Wrapping Up 2019: Two Star Books Part 1

Sorry its been so long since I last posted. Life’s been crazy, but I’m hoping to get a few posts out before the craziness of Christmas sets in. And since its December, I thought I’d take a look over my reading for the last year, since I haven’t done a book post in ages! I’m going to start with my least favourite books this year and then finish on a high note with the books I rated five stars! Only once this year have I given a book one star, because I reserve one stars for books that are deeply problematic and/or disturbing. Two stars is my general “I didn’t like this book at all”. Three or four stars is my usual “average” or “I would definitely reread this”. Five stars describes my favourite books.

So basically, I’m going to walk you through my two star rated books from this year, plus the one book I gave only one star. Let’s get into this.

Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

After her father’s death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren’t supposed to have such roles, so it’s only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper–even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He’s secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation–the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He’s not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who’s angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he’s in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he’s unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope…and possibly love?

This book was…weird. It was historical romance, which was probably the majority of my problem with it, since I don’t think I’ve ever read a historical romance that I’ve liked. But my other serious issue with this book was the depiction of PTSD. It was incredibly oversimplified and honestly I thought it was an insult to real people who suffer from PTSD and have experienced combat. I don’t mind if romances decide to tackle difficult topics like war and returned veterans, but if they don’t tend portray these things correctly than I think they should just steer clear of them.

Sorry, I’m a little cranky about this book.

The Armourer’s House by Rosemary Sutcliff

If only she’d been born a boy, Tamsyn would never have been sent away to Uncle Gideon’s – the armourer’s – house when her grandmother died. She could have stayed by the wild sea that she loved with her Uncle Martin, the ship merchant.

But instead, she is bound for busy, bustling Tudor London, and the armourer’s house, far from the coast and far from her beloved ships. Homesick and lonely in the loud family of cousins, it isn’t until she meets the strange old Wise Woman that Tamsyn is finally promised her “heart’s desire”

Rosemary Sutcliff is one of my favourite authors of all time but this book was so disappointing. Nothing ever seems to happen in this book and it was just full of old tropes and clichés. I had high expectations, based on other Sutcliff books I adore, and this let me down badly.

Wait for Me by Caroline Leech

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

Another historical romance. When will I learn? In this case, there was a lot I liked about the book–the setting, for one, and also the love interest. Paul is one of the few YA love interests that isn’t abusive or otherwise problematic and I really liked him.

But overall, I didn’t like the characters, I especially didn’t like Lorna. I really didn’t like the romance, or the way Lorna treated Paul and the other people around her. In the end, the things I liked didn’t outweigh the things I disliked.

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

Long ago, the Storyteller claimed, in this first book of THE BELGARIAD, the evil god Torak drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.
But Garion did not believe in such stories. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved–but did not know…

This book was a mess of lazy prose, lazy characterisation and lazy worldbuilding. It just wasn’t my cup of tea at all. It was so derivative of books like LOTR and it was just so boring. So, so boring.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

I know this is a beloved book for a lot of people, but I really didn’t understand the hype. A lot of more knowledgeable people than me have commented on the pseudo-Russian setting and the names, so I’m not going to go into all that here. My personal reason for disliking it so much is that every single male character in this book is emotionally, psychologically or physically abusive. Not a single one of them is good. Which is alright, I guess, except that two of these men are presented as viable, even good, love interests, which I really hated. The Darkling and Mal are both awful, and to be honest, Alina herself was pretty awful.

Anyway, these are the first five! I don’t mean to offend anyone with these opinions, because they’re just that, my opinions. I don’t have anything against anyone who reads and enjoys these books 😀

How about you guys? What are some books that you found disappointing or problematic? Did you make a reading goal this year? If so, have you completed it yet?

11 thoughts on “Wrapping Up 2019: Two Star Books Part 1

  1. I always thought Shadow and Bone sounded a little…strange. Why would you get your heroine together with a guy who keeps whining about how she’s more powerful than him?! I didn’t like Six of Crows much, either, so I’m probably not going to pick this one up >_<

    Do you read a lot of historical fiction? I used to, but I haven't picked up the genre in forever. I almost always read fantasy now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked the way that you’re doing this wrap-up! I always find two-star reviews some of the most interesting reviews to read and even if I really like a book, I’ll sometimes go back to read two-star reviews just because it lets me see criticisms of books that I really enjoy! I 100% understand what you mean about books dealing with big issues poorly, it’s one of the things that bug me most when I’m reading a book. There is something to be admired about authors trying to address big issues but I think that one has to be really careful with them and really work to do them well to make sure that it doesn’t backfire or become insulting or offensive to people. Looking forward to your next wrap-up posts! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is going to be neat! I can’t wait to hear about the rest of the books! You know, one of the few books I read this year that I just really couldn’t stand involved the Civil War and PTSD? Like, just bc it wasn’t so well understood then doesn’t make it anything less. I’ve read a lot of really good books this year though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t read any of these books,and the things you are talking about make me think I don’t want to. The abusive love interest thing really bothers me. Abusive characters in general that are shown to be somehow positive REALLY trouble me.
    I have certainly read some books this year that I found problematic or just didn’t like for one reason or another, but the worst was probably Bridge of Clay. That book really bothered me, And it was disappointing because I love The Book Thief so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, abusive love interests are the worst. I hate it probably more than anything else that can be found in literature.
    I haven’t read Bridge of Clay, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. It’s a pity it didn’t live up to expectations for you 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeah, two star reviews are fascinating to read! I prefer reading them to positive ones actually, because they tend to have some really interesting criticisms that I might not have seen if I really liked the book.
    Yes, absolutely!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Shadow and Bone was incredibly strange…I genuinely don’t get the hype around it?
    Yes, I do! Though I tend to get more frustrated with historical fiction because it, especially the romance subgenre, is prone to so many issues. I read mainly historical and fantasy, with a little bit of contemporary YA thrown in there as well 😀

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s