(Im)Partial Reviews: Second Installment

It’s that time again: time for me to tell you a bit about the books that I just couldn’t slog through. I tried, I really did, but I love reading and refuse to ruin my favorite pastime with books that just aren’t doing it for me. Here goes!

High Crime Area by Joyce Carol Oates. Mysterious Press. 224 pp.

High Crime Area by Joyce Carol Oates. Mysterious Press. 224 pp.

Let me start by saying that I usually enjoy Joyce Carol Oates. I haven’t read a ton of her work, but I’ve enjoyed the stuff of hers that I’ve read…until now. My first exposure to Oates was as a college freshman; we were assigned “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” I found it chilling then, and thinking back on it still terrifies me. The other work of hers that stands out in my mind is “ID,” featured in The Best American Short Stories 2011, which I also enjoyed.  When I saw High Crime Area was an offering on Edelweiss, I thought I’d finally pick up a collection of short work solely by Oates. And I just…couldn’t stay interested. I got about halfway, and although a couple of the stories were somewhat chilling, none of them grabbed me or made a lasting impression. I still think Joyce Carol Oates is a talented writer, but the stories in this collection just weren’t for me. I can’t read well-crafted sentences if they don’t say anything interesting.

Carniepunk. Gallery Books. 433 pp.

Carniepunk. Gallery Books. 433 pp.

This was billed as an “urban fantasy anthology” in which every story took place at a circus. I think there’s a lot that can be done with a circus setting (if you read my review of The Night Circus, you know I’m dying to visit that fictional venue), but these stories fell flat for me. Many of them were based on characters from series that I hadn’t read, but none of them interested me enough to make me want to check out the related novels. After a few attempts, I let this one fall by the wayside.

Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline. St. Martin's Press. 352 pp.

Betrayed by Lisa Scottoline. St. Martin’s Press. 352 pp.

Okay. Last one (for now). I got a review copy of this one at BookCon, read the first fifty pages, and jumped ship. The writing is overly simplistic and inconsistent; the main character sounds like a lawyer at times (which she is) but at other times her thoughts and words are those of a precocious middle schooler. The “mystery” was just getting started when I gave up, and I considered sticking around to give the plot a chance, but I hated the writing too much to continue.

Aaand that’s my latest list of books you should probably leave unopened. Until next time!

(Im)partial Reviews: First Installment

Technically, I read multiple books at once; I have bookmarks in at least a dozen books on any given day. However, I’ve noticed a significant trend in my reading habits: when a book really grabs my interest, all other books get pushed aside until I finish it. Then I either finish another book or start a new one. Thus, I have a constantly-changing roster of books on my “currently reading” shelf.

There comes a time, however, when I have to face the facts: there are some books that I am technically “reading” but that I keep getting distracted from. No matter how many times I dip into them, I’m not terribly interested. I used to force myself to finish them for closure’s sake, but I’m trying to be more considerate of wasting my own time. Therefore, I’m starting a new type of entry on here: (im)partial reviews. I’m going to review books that I’ve only partially finished, trying to be honest and impartial about the reasons I didn’t see fit to push through to the end. Basically, they’re books that I’ve decided are not worth my time at this particular stage of my life (i.e., being a full time mom whose free time is fleeting).

Here’s the first roundup:

Broken Angels by Harambee K. Grey-Sun. HyperVerse Books. 312 pp.

Broken Angels by Harambee K. Grey-Sun. HyperVerse Books. 312 pp.

When I started reading Broken Angels, I had a difficult time telling the characters apart. I figured this would get better over time, but after reading the first few chapters, I didn’t have much interest in reading more about these characters and their world. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. There’s a big action scene in the beginning that’s pretty good, if memory serves me correctly, and maybe the book gets better later on, but it didn’t grab me enough to convince me to give it more of my time.

Freaking Out: Real-Life Stories About Anxiety, edited by Polly Wells. Annick Press. 130 pp.

Freaking Out: Real-Life Stories About Anxiety, edited by Polly Wells. Annick Press. 130 pp.

I was really looking forward to Freaking Out. However, it was written far too simply for me to get into it. It reminded me of those high-interest-low-level novels: the subject matter is on a high school level, but the reading level is on an early-elementary level. Sometimes a book written for kids is so good you don’t notice that it’s written for kids; other times, the writing is overly simplistic and childish, and it’s not enjoyable. That’s how I felt about this one. Also, some of the chapters didn’t really seem like they were about anxiety; the topics were sort of all over the place.

100 Poems: Old and New by Rudyard Kipling, edited by Thomas Pinney. Cambridge University Press. 197 pp.

100 Poems: Old and New by Rudyard Kipling, edited by Thomas Pinney. Cambridge University Press. 197 pp.

I’ve read a Kipling poem here and there, but I’m not an expert in either his writing or his time period. While Kipling’s poems are diverse in style and subject, and his ear for dialect is quite good, this collection didn’t do much for me. I’m all about reading works from other times and places, but there needs to be an underlying current of humanity. I need to be able to somehow relate to what I’m reading. And, although a couple of these poems were interesting, after struggling my way through more than half of them I decided not to force something that wasn’t working for me.