My Most Disappointing Reads 2020

We’ve made it! It’s the end of 2020! Luckily for me, books haven’t been such a big disappointment this year, so I haven’t made it to a full list of ten (for the second year in a row!!) As per usual, this is not necessarily going to be the worst books I read this year, just the most disappointing (amazingly, some books that I didn’t like surpassed my expectations and didn’t make it onto the list). I’ve only written reviews for some of these- which are linked- but a fair number will be the first (and last time) I’ll be talking about them… So enjoy the rants while they last! 😉

Girl Woman Other– this was undoubtedly the worst book of the year- possibly of any year- but it wasn’t as disappointing as some of the other books on this list. Partly because a) I shouldn’t have bothered reading it given my track record with prizewinners lately and b) I should have stopped reading once I realised the writing was so shocking (I did stop once, yet saw so much praise, I had to go back and see if there was any merit to it. There wasn’t). So, you see my expectations weren’t that high to begin with- however since I hated it this much, I couldn’t reasonably leave it off the list altogether. Putting it last is a compromise.

The Hand on the Wall– I was too generous when I reviewed this one, cos I wanted to like it so badly. But really, the solution to the mystery was not satisfying enough and too many subplots took over (*spoiler alert*: I didn’t invest all that time for it to be all about money). In truth, I should’ve seen the writing on the wall after book 2 plummeted into politics-ville.

Bringing Down the Duke– in retrospect, I don’t know why I hated this book quite as much as I did, because it really is supposed to just be a bit of fun. However, for me, something grated about the historical inaccuracies and I ended up not loving it as much as I wanted to.

Foundation– this was quite simply not my cup of tea- I didn’t enjoy the fact it was more philosophy than storytelling and didn’t click with the writing.

Slaughterhouse Five– this is another one that just wasn’t for me. Not just because it was a bit odd, but because I never enjoy stream of consciousness. I wasn’t the right reader for this book.  

Wait for Me– this would have been a fairly “meh” read if not for a couple of issues that really irked me. One, I’m not totally on board with the whole Nazi/German rehabilitated romance. It’s a weird trend that’s not to my taste. Two, the writing killed the atmosphere. There was very little sense of place except for the occasional “aye”. Worse still, the teens didn’t just sound modern, they sounded very immature. From the writing, I’d have guessed this was a MG, but the romance was a bit too much of a central focus for this to be aimed at 12 year olds. Either way, it’s safe to say I’m not the target audience for this book, so please bear that in mind.

Queen of Ruin– this was worse the more I thought about it. My biggest issue with this was the fact that characters need to grow in sequels… otherwise what’s the point? Especially in this case- where they didn’t finish the first story as the best version of themselves. After starting strong in book 1, Nomi had made a big mistake, meaning she needed to toughen up and stop being so naïve. Serena had gotten really tough in the first book, but it could have been interesting for her to learn to soften. It would’ve been great to see both characters meet somewhere in the middle and realise that both parts of their personality were important. Instead, nothing happened to their character arcs. It was all action and not-so-subtle lecturing. Very disappointing indeed, since it had so much potential as a series.

Unorthodox– ugh I hate even talking about this book… which is why this’ll be the first (and probably last) time I ever mention it. I didn’t have a good experience reading this. Not because it was shocking (which it is) or because it’s unfamiliar territory (which it is) but because I couldn’t quite find my feet with the narrative. A lot of things didn’t add up. After doing some research, I found a lot of claims disputed. Add to that the fact she deliberately changed (vital) parts of her story (sometimes to supposedly “protect the anonymity” of people… whose pictures she included). That’s just not something I’ve come to expect from “true stories” and made it hard to take the story at face value. It felt more like he-said, she-said rather than a typical biography and I don’t feel that comfortable getting in the middle of it. Let’s just say it’s an unorthodox way to write a memoir and leave it at that.

War of Art– not to be mistaken for the Art of War 😉 I don’t know why, but something about this just rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve already ranted about this, so I’ll keep it brief. I expected quite a lot from this book- especially after enjoying some inspirational books on similar topics- but it let me down faster than a whoopie cushion.

So- dare I ask- what do you think of these? Have you read any of them? And what were your worst books of 2020? Let me know in the comments!

My Most Disappointing Reads of 2019

most disappointing 2019

As you may well see in my next few posts, I have had an *amazing* reading year. Thanks to blogging (and possibly growing up 😉) I’m getting better at picking reads I’ll actually enjoy. That said, there are always a handful of stinkers… though that’s not what this list is about (for the most part 😉). I’d say about half of these aren’t bad books by any stretch of the imagination. Most of these aren’t even the worst books I read this year- cos a couple of those I’ve forgotten by now- these are, as the title suggests, the ones I was most disappointed by. And the biggest change this year is that I only have 9 books for the list– I just didn’t see the reason to squeeze extra books on that didn’t deserve a spot (that’s right, I’m not just being a negative Nancy for the sake of it! 😉 ). These books could’ve been great, yet all ended up as misses for me… and that’s enough of the preamble- let’s just get into it!

number 9

behind her eyes

Behind Her Eyes– this started out so well… and then nosedived in the last few chapters. Here’s the thing, it’s really not fun to read a psychological thriller that flips the switch at the last second and becomes a paranormal thriller. I’ve read a few other genre-bending books this year- and they all worked because there was proper set up for the payoff! It all felt like it was done to say “betcha didn’t see that coming!”- and no, obviously I didn’t see that coming, cos I’m not a psychic.

number 8

gentleman's guide to vice and virtue

Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue- this may well be the most unpopular choice for the list- but here’s the thing, this is a list of books I was disappointed by and I was enormously disappointed by this book. I had really high expectations going in because it was so hyped and it’s the kind of thing I really love- but it just fell so flat for me. The main issues for me were that I didn’t fall for the characters and wasn’t convinced with the supposed “18th century” setting. So, not for me, though I do feel there’s enough potential in the idea that I could enjoy the upcoming adaptation.

number 7

immortal reign

Immortal Reign– again, this was by no means the worst book I read this year- BUT I’ve been reading this series a long time and I just wasn’t satisfied with how it turned out. Part of this could be that I fell out of love with it a couple of books back, yet to be honest, not enough was done with the story to elevate that ending. Everything was resolved a little too easily and the emotional payoffs just didn’t land.

number 6

queen of air and darkness book

Queen of Air and Darkness– the more I think about this, the more disappointed with it I am. While I liked parts of it when I was reading, it’s the kind of book I like less and less over time. I think as I wrote the review I realised quite how dissatisfied I was with it (hence the disjunct between my rating and my thoughts). I had an existing fondness for the series… but I feel like all that was thrown away here. As cool as some of the concepts were, a lot of it was recycled from other series and the rest was just set up for another. I can’t get behind a book of this length that merely exists to sell another book. So yeah, I was disappointed with this, to say the least.

number 5

wonder woman

Wonder Woman– I pretty much summed it up in my review: this is a cashgrab. I don’t recommend this for anyone- whether you’re a fan of superheroes or not. It’s not worth your time and not worthy of the author’s talent. Highly recommend you read anything else by Bardugo instead!

number 4

bridget jones's diary

Bridget Jones– this isn’t something I was anticipating or had high hopes for in any way, so I’m breaking my own rules putting this on here, but I just hated the writing style so much that it earned its spot here 😉 It’s full of fragmentation. All the time. Every. Single. Sentence. Ugh.

number 3

conversations with friend

Conversation with Friends– ah one of those massively acclaimed books… that I didn’t get at all. I should’ve guessed from the shite title it’d be wanky and a waste of time- cos that’s exactly what it was. It was so boring that I’m already bored talking about it again… so I won’t bore the rest of you and I’ll move on!

number 2

an inspector calls

Inspector Calls– ooh this came so close to winning the top spot- because there are a lot of reasons Priestley’s pretentious garbage deserves it! It’s badly written, filled with crap characters and moralising to boot! Don’t expect deep philosophy from this though- you’ll get more depth out of a toddler’s toys.

number 1

atlas shrugged

Atlas Shrugged– it’s kind of fitting that out of my two worst reads this year, one is left wing and the other right. This one edged out Priestley’s preachy play by a whisker. The reason this “won” top spot was twofold: 1) from what I’d heard of it (only that it was a seminal work of American literature) I had higher hopes for this and 2) it made me suffer longer. Boy did I make a huge mistake (a-1168-page long mistake) reading this! I guess now it’s time to shrug it off and move on!

So- dare I ask- what do you think of these? Have you read any of them? And what were your worst books of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

My Most Disappointing Books of 2018

my most disappointing 2018.png

Thanks in a large part to blogging I pick up fewer books on a whim. That means a lot of what I read tends to be vetted and I’ve been choosing a lot of better books this year. Even so, a number of stinkers have slipped through the net- and that’s what this post is about! Of course, as the title suggests, these are mostly just books that let me down in some way. As always, if you click on the book covers you can click on the book covers and see my less-than-glowing reviews- however you’ll also see I haven’t completely slated all of these. Evidently, *fumbling to insert quick disclaimer*, I’m not saying these are the *worst* books on the planet- a lot of them merely didn’t live up to what I hoped they would be- starting with…

number 10bone queen

The Bone Queen– I actually gave this one a middling rating- see I told you they weren’t all terrible! Still, this made the list because I thought it would be *so much more*. I loved the Pellinor series when I was younger, so when this prequel rolled around I was PSYCHED. Sadly, this didn’t end up building on my pre-existing love. Instead, I got a book that was stuffed to the brim with infodumps and all the dramatic moments being told not shown.

number 9

lonely hearts hotel

Lonely Hearts Hotel– this one might be the most controversial one on the list, because a lot of people love it. And I get why. It’s a really well written book- but boy this was not my cup of tea. Honestly, the biggest flaw with this book is that it’s totally miss-marketed. Described as “the next Night Circus”, I was expecting delicious magical realism; what I got was a heavy dose of stomach-churning historical fiction on topics that were too much for me.  That’s not to say it’s bad- it just wish I’d had some inkling of the actual material going in. If you’re into gritty (bordering on gross) topics, then go for it; otherwise maybe give it a miss.

number 8

ashes to ashes

Ashes to Ashes– it pains me a little to put this on here, because I really enjoyed the rest of the series. Ultimately though, this was a great example of a series fizzling out. There was a lot of potential here- yet I didn’t feel like the ending lived up to it. It felt rushed, unsatisfying and underdeveloped. *Sigh*- and it could have been so good!

number 7

forest of hands...

Forest of Hands and Teeth– years ago I saw this title and swooned- it’s a thing of perilous beauty. Unfortunately, the charm ends there. There’s nothing remotely thrilling about this all-too-generic read. It’s so meh that I wouldn’t have bothered putting it on this list if not for the fact the title got my hopes up. Unless you’re a massive fan of love triangles and the regular host of YA tropes, I’d give this one a miss.

number 6

life's golden ticket

Life’s Golden Ticket– I kind of feel duty bound to put this on the list based on the simple fact that it wasn’t well written. And while I can handle a little cheese, this one stunk to high heaven. Turns out allegorical, glorified self-help books are not for me.

number 5

ransom my heart

Ransom My Heart– I’m disappointed in myself for reading this one when I had reason to suspect it was gonna be bad! I’ve had a hit and miss relationship with the author to be fair- so I should have known not to give this one a chance. But it sounded different and I liked the idea of it being one of her character’s novels and *excuses excuses*- I read the damn thing and now I have to live with myself. As historical fiction, this isn’t remotely believable- unless you count the misuse of archaic words. Since this is supposed to be Princess Mia’s (from Princess Diaries) book, it could be a comment on how celebrities sometimes manage to get their crap books published just cos they’re celebs… somehow I doubt it though. It seems more likely that this is simply a crap book.

number 4

truth or dare

Truth or Dare– I think I’ve wiped most of the memory of this book from my mind. All I can remember from it was that it was aggravating and nuts. There’s lots of virtue signalling and infodumping and even an instruction at the front of the book to go read other, better books. Seriously. Even this author thinks you should choose something else. So go do that- cos I ended up wondering why I didn’t take that advice.

number 3

falling fast

Falling Fast– there were very few things this year worthy of having a banana peel slung at them- and this was one of them. Everything about this sucked. Worst of all though, it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. There was mature content written in such a childish way that I couldn’t pin it down. Not to mention that the characters were horrible and the romance was awful.

number 2

mysteries of udolpho

Mysteries of Udolpho– oh man, this pushed me into a realllly long slump. Not to mention the fact that I couldn’t even finish it cos it was BORING AF. I was hoping for thrills and I got overindulgent descriptions of the landscape. I got *zero* pleasure out of this when I all I was looking for was a good bit of escapism. The only horrifying thing about this was that it was horrifyingly dull. Pick this up at your peril I guess.

number 1

foxhole court

Foxhole Court– I can’t believe I read this. There seems to be a chain of foolish readers who pick this up out of morbid curiosity (I read it cos I saw Angelica’s negative review, Lucinda then went on and read it, and who knows read it after that!). We’re all completely daft obviously– because this book is on big, steaming hot pile of NOPE. Want to read a book about a bunch of rapey weirdos obsessed with a made up sport that makes no sense? No? Well, I suppose you could read this book anyway, cos that’s what I did. And I don’t suppose this disappointed me by living up to its reputation-though it would have been nice if it wasn’t quite this awful- but I had to put it on the list cos it’s definitely, objectively the worst, most bizarre-in-a-bad-way thing I’ve read in a long while. The only explanation I can give for its existence is to give me the opportunity to exclaim “why god why?” at random intervals. And what makes me even more bemused is that this is massively popular in some groups- well I guess I’m (happily) not down with the tumblr kids, cos I don’t get why this is a thing.

So- dare I ask- what do you think of these? Have you read any of them? And what were your worst books of 2018? Let me know in the comments!

My Most Disappointing Reads of 2017

my most disappointing reads of 2017.png

Where has the year gone? I’m genuinely shocked that we’re nearly in 2018! And speaking of shocking things, I’ve had more than a few shockers when it comes to books this year. And not always in a good way. Of course, as I always say, while these books were disappointing to me, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad book per se. Although one or two of these were so disgusting to me that I’m not sure they had any redeemable features- but we’ll get to that. Without further ado- here are my worst books of 2017 in order of how much I disliked them:

All the book covers link to reviews!

number 10

Caraval-150x225

Caraval– I will admit, this book had its good moments, which is why it’s not so high on this list. But in the end, after all the hype and comparisons to the Night Circus, it was a disappointment. With a writing style I didn’t like, romance I couldn’t root for and one too many twists, my high expectations for this were brought to a crashing low- so onto the list it goes!

number 9

house-of-fear

House of Fear– I will admit, this was a DNF, so take what I’m saying with a pinch of salt. Honestly, it’s always painful for me to have to DNF book- especially when it came with a recommendation. But this was frightfully dull and after 200 pages, I just had to put it down.

number 8

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian– this was another very hyped book that let me down. I really couldn’t connect with it and I the writing style wasn’t for me (especially some of the more crass descriptions). Frankly, I feel like this is more relatable to an American audience anyway.

number 7

norwegian wood

Norwegian Wood– I like to give books the benefit of the doubt, so I will say, this could be another case of “lost in translation”. Because I really want keen on the writing and this prevented me building any strong connections with the characters. Then again, I didn’t especially like the main character or anything about the plot, so it could have just been the book.

number 6

beautiful broken things

Beautiful Broken Things– oho was I disappointed with this! I expected quite a bit from this book and frankly found it more than a little mundane. I also didn’t think it was a particularly healthy book to read regarding mental health but as I always say, what you take away from books on this subject is up to you. If you fancy reading a “How To Self-Destruct” guide, then this is totally it.

number 5

summer shadows

Summer Shadows– I have actually enjoyed this series (psychic romances are fun) yet this was so very, very meh. Beyond meh even- it was ugh. Because the main character was a total prat. And I don’t say that lightly.

number 4

sun is also a star

The Sun is Also a Star– okay now we’re getting into some serious ughness. This would have been disappointing enough for me after loving Everything, Everything, because it felt like such a step down. Frankly, though, I *hated* everything about this book. The dumb plot, the unlikeable, unrealistic characters and the worst case of instalove I’ve ever read. Nope- not for me.

number 3

killables

Killables– well it’s safe to say this book killed me. Or rather killed any desire to read generic dystopias. Although one of the reasons I gave it a shot was because the author is *totally* capable of writing an excellent YA dystopia (seriously guys, read the Declaration). Sadly, this was a complete waste of time. There was *nothing* about this book I can say I liked.

number 2

NutshellMcEwan

Nutshell– oh the pretentious drivel. What an eye-gougingly bad book. It was nauseating in every way- from a dumb idea to a painful-to-read voice to some seriously sickening scenes… I literally am at a loss for words about how much this book grossed me out. Then again, it wasn’t as bad as…

number 1

wideacre

Wideacre- my goodness- what is it with authors wanting me to revisit my dinner? This genuinely made me feel physically sick. With disgusting characters, gross plotlines and stomach-turning stupidity… I just can’t think of any redeeming features for this book. It was revenge porn against 18th century aristocrats wrapped up in sheer awfulness. Forgive me if I’m missing anything deep and meaningful here, I just don’t get the appeal.

Oh how I have suffered this year! I feel like a total masochist reviewing my year like this. But never fear- there were far more highlights than lowlights to the year! More on that soon… And while I’m in the process of teasing you for future posts, I do have a worst book of the year, and it’s something that doesn’t deserve the moniker of merely “disappointing” for various reasons… buuut you’ll have to wait till my wrap up to find out what that is.

So what do you think of this list? Agree? Disagree? And what were your worst books of 2017? Let me know in the comments!

Also, please forgive me if I’m slower to get to your posts and comments at the minute, I’m a bit under the weather, but I’ll catch up with everything eventually!