Bookish Tags, Other

T5W: Books You Felt Betrayed By

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Lainey of gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam of ThoughtsOnTomes. Every week, I will post my top 5 of that week’s theme. If you’d like to learn more about it or join in the fun, head over to the Goodreads group where all the discussions take place here.

This week’s theme is Books You Felt Betrayed By, so, let’s jump straight in!

1. The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

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I’ve spoken about feeling betrayed by this book a few times on my blog (1, 2), so it seems apt to take the top spot here. To be honest, every time I think about my high expectations going into this book and how disappointed I felt at the other end, I get angry. This trilogy had so much buzz around it that I was expecting a book of epic proportions. Instead, I got a book in which nothing happened. This is a book about a young girl becoming a Queen, deciding how she wants to rule, and having to face the fallout of her decisions. My issue was that there was no fallout. Instead, the book builds up to action, promises action, and then leaves that action for the sequel. I enjoyed this book until I realised that the action wasn’t coming, and felt like I had been conned out of money and time. This is, to me, a prime example of stories being stretched out into series because series are more popular or profitable perhaps, without there actually being enough content to fill a trilogy.

You can read my full review for this book here.

2. Go Set A Watchman – Harper Lee

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I’m pretty sure this was everyone’s most disappointing read of 2015. However, to be fair, I don’t think it’s completely down to the book itself. This was not a sequel, as marketing suggested, but actually Harper Lee’s first draft for To Kill A Mockingbird, and she didn’t want it to be published. For all those readers looking for a sequel, this was bound to be a disappointment. Central characters were completely different to how we remember them, like Atticus, or missing altogether, like Jem and Boo Radley (which was my favourite aspect of the book). It was an odd choice to market this book as a sequel, knowing that so many much-loved aspects of To Kill A Mockingbird were missing, and this was one of the few times I wished I hadn’t read a book altogether.

You can read my full review for this book here.

3. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley 

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I was so exciting coming into this book. It’s set in Victorian London, there’s a seemingly magical watch, a mysterious old man, Japanese influences, and a murder-mystery-esque storyline at the centre. It should have been like a fantasy Sherlock Holmes or Ripper Street, but instead, this book just bored me. Although Natasha Pulley’s writing is sensational – she describes things beautifully – and I enjoyed the ambiguity about whether or not there was magic involved, I felt like the plot itself faded into the background too much and I couldn’t remember what the point of the story was and what the characters’ aims were. I think that this book was maybe too convoluted with various threads of storylines, for example, there is one part of the book that takes place before the main timeline in Japan, but in my opinion, this could have simply been woven into the main storyline, and it would have been less confusing and the book as a whole would have flowed better. Everything else was there – characters, setting, fantasy – to make this a firm favourite, but it was just the lack of plot that made it difficult.

4. A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas

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Sarah J. Maas is a fantastic writer. When I read this book, I was completely wrapped up in her Throne of Glass Series, which I had just started, but where Throne of Glass is a thrilling fantasy epic full of drama and action, ACOTAR just dragged on. For the first half of the book, barely anything happened, and we simply follow Feyre around as she decides whether she wants to paint and falls in love with Tamlin. This book really let me down in two ways. I found Feyre to be annoying, boring, and frankly, too dumb to live. She made so many terrible decisions and always managed to get out of them alive, and never learning her lesson. The second way was in the setting. I know that Sarah J. Maas can create fascinating worlds from the Throne of Glass series, and the map in the book tells us that Prythian has many different kingdoms – The Summer Court, The Winter Court, The Spring Court, The Autumn Court, The Day Court, The Night Court, and The Dawn Court – which probably all have their own distinct characteristics. However, mostly we just see the Spring Court, and I think so much more could have been done here.

You can read my full review for this book here.

5. An Abundance of Katherines – John Green

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When I read this, I was just riding off the coattails of The Fault In Our Stars and Looking For Alaska. I was into my angsty teen novels with fuzzy romances and tear-jerking tragedies, and John Green was the man for me. However, this book was so boring. I didn’t understand the purpose of the book, and I couldn’t relate to or sympathise for the main character Colin. Whilst in the other John Green books I had read, I had enjoyed the characters, even if they are somewhat overly quirky, but it took so much effort to not throw this book out the window because I hated Colin so much. He complains the whole way through, his obsession with anagrams was annoying, and the whole Katherine obsession felt creepy. This book was so disappointing that it has turned me off reading any more John Green novels since! Maybe one day, when the memory of An Abundance of Katherines has faded from my memory, I will be able to read Paper Towns, but for now, I’d rather read something else.

 

Now, if you enjoyed these books, that’s great! This is just a list of my own personal opinions, and whether you agreed or disagreed, I would love to hear your comments below. What are your top 5 most disappointing reads, and what are your thoughts on the books listed above?

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Book Reviews, Historical, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley Review

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Taken from: @inkdropsbooks (Instagram)

Rating:★★★

This book was a bit like when you look at a recipe for a cake and when you read the list of ingredients you think ‘Well, that’s going to be the best cake I’ve ever had’ and then you eat it and it’s just plain, dry, and the icing-to-cake ratio is completely off. This is historical magical realism, with mystery, suspense, a hint of steampunk and romance, but all these aspects just didn’t sit right for me, and although Natasha Pulley’s writing was beautiful, I ended up finding this book confusing, slow, and difficult to finish.

The book starts in 1883, when Thaniel Steepleton, your average civil servant, returns to his tiny flat to find a costly golden pocket watch on his pillow. He tries to sell it, but nobody will take it, and so he appears to be stuck with it. However, he realises that there is something odd about the watch when it saves his life from an explosion that tears through Scotland Yard. He sets about investigating, and meets the Japanese watchmaker Keita Mori, whose creations are whimsical, unlike any clockwork he has ever seen, and who Thaniel suspects is hiding something. Elsewhere, Grace Carrow is battling her family’s expectations of her as she studies physics at Oxford and pursues her dream of making a scientific breakthrough that will help her gain her independence.

One thing that I loved about this book was the setting. Victorian London really comes to life, and Pulley makes you feel like you are there, among the grimy streets, at Whitehall, getting the tube, standing in the rain. At times, the book feels like Sherlockian, with a whimsical element to it that makes everything stand out just a little bit more. I also really enjoyed the Japanese elements that feature throughout the story. Keita Mori is Japanese, but he is far from a token POC character. Through flashbacks, we see his life in Japan, we learn about Japanese history, we see an entire Japanese community in London and a second Japanese character features heavily in Grace Carrow’s storyline. Mori’s shop was another favourite setting. I loved Pulley’s descriptions of all of the different clockwork creations, and despite being told repeatedly that they are just clockwork, you find yourself wondering whether there is something more to it.

There is an element of fantasy, but it isn’t in your face. A better term might be magical realism. There was clearly more to Mori than meets the eye, and I was eager to find out what it was. When we do find out, I was excited to see where the story would go. You do find out the truth, but unfortunately, I felt like all the fun was lost after this point, and the novel went from being magical and mysterious to being a bore. I was confused about how this ‘fantasy’ element worked, and how it fitted in with the characters’ storyline. Although I did get it, I felt like it was far too technical and confusing at times. Much like Mori’s clockwork, there were far too many different elements to understand, and I felt like it dragged the plot down a bit. A more simple explanation could have been better and given the story itself more room to shine.

Apart from these brilliant parts of the book, the simple reality is that this book was boring. It was so slow and I was just reading it without understanding what the characters were looking for, what they were trying to do and how they were hoping to get there. Even though the inciting action of this novel is the explosion at the start and Thaniel’s attempts to find out who was behind it, this fades into the backdrop of this story and when it stepped back into the forefront towards the end I was confused and a bit lost. I had basically forgotten all about it. I think that some storylines made the book too busy, like the scenes set in Japan, which would have worked better woven into the main storyline in my opinion

I’m gutted that this book wasn’t everything I thought it would be. I was really expecting this to blow me away, but it just fell flat in so many ways. I found myself fighting to get through it, and once I did, I wasn’t satisfied at all. I would have liked to have seen more character development for the characters, particularly Grace and Mori, and I might have enjoyed the story more if the plot was clearer throughout the book. I liked that the plot was mainly one of mystery and intrigue and that romance did not play a big part, but unfortunately, the romantic storyline that did feature fell flat in my opinion because the characters and the plot were so difficult to grasp.