March Book Madness! Day 13, 21 Books I could not finish for the life of me

Depiction of the Doldrums in The Phantom Tollbooth (1970)

It turns out I love making lists! It is a welcome invitation for me to sit down and sort out what I value. Plus, I like the variety. Sadly, today is a list of books I didn’t care enough to finish. It was difficult to find these! I rarely do not finish books. Sometimes though, I can’t force myself to read the whole thing. 

I left links for all these books. I’ll post the book details but won’t give too much info. I mean, I didn’t like them. Usually, they either bored me out of mind or had content I found questionable.

To the list!

Bookish and the Beast, Ashley Poston (2020)

Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.

When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.

But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts. 

Why I read it: I saw several people online give it a good review so I wanted to give it a try.

Why I didn’t Finish: Bookish and the Beast is my latest rejection. I got five chapters into it and couldn’t finish. I didn’t like the characters. Some of them made me uncomfortable, and the writing was all tell and no show. I got sick of hearing the whining. Anyway, this was not my type of fairytale retelling. 

The Melancholy of Mechagirl, Catherynne M. Valente (2013)

Science fiction and fantasy stories about Japan by the multiple-award winning author and New York Times best seller Catherynne M. Valente. A collection of some of Catherynne Valente’s most admired stories, including the Hugo Award-nominated novella “Silently and Very Fast” and the Locus Award finalist “13 Ways of Looking at Space/Time,” with a brand-new long story to anchor the collection.

Why I Read it: I love Valente’s Fairyland Series and her Orphan’s Tales books. I saw she had this collection of short stories online and bought the book.

Why I Didn’t Finish: The first poem was too sad and had swearing. Then the subsequent stories featured sexual abuse. After a few of the short stories I couldn’t finish. Honestly, it was not a bad book. Just too much for me. It has a lot of sensitive topics and language.

Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (2018)

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy. 

Why I Read it: I loved the cover and read a lot of good reviews on Goodreads.

Why I Didn’t Finish: I get tired of dystopian, rise up against the oppressive King/State books. So, I started reading it and I grew bored within a few chapters. I started guessing important plot points too easy. There it is. Adeyemi is an amazing writer but unfortunately I’ve read too many stories like this before.

Endless Night, Agatha Christie (1967)

Gipsy’s Acre was a truly beautiful upland site with views out to sea – and in Michael Rogers it stirred a child-like fantasy. There, amongst the dark fir trees, he planned to build a house, find a girl and live happily ever after. Yet, as he left the village, a shadow of menace hung over the land. For this was the place where accidents happened. Perhaps Michael should have heeded the locals’ warnings: ‘There’s no luck for them as meddles with Gipsy’s Acre.’ Michael Rogers is a man who is about to learn the true meaning of the old saying ‘In my end is my beginning.

Why I Read it: Easy. I love Agatha Christie. I read Endless Night on my Christie reading spree two years ago.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Halfway through the book, I had a horrible feeling something terrible was going to happen. For the first time, I looked up the ending for the book after I returned it. I was right. The story was too disturbing for me. On the flip side, this might be someone else’s favorite because, as always, Christie is one of the best writers to have ever lived.

Hunted, Meagan Spooner (2017)

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

Why I read it: I love Beauty and the Beast retellings. Plus, the cover is pretty.

Why I didn’t Finish: The characters. I didn’t like any of them ESPECIALLY the Beast. He was so abusive. I got half way through the book and couldn’t continue.

Rebel of the Sands, Alwyn Hamilton (2016)

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic.  For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.

Why I Read it: I like the cover and the magic system seemed unique.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Hmm, it was as much dislike as it was ambivalence. The story wasn’t engaging enough even while reading and walking to work. In fact, I forgot I started it, and a year later I found it under a pile of other books I bought. I don’t remember too much beyond that.

Many Waters, Madeleine L’Engle (1986)

Sandy and Dennys have always been the normal, run-of-the-mill ones in the extraodinary Murry family. They garden, make an occasional A in school, and play baseball. Nothing especially interesting has happened to the twins until they accidentally interrupt their father’s experiment.

Then the two boys are thrown across time and space. They find themselves alone in the desert, where, if they believe in unicorns, they can find unicorns, and whether they believe or not, mammoths and manticores will find them.

The twins are rescued by Japheth, a man from the nearby oasis, but before he can bring them to safety, Dennys gets lost. Each boy is quickly embroiled in the conflicts of this time and place, whose populations includes winged seraphim, a few stray mythic beasts, perilous and beautiful nephilim, and small, long lived humans who consider Sandy and Dennys giants. The boys find they have more to do in the oasis than simply getting themselves home–they have to reunite an estranged father and son, but it won’t be easy, especially when the son is named Noah and he’s about to start building a boat in the desert.

Why I Read it: I love The Wrinkle in Time Trilogy L’Engle previously wrote, so I was excited to read a book finally about the twins in the Murry family.

Why I Didn’t Finish: The setting and story was too strange. I have never in my life thought Noah and his family were small humans living on a paradise island.

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times, Emma Trevayne (2014)

Ten-year-old Jack Foster has stepped through a doorway and into quite a different London.

Londinium is a smoky, dark, and dangerous place, home to mischievous metal fairies and fearsome clockwork dragons that breathe scalding steam. The people wear goggles to protect their eyes, brass grill insets in their nostrils to filter air, or mechanical limbs to replace missing ones.

Over it all rules the Lady, and the Lady has demanded a new son—a perfect flesh-and-blood child. She has chosen Jack.

Jack’s wonder at the magic and steam-powered marvels in Londinium lasts until he learns he is the pawn in a very dangerous game. The consequences are deadly, and his only hope of escape, of returning home, lies with a legendary clockwork bird.

The Gearwing grants wishes—or it did, before it was broken—before it was killed. But some things don’t stay dead forever

Why I Read it: I love steampunk based books! I saw this cover in Hastings and thought. Yep, this is my type of book.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Trevayne hardly ever talked about machinery or history. So sad. I barely remember starting it and I might have fallen asleep reading it.

Half World, Hiromi Goto (2009)

Melanie Tamaki is human—but her parents aren’t. They are from Half World, a Limbo between our world and the afterlife, and her father is still there. When her mother disappears, Melanie must follow her to Half World—and neither of them may return alive.

Why I Read it: It was a book recommendation on Amazon. Because I like manga and anime, I bought it.

Why I Didn’t Finish: I hated Goto’s view of the afterlife. I kept having nightmares about it and decided mid-book I couldn’t finish. Though I didn’t like it, I do think it was a matter of taste rather than of quality. I could tell Goto is a good writer.

Heart’s Blood, Juliet Marillier (2009)

Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious, wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.

Why I Read it: I love Juliet Marillier’s book Wildwood Dancing so I bought this book the week it came out.

Why I Didn’t Finish: The sex scene near end of the book threw me off. Plus the rape in one of the flashbacks was really disturbing.

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (1899)

Heart of Darkness, a novel by Joseph Conrad, was originally a three-part series in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1899. It is a story within a story, following a character named Charlie Marlow, who recounts his adventure to a group of men onboard an anchored ship. The story told is of his early life as a ferry boat captain. Although his job was to transport ivory downriver, Charlie develops an interest in investing an ivory procurement agent, Kurtz, who is employed by the government. Preceded by his reputation as a brilliant emissary of progress, Kurtz has now established himself as a god among the natives in “one of the darkest places on earth.” Marlow suspects something else of Kurtz: he has gone mad.

A reflection on corruptive European colonialism and a journey into the nightmare psyche of one of the corrupted, Heart of Darkness is considered one of the most influential works ever written.

Why I Read it: I had no choice. It was for school.

Why I Didn’t Finish: It was boring as dirt. I cheated and used Spark Notes to pass the quiz for school.

Skin Hunger, Kathleen Duey (2007)

Sadima lives in a world where magic has been banned, leaving poor villagers prey to fakes and charlatans. A magician stole her family’s few valuables and left Sadima’s mother to die on the day Sadima was born. But vestiges of magic are hidden in old rhymes and hearth tales and in people like Sadima, who conceals her silent communication with animals for fear of rejection and ridicule. When rumors of her gift reach Somiss, a young nobleman obsessed with restoring magic, he sends Franklin, his lifelong servant, to find her. Sadima’s joy at sharing her secret becomes love for the man she shares it with. But Franklin’s irrevocable bond to the brilliant and dangerous Somiss traps her, too, and she faces a heartbreaking decision. Centuries later magic has been restored, but it is available only to the wealthy and is strictly controlled by wizards within a sequestered academy of magic. Hahp, the expendable second son of a rich merchant, is forced into the academy and finds himself paired with Gerrard, a peasant boy inexplicably admitted with nine sons of privilege and wealth. Only one of the ten students will graduate — and the first academic requirement is survival. Sadima’s and Hahp’s worlds are separated by generations, but their lives are connected in surprising and powerful ways in this brilliant first book of Kathleen Duey’s dark, complex, and completely compelling trilogy.

Why I Read it: The cover and premise seemed interesting.

Why I Didn’t Finish: This book was disturbing. I felt my stomach churn several times within a few chapters. I gave it to my sister and several years later she told me about reading it and having the same experience. I felt bad about that.

The Kite Runner , Khaled Hosseini (2004)

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Why I Read it: My History Professor recommended it to me in Islamic History class.

Why I Didn’t Finish: So. I think this story is culturally important. However, child abuse and rape are subjects I can’t stomach. Plus, I didn’t feel the main character changed. I never grew to respect him.

Unwind, Neal Shusterman (2007)

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Why I Read it: The premise stood out to me on Amazon.

Why I Didn’t Finish: The story was slow. I didn’t attach to any of the characters or their problems.

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, Alison Goodman (2008)

Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye–an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.

But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.

When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic…and her life.

Why I Read it: My sister recommended it to me.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Attempted rape, masochism, and a series of other things. I did like Eona and cared about her future. But I didn’t care about the love triangle or political problems.

The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. Auel (1980)

A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly–she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.

Why I Read it: My mom bought it for me because I like Historical Fiction.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Near the beginning of the book there was an explicit sex scene. That and the writing was too stiff for me. If you are interested in Primeval History, this is a fascinating book to pick up. There is a reason it is so popular.

The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende (1982)

In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.

Why I Read it: My High School English teacher had it on her shelf and I liked the cover.

Why I Didn’t Finish: I made it through Blanca’s death and autopsy. I made it through her fiancé’s grief. But I drew the line after I read his continuous accounts of raping woman in the village area he took over. By then I had enough.

Moby Dick, Herman Melville (1851)

So Melville wrote of his masterpiece, one of the greatest works of imagination in literary history. In part, Moby-Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopaedia of whaling lore and legend, the book can be seen as part of its author’s lifelong meditation on America. Written with wonderfully redemptive humour, Moby-Dick is also a profound inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.

Why I Read it: I wanted to prove my sister wrong when she said it was boring and useless.

Why I Didn’t Finish: . . . It was really boring. I could barely make it through two chapters. Sorry Melville! I tried to stand up for you.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy (1891)

When Tess Durbeyfield is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D’Urbervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her ‘cousin’ Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future.

Why I Read it: I like Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. It’s one of my favorite classic novels.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Tess being raped and used sexually by the men in the book.

The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, Francesca Lia Block (2001)

With language that is both lyrical and distinctly her own, Francesca Lia Block turns nine fairy tales inside out.

Escaping the poisoned apple, Snow frees herself from possession to find the truth of love in an unexpected place.

A club girl from L.A., awakening from a long sleep to the memories of her past, finally finds release from its curse.

And Beauty learns that Beasts can understand more than men.

Within these singular, timeless landscapes, the brutal and the magical collide, and the heroine triumphs because of the strength she finds in a pen, a paintbrush, a lover, a friend, a mother, and finally, in herself.

Why I Read it: It had multiple fairytale retellings! How could I not.

Why I Didn’t Finish: Bestiality, sexual assault on a really tiny person, and homoeroticism were scattered throughout the few stories I could get through.

Sunshine, Robin McKinley (2003)

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind.

Until they found her…

Why I Read it: I like Robin McKinley. Her books for Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty were fun to read.

Why I Didn’t Finish: This has to be one of the slowest moving, dullest, anticlimactic vampire novels I have ever read. Nothing remotely interesting happened until 60 pages into the book. Then that was over within 20 pages and the main character went back to her boring life as if nothing happened.

Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow!

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