Image Description: a red circular table with a red heart-shaped-box of chocolates next to a small red square-shaped glass-vase with pink and white roses inside the vase.
I’ve been in a Reading Slump for a while now, which has resulted in me developing the habit of lurking on YouTube and watching videos of books I’ll probably never read (I’m so far behind on the new, at this point I’m giving up entirely on keeping with new releases), one of the YouTube Channels I’ve been lurking on recently is Katrina @ Little Book Owl, as I said before, I’ve been in a Reading Slump for a while now, which has made it difficult to write posts like this, and I feel as though I’m just repeating myself at this point, but I figured I’d give it a go anyway.
1. The awkward first date – a book where something felt off. It wasn’t a bad book, but lacked that spark for you.
Image Description: book cover of Like A House On Fire by Cate Kennedy. The cover has a black fleur-de-lis wallpaper-like background, with the title of the book in white text taking up most of the foreground. There’s a gray electrical cord snaking across the L in Like, there’s a gilded picture frame around the letter A, there is a white oval-shaped serving platter in place of an O in the word House, there’s a vase of wilting red tulips and a split cup of tea or coffee down the bottom of the cover.
My PWE teachers rave about Cate Kennedy, they use her short stories in the university readers at any given opportunity and I’ll admit I did like a few of the short stories contained in this anthology (and a couple of her other short stories which aren’t included here). I can see this book being popular or being widely read by literary types with an interest in Australian Literature.
The thing is that I don’t know if this is just a generational thing, or it’s a just me, but this is definitely a book that doesn’t sit well with me. I dislike how Cate Kennedy handles the complicated and multi-faceted situations and circumstances surrounding the topics of women, children and motherhood. The depictions of motherhood (or the lack of it) weren’t outright offensive but I would consider them shallow (and perhaps problematic), which I suppose could be a reasonable assessment as it’s a short-story collection.
2. The cheap first date – book that turned out less than you expected
Image Description: book cover of Red Phoenix by Kylie Chan. The book cover is red in colour with a silhouette picture of a person in a martial arts pose up the the top and a a silhouette picture of London Bridge down the bottom
It’s called Red Phoenix, but it has almost nothing to do with the character it’s named after and, in short, it’s a hot mess. It’s why I won’t be finishing the rest of series, or read any of Kylie Chan’s other books, however, I accidentally converted my mother-in-law into reading this series and she seems to enjoy them *shrugs* so maybe this is just me.
The Dark Heavens series started out alright but began to fall apart in this book, the annoying elements were amplified, worse elements were added like how all the men (with the exception of Leo because he’s gay) wanted to bang Emma, despite having pretty much no personality. The plot became non-existent and thus it became tedious and boring, this is because the author chose to focus on stuff that wasn’t interesting (like all the men wanting to bang Emma) and not on things could have been genuinely interesting.
Such as the family dynamic between Tiger and his son, who is now a bodyguard to John’s daughter. If, as an author, you’re going to take a step back from the plot and place a bigger focus on the characters (which is fine if done well), these characters need to be interesting or engaging (preferably both) and none of the characters met this criteria.
3. Well-prepared first date – better than expected
Image Description: The book cover of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. The cover is a picture of a red-brick alley-way with a red-tile flooring, at the end of the alley-way is the black silhouette of a tall man in trench over-coat with his back towards the viewer.
To be honest, I thought The Cuckoo’s Calling was a bit meh, it was an alright beginning to a new series but nothing to rave about, so as result I began The Silkworm with low expectations, however, I thoroughly enjoyed The Silkworm, now this may be due to cognitive bias as Cormoran Strike is investigating the disappearance and murder of a writer, but I enjoyed it.
I reviewed this book on my other blog and I felt that there were a lot of problems hiding behind this gorgeous cover, I got to a point where I was so sick of it, I was relieved to finally finish the review, that way I would never need to think about this book again. The worst part is that everyone seems to love this book, which just amplifies the confusion.
5. Blind date – book you picked up not knowing anything about it
Image Description: The book cover of The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. The background is an olive-green colour, in the foreground is an apothecary-style bottle with a short neck, inside the apothecary-style bottle is blue-red liquid and a young adolescent girl crouched with her knees pinned to her chest inside the bottle.
I picked up this book, purely because of the cover, which I later regretted as the book turned out to be considerably mediocre, it adds nothing new to the genre as far as I’m concerned and there’s some problematic elements of sexism and internalized misogyny involved as well. So, let it be known that literally judging a book by its cover will also result in regrets.
6. Speed dating – book you read super fast
Image Description: book cover of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. A red building, red doorway-arch and red door, there is a the imprint of a large hand burned into the right-side of the red-doorway-arch with grey-blue cobblestone/slate-rock on the ground.
I was glued to the pages of Daughter of Smoke and Bone (as well as the second book in the trilogy Days of Blood and Starlight), the book has some cliché and problematic elements like a Female Protagonist with Special Snowflake Syndrome and Super Dramatic Angsty/Wangsty Romance with Much Older Male-Character (its justified in-universe, but Authors, could you please stop doing this? It’s creepy. Thank you), however, despite those problems (Karou and Akira’s relationship can get eye-rolly at some points), I definitely enjoyed the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and I’m happy to recommend the trilogy.
7. The rebound – a book you read too soon after a book hangover and it kind of ruined the book for you
Image Description: book-cover of Matched by Ally Condie. The cover has a grey-beige background with a green bubble taking up the top one-third of the cover, inside the green bubble is an adolescent female with brown hair, wearing a bright green dress, she is posed as though she is trying to get out of the green bubble that surrounds her. The Text underneath is “WATCHED BY SOCIETY. TRAPPED BY RULES. FREED BY LOVE?” with the book’s title written underneath in large capital letters and a pink font.
I read this book and Divergent close together, which was a bad idea, reading mediocre Dystopian novels in quick secession highlights the mediocrity. I picked up this book because I liked the cover and I was intrigued by the premise (yes, I read the blurb for this one, I learnt my lesson), but the book doesn’t live up to the premise, the main protagonist suffers from what I like to call “Female Protagonist Problems”, more specifically “Bella Swan Syndrome”.
While Cassie isn’t a sociopath like Bella, there’s definitely a lack of personality and/or emotions in her character, she doesn’t seem to feel very much, which could have been an interesting case of Alexithymia, but I suspect it wasn’t done intentionally. Cassie is a bland self-insert character with pretty much no description of herself (with the exception of plot-orientated eye-colour) or interests outside of her romantic object of affection, as a result, she is super boring, it’s also why it’s completely unbelievable that she has two guys fighting over her (I despise Love Triangles).
Then there’s the world building, or perhaps the lack there of it, the author fails to take into consideration a lot of factors that would influence this world, while there are many examples I could use, I’ll just stick to one example such as LGBTQIA+ people. How the society goes about finding appropriate statistical matches for the people who fit under the incredibly diverse umbrella-term of LGBTQIA+ (let alone doing it without coming across as being an arse-hole) is never addressed. In fact, there are no mentions of the LGBTQIA+ community at all, it’s like they’ve never existed. That’s super creepy, but the worst part is that I don’t think this was an intentional move on the author’s behalf, I think she just didn’t think about the deeper ramifications of her world building.
I know it’s supposed to be a Dystopian novel that centers around a glorified breeding program, but the author couldn’t even explain how past-problems have been resolved, there’s no mention of teenage pregnancy, there’s no discussion of infertility or sterilization (does IVF still exist? Are Foster Parents still required? Does the Adoption process still exist? Who knows, it’s never brought up). I have no idea why this book even exists, let alone comprehend why people enjoy it.
8. Overly enthusiastic date – a book that felt like it was trying too hard
Image Description: book cover of Divergent by Veronica Roth. This is the movie tie-in version with an adolescent female (Tris) positioned with her back towards the male character (Four), who is crouching, they essentially standing/crouching back to back on a roof top facing different directions but both of them are looking towards the viewer. They are surrounded by derelict sky-scrappers.
I felt that Divergent was trying too hard to be a combination of The Hunger Games and the Harry Potter series, with the flaws of both series but none of the positives.The Hunger Games flaws it has perpetuated are bland self-insert character with pretty much no description of herself and the Harry Potter series problem of poor or inadequate world-building the author hasn’t acknowledged or addressed (for example: What category does an Engineer fall into? Because they certainly need a few of them).
On the plus side, Divergent has no Love Triangles, so that’s something, but as a Book Reviewer, I feel that Authors don’t deserve a gold star for refraining to use shitty plot-devices. In saying that, Tris and Four’s relationship is a welcome change from the relationships typically found in Dystopian Young Adult Novels (*cough* Red Rising Trilogy *cough*), although once again I feel that Authors don’t deserve a gold star for refraining to romanticise a problematic or abusive relationships between minors or involving minors (Authors aren’t supposed to romanticise a problematic or abusive relationships in general but clearly that’s still a problem).
Divergent’s main flaw is that was trying to hit all the right marketable “Young Adult” buttons, that it results in nothing interesting happening for the majority of the novel, and I suppose I’d rather be offended then bored.
9. The perfect first date – book that did everything right for you
Image Description: book-cover of A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. The cover has a white background, in the foreground is the black silhouette of a male character wearing a coat in various shades of red. On the ground, the male character is standing on multiple overlapping circles (black, white, red, and grey), it looks as though his feet are standing on the red and grey circles.
I reviewed this book on my other blog, and to be honest, there’s not much else I can say, I just enjoyed it immensely and I cannot praise V.E. Schwab enough.
10. Humiliating first date – book you’re embarrassed to admit you liked/ embarrassed to see reading in public for whatever reason
Image Description: The book-cover of A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole (text is in red). In the background of the cover is an image of the moon against a blue background, in the foreground is a couple embracing. The male (dark clothes and black hair) is embracing a blonde woman (who is positioned with her back facing towards the audience so her long blonde hair can cascade down her hair).
It’s a Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance series, A Hunger Like No Other is technically the second book in the series but as I didn’t particularly like A Warlord Wants Forever I’m not going to recommend it, the series definitely plays the long-term game in terms of plot, but I enjoy it. I don’t like all the books in the series, however, I have read all the books in the series thus far. And yes, I’m well aware it’s trashy and a couple of the books (okay, fine I’ll be honest, more than a couple) have some… problematic elements to them (I can’t stand Dreams of a Dark Warrior, but due to its significance with regards to the plot, it can’t be skipped, unfortunately).
It’s a quick and easy read if you’re currently in a slump like I am. What I hate the most is that the publishers are changing the trashy covers, you know, trying to make them more subtle and stuff. Although the trashy covers are one of the reasons I’m inclined to review Romance books on my other blog, the changing of the covers is stupid idea (did they even ask the readers?) because then they don’t match the rest of my books and changing the covers defeats the entire purpose, as far as I’m concerned, the covers are supposed to be trashy (the cover serves a purpose).
So yeah, leave me a link in the comments section if you want to participate and I’ll check out your post. What you think about the books I mentioned? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let me know in the comments section.