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.