Monday, April 23, 2018

The Book Lover's Den No. 24: Books That Give Me Mixed Feelings, Part 2




Welcome to my renewed literary musing feature! I have decided 
to post it on Mondays now!


In each weekly post, I explore 
my thoughts on several 
book-related topics.



This Week's Topic
Books that give me mixed feelings,
continued. 


Having explored my thoughts and feelings on this topic last week, I've decided that this week, I will feature some of those books that gave me mixed feelings, as well as explain the reason(s) for these feelings. Should anyone be interested in more details, I will also include links to my review of each book. All of them are YA novels. I might do a third post, dealing only with adult novels.

So here they are, in alphabetical order, by author. Click on each cover for the Goodreads page.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7778981-halo?ac=1&from_search=true


This book does have a VERY beautiful, romantic cover. For the most part, the plot was very appealing. However, I did not love it as much as I could have. What bothered the most was that Bethany, the angel, was not depicted as being as powerful as an angel would be expected to be. Furthermore, throughout the novel, she acts more like a human teen. Here's a quote from my review: "Her angelic powers are rarely in evidence, except for the scene in which she reveals her true nature to Xavier, her body glowing as she flies off the edge of a cliff.  The rest of the time, however, the reader would think this was a typical, non-paranormal YA romance." Mostly, I did like this novel, as there were other elements I did enjoy. However, I was expecting Bethany to be a kick-butt angel, and she most definitely was not! Neither was Ivy, a more mature female angel who was also part of the plot. For the full review, click HERE.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30183.Marked?ac=1&from_search=true
  
As an obsessed Twilight fan, I looked around frantically for similar books after I had read The Twilight Saga twice (there was a third reading later on, lol). I thought I had found what I was looking for in this series, but nope! Yes, the plot was very imaginative, even exciting. But..... What REALLY bothered me about this book was the marked (pun not intended) anti-Christian bias, as well as that one instance of oral sex was mentioned, early in the book. Excuse me, but oral sex, in a YA NOVEL? UGH. Although there were no graphic details, the mere mention was totally inappropriate for YA, and really didn't contribute much to the story. 

To make matters even worse, there were quite a few "F bombs" sprinkled throughout the book, which is unusual for the YA genre.

Another problem was that some of the characters were stereotypes, such as The Mean Girl and her Gang. As for an example of the anti-Christian bias, here's a quote from my review: "What is most offensive, however, is the characterization of all Christian men as “pedophiles”.  Here’s the actual quote, from page 27 of the book, so anyone who doubts me can look it up for themselves: 


'…by another equally hysterical call that would activate the dreaded People of Faith prayer tree.  Within thirty minutes our house would begin to fill up with fat women and their beady-eyed pedophile husbands.'  (emphasis added)" 

By the way, the name "People of Faith" refers to Christians. I guess the authors figured that, by NOT using the word "Christians", no one would feel they (the authors) were unfairly stereotyping and judging ALL followers of Jesus. Well, that sure didn't work, because, if I picked this up, it stands to reason that other readers would, too. For the full review of this book, please click HERE.
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30256105-the-last-of-august?ac=1&from_search=true#


One of my biggest complaints with this one is that the characters didn't seem as vivid as they were in the first installment. Also, the pacing was much slower. Cavallaro took a bit too long to set up the story, and the mystery was not as page-turning as the one in the first novel. 

Although I did enjoy finding out more about Charlotte Holmes's family, one thing that REALLY bothered me in this book was that Watson began to try doing detective work himself. Here's a quote from my review regarding this: "I also disliked that Watson kind of began to eclipse Holmes in this book, as he attempted to do some brilliant sleuthing of his own. That struck me as a bit of a sexist, male chauvinist type of attempt on his part to somehow be 'worthy' of someone as brilliant as Charlotte Holmes." Click HERE for the complete review.
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17280346-beautiful-creatures


This novel had been SO 'hyped up' by the time I got to it, I was SURE I was going to LOVE it! Not so! Although there were some similarities to The Twilight Saga, I did like the two MCs. The novel's pervasive darkness finally got to me, though. I just had this overall feeling of OPPRESSION as I read this book. I didn't like most of the other characters, although I did like the storyline itself, as well as the love between the two MCs. 

I also disliked that some of the characters were stereotypes. 

Basically, though, this story and its setting were just much TOO creepy for me. This book comes very close to belonging in the horror genre. Not for me at all! If you're interested, you can find the full review HERE.



This book was very interesting -- at first. It had to do with the Salem witch trials, although there was a modern storyline, as well. Ultimately, however, the book fell flat. There were the usual Mean Girls involved, and the romance was not all that exciting. 

I also had some issues with Abby, the female MC. Here's a relevant quote from my review: "Yet, once she discovers she's a witch, she decides to use magic to win her old crush's adoration, because she wants to exact revenge on the mean girl who has been making her life miserable, and happens to be Travis's girlfriend. This is not the type of thing a protagonist should do, if an author wants her readers to identify with this character." Check out the full review HERE.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3975774-evermore?ac=1&from_search=true


Although I did like the main characters in this novel, they were a bit too much like the MCs in The Twilight Saga. And Ever, the female protagonist, has issues with self-esteem, just like Bella does in the Twilight books. 

One thing I did like about this book was the male MC's interactions with historical art figures, such as Van Gogh and Picasso. That was really fascinating! 

The villain in the book was defeated much too easily, in my opinion. However, I did enjoy the writing and the plot.

Here's a relevant quote: "I thought it was very well-written, the plot did keep me in suspense (I managed to avoid the temptation to read ahead), and the characters were very engaging, although somewhat flat -- especially the villain.  The romance was pretty good, too, although I think it could have been even better." For the full review, click HERE.

So here they are -- six books that gave me VERY mixed feelings. Thus, I could not wholeheartedly love them. With some, the writing style was what first hooked me. There were other elements, though, that spoiled my reading experience. I am not at all tempted to go back and re-read these books, except for one -- The Last of August. I'd like to give this one "a second chance". Maybe I missed something the first time..... Lol.

By the way, have any of you read any of these books? I'd love to know what you thought of them!





What are your thoughts on
 this topic?
Please leave me a comment
and let me know!









8 comments:

  1. Did you know that Alexandra Adornetto was a teenager when that book was published? Sixteen, I think. She sold her first book when she was fourteen. I haven’t read any of her books yet, but we had that one in my library because the girls like their angel novels. I recommend the Mercy series by another Australian writer, Rebecca Lim. Mercy is a female angel who did something very stupid during the war in heaven and while the other fallen angels went down to Hell, she only fell as far as Earth, where she has been protected by the other angels, while Lucifer(Luc)keeps trying to tempt her. She does a Quantum Leap type thing, moving from body to body until she has sorted whatever the problem was.

    I enjoyed Beautiful Creatures, though I couldn’t finish the sequel. I liked the idea that the paranormal creature was a girl instead of the usual boy vampire or angel or whatever. I REALLY enjoyed the Southern stuff, where this small town is still fighting the Civil War(whoops, the War of Northern Aggression) and the kids have only got one place to hang out after school. The film was, for me, a bit of a disappointment- what did you think?

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Sue!

      Yes, I know that she was sixteen when this book was published. Thus my surprise at her characterization of Bethany. As a Millenial, Adornetto should have been completely free of any sexist stereotyping. She made Xavier, a human boy, more powerful than a freaking ANGEL. I would have thought that she would do the reverse. Besides, anyone knows that angels, as supernatural beings, HAVE to be much more powerful than humans. I did give the book four stars, though. It was very well-written, regardless. But those two angel characterizations -- Bethany and Ivy -- really galled me. Ivy, the other female angel, was equally powerless; only Gabriel, a MALE angel, had the power one would associate with an angel.

      I'm going to check out the Mercy series. Thanks for the rec!

      As for "Beautiful Creatures", I did enjoy the satire regarding the Civil War, as it pokes fun at the attitudes of many Southerners regarding that war. Instead of seeing the cause of the war for what it was -- an attempt by the Southern states to perpetuate the evil institution of slavery -- they prefer to see it as an attempt by the Northern states to "control" the Southern ones. So I did enjoy that aspect of this novel.

      I also found it very refreshing that a paranormal novel was actually narrated by a guy, instead of the usual girl narrator.

      Aside from the above two aspects, though, I found this book to be TORTURE to read, because of its darkness. I looked up the movie on Wikipedia, and found out that it totally flopped. Besides, I didn't like that they eliminated one of my favorite characters in the novel -- the librarian. Of course, if I didn't like the book, I would be VERY reluctant to watch the film. Now that I know it was abysmal, forget about watching it!

      Thanks for the thought-provoking comment!! <3 :)

      Delete
  2. Great post as always Maria. You laid out so clearly why you had a problem with each of these books. In general, I think that it is kind of a shame that a book that has some strengths also is flawed enough to mar the entire work. However, I think that is the way that art goes sometimes.

    Have a great week!

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Brian!

      Thanks so much for the compliment!!

      Yes, unfortunately, that is indeed what sometimes happens....although perhaps other readers of these same books would not have objected to the same aspects I did.

      I do think, though, that the characterizations of the two female angels in "Halo" would bother most readers, even those that don't believe in angels. Any supernatural being would logically HAVE to be more powerful than a mere human being. And, interestingly, the MALE angel in this book, Gabriel, IS depicted as appropriately powerful. Considering that the author is a Millenial, I found this to be quite surprising!

      As for "Marked", I was appalled at the characterization of ALL Christian men as "pedophiles". This goes totally against what we find in the real world. Besides, I am completely opposed to sweeping generalizations. For authors to engage in this type of behavior is really not acceptable at all.

      Of course, some people wouldn't mind the other aspects I objected to -- the "F bombs", and the mention of an incident of oral sex. I was surprised at these elements, though, as the YA genre usually doesn't include such things. Ironically, many young adults are, in reality, very much aware of them. Still, I read a lot of YA precisely to get away from such elements in adult novels. Lol.

      Thanks for the interesting comment!! <3 :)

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  3. I read quite a few of the PC Cast books but in the end, they became kind of blase for me and I quit. I actually sort of liked Beautiful Creatures but then I watched the movie and I disliked it so much that I never even continued on with the books. I can see why these left you so on the fence.

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    1. Hi, Barb!

      It's really quite a shame that "Marked" had those objectionable elements, because I did find the plot very interesting. However, those elements really did it for me! I was totally uninterested in continuing with the series after that.

      What I DID like about "Beautiful Creatures" was how the authors satirized the Southerners staunch belief that the Civil War was all about the Northern states' "attempt to control" the Southern ones. History says otherwise; that war came about because of the Southern states' attempt to perpetuate the evil institution of slavery. So I greatly enjoyed that!

      I also liked the fact that the book was narrated by a guy, instead of the usual girl narrator for this type of fiction.

      As for the movie, I found out that it was a total flop, but I wouldn't have been interested, anyway, since I didn't really enjoy the book.

      Thanks for the interesting comment!! <3 :)

      Delete
  4. I love this article, Maria. As usual you write with verve and enthusiasm... You are right about Beautiful Creatures - it is very dark, though I quite enjoyed it. I haven't read any of the others - but I take your points regarding the shortcomings that got in the way of your enjoyment.

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    1. Hi, Sarah!

      Thanks so much for the compliment!! <3 <3

      Yes, "Beautiful Creatures" IS very dark. Although I enjoy reading paranormal romance and urban fantasy, this particular novel was just TOO creepy for me! I did like some other aspects of it, such as the guy narrator, and the satire against the Southern attitude that the Civil War was "really an attempt by the Northern states to control the Southern ones", instead of what it really was, historically -- an attempt by the Southern states to perpetuate the evil institution of slavery. Beyond these two things, though, I didn't enjoy this novel at all!

      As for the other books, I'm glad you see where I'm coming from! It's really unfortunate that sometimes these things happen when one is reading a book that one would have enjoyed otherwise...... :(

      Thanks for the interesting comment!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

      Delete

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