Top Ten Tuesday | The Reading Struggle is Real!

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is all about the struggle.  The reading struggle.  I know a lot of us are faster to quit a book simply because we have so many books waiting to be picked up.  Still, there are those times where you feel in our gut that if we’d just hold on a little bit longer, everything will come together in an enjoyable way.  So you push through.  Sometimes you’re rewarded for sticking it out, and sometimes you’re left angry and unfulfilled.

I’ve decided I’d provide you both my rewards, and my unfulfilled.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


What Worked!

High Kings Golden Tongue1. The High King’s Golden Tongue
by Megan Derr

Prince Allen has trained his entire life to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious mother, who has made their kingdom one of the wealthiest and most influential in the empire. For the past few years he has trained to become the new consort of the High King. The only thing no one prepared him for was the stubborn, arrogant High King himself, who declares Allen useless and throws him out of court.

High King Sarrica is ruling an empire at war, and that war will grow exponentially worse if his carefully laid plans do not come to fruition. He’s overwhelmed and needs help, as much as he hates to admit it, but it must be someone like his late consort: a soldier, someone who understands war, who is not unfamiliar with or afraid of the harsher elements of rule. What he doesn’t need is the delicate, pretty little politician foisted on him right as everything goes wrong.

This was an interesting selection for me.  It was shortly after reading Captive Prince, and I wanted more M/M Fantasy reads.  I wanted something similar to Captive Prince, that would engage me in the same way.  Early on I realized that The High King’s Golden Tongue wasn’t going to hit those CP levels.  In fact, I really didn’t think I was connecting to the story at all.  Luckily I held out, because by the end I was pleasantly surprised with how it ended, and eagerly awaited the sequel.  (Unfortunately that one did let me down.)

Mists of Avalon2. The Mists of Avalon
by Marion Zimmer Bradley

In Marion Zimmer Bradley’s masterpiece, we see the tumult and adventures of Camelot’s court through the eyes of the women who bolstered the king’s rise and schemed for his fall.

From their childhoods through the ultimate fulfillment of their destinies, we follow these women and the diverse cast of characters that surrounds them as the great Arthurian epic unfolds stunningly before us.

As Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar struggle for control over the fate of Arthur’s kingdom, as the Knights of the Round Table take on their infamous quest, as Merlin and Viviane wield their magics for the future of Old Britain, the Isle of Avalon slips further into the impenetrable mists of memory, until the fissure between old and new worlds’ and old and new religions’ claims its most famous victim.

The Mists of Avalon was a book that I read in High School, and the writing style is very slow.  It’s beautiful.  I love the focus on the women in the story, but it’s definitely long and wordy.  I think that was the only reason why I struggled.  In the end though, I loved it.  It definitely left an impact on me all these years later.

11223. 11/22/63
by Stephen King

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life – a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

I love historical fiction, but I don’t like obvious non-fictional moments of lecture in a book.  I don’t want my fiction book to spew out facts.  I prefer authors like Margaret George who weaves those facts into scenes in the story.  As good as 11/22/63 is, it definitely has chapters and chapters of JFK research and documentation.  I have to admit, while I did push through, I did skim.  The actual story of Jake and Sadie was too good to let go.

how-to-kill-a-rock-star4. How to Kill a Rock Star
by Tiffanie DeBartolo

Written in her wonderfully honest, edgy, passionate and often hilarious voice, Tiffanie DeBartolo tells the story of Eliza Caelum, a young music journalist, and Paul Hudson, a talented songwriter and lead singer of the band Bananafish. Eliza’s reverence for rock is equaled only by Paul’s, and the two fall wildly in love. 

When Bananafish is signed by a big corporate label, and Paul is on his way to becoming a major rock star, Eliza must make a heartbreaking decision that leads to Paul’s sudden disappearance and a surprise knock-your-socks-off ending.

How to Kill a Rock Star was a struggle only because the emotion was so intense.  My emotions were everywhere, but the strongest one was so much anger.  I was so angry at Eliza.  I pushed myself through this book because I was buddy reading it with two friends, but even when I finished I thought I’d hate it forever.  Instead, as the weeks passed I found I couldn’t get it out of my head, and now years later I have to admit it’s one of my favorites.

monstrumologist5. The Monstrumologist
by Rick Yancy

‘These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.’

So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.

A gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does man become the very thing he hunts?

The Monstrumologist is one of those ‘halfway’ reads.  Meaning, you have to get to 50% before the ride really takes off.  For the first half, not only was it slow but it was also pretty gross.  I almost quit, but something inside me made me pick it back up and keep reading.  I’m so glad I did because this four book series is now one of my favorites.  I’ve never read anything else like it.


What Didn’t!

the-thorn-birds1. The Thornbirds
by Colleen McCullough

Powered by the dreams and struggles of three generations, The Thorn Birds is the epic saga of a family rooted in the Australian sheep country. At the story’s heart is the love of Meggie Cleary, who can never possess the man she desperately adores, and Ralph de Bricassart, who rises from parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican…but whose passion for Meggie will follow him all the days of his life.

Quite literally this is the worst book I’ve ever read to completion.  Every single page was awful.  I kept pushing through because it’s been beloved by so many for so long, and I just felt positive that there was going to be this transformational moment and I was going to be like, ‘oh there you are’, and doves would sing.  It didn’t happen.  I got a glimmer of hope toward the end, and then that hope was snuffed out like a slap to the face.  This was weeks of reading I’m never getting back.

Boy Window2. The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window
by Kirsty Moseley

Amber Walker and her older brother, Jake, have an abusive father. One night her brother’s best friend, Liam, sees her crying and climbs through her bedroom window to comfort her. That one action sparks a love/hate relationship that spans over the next eight years.

Liam is now a confident, flirty player who has never had a girlfriend before. Amber is still emotionally scarred from the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. Together they make an unlikely pair.

Their relationship has always been a rocky one, but what happens when Amber starts to view her brother’s best friend a little differently? And how will her brother, who has always been a little overprotective, react when he finds out that the pair are growing closer?

I fell in love with the synopsis of this book.  Like seriously.  I loved the idea of an older brothers best friend sneaking in to hold her and and protect her at night, for her whole life.  It sounds so romantic.  It could have been so incredible!  Instead it was a major disaster.  This book contained the most shallow characters I’ve ever read in a book.  They were just horrible people.  I forced myself through it, I don’t even know why, and it only got worse.  Major disappointment.

Bloody Jack3. Bloody Jack
by L.A. Meyer

Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy

Life as a ship’s boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber. Gone are the days of scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of eighteenth-century London. Instead, Jacky is becoming a skilled and respected sailor as the crew pursues pirates on the high seas.

There’s only one problem: Jacky is a girl. And she will have to use every bit of her spirit, wit, and courage to keep the crew from discovering her secret. This could be the adventure of her life–if only she doesn’t get caught. . . .

I wanted to love this book so badly!  At the time I read this, everyone online was raving about Bloody Jack and how magnificent the main character was.  I can agree with them, even.  I also think this is the one case where listening to the audio is definitely the way to go.  This is a book about pirates.  They talk like pirates, as they should.  The issue was that I felt like I spent more time trying to decipher the story than absorbing it, which I think wouldn’t have been an issue with a narrator.  Unfortunately I didn’t go that route, which left the read exceptionally painful.

iced4. Iced
by Karen Marie Moning

Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules—and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. 

Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux. 

When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks—and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance.

Iced will always be a tender spot for me.  I found Urban Fantasy after I joined Goodreads in 2010 and one of the first UF series I read was Fever by Karen Marie Moning.  My Kindle is named Jericho Barrons.  Those first five books are so special to me, so special they have a spot at the top of my bookshelf.  You can imagine how upset I was (and many other fans) when Iced came out and I felt like everything written previously was spit on.  Characters were butchered, world lore was rewritten, and grown men were sniffing a teenage girl’s panties.  It was disgusting.  I was in such a rage at the end.

Cut and Run5. Cut & Run
by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban

A series of murders in New York City has stymied the police and FBI alike, and they suspect the culprit is a single killer sending an indecipherable message. But when the two federal agents assigned to the investigation are taken out, the FBI takes a more personal interest in the case.

Special Agent Ty Grady is pulled out of undercover work after his case blows up in his face. He’s cocky, abrasive, and indisputably the best at what he does. But when he’s paired with Special Agent Zane Garrett, it’s hate at first sight. Garrett is the perfect image of an agent: serious, sober, and focused, which makes their partnership a classic cliche: total opposites, good cop-bad cop, the odd couple. They both know immediately that their partnership will pose more of an obstacle than the lack of evidence left by the murderer.

Practically before their special assignment starts, the murderer strikes again this time at them. Now on the run, trying to track down a man who has focused on killing his pursuers, Grady and Garrett will have to figure out how to work together before they become two more notches in the murderer’s knife.

Cut and Run was a lot like Bloody Jack.  It was a book that I really thought I was going to adore.  A lot of PsyCop fans, and Special Forces fans, all rave about the Cut & Run series.  I thought this was going to be a slam dunk.  Unfortunately I am not a fan.  The writing felt excessively choppy, not cohesive between the two authors at all, and the case was a non-case.  It’s a good thing too, since Zane and Ty rarely did any actual work.  They were too busy having lunch and getting blackout drunk on Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  (I’m rolling my eyes.)  

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

17 Responses

  1. Most of the Stephen King books I’ve read have been slow starters, but they definitely pick up eventually! I think The Shining is a great example of a slow starter that picks up speed. Great list!


  2. Beware Of The Reader

    Ha! I loved Marion Zimmer Bradley and The Boy who…. LOL The only book I recall having difficulties with was The Lord of The Ring as it was “wordy” as you say in the first 100 to 120 pages. I began reading it at 18 but really finished when I was 30.


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