No one reads the same book—we all can agree none of us enjoy every book we read. Some we like but don’t love. Some we just feel “meh” about. Others we downright hate.
For me personally, I sometimes feel guilty when I don’t enjoy a book. As a writer, I appreciate the process it takes for someone to put his or her time into a piece of work. They went through the brutal process of finding an agent and a publisher, who I know must have seen something worthwhile in the book. Otherwise they never would have bothered.
So, I’m going to share with you the books I didn’t love but didn’t hate. Despite my overall disappointment with these, they were not without their merits. Hopefully, you might find your next favorite book in this pile and appreciate it more than I did.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is both a mystery and coming-of-age story. Bright, ambitious Becca is determined to leave her dead-end small town for college and better things. Then, the night of her graduation, the body of a young woman, Amelia Anne Richardson, is found on the side of the road. As Amelia’s story unravels, Becca is drawn further into the mystery, finding uncanny similarities between herself and the dead girl.
The writing style in Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone was lovely and lyrical. Kat Rosenfield does a good job at describing life in a small-town where most people don’t have an education beyond a high school diploma and have never been anywhere else. The two main girls, Amelia and Becca, were flawed and interesting in their own ways. Although, I personally enjoyed Amelia more than Becca.
Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
Roses and Rot is set at a prestigious artists’ retreat and follows two sisters, Imogen and Marin. Growing up, the girls escaped into fairy tales to cope living with their cruel mother. At the retreat, Imogen enters as a writer and Marin as a dancer. But, as you would expect, it is not what it seems. The sisters find themselves in a real-life fairy tale that will test the strength of their sisterhood.
I have trouble describing Roses and Rot as magical realism or urban fantasy. It has been a while since I read it, but I would say it leans more towards the former in my opinion (just don’t hold me to that). I remember the atmosphere was also very creepy.
The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray
The Gilded Cage is a young adult historical fiction novel set in 1820s England. After the death of her parents, sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph and her older brother are plucked from their family farm in Virginia and taken to their father’s family estate in England. At first, life is good, though Katherine is having a hard time shedding her rural roots. Then, her brother tragically drowns, but she refuses to believe it was an accident.
What made me enjoy The Gilded Cage was Katherine herself. She was not shy about showing off her farm girl upbringing among the uptight English. The writing in this novel was also very good and it is really easy to get through.
The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass
If you are interested in religious cults, I would recommend you check out The Cresswell Plot. It follows a family of six siblings in upstate New York that live under the thumb of their fanatically religious father. Castley Cresswell and her siblings are outcasts in their small town. Their father demands they live by his own twisted version of the Bible. But just when the Cresswell children get a taste of freedom, their father announces the family will be returning to God in heaven.
The Cresswell Plot is dark and twisted. Castley is a strong protagonist motivated by her desire to protect her siblings and free them all from her father’s influence. The book is short and the writing makes it fly by faster, even though the ending was ultimately rushed and there were some major plot holes.
The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano
The Suffering Tree is another young adult fantasy novel set in small-town Maryland, where sixteen-year-old Tori moves with her family after the tragic death of her father. To deal with her grief, she cuts herself and hides it from everyone. Then, while sitting under a tree in her backyard, Tori accidentally summons Nathaniel, a young man that was hanged over 100 years ago. This brings about centuries-old secrets hidden by the Slaughters, a prominent family in town that believes Tori’s unexpected inheritance belongs to them.
The Suffering Tree was very readable and mainly plot-driven. It jumped back and forth between the past and present, trying to explain Tori’s connection to Nathaniel and the Slaughters. The setting was also quite interesting regarding the small-town politics and how bloodlines mean everything, even when a family has lost the status they once had.
Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik
Pretty and popular Chloe has an autistic older sister named Ivy. When her sister shows signs of being lonely, Chloe sets out to get awkward Ivy a boyfriend. She thinks she has found the perfect match for Ivy in Ethan, a boy in Ivy’s special needs class. But the two lovebirds are too nervous to be left alone, so Chloe and Ethan’s brother have to tag along. There’s another problem: Ethan’s brother happens to be David, a boy from Chloe’s school that she can’t stand.
I recommend Things I Should Have Known to anyone that has a sibling on the autism spectrum. While I ultimately found the book boring and the plot twist predictable, I related to Chloe. I’m the older sister of a young man on the spectrum; a lot of what Chloe and David go through with their siblings, I have been through with mine.
Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
Braden Thorpe has the Witch Eyes: the ability to see the world in vivid colors, memories, and emotions. When a vision reveals the life of the uncle that raised him is in danger, he travels to Belle Dam, a town divided by two warring magical families. Jason, the head of one family, is Braden’s father; both Jason and Catherine Lansing, the head of the other witch family, want to use Braden’s gift to their advantage. He wants nothing to do with either of them. But when he falls for Catherine’s son Trey, things become way more complicated.
I had actually forgotten about Witch Eyes, until I was doing research for this blog post. I never completed the trilogy and I got rid of the book years ago. But with all this talk about diversity in fantasy, I’m kind of surprised this series has never come up. Braden is gay and, if I remember correctly, there is another male love interest Braden said looked like an “Abercrombie & Fitch model.”
Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor
Reggie Mason is a sarcastic, independent girl living with depression. While picking up a prescription at CVS, she meets Snake, a boy her age that also has depression. Despite her best efforts—especially after finding out he has a pregnant ex-girlfriend—Reggie can’t get egotistical Snake to leave her alone. But when she finds herself falling for him, she wonders if she is finally ready to let someone in.
The main reason I personally did not enjoy Definitions of Indefinable Things was because I felt Reggie was better than Snake and their relationship was too unstable. From what I have seen in my own life, people with depression in close relationships, romantic or otherwise, with other people that have depression does not go well. But I am also not clinically depressed, so I cannot speak to the representation in this novel. All I know I recommend this book because of Reggie and how she does her best to live her life despite her illness.