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Worst Books of 2010

1 Jan

Unless it’s for an assignment, I usually try not to read books that I don’t like, but sometimes I just can’t help it (especially if I’ve spent money on it!). I try to keep telling myself it will get better or I force myself because it’s a classic and/or I want to compare it to the movie, etc. For whatever reason, I read and finished a few books this year that I didn’t really like all that much, and here they are.

Bottom Ten

1. The Bridgerton Series- by Julia Quinn. I stupidly bought the whole series of eight books because I’d read good things about this author on C19 and Julie is a fan and we usually have similar taste. I fell in love with Georgette Heyer and I thought I would like these too. I was sadly mistaken. While Heyer’s books were meticulously researched, these were not. It was almost like 21st century characters just set in a different time period. All of the siblings’ stories seemed to go remarkably similarly. They all had a pretty good premise- they seemed like they would be good in the beginning and just went downhill as I read further. The first book, The Duke and I, in particular, really made me uneasy. There was one scene in it that was nothing more than a rape to me and I swear if the gender roles were reversed, everyone would be crying foul. I won’t say more. Just a disappointment.

2. Doing It– by Melvin Burgess. It’s kind of like a British American Pie, but not really. It seemed funny at first but then it just got repetitive and boring. Some of the graphic scenes with young characters also made me uncomfortable. A friend at work lent this to me and highly recommended it…sadly I couldn’t share her enthusiasm.

3. Looking for Alaska– by John Green. Gah, I’ve been hearing everyone say how great an author John Green is and this book had a medal on it so I thought it would be good. I usually like YA novels but I couldn’t get into this one. I guess I don’t like the ones just about normal teens. I also found the character of Alaska, whom the protagonist is in love with, to just be beyond insufferable so I couldn’t get his obsession.

4. Lorna Doone– by R.D. Blackmore. Nothing like the exciting, action-packed miniseries. This was just 700 pages of John gushing over how perfect and beautiful Lorna was. Snore….

5. Middlemarch– by George Eliot. I forced myself to read this and Daniel Deronda. Both books were pretty hard to get through, but the miniseries were excellent!

6. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist– by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Borrowed from the same girl as Doing It. This one wasn’t any better. Quite a snoozer really. I’ve learned now that our tastes are just too different (she’s also a big Dickens fan!).

7. Oliver Twist– by Charles Dickens. I actually read fourof his books this year. Bleak House was half good (two different narrators), Little Dorrit was not, and A Tale of Two Cities was actually surprisingly decent. Oliver Twist makes the list because I haven’t seen an adaptation good enough to redeem the story for me. I had to finish it, as it’s been sitting with a bookmark at the halfway point for over four years now. I just had to get it over with.

8. Passenger to Frankfurt– by Agatha Christie. She was past her peak at 80 years old. I’m still not sure what this book was actually about. Something about a spy ring and lots and lots of the characters complaining about everything wrong in the world.

9. Sprig Muslin– by Georgette Heyer. Unfortunately, I didn’t love all the Heyer books I read. This one and Powder and Patch were duds. The Black Moth wasn’t very good either but she wrote it as a young teen so I’ll give her a pass.

10. The Way We Live Now– by Anthony Trollope. The story actually seemed pretty interesting but it was hard to enjoy because I didn’t really like any of the characters. The miniseries was really terrible too.

Honorable Mention: Matched– by Ally Condie. It wasn’t a bad book, by any means, but just underwhelming coming so soon after The Hunger Games. The writing style in the present tense was very similar and it didn’t work as well here because of the lack of action. I’ve also read The Giver as a child so this just wasn’t all that original, and the love triangle was pretty weak (getting pretty sick of that trope in YA). Still, it seems like it could be good setup for a trilogy. I should have known all of that going into it but I loved the cover so I ignored my own warnings. We’ll see how the rest of the series is!

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My Charles Dickens Ratings

20 May

Oh, Dickens…I am not a big fan of any of his books, but I tend to really like adaptations of the books. I just can’t get into his writing style. He is much too wordy- likes to write a few pages when a sentence would do just as well.

Dickens

The Pickwick Papers– I’ve actually only read the book but I have a version on DVD that I plan to read. It actually was pretty funny once I got about halfway through but it took forever to read. 6/10

Bleak House

Book- I liked the parts narrated by the protagonist, Esther, because they were much more to the point. Unfortunately, half the book, with an omniscient narrator, still uses Dickens’ usual wordy style. 6/10

1985- Actually pretty good production values for an 80s miniseries. Keeps pretty true to the book’s characters, but makes John Jarndyce too angry, and cuts some side stories out. Very sentimental. 7/10

2005- Darker and grittier. Esther made more assertive. Too much time spent on Richard/Ada snogging. Copied some stuff from 1985 that was not in the book…Andrew Davies again, oops! Still loved it. 9/10

Little Dorrit

Book- I liked Arthur Clennam but found Amy just a bit too saintly. Confusing back story. 6/10

2008- Andrew Davies humanized Amy a little more, which I liked. He tweaked the back story a bit but I don’t know if it actually made it less confusing. Fanny and John Trivery standouts. 9/10

The Old Curiosity Shop- I’ve not yet read the book but I’ve heard it’s beyond cheesy.

2007– Don’t waste your time. It’s way too rushed and just not that good.

Our Mutual Friend- Haven’t read this one either.

1999- Very good. More interested in Bella and John’s story than the saintly Lizzie and jerky Eugene with a rat above his lips. More understated and quiet than BH or LD- not as dark or dirty. 8/10

A Tale of Two Cities

Book- This one actually wasn’t as bad once I got into it. Unfortunately it took quite a few pages to get into it. Liked Sydney Carton. Found Charles and Lucie almost insipid. 7/10

1989- Liked Lucie more than in the book. 8/10

That’s all I’ve read/seen of Dickens work, besides various adaptations of A Christmas Carol, most notably the Muppet version when I was in grade school. I’m in no hurry to read that one or watch other versions of it.