Many people don’t know this about me, but there are times when I simply cannot finish a book. Gasp. I said it. There are some books that do not enthrall me. It isn’t the author’s fault (okay, sometimes it is); he or she may have written a really well researched book with unbelievably flowing prose and richly drawn out characters, but somehow I just was not interested. Sometimes a book suffers from the “I just finished an amazing book that is simply beyond compare, and any book that follows up pales in comparison” blues. This happened to me a few years ago, I had just finished reading what has become my absolute favorite book (Three Fates by Nora Roberts), and I decided to try Pen Pals by Olivia Goldsmith, which while really good, was very different from the other book. After about 100 pages, I got fed up with it–it seemed to move very slowly. A couple of years later, I decided to try it again because there MUST have been something that made me buy it in the first place. This time, I really liked it (although, the description of the hero’s looks made me think of a smarmy guido–which he wasn’t); the heroine even quoted The Sound of Music (my favorite movie)! After finishing it, I couldn’t believe that I had given up on it before. I came to the conclusion the SOMETIMES you need a break between books because the high that you get from one book may make the slow simmer of another feel like a pot that never boils.
However, sometimes, a book is just bad. For instance, about 2 years ago, I purchased a bunch of Nora Roberts books: Sanctuary, Montana Sky, and Hidden Riches (so bad that i had to google the title because I couldn’t remember it). I read Montana Sky first, and I loved it. Then, I read Sanctuary, and loved it too. However, once I started Hidden Riches, I couldn’t get into it. I thought that the heroine was tstl (too stupid to live) and that the hero was an ex-cop with baggage best revealed to Oprah (or a slew of psychologists). I got about 100 pages into the book and gave up. I was puzzled. How could this be written by the same person who wrote the other two books? Having already come to the conclusion that my enjoyment of the previous books may have biased me against the third, I decided that I would put Hidden Riches aside and pick it up again. Six months later, I tried it again. And hated it even more than i did the first time.
I have recently decided that buying books is a lot like buying lipstick. When you’re in the store, the color looks amazing, but as soon as you get it home, you realize that when wearing it, the color is more neon fuchsia instead of the pretty pink that it appeared to be in the store. Books also suffer from a case of neon fuchsia-itis. In the store, the cover looks pretty and shiny and the synopsis makes it sound amazing. Then, when you get it home and you sit down, wearing your comfy pajamas, the cover is faded and the blood dripping off the vampire’s fangs looks like something an assistant photoshopped into an already cheesy cover. But, you paid for it, and sometimes a cover is not indicative of the contents, then you realize that what’s inside is worse than what is outside, making you wish for some memory erasing flowers or chocolate–SOMETHING to make that monstrosity GO AWAY.
There are unfortunately many books like this. They look pretty in the store, but when you get it home, the apple on the cover is opened to reveal a half eaten worm. A couple of months ago, I bought Original Sin by Allison Brennan (one of my favorite authors). The cover was cute, despite the half cut-off face that seems to be ubiquitous in the romance genre. The back copy–interesting. Moira O’Donnell can’t help remembering her boyfriend’s horrible death at the hands of her EVIL witch of a mother, and sets out to find her, which leads her to THE END OF THE WORLD. She and a small cadre of others must find Moira’s mother Fiona, who is the catalyst to the end.
I got less than 10 pages in before I was ready to give it up. The heroine, Moira, was definitely tstl. She has a nightmare/vision and panics, calling a monk that helped raise her when her mother left her as a child. Okay–cause that’s usually where one ends up when their parents leave–a monastery. Then, she starts thinking about how all the other monks are mad at her for getting her bf killed. How did she do this? She decided that she needed to fight fire with fire, and use her own magic to stop Fiona. When said bf dies, she comes to the conclusion that ALL magic, black and white, is evil–the work of the devil. I could have looked past this, but then the monk got on the phone, and they start talking about Moira’s magic scar that lets her know when danger is afoot. That’s when my spidey-sense went off. Big bad evil. Scar. Seven book series. OMG! Fiona is really Voldemorte! Which means…Moira is Harry Potter! Does this mean…is Allison Brennan really J.K. Rowling?! Unfortunately, what it doesn’t mean is originality. One thing that I like in a paranormal romance is some level of originality–it doesn’t need to invent a new were-species, but it should be based on a NEW idea. Not one stolen from one of the most successful authors of young adult novels. I love Harry Potter, but I do not need to read his story in another format.