Friday, September 23, 2011

Those Books I Did Not Finish

For some reason, I’ve been running out of steam with some books lately.  Usually no matter how much I’m not enjoying a book, I will try to finish it both because I’m a completist and, well, I want to know how it ends.  Which is saying the same thing two ways.  I also refuse to turn off a hockey game before it’s over no matter the score.  It’s a weirdness, I know, but so it goes. 

I’m going to talk about a few of these books in this post partially because I want to know if any of you feel that I really need to finish them and partially because I don’t want to pick another copy up later and be really confused about why it seems familiar.  I actually did that this summer except that I finished the entire book before thinking ‘huh, this seemed so familiar.  Oh yeah, I read this book about ten years ago!’  It was an embarrassing moment.

First up:

Sean Griswold’s Head
by Lindsey Leavitt

After a couple of reviews around the blogosphere, I seriously wanted to read and love this book.  The heroine sounded charming, and I always like to find another good contemporary read to pass on.  And it’s true, the heroine was charming; I adored her best friend.  The only problem is that I somehow missed that Payton’s issues - and her fixation on a certain head - are rooted in her dad’s diagnosis of MS., I just can’t do it.  My dad died after an out of the blue diagnosis, and while it was a good while ago, I still have a really hard time reading about fathers getting ill.  I tried to push through it but between that and the fact that Payton’s really close to her dad...yeah, not going to happen.  I’m disappointed though and slightly annoyed with myself for letting this keep me from reading what seems like a good book!

by Angie Frazier

I waited for months for this book to finally arrive on inter-library loan.  I was excited about the historical setting plus Australia plus ships and magic and fiesty heroines.  What happened here is that I got bored.  I’m not sure why!  A secret map plus a shipwreck and treasure and a handsome boy should be enough to keep me going, but for some reason, I just couldn’t connect to Camille’s character and so about halfway through, I set the book down.

Should I keep going?  Is the end amazing?  I know its gotten a lot of love, and people whose opinions I usually agree with liked it a lot.  I’m frustrated that it’s not keeping my attention after I wanted to read it so badly!

The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #1)
By Maryrose Wood

This book fell victim to my lack of time over the past few weeks, and the return date to the library arrived before I managed to read more than a hundred pages.  But I’m pretty sure I’ll be checking it out again.

The narrative style of this charming book felt like a cross between Lemony Snicket and the narrator of Miss Austen’s Northanger Abbey...which admittedly is a weird comparison, but it really does!   I was amused by the very dry and slightly mocking tone of the narrator while enjoying the ‘gothic’ set up - a (very) young governess traveling by herself to a lonely mansion filled with taciturn retainers, a mistress who’s concealing a secret, and an odd howling from the outside...

Before Versailles: A Novel of Louis XIV
by Karleen Koen

I’m still telling myself I’m just stalled on this book.  I’ve adored Koen’s earlier books especially Through a Glass Darkly and Now Face to Face which were about 18th century England, the Court of George I and II, the American Colonies, Palladian architecture, and such a gorgeous love story.  I’ve read Through the Glass Darkly at least 10 times - and since the 18th century was my major period of focus in my history degree, I’m picky about my 18th century fiction.

But Before Versailles seems to lack a certain joy that Koen’s previous books contain.  Perhaps it’s the framing device that tells us what’s going to happen before it does or perhaps its that each of the characters seems like a stock figure - a doll picked up out of a box and set in a gilded dollhouse.  They’re all gorgeously dressed dolls for certain, but other than the King himself, none of them seem to have much of a spark of life.

It’s disappointing!  It feels more like the author thought ‘and now I should write my book about Louis XIV’ instead of really being inspired to write in his time period and court.  I was really looking forward to a book about a young Louis XIV and Henrietta Stuart, Charles II's baby sister.

So there's my list of shame: those books I haven't managed to finish over the past few weeks.  My other list of shame would be longer (those books I haven't written a review for yet), but I'm still looking at that as a "to do" list.

Have any of you read these?  Should I make a point to pick any of them back up?  What do you guys do when you get to a book that you're just not enjoying?  Is life too short to keep reading?


  1. New layout? I like it!

    Also, I don't blame you for not finishing "Sean Griswold's Head" - why read something that will trigger bad memories?

    I haven't read any of these but that's too bad about Before Versailles. I loved Through a Glass Darkly and Now Face to Face. Actually, no the first time through I didn't know there was a sequel to Through a Glass Darkly, and it ends on a cliff hanger and I was so angry! Until I figured out there was a second book. :-) (What can I say, I read this when the internet was not what it is today, or I would have checked right off to see if there was a sequel!)

  2. @Maggie Yes! Thank you! I futzed around with it this weekend so I could add pages at the top. I still need to make/find a header.

    AHAHA, I didn't know about Now Face to Face either! And it made me so mad! That seems like such a long time ago. For another perspective on Before Versailles, I gave it to my mom, and she read the whole thing and said it 'wasn't bad.' But no matter what, it's nothing like the earlier books!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I read and adore each one.