A bagful of reviews: not my thing

I have a confession. I am one of those people who can put a book down, and leave it unfinished. Life’s too short to read a book that I’m not enjoying! I’ll put some commitment into it, but I’m also happy to admit defeat.

There’s a variety of reasons that I’ll stop reading a book. Sometimes, I’m simply not the right reader for the book. It’s no fault or slur on the writing or the writer; for whatever reason, I’m not into the world or the characters or the scenario – and that’s fine! Different people like different types of writing. I can pick up an excellent sci-fi novel, admit that it’s brilliant, and still not be interested. If a book doesn’t work with me despite a try, then that’s something I’ll accept.

And sometimes, the book is entirely at fault. The writing’s poor. The plot’s lacklustre. The characters are cliché. I usually succeed in turning my inner editor off when I read, but sometimes…*winces*. But that’s at the bottom end of the scale, and I am lucky that I haven’t encountered too many published books of this sort.

Generally, I’ve always been reluctant to leave reviews for books that I don’t like. To me, a review should do two things; the first is that it should highlight the good, and make the review reader want to read the book! And secondly, it should highlight any flaws as a warning, or a note to the author, or just to explain the star rating. If the book is genuinely awful (as in, “seriously, get yourself an editor pronto!” awful) then I can see the benefits of a bad review – it’s a genuine “don’t read this book”, it’s a warning and a lesson. But for something I personally didn’t like? The world has enough complainers without needing another voice in the corner.

However, I realised that I’ve read a fair bit recently that I do want to comment on, and potentially recommend – either as a good thing or as a warning! I do a lot of nice reviews for books that I’ve loved, and this is the other side. I do read books that I dislike, and I do read books that I don’t get on with. So! Starting with excellent, and down to mediocre…

The art of forgetting, rider Jo Hall’s Art of Forgetting; Rider and Art of Forgetting: Nomad. Both books are excellent writing – the plot’s strong and exciting, the characters are interesting and well-written. However, I just didn’t get into it. I can definitely see that the story would suit other people, and I highly recommend the books – I loved Spark & Carousel, so it is just these two that I don’t get on with! However, if you’re into strong fantasy and an epic storyline – read ’em read ’em read ’em!

What remains of heroes I did manage to finish What Remains of Heroes by David Benem, but for the life of me I can’t really remember much about it. It reminded me a little of The Copper Cat series, and it had some sort of vengeance-plot…I remember that I did like one of the main characters, because he’s a complete coward and hates people! Again, very good writing, and I think it would be an excellent read if you like the traditional swords’n’sorcery fantasy books. But for me…eh.

The Mages GraveThe Mages’ Grave by Timothy L. Cerepaka is another book that is well-written, and the plot’s good; it’s got some nice ideas that piqued my interest. One thing I can put my finger on is the style; it’s faintly chatty and slightly disconcerting! Again, I think that’s a personal thing – I didn’t get on with it but other readers may love it. The plot is a nice mix of adventure and character, at least from the sections I did read, so if you like magical with a more personal touch then give it a go.

Shadow over AvalonShadow over Avalon and The Sword of Shadows by C.N.Lesley – again, just not my thing. It’s a nice blend of legend and sci-fi, using Arthurian stories combined with modern science fiction and some interesting characters. But I just didn’t get the premise, didn’t get on with the writing, and ended up putting it down. If you’re into sci-fi and legend re-twists, I’d highly recommend it though!

And finally, The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan by Zig Zag Claybourne…I’ll be honest; I just don’t get this. It’s excellent writing and brilliant world-building, but…I just do not get it. If you like weird, wacky and the zingy writing style, then do it!

So, over to the mediocre. I don’t usually put 3-star or less reviews on books; I appreciate why they’re there, but I’ll usually only highlight that I enjoyed something. So I haven’t reviewed these, and won’t comment on them – I’m not even going to link to them! If you think it’s something you’d enjoy then please do look them up. Even for these, I’d give a 3- or 2-star review; none of them warrant a 1-star!

FERTS by Grace Hudson is well-written. However, the plot and world building seriously jarred with me, and I found elements very clichéd. I spent a lot of time questioning the characters and the structure – why on earth would everyone just happily agree to such a horrible scenario? Did no-one even question it? Is this post-apocalyptic or sci-fi? And the actual structure was incredibly confused in places; there are random time-jumps and ghostly abilities that make no sense. The ending was also incredibly irritating; the main character gets closure, but what about everyone else? It triggered my inner editor something fierce; I wanted to see other people, sort out what was going on behind the scenes, explore the reasons why the events had happened. It’s an ok book, as books go, but my goodness was it annoying.

The Call of the Herald by Brian Rathbone was, frankly, boring. The author’s on Twitter and makes very good dragon jokes, which had got my hopes up – but no, no dragons. No jokes about dragons. It’s a clichéd and standard story about a Chosen One with strange magical ability…*sigh*. Oh look, said Chosen One is leading an army. I really don’t care. Next book! However, again, the writing is ok – but if stories about Chosen Ones are your thing, go and read The Art of Forgetting instead!

And two that I barely even skimmed; Few Are Chosen by M.T McGuire and Eric Elmoor and the Gauntlet of Godric by Thomas A Meyers. Bluntly; just not my sort of thing!

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.