Thursday, September 26, 2013

Reading Round-Up: The Good, The Bad and The Unfinished

It's been several weeks since I've written a book review, and that's mostly because I haven't read any good books! I've been in a reading rut -- nothing was catching my attention, compelling me to turn the pages. I finally found a gripping book, though -- "The Passage" by Justin Cronin, a vampire-zombie apocalypse epic -- that I've barreled through and will be reviewing shortly. For now, here's a quick look at what I've suffered through (or attempted to suffer through) since July. (All pictures from Goodreads.)

The Good:
On the recommendation of a friend, I read the entire Matched YA dystopian trilogy this summer and I actually liked it pretty well. It wasn't of the caliber of the similarly toned Hunger Games and Divergent series, but the fast-moving pace and somewhat unique dystopian world pulled me in. As with many trilogies, book 2 ("Crossed") was unfortunately slow and I found myself skimming far too often, but books 1 and 3 were real page-turners. I'm looking forward to the movie, which is in the works.

The Bad:
I saw this book at Target and was instantly drawn in by the cover. My library didn't have it (for good reason!) so I requested it via inter-library loan and took it on our vacation to Tennessee. This mediocre and somewhat annoying story is about Maz, a London vet who's fired after her affair with her boss ends badly. Maz's best pal from vet school operates a practice in rural England and asks Maz to take over the office for six months while she and her husband take a much-needed vacation. Sounds cute, except most of the story is about the small town's rival vet making things tough for Maz and all the gossipy townsfolk turning against her. The book was penned by a former small animal vet, and the book made me wonder what our vet does to our critters and says about us when we're not there! This was a bad case of judging a book by its cover -- great cover, blah book!

This is the second book in Laurie R. King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mystery series. I read the first installment, "The Beekeeper's Apprentice," in the spring and loved it. But this book was slow-moving and I didn't find the mystery gripping. While I was disappointed in book 2, I'll still give the rest of the series a chance.
I've read all the books in Donna Andrew's Meg Langslow cozy mystery series and enjoyed each and every one... until now. This entire book takes place over a couple days at the county fair and was way too bogged down with endless talk of heritage breeds of livestock and such. I now know way more about chickens than I ever wanted to! It was a struggle to get through, and the climax was a total yawn.

The Unfinished:
After the disaster that was "A Casual Vacancy," I desperately wanted to like J.K. Rowling's new book. It sounded promising -- a detective story that had supposedly gotten decent reviews before anyone ever knew J.K. Rowling had penned it. But... I couldn't do it. I didn't even make it to page 150 before giving up. The story moved so slowly (I fell asleep FOUR times while reading it!), I didn't find the central "mystery" interesting, and, though not as much as "A Casual Vacancy," I found the characters to be dark and depressing, and it seemed as if Rowling wrote them with an almost mocking attitude. In any case, I think Rowling should have just stuck to the wonderful wizarding world for which she is beloved.

I love watching "Downton Abbey," so I figured a book about other women watching the show would be wonderful. Not quite. I'm not sure I gave this book a fair chance, but after 20 pages I wasn't the slightest bit into it and I knew other people had it on hold, so I took it back to the library. I didn't find the characters likeable and the book seemed pretty cheesy.

This story is about a divorced mom and her angsty teenage daughter. She moves to rural England with the dream of turning an old barn into a restaurant. Murder sneaks into the story somehow. The blurb on the cover really sounded interesting, but I was bored after 50 pages and couldn't make myself continue.
I kept seeing hype about this book before it came out, and when I spotted it on the new books shelf at the library I figured I'd give it a try. I didn't make it far enough to delve into the real plot (something "Gone Girl"-ish, apparently) but I just hated the characters and the story wasn't moving fast enough for me.
The Books I Had To Return Before Reading:
These are all books I checked out from the library with every intention of reading and just didn't get to. Eventually I'll get around to them again... though judging from this blog post, I didn't pick very good books this summer, so maybe I should just let these go by the wayside!
"Silver Star" by Jeanette Walls
"The House at the End of Hope Street" by Menna VanPraag
"Beautiful Ruins" by Jess Walter
"The House Girl" by Tara Conklin
"The Language of Flowers" by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


  1. Good to low what not to check out from the library. I already have too many books to read and have had to return more unread than intended.

  2. Sorry... Good to "know" what not to check out.


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