Friday, January 4, 2008

The Year In Reading 2007: The Dreck

My final post about my reading in the year 2007 is all about the dreck. The train wreck books. The books that almost killed me. But I am strong! I am Super Librarian! I will not be thwarted in my quest to read something halfway decent! Let's start out with the horrible and descend into the mildly brain-dead.

The Worst Of The Worst:

My only "F" read of the year belongs to The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers by Lilian Jackson Braun. The worst part is that it's all my fault. I was a teenager when I started reading this series, and I still firmly believe that the very early novels are pitch perfect examples of cozy mystery writing. But frankly? The books haven't been readable in the last decade. I finally got to the point where I stopped buying them, but damn my job, I keep borrowing them from work. The characters now display as much range of emotion as a Stepford wife and the "mysteries" are a joke (half the time I'm lucky to get a motive). Stop Wendy. Just stop already. If it is possible for nostalgia to kill a person you've got one foot in the grave.

The Dishonorable Mentions:

Bad As She Wants To Be by Thea Devine - I can't help. I like Thea Devine. When she's "on" she writes some of the best trashy soap opera books out there. When she's "off?" Well it's just painful. I originally graded this a C, but I must have been drunk at the time, because it truly falls into my D territory. I found the book readable (Devine's writing excesses are reined in considerably), but the indiscriminate sex just got really icky after a while, even though it was all rather nondescript. I'd like to see Devine return to her roots. Maybe do an over-the-top Victorian like her earlier Bravas, or return to the American south like in Desired (my personal favorite). As it is, her foray into contemporaries isn't really working for me.

His Boots Under Her Bed by Ana Leigh - Think of every bad cliche you've ever read in a western romance and you'll find it in this third book of Leigh's Fraser series. Long lost gold mine? Check. Hero spying the heroine while bathing? Check. Heroine who enables a useless relative? Check. Hero who thinks the heroine is a lying whore? Check. My eyes bleeding? Check.

For A Few Demons More by Kim Harrison - AKA The Book I Thought I'd Never Finish. Every mystery series I ever got hooked on was because I picked up one of the books out of order. I followed the back story just fine, loved the book, went back and read the rest. Mystery authors seem to be able to handle this, so how come so many romance and urban fantasy authors are incapable? I spent the entire 450+ pages of For A Few Demons More confused out of my mind. I am a bit thick sometimes, but I'm not that dense. I had to read reviews of all the previous books just so I could figure out who all the characters were, their place in the universe and why I should either 1) love them or 2) hate them. That's wrong. So very, very wrong. I've never been happier to finish a book in my life, and upon reading the last page I chucked the ARC straight into the trash can and weeded the first book in the series out of my TBR. Series that can't be understood out of order is easily my biggest pet peeve. To add insult to injury, this book was the author's leap into hard cover. How many unsuspecting newbies picked up this shiny hard cover at the library or bookstore only to have the same frustrating experience that I did?

And that's it! The reading year that was 2007! Looking back it was kind of a rough year for me, between slumping and reviewer burn out, but I'm feeling positively revitalized with the promise of the new year. Stick around, who knows what treasures I'll unearth from the Mt. TBR Pile.


Andrea said...

My favourite part of the new year is reading people's reviews of their best and worst reads :D Thanks for posting your list!

Cathy in AK said...

The only drek I recall (though I'm sure I read more and merely blocked them out) was a recent 50 cent purchase from a thrift store. Mary Sue damaged heroine, angsty damaged ex-army dude, cartoon villain, doing-it-for-her-own-good domineering father and still-at-home-in-their-30s brothers the heroine takes care of...Gah! The biggest waste of 50 cents in my life.

RandomRanter said...

I am in total agreement that a good series can be picked up anywhere, and bad or average ones - it shows quickly.

Wendy said...

Cathy: Most of my dreck reading came from my reviewing stint. I'm thinking that I since I've resigned I'll see my DNF numbers go way, way up. If I was assigned to review it, I felt obligated to finish the book. No matter how profusely my eyes were bleeding.....

Andrea: I love reading these lists too - that's why I post 'em!

Random: I just finished a cozy mystery today, the second book in a series, and got hooked. So it's not mission impossible.

Sherry Thomas said...

I continue to be amazed that people will read unsatisfactory books past 3 chapters. I don't make it past three pages sometimes--and it doesn't even have to be bad. A book doesn't grab me, it's gone.

BTW, am in the middle of Heartsick, thank to your recommendation. It's great.

Wendy said...

Sherry: Outside of the Cat Who book (that's just me not being able to let go), all of my dreck this year came from reviewing. Reviewing it = me feeling obligated to finish it. Since I'm not longer reviewing in an official capacity, I'm hoping I don't have a 2008 Dreck post at all! But now I'm wondering if I should keep track of my DNFs (I currently don't).

And I'm glad you're enjoying Heartsick!

Kate Diamond said...

I read drek, too... but none of the books that you did. Oh, dear. What does that say about 2007?

Glass half full: also read some absolutely excellent books. And it's a new year. So who knows wshat 2008 will bring? (Other than a new Eloisa James--yay!)