The DNF Report #1 – January and February 2020

Posted March 6, 2020 by Lisa Mandina in discussion post, The DNF Report / 6 Comments

I’ve seen a few people doing DNF posts, and I’ve mentioned the books in my own monthly wrap-up posts, but now that I’m actually giving up on more books much quicker, I thought maybe it would be good to go ahead and do posts about them, maybe monthly, just to talk about ARCs I may have received and give them some promo for the publishers who were nice enough to send them to me, even if they didn’t work for me. I mean, just because I didn’t care for something doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be the book someone else loves. I’m going to just post a picture, the blurb, and then a sentence or two explaining why I didn’t finish. I’ve got 10 books to share for January and February, seven YA and three adult contemporary romance.

Wardens of Eternity by Courtney Allison Moulton:

Ziva Ellison has one memory of her parents, made the day they abandoned her on the streets of New York City when she was three years old. They left her with only a memory and a promise that she had a great and terrible destiny.

Fifteen years later, Ziva discovers that destiny includes powers that she doesn’t understand and can barely control. Her magic attracts vicious, otherworldly monsters, and eventually compatriots to help her fight them. Sayer and Nasira know the secrets Ziva doesn’t; that Ziva is descended from Egyptian royalty and in possession of ancient magic passed down from the time of the gods. They promise to teach Ziva to control her magic and to give her the family she’s always yearned for.

But trouble is brewing in the world around them; darkness is descending on Hitler’s Germany, threatening World War II. As the last heir of a revered Egyptian queen, Ziva is the only one with the power to prevent another costly global conflict. As Ziva navigates her newfound abilities and makes a connection with Anubis and other Egyptian gods, the Nazis are hunting for the ultimate weapon, and Ziva has caught their interest.

From Courtney Allison Moulton, author of the acclaimed Angelfire series, comes Wardens of Eternity, an action-packed page-turner that blends history, mythology, and magic, perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Kiersten White.

My thoughts: Honestly, it just sounds so good! But I picked it up, and just couldn’t seem to get into it enough to care to pick it back up after I had to put it down to go to bed. Since I hadn’t requested it, and wasn’t part of a blog tour, I didn’t keep going.

What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel:

Girl In Pieces meets Moxie in this unflinching exploration of the many forms of abuse society inflicts upon women, and the strength it takes to rise above it all to claim your worth.

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions. Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true?

Some girls want to rally for his expulsion—and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.

My thoughts: Normally this is a story topic I would devour and not be able to put down. But the format just didn’t keep my attention, or get me to care enough about the characters. I’ve had luck with other books by this author, but had one other that also was a DNF. This was another unsolicited ARC, and I actually ended up with two of them somehow!

A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy:

An enthralling debut perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone set in a North African-inspired fantasy world where two sisters must fight to the death to win the crown.

Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.

When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.

A River of Royal Blood is an enthralling debut set in a lush North African inspired fantasy world that subtly but powerfully challenges our notions of power, history, and identity.

My thoughts: I really tried with this one. I wanted to like it so bad. I kept giving it chance after chance, but again, I just couldn’t make myself care enough to pick it back up. It might also have been just too high of fantasy for me. Unfortunately this was a book I won from a BookishFirst giveaway, which is probably why I kept giving it extra chances.

Freaky in Fresno by Laurie Boyle Crompton:

Ricki has one goal: save the Starlight Drive-in movie theater from going dark forever. Okay, make that two goals … she may also want a first kiss from her cinema-rescuing partner and major crush, Jake. Lana definitely has only one goal: grow her online makeup channel to keep her momager off her back, even if the posts attract ugly internet trolls.

The two cousins couldn’t be more different, but their opposite personalities come crashing to a head when their aunt gifts the girls a vintage cotton-candy-pink convertible. To share. Ricki wants the convertible for the drive-in’s grand reopening, but it’s the same day as Digifest, a huge event where Lana needs to shine. After a major fight and a minor electric shock while wrestling over the wheel, Ricki wakes up as Lana, and Lana wakes up as Ricki.

Ricki and Lana have only a day to un-Freaky Friday themselves, a task made even more difficult as they try to keep up appearances on Lana’s channel and with Ricki’s hopefully-soon-to-be-kissed crush. But it turns out experiencing a day as each other—with a mini road trip in the Skylark and the Chihuahua wrangling it entails—may be the one thing that help the cousins see each other and themselves more clearly.

My thoughts: So I adored the cover of this, and loved the idea behind it, but when I picked it up, it started in what seemed like it should have been farther along in the story. Since it was also an ARC I hadn’t requested, and I had a lot more I needed to read and review for blog tours, I went ahead and had to give up.

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring:

Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

My thoughts: Another one I wanted so bad to love, but it started in a way that just didn’t grab me and make me want to keep going. I think I got this one by doing a #booksfortrade on Twitter, so again didn’t feel obligated to continue to struggle through.

What I Carry by Jennifer Longo:

For readers of Robin Benway’s Far From the Tree, a powerful and heartwarming look at a teen girl about to age out of the foster care system.

Growing up in foster care, Muir has lived in many houses. And if she’s learned one thing, it is to Pack. Light.
Carry only what fits in a suitcase.
Toothbrush? Yes.
Socks? Yes.
Emotional attachment to friends? foster families? a boyfriend? Nope!
There’s no room for any additional baggage.
Muir has just one year left before she ages out of the system. One year before she’s free. One year to avoid anything–or anyone–that could get in her way.

Then she meets Francine. And Kira. And Sean.

And everything changes.

My thoughts: I had been really excited about this one back when I first heard about it. And was very happy to be able to get a copy at AASL back in November. Unfortunately I tried, but again, couldn’t convince myself to keep picking it up after one or two attempts.

The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy:

In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.

My thoughts: So I feel like there were lots of good reviews of this one, and again, it just sounds awesome. But I just couldn’t get into it either. It was another ARC I received unsolicited, so went ahead and passed on it as well.

The books above are all YA, the three below are adult romance:

When I Fall (Alabama Summer #3) by J. Daniels:

From New York Times bestselling author, J. Daniels, comes a sexy new STANDALONE novel.

For the past nine years, I’ve kept my heart as far away from my dick as possible.

Those two can’t be anywhere near each other. They don’t play nice, and one of them undoubtedly winds up getting hurt.

Not my dick. My dick is good.

The women I take home know exactly what they’re getting from me—sex. Nothing more. At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen. The sweet brunette from Kentucky I set my sights on tonight shouldn’t have been any different. I had her right where I wanted her. Where I needed her. But when my past comes walking into McGill’s pub, the woman in my arms decides to take things to a whole new level, putting me into a situation I never saw coming.

My heart is about to get f**ked. My dick can sit this one out.

My thoughts: So I loved the first two in this series. I was lucky enough to win the first four books in this series from the author several years ago, but am just now getting around to really getting them all read. Unfortunately I didn’t like the main characters of this story enough to keep reading.

Then You Happened by K. Bromberg:

From New York Times Bestselling author K. Bromberg comes a standalone contemporary romance about trusting fate and finding yourself again.

Jack Sutton was the man I didn’t want to need.
His know-it-all attitude. His annoying suggestions. His outlook on life.
He was determined to help me while I had resolved to figure it out on my own.
But he taught me things I’d forgotten.
How to trust. How to believe in myself. Who I was.
The problem?
I went and fell in love with him.

Tatum Knox was the disaster I should have walked away from.
Her ruined reputation. Her failing business. Her chaotic life.
She hated me at first sight and yet intrigued me all at the same time.
I was only supposed to be there six months.
I was supposed to use that time to make amends for things I’d done wrong.
Instead I fell in love with her.

They say it’s better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all. Does that hold true when the love is based on a lie to begin with?

My thoughts: I feel blasphemous even saying this, because K. Bromberg is one of my all time favorite romance authors, but these characters, this storyline just didn’t work for me. It wasn’t one I really connected to at all. Now, to be fair, there was one other book by Bromberg that didn’t work for me either, but that’s only 2 out of the 20 of her books I’ve read or attempted to read that I didn’t love. And the other one I had problems with I think was because I tried to listen and it might have been better reading.

Must Love Forever (425 Madison Ave #11) by Leigh Lennon:

Bianca
Handsome husband—check.
Beautiful house—check.
Wonderful life…I could never put a check next to this.
Through it all, I longed for a different life. With a man I had called my best friend. A man who is not my husband.
When the unspeakable happens and I’m left alone, its Mick who is there to pick me up.

Mick
Not everything is meant to be.
Watching the woman who owned my heart start a life with someone else – broke me to the core.
But time goes on and I try too.
Until one phone call changes both our lives.
She could have been taken from me forever. Instead, a tragic accident takes away the only man I thought ever made her happy.
When she starts over again, in my city, in my home; sharing slivers of her story with me it’s then that I learn not everything is as it appears.
None of this matters though, when I’ve been given a second chance to prove we’re meant to be.

After all, 425 Madison is the perfect place to fall in love.

My thoughts: So this was one I had signed up for a review tour. But I just wasn’t enjoying it. So I told them I wouldn’t be able to give it a very high rating and I just did a promo post. Now, I signed up because I kind of wished I’d read the book by this author that started the whole series off. However I was probably okay with not reading that one, as I don’t know that I liked the way the author paced the story.

Final Thoughts:

So, I plan to do one of these posts every month I think now. I mean I went through the trouble of making the button at the top of the screen, do you like my DNF Report button? I think it’s cute. I used to feel guilty for DNFing, but I’ve realized if I don’t enjoy a book, it’s okay to move on. It doesn’t mean the book is bad, or that I’m a bad reader, it just means it’s not for me. And that all fits perfectly with my favorite poem/quote by Robert Louis Stevenson:

“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

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6 responses to “The DNF Report #1 – January and February 2020

  1. shooting

    I’m glad you’re getting better at DNFing books that aren’t working for you. It sucks sometimes, but there isn’t enough time to struggle with a book that you just don’t like. I like these posts though because some of these books might be the perfect choice for someone else. And I LOVE your new button. so cute.

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

    • Lisa Mandina

      Yeah, the more reading I do, the more there is out there as I find more authors! Ah, glad you like the button! I think it’s cute.

  2. Tammy V

    Always calms my reading soul when I see someone else DNF. When I do I don’t do it lightly and I hope the author understands. I’ve cut back on my reviewing because I caught myself eyeing books I WANT to read and can’t because of the deadlines for reviews. Plus on some I just don’t feel like writing out a review even though I do really short ones.

    • Lisa Mandina

      Exactly. I do always do some kind of review if I read it, although for DNF, I haven’t really done anything before this, other than a sentence on Goodreads. I agree that I feel better when I see other people do the DNF posts, and you listed all the reasons I do them as well!

    • Lisa Mandina

      Yeah, I just have so many out there I’m trying to get caught up on, ARCs I didn’t request, but feel I need to at least try now, so I’m at least trying them. A DNF means I gave it a chance at least and didn’t just immediately offer it for a giveaway, so maybe that’s a good thing? Thanks for stopping by!

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