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Book Snark: Books that Disappointed for One Reason or Another

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I blame my mom since the books were hers.

That's how I ended up reading Jacqueline Suzann and Harold Robbins at the age of 13. Talk about skewing your perceptions.

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I read "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" at waaay too young an age. My parents never forbade us to read anything, but I think a head's up that I wasn't ready for this at 13 or so wouldn't have been amiss, heh.

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I read three of the original Ian Fleming James Bond novels when I was around 9 or 10...and promptly fell in love with Bond, James Bond. I think its affected my perception of ideal masculinity since 🙂

Back to the topic at hand: I just finished "Fever Dream" by Preston & Childs and was quite disappointed to find out that the story is not resolved in this book and apparently I have to read two more books to get to the final denouement. This one came to me free and I have the second one in route via eBay (so super cheap) but I find this annoying. There is not enough of a story to spin this out for three books, in my opinion so far.

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2 hours ago, dubbel zout said:

I read "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" at waaay too young an age. My parents never forbade us to read anything, but I think a head's up that I wasn't ready for this at 13 or so wouldn't have been amiss, heh.

Same with my parents. I read everything I could get my hands on so hopefully it was balanced by reading literary fiction like Jane Eyre and Dickens.

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My parents' weren't readers so they didn't know what I was reading. Sure they knew about Sweet Valley books, Babysitters Club, Fear Street and Star Wars. But had no idea I was reading romance books from Nora Roberts to Harlequin and Silhouette books, VC Andrews, murder mysteries, and other gothic books. They definitely would have banned both if they knew. VC Andrews was easier to claim as family sagas the one time my mom saw it. With other books I made sure to arrange SV, BSC or Star Wars books were always on top in bags with the other bags on the bottom. Or sometimes if I only bought books I knew they wouldn't approve off then I'd put them in my backpack and say I didn't find anything. It really wasn't too hard though it never occurred to her that I would read a book that had sex, incest or horrible violence in them. She was surprised when we were going through boxes a few years ago and came across some Harlequin History romances that they didn't belong to her mother who loved reading Harlequin History romances but to me.  

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I just finished Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie, which I had enjoyed until the ending.

After all the hell that her grandparents put her through, she winds up agreeing to ditch the man she loves and all her friends to return to Japan and be head of the household so she can "change things" and effectively relegating her baby (who will never know his father) to a bastard status?

. I don't hate sad endings when they're done right, but that ending was BULLSHIT!!!

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On 3/18/2017 at 11:15 AM, Fiver said:

I thought Daisy Goodwin's Victoria was awful.  Victoria seemed to get dumber and less mature as time passed, to the point where I wanted to smack her for her selfishness and idiocy.  I did not warm to her as a character at all, or to anyone else, for that matter.  I'm sure the miniseries is better, but the book is crap.

No, it wasn't any better! And IMO, both of these started out as 'dramatized history' but before too long  the book and miniseries both totally ignored facts and , dates to say nothing of trashing too many historic figures'  characters to even summarize in favor of fictionalized hooey! Both wound up being about as bad as Disney's Pocahontas re trivializing and ignoring the actual historic personages in favor of their preposterous suppositions! 

What disappointed me the most about both was that they each started out as though they were going to attempt to get to the nitty gritty of both Vic and Al's authentic characters  meeting their challenges but very quickly veered away from that to soapy nonsense (and don't get me started on the stupid staff doings)! 

Edited by Blergh
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I read Flowers in the attic at.12.and the weirdest part was I called Chris and Cathy hooking up almost at the start of the book..and chastised myself for thinking that....oh boy.. when I got to the rape scene...I was only surprised at how graphic it was.

And people wishing them to be a couple was creepy.. he was basically grooming her.

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Because of a recommendation, I'm kind of reading I Don't Know What You Know Me from - Confessions of a Co-Star by Judy Greer.  "Kind of" partly because Greer's life is apparently unremarkable and dull.  Also, I'm bothered because Judy Greer is not known as a co-star, but as a supporting actress - think Julia Roberts' best friend, not Julia Roberts' love interest.  Since the whole premise of the book is about her being second tier, Greer's claim to be nonetheless a co-star irritates me unreasonably.

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On 10/31/2020 at 10:50 AM, Blergh said:

No, it wasn't any better! And IMO, both of these started out as 'dramatized history' but before too long  the book and miniseries both totally ignored facts and , dates to say nothing of trashing too many historic figures'  characters to even summarize in favor of fictionalized hooey! Both wound up being about as bad as Disney's Pocahontas re trivializing and ignoring the actual historic personages in favor of their preposterous suppositions! 

What disappointed me the most about both was that they each started out as though they were going to attempt to get to the nitty gritty of both Vic and Al's authentic characters  meeting their challenges but very quickly veered away from that to soapy nonsense (and don't get me started on the stupid staff doings)! 

I started reading Daisy Goodwin's "Victoria" around the time the miniseries started, and quickly stopped.  The show was ridiculous, the book was ridiculous.  It seemed plainly evident to me that Daisy Goodwin wanted her book and show to be the next Downton Abbey.  For a book and show about one of England's most famous rulers, they sure spent a lot of time making sure we knew exactly what the staff were doing and who they were sleeping with, etc.  This was supposed to be a story about Victoria but Goodwin seemed desperate to include the upstairs/downstairs gossip because she thought it would make for a more salacious TV show.

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10 minutes ago, blackwing said:

I started reading Daisy Goodwin's "Victoria" around the time the miniseries started, and quickly stopped.  The show was ridiculous, the book was ridiculous.  It seemed plainly evident to me that Daisy Goodwin wanted her book and show to be the next Downton Abbey.  For a book and show about one of England's most famous rulers, they sure spent a lot of time making sure we knew exactly what the staff were doing and who they were sleeping with, etc.  This was supposed to be a story about Victoria but Goodwin seemed desperate to include the upstairs/downstairs gossip because she thought it would make for a more salacious TV show.

I blame that on the success of Downton Abbey--the soap opera masquerading as a prestige drama.  Don't get me wrong, I love some me some soapy melodrama, but Downton wanted to have it both ways and failed.  The show had all of the trappings of a prestige historical drama with it's budgets and cast, but the swerve between season one episode one and season one episode two was ridiculous.  Every time the show could have gone off into an interesting direction given the history, it went left into Days of Our Lives.  I never questioned why part of the cast bailed as soon as their contracts were up.

I'm not really surprised that Ms. Goodwin's Victoria was ridiculous, I remember reading another one of hers before Victoria.  It was The American Heiress and it read like a bad historical romance novel.  

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So, I went back and re-re-re-re-read Love Only Once, and I just realized, I don't understand Nick's hostility toward Jason and Edward, when he's complaining about having to deal with Regina's uncles. He's always gotten along with Jason, as he's Derek's father, and Jason has always liked him. And Edward, okay, sort of "coerced" him to agreeing to marry Regina, by dangling that land he wanted, but he never treated Nick with disrespect or beat the shit out of him, like James did or Anthony. While Anthony just threatened to kick the shit out of him, he did treat him with hostility.

But I do love James and Anthony's insistence how they both knew Nick was the perfect man for Regina!

Truth to tell, I wish I'd gotten more scenes of the Malory brothers arguing amongst themselves. The few pages we got, always made me laugh.

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4 hours ago, GHScorpiosRule said:

So, I went back and re-re-re-re-read Love Only Once, and I just realized, I don't understand Nick's hostility toward Jason and Edward, when he's complaining about having to deal with Regina's uncles. He's always gotten along with Jason, as he's Derek's father, and Jason has always liked him.

It's been a while but I think Nick just used it as a reason to be angry. It's pretty clear that he falls for Regina almost as fast as she falls for him but he pushes her away out of twenty plus years of cynicism and does the same with her family. Once she makes it clear that she doesn't care about his illegitimacy he brightens right up and all of his hostility vanishes.

4 hours ago, GHScorpiosRule said:

But I do love James and Anthony's insistence how they both knew Nick was the perfect man for Regina!

I like this moment too and I wish they'd kept it in for the rest of the series. After this book the hostility between the three returns and Tony and James are always messing with Nick and getting him in trouble with Regina. I know there are some lines about how the three enjoy their bickering but I'd rather have seen Regina be aware and good humored about it instead of constantly punishing Nick for the arguments.

4 hours ago, GHScorpiosRule said:

Truth to tell, I wish I'd gotten more scenes of the Malory brothers arguing amongst themselves. The few pages we got, always made me laugh.

Agreed. And Regina knew they argued for fun yet she couldn't see the same was true for Nick.

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11 hours ago, scarynikki12 said:

It's been a while but I think Nick just used it as a reason to be angry. It's pretty clear that he falls for Regina almost as fast as she falls for him but he pushes her away out of twenty plus years of cynicism and does the same with her family. Once she makes it clear that she doesn't care about his illegitimacy he brightens right up and all of his hostility vanishes.

Oh, yes, it's his fear of her rejecting him because of his illegitimacy that he pushes her away/doesn't want to marry/does everything he can to get her to jilt him even after agreeing to marry her, yet wants her as his lover. BUT, Jason was Derek's father--and Derek is recognized as Jason's heir despite his illegitimacy, and Derek is one of Nick's best friends. So lumping in his hostility for Jason and Edward makes no sense.

Anthony, yes. James, yes, especially since he learns his "nemesis" Captain Hawke and James are the same person!

11 hours ago, scarynikki12 said:

I like this moment too and I wish they'd kept it in for the rest of the series. After this book the hostility between the three returns and Tony and James are always messing with Nick and getting him in trouble with Regina. I know there are some lines about how the three enjoy their bickering but I'd rather have seen Regina be aware and good humored about it instead of constantly punishing Nick for the arguments.

This was a total case of tell, not show, because the readers never "saw" Regina making Nick sleep on the couch or fight with him because he was fighting with Anthony and James. And it was quite the opposite at the end of this book--Regina went up to both of them and pretty much told them to lay off of Nick; he was her husband; she loved him and he loved her, and walked away. Which led to that wonderful exchange between the two brothers how each knew that Nick was perfect for Regina.

 

11 hours ago, scarynikki12 said:

Regina knew they argued for fun yet she couldn't see the same was true for Nick.

For realzies. 

And clearly I've been thinking too much about this! Hey, what else can I do while we're living with the pandemic? I want stories where I can escape into other worlds!

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During this pandemic, I've also gone back to re-read some of Sandra Brown's books from the early 90s, and now I'm wondering whatever POSSESSED me to read such tripe. Practically every single title of hers, after she stopped writing categories, has villains who are racist rednecks at best (if you can describe that as such), and white supremacists at worst.

And all her "heroes" are like cutout cardboards. They're so interchangeable.

Her characters don't talk like real people. Or maybe I'm just spoiled by Nora. They talk as if they're reading a book on how to speak formal and proper English. "You must believe me", "Please forgive me" in heightened scenes instead of, how I think, relatable people/characters would talk. Say: when accused of lying, "No, you HAVE to believe me!" or when apologizing, "I'm sorry." And these are characters that wouldn't have had the benefit of higher, elite education (which is the only way I would believe they'd speak with such diction). 

It's more nails on chalkboard for me than Jayne Anne Krentz's characters speaking without contractions!

Huh. Maybe this should have gone in the Unpopular Opinion Thread?

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On 1/13/2021 at 1:47 PM, GHScorpiosRule said:

During this pandemic, I've also gone back to re-read some of Sandra Brown's books from the early 90s, and now I'm wondering whatever POSSESSED me to read such tripe. Practically every single title of hers, after she stopped writing categories, has villains who are racist rednecks at best (if you can describe that as such), and white supremacists at worst.

And all her "heroes" are like cutout cardboards. They're so interchangeable.

Her characters don't talk like real people. Or maybe I'm just spoiled by Nora. They talk as if they're reading a book on how to speak formal and proper English. "You must believe me", "Please forgive me" in heightened scenes instead of, how I think, relatable people/characters would talk. Say: when accused of lying, "No, you HAVE to believe me!" or when apologizing, "I'm sorry." And these are characters that wouldn't have had the benefit of higher, elite education (which is the only way I would believe they'd speak with such diction). 

It's more nails on chalkboard for me than Jayne Anne Krentz's characters speaking without contractions!

Huh. Maybe this should have gone in the Unpopular Opinion Thread?

I'm with you all the way. Sandra Brown was my gateway romance author when I was in high school. Looking back, I'm glad I eventually moved on to better authors who don't write things like (inexact quote from Exclusive here) "She rode him with unabashed lust. From what pagan ancestor did she get this dark knowledge?" I'm really surprised she's still popular, as she often recycles storylines and characters; Fat Tuesday and Ricochet are basically the same book written a decade apart. 

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On 1/16/2021 at 10:50 AM, Vanderboom said:

"She rode him with unabashed lust. From what pagan ancestor did she get this dark knowledge?"

OMG. I'm dying.

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SM Stirling's Emberverse series ended with a pathetic whimper.  It was ridiculous.

Spoiler

The series end with the Big Bad in Korea (presumably Kim Jong Un) being killed by some sort of dream-walking that the Noble Selfless Heroes do, thanks to the amazing abilities of one of the heroine's core team.  No explanation as to what happened to cause The Change, no real understanding of what makes teh Evil ones be Evil.  They just... are.  Also, it was a complete replica of the book right before it.

Also, our heroine has a whirlwind romance and departs back for her homeland, expecting the heir.  This is with a HUGE Christian-Catholic presence in her country - they're evidently going to just blithely accept her heir, even though she's born out of wedlock.  Uh-huh.

It really read that Stirling got bored with stories and the characters and rushed to finish it off as soon as possible.

Fortunately, his Black Chamber series is great.

I used to adore David Eddings, but now I think his work is contrived and gimmicky and sexist.  Sadly, Katherine Kurtz's work suffers on the re-read, too. The only interesting characters, except for Evaine in the Camber of Culdi trilogy, are men.  

Tamora Pierce seems to have been phoning it in for awhile.  In addition to the works others have cited, I thought The Will of the Empress was one of the most boring books I have read in a long time.  The only good thing about it was Daja's romance.  Other than that... meh.

Don't even get me started the ending of The Pearl of the Soul of the World, by Meredith Ann Pierce (no relation to Tamora, I don't think). Worst. Ending. Ever.

Edited by SophiaD

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My most recent read that definitely falls in this category is The Grace Year. Ugh... maybe my expectations were too high. Although in my defense, all the rave reviews didn't help. Basically I thought I was going to get one thing with this book and got something completely different. And what I did get, wasn't that great. 

Spoiler

The synopsis of the book made it seem like I was going to get some YA story about a bad ass heroine taking on the patriarchy and its sexist rules for the women. Instead I get a story about a bunch of teenage girls dropped off in the middle of a forest somewhere where they quickly fall into cliche patterns of petty, mean girl and her crew of followers harassing the main character who is of course described as plain and not interested in marriage or boys or any girly stuff. Of course that doesn't stop every man within her vicinity from wanting her, including some weird creepy guy who randomly turns out to be some psycho killer (where the hell that came from). 

In any case, the big "mystery" of the book is that the water the girls are drinking is essentially poisoned with a hallucinogen which is what's making them lose their minds. This goes on for most of the book, while in the meantime, the main character found time to have her big forbidden romance and get knocked up. Oh and the guy she's betrothed to, who happens to be her best friend since they were kids, though you couldn't tell it at times with how utterly dismissive she seemed of him in general, still takes her back and wants her and is willing to father a child that's not his. 

This child is who will apparently some day change this horrible patriarchal world or at least that's what the writer seems to suggest. So the whole point of the book was to tell us that the main character hooked up with some guy from the "wrong side of the tracks", got knocked up and it's that "miracle baby" who will one day, maybe, possibly, change things.  But other than that, the book ends with the world the characters are living in still the same shitty patriarchal world. I literally spent the whole book just thinking... "what now"

 

Edited by truthaboutluv
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On 10/23/2020 at 12:40 PM, dubbel zout said:

I read "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" at waaay too young an age. My parents never forbade us to read anything, but I think a head's up that I wasn't ready for this at 13 or so wouldn't have been amiss, heh.

This.

 

....and I bookended it with The Harrod Experiment and Harvest Home.  All these years later I often wonder what the heck mom was thinking. Certainly made ‘the talk’ a lot easier.

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1 hour ago, ChuckWagon said:

All these years later I often wonder what the heck mom was thinking.

My mom told me she knew if they put the kibosh on a book, it would just make us want to read it more, so why not let us figure out what we could handle. For the most part I did read appropriate stuff, but every so often something less so would sneak through.

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21 hours ago, ChuckWagon said:

This.

 

....and I bookended it with The Harrod Experiment and Harvest Home.  All these years later I often wonder what the heck mom was thinking. Certainly made ‘the talk’ a lot easier.

Harvest Home was something wasn't it?

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Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump Whitehouse. I have two options for why I did not like it, either the translator translated everything word-per-word in to my language and no editor/proofreader looked-it-through, or the original was such a hopeless grammatical and literature mess that it was pointless to even try.

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On 2/14/2021 at 4:16 PM, peacheslatour said:

Harvest Home was something wasn't it?

Indeed. It’s one of those books that sets up home in your head, and never quite leaves.

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On 2/17/2021 at 8:59 PM, ChuckWagon said:

Indeed. It’s one of those books that sets up home in your head, and never quite leaves.

Did you ever read The Other?

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13 hours ago, peacheslatour said:

Did you ever read The Other?

I read that as a kid.  Creepy.

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Thanks for reminding me of Harvest Home. I read it after watching the movie and I agree it sticks with you. I believe it's what started my love of small town creepiness. I should track down a copy.

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1 hour ago, Snow Apple said:

Thanks for reminding me of Harvest Home. I read it after watching the movie and I agree it sticks with you. I believe it's what started my love of small town creepiness. I should track down a copy.

Ooh, Small Town Creepiness! Sounds like a great name for a discussion topic. I'd start with We Have Always Lived In The Castle.

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On 2/14/2021 at 3:16 PM, peacheslatour said:

Harvest Home was something wasn't it?

is that by Thomas Tyron? 

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Two books that left me completely cold but seem inexplicably popular - The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, and The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

The Silent Patient was just so poorly written, and the final act so ridiculously implausible, I almost threw the book across the room multiple times. I only ended up slogging through it because it was for my book club, but my god my eyes almost rolled out of my head. 

Spoiler

Among the many, many ridiculous occurrences in the book, the "Silent Patient" in question is ultimately shot up with a near-lethal dose of morphine to keep her from talking/spilling her secrets- but despite this fact, she's able to legibly and coherently write a multi-page missive in her diary fingering the perpetrator (and hide said diary) before the morphine puts her in a coma. It's laughably bad.

The Guest List was also incredibly disappointing. Every twist was telegraphed almost immediately, which sucked all the air out of whatever narrative tension the author was going for, and the layers of coincidences required to make the plot work were just unbelievable. 

I just don't understand how either are getting rave reviews. I went into both hoping for a good read, but that...is not what I got.

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2 hours ago, MsNewsradio said:

Two books that left me completely cold but seem inexplicably popular - The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, and The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

The Silent Patient was just so poorly written, and the final act so ridiculously implausible, I almost threw the book across the room multiple times. I only ended up slogging through it because it was for my book club, but my god my eyes almost rolled out of my head. 

  Reveal spoiler

Among the many, many ridiculous occurrences in the book, the "Silent Patient" in question is ultimately shot up with a near-lethal dose of morphine to keep her from talking/spilling her secrets- but despite this fact, she's able to legibly and coherently write a multi-page missive in her diary fingering the perpetrator (and hide said diary) before the morphine puts her in a coma. It's laughably bad.

The Guest List was also incredibly disappointing. Every twist was telegraphed almost immediately, which sucked all the air out of whatever narrative tension the author was going for, and the layers of coincidences required to make the plot work were just unbelievable. 

I just don't understand how either are getting rave reviews. I went into both hoping for a good read, but that...is not what I got.

Your post reminded me of how much I hated The English Patient. And the movie was even worse.

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On 3/12/2021 at 2:06 PM, MsNewsradio said:

The Silent Patient was just so poorly written, and the final act so ridiculously implausible, I almost threw the book across the room multiple times. I only ended up slogging through it because it was for my book club, but my god my eyes almost rolled out of my head. 

Yeah The Silent Patient ended up being an overall meh for me. I knew it was bad when half way through the book, I realized I actually kind of didn't really care that much what happened the night Alicia's husband was murdered. It showed that I wasn't particularly invested in the story. Like I didn't really care whether she did it or someone else. I'll give the author credit for my not seeing the twist.

Spoiler

But yeah, once I got over, "oh cool twist", I realized how nonsensical it was on so many levels. This guy decides to torture some innocent woman because his wife is fucking said woman's husband, unbeknownst to her.  Then he gets away with it and decides to become the woman's therapist to basically make her remember it was him, only to try and murder her when she does exactly what he wanted and try and frame someone else in a really sloppy manner. It just made very little sense. The author tried to include this whole backstory to explain I guess why the main character was so fucked up but it didn't work. The whole thing still reeked of a twist for twist sake, whether it made sense or not. 

 

The most recent book I read that I was disappointed by was A Little Life. And it really bummed me out because I had been looking forward to reading it for two years and read so many amazing reviews of it, over the years. I shared my thoughts in the What Are We Currently Reading thread, so I'll just copy and paste.

Spoiler

The biggest issue I had with the book is that I felt like the author did a bait and switch barely a third of the way through the story. In the first part of the book, I thought I was getting this story of friendship that followed the lives of these four guys who first met in college. And it certainly seemed that way with individual parts focused on each guy. 

However, by the second part of the book and onwards, this became all about the sad and tragic life of Jude St. Francis. The only reason Willem got as much of a voice as he did is because of how intertwined he was with Jude. The most glaring example of this bait and switch was Malcolm's character.

After having his own voice in the first part of the book, Malcolm just became this vague after thought character who eventually got killed off, along with Willem, when the author needed the dramatic and tragic death that was yet another horrible thing in Jude's life. I mean it was like Sophie who? Malcolm had this wife and whole super amazing architectural career that we just heard about despite previously having a whole chapter focused on his inner thoughts and feelings about his parents, his career dreams, his friendships, etc. 

JB too all but vanished as an afterthought, save for his drug addiction storyline that mostly lasted for one part. I have to admit, by that point in the book, I was expecting Jude to end up being the one with the addiction because well why not, with everything else the author had thrown at him. 

Which leads me to the other major factor that stopped me from loving the book. Honestly, 2/3 of the way, this started feeling like torture porn. I get that bad shit exists in the world and bad, horrific things happen to innocent victims. I get it and the sexual abuse by the fake priest was already bad enough.

But then there was the sexual abuse at the foster home, only to then be followed by a whole kidnapping by a sadistic psycho and of course the first guy Jude dates as an adult, turns out to be an abusive psycho. It was just a lot. And then there was the cutting that never stopped throughout the whole story, which the writer for whatever reason felt the need to be very graphic about many times. I haven't experienced any of the traumas depicted in this book and I felt triggered at many points reading it. 

And I just feel like it would not have been so bad had the author stuck to the narrative of all four guys having their own voice throughout the story. So it wouldn't have been so much of Jude alone and Jude's misery and pain. And because Hanya for whatever reason abandoned the multi-narrator style to make this 90 percent about Jude, it made the book feel unnecessarily long.

Honestly, this might sound cold but by the end, I felt tired and like I was the fictional characters in Jude's life just waiting for his inevitable suicide that we all knew would happen. It just eventually felt like a slog of constant misery and sadness that just didn't need to be as long as it was. 

So in the end I'm bummed because this is a book that's been on my TBR list for two years, that I was very much looking forward to read, but by the end, I was just glad when it was over. It's not that I can't handle sad and tragic novels. Two of my favorite books in recent years have been All the Bright Places and More Happy Than Not - both depressing as fuck.

But neither banged the misery on for what felt like years. The authors of these two books packed a lot of tragedy in without the reader feeling like it was a never-ending saga of misery. Not so for A Little Life. Like I said, this truly at one point just felt like torture porn to me, which thanks but no thanks. 

Sorry for the long rant. But like I said, I a lot of thoughts. 

 

Edited by truthaboutluv
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On 3/12/2021 at 1:06 PM, MsNewsradio said:

Two books that left me completely cold but seem inexplicably popular - The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, and The Guest List by Lucy Foley.

Also not a huge fan of The Silent Patient. It was a quick read for me but I was pretty meh about it. The twist was what turned me off; it didn't feel earned to me.

I never read The Guest List but I did read Lucy Foley's The Hunting Party and didn't care for it. It wanted to be Ruth Ware's In a Dark, Dark Wood so very badly, to the point that the plot progression was eerily similar, but frankly, if I wanted In a Dark, Dark Wood, I would have just reread that, as I found it infinitely more engaging.

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I finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle last night.  I was loving it and the beautiful, lyrical language up until the end.  It just kind of stops with no resolution of the climactic scene.  We can infer what happened afterward but I wanted the author to tell the reader.  I was shocked when I turned the page and instead of the next chapter I read Acknowledgements.  Wait, what?  Did my book leave the last chapter out?

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1 hour ago, Haleth said:

I finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle last night.  I was loving it and the beautiful, lyrical language up until the end.  It just kind of stops with no resolution of the climactic scene.  We can infer what happened afterward but I wanted the author to tell the reader.  I was shocked when I turned the page and instead of the next chapter I read Acknowledgements.  Wait, what?  Did my book leave the last chapter out?

I was actually angry when I finished that book.  Like you said, right up until the end, it was really good, but then every single character (including the dogs!) just pissed me off to no end.

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45 minutes ago, Browncoat said:

I was actually angry when I finished that book.  Like you said, right up until the end, it was really good, but then every single character (including the dogs!) just pissed me off to no end.

Spoiler

I wasn’t aware it was a loose retelling of Hamlet (with dogs!).  Had I known I probably would have taken a pass.

 

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36 minutes ago, Haleth said:
  Reveal spoiler

I wasn’t aware it was a loose retelling of Hamlet (with dogs!).  Had I known I probably would have taken a pass.

 

Same.

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I finished The Hunting Party and The Guest List by Lucy Foley, and One By One by Ruth Ware in the last couple of weeks. They all seem to be basically the same book. I didn’t really care for any of them. 

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19 hours ago, MargeGunderson said:

I finished The Hunting Party and The Guest List by Lucy Foley, and One By One by Ruth Ware in the last couple of weeks. They all seem to be basically the same book. I didn’t really care for any of them. 

I've only read The Guest List and found it to be a pale imitation of Agatha Christie.  I will pass on the other ones listed and read Dame Agatha again when I want a mystery.

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On 3/13/2021 at 9:29 AM, truthaboutluv said:

Yeah The Silent Patient ended up being an overall meh for me. I knew it was bad when half way through the book, I realized I actually kind of didn't really care that much what happened the night Alicia's husband was murdered. It showed that I wasn't particularly invested in the story. Like I didn't really care whether she did it or someone else. I'll give the author credit for my not seeing the twist.

  Reveal spoiler

But yeah, once I got over, "oh cool twist", I realized how nonsensical it was on so many levels. This guy decides to torture some innocent woman because his wife is fucking said woman's husband, unbeknownst to her.  Then he gets away with it and decides to become the woman's therapist to basically make her remember it was him, only to try and murder her when she does exactly what he wanted and try and frame someone else in a really sloppy manner. It just made very little sense. The author tried to include this whole backstory to explain I guess why the main character was so fucked up but it didn't work. The whole thing still reeked of a twist for twist sake, whether it made sense or not. 

 

The most recent book I read that I was disappointed by was A Little Life. And it really bummed me out because I had been looking forward to reading it for two years and read so many amazing reviews of it, over the years. I shared my thoughts in the What Are We Currently Reading thread, so I'll just copy and paste.

  Reveal spoiler

The biggest issue I had with the book is that I felt like the author did a bait and switch barely a third of the way through the story. In the first part of the book, I thought I was getting this story of friendship that followed the lives of these four guys who first met in college. And it certainly seemed that way with individual parts focused on each guy. 

However, by the second part of the book and onwards, this became all about the sad and tragic life of Jude St. Francis. The only reason Willem got as much of a voice as he did is because of how intertwined he was with Jude. The most glaring example of this bait and switch was Malcolm's character.

After having his own voice in the first part of the book, Malcolm just became this vague after thought character who eventually got killed off, along with Willem, when the author needed the dramatic and tragic death that was yet another horrible thing in Jude's life. I mean it was like Sophie who? Malcolm had this wife and whole super amazing architectural career that we just heard about despite previously having a whole chapter focused on his inner thoughts and feelings about his parents, his career dreams, his friendships, etc. 

JB too all but vanished as an afterthought, save for his drug addiction storyline that mostly lasted for one part. I have to admit, by that point in the book, I was expecting Jude to end up being the one with the addiction because well why not, with everything else the author had thrown at him. 

Which leads me to the other major factor that stopped me from loving the book. Honestly, 2/3 of the way, this started feeling like torture porn. I get that bad shit exists in the world and bad, horrific things happen to innocent victims. I get it and the sexual abuse by the fake priest was already bad enough.

But then there was the sexual abuse at the foster home, only to then be followed by a whole kidnapping by a sadistic psycho and of course the first guy Jude dates as an adult, turns out to be an abusive psycho. It was just a lot. And then there was the cutting that never stopped throughout the whole story, which the writer for whatever reason felt the need to be very graphic about many times. I haven't experienced any of the traumas depicted in this book and I felt triggered at many points reading it. 

And I just feel like it would not have been so bad had the author stuck to the narrative of all four guys having their own voice throughout the story. So it wouldn't have been so much of Jude alone and Jude's misery and pain. And because Hanya for whatever reason abandoned the multi-narrator style to make this 90 percent about Jude, it made the book feel unnecessarily long.

Honestly, this might sound cold but by the end, I felt tired and like I was the fictional characters in Jude's life just waiting for his inevitable suicide that we all knew would happen. It just eventually felt like a slog of constant misery and sadness that just didn't need to be as long as it was. 

So in the end I'm bummed because this is a book that's been on my TBR list for two years, that I was very much looking forward to read, but by the end, I was just glad when it was over. It's not that I can't handle sad and tragic novels. Two of my favorite books in recent years have been All the Bright Places and More Happy Than Not - both depressing as fuck.

But neither banged the misery on for what felt like years. The authors of these two books packed a lot of tragedy in without the reader feeling like it was a never-ending saga of misery. Not so for A Little Life. Like I said, this truly at one point just felt like torture porn to me, which thanks but no thanks. 

Sorry for the long rant. But like I said, I a lot of thoughts. 

 

If you feel the need to seek out similar opinions on A Little Life, check out the comment section on The Morning New's Tournament of Books from 2016.  Click on the matchup featuring ALL and scroll down to the comments.  You will find a few people who hated the book and are quite eloquent to boot.  

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26 minutes ago, Ohiopirate02 said:

I've only read The Guest List and found it to be a pale imitation of Agatha Christie.  I will pass on the other ones listed and read Dame Agatha again when I want a mystery.

No one does it like Christie. 

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