Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Petty Reasons I've Given Books Low Ratings

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I thought this would be an easy topic for a blog post. I thought I was a petty bitch! Turns out, I'm not as petty as I thought. Most of the reasons I dislike books are completely normal. Flat characters, predictable plots, saggy middles. Perfectly reasonable stuff to dislike.

After digging through tons of old reviews, I found a few petty reasons why I knocked stars off my ratings. This post was hard!

😬  Petty Reasons To Hate Books  😕

1. You don't know anything about mountain climbing! And I don't either! If you've been on this blog before, then you've seen me talk about this book. It must have traumatized me because I can't stop whining about it. (Much like my other childhood traumas.)

Here's the scene from the book so we can relive it. A man and a woman are tied together at opposite ends of a long rope. They're running along a cliffside to escape from bad guys. The man falls off the cliff. The woman stops his fall without breaking stride. She doesn't get yanked off her feet when he hits the end of the rope and starts swinging from her waist like a pendulum. She keeps running while he climbs back up the rope. The rope is only attached to her! How is this possible? How is she still running?

We love a badass female character. This one is so badass that she can break reality. She also broke my star rating for the book.

2. I regret to inform you that sled dogs are not horses. I have never seen a dog sled with reins. Not in real life. Not in historical photos. Maybe dog reins existed somewhere, but I've never seen evidence of widespread use.

Way too many fiction authors assume that dog sleds and horse sleighs are the same! They're not!

Modern dog sleds are controlled by giving the dogs commands. I've also seen humans ski or snowmobile in front of the dogs. The dogs just follow the human.

Historical dog sleds used signal whips. I've heard that whips are still used in some places, but I've never seen one in real life. Dogs don't like the loud noise the whip makes, so cracking it on the dogs' right side will cause them to move left.

I borrowed public domain photos because steering a dog sled is (apparently) important.

Here's a modern dog sled. The guy on the back is doing the steering. He's holding onto the sled and using his body weight to guide it through curves.

Dog sleds look different in different parts of the world. In places with no trees or crevasses, you'll traditionally see a fan hitch. Each dog is connected to the sled by an individual rope. The dogs can spread out or bunch together depending on the terrain. 

Here's a mail carrier in 1898 Alaska. The dogs look like they have reins, but they don't. That's how they were attached to the sled in 1898 times.

Here's a watercolor painting of a Native American dog sled in 1833 North Dakota.

Here's a picture of me and my dad in the early 2000s. I'm the 16-year-old frozen marshmallow on the back of the sled. Look mom, no reins!

No reins anywhere. I will knock stars off a book's rating for dog sleds that grow mysterious reins.

3. This book didn't change my parents. In the past few years, I've dabbled in self-help books. I read one book about how to repair damaged relationships. There was a chapter about a woman who had an argument with her father. They didn't speak to each other for years. Then the woman decided to contact him.

At first, the conversations were rocky. After months, her father slowly became more receptive to talking with her. Then he started turning off Fox News when she came over because it distracted them from their conversations.

WAIT! HOLD ON! You can't casually mention a father turning off Fox News without explaining how to achieve this witchcraft. How do you make them turn it off? My parents watch Fox News 24/7 and keep it at a volume that will make your brain hemorrhage. The TV literally cannot go louder!

When I ask them to turn it off (or turn it down), they call me a "Snowflake that can't handle the truth."

I'm docking stars from this self-help book for being helpful about all the wrong things.

4. Am I supposed to feel something? In addition to dabbling in self-help, I've also been dabbling in cozy fantasy. "Cozy" is not my reading vibe. "Death and destruction" is my reading vibe.

I haven't hated any of the cozy books I've read so far, but I do feel like I'm missing something. The characters are falling in love and having fun adventures, and I'm just sitting here like:

I suspect I'm too dead inside to fully appreciate the happiness of fictional people. I'm docking stars for too much joy.

5. I don't want to do actual work! I spent 11 years in college and then got a job where I'm constantly fixing the messes that people create. My brain is tired. It doesn't want to work anymore.

If a book is complicated and making me feel stupid, I'll give up on it. Reading should be fun. It shouldn't make me feel more exhausted. You get zero stars for trying to make me smarter.

6. The cults are wrong! If you thought my dog sled obsession was tedious, wait until you hear me talk about cults. Oh, boy. Everyone loves to screw up cults. Authors seem to think that cult members are brainless robots who do whatever they're told without asking questions.

One of the stupidest fictional cult books I've read was about a doomsday cult that built an underground bomb shelter. As soon as the shelter was finished, the leader turned off the oxygen, locked the cult members inside, and fled to avoid legal trouble. All the adults were like, "Welp, the leader tricked us. We're going to die." Then they flopped on their beds and waited to suffocate.

Instead of suffocating, a teenager walked over to the control panel on the shelter's wall and turned the air back on. Crisis averted! Everybody can breathe!

Being in a cult does not automatically mean you're suicidal and severely lacking brain activity.

I can hear authors going, "But Jonestown! People drank poison and died!" That's true, but people also tried to escape from Jonestown. Those people were shot. I know the media likes to call Jonestown a mass suicide, but if your choices are "drink poison" or "run and get shot," is that really suicide?

The stupid doomsday book got two stars because that's how many brain cells I had left after reading it. The rest of my brain cells suffocated in the bomb shelter.

7. How did you miss the point of your own story? Do you read memoirs? Have you ever read one that seems completely oblivious?

I read a memoir written by a woman whose husband was diagnosed with a rare and usually fatal medical condition. The author's parents and her in-laws teamed up and got him into the only hospital in the US that has specialists for this condition. Then they got him into the world's best rehab center. They paid for ambulance airplanes to fly him around to different doctors. They bought the author an apartment near the rehab center and hired nannies to watch her kids. The parents paid all the bills because the author was too stressed out to have a job.

The husband eventually recovered enough to leave rehab. He survived a medical problem that kills pretty much everybody who develops it.

I expected the conclusion of the book to talk about the US healthcare system and what the author learned from navigating it as a wealthy person. Instead, she talked about the importance of being a good Christian.

Okay . . . ?

I guess good Christians have wealthy parents and bad Christians die from rare medical problems?

I think the author might have missed several important points in her own story. She also missed a good review from me.

8. The spooky vampires . . . sparkle. Friends, I just can't do the paranormal romance thing. I want my monsters to be scary, not sexy! The only scary thing about Edward and Jacob in Twilight is how they treat Bella.

Sexy monsters get one star, but that's okay because the star sparkles.

Tell me your petty reasons for giving books bad ratings!


  1. I never knew that about Jonestown. One thing I do know -- and like to correct people about when I'm feeling very "ACKKTUALLY --" is that they drank Flavor-Aid, not Kool-Aid. Cool facts about the dog sleds! I've only encountered them in fiction (Call of the Wild) and had no idea how they operated. My list is below, though it's rather short because I could only find 5 titles I'd DNF'd and mentioned on the blog.


  2. Lol I loved your list! I also severely disliked Twilight. Vampires should never ever sparkle. And ugh..I really can't go on. I disliked that book so much for so many reasons. Lol.

    I also enjoyed your dog sledding lesson\explanation!

  3. Authors not doing their research on things can be a bummer. I've knocked off stars for bad dialogue and too many typos.

  4. These are all fantastic! I did not know any of that about dog sleds.

    Here is my Top Ten Tuesday.


  5. This made me laugh! #7 & #8 in particular 😂 Ooh, the sparkly vampires are definitely not for me!

  6. Haha yeah I'm still surprised that sparkly vampires actually happened.

  7. Your lists are always the most amusing to read. Thank you for a laugh today!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  8. What a fabulous list, Aj. Numbers 1 and 5 would do it for me, too. Love visiting here and experiencing your sense of humor. You often make my day.

  9. OMG this is the best thing I've read in a long, long time. You are spot on.

    I particularly loved the ones about dogsleds and cults. I hate when people write a book about a different place, time, or culture and don't bother to either research them or think through how things work. How would you steer a dogsled with reigns?? How would that even work? I'm the same way as you are on this and cults with anything I have experience of. Like if a character has one of my medical issues and it's described totally wrong it frustrates me beyond belief. It's not hard to find out the basics of a medical condition, particularly one as common as, say, diabetes. And not bothering to do a quick Google search and describing it incorrectly can spread misinformation and misunderstanding. #4 and 5 I thought were unique to me - instead of a heart I have a shriveled walnut that can only take small amounts of happiness and romance and I can't handle books that make my brain hurt!

    You nailed each one of these annoying issues that come up in different types of books, and while you did it you made me laugh out loud. Which almost never happens, so I give you full stars. Sparkly ones.

  10. Lol, these are all amazing! Please name the books! I need to know the books!

    I'm not that smart of a reader and I'm sure there are a ton of stuff I've read in books that are wrong but I probably never knew. I didn't know about dogsleds and no reins, but now I do, thanks to you! Please consider doing a whole series of posts on this topic, I want more!! 😂

  11. I was also surprised that I was not as petty as I thought I was. Look at us, not so petty-bitches. Your evidence to denounce the inaccuracy of the book you gives so many examples throughout history. Well done!

  12. The dog sled one reminds me of the time I read a book where a woman was hired to take care of mushing dogs and she had no idea how to take care of them and then was given the opportunity to race a team, like this ridiculously short amount of time later. Like NO ONE would do this with dogs they used to complete or hunt at all, let alone ones that regularly competed in the Iditarod, like these did.

  13. You're hilarious! #3 made me laugh out loud. I'm not naming names, but let's just say I've had some personal experience with this one...How do you stop it? I'd love to know.

    Happy TTT!

  14. I am cackling at the weird mountain-climbing-running situation! That's bonkers and not in a good way lol. The same goes for authors that write about any topics they know nothing about, we can tell!

  15. These all sound like good reasons... Let me know when you come up with a self-help book on how to encourage someone to turn off (or down) Faux News without setting off WW3

  16. Your number one made me laugh. I know nothing of mountain climbing either, but even I know this doesn't make any sense. Egregious error.

  17. OMG, what book was the first one from? 😭 I just finished An Ember in the Ashes and there was also this scene where two characters were hanging off the edge of a cliff and were tied together by a rope.. I did NOT understand any of the logistics that went into that scene!

    aimee @ aimee can read

  18. You made me laugh and I so badly needed this! The number five is why I stopped reading The Atlas Six. I just felt plain stupid!

  19. Thank you so much for the dog sled information! This will also become my new petty gripe! :-) I also noticed I don't tend to have a lot of petty gripes, but somebody writing about successful recovery from an illness and not acknowledging their privilege or attributing it to luck/faith instead of wealth/resources also bothers me.

  20. Your list is both incredibly informative and laugh out loud funny at the same time, which isn't an easy feat! You won me over with the dog sled info, which I didn't know much about, but even I know they don't use reins like horses, but I loved seeing all the pics and the one of you as a little marshmallow. I hate books that make me feel dumb - authors don't have to use all big words and complicated theories to explain simple concepts, because reading should be, like you said, enjoyable and not more work. But the last two reasons and gifs were my favorites!

  21. Bwhahah I LOVE THIS. First of all, absolutely agree about the cult business. Like you, I get very annoyed when randomly specific things are wrong. I dock stars for bad swimming rep ALL the time. And geographical errors! One time an author tried to tell me that Newark Airport was in PA and like... ma'am this is too lazily incorrect for a good rating. Glad I am not the only one here! (Also what if you taped a fake Fox, superimposed the logo, and just gradually changed the message over time? I mean it would take a lot of effort but you would make bank on all the people who need to fix their relatives!)

    1. Hell, I'd be a fake Fox News broadcaster for free, if this could be a legit service.

  22. This was utterly delightful! :D And I relate to the cozy books....cozy mysteries drive me nuts. Also, totally agree that monsters should be frightening and authors should understand that we're ALL susceptible to cults because cult leaders are adept manipulators. Honestly, these all seem like legit, valid reasons to take a star off! :D Breaking physics is a big one for me. Unless we're in a fantasy world or another planet or alternate reality, you cannot break physics and expect me to go along with it. It's have stopped reading that mountain climbing book right there. 0 stars for clearly failing to observe ANYTHING about the world around you, author.