Miniature reviews: Four books I haven’t finished and may abandon forever

Let’s chalk it up to the holidays. Between wrapping, buying, eating and visiting, I’ve found myself with very little time to read — and what I have been picking up? Well, nothing has grabbed my attention or heartstrings. Even Bet Me, which I’m almost halfway through, is not clicking with me. A few miniature reviews, but bear in mind that I’m probably in the minority of readers by abandoning (most) of these!

Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me
Where I stopped: Page 147

Okay, I feel bad about this one. Every review I’ve ever read for a Crusie novel has recommended Bet Me has her best and most enjoyable work and, after finishing Maybe This Time, I was intrigued. Plus, the reviews have all been stellar. It’s the story of Min, a “healthy” (read: chubby) actuary, and the man who made a bet that he could escort her out of a dingy bar: Cal, a womanizing businessman with a serious desire to please others.

It’s funny, light and humorous — but something turned me off here. Maybe it’s all the really, really annoying talk about Cal feeding Min and how she gets this “rapturous” look on her face when she bites into a donut. Um? I know the girl is starving herself to fit into a bridesmaid’s dress for her annoying little sister’s wedding, but come on. Donuts? Really?

Plus, I still feel like it’s a big joke somehow. Cal seems hot, but still like a jerk. And there’s constant talk about Min being plain, ordinary, non-descript, heavy, etc., and I think — is this a prank? Is the bet really still on? Cal doesn’t think it is, but obviously . . . it is. Plus, the constant shoe talk irks me. We’re supposed to believe our girl is in a black pantsuit that makes her look like a boxy reverend but she’s wearing high, clear heels with cherries or flowers or something on them? Did she get dressed in the dark?


Deborah Wiles’ Countdown
Where I stopped: Page 139

Takes place at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, which is about fifteen minutes from me — and a place I’ve driven past ten thousand times. With a local angle and awesome time period — the 1950s, when the Cold War touched everything and threats of nuclear attack were commonplace fears — I fully expected to love this one. Kathy at Bermuda Onion gave it a glowing review, and Lord knows I take her opinion seriously.

Maybe I was too old to identify with 12-year-old protagonist Fanny? I don’t want to believe that’s what it was, and yet . . . I don’t know. Another disconnect. It’s a fast read and one that I was originally fascinated by, but somewhere along the line I started picking up other novels rather than crack Countdown open again. And then I was going too long between pages, forgetting what happened, realizing I was ambivalent, etc.

But with an average rating of 4.12 on Goodreads and many glowing reviews, I’m obviously missing something.

Joyce Maynard’s The Good Daughters
Where I stopped: Page 37

I was bored. Really bored. I guess other people were, too, though reviews were mixed — with plenty of positive ones in there, too. I stopped reading this one in November and can’t tell you much about it, other than I recall it was about two daughters — friends — who grew up in the same town and in different families, and somehow it was . . . all connected? And there was a tornado? I don’t know. I just . . . am not sure.

Rosy Thornton’s The Tapestry Of Love
Where I’ve paused: Page 77

I’m cheating by including this one here, because I’m not actually giving up on this one. Thornton is a skilled writer and I really enjoyed Crossed Wires, her previous novel — plus, as I mentioned, Amanda really dug this one. I’m enjoying a look at one British woman’s adjustment to France, but I haven’t yet discovered what made her run away from busy life in England.

As much as I’m enjoying the plot and Catherine’s talks with her neighbors and acclimation to the French village she now calls home, there’s an emotional component missing. I haven’t identified with Catherine or her plight, and nothing has happened to endear her — or anyone else — to me. That’s usually my biggest issue with a book I’ve abandoned: I don’t feel close to any of the characters we’re focusing on.

I’m taking a short break on this one to pick up some novels for the Indie Lit Awards, and plan on returning to The Tapestry Of Love later in January.

20 thoughts on “Miniature reviews: Four books I haven’t finished and may abandon forever

  1. I had The Good Daughters on my maybe list, but I kept skipping past it. May give it a try…. I had so many half-read books in my eBook archive that I finally went through and just deleted the ones I’m never, ever going to finish. Pressure OFF. Felt so much better.

    And then proceeded to build my T0 Read list stack sky high. LOL.


    • You’re right — deleting half-read, never-to-return books really does take the pressure off! Especially when we’re constantly adding new books to our wishlists.


  2. I plan to read The Tapestry of Love in January (review copy from author). I enjoyed one of her previous novels so I have my hopes for this one. Must say, I’ve read other book blogger comments that it’s a quiet sort of novel.


    • Many of my half-read books are on my nightstand too, Rebecca! I recently moved them to a more out-of-the-way spot, though. Seeing them first thing in the morning was depressing me!


  3. love your mini-reviews and wish i didn’t harbor such guilt about breaking up with books. must be some old-school italian catholic thing passed down from my grandmother. lol. haven’t read any of these books and have only listened to one crusie novel–it was pretty pallid as i recall. hope you have a wonderful new year–are you going out? baking? do tell.


    • I used to feel really guilty breaking up with books, too, but now I just get fed up and ditch them! Giving up on review copies does make me feel bad, though; I know that, many times, an author uses their own hard-earned cash to send me a book. As such, I try to break up with those only after a long, wretched and tearful goodbye. (You know, much like a high school relationship.)

      I’ll be in New York for New Year’s, visiting Spencer’s family! There might be some baking involved — you never know. I’m looking forward to the relaxation. Hope you have a wonderful one! xoxo


  4. I couldn’t get through Crossed Wires…tried twice. But I literally just read Literate Housewife’s post about Good Daughters, and I left wanting to read it. Hmmm. I’m going to try to find it on audio. Sometimes things just don’t click. Call it karma.


    • It was hard for me to become absorbed in Crossed Wires at first, Sandy, but I did better once I reached a certain point . . . if I recall, it was around the 100-page mark, though! And after that, I was hooked.

      I hope you have better luck with The Good Daughters — audio might be a great way of tackling it!


  5. It must be something to do with the season! I’ve been all over the place with books lately too. I just can’t seem to settle down with one. I want to play with my new eReader, but I have review books to finish, and I’m a little flighty with books right now! I’ve settled down with ” The Lake of Dreams” by Kim Edwards, which is quite good, so “whew!”. Crisis averted!

    I’ll agree with everyone who says that “The Tapestry…” is a quiet, gentle book. It’s not one to be read during the frantic pace of Christmas and New Year’s!


  6. Sometimes you just have to be in the right mood to really get into a book. And sometimes it’s just more worth your time to stay farewell to the book.

    I’ve been on the fence about reading Countdown, after hearing so many rave reviews. I think I may still try it out at some point.


  7. I loved Bet Me when I read it years ago. It was one of my first Crusie novels, and I actually have it here somewhere to re-read. I’m wondering what I’ll think a second time through!

    As for Joyce Maynard, I’ve never read her stuff, but my boss was reading one of her books recently and texted me at home on the weekend to complain that the book had “totally jumped the shark.” LOL I’ll be steering clear!


  8. I am one of those who LOVES Cruise and can’t believe you couldn’t finish it! I loved that one and I must admit that it too was one her best in my opinion. But, I respect your opinion and I hope you don’t give up on her. Try Welcome to Temptation. It was another favorite of mine.


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