It’s not you—it’s me.

So, I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about not posting any book recommendations lately. I assure you I have been reading. Unfortunately, most of the books didn’t seem right for a post. Several weren’t the right genre for this blog. One was SFR, but the latest in a series I’ve already posted on previously. The newest book was a good fit in that series. Enjoyable, but not different enough to rate its own post. Two others were SFR, but by an author I’ve posted on recently and it didn’t seem right to swamp you all with multiple posts on the same author. Usually, if I like one book by an author I’m going to like their other books. Usually…but not always.  And that leads me to the remaining group of books I recently read but sadly cannot recommend.

Ever pick up a book by an author you adore only to be disappointed? I’ve been getting that a lot lately. It has gone way past a mild meh sort of reaction to a deeply disappointed why-did-I-waste-hours-of-my-life feeling. So, how does this happen? Does a brilliant author have the occasional bad book? Probably, but the run of disappointments led me to take a look further…at myself. Can a reader’s mood color their read of a book? Must be possible. I know I’ve picked up the same book years apart and had very different responses, but I think that is more about inner growth and change.

Jayne at RWA 2010

So, did I just stumble across my favorite authors’ proverbial bad-apple book or was it me? Has my mood been getting in the way? It could be a bit of both mood and bad luck. Just in case it was that my mood needed some adjusting, I fell back to my comfort read author, Jayne Anne Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle. It took a bit to fall deeply into the book (normally with this author the first paragraph can get me) but eventually I did fall.

Ironically, one of the characters in this historical paranormal was having some problems with his aura. As his psychical problems were resolved I began to feel better as well. So, if you’re feeling out of sorts, I highly recommend The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick. It just might be the perfect cure.

In this installment of the Arcane Society Series, set in Victorian London,  Lucinda Bromley is a spinster botanist with a reputation for poisoning the men in her life and Caleb Jones is the private investigator she calls upon to investigate the theft of a fern from her conservatory.  Of course the plant is only the beginning of the trouble. “She can detect any poison. He can decipher any clue. To find a killer, they make a perfect pair…”

Have you ever struggled with a spell of unproductive reading? What did you do to overcome it?

19 thoughts on “It’s not you—it’s me.

  1. I am so glad you said this! I thought it was only me. It’s especially frustrating when it’s a book from an author I used to like.

    Now I don’t feel so bad.

    As for doing anything about it–I guess it’s just one of those things. I keep hoping that the next one I pick up will be better.

    • Sometimes it is a genre switching thing. Some authors can switch up genres and it works. Others, the voice or style just doesn’t work. That was the case in one of the books I read recently. But sometimes, it really is just me. When I’m stressed or super busy, some books I would normally like just don’t hold my attention. Luckily, I have a huge TBR pile to sift through for something different.

  2. Charlie this is a timely post for me, just finished the Anthology with Jeanieane Frost, Shayla Black and Sharie Kohler “Haunted By Your Touch” and have to say that as a long time fan of both Frost and Black I was expecting more from my book read! It is not just you, lately some of the series I have been reading just seem to not quite have the “edge” that previous books did.. Either that or for a change of pace I need to mix my genres a bit more so as to not get all the plots running together in my brain…

    How do I get past non-productive reading, same as you and Maria keep going until something in my TBR shelves actually “clicks” for me again!

    BTW not sure as have not gone back through your posts but finished reading Insatiable and it was quite a fun book for me, never having read Meg Cabot it was a very nice change of pace from my darker PNR and UF reading… (I think my romances need to be put in next order of reading to cleanse my palate for a couple of weeks…..)
    jackie >_<

    • I think there is a lot of pressure on romance and urban fantasy writers these days. Everyone wants several books a year. I think authors get tired. I also think some authors are better at the novella length. Lori Foster, for example, is awesome with anthologies, but I think her single title novels don’t hold up as well. Anthologies require a slightly different scope and rhythm that some authors haven’t mastered.

      Glad you’re enjoying Meg’s book!

  3. Whatever it is that you’re experiencing, it’s catching. I’ve picked up four books recently and put them down less than halfway through. I’m not sure if it’s me or if there simply wasn’t enough substance to hold my interest. Very weird. Yes, when I’m in a reading funk, I also turn to tried and true re-reads to get me back on track, but I’m just not sure that it’s 100% me this time.
    I did start The Doomsday Book last night. It took me a couple chapters to adjust to the author’s constant head-hopping, but I like the book and it seems like a keeper.

  4. If I’m in a reading slump, I try to switch genres – like you, my TBR pile is big enough that I can do that and that usually works for me.

    Most of my reading right now is in the form of debut authors or first books in a series, so I’ve not noticed the tired storylines. A couple of the series I was following have left me ambivalent about whether I finish the series or not, but other people seem to like them so I guess it’s just me. *shrug*

    Julia, I loved The Doomsday Book (if it’s the one I’m thinking of by Connie Willis) but it’s a bit heavy. ‘To Say Nothing of The Dog’ has a similar premise (Oxford Scholars go back in time to study history) but has much more levity and is a better read, I reckon.

    • I’ve made a point to read debuts and sereis starters this year, too. Trying to go beyond the comfort zone. I realized I’d been playing things too safe and sticking too closely to my must read list. I’m rediscovering the joy of finding new gems.

  5. I’ve been in a reading slump too! I don’t have any answers for you. But when I’m particularly disappointed by a bad apple, it helps me to re-read the author’s best book and remember why I loved them! I definitely don’t mind reading the faves! I usually pick up something new in the process.

  6. I’ve recently started reading some of the ‘not made into movies’ YA paranormal authors. There is a lot of energy and fun in the writing. Cassandra Clare is my new favorite. There’s adventure and romance, but no overt sex. Also, Charlie’s recommendations in the SciFi genre, like Linnea Sinclair, have sparked my reading joy again.

  7. When this happens I’ll either switch to non-fiction for a while or just stop reading all together… just to take a break. Sometimes reading way outside my comfort zone helps too. Too much of the same thing can steal away the magic. I find that sometimes when I pick up a book, I’m just not ready for it. For example, I worked at the company who distributed the first Harry Potter books in Canada. Even when we couldn’t keep the books in stock, I had no interest in reading them. Years later, about the time the first movie came out, I was going through a dark time and found the trailer for the first movie appealing. After watching it, I bought the first book, read it and soon after I was pre-ordering the other books. Because I read them at a time when I needed to hear their message, the stories resonated more. Anyway, just some ideas to chew on.

  8. I ran into that same phenomenon when I got half a dozen or so books into the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. I really liked the first books and was seriously disappointed when the series began to degrade. After reading another half dozen or so, when it became obvious that Cornwell was not going to get back on track, I abandoned the series entirely. (According to reviews I’ve read on, I am far from the only reader who was similarly disappointed, disillusioned and eventually disgusted with the series.) Cornwell just seemed to not care about her characters or her readers or the quality of her writing. As one person put it, it was like Cornwell was just phoning the books in, anything to get another book published to keep the cash coming in. Cornwell has not stopped producing the series, but I am unwilling to give it yet another chance. There’s no reason to suffer through bad books, simply in the hope that the series will improve again.

    Thank goodness there are so many other books and series to read!

    • Well said! So many books, so little time.

      I do hope you’ll give her a chance if she tries something new, though. Sometimes it isn’t the author’s choice. If a publisher wants a series to continue that is what they’ll do. For the author it is their income–a job. One they love and care deeply about, but still a job.

      If you find another great series, be sure to let us know. I especially love dark romantic suspense.

      • I’m working through the Rizzoli & Isles series by Tess Gerritsen now. I’ve found them to be well-written and engaging. And because Gerritsen started writing them well before there was a TV series based on the lead characters, it’s been interesting to watch the development of the “franchise” and to note the differences between the books and the TV show.

        I also love Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series, which became the (very loose) basis for the TV show Bones. I love the show for the chemistry between the characters, but the books are much more realistic and believable.

        As for your observation about authors having to provide what their editors are demanding, as it’s their job to do so, I can only say that I would hope the authors would not be so disenchanted with their earlier creations that they would undermine or endanger the entire line. And in Cornwell’s case with the Scarpetta series, that’s what I witnessed. It makes me less apt to trust her to give her all to anything else she writes. I hope I’m wrong about that, because it would be a shame to lose a (formerly) fantastic author to her own disillusionment or ennui or whatever the case may be.

  9. I remember reading a book by a favorite author and saying, “What the hell was that???” I didn’t read the second book in the two-book series, but fortunately all her other stories are magnificent.

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