Series I Never Finished Reading #2 – Flopped from the Start.

Most of my regular readers know that I don’t often read series. Mind you, there was a time that I read lots of them. But today, things have changed, even though sometimes I’ll read the first novel of a series in hopes of finding one in which I want to get invested. No, I’m not talking about books that looked like stand-alone novels, that ended up having sequels. What I’m talking about are the series that I started to read – knowing full well that there would be more books in the future – and then… stopped reading one point in time or another. Some of them fizzled out after a while, some just got lost in the shuffle, while others flopped from the start, and (another category added recently) some started as stand-alone novels that got more than one sequel, but I wasn’t really interested in reading more about these characters. Let’s see which ones are in each of these categories.

When I started writing this, I didn’t realize just how many series I had begun reading and never finished. So, I’ve decided to do this in three separate posts, which has now turned to four separate posts. Ironically, that makes these… a series of posts about series I never finished reading! Last time I did the book series that got lost in the shuffle. Today I’m talking about:

Those that flopped from the start…

the-kalahari-typing-school-for-men-2No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith. Everyone, well practically everyone, always seemed to be raving to me about these books. They went on and on about how lovely the main protagonist was, how sweetly the stories were written, and how much fun and how unique they were. Of course, even I’m not totally immune to hype, especially when it isn’t just bloggers, but also friends and family that start ganging up on me about a series I “must read.” So, after people told me I didn’t have to start at the beginning, I broke down and got myself a copy of the fourth novel in the series, “The Kalahari Typing School for Men,” which happened to be on sale (and I believe I had a discount code for The Book Depository I used, as well). You know what? It was sweet, yes, all the way until the end when… it just wrapped up and… ended. Say, what? Now, maybe it was my mistake reading that book instead of the first, but I just didn’t get what all the rage was about. Nice try, but not for me, thanks.

Van Buren and DeLuca Mysteries – Rachel McMillan. Maybe my mistake was reading the second book in this series, “Murder in the City of Liberty,” before I read the first one, but very early on in my reading, I got frustrated with that book, and it ended up on my DNF pile. What frustrated me? As some of you know, when I read, I can visualize the action in my head (like having my own movie version). To begin with, she made a HUGE mistake about Chicago, right at the start of the book, regarding something on the lakefront (I was born in Chicago, so I know a few things about it). Then, I was unable to get a clear picture of the action of the opening scene in this book, which troubled me a good deal. Then she started in with the angst bits. DeLuca is pining after Van Buren, fine. Then she’s telling us how Van Buren is equally infatuated with DeLuca, even if he is a bit of a geeky nerd. Oh, for heaven’s sake! Really? You didn’t get that bit out of the way in the first book? That was when I gave up.

Butterfly violin1Hidden Masterpiece – Kirsty Cambron. I read and reviewed the first book, “The Butterfly and the Violin,” with all due respect, I’m afraid Christian fiction – particularly about the Holocaust – just isn’t my thing. When I read this first book, I had no idea that it was the first of a series, and that there would be two more novels to follow. I’m sure fans of the genre will love them, since the one I read was nicely written, but it didn’t blow me away. Plus, I guess you’ll be more tolerant than I was of this book if you don’t mind the way the concentration camp seemed to have almost no Jews. Being Jewish myself, I found that a bit… disturbing, if not insulting. However, to Cambron’s credit, at least she didn’t try to include anything Jewish, because that might have ended up being inaccurate, and that really pisses me off (I’m talking to you, Martha Hall Kelly, and your novel “Lilac Girls”).

11a36-apple2bplisherRear Entrance Video – Heidi Belleau. Here too, I read the first book, “The Apple Polisher,” when it came out (I think it was actually one of the first ARCs for which I received approval). It was an interesting LGBT coming-of-age/love story, that was very nicely written, and I thought it would be a series that would be a nice departure for me. Sadly, there was a big problem with this book. As my regular readers know, I’m a bit of a prude when it comes to sex scenes in books. I don’t enjoy graphic descriptions of people making love, no matter how passionate their relationship. With this book, there were a few nice scenes, but then there were some steamy bits that practically bordered on being pornographic for me. That’s why although I knew there would be more in this series, I never looked for the other two books.

The Wicked Years – Gregory Maguire. Honestly…. I really tried to read Wicked, the first book in this series, and I just could NOT finish it. No surprise that I didn’t try to read any more from this series! I actually bought the book because I saw the musical in London, and I was not terribly impressed. Oh, sure, the production was amazing and I really liked the concept but the songs were just… meh, I’m afraid. When we left the theater, I couldn’t recall even one of them. What a letdown after having seen Avenue Q where several of the songs stuck in my head immediately, and I had so much fun, I had to buy the CD on the spot! So, I figured, maybe the book of Wicked was better than the musical (if it happens with movies, why not with musicals, right?). Well, I cannot tell you how confused I was when trying to read that book. All these characters, all these lands, and all these story-lines just got muddled up together, and many of them seemed so superfluous to the whole essence of what was included in the musical. Just goes to show that I am not a fantasy person, I guess. But at least I tried, right?

A Curious BeginningVeronica Speedwell – Deanna Raybourne. This is one of those books that I had really high hopes for, mostly because this series was recommended to me by two authors that I highly respect. In fact, I was really enjoying the first book in this series, “A Curious Beginning,” and thought I’d finally found a new mystery series I could sink my teeth into. The writing was sprightly, the main character was a good feisty woman who bucked the norms of her era, and was not afraid to be herself. But the ending… with the solution Raybourne came up with to solve the mystery… oh dear… I was very unhappy with that; it was far-fetched and frankly, way too implausible for my taste. Now, maybe with that bit out of the way, the next books in the series might be able to just ignore it all, but I don’t know… I’m worried that it will come up again and I’ll just get frustrated. Sorry, I can’t chance that so, I’ll give this series a pass.

4c5c2-murder2bin2bbelgravia-1Mayfair 100 Murder Mysteries – Lynn Brittney. I wasn’t sure if this book belonged here or in the “fizzled out” category. It wasn’t really a flop, because I read the first one, “Murder in Belgravia,” and it was okay. There were several good things about it, such as how they built this team of investigators, and how they were essentially forced to include a woman. Of course, keeping her on would then be understandable, for no other reason that they were in the middle of the Great War, and women were filling lots of jobs that the men had left empty. It was good, but… I wasn’t overly impressed, especially because it felt that aside from that one aspect, the war was ignored, and that’s one reason why I never bothered to look for the next one. I see that the second novel came out in 2019, and is getting good ratings.

Next time… Book Series that Just Fizzled Out!

My first post in this series: Lost in the Shuffle.

27 thoughts on “Series I Never Finished Reading #2 – Flopped from the Start.

  1. Visiting from the Inspire Me Monday link up today. This is a great angle on book reviews. What not to read is just as helpful as we all have limited time. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Having written a trilogy ( with a prequel thrown in) I was rather anxious reading your blog. But these are well known series – so, of course, i realised I was ‘non-contender’ . Certainly was relieved to see I wasn’t the only one who struggled to enjoy #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. In fact I only managed halfway through the first book before putting it down. And the same for Wicked. I have read – or should I say, gave up reading – quite a few lesser known series that actually should have stopped at the first book. Or not have been written at all. Wouldn’t name them here; well known ( and richer) authors, can take harsh criticism on the chin and not even care; those struggling far lower down the ladder might become disheartened enough not to write another word. But they shouldn’t, constructive reviews are the lifeline for writers, it’s the way we learn to hone and improve. I just wonder what it was about the first book of these series you mention here that encouraged the authors to continue? Someone ( or quite a few ‘someones’) must have raved enough to encourage these writers to carry one. Might be an interesting exercise – for anybody who has time or enough interest – to discover who or what that was. Bearing in mind, I suppose, that our reading, as with all things, is subjective.Good post, as always. Looking forward to “Fizzled Out”. Now, on that subject I could name quite a few…

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    1. I am thinking that these authors had series in their heads when they wrote the first ones, so I’m not sure if your question applies. However, my last post will be about books that started out as stand-alone novels that got more than one sequel. I’m thinking your question applies to them, and I’m certain that it was “popular demand” that got them to write the subsequent books. Obviously, their fans mean a lot to them, so they want to keep them happy. Also, I’d be willing to bet that a touch of writer’s block might have come into it. Maybe they needed to use familiar territory to get them back on track. Also, it could be that they had written more than their editor wanted to put into the first book, and they decided to just keep writing and telling the story with their leftovers.

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  3. When I first moved to Melbourne I joined a book club at Borders and they Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire. I think I bought Wicked before I even read it because it sounded like something I would love, but no.

    I have read a lot of the Alexander McCall Smith books but I have lost steam with them for sure.

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  4. Ah, another person who just couldn’t read Wicked. I thought I was the only one! Though I really did enjoy the Broadway show when I saw it.

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  5. I read several of the #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books before I finally tired of them. (He shouldn’t have written so many!) I did like them because, although they were in Botswana and I lived in Mali, the books presented a picture of the gentle side of Africa and were in many ways a journey down memory lane — i.e. I enjoyed them for the nostalgia.

    I discovered and fell in love with The Mrs. Polifax series and read every single one in order. If you decide to try them, start with the first — The Unexpected Mrs. Polifax. I am now the proud owner of a copy of the first edition (1966) which I found in a book exchange in small town Mexico.

    I did read and enjoy The Hunger Games, but had no desire to go beyond that first book.

    I had always dreamed of writing a book so one day I did. It’s called EMBATTLED. Beings from “out there somewhere”
    take over a woman’s life giving her superpowers to “fix” the world. When I finished the book, I felt that the story was incomplete so I ended up writing three more books, but the heroine is a different person in each book which I think that makes it more intriguing.

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    1. The African setting was why I wanted to read them, so I was disappointed. Never heard of Mrs. Polifax, but cool you got that 1st edition! Hunger Games is YA fantasy – not my thing at all.

      Cool about the books you wrote, and if I was into fantasy, I’d ask to read them. I’m also writing a book, but it is historical, literary, fiction.

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  6. Can we still be friends if I told you I’ve read the entire No 1 Ladies Detective Series? ! It’s just a yearly habit now!
    Curious Beginnings was a DNF for me.
    I remember reading Butterfly and the Violin…I had no idea it as a series! 😂
    I can’t remember, have you tried the Louise Penney Inspector Gamache series?

    Liked by 1 person

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