The CLUNKERS of 2013

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The CLUNKERS of 2013

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Dec 24, 2013, 4:35pm

For the 8th year in a row, here's the place to post your "clunkers" of the year: the books you just couldn't get through, the ones you threw across the room, or the books you finished but really disliked. Go ahead, tell us how you really feel! :-)

Post one or several and tell us why it gets your vote as a clunker.

Worst of 2006

Worst of 2007

Worst of 2008

Worst of 2009

Worst of 2010

Worst of 2011

Worst of 2012

Remember, one reader's clunker is another reader's treasure!

Edited: Dec 24, 2013, 6:04pm

My clunkers for 2013:

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace - I know I'll get some argument about this one!
The Stolen Dog by Tricia O'Malley - well intentioned but poorly written
Same Time, Another Year by Bernard Slade - a sequel to Same Time Next Year which should never have been written
The Christmas Spirits by Whitley Streiber - written as an homage to A Christmas Carol - stick to the original

Dec 25, 2013, 11:23am

Only a few for me this year:
The kithcen house by Kathleen Grissom Soppy and predictable, don't know why I even started reading this, not my type of book at all.
The keeper of lost causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen I like reading whodunits for the mystery and finding out who did it and why. Here it was pretty obvious from very early on in the book.
The Phantoms of Breslau by Marek Krajewski couldn't even finish that one.

Edited: Dec 25, 2013, 12:00pm

Emil Cioran's A Short History of Decay. I got a bit of a charlatan vibe out of it and didn't even get halfway through. It was utterly devoid of philosophical argumentation, just disparate images strewn together as if in an attempt to stir up a fog of profundity.

Dec 25, 2013, 12:36pm

Elizabeth Berg- Tapestry of Fortunes. Normally I really enjoy Berg's books, but this new one is just cheesy and trite.

Dec 26, 2013, 2:35pm

For me, there's a great deal of difference between books which aren't my cup of tea and those which should be and fall way short. Of the second criteria my two clunkers were:

The Lion in the Lei Shop which was a book recommended by Nancy Pearl, and thus I had high expectations. This book not only had historical inaccuracies, which I was able to catch because I'd recently read two long books on the subject of the Pearl Harbor attack, but left much to be desired with the characters and the two-person narrators.

The Shade of the Moon. This was the fourth book in the "Last Survivors" series. I suspect that the author only intended 3 books in the series and was either talked into the fourth or need to fulfill a book contract. She should have stopped at three.

Dec 26, 2013, 4:46pm

Here are my five WORST reads in 2013:

Two Stars or Less
Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey (Needs major rewrite/editing)
I Am Algonquin by Rick Revelle - Early Reviewer book (Needs major rewrite/editing)
Rumblefish by SE Hinton (Not up to this author's standard, awful book)

Did Not Finish
The Ice Cream Vendor's Song by Laura Holland - Member Giveaway book (Too weird for me)
To Ride Pegasus by Anne McCaffrey (Not up to this author's standard)

I was really disappointed that I could not like the books by Anne McCaffrey, as I like many of her works, and some are my absolute favorites.

Dec 26, 2013, 8:26pm

The Choirboys - ludicrously puerile
Make Death Love Me - drab characters, no real mystery

Dec 27, 2013, 7:20am

Skippy Dies - Paul Murray
Oh why oh why did I choose this book featuring the unrelenting nastiness of today’s teenager? Grotesque and makes me weep for the future.

Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood
Nothing about it appealed to me, not the characters or the meandering plot or even the overall message which seemed to be don’t let others channel your life unless you’re too inert to do it yourself.

The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
It tried, but it missed the mark. Yeah, there is a ghost, but so what? It isn’t scary. And yeah, we got a spineless protagonist, natch, but he wasn’t in dire enough circs to make me worry about him and the whole mishmash of how people spoke like Dickens but lived in the 1940s was really irritating.

Dead Time - Stephen White
Bad plot with an out of nowhere villain. Cheesy emotionalism. Choppy writing with no rhythm, grace or balance.

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories - Flannery O'Connor
The bigoted south in all its infamous glory...I saw nothing charming in any of the stories I got through and even though the language was powerful and descriptive, the subject and overall ambiance was repugnant.

Dec 27, 2013, 8:16am

only have one that I didn't finish: The October List by Jeffrey Deaver

Dec 27, 2013, 6:35pm

I was looking for short and sweet and thought I'd pick up pippi longstocking as I didn't read as a kid, got halfway through and donated it.
picnic at hanging rock I picked from a recommendation and found the story boring and disjointed with a very disappointing and ambiguous ending.

Jan 1, 2014, 7:59pm

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins - I didn't think it held up to the other 2 in the series

The Egyptologist: A Novel by Arthur Phillips - this book could have had about 100 pages taken out of the middle

Jan 1, 2014, 9:21pm

Lowest-rated, but finished

The Reality Dysfunction, by Peter F. Hamilton; review.
The Coroner's Lunch, by Colin Cotterill; review.
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern; review.
Mister B. Gone, by Clive Barker; review.
The Harper's Quine: A Medieval Murder Mystery, by Pat McIntosh; review.

And--of those I managed to finish, the lowest rating of the year goes to

Christmas at Candleshoe, by Michael Innes; review.

Worse yet--abandoned: couldn’t even get through them
In order of percentage finished before abandonment, from highest to lowest

Name to a Face, by Robert Goddard, 46.5% (158 of 340 pages) because I just didn't care about the characters or the story; unrated, no review.
Journey into Fear, by Eric Ambler, 40.0% (110 of 275 pages) because it simply wouldn't get going.
Wittgenstein's Mistress, by David Markson, 36.7% (88 of 240 pages); review.
To Say Nothing of the Dog: Or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last, by Connie Willis, 34.9% (172 of 493 pages) for sheer tedium; nonreview.
The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane, by Matthew Hutson, 21.3% (53 of 249 pages) because the writing is weak and I'm not learning anything; no review.
Still Life, by Louise Penny, 7.1% (22 of 312 pages) because the writing is disappointing; unrated, no review, but comments here.
John Dies at the End, by David Wong, 5.3% (20 of 375 pages); nonreview.

And finally--the winner by a mile, abandoned on page 1 for being written in the viscerally repugnant (for a historical narrative) present tense:

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, 0.16% (1 of 604 pages); nonreview.

Jan 2, 2014, 3:55pm

Finished, but probably shouldn't have:
Astray by Emma Donoghue
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Did not finish:
Necessary Errors by Caleb Crain
The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny
Cornbread Nation 2 by Lolis Eric Elie
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Jan 2, 2014, 4:33pm

Nooo! I just bought The Interestings with a gift card.

Edited: Jan 2, 2014, 4:55pm

Meredy wrote:

• Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, 0.16% (1 of 604 pages); nonreview.

One page? What killed it for you?

BTW, I loved your review of The Night Circus!

Jan 2, 2014, 5:00pm

16: As I noted in my nonreview, I can barely stand present-tense narratives even for short fiction. Six hundred pages of present tense for a historical novel: nope. I didn't make it past the second sentence. (And that was after mustering a charitable leniency toward a novel that began with a line of dialogue.) Despite favorable reviews and high expectations, it's just not for me.

Jan 2, 2014, 6:33pm

I read about 100 pages of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry before quitting. I know it's on many best-of lists, but I can't for the life of me figure out why. I felt like absolutely nothing happened and I kept reading it because of all the hype.

Jan 2, 2014, 6:46pm

I loved that book, but my mother reacted to it the same way you did. It's always something of a crap shoot when I recommend something I think someone else will like, no matter how well I think I know that person.

Edited: Jan 2, 2014, 7:59pm

#15: You hopefully will like it, PaperbackPirate. It wasn't the right time for me to read it, given what was happening in my life, but I kept with it because I found the characters compelling and the story well crafted. I have a hard time abandoning books once I'm well into them, and I was over 200 pages in before I realized it wasn't the right read for that time.

Jan 3, 2014, 8:50am

I just looked over the books I read this year and came to the conclusion that I had a really good reading year! I've read no less than 40 books, a number unequalled since I had my little girl four years ago ^.^

In addition, I read hardly any clunkers. Just Wreaththu by Storm Constantine and Captive in the Dark by CJ Roberts. I thank LT and all it's users for guiding me to the books that I really love and steering me clear from the dreadful ones.

Apr 5, 2014, 5:21pm

New to the group and just now reading this very interesting thread,

Found one I hated and one I loved on the list!

So sorry I ever struggled through Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I thought it might end well or resolve somehow... It only got worse.
On the other hand I love Maisie Dobbs and I'm continuing to read through the series.

Apr 6, 2014, 7:51am

>22 nrmay: welcome!

I think a "Don't Read This" thread for 2014 might be helpful. :)