“Average books with terrific plots”- I read in 2018!

Hello, fellow bookworms, not only I managed to read more books (compared to last year) in 2018, the genres were varied as well.


Some books felt downright meh, some were absolutely phenomenal and many hung in-between.


The last ones started well but gradually fizzled out, for me. In short, they could’ve-been-better, despite raving reviews on Goodreads

1. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton


Next Year in Havana

image source: Goodreads

This has been my crash course on Cuba this year.


See, this is why I love reading, even it is fiction with catchy cover of a faceless lady showing voluminous skirt, string of pearls, and décolletage.


Growing up,  I’ve read countless propaganda pieces on -how Castro transformed Cuba.


Though I’ve got out of that phase ,“Next Year in Havana” busted the rose-tinted revolution myth little more.


The book has one of my favorite plot-molds – searching for one’s roots and unearthing secrets.


So why it felt “so-so”?


  • I sniffed a “first-world Saviour” (read: Those are really unfortunate who don’t hold the same passport as mine) syndrome throughout the “present-days” narrative .


  • Some lines, especially where the author shedding tears about the plight of common Cubans and how privileged a life she leads back home in sunny Miami, sounded a tad offensive and repetitive.


  • The ending is too Bollywood-ish to my liking.


2. Vicious (Villains, #1) by V.E. Schwab



image source: Goodreads

There are raving fans of “Vicious”, so I’m totally embarrassed to admit that I still don’t know what was the budge all about?


I appreciate V.E. Schwab‘s writing ( this is her only book I read)- it’s simple, to-the-point, and exudes a strong yang-vibe.


The hero, anti-hero idea is enthralling if not tad dated, the superpowers are interesting too. So what made it not-as-riveting as I would like it to be?


  • All the science-talk behind the acquiring of superpowers seemed laughable.


  • The villain lacks convincing skill. While reading it, my heart was not divided- I was determined from the get-go whom to support.


  • It’s “reading too many messed-up characters” fatigue. Why everyone was so complicated? Want to shock? Sketch up normal,happy individuals having “killing” streaks.



3. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty


I absolutely adored “Big Little Lies”. “What Alice Forgot” was another Liane Moriarty book I enjoyed moderately.


Then what happened dear heart with “Nine Perfect Strangers”? Have you become cold?


Well, what can be better plot-device than-

  • lumping a group of strangers (indifferent to each other) in an isolated place,
  • tossing an “impossible” challenge,
  • then showing  how the skeletons tumble out of the closet due process?


Nine Perfect Strangers” with its sanitized back-drop in a health retreat, giving sort of “meta” vibe while slyly dissing the “self-improvement” industry itself fell flat for me.



_nine perfect strangers_ quote

  • The characters were either quirky or banal with the king(or queen?)pin resembling a Russian seductress-cum-spy straight from Cold-War.


  • The plot-twist was cold turkey.


  • The snail-pace marred the impact I was anticipating and that random throwing “Namaste” was much off-putting (Hello, butt-hurt Indian here), even if it’s intentional.



4. The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware


the death of mrs. westaway

image source: Goodreads


The Death of Mrs. Westaway” had all the elements going on- a super-smart young female lead, a dilapidated house keeping many secrets in its folds, a disintegrating family, a mystery spanning more than 20 years etc.


But nothing materialized at the end.

With trying too hard to make an implausible plot-line plausible ( giving a Bollywood potboiler run for its money) and leaving everything at the mercy of readers’ guess-work- looked lazy.


Also, if a person like me, who won’t be the brightest person in any room anywhere, can deduce the killer correctly half-way- the author could do so much better in weaving mystery.


5. Crooked Kingdom ( Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo


Leigh Bardugo is freaking awesome and next year, I’d gobble up King of Scars but-

5 "it-could've-been-better" books I read in 2018

  • Why the 18-year olds sound/act/decide like 38 years old?


  • How crooked thieves from “bottom of the barrel” could know so much about how banks work/companies operate/ shit tonnes of financial knowledge without any prior training?


  • Why the death of a beloved/well fleshed out character looked so contrived?


  • Why the “shrewd” thieves don’t miscalculate? Why, oh why?


Related posts: “Meh” books I read in 2018 




How many books have you read in 2018 that felt to have potential but lost the plot somewhere along the line? Spill out in the comments.


25 thoughts on ““Average books with terrific plots”- I read in 2018!

  1. Papertea and Bookflowers says:

    I absolutely adored both Vicious and Crooked Kingdom.
    One of my fav things I Vicious was the science-y approach to EOs and how messed up everyone was. I agree though. I knew immediately whose side I’m on.

    As for CK the death was … not as emotional for me but I think that was largely because I was spoilered before I even started Six of Crows.

    Two books that I thought I would adore but didn’t quite reach the mark were And The Ocean Was Our Sky (the ending kinda ruined it for me) and Fawkes (had everything I like in books but I just couldn’t connect with the characters!)

    • Jheelam says:

      The title of “The Ocean Was Our Sky” sounds really interesting. Might check it out :D.

      About CK and Vicious, I’m definitely a minority. These two books are widely well-regarded and it again reinforced my belief – “The book chooses you” !

  2. nickimags @ The Secret Library Book Blog says:

    Love this post! VOX was the top one for me and also it turns out others others when I posted my review and asked if I’d missed anything because of the rave reviews on Goodreads. Oh and also The Lilac Girls another top rated Goodreads book didn’t work for me either. Just remembered another one, Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty, Lianne’s sister. I didn’t review it because I couldn’t think of anything good to say about it at the time but I might write something now, a year later. 😉

    • Jheelam says:

      Yes I was very upbeat about reading “Vox” as the premise reminded me of “The Handmaid’s Tale”. But the overall bad reviews made me back away from it. On the other hand, “the top ratings” on Goodreads sometimes are so misleading. I’ve been fooled many a time by them. 😦

      Do write your post though. The over-hyped books must be talked about !

  3. Katie says:

    Little fires everywhere. That is my unpopular opinion but I didn’t even finish it. I got lost honestly, like, “what the heck is even going on here?” Great post!

    • Jheelam says:

      Oh I added “Little Fires Everywhere” after Reese Witherspoon recommended it in her book-club. Haven’t read it yet. This book is so hyped that quite surprising (and refreshing :D) that you didn’t like it. Thank you for reading !

  4. Kelly says:

    Ahh no not Vicious and Crooked Kingdom 😂 but I do totally see your points, especially about how the characters in the Six of Crows duology do appear older than they’re said to be. That was a bit annoying. This is a really great post!

    • Jheelam says:

      Yeah I got some beefs with these two books. However, there is no denying that they are wildly accepted by majority of the readers. 🙂 Thanks Kelly for reading the post. Glad you liked it.

  5. Jules_Writes says:

    I’m listening to the audio book of Nine perfect strangers now and so far I agree with you, I’ve been a big fan of her other books but this one is feeling a bit flat.

    Interesting post.

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