The Worst Book I Have Ever Read

Every now and again, I like to read a romance novel to amuse myself, or when I don’t want to exercise my brain that much. I don’t expect a lot out of genre romances, but the one I finished most recently was so horrifically bad I think I can honestly say I have never read a worse book. I really wonder how Johanna Lindsey’s Captive Bride (1977) even got published in the first place.

1. Adverbs. So many adverbs. In the first fifteen lines of the book, there were five adverbs. In other parts of the book, adverbs were so prominent that I stopped paying attention to the story and started counting them.

2. Not much description of setting. Parts of the book were set in Cairo, but there was so little description of it, and the description that was there was so cliched, I couldn’t picture the setting very clearly.

3. Dialogue tags. The characters were always “screaming hysterically” or they “shrieked” or “snapped” or “whispered.” If they “said,” they typically “said harshly” or “said happily” or “said merrily,” etc.

4. I burst out laughing at parts where I think the author wanted me to cry or be outraged. I felt like I was watching a very bad soap opera, or an episode of Maury or The Jerry Springer Show.

5. With a title like Captive Bride, I don’t think it needs to be said that there’s quite a bit of Stockholm syndrome here. To me, that’s not exactly the most romantic thing in the world, but hey… I guess that’s what some women fantasize about.

6. Characters acted way out of character. Near the end of the book, a character I thought was perfectly nice and mentally stable turned into a psychopath with a jealous bloodlust.

What makes all this a little better was the knowledge that Captive Bride was Johanna Lindsey’s first book. I’d be interested in reading other books by Lindsey, only to see if she’s gotten progressively better since her first attempt. I’m sure she has, or else she would not be as well known as she is.

So… my questions for you: What are the worst books you’ve ever read? Why were they so bad?

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 20

Today’s prompt: Favorite romance book

I’m actually a huge sucker for romance. If a book includes romance, chances are, I will like it infinitely more. This is my favorite romance novel of all time:

Ashes in the Wind is beefy for a romance; my paperback is 665 pages. You’d think a book of that length would contain some boring parts, but nope. There’s a surprising amount of action here.

Basically, a tomboyish Southern belle falls in love with a Yankee doctor during the Civil War. Of course, the two start out bickering constantly, but unlike most romance novels, it’s more entertaining than annoying. Alaina, the heroine definitely is not just a wimpy damsel in need of rescuing. Her strength and bravery bring the book to life, along with vivid descriptions of the Southern landscape.

Romance Novels: More Like Fantasy Than Fantasy

I don’t have anything inspirational or informative to write about on here today, so I’ll write about reading. Right now I’m 108 pages into a romance novel (Sweet Liar by Jude Deveraux). I usually don’t care too much for romances, but my best friend’s mom gave me a stack of them some time ago and I can never say no to free books.

A few things I’ve noticed after reading four of Deveraux’s novels:

1. The hero and heroine always manage to seriously annoy each other. (Other romance writers use this technique, but Deveraux has them practically at each others’ throats.)

2. Deveraux puts a little more work into describing the setting and developing the characters than other romance writers do.

3. The heroines tend to have daddy issues. Big time.

4. Deveraux’s novels (compared to other historical romances) usually feel more like soap operas; there are twists upon twists and all kinds of outrageous things usually end up happening. Sometimes these occurrences are actually quite funny.

Romance novels are usually more like fantasy than any fantasy novels I’ve ever read. They’re the ultimate escape from reality. Sweet Liar is especially entertaining, since it takes place in 1991 and is not technically a historical romance (yet). I love the descriptions of technology in the “dazzling high-tech nineties” (from the jacket blurb). I can just imagine the hero’s giant, ridiculously-slow-by-today’s-standards Compaq PC…

So, the take-home lesson is… romances are good for when you need a mental break.