If you missed last week’s post, I’ve already done the opposite of this, Books I Love: ABC Edition. Just so you don’t think I’m always negative. Like the last post, I’m picking books I haven’t really mentioned before on my blog.
For the record, this blog title may be a bit dramatic. Many of these books I don’t hate, and instead I just really didn’t like. Mainly, my criteria is any book I rated two stars or lower on Goodreads. Also, suffice it to say, some of these opinions might be highly unpopular!
Adele & the Beast: The Most Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (Adele Blanc-Sec #1) by Jacques Tardi
Genre: French, Comic, Historical, Adventure
A few years ago, I had the chance to see the French movie called The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec. I absolutely fell in love with the movie, and have since bought it. When I learned that it was based on a French comic book series, I knew I had to read it. But, to be honest, I hated it. The story follows the series namesake, Adele Blanc-Sec, during the Edwardian era as she has all these amazing adventures (from finding mummies to chasing pterodactyls, etc.). The Adele in the movie is eccentric and endearing, whereas in the comic, she is egotistical and crass. In the movie, the jokes are perfect and in the comic they feel crude and shallow. As you can guess by now, I was disappointed by this book.
The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1) by J.Y. Yang
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Novella, LGBTQ+
This book was so hyped and being obsessed with books based on Asian mythology, I knew I had to read it. But this book, which is only a little over 200 pages, made me want to DNF it multiple times. It follows twins Mokoya and Akeha, children of the Protector, ruler of this fantasy Asian kingdom. Meanwhile, a rebellion is growing against the Protectorate, and each child takes a different side. I could probably write a lot longer rant review for this book, but I don’t want to waste my time. The children start off as genderless and eventually choose their own gender. I don’t care about the author’s belief in this area, but when everyone is referred to as “they,” both singular and plural, it makes the book so confusing to read for the first half. Once the kids do get names and genders, I understood more of what was going on but I really hated the actions of all the characters. There was no one to root for.
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Claire+Sequels
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
This entire series falls in the category of books I didn’t really like (at least, the first three books, which is all I’ve read). I read the first book way before the movie came out, and before it became a popular book to hate. And I don’t hate the first book. I still like the introduction of the world. Some of the fantasy concepts are really interesting. However, the characters are all horrible and as the series continued, it became clear that this fantasy is really only a taboo romance in disguise. I kept hoping that the world would be developed further, but by Book 3 I gave up.
Deathless (Lenigrad Diptych #1) by Catherynne M. Valente
Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Mythology
In my defense, this book I was forced to read back in college in a Fantasy Novel course I took (out of which I only liked one book we read). This book is set during Stalin’s reign in Russia, when Marya, a young women, is chosen to be Koschei the Deathless’s bride. It’s a dark book, balancing twisted mythology with real historical horrors going on in Russia during the time. There were so many reasons why I couldn’t stand this book. First, it takes a pessimistic view of everything (war, people, marriage, etc.). Second, every character is out for themselves. There is no self-awareness. The story has some interesting ideas, but you couldn’t pay me to read it again. And, if I hadn’t been forced to read it for a class, I probably would have DNFed it.
Eleanor: Crown Jewel of Aquitaine (The Royal Diaries) by Kristiana Gregory
Genre: Children’s, historical, fiction
The Royal Diaries series was one of my favorite books series back was I was eleven or so. Each book takes on a real female figure in history (including Cleopatra, Isabel of Spain, Anastasia, Mary Queen of Scots, etc.) and creates their fictionalized journal when they were young (usually ages 13 to 15). This one follows Eleanor of Aquitaine, probably most famous in history for being the mother of Richard I and John (yes, the same found in Robin Hood). Usually, I loved this series of books, even though they aren’t really that historical accurate. But I hated this one! They made Eleanor into a shallow, simpering, manipulative fool who didn’t do anything interesting. Because of the portrayal of her character, I couldn’t enjoy this book.
Falling Through Time (Scarab #1) by Helen Allan
Genre: Indie, Fantasy, Romance, Historical
This book was free on Amazon, and an indie book, which makes me feel even worse that I really disliked it. Here’s an except of my review from Goodreads: “I felt like this could have been a pretty good book, if not for the main character and the horrible historical context. When I read the premise, I was intrigued…However, I was still disappointed. Megan was annoying at best and cliched and intolerable at worse. The book gave more emphasis to meeting Franklin (and the ensuing romance) and Megan wanting to do something with her life than to any substantial plot. It felt slow-moving, and the book isn’t even long to begin with. It felt as if everyone was a modern, shallow character. There was no delving into actual ancient Egyptian history, or even that of the wartime era Egypt. It seemed as if the author wanted to write this story and was like, ‘Where should I set this? Egypt? Well, I know nothing about Egypt except from watching The Mummy, but let’s do it!'” So, yes, this book was pretty bad.
The Girl Who Knew Too Much (Burning Cove #1) by Amanda Quick
Genre: Romance, Mystery, Historical
Okay, so with this one it’s entirely my fault for not doing enough research on this book or its author. Clearly Amanda Quick is a romance novelist who doesn’t know anything about writing a convincing murder mystery. I read this assuming it would be a historical mystery with some light romance, but instead the story devolved into a romantic, cliched erotica which didn’t at all fit with the motivations of the characters or the mystery itself. And the mystery wasn’t horrible, but then it wasn’t really the focus for the majority of the book, which was a pity.
Hanna’s Daughters by Marianne Fredricksson
Genre: Swedish, historical fiction
So, this book I read a long time ago (like 2012), so the details of why I disliked the book are fuzzy. Originally a Swedish book which was translated into English, this story follows Anna as she returns home to visit her mother after her grandmother, Hanna, has died, and learns about both her mother and her grandmother’s past. I remember being extremely bored by this book as well as not enjoying the characters. But, since I read it so long ago (and my tastes have changed drastically during that time), I might actually enjoy it more now.
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
Genre: Historical fiction, Adult
I love historical fiction, so it made sense to me that I probably would like this book. I didn’t. I actually did a full review, which you can read here, if you’re curious. Basically, this story is the fictionalized life of Anna Anderson, who claimed for years to be Anastasia, the last princess of Russia. This book was so difficult to get through and there was so much which could have been good but just failed in this book. But, again, if you want to get a more detailed description of all my problems with it, check out my full review.
There were no books on my Goodreads below 4 stars. Wow, J is my new lucky first letter book title (that’s a mouthful).
A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
Genre: YA, Romance, Fairytale Retelling
I read this book just after it came out, so at least a decade ago, and I still remember how horrible this book is. It’s about a modern boy who stumbles into an abandoned castle and finds a sleeping princess. His reaction: kiss her against her will, of course. And then, when she wakes up, he has to teach her how to behave in a modern society. This book is so cringy. The Sleeping Beauty is such a flat character and the romance is so weird. There is little good in this book. And I still vividly remember how much I disliked it, even a decade later!
The Land that Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Genre: Classic, Fantasy, Adventure, Science Fiction
I love the Lost World genre! I seriously can’t get enough of the idea that a lost world might be out there. And yet I hated this book! Not only were the characters ridiculous stereotypes, but we don’t actually get to the island until the very end of the book. Most of the story follows people on a ship during WWI. But, personally, I just don’t think I like Burroughs’s writing style. I’ve tried reading the Tarzan books as well and I just could not get through even the first one. Apparently, The Princess of Mars is supposed to be really good, but I don’t know if I’ll like it.
A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan #1) by Julie McElwain
Genre: Historical, Fantasy, Mystery
Fun fact: this is the first book I ever reviewed on my blog. It follows FBI agent Kendra Donovan who gets transported back to 1815 and must solve a murder. My full thoughts can be found on my review here. But, basically, my criticisms can be summed up in one point. There is way too much going on this novel. It’s a romance, it’s a historical mystery, it’s a thriller, it’s a fantasy. There is just way too much going on, which is a pity, because I do like the idea of a modern detective going back in time and using modern methods to solve a crime.
Nicola and the Viscount by Meg Cabot
Genre: YA, historical, romance
This book is by the same author of The Princess Diaries, which is probably why I disliked it, because it has the same type of pathetic characters as Mia. Anyway, this and Victoria and the Rogue are very similar books (though personally I prefer that one over this one) which both tell about a young woman in the Regency era who are introduced into society and fall in love with both pretty horrible men. The plots are cliched, the characters feel modern, and the romance is highly inappropriate for that era. Do not expect a story like a Jane Austen novel. I’m not sure how anyone could claim this is a well-written book.
Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein
Genre: YA, Retelling, Historical
Again, this was the only book I disliked which started with an O, which is interesting. I thought I read more O books. Anyway, this is a retelling of Hamlet from Ophelia’s perspective. And it was pretty bad. I did a full review, if you’d like to pop over and read it here. The plot is boring, the ending felt forced, and I really disliked the romance. And don’t even get me started on how none of the characters felt similar to their Shakespeare counterparts. Though, I will say, I like the idea of telling a classic story from a different perspective.
Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell
Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime
A few years ago, I got super into the murders of Jack the Ripper in 1888. I was fascinated by the case, reading and watching multiple books and documentaries on the topic. But out of all the books I read, this one had to be the worst. The first part of the book is great, as Cornwell carefully lays out the facts of each murder. But when it gets to her theorizing of who the killer will be, she uses ridiculous logic which makes no sense to tie it to who she claims to be the true killer. I have read of many theories of who the killer is, and some of them are pretty ridiculous theories. And this one is right up there with the idea that Queen Victoria’s son was the real killer.
Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks
Genre: YA, historical fiction
This book examines the experience of children in the 1940s who grew in tuberculosis hospital wards. The story mostly follows teen Marie Curie as she goes to stay in a hospital with her brother, who has TB. The story idea was great, and though I read it over a decade ago, I remember I didn’t like the characters, the pacing, and I hated the ending. Since I read it so long ago, however, I probably should reread it to see if my opinion has changed. For all I know, I may love this book if I read it now.
Rapunzel: The One with All the Hair (Twice Upon a Time #1) by Wendy Mass
Genre: Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy, Children’s
I was probably about twelve when I bought this book and I actually really liked it. However, when I reread it at about seventeen or so, I hated it. As the title hints, it’s a retelling of Rapunzel from both the perspective of Rapunzel and the prince. The prince is a ridiculously pathetic character who can’t do anything right, and Rapunzel is annoying and clumsy. Though I did like a few of the background characters, and the idea was interesting, the execution was…not so good.
Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors
Genre: YA, retelling, romance
I mostly bought this book when it first came out because I love the cover. The plot follows Mimi and Troy (at least, I’m pretty sure his name was Troy) who are acting as Juliet and Romeo in a new play, only to stumble outside the theater and into the play itself, right before Romeo and Juliet meet. I loved the premise of this book, but the characters were really predictable and none of Shakespeare’s brilliant themes came through at all. And Mimi’s character was one of the most annoying protagonists I’ve probably ever read. She was so pathetic and forcibly relatable. Like, oh look, she’s clumsy, so you have to relate to her. But no, I didn’t. And don’t even get me started to how much they ruined Juliet’s character!
Tempest in the Tea Leaves (Fortune Teller Mystery #1) by Kari Lee Townsend
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Adult
I’ve read a lot of cozy mystery series, and even if I’m not a massive fan of the series, usually I don’t hate it. But this one breaks my rule. The story follows Sunny, a tea reader, who is drawn into a murder. I hated the main character, yes, but what I hated was the use of “magic”. In cozy mysteries, I want the stories to be realistic, not mixing divination with real life. Even the mystery itself wasn’t that good to me. There is usually something to like in every cozy mystery series, but not this one. Suffice it to say, I never continued on with this series.
Uglist (Uglies #1) by Scott Westerfield
Genre: YA, science fiction, fantasy
This might be a slightly unpopular opinion, because most people I know really enjoyed this book. But for me, it fell extremely flat. Not only did I hate the main character, but while the premise that everyone is ugly until they receive extensive plastic surgery is interesting, it’s really not developed in an interesting way in this book, in my opinion. And the ending really disappointed me. It has been a few years since I read this book, though, so my tastes might have changed since.
The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls #1) by Kristen Painter
Genre: Indie, Fantasy, Romance
I usually do not go for vampire romances, especially after reading Twilight. However, I read the synopsis of this book on Amazon and it looked very humorous. After Delaney witnesses a mobster kill someone, she goes into hiding and ends up changing places with a mail order bride going to a place called Nocturne Falls, where Halloween is celebrated 365 days a year. There, she meets her new fiancé, Hugh Ellingham, who just happens to be a vampire. I loved the beginning of this book, mostly because of the quirky writing style. But the romance is just so predictable and boring. I was disappointed, because the book started out so well.
Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatures by Ben Mezrich
Genre: Nonfiction, science, history
I might have mentioned this one on my blog before, but it was a long time ago. This is a nonfiction book documenting the quest to take a frozen Woolly Mammooth and bring it back to life. The main problem I had with this book was that the actual story of the mammoth only took up the last fifty pages of the book. The rest just focused on the backstory of all the scientists, who I honestly didn’t really care about. Why would I care if a certain scientist is divorced as long as he is doing sciency things? That’s not a word, but you get my point.
I haven’t read any X books I dislike. The only book I’ve read which begins with X is xxxHolic, which was on my favorite ABC list.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Genre: Short story, classic, gothic
Technically, this is a short story, not a book, but this was the only Y story on my Goodreads which I didn’t like. This book seems to be universally loved by all my college English professors, and I couldn’t have disliked it more. It tells of a young woman who is locked in her room by her husband and goes rather mad staring at the yellow wallpaper. It’s an extremely boring story and doesn’t have any interesting themes outside, oh, I don’t know, maybe don’t lock up your wife in her room for months.
Zombies of Byzantium by Sean Munger
Genre: Historical fiction, horror
I came across this book in the library years ago, when I was going through my zombie fascination stage. And I’m pretty sure this book was the one which made me avoid most zombie books afterwards. It’s supposed to be historical, set during the Byzantine Empire in 8th century AD. The emperor learns that zombies are going to attack them and you know what his reaction is, well, let’s get an army of zombies ourselves. It’s an absolutely ridiculous plot, and it doesn’t feel really that historical. And the ending is horrible! But, as I’ve been finding out recently, there are a lot of horrible books featuring zombies.
Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Did you have a different opinion from me? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,