Books I Did Not Finish and Why:
The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney - Released in February of 2011, my copy of The Matchmaker of Kenmare is an ARC that's been haunting me. Haunting, I tell you! I read Delaney's Ireland for HarperCollins' now-defunct First Look program (thumbs up) and The Matchmaker is at least partially set during my favorite time period to read about, WWII, so I wanted to love this book. I deeply desired to fall in love with it. But, after two attempts, I gave up.
Why did I set it aside? The simplest reason: I didn't find it engaging. But, I still keep looking at the book longingly, certain that if I could just get past the first 50 pages I'll love it.
The Matchmaker of Kenmare has received some pretty sparkling reviews and just bizarrely passed a spontaneous flip test, so I will probably give it a third chance. But, I'll do a little skimming within those first 50 pages in the hopes that doing so will get me past what I consider to be a yawn of an opening.
Eyes in the Mirror by Julia Mayer is a YA novel that I got from Sourcebooks for review. I must admit, the combination of cover image and description completely sucked me in. I wanted to read that book! It was one that I dived right into the moment it arrived on my doorstep.
Mini-description: Dee always desired to escape into another world but was stunned when she fell through a mirror, into the parallel life of Samara. Samara was friendless until Dee showed up in her life and agreed to switch places with her. Now, Dee is convinced that Samara's life needs fixing and has set out to change things. But, Samara doesn't like living in Dee's world and just wants her own life back.
Sounds good, yes? Unfortunately, the bit I overlooked in the description was the bio. The moment I began reading, I started to wonder how on earth such a simplistic, poorly written book managed to end up a published work of fiction and I flipped to the author's bio hoping that it would shed some light on that dilemma.
Oh. Okay. Mayer wrote the first version during an 8-week program between her sophomore and junior years of high school. Quite an accomplishment, really. The writing is at least justifiably immature. But, honestly? It's just flat awful. I will not give Eyes in the Mirror a second chance. I set it aside in flabbergasted horror (although not as soon as I read that bio -- I gave it at least another 20-30 pages before giving up). I've read beautiful, mature writing that's been passed over by publishers because the subject matter wasn't considered timely and I truly believe this book was only published because paranormal books are currently "in". There are probably a few people out there who will enjoy Eyes in the Mirror, but I will not be recommending it to anyone.
The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson - A gushy, buzzy favorite in many corners and a book whose gorgeous cover you can't help but ogle, The Lantern fell completely flat for this reader. I would blame high expectations if I hadn't received the book early and found it pretentious and irritating before it even managed to work up a buzz.
Actually, I hate it when people use the word "pretentious" to describe someone's writing. I don't know the author. She might be totally down-to-earth, not one whiff of pretense about her. But, even flipping through randomly, just this moment, I found myself cringing. The writing just comes off as overwrought to me.
It's not unusual for me to end up absolutely hating books that get a lot of praise, but darn it! It sounded so good! I just peeked at Paperback Swap, where there are 168 people waiting in line for a copy (4 stars based on 2 ratings) and Amazon (4 stars on average and a broad range of reactions). With that many people waiting, I think I should offer up my ARC on the off chance it will find a happy home.
So, if you are dying to read The Lantern, leave a contact email in the comment section and tell me why you so desperately want to acquire a copy (sorry, US residents only). No need to broadcast this giveaway. I'd rather give it to a regular reader than someone who happened to read a random giveaway tweet. This will be a quick giveaway. I'll draw a name by Friday, December 2 at 10:00 AM, and if nobody signs up I'll just donate it. That gives you about 48 hours to sign up. *Remember to leave a contact email or you're basically screwed*.
Unfortunately, the ARC does not have that dreamy cover, sorry. The cover of this book I purchased last week, however, does:
I know the whole hands-holding-whatever thing has been done to death, but Amaryllis in Blueberry strikes me as the kind of book cover I'd like to stick into a frame and hang on my wall. I just love that stunning electric blue. Unfortunately, the story didn't live up to either the beautiful cover or the appealing description. I got to page 40 before giving up on this one. Too much negativity from the characters turned me off. I mulled giving it a second chance for about 2 nights before deciding, "Nah," and have already swapped it. I've mentioned this one in a past post but I had to share that cover. I adore that cover.
three four of these "boo, hiss" DNF opinions are just that -- merely my personal opinion. If you're one of the authors and I meet you in a dark alley, someday, I promise not to kick your butt for wasting my time. Wait! I meant . . . remember my opinion is just one drop in an ocean of opinions and there's no need to pick a fight with me. Plus, I probably have at least 50 pounds on all of you and could roll you flat, although I hope to be all muscle and no flab by the time we meet.
The mailman just rang my doorbell!
He delivered some books for Kiddo's birthday (the only thing he asked for -- three books from a series he's currently reading) and Christmas Stories from Mississippi, my face-to-face book club's December selection. The plan is to read "one or two stories per year" because nobody in my F2F group apparently likes to read books that require a lot of thought during the holidays and they always struggle with selections.
It'll be interesting to see if I can actually stop myself at a mere two stories. The very last story is by Willie Morris! I love Willie Morris! Okay, I think we just answered that question.
Next up will be a review of a book. Which book? You've got me. I'm not sure just how I'll approach the reviews, yet -- most recent or first read? Whatever I feel like reviewing? We'll just burn that bridge when we get to it. Or, something like that.
Bookfool in a Goofy Mood