Least Favourite Books of 2017

I had a pretty good reading year with a total of 43 read book or 44 if I manage to finish Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone until New Year’s Eve. I’m very content with most of the stories I’ve discovered this year and I’m very excited to write a post about the best books I read in 2017. However, there’s always the other end of the spectrum because you may also come across stories you don’t particularly like whether you weren’t the target audience or you just didn’t resonate with what you read.

I don’t feel comfortable with the so-called term “worst books of the year” because I’m sure that what I dislike in a book, another person from across the world may love, so the following works of fiction are just my least favourite books of 2017. Bear in mind that I won’t repeat what I’ve already written in each review, but if you want to learn more about these books, please check out the links to each book. For Zorro and Chiriaș la Cluj, I’m going to leave the links to the Mid-Year Book Tag and Series I Won’t Be Finishing post, where you can find a few pieces of information about these two books I’ve read and reviewed in Romanian.

Zorro by Isabel Allende

Maggie Elisabeth Harrington by D.J. Swykert

Wild Child by Mike Wells

George the Orphan Crow and the Creatures of Blossom Valley by Helen Fox

Chiriaș la Cluj by Marius Oliviu Iacob

Which are your least favourite books of 2017?

Series I Won’t Be Finishing

Besides reading, I also love watching book-tubers talking in front of their cameras about the books they own or got from the library. Though I enjoy wrap-ups and book unhauls, I’m also interested in learning about books they didn’t like or series they are not going to finish. It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of book series, especially those long ones because life is pretty short and I have to do a thorough selection of the volumes I’m really excited to pick up and hopefully enjoy. I know that there are some amazing series out there for every age group, but the book industry is also full of volumes I’m not interested in or I didn’t feel the urge to continue reading. Personally, I don’t believe in unpopular opinions because everyone has the right to speak one’s mind in a decent manner without tearing the book apart or insulting its author. Therefore, the six series I’m going to talk about in this article are not necessarily bad, but rather not my cup of tea.

The genres of these first instalments range from young adult dystopian to adult mystery or contemporary. I bought some of these volumes in eBook format, while others were received from authors for an honest review. The ratings for these books are between 2 and 3 stars.

1.. Gates of Heaven (Balthasar Family Saga) by Pamita Rao is a fantasy adventure series set on a planet called Myrth where the world comprises of medieval kingdoms conquered by King Creed, but he wants to rule other realms too; therefore he plans to kill his son, Prince Neelahaim, in order to find the Gates of Heaven. However, the gates reveal themselves only to the chosen ones and let them pass through. Will Alaira, Horace and their friends manage to keep the child safe and fulfil the prophecy? This is a high fantasy book with dark and elemental magic whose end was gripping and for me, it read like a stand-alone.

2. Dawn of Rebellion by Michelle Lynn is a young adult series set in a dystopian world where Britain is an empire again and the US is its colony. After Gabby is sent to the colonies for shoplifting, her sister Dawn and Gabby’s love interest (Drew) go on a mission to save her. We follow three perspectives and we get a glimpse of the totalitarian society, the US’s lost identity and the family secrets the two siblings didn’t know about. Though this story gave me the creeps, I can’t say that post-apocalyptic dystopias are my thing.

3. Maggie Elisabeth Harrington by D.J. Swykert is a fictional story based on the life of a real person. Sounds interesting, right? Well, the first chapters were enjoyable, but the young protagonist who lived in Central Mine (Michigan) began to be very annoying due to her repetitive thoughts about the world and the people around her. Though this book was pretty short, I deeply regret reading it because it was a waste of time and energy.

4. Wild Child by Mike wells was a pretty big disappointment for me because a young adult thriller from the author who writes ‘unputdownable’ espionage books sounded great, but… it actually wasn’t. Now, the idea of two teenagers finding a strange green substance that heals wounds and strengthens the body is a pretty cool concept and if you add two CIA agents who are interested in the location of the miraculous water, it’s even more intriguing. However, I didn’t like the story that much and I’m not planning to continue this trilogy. The characters were thinly fleshed out and Briana Fox was so annoying that I didn’t care too much what happened to her.

5. The Greeks of Beaubien Street  (The Greektown Stories Series) by Suzanne Jenkins is pretty much marketed as a mystery, but it reads more like a family saga – the family dynamics of the Greek-American Zamos Family) which was very interesting. When it came to the mystery aspect, it was a bit overshadowed by the other plotline of the book. Jill Zamos is a homicide detective from Detroit who has to solve the murder of Gretchen Parker and she does that with the help of her colleague and friend, Albert Wong, and her visions. I was pretty disappointed that the mystery was not the focus of the story and it wasn’t clear enough for me who actually killed the girl. This book also has some disturbing scenes, so be aware if you are a sensitive person.

6. Chiriaș la Cluj (Fiziologii extrase dintr-un jurnal) by Marius Oliviu Iacob is the Romanian contemporary story of a middle-aged man called Hipolit Sterea (or Hip as his friends call him) who lives a pretty miserable life due to its low wedges from the publishing house where he works. He blogs about real estate as a hobby and writes funny stories online, but his dream is to write a book and his friend Oli (Oliviu) is willing to support and help him make his wish come true. Hip is the type of person who doesn’t seem to blend in anywhere, that’s why he rents his apartment from Cluj and becomes a tenant himself. To be honest, besides a few jokes and literary hints here and there, this book lacked everything I love in a book, including a plot and likeable characters.

These are the series I’m not planning to finish now or anytime in the near future. I will also write an article about the series I might continue, but until then, I would like to know which series you’ve quit or want to abandon.

Review: Maggie Elisabeth Harrington by D.J. Swykert

I Live in Two Worlds

Book 1 of Maggie Elisabeth Harrington

 

Title: Maggie Elisabeth Harrington

Subtitle: I Live in Two Worlds

Author: D.J. Swykert

Genre: Literary Fiction

First Published in 2013

Year of Publication of this Edition: 2016

Published by Magic MasterMinds LLC

Series: Maggie Elisabeth Harrington

Rating: 2/5 stars

In March, I received a message through the contact form from author D. J. Swykert, who informed me about his book entitled Maggie Elisabeth Harrington (a fictional story with a real person as its protagonist) and he was looking forward for reviews. I read a few pages from the first chapter and the story sounded like something I would be interested in. However, as I read the book, I began to enjoy it less and less until I had to push myself to finish it just because it was a short novel.

 Maggie Elisabeth Harrington is a thirteen-year-old girl living in a small mining town in upper Michigan, called Central Mine, with her stern father and grandmother. Maggie is a lonely and idealistic girl, but she also loves animals and suffers when someone harms them, whether those animals are the kittens her father drowns every summer or the mother-wolf shot for the bounty. Maggie hates the rules imposed by the Methodist Church or the moral standards set by society because she is a free-spirited girl who wants to live her life however she wants to, if possible with her crush, Tommie Stetter, the son of her father’s boss. Maggie is a very caring person, she longs for love and it hurts her to notice that her father doesn’t have any paternal feeling for her as if he hates her or considers her guilty for her mother’s premature death. Her grandmother doesn’t talk too much either, but, at least, she treats Maggie better than her father and she gives her chores to do inside and around the house.

Because of her feeling of helplessness, she has every summer when her father drowns the kittens, Maggie promises herself that when she will grow up, she will not tolerate cruelty to animals any longer and she will do something about it. The challenge she will have to face will be to save the wolf pups and take care of them without anyone knowing it with the exception of Tommie and his sister and Maggie’s best friend, Annie, who will give them shelter and scraps of food. “This is how a wolf pack came into my life. I do not know why God has given them to me to look after, but I am glad to have them. I am not feeling lonely anymore. My life is becoming full, the way I have always hoped it would be.” (Loc. 599)

Maggie has strong and modern opinions about religion too, which actually astonished me at first because her story takes place in the 1890s, in Victorian times. “I don’t understand why you have to make life so complicated when it’s really very easy. If you don’t harm anything, and don’t take what doesn’t belong to you, and you work real hard for the things you have, I don’t understand why you have to do all this praying and studying to get into heaven.” (Loc. 249) She also questions the very existence of God Himself, which is pretty hard to believe that a thirteen-year-old girl can think so maturely and profoundly. But Maggie’s qualities stop here.

I hate to say this, but Maggie’s voice becomes very annoying as the book progresses.  She has a few obsessive ideas in her mind and repeats them a lot. I think it wasn’t necessary for her to remind me in every single chapter one of the following thoughts that cross her mind:  she’s not sure if God exists or not, she loves Tommie and she thinks he’s very handsome, Annie is a very practical person, Maggie is angry with her father for drowning the kittens or she is afraid that someone wants to kill her wheels for the bounty.

Though the book is not very long, I felt like I was reading it endlessly because the story drags on and on and it’s too explanatory, leaving nothing to the reader’s imagination. If the story had been a little shorter (without every thought that crosses Maggie’s mind) and the other characters had been better fleshed out, I would have enjoyed this novel more than I did. It also had a lot of telling that made the reading experience even harder. However, what saved the book was the historical setting and the depiction of the harsh life the miners and their families had.

In short, if you are interested in how a teenage girl sees life, love, religion and the environment and if you enjoy character-driven stories set in the past, then give Maggie Elisabeth Harrington a try.