Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Books I Enjoyed

2000 rating

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is interesting, because it’s all about the books that don’t get enough love. Out of all the novels that I’ve kept track of reading on the ultimate literary social platform Goodreads, I’m supposed to choose my top ten with fewer than 2,000 ratings.

Unfortunately, it seems that my favorite books are also everyone else’s, so finding these diamonds in the rough was more difficult than I expected (hence why I’ve reduced my top ten to my top five!).

That said, there is a lot of diversity in this list, from junkie thriller to geeky romance. There’s historical fiction, a modern retelling of a classic novel, and even a two-sided love story. So pick the book less traveled and enjoy!

Bait by J. Kent Messum
590 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.4 stars
My rating: 3 stars

The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian
1,467 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.68 stars
My rating: 3 stars

Gilded Age by Claire McMillan
730 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.08 stars
My rating: 3 stars

The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss
823 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.3 stars
My rating: 4 stars

Talk Nerdy to Me by Vicki Lewis Thompson
1,454 Goodreads ratings: avg. 3.78 stars
My rating: 4 stars

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Book Review: Bait

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Image via Amazon

Rating: 3 out of 5

Yesterday, the real-life Book Club Babes met to discuss last month’s pick, Bait by J. Kent Messum. This novel was recommended by one of the ladies who discovered it at the Dollar Store of all places! Unfortunately, some members of the group thought it was worth exactly what they paid for it.

Bait features six heroin addicts who have been abducted and dumped on a deserted island off the coast of Florida. The only way to get food and their next hit is to swim to neighboring islands in shark-infested waters.

This thriller draws similarities to the “Saw” movie franchise, in that some mysterious puppet-master is inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on a group of people who haven’t lived life to its fullest potential–much like the book itself, unfortunately.

This book received a wide range of ratings: Of the ten women who attended the book club, two gave it a mere 2/5 stars, a couple more liked it enough to give it a 4/5, but the majority felt “meh” and gave it a 3 or 3.5 average rating.

I have to give Messum credit, because Bait was plenty suspenseful to keep us reading, but in the end, I felt that it was poorly executed. The characters were diverse in race, gender, and sexuality, but they were superficial and cookie-cutter stereotypes. The plot was intriguing, but too rushed to make a big impact. And if you’re looking for something truly scary, there wasn’t nearly enough carnage to label this book as horror.

Other pet peeves of the club included inaccurate depictions of shark behavior, annoying transitions between chapters, and an unbelievable antagonist. On the plus side, we felt that the descriptions of heroin addiction seemed so real that they made us question whether the author had personal experience with the drug–although perhaps that’s not a positive association to make about somebody!

As I put it last night, Bait will make an excellent B-rated movie someday–not one you’d seek out by any means, but one that might provide a couple hours of entertainment if you have nothing else better to do.

Our next book club selection is the highly acclaimed Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, in anticipation for the film adaptation that will be released on June 3. Feel free to join us virtually and read along!