Did-not-finish book thoughts: ‘The Ninth Wife,’ ‘Comfort Food’ and ‘This Must Be The Place’

The Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls
Where I stopped: Page 36

Something about this book rubbed me wrong from the beginning — and as sad as this is to admit, I can’t really tell you what it was. It wasn’t any one thing, I guess, but a culmination of things — and I just had a feeling that, as a heroine, Bess and I weren’t going to get along. Plus, it’s a big book and I guess I was just feeling lazy. As time marches on and my bookcases fill up, I’m getting more discriminatory about the books with which I spend time. And, I’m sad to say, this one felt like a slog.

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Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs
Where I stopped: Page 53

I love foodie fiction. Books with cupcakes, breakfast or dinners on the cover usually go on my “to be read” stack immediately, and I’ve had Comfort Food hanging out in my bookcase for quite a while. Though I wanted to give Jacobs my Stern Angry Face over the ending of The Friday Night Knitting Club, a novel that was quite the hit a few years back, I overlooked my anger and snagged a copy of this one from BookMooch.

And I don’t know. Again — I just don’t know. If a book is giving me a cold, “meh” feeling after 50 pages, I’ve decided I really need to throw in the towel. As a main character, Gus came off as condescending and slightly holier-than-thou, despite her working-class background and hardships. I wanted to like her and her daughters, but something about them all just screamed “elitist” and annoying to me. I set this one down and haven’t looked back.

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This Must Be The Place by Kate Racculia
Where I stopped: Page 41

After just about 40 pages, I decided this one was just too sad to continue. It’s not the fault of Racculia’s writing, which I found fresh and witty. And it’s not the fault of her characters, which seemed unique and quirky enough to be interesting.

It’s just the “fault” of the plot, I guess — the fault that my heart was already breaking for Arthur and I’m fragile most days and I just didn’t think I could handle this one. Plus, I guessed Amy’s secret from the onset — then read ahead to see if I was right. And I was. And once I had that knowledge, I had to set this one aside.

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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?

Meh.


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.