For the first half of 2017 I read more than my share of romances. I realize some people read way more romances than this, but I don't usually read so many in a row.
*note: I’m a big believer in the Goodreads rating system
Fashionably Dead—Book 1 of the Hot Damned series—by Robyn Peterman
(average Goodreads rating: 4; my Goodreads rating: 2)
I found this to be a pretty standard paranormal romance. Which, unfortunately, means it has a lot of tropes in it that really bug me. The insta-attraction that seems to excuse abusive behaviours and rampant sexism? Check. The seemingly ordinary heroine being inexplicably super-important? Check. That said, it did have some nice "family is important" elements to it, and I am a sucker for a steamy romance. Still, I'm not really interested in continuing this series.
Those Red High Heels by Katherine May
(average Goodreads rating: 3.83; my Goodreads rating: 4)
Somehow, this romance is guilty of all the usual tropes, but in such a way that I didn't find it annoying. There is, obviously, insta-attraction, but I like that both parties fight against it (which, I mean, they wouldn't have been very likeable if they hadn't, given that the guy was engaged to someone else at the time). I also like some of the twists and complications thrown in. Made it feel better than the run-of-the-mill romance out there. The ending seemed a bit rushed (and the time-skip didn't help that impression), though I still enjoyed it.
Torn—Book 1 of the Vixen series—by J. E. Keep
(average Goodreads rating: 3.57; my Goodreads rating: 2)
Wow. Okay, so this one was graphic. I was not expecting it, and it rather coloured my perception of the book. It's a short(er) story, which helped, but it was full of abuse, slavery, murder, and really rough sex. The world building was really cool, and I think if I'd known what to expect, I would have really enjoyed this book. So, more a bad book blurb than a bad book.
Dying for a Date—Book 1 of the Laurel McKay Mysteries series—by Cindy Sample
(average Goodreads rating: 3.83; my Goodreads rating: 2)
This "cozy mystery" was...cute. For the most part, I liked the protagonist and her friends, and I found the mystery interesting. Where it fell flat for me was that despite being told (repeatedly) by the police to stay out of the investigation, and despite being in danger multiple times, the protagonist continued to blunder around being a (very) amatuer sleuth. Also, I didn't like the ending/solution. It felt a bit like having the rug pulled out from under me.
His Dark Materials—Omnibus—by Philip Pullman
(average Goodreads rating: 4.25; my Goodreads rating: 3)
I've heard so much about this trilogy, and I've wanted to read it ever since I first heard about the movie. I saw the movie and it was okay, but now that I've read the book I can say it's a pretty faithful adaptation. There was a lot of pseudoscience thrown around, and a bunch of the character motivations were unclear (plus how did that one guy keep crossing between worlds without the knife?), and I felt like the reason why the two protagonists had to separate at the end was really contrived. All-in-all, it felt like it was aimed at middle-grade readers.
I know a lot of people really like this series (and I felt the first book was significantly better than the last two), but it just wasn't really for me.
The 9th Hour—Book 1 of the Detective Temeke Crime series—by Claire Stibbe
(average Goodreads rating: 3.68; my Goodreads rating: 1)
It isn't often that I dislike a book. This was one of those times.
The premise behind the book is great--there's a serial killer with ties to Norse mythology--but, for me, it failed to deliver. The "gritty" detective wasn't likeable, the point-of-view jumped around between characters (there were some chapters by the killer, which was fine. I liked them, actually. But the POV shouldn't shift between the two detectives from one paragraph to the next), and it felt...I dunno, weird?, the way it was wrapped up. Like...all of a sudden the killer cared more about messing with the minds of certain characters than completing the twisted ritual he'd been working on for years... Very strange.
Based on the average rating, a lot of people liked this book, but it's style and characters were not for me.
Beautiful Creatures—Book 1 of the Caster Chronicles—by Kami Garcia
(average Goodreads rating: 3.76; my Goodreads rating: 4)
First of all, yes, this is a trope-filled, stereotypical YA novel. I still liked it. I liked the movie better, but there were certain elements in the novel (that weren't in the movie) that I really enjoyed. The world building was a bit weird, and there were parts were I had to stop and go "really?!", but overall it was just a fun read.
That said, I doubt I'll bother reading the rest of the series.
Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
(average Goodreads rating: 3.39; my Goodreads rating: 3)
This book started off strong, and then got derailed somewhere in the middle, and then finished super cliche. Overall it was good, and I felt that it was (mostly) realistic. Though 99% of the conflict in this book could have been prevented and/or solved by characters telling the truth (to each other, to themselves, and to strangers). Also, that boy needs counselling. And better teachers--why the heck didn't the mom know about his chronic lying prior to picking him up from school that day? Based on the information we were given, it'd been going on for a long time.... but I digress.
Good read for a turn-your-brain-off kind of night.
I gotta say, I'm actually kinda disappointed in the books I read for the first half of this year. My average rating was only 2.7. Given my limited time, I like my average rating to be above a 3.5. Thankfully the second half of the year is looking up so far--those brief reviews will be out some time in the new year.
What are you currently reading? Have there been any books that you felt were a disappointment? Or any that just completely went off the rails from what you expected?