Tag Archives: bad books

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.

YA Gone Wrong: My 1 Star Reads from 2016

While I had a record breaking amount of 5 star reads in 2016, I also rated fewer books 1 star than I ever have before. I like to think this is due to the fact that I was reading really good books and quitting early on stories that annoyed me. In reality, it it is probably because I finally gave up on finding a decent chick flick.

Whatever the cause, here are the 5 books I most regret reading in 2016:

The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham

This book is supposed to be the debut of Margery Allingham’s detective, Albert Campion. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell the plot that. The book actually focuses on a boring, insufferable, “cherubic faced” doctor named Abbershaw. I hated him from the beginning. Campion is around but plays a very limited role. The whole book is slow, confusing, and way too long. A British whodunit gone horribly, boringly wrong. Stick to Agatha Christie.

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx

I don’t know if this is a book I would necessarily say I regret reading; I was going to read it at some point. However, I was rather disappointed by this one. I have read so much about Marx and Engels that I expected a lot more from their famous volume. It started off strikingly but the writing and logic quickly went downhill. I disagreed with just about every sentence. Literally, the antithesis of what I do every day.

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

I have thrown books across the room, but this was the first time I actually threw a book in the garbage after finishing it. While I acknowledge Angels & Demons had a decent twist, anything redeemable was quickly lost in bad writing, atrocious characters, and random plot. The main character is a professor who (the reader is frequently reminded) is hawt and emotionally traumatized.He meets a hawt, intelligent woman who runs around with little clothing on, admires his brilliance, and occasionally provides exposition. (So much for female empowerment.) There is an Evil Bad Guy who is so entirely villainous that it is morally proper to cheer for his downfall. Cue nearly 600 pages of this. I hate this book.

The Twin’s Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

This was supposed to be “an engrossing Gothic novel of betrayal, jealousy, and treacherous secrets that will keep you guessing” but unfortunately it turned out to be a dark, disturbing and, honestly, stupid novel that I can’t wait to forget about. I enjoy a dark YA story done right (see Plain Kate) but this book was absolutely disgusting. It was badly paced and had bi-polar characters and too much sexual innuendo. Lots of potential but none of it is realized.

Red by Alison Cherry

Welcome to Scarletville, a sanctuary for redheads. Felicity St. John is a high school girl with the perfect life thanks to her coppery curls. However, Felicity has a secret and someone is blackmailing her about: she dyes her hair! Gasp! With a synopsis like that, I was hardly expecting my new favorite novel, but I had no idea how bad this book would be. Well, perhaps I did know but I was really hoping to be proven wrong. The book was super shallow and dumb. It has the usual teenybopper romance and cliche characters. There is supposed to be some overarching lesson about discrimination but it gets buried in bad writing and contrived plot elements. Such a waste of time.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

This book was the 4th and final installment of the Raven Cycle, a series I previously enjoyed. Unfortunately, The Raven King falls dramatically short of its predecessors. The plot was incoherent and full of deus ex machina moments. There was a lot of vulgarity and language. I had to force myself to keep reading because every time I put it down I didn’t want to pick it up again. Most of all, though, I was frustrated by the lack of real sacrifice in the story. There was no emotional punch. This book wasn’t so much a conclusion to the series as a ramble involving extremely changed characters. I was greatly disappointed.

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

This was the most disappointing book of 2016. I was super excited to read Girl Online (a book with a blogging heroine, yay!) and searched for over a year to find a copy. (See full review here.) However, this proved to be yet another book ruined by bad cliches, juvenile writing, and YA boys. I have a soft spot for sappy story lines but this was just ridiculous. It was impossible to take anything seriously. The “15 year old” heroine writes like a 12 year old and basically has the same level of emotional maturity. Definitely not worth bothering with.

Someone else’s Absolute Favorite Book

There are few things more dangerous than giving someone your favorite book. I don’t mean a book you like. I mean, your favorite book. The story that means the world to you. The one you go to when life is hard or when you simply want peace with the world. The book that maybe just changed your life. That book. 

It is dangerous and it is down right vulnerable. By sharing the story, you are opening yourself up. Of course, this isn’t going to be the case with every book you lend out or suggest, but in some cases, it just is. Five years down the road the story might not mean as much to you, but in the moment, that book is something special. 

I used to think that the giving of the book was the bigger deal. After all, you’re the one going out on a limb here. However, I’m starting to think it can be just as difficult receiving a well cherished book. In fact, I’m convinced of it. There are so many nuances to the situation. What if you hate it? Do you tell them that? What if you find it mediocre? Will it affect a newly fledgling friendship? Should you be conciliatory, and if so, how far? You can’t really praise it to their face and bash it on Goodreads. Especially if they are friends with you on Goodreads. 

These things are especially on my mind tonight because a friend gave me her Absolute Favorite Book Of All Time To Read and I’m starting to wish she hadn’t. There is a love triangle. And insta-love. And mooning. And angst. Basically, it is stereotypical Young Adult and if I had gotten this from the library I wouldn’t go any farther. But I will finish it. I’ll read the sequel too, since she gave it to me. However, I can’t say I’m enjoying this one yet and all my hopes are basically pinned on the last half suddenly becoming amazing. Because if not…I’m going to have to walk the fine line of critiquing without offending. And really, who can do that well? 

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

While two stars may imply mediocrity, one star remains unequivocally not worth the time. With some of these, though, I probably should have known better!

Steamed by Jessica Conant-Park

Believe it or not, there is not a single likable character in this entire book. The plot promises an intelligent grad student who uses dates to get the gourmet food she loves…until one day her date shows up dead. Don’t believe it. Basically, (1) there is a grad student, and (2) someone ends up dead. Eventually. It took forever for anything interesting to happen. The main character (who I really, really, REALLY hated) spends the entire book whining about her life and blundering about, hampering more than helping the police. This “culinary mystery chick-lit” fails every category.

The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson

Foolishly I decided to give Eva Ibbotson another try. Never again! Done right, this might have been a beautiful, romantic story intertwining music, paleontology, and Vienna, Austria. Instead it descends into a Freudian case study. I hated the last quarter of the book. I hated the Mary Sue main character and the womanizing hero. I hated the love triangle. Basically, I hated this book.

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Perhaps the most interesting of my failed reads this year, No One Else Can Have You certainly caused quite a controversy on Goodreads. The author basically stalked readers who gave her books bad reviews. However, that is not the reason I gave this book a lousy rating. It earns its one star by simply being really, really bad. The plot takes place in “Friendship” Wisconsin, but all dialogue sounds like it comes from fake Minnesotans. The lingo was atrocious and many “native phrases” like bubbler get shoved in at the most random moments.  It is a dark comedy that is not in the least bit funny. No One Else Can Have You was crude, crass, and warped. Avoid

The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

A retelling of Shahrzad and the Thousand and One Nights that bored me to tears. I skim/skipped entire sections of pointless POV. The book exemplifies almost every modern trope in YA literature, including the usual favorites: insta-love, the ever present love triangle, and a cliff-hanger-who-needs-resolution-anyway ending.  As the tale of Shahrzad is one of my favorites, I hoped for a cool spin off. Unfortunately, this one did not live up to the hype!

Love Letters and A Perfect Proposal by Katie Fforde

I don’t expect much from chick-lit. I really don’t. But I don’t think I have ever read anything in any genre as bad as these two books. They were atrocious. The writing, the plot, the characters were all terrible. The author continually tells, tells, and tells without any showing. Dialogue is long-winded and awkward. There are entire chapters that are unnecessary. Characters burn with insta-lust yet have zero chemistry. These books managed to cut through my boredom by being so bad I was left with nothing but wrath.

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

While not 5 star material, the Finishing School series had been playing out nicely. I was thrilled to find steampunk done right! Then Waistcoats & Weaponry came on the scene and managed to alienate me from Every. Single. Character. The plot was confusing and hard to follow. The story wasn’t particularly clever or funny and rapidly descended into crude jokes. It was both tasteless and utterly boring. In fact, this one was so atrocious I advise avoiding the entire series.

The Princess of Cortova by Diane Stanley

Speaking of series gone wrong, few books disappointed me more this past year than The Princess of Cortova. I loved the first two books in the trilogy (The Silver Bowl and The Cup and the Crown). This third installment, however, fell short in every way. Part of the problem was that I apparently missed a super-big love triangle prevalent in the past two books! The fallout with the characters threw me for a loop. And that was small compared to everything else that went wrong. Gone is the intrepid heroine who faces the world with only her ready wit and quick fists. She wanders around the book moaning and groaning and rehashing things the reader already knows with a cat. There is sacrifice but it is so senseless it ceases to be meaningful. Characters are faced with deep dilemmas but rarely face true consequences (unless they are very Bad Baddies, of course). Overall, a disappointing book.

Summer Lovin’ by Carly Phillips

I flinch even remembering I read this book. ‘Horribly written’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. The author rarely says something once. She physically bludgeons the reader by repeating the same things over and over, creating hundreds of unnecessary pages. The novel drags through the characters’ insta-lust and contrived emotional upheaval only to shove a bunch of random conflict into the end. Despite what the description hinted, this was not a cute variation of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Awful characters and awful writing, I recommend avoiding anything by this author. 

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes

A complete disappointment. The secular humanist worldview and Freudian philosophy quickly alienated me.  The plot, characters, and writing were mediocre. It was impossible to empathize with the main character. Not worth the time.

Confessions Of A Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

Though I no longer consider myself a hardcore Janite, I appreciate the occasional dip into the creative and often bizarre world of the Jane Austen fandom. Confessions Of A Jane Austen Addict tells the story of a 21st century “Austen Addict” who wakes up in Regency England. Unfortunately, the heroine immediately spends the next 200+ pages whining about everything. Between random third wave feminist rants, she throws herself at most men and moans incessantly that she isn’t married. This woman is not a Janite. She is a fan of Colin Firth in tight breeches. I do wish authors would realize there is a difference.

Out On A Limb by Shirley Maclaine

Read while researching transcendentalism for an assignment my final semester of college.  Worth noting only because of how unbelievably bad it was. Between endless (and unnecessary) reminiscences about her affair with a British politician, Maclaine discusses her beliefs ranging from reincarnation to extraterrestrial life. Frankly, I found it a load of crap.

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

Being a big fan of the Australian TV show Miss Fisher’s Murders Mysteries, I was delighted to discover the book series. Now I can only say I am glad I discovered them after the show or I never would have watched it. The book contains all the show’s worse qualities without any of the redeeming elements. On top of that, the writing is awful and Detective-Inspector Jack Robinson isn’t a romantic lead. Why bother?

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

Once again, an excellent example of chick lit gone bad. I am not looking for high quality in my fluff, but I do expect some levels of decency. Besides containing one of the most stupid heroines in literature, Remember Me? litters its pages with language and “more discussion of sex than a boys locker room.” (Thank you random Goodreads reviewer for the apt analogy.) Basically, a comedic rip off of The Vow that fails to be funny, romantic, or even semi-interesting.

The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

I really should just stop reading Jennifer E. Smith. I have yet to find one worth the time. In her defense, they are easy reading. However, by easy I mean mindless and horrendously boring. The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight probably gets the award for the most boring book I finished this year. Do you know what is more miserable than a six hour flight from America to England? That would be reading about a six hour flight from America to England. Throw in two whiny, ungrateful teenagers who do nothing but complain about their parents and make puppy dog eyes at each other and you have this book.

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

Ah, those 1 star reviews. To paraphrase myself from last year, “while two stars may imply mediocrity, one star remains unequivocally not worth the time.” They are good only in how bad they are.

Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike

“Paying for your mistakes takes on a clever twist on The Scarlet Pimpernel…” That’s what got me.  Scarlet Pimpernel. As in Percy Blackney. As in my favorite literary hero next to the Hardy Boys and Sherlock Holmes. So I read. And read and read and remained utterly baffled to the connection between a former kleptomaniac ghost forcing some poor 16-year-old to return her stolen goods and a classic novel. The answer is…nothing. A mediocre novel with an unoriginal plot that drew its poor rating from a bad handling of teenage sex.

A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson

Normally I consider Ibbotson a guilty pleasure. Fluffy, perhaps a tad scandalous, but basically clean. At least appropriate, which was more than this novel can claim.  One dimensional characters, dull antagonists, duller heroes, an entirely unbelievable romance with an atrocious misunderstanding to create a climax. However, what takes this particular novel from mediocre to miserable is the heroine’s determination to (and success with) “ruining herself.” It left me furious.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

This book actually had some potential. The paranormal divide between angels/demons/chimera held my interest and the struggle to decipher good and bad made an interest philosophical context. Plus, the heroine rocks blue hair. Always a positive. However, the book got dragged down by awkwardness, nudity, sexual references, and charged, sensual hype between two gorgeous people with no flaws and convenient animosity/attraction. By the end I was bored to tears.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Read at the request of my roommate who wanted me to preview it for her. A Twilight rip-off with annoying characters and a plot so bland it doesn’t even deserve the word “mindless.”

 Confessions of a Murder Suspect by Robert Patterson

I should have known better, you say? I quite agree. It was a very stupid book. For all the characters supposed genius, the vocabulary, actions, and behavior of every single Angel child is pathetic, immature, and unbelievable. The ending, while potentially unforeseeable, doesn’t fit with the rest of the book or the characters as they have been developed and was way to open ended. What dropped the book in my estimation to one star was the caricature-treatment of the police officers. The lawyer was also joke. Justice is a mockery.

The Rose Bride: A Retelling of ‘The White Bride and the Black Bride’ by Nancy Holder

Elevatha described this one as “Cinderella meets Bambi”. A very confusing fairy tale full of insta-love and promises that make no sense. A random mix of gods (including Greek) who are utterly useless. Characters that are Evil For No Apparent Purpose or So Good It Physically Hurts. Not to mention the bunch of freaking talking roses. What a waste of time!

The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker

Sporadic POV and shallow characters made this thriller a pain to read. Because the reader has access to the serial killer’s thoughts, it isn’t very suspenseful. Overall a boring book I forgot as quickly as I read.

Love By The Morning Star by Laura L. Sullivan

If the book tried to be funny, more along the lines of the frequently mentioned P.G. Wodehouse, it might have been a success. However, the insinuations made it too mature for a young audience and the weak plot and insta-love made it too young for a mature one. Rather an insult to literature

Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors

Spoiler: the highest promotion an angel can receive is to become a human. Strained my credulity to the point where I almost didn’t finish. Combine a sappy Christmas movie with a lousy teen flick (I can’t even say chick flick) and you get an idea.

Miss Darby’s Duenna by Sheri Cobb South

Might have been a light, semi-amusing novel if the content had not turned so unbelievably tasteless. Frequent use of Regency slang gives it the feeling of Geogette Heyer fan-fiction. Dreadful in every sense of the word.

Check out the Bad Romances and Boring Thrillers from last year!