Top 10 Most Disappointing Books I Read in 2019

I’d like to start out this post by saying that this year was actually a pretty great reading year – I didn’t read THAT MANY books that I completely disliked or couldn’t finish. But, of course, there were some – and some that I was very much not expecting to be so disappointed by. This post is highlighting those books – the ones I expected to love but was let down by in one way or another. I have to make the disclaimer that I DO NOT THINK these are bad books, and I COMPLETELY respect those who enjoyed or even loved the books below. Sometimes reading tastes don’t align, and that’s okay! I’d actually love to know if you disagree with any of my opinions below – if you enjoyed one of the books, what was it that worked for you?

Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating: 2 stars

This book, although not my lowest-rated book of the year, I consider to be my biggest disappointment because I whole-heartedly thought I’d love it. The story follows two strangers, Daniel and Natasha, who meet in New York City and develop an unlikely relationship over the span of a single day. My problems with the book included the pacing (SO slow, with choppy chapters) and the love story (completely unrealistic in my opinion). Although I typically don’t mind character-focused, slice-of-life type stories, this one just did not work for me – I was left bored and unsatisfied!

Title: Not All Migrate
Author: Krystynna Byers
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating: 1 star

I had received this book as an eARC on Netgalley, and I was really disappointed to not connect with the story and have to leave my dissatisfied review. This book follows a man who has lost his wife and two daughters in a car accident and is informed that his wife had an unknown drug in her system at the time of the crash. He sets out to find out what the drug was and who supplied it to her, but ends up addicted himself (not a spoiler – the addiction part is essentially the entire book). The premise was completely unbelievable to me and the writing of the book was so graphic and strange that it took everything in me to complete the book at all. I said in my inital review that although this book could be entertaining to someone, I’m just not sure who that someone is – definitely not me or anyone looking for a traditional thriller.

Title: Appalachian Book of the Dead
Author: Dale Neal
Genre: Contemporary (?)
My Rating: DNF’d/1 star

This year, I only DNF’d two books – this unfortunately was one of them. I don’t even know how to describe the genre or the plot of this book, it was that unusual. I’ve seen it described as a “metaphysical thriller,” but I’m not really sure what that means. The book was very slow-paced and ominous, but there was no clear plot that I could distinguish by the time I quit reading about halfway through. I had received a physical ARC of this book from the publisher, but even that could not motivate me to finish this strange story.

Title: The Lost Man
Author: Jane Harper
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: DNF’d/1 star

This was the second of two books I couldn’t finish this year. I had picked it up as part of my Goodreads Choice Award Thriller Nominees reading challenge, but after attempting to read it both physically and as an audiobook, decided it wasn’t worth suffering through. The plot follows two men searching for answers after the mysterious death of their third brother, but the writing is extremely slow-paced and focuses heavily on the atmosphere of the Australian desert that the story is set in. I found absolutely nothing that intrigued me from the start of the book, and after reading in other reviews that the pace never picks up, decided I could put the book down with the decision that it was not the thriller for me. I know Jane Harper is a very popular writer, so I’m sure this book as well as her others appeal to many readers, but I don’t foresee myself racing to pick up her books again anytime soon.

Title: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Author: Stephen R. Covey
Genre: Nonfiction
My Rating: 2 stars

This book is highly regarded as a nonfiction classic, an authority on the topic of forming habits and becoming successful in a business sense as well as in one’s personal life. I was excited to soak up all of the knowledge, but very quickly found it to be outdated, preachy, and long-winded. I have read a number of other nonfiction books that seemed to say the same things that this book did, but in much more concise and impactful ways.

Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
My Rating: 2 stars

This was a VERY popular contemporary romance book this year, and I had no reason not to believe that I’d love it as much as everyone else. What came out of it was the realization that I prefer this “rom-com” type story in movie form MUCH more than in book form – I think it just took way too much of my time for a story that is so overly cheesy and lacks any real substance. I can totally respect that other people might connect with this type of light-hearted story, but now I know better before jumping into them myself.

Title: My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 2 stars

Another very hyped book this year, My Lovely Wife is a thriller that follows a couple that murders women as a way to spice up their marriage. Again, I had no reason to think that I wouldn’t love it, but after completion I have concluded that I don’t enjoy stories from a serial killer’s perspective. I didn’t find anything suspenseful or surprising about the story and was expecting more from the amazing thriller this was supposed to be.

Title: Someone We Know
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 2 stars

This was the third Shari Lapena thriller that I’ve read, and unfortunately my least favorite. The story follows several members within a neighborhood where one woman turns up dead and everyone starts pointing fingers and discovering secrets that everyone else is hiding. I had a number of problems with the tropes used, including cheating/lying between every married couple involved, and the fact that every single person had a motive to be the killer made the ending unsurprising and unsatisfying.

Title: One Nation Under Taught
Author: Dr. Vince M. Bertram
Genre: Nonfiction
My Rating: 2 stars

This book, which I read way back in January, had me really excited – as an engineer myself, I can totally see the need for more graduates of STEM fields and think that a book designed to educte on that topic is a great idea. However, this book ended up being a 200-page advertisement for Project Lead the Way, one program that – although I see its merit – claims to have all of the answers and be ready to solve all of America’s education problems, and it just rubbed me the wrong way.

Title: Inspection
Author: Josh Malerman
Genre: Dystopia
My Rating: 2 stars

I was super excited to read this book, a dystopian novel about two separate but nearly identical experiments being done on boys and girls to study how being raised completely isolated from the opposite sex would impact their development and potential for success. A great premise, but unfortunately I was disappointed by the execution of the book because of its slow pace, limited surprising elements, and too-late action.


With that, I’m actually glad to be done writing this post – I don’t enjoy talking badly about books or revisiting all of the books that left me with disappointed feelings – I’d much rather talk about favorites! So my next post will highlight my top 10 FAVORITE books that I read in 2019. Feel free to comment and let me know (or leave a link to your own post) either your favorite or most disappointing books that you read this year!


August 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

I started out my September TBR post last week by saying how excited I am for it to be September and all of the exciting things I have to look forward to this fall! I’m sure I’m not alone in that love for fall activities and cozy fall weather – but August has definitely been a whirlwind, trying to cherish these last bits of summer while I still have them.

For those reasons, August was a bit of a slower reading month, and I only have 7 books to wrap up (4 of them were actually audiobooks, so that’s really telling of my reading habits!), but still a good reading month in itself and I definitely found some great reads to recommend. As usual, my reading stats and then mini-reviews for each book are below!

This month’s reading stats:
7 books (4 audiobooks)
1,171 pages
7 authors (4 female)
1 nonfiction | 6 fiction
Year-to-date quick stats:
66 books (12 audiobooks)
17,018 pages
61 authors (34 female)
21 nonfiction | 45 fiction

Title: Swapping Purples for Yellows
Author: Matthew Duffus
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 285
My Rating: 4 stars
This ARC was provided to me for free by SFK Press, but I am under no obligation to review positively or otherwise. All thoughts are completely my own and are posted on my own accord!

Brief Summary: This book follows the Sutherlands, your typical middle-class family with plenty of drama but trying to hold it together, if not for their own sakes but for everyone else’s. Alternating between Rob, the father and professor at the local university, Molly, the mother struggling with her identity and gambling issues, and their two teenage daughters, this slice-of-life story dives into each character’s thoughts, feelings, and problems over the course of an action-packed weekend.

My Thoughts: At the very least, I thought this was an entertaining slice-of-life story in which readers can find at least one character to relate to. At the most, though, I think this story is a real teacher of empathy and reminder that you never really know what is going on behind-the-scenes of someone else’s life. With the length of this story only spanning three days, you get such an in-depth view to all of the characters’ perspectives and nuanced situations that you can’t help but root for all of them and none of them at the same time. Do I think this book had such a profound message that I’ll be thinking about it every day for months to come? No, but I can appreciate a story that gets me out of my own head and into the shoes of a person/family with a life as complex as mine.

Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This is a very popular contemporary novel that features an enemies-to-lovers romance plotline. Olive and Ethan are the maid of honor and best man in a wedding where every single OTHER person – including the bride and groom – gets food poisoning and becomes violently ill. Because of the illness, the bride and groom cannot attend their non-refundable honeymoon, so Olive and Ethan step up to redeem the trip – even though they hate each other.

My Thoughts: Like I said, this book is super popular and I’ve seen it hyped everywhere on the bookternet, and I wanted to love it. I actually think that if I watched this book as a movie, I’d love the light-hearted cheesiness of it, and I’d appreciate that it only took up an hour and a half of my time. But I listened to the 10-ish hour audiobook instead, and it just felt like a waste of my time. If you love rom-com books and are looking for a light summer read, this probably would be right up your alley! I just didn’t find anything great about it. Plus – I’ve lived in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, which is where these characters are from, and at first I thought it was cool hearing them mention places I know and have been to myself. But I don’t know, when the audiobook narrator mispronounces Mankato and Menards… it loses its charm pretty quick. Overall just not my cup of tea, and I will probably steer clear of rom-com books like this one in the future.  

Title: Gone
Author: Michael Grant
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 558
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book, probably intended for a middle-grade audience, is a dystopia that follows a group of kids all under the age of 15 after every single adult instantaneously disappears. Nobody knows why it happened, where they went, or what they are supposed to do now that the kids are completely on their own.  

My Thoughts: I’ve said it before, but there is a special place in my heart for dystopias, no matter who they are intended for. I really loved the focus on kids in this one – no adult characters for us to follow even if we wanted to. The story was super intriguing and kept me turning the pages. I was disappointed in the middle and ending though – absolutely zero questions were answered. There are something like 5 more books in the series, each of them probably consisting of 500+ pages, and I just don’t want to have to read all of them to get to the bottom of the mysteries uncovered here. So I will not be continuing, but I would recommend this book to any dystopia-lovers ready to dive into the whole, long series.

Title: On the Island
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 328
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This contemporary novel alternates between perspectives of teacher/tutor, Anna, and student, T.J., the two victims of a tiny plane crash between islands in the Maldives on the way to T.J.’s family’s vacation home for the summer. When their pilot has a heart attack and dies on the way down, Anna and T.J. land in the water alone and eventually wash up onto shore with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. As they struggle to live on the island until the authorities can locate them, their relationship becomes possibly the most important factor in their survival.

My Thoughts: This is the second novel I’ve read by Tracey Garvis Graves (first was The Girl He Used to Know), and my second 5-star rating. I just love her books – her character development is amazing and I always end up caring so deeply for both characters in the relationship despite all of the flaws they inevitably have. This story particularly is also incredibly suspenseful – I spent every page wondering if Anna & T.J. were going to survive, and if they did, what was going to happen to their relationship. Can’t wait to keep on reading TGG’s books.

Title: Influencer: The Power to Change Anything
Author: Kerry Patterson, et. al.
Genre: Business/Nonfiction
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book is a non-fiction guide to identifying the vital behaviors that lead to any rapid and profound change, whether in an individual or organization. It teaches how to apply strategies for changing both thoughts and actions, making change not only possible, but inevitable.

My Thoughts: I always enjoy self-help-type books that offer real stories and case studies showing how the strategies being highlighted actually work in the real world, and this book definitely had a lot of that. I thought the information was simple and clear and presented in a helpful way. Definitely recommend to anyone looking to make changes happen on an individual or organizational basis.

Title: Forever, Interrupted
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about Elsie, a young woman whose husband is suddenly killed after only two weeks of being married. After his death, Elsie has to deal not only with her grief, but also with getting to know her mother-in-law who never even knew her son was in a relationship – let alone married. We alternate between reading about the early stages of Elsie and Ben’s relationship and Elsie’s present-day struggles.

My Thoughts: This book was HARD to rate! On one hand, it’s a really nice love story that we get to see develop between Elsie and Ben. But then we are constantly thrust back into the tragedy of his death, and those sections are really, really hard to read. Ultimately I think the fact that this book made me feel so much is a testament to the storytelling and writing, so it deserves a good rating – but readers should definitely know going in that the story is extremely sad.

Title: Jane Steele
Author: Lyndsey Faye
Genre: Classic Retelling
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This is a retelling of the classic novel Jane Eyre, centered around a character named Jane Steele. Though her life and personality are like Jane Eyre in many ways, there is one major difference – Jane Steele is a serial killer.

My Thoughts: I had some mixed feelings about this one. The things that I liked include the fact that Jane Steele is a fan of Jane Eyre, and even references the classic novel several times throughout the book. I thought it was a clever way to incorporate the old story and help me relate to the main character with our mutual enjoyment of Jane Eyre. I also ultimately enjoyed the story of Jane Steele’s life and particularly liked the ending. However, for a non-classic, I thought this book really dragged on. One of the benefits of being a classic retelling, in my opinion, is the option to keep the interesting parts/themes of an old story but take out all of the wordiness and unnecessary description that classics are known for. Also, I thought that the fact that Jane Steele was a serial killer ended up being a much less exciting and prominent part of the story than I expected. Some people may find that to be a positive, since there are many other key plot points that make the story unique, but it’s used as such an attention-grabber that I just expected it to be more of the focus. I still would recommend this story for lovers of Jane Eyre, but anyone else may want to skip it!


Let me know if you have read any of these books, if they are on your TBR, or what you are planning on reading this fall!