an actually decent story lay under the surface. The heroine starts off strong and her name is Amy! But the asshole hero and their seriously unhealthy relationship left me disgusted. The conclusion was a travesty. Avoid! For a better book involving a princess named Amy, try The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye.


Free Kindle Books and Maddening Menfolk: My 1 Star Reads from 2018, Part 2

Doctor in Petticoats by Mary Connealy

A penny to anyone who can tell me what this book was doing on my to-read list. Big mistake. First, I don’t read Christian romance novels generally, so it already lost a star in my book. But then, second, it was terrible. A solider-doctor with PTSD ends up falling in love with a woman and refusing to do any doctoring without her so the woman’s parents are like “We can’t chaperone so just get hitched to this maniacal man you just met!” And it all works out because Jesus and the power of a beautiful woman to cure PTSD. Gag.

Belinda Goes to Bath by Marion Chesney

I toyed with Marion Chesney on and off this past semester and generally tolerated what I found. She writes Regency novels, usually crappy ones, but with strong heroines at the center that almost make up for the sucky romances going on around the main characters. But this book went too far. Basically, this story falls in a series about a “Traveling Matchmaker” who rides around England in a stagecoach, has adventures, and sets up the young people around her. Except the young woman in this book should not have ended up with the…the man (I can’t call him a gentleman or hero) who was an absolute creep. Every good sense should have opposed such a couple. I am still furious about it.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner        

This book was supposed to be a sci-fi novel about two young adults stranded on an abandoned planet. Except it isn’t really a sci-fi novel. It is a freakin’ romance novel that happens to take place on a ‘deserted’ planet in space. And I feel robbed by that fact. There is so much possibility in this story. Or there could be possibility. I mean…it is basically The Titanic meets Cast Away or something, but you know, space! Rich heiress with Daddy issues! Soldier boy with…muscles! Insta-attraction! No wait, enemies to lovers! No wait, mentally unstable and horny teenagers having sex in a cave! It just got worse as the book went on. The ending feels rushed, the conclusion ridiculous, and the danger…just never believable. What a waste of time.

Stone Devil Duke by K.J. Jackson

My only excuse for reading this book is that the cover had a pretty dress and it was free on Kindle. The plot follows a girl who disguises herself as a boy and prowls the slums of London trying to kill the men who killed her father (or something like that) before they kill her. She is joined by this pompous jerk (the supposed hero) who tries to protect her from it all. It started off smoothly enough but the angst, general brutality, and, frankly, vulgarity of the rest of it should have been enough warning to stop. I regret that I didn’t.

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston

Loved the title and absolutely nothing else about this book. Sloppy world building, goody-two-shoes-freaking-perfect characters, and seriously contrived romance made this one utterly boring read. Many reviewers sing this book’s praises because of the multicultural, Utopian world it supposedly presents. The reality is, this world without inequality, racism, ‘homophobia’, etc. is utterly boring and entirely unbelievable. There is 0 conflict, except maybe some drama about the “nepotism” of parents who want to pass on the family business (the nerve!) Also, the romance was so, so horrid, but I am not going to get into it here. Just…avoid.  


Free Kindle Books and Maddening Menfolk: My 1 Star Reads from 2018

Bad Romances and Boring Thrillers: My 1 Star Reads from 2013

Awkward Romances and Mediocre Fantasies: My 1 Star Ratings from 2014

The Fault In Our Chick Lit: My 1 Star Reads from 2015

YA Gone Wrong: My 1 Star Reads from 2016

Regency Rejects and Nothing Non-Fiction: My 1 Star Reads from 2017

…Anyone else noticing a theme?

Most years my 1 star reads take up one post. This year…there were a few more. 

A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane

This book is supposedly a detective novel featuring two sleuths: a womanizing, lecherous creep who constantly sexually harasses his partner (the “good guy”?) and his partner, a victim of domestic violence. The book tries to be an exposé on racism and domestic abuse or something. At first, it works. Maybe. However, as the story continues, and the characters refuse to get over their hang-ups, it just gets more and more dreary and boring. The plot tries to be a mystery and fails, tries to be a thriller and fails, and finally ends up in some weird tweener state of hard boiled grit and boring psychological drama. Altogether not worth it.

Happy Hour at Casa Dracula by Marta Acosta

As far as free Kindle books go, I did not have high hopes for this one. However, it promised me an Ivy League, Latina heroine who accidently becomes a vampire and I figured, why not? She sounded different from the usual heroine mold. Unfortunately, she was not. The book was one, long soap opera with little humor and loads of drama. Not the worst chick flick I’ve ever read, but not worth it at all.

Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors

This novel purports to tell the story of the building of the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, it is a melodramatic tale that plays fast and loose with historical accuracy and the reader’s patience. The characters are either Good or Evil. Good characters are modern and tolerant in their attitude towards life and other religions. Evil ones are Evil because…plot? The modern viewpoints of the characters really jar with the story, especially as the characters only abandon the views when it benefits the plot (like, forcing a daughter into an arranged marriage with an old, gross man and doing nothing when he obviously beats her because historical accuracy.) The final nail in the coffin where this book is concerned is the mingled boorish and boring sex scenes thrown in for shock value. This whole book is just…unneeded.

Game Over by Adele Parks

Another chick flick gone wrong. I was totally on board with how unlikable the main character was. I even didn’t mind her avowedly immoral behavior. It was nice to have a main character with brains and work ethic. Sure, her behavior was reprehensible, but following the Hallmark nature of this plot, I figure it would predictably wrap up with some gush about true love overcoming bad morals. But instead the main character goes from a tough, hustling woman to a sobbing puddle of goo because of a man. It was well-written, and the first half was interesting, but the second half was so bad. It isn’t even that the book stoops to clichés. It just flat destroys the interesting female character.

Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions by Rachel Held Evans

It is difficult to summarize my views about this book in a paragraph. Evans talks about attending Bryan College and living in Dayton, Tennessee, coming to terms with her faith, and eventually giving up the “fundamentalism” she was raised with for her own “fundamentals.” I am sympathetic. I too attended Bryan College and experienced many of the things she talks about in Dayton. I too came to terms with my faith while in college and took a hard look at the “fundamentals” of my faith. But whereas I returned to those fundamentals with more wisdom and discernment, Evans seems okay with clinging to emotions and not actually engaging with the fundamentals she so easily dismisses. And because she only talks in terms of emotions, this book really gives very little because there is nothing to bite into. This is “her experience” and not an actual conversation about fundamentals or faith.