Where do the unfinished books go? Why here, of course.
It used to be that I would muscle my way through every book I started – even if it meant skimming my way to the end. I don’t do that anymore. With 500+ books on my tbr shelf I give the book the good ol’ college try, but I don’t finish every one of them. I thought I’d keep track of books I abandon and the reasons why here. Feel free to prod me if you think any of these books are worth revisiting.
After the Fire, A Still Small Voice – Evie Wyld 88/296
This book has been on my tbr shelf forever and I think it got quite a lot of buzz back when it first came out, but I just couldn’t settle into its deathly slow rhythms. I finally just had to give it up.
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – Joel Dicker 374/640
It’s a reasonable question to ask: why did you read 374 pages? Well, I probably would have kept going just to see how this whole mess was going to resolve itself, but the next page I got to after 374 was 407. I was already fairly annoyed with all the characters, especially the dialogue which was just irritatingly awkward…but when I came to the missing pages I just threw up my hands in defeat.
The Devil You Know – Elisabeth De Mariaffi 122/306
Set around the same time as Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka were captured, this story about a young reporter moved wayyyy too slow for me.
Although I wanted very much to like this novel, I just couldn’t settle into its narrative. It all felt like ‘tell.’
The Spider and the Fly – Claudia Rowe 88/276
Although I was super excited to read this book, the first 88 pages were such a slog that I finally gave up.
The Distant Echo – Val McDermid 48/404
My first McDermid book, but it just didn’t grab my attention the way I’d expect a mystery to. I mean the writing is good and everything, but let’s move it along. So, pass.
So Cold the River – Michael Koryta 126/508
I think there might have been potential in this ghost story about a creepy hotel a la Overlook, but it was just too s-l-o-w.
How Not to Let Go – Emily Foster 90/312
I was a fan of the first in this series, How Not to Fall, but I just didn’t groove to the next chapter in Annie and Charles’ sexual journey.
Daisy in Chains – Sharon Bolton 68/343
It sounded so good, on paper at least. Writer meets convicted serial killer who wants her help proving his innocence. It was well-reviewed, but I just couldn’t get into it.
A Stranger in the House – Shari Lapena 150/338
I bought this book at Shakespeare and Company in Paris. I needed something to read on the plane ride home. The writing is just so bad. Choppy. Repetitive. It’s all tell.
“Tom is tense and unhappy as he leaves the house the next morning. He’s put on jeans to go in to the office for a few hours to catch up on work on the weekend. (That sentence just makes no sense, but thank God he put on some pants.) He’s missed so much with Karen in the hospital. She seemed tired this morning.”
Beautiful Disaster – Jamie McGuire 160/416
I should have abandoned this book wayyyy before I did. I’ll admit that it initially appealed to my predilection for stories about good girls and bad boys, but this was just awful. I didn’t believe a single word that came out of the mouths of these characters. The whole premise was ridiculous (and not in a ‘oh, sure, I can suspend disbelief because everything else about this book is awesome’ sort of way.) The writing was just…a thousand times no. Had I known it was originally self published, I would have saved my money.
The Uninvited – Tim Wynne-Jones 70/359
Why I stopped: I was really looking forward to this book – although I can’t quite remember why now. I had to abandon it though because I just found it odd and slow and not, after all, my cup of tea.
Grief Girl – Erin Vincent 98/306
Why I stopped: It seems heartless to give up on a memoir about a girl who is just fourteen when her parents are involved in a horrific accident. Erin’s mother dies at the scene, but her father survives and seems to be making a recovery when, a month on, a blood clot passes through his heart and he dies. It’s heart-wrenching, for sure, but I found the writing a little plodding and I just couldn’t stick with it.
Why I stopped: Come on. The New York Times called this a “smart, propulsive, tightrope-walking mystery” but I was on page 71 and it was b-o-r-i-n-g. The characters were grating and unbelievable and I just lost interest.
Why I stopped: I really, really tried to get through this book because a couple boys from my 2012-13 grade ten English class wanted me to read it. But, try as I might, I just couldn’t muster enough enthusiasm to get through this wacky horror-comedy hybrid.
Why I stopped: Although girls in my 2012-13 grade 10 class gobbled this book up, I just couldn’t carry on. The whole thing just seemed so derivative – cookie cutter characters that were somehow familiar. Stands to reason: Cassandra Clare was a BFN (Big Fandom Name) a few years ago when she wrote – mostly – Harry Potter fanfiction under the name Cassie Clare. There was a huge kerfluffle surrounding her work and the fact that much of it was plagiarized.
Why I stopped: I knew early on that this was Christian fiction; God made an appearance on the first page. But then I thought, don’t be such a snob; give it a chance. But then when the two pastors were waiting on the front porch for the arrival of the prodigal son I just couldn’t go on. Blech.
Why I stopped: Seriously. Why is this even a book and why did I read 300 pages? It’s HORRIBLE. In every possible way. Poorly written, often non-sensical (how, exactly, does one clench their palms?), with so many instances of clunky exposition and laughable dialogue that I just…had to read out loud to my thirteen year old son. Never mind the dhampirs. OMG. And I thought Twilight was bad. I must do a post on the glut of vampire fiction because I am sure Bram Stoker and Joss Whedon are bent double with nausea.
Why I stopped: Not even my girlhood crush on Robby could compel me to read this “insiders” look at Hollywood. The ‘nudge, nudge; wink, wink’ approach to story telling probably works for people who get the joke, but pulling back the veil of Hollywood wasn’t all that interesting to me.
Why I stopped: I really wanted to like this book. I did. But in the end, it was just all over the place for me. Accolades aside, I just didn’t get it. And I ran out of patience.
Why I stopped: Hmm. First of all despite the claim that the girls who committed this crime are ‘infamous’, I’d never heard of them. I don’t read too much true crime anymore, but I’ve read enough to prefer that the story read like fiction. This is straight up ‘reporting’ which makes sense since the author was (is?) a reporter for the Toronto Star. The crime was cold-blooded; the sisters whacked, their friends heartless but none of it added up to too much.
Why I stopped: I wanted to like this book. The writer is clearly talented. The premise was intriguing: a young teacher begins an affair with the father of one of her students. His wife is well-known for having written the true-crime story of an adulterous affair gone horribly wrong. But then there’s this whole thing where animals retell the story of the affair and it was slow and all right, I give up.
Why I stopped: I probably should have given up on this book sooner than I did. It was a classic case of a three dressed up as a nine. The characters just weren’t believable (even though they were all beautiful and smart and amazing and damaged.) I felt like I was reading a gussied up Harlequin.
Why I stopped: Despite the subject matter, a journalist leaves the safety of his fiance and begins down a dark road of domination and submission, and despite the fact that Gary Kadat can write…this book was too slow moving for me.