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My Most Disappointing Reads of 2019 :(

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This post is late, but it’s here. Shush, leave me alone.

I had a pretty slow reading year, with a grand total of 25 books. Ouch. Oh that? That was just the sound of my ego bruising, no biggie.

But, even with my meager “read” shelf on Goodreads this year, there were still a few books that just left me . . . disappointed.

DISCLAIMER – these are my opinions, that’s all. You know that saying about everyone having opinions . . .? If one of these books is your favorite of all time, that’s perfectly okay.

ANOTHER DISCLAIMER – I actually liked most of the books on this list, there was just a thing or two about them that didn’t sit quite right with me, and so here we are. Okay. Let’s get into it now.

#4 – The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon


“A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door. 

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.” (source – Goodreads) 

Rating: 4/5 stars

Look, I actually liked this book. I did. Hence the high star rating. But I didn’t love it like I so desperately wanted to, and that’s more my fault than the book’s I suppose. However, there are some specific reasons I was left feeling a little cheated, so let’s discuss those.

The primary let down of this book, for me, was the characters. I understand that this novel was an adult fantasy stand-alone (a feat in and of itself) so it had to be very plot centric to be contained in one volume. I get it, I do. But god**** if I didn’t find these characters to be incredibly dull sometimes. I felt absolutely no attachment to any of them. Me, Queen of Obsessing Over Fictional Characters, felt nothing. I also felt like character arcs were basically non-existent? Despite a crap-ton of things happening. This would have quite easily been a five star read, maybe even a favorite, if there had just been a little more life breathed into the characters. The only one that felt even remotely human was Ead.

The other let down was the romance. “The Priory” contains an f/f romance – something I was beyond excited about when I learned of it. As a matter of fact, it was that information that bumped this new fantasy release to the top of my TBR last summer.

And oh boy was I disappointed. It’s there, for sure. And it’s lovely. But there’s no sustenance to it. It feels like it comes out of nowhere, even though you can tell the author tried to set it up properly.

However, once you get past that it’s quite an enjoyable romance. And overall it is a very enjoyable read, especially if you’re a more plot driven reader rather than a character driven one.

#3 – Bright Star by Erin Swan


“Erin Swan’s YA fantasy debut, Bright Star, is an action-packed adventure tale of rebellion, romance, and finding one’s voice in the heart of a storm.

Paerolia has been at peace for two centuries, and all is well in the land—or so it seems. Beneath the surface, a tyrant is rising to power. 

A traumatic experience in Andra’s childhood has left her mute and subdued, a servant in the Chief Judge’s manor. But when an assassination team, led by the secretive and alluring Kael, infiltrates the manor and makes a quick escape, she takes her chance and flees with them.

Andra is thrust into the ranks of a secret rebellion—a group of outcasts and believers seeking to overthrow the Chief Judge and replace the corrupt government with new members, ones who will restore and preserve the land they love. Now, the girl who was once an outcast must somehow become the leader Paerolia needs. But she is stronger than she believes—and with the help of a fiercely loyal dragon, she may just be the one to lead them all to victory.” (source – Goodreads)

Rating: 3/5 stars

This is a lesser known YA fantasy release, and it had a strange path to publication to boot. From my understanding, it was similar to Wattpad books that end up published – in the sense that a lot of, if not the entirety of, this book was published online prior to official publication. But don’t quote me on any of that, I could be wrong.

I discovered this book in a strange way as well. I came across a twitter giveaway for two of the ARCS, and the synopsis intrigued me so I entered the giveaway and won. This being my very first ARC ever received (and only one at the time of writing this), I wasn’t entirely sure how to handle it. I ended up reading other books (the above book being one of them, come to think of it), and didn’t get to this one until after its release date.

This read is a weird one for me. I like it perfectly well enough, and may even pick up the sequel when it comes out. (I’m pretty sure there’s a sequel?) But nothing about this story or these characters really stood out to me, in any way. They certainly didn’t leave any lasting impressions. I read a review a while ago, when I first completed this book, that stated something to the effect of “this book feels like every other YA fantasy meshed into one” and that does a pretty good job of explaining my overall judgement. It was fun, and I liked it, but there was nothing unique about it.

Even now, writing this, I can barely recall details from this book. I read it sometime in August, so it’s only been a handful of months. To me, that’s never a great sign. “Bright Star” is likable but forgettable.

#2 – Wilder Girls by Rory Power


“It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.” (source – Goodreads)

Rating: 3/5 stars

This was yet another super hyped 2019 release, and it caught the attention of several people simply by being so unique. A mystery horror with strong female leads, an f/f romance, and gory body horror? Count me in, right?

And yeah, for the most part. This was a solid 4/4.5 star read for me . . . until the end. Or really, the third act of the book. I spent the first two acts scrambling to figure out the mystery of the island, and the Tox. My guess didn’t turn out to be completely accurate, and I was a little disappointed about that because my guess was better than the actual plot. In the end, the mystery ended up not even being that??? crucial to the plot at all? I really can’t explain it any better without giving spoilers, but if you’ve read it you probably know what I mean.

But the biggest thing that dropped this book down to a (barely) three star read for me was the ending. I can see what the author was aiming for, which was an open ending that could warrant a sequel but didn’t necessarily require one. However, what she ended up writing was a open ended mess, with loose ends everywhere and character arcs that not only strayed off path and made no sense at the end, but received no resolution either.

Unfortunately many share this opinion, claiming the end almost ruined the entire book for them. While I can still say I enjoyed the reading experience, I can’t deny that the ending was pretty bad. And it definitely lowered my overall rating.

Also, I would be lying if I said this one wasn’t at least partially a cover buy. Oops.

And now for the last one . . .

I just wanna give another disclaimer before I get to number one, seeing as it was the only book I completed this year that I just simply didn’t like. It just wasn’t my cup of tea, and that’s okay. It may end up being your favorite book of all time, and that’s okay too.

#1 – Again, But Better by Christine Riccio


“Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that? 

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure! 

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. 

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.” (source – Goodreads)

Rating: 2/5 stars

I have a lot of thoughts about this book and booktubers getting book deals, but I’ll keep most of them to myself. For now, at least.

I found the first half of this book to be incredibly annoying and amateurish, for lack of a better term. The writing itself read like something I would have written in the seventh grade, and the characters, especially Shane, just came off incredibly immature. I caught myself rolling my eyes at the things she would do and say more than once. Basically almost every time she spoke.

And don’t even get me started on that stupid chair she kept knocking over.

I don’t what made me keep pushing through to finish this book, but I did. And I can’t say I completely regret it? I mean, it wasn’t a one star read or anything. I don’t absolutely despise it.

The second half of the book was much more bearable than the first, but it still had several eye-roll worthy moments for sure. Due to the “Again, But Better,” aspect of it, Shane and Pilot were more mature in this half – which was a relief. Although both of them still made several questionable decisions that I don’t understand.

And certain character responses to another character’s actions left me flabbergasted and actually a little mad. (Looking at you Chad and Babe.)

(Side note: what kind of a name is Pilot Penn anyway? Pilot is cool and different, sure. But Penn? Really Christine? AND BABE?? FOR REAL? sorry, hahahaha).

But the thing I disliked the most about this book was the obvious self-insert. There’s a whole discussion about this, but I’m only going to briefly touch on it in this post. Christine Riccio leads a very public life as one of the biggest booktubers on the platform, as I’m sure most of you know. Because of this, it was glaringly obvious to the majority of readers that Shane was just a self-insert character. Shane is Christine. Christine is Shane. And Shane’s life experiences are eerily similar to Christine’s – most notably the studying abroad in London and the passion for writing. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

All of those things culminated into a reading experience that, unfortunately, was more annoying than entertaining. For me, anyway.

Aaannndd that’s a wrap!

I hope you enjoyed this short little list of 2019 books that just didn’t quite hit the bull’s eye for me (or in the last case, the target. Yikes.)

I’m glad that my list of favorite’s was considerably longer than this one. Double the length, actually, if you count my honorable mentions. If you haven’t read my “Favorite Reads of 2019” post, you should check it out! My next post will be discussing my writing plans and goals for 2020, so keep an eye out for that!

PS: I feel like I want some sort of sign off for these things. Do I need a sign off?


Published by Alivia Haven

Aspiring author, avid reader.

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