Friday, December 31, 2021

What I Rejected in 2021

Here's the list of books I just couldn't stand to finish in 2021.

1. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer.   I’d read Under the Banner of Heaven years ago, so I thought this would be interesting. But, from the first chapter, I could tell that the author intended to excuse and glorify a whiny, immature 25-year-old man who refused to listen to anyone about the dangers of living rough in the Alaska wilderness, claiming he “knew” how to handle any eventuality. As we are now in the middle of a pandemic fueled by the willful ignorance of many, and as sane Americans are currently battling against MAGAts who refuse to listen to any sort of reason, I have less than zero sympathy for anyone who behaves like an overgrown 13-year-old.  I cannot tolerate a book which excuses someone like that.  1/5/21
2. Silence in Hanover Close by Anne Perry . Most of this series is readable because, even though the author has very little concept of a denouement and ends nearly every book at the climax, leaving many problems unsolved, her characterization is excellent and her plots are fairly clever.  However, in this particular novel, Charlotte (the protagonist) begins to behave in a stupid manner, which I cannot tolerate. 22% 2/10/21.
3.The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Paton Walsh.  SO MUCH BACKSTORY!  Ugh.  And, finally, when jewels are stolen, it’s so boring.  There’s no urgency in solving the crime at all. 44%  I’m too bored to finish. 2/21/21
 4. The Lost Manuscript by Cathy Bonidan.  So much hype, so little action.  I waited weeks for this ebook to be available, but it’s incredibly dull.  So, there’s a manuscript.  OK. But the characters are dated and dull beyond words.  There’s no driving reason why they should care about the ms, and the plot is drifting.  12% is all I could stand. 2/24/21
 5. Agatha Christie: The Murders at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah. I’ve read the others in this series, but this one was sooo slow! 25% of the way through and nothing has happened except Poirot and friend take a bus ride to some fancy estate and two women act up to get attention. Dull. 3/12/21
6. Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Sutanto.  I wanted to like this.  In fact, I did like the beginning in which the 20-something gal is set up on a date because her mother has been pretending to be her on a dating app.  But, when the protagonist accidentally kills the date, she turns into an idiot, tampering with the body instead of reporting it to the cops, even though she clearly was not to blame, as he’d basically kidnapped her.  I cannot abide stupid, silly, helpless women in real life, and I refuse to waste my time reading about fictional ones.  17% 6/10/21
 7. The Historian by Celia Ekback. So many names!  Maybe if I’d been reading a physical book where I could continually flip back to the “cast list” at the front of the book, I could have tolerated it, but this was a library ebook, and I was confused and bored by 3%. 8/24/21
 8. Lobizona by Romina Garber. I picked up this YA paranormal in order to check out more diversity in protagonists for my students. And since it has an undocumented Argentine girl as its protagonist, that checks out.  It’s not bad; the writing’s ok.  It’s mostly that the plot is such a tired one: teen discovers special powers and must use them to save the world.  But what really got me is that the author is one of those women on a quest to “normalize” menstruation by talking about it incessantly.  I happen to be another sort of woman, the sort who feels that it’s a miserable time of the month for most women and really nothing to be glorified, but rather something to be discussed academically in hopes of better treatments and/or more control.  Thus, the fact that Garber ties the protagonist’s werewolf condition and powers to her (really awful) periods, I found myself rolling my eyes. 80 pages. 6/30/21
9. Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian. I waited weeks and weeks for this ebook to be available -- and then was bored.  Also, I realized I didn’t want a book which dwells so much on the domestic abuse bur rather one about a woman who escapes/beats/rises above it/gets revenge.  3% 7/7/21
 10. Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee.  One would think a tale about the world’s most famous doomed ship would be interesting, but this is not so in this case.  At 14% into the book, I am bored and confused.  Lee never mentions what job Valora’s brother Jamie has that brings him with other Chinese men onto the ship, and she never explains why Valora has a ticket (which she can’t use) through the presumably wealthy Mrs. Sloanes.  Does Valora work for her?  If so, why is she dressed as though she’s wealthy?  None of this is clear, yet the author proceeds as if it is.  Then she spends pages and pages of Valora hunting through third-class to find her brother, a poor method of introducing the reader to that area of the ship.  The characters feel like types: the poor, half-breed kid experiencing racism; the suspicious man in charge who will cause trouble later; the mysterious, glamorous, helpful woman; the older men stuck in their ways who distrust all Westerners; the brother who thinks his sister is incapable.  Add to that the fact that the reader knows the boat will sink, and the plot is already predictable at 14%.  7/12/21.
  11. First: The Life of Emma Smith by Jennifer Reeder I was expecting a biography as good as Mormon Enigma, but I was severely disappointed.
First of all, the book is very slim; there's just not much there for a biography written for adults.  And then it reads like a Relief Society manual, skimming over anything controversial.  Clearly, this book seeks NOT TO OFFEND.
It's disappointing.  Emma was not a bland woman; this book washes out all the color.
I became suspicious upon finding both a horrendously garbled sentence (a misplaced modifier made it laughable) and a misused word ("genres" where "roles" was needed) in the first paragraph of the introduction, as it was obvious there was no careful editing in the book. By ten pages in, I was bored.
So, if you want a bland, inoffensive, short read about Emma Smith, go ahead and grab this one.  Otherwise, read Mormon Enigma; it's much better.  7/15/21
12. The King’s Guard by Rae Carson.  I’d just finished Empire of Dreams by Carson, and this was just too similar a tale.  7/20/21  35%
13. Scorched Eggs by Laura Child.  The building next door blows up, showering glass everywhere, and the protagonist is unhurt, although only a few feet away when it happens.  And no one else in the building notices the explosion.  Riiiiiiiight.   So stupid.  Yes, cozies are supposed to be light and fluffy, but sometimes they’re just plain ridiculous and cartoonish.  30 pages. 7/24/21
14. Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen.  The characterization is good, but the crime (murder) does not occur until the very end of chapter 11.  A murder mystery should not take half the book to get to the crime.  There is so much unnecessary detail for a murder mystery! Does Bowen think she’s Victor Hugo or something?  I’m surprised this even got published; it’s so rambling.  7/25/21
 15. A Fiancee’s Guide To First Wives and Murder by Dianne Freeman.  In real life, I cannot stand lying, scheming women who get away with things because they’re pretty, and I don’t waste my time reading about them.  Roughly three chapters. 8/2/21 historical mystery
16. The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams.  This book sounded so very good, but the description failed to mention that the protagonist is a self-styled victim who never, ever stands up for herself.  I loathe women like this in real life, and after 145 pages of a simpering Fanny Price-type wimp, I could stand no more.  She is ghastly.  Ugh.  9/18/21
 17. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher memoir. It was interesting until she actually started reprinting the diaries; then it was all starry-eyed drooling over Harrison Ford and not much about the filming. 155 pages.  11/2/21
18. A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier. YA The setting (a hotel is Switzerland) was interesting, but the protagonist was so dumb and the other characters were so very cardboard.  Ugh.  Mediocre YA drivel.  107 pages. 11/3/21
19. A Conspiracy of Silence by Sabrina Flynn. So much gratuitous violence and so many characters with no backstory!  95 pages. historical mystery. 12/20/21
20. The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes.   I don’t do books which portray rape as “sexy.” Ugh. Internalized misogyny, anyone? 59 pages. 12/27/21

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