Least favorite, worst, just plain bad. Because I did a list on Tuesday of my favorite reads of the year, I felt it only fitting that I also do a post on those books I just didn’t like. I will say, I did very well this year with DNFing books that I just wasn’t enjoying, which freed me up to good read a good book. (So, these are the books I actually finished, not the ones that I could tell well enough that I wouldn’t like that got DNF’d.)

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Starfall by Melissa Landers

When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend…with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn’t exactly in need of heroics—she’s claimed her birthright as Eturia’s queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn’t a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia—and is certain she returns his feelings—but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family’s complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.

The one and only book (so far) that got a one star rating from me this year. Which is just plain sad considering how much I loved Starflight. In this book we have an extremely unhealthy/abusive relationship. You see, one of them is always there for the other, a good solid presence, while the other does nothing but belittle and put him down. She is emotionally manipulative and never, ever trusts him even though they’ve been friends for years and he literally gave up everything for her.

Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

Diribani has come to the village well to get water for her family’s scant meal of curry and rice. She never expected to meet a goddess there. Yet she is granted a remarkable gift: Flowers and precious jewels drop from her lips whenever she speaks.

It seems only right to Tana that the goddess judged her kind, lovely stepsister worthy of such riches. And when she encounters the goddess, she is not surprised to find herself speaking snakes and toads as a reward.

Blessings and curses are never so clear as they might seem, however. Diribani’s newfound wealth brings her a prince—and an attempt on her life. Tana is chased out of the village because the province’s governor fears snakes, yet thousands are dying of a plague spread by rats. As the sisters’ fates hang in the balance, each struggles to understand her gift. Will it bring her wisdom, good fortune, love . . . or death?

I had such high hopes for this book, I mean it’s a retelling with diversity and strong bonds of sisterhood. Well, yeah, it is all those things. But it’s also incredibly boring. Honestly, this is probably the most boring book I’ve read all year. Nothing happens. We travel. We sleep. We eat. We travel. And while the book is about the sisters, so much time is spent with them apart and that is a shame because they were both at their best when they were together.

Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

Because of the heavy, complicated worldbuilding, I want to say this should have been a full length novel – but then I think about how I didn’t like Hitomi and how every time I started to like someone else, the story shifted and we never saw them again and I realize that if it had been a novel, I would have never finished it. (It does win the award for blah-est blah book of the year, because I can’t even fire up hate or disappointment for it.)

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The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles

A lord in danger. A magician in turmoil. A snowball in hell.

Exiled to China for twenty years, Lucien Vaudrey never planned to return to England. But with the mysterious deaths of his father and brother, it seems the new Lord Crane has inherited an earldom. He’s also inherited his family’s enemies. He needs magical assistance, fast. He doesn’t expect it to turn up angry.

Magician Stephen Day has good reason to hate Crane’s family. Unfortunately, it’s his job to deal with supernatural threats. Besides, the earl is unlike any aristocrat he’s ever met, with the tattoos, the attitude… and the way Crane seems determined to get him into bed. That’s definitely unusual.

Soon Stephen is falling hard for the worst possible man, at the worst possible time. But Crane’s dangerous appeal isn’t the only thing rendering Stephen powerless. Evil pervades the house, a web of plots is closing round Crane, and if Stephen can’t find a way through it—they’re both going to die.

This was the most recent book here for me, and I really don’t want to get into it because I am still angry/disappointed/sick at how much uncomfortable dubious consent at best (honestly, some felt like rape) there was in here between the ‘love interests’. Honestly, anything remotely sexy between them felt so uncomfortable that if I didn’t know the author was a prolific m/m writer, I’d think she had an agenda. (And if I hadn’t read another book of hers that dealt with full on BDSM in a historical setting that felt less rape-y than this one.)

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

I don’t want anyone to think this book is bad, but what is is is very much not for me. So not for me that if I hadn’t been reading it for a challenge, I would have DNF’d it. There are plenty of people out there that think this style of humor is funny, the weird stuff that happens just to happen, but I am not one of them. ‘Surreal humor is a form of humor predicated on deliberate violations of causal reasoning, producing events and behaviors that are obviously illogical.’ And to me this book is surreal humor.

The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron

Eli Monpress is vain. He’s cocky. And he’s a thief.
But he’s a thief who has just seen his bounty topped and he’s not happy about it. The bounty topper, as it turns out, is his best friend, bodyguard, and master swordsman, Josef. Who has been keeping secrets from Eli. Apparently, he’s the only prince of a rather feisty country and his mother (a formidable queen who’s every bit as driven and stubborn as he is) wants him to come home and do his duty, which means throwing over personal ambitions like proving he’s the greatest swordsman who ever lived.

Family drama aside, Eli and Josef have their hands full. The Spirit Court has been usurped by the Council of Thrones and someone calling herself the Immortal Empress is staging a massive invasion. But it’s not just politics — the Immortal Empress has a specific target in mind: Eli Monpress, the greatest thief in the world.

This is the fourth book in a five book series and it was without a doubt my least favorite of the first four. As of making up this list, I haven’t read the fifth yet, but I hope to read it soon and that it’s better than this one. This book was disappointing and depressing and I can’t stand the two characters that suddenly took over the story. (Which is why I actually have hope for the fifth, because it sounds like Eli get’s the limelight again. Thankfully.)

Do you have any worst books of the year? Have you read any of these and think I’m totally wrong? Or maybe you want to read one of these and want me to stop talking you out of it?

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