The DNF Report #11 – March through May 2022 (9 books)

Posted May 26, 2022 by Lisa Mandina in The DNF Report / 0 Comments

After a really full January with DNFs, I had none in February, but then three in March and two in April. Now, one of the DNFs was an audiobook that is an author I’ve enjoyed in the past, but I think I’ll like the book if I read it as opposed to listening. So I’m not counting it right now. And as I was getting this ready in May to post, I had a few more to share, so there are three from May as well. But let’s get on with the show!

Freaks by Brett Riley

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The DNF Report #11 – March through May 2022 (9 books)Freaks by Brett Riley
Published by Imbrifex on March 1, 2022
Genres: YA Superhero
Pages: 290
Source: the publisher
Format: ARC
My Rating: DNF

Four high-school friends suffer daily humiliation at the hands of three bullies. When the friends accidentally open a portal to another dimension, they unintentionally allow terrifying, other-worldly creatures to invade their small Arkansas town. Discovering that they are now endowed with strange superpowers, the four teens dub themselves “Freaks,” the very name their tormentors used to ridicule them. The Freaks must fight to save the lives of family and friends now in mortal peril and thwart a secret government task force that appears to be hunting them.

My thoughts:

So I was very excited for this one, but then it just let me down. I gave it over 100 pages. The characters were just not that likable. For instance, they were mean to each other at times. And it wasn’t just snarky sarcastic banter, it was mean in how they often either reacted to things they said, or even just in the way they thought about them. And at times it was like the author would repeat the exact same line from different character’s viewpoints. That got repetitive. Sadly I had to give up on this one.

Very Bad People by Kit Frick

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The DNF Report #11 – March through May 2022 (9 books)Very Bad People by Kit Frick
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on April 5, 2022
Genres: YA Mystery
Pages: 416
Source: the publisher
Format: ARC
My Rating: DNF

First editions have an exclusive foil design underneath the jacket!
In this dark academia young adult thriller for fans of The Female of the Species and People Like Us, a teen girl’s search for answers about her mother’s mysterious death leads to a powerful secret society at her new boarding school—and a dangerous game of revenge that will leave her forever changed.
Six years ago, Calliope Bolan’s mother drove the family van into a lake with her three daughters inside. The girls escaped, but their mother drowned, and the truth behind the “accident” remains a mystery Calliope is determined to solve. Now sixteen, she transfers to Tipton Academy, the same elite boarding school her mother once attended. Tipton promises a peek into the past and a host of new opportunities—including a coveted invitation to join Haunt and Rail, an exclusive secret society that looms over campus like a legend.
Calliope accepts, stepping into the exhilarating world of the “ghosts,” a society of revolutionaries fighting for social justice. But when Haunt and Rail commits to exposing a dangerous person on campus, it becomes clear that some ghosts define justice differently than others.
As the society’s tactics escalate, Calliope uncovers a possible link between Haunt and Rail and her mother’s deadly crash. Now, she must question what lengths the society might go to in order to see a victory—and if the secret behind her mother’s death could be buried here at Tipton.

My thoughts:

Even with a few of the things I liked about this book, it just dragged for me. I got almost 200 pages in and was still having to force myself to pick it up and continue reading. Just not the book for me unfortunately. While the mystery was kind of good, I got bored and it seemed as if characters were jumping to conclusions based off of evidence that didn’t necessarily say what they pointed out. As if they were just helping the author explain what was happening. I did like how the librarian brought up something that people from her generation would know just from the name, unabomber, but people in this high school age wouldn’t be so aware of automatically. It is something I’ve had to learn to deal with and remember as a school librarian myself.

My Dearest Darkest by Kayla Cottingham:

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The DNF Report #11 – March through May 2022 (9 books)My Dearest Darkest by Kayla Cottingham
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 29, 2022
Genres: YA Horror, YA LGBTQ
Pages: 352
Source: the publisher
Format: ARC
My Rating: DNF

WILDER GIRLS meets THE CRAFT in this Sapphic horror debut that asks: What price would you be willing to pay to achieve your deepest desires?
Finch Chamberlin is the newest transfer student to the ultra-competitive Ulalume Academy... but she's also not what she seems. Months before school started, Finch and her parents got into an accident that should have left her dead at the bottom of a river. But something monstrous, and ancient, and terrifying, wouldn't let her drown. Finch doesn't know why she woke up after her heart stopped, but since dying she's felt a constant pull from the school and the surrounding town of Rainwater, like something on the island is calling to her.
Selena St. Clair sees right through Finch, and she knows something is seriously wrong with her. But despite Selena's suspicion, she feels drawn to Finch and has a sinking feeling that from now on the two will be inexplicably linked to one another.
One night Finch, Selena, and her friends accidentally summon a carnivorous creature of immense power in the depths of the school. It promises to grant every desire the girls have kept locked away in their insecure hearts―beauty, power, adoration―in exchange for a price: human body parts. But as the cost of their wanting becomes more deadly, Finch and Selena must learn to work together to stop the horror they unleashed, before it consumes the entire island.

My thoughts:

I tried with this one, but it just started off with some really awkward moments and really out of place things happened in how the characters were right away attracted to the other even though they were mean to them or didn’t like something they did. I can’t even describe exactly what it was, I just couldn’t even give it more than the first chapter. Which is too bad, it had what seemed to be a good premise.

It Started with a Kiss by Lisa Hobman:

I received this book for free from Rachel's Random Resources in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The DNF Report #11 – March through May 2022 (9 books)It Started with a Kiss by Lisa Hobman
Published by Boldwood Books on April 21, 2022
Genres: Adult Contemporary Romance
Pages: 346
Source: Rachel's Random Resources
Format: E-galley
My Rating: DNF

Previously published as 'Star Attraction'


American Star Mendoza is living in her dream location, Edinburgh, a place she discovered in British novels while growing up.
Employed at a trendy city centre coffee shop, quirky, pink-haired Star spends her days fantasising about a handsome businessman she serves daily.
He’s totally out of her league but a girl can dream, right?
Fin Hunter is exhausted from striving for his father’s elusive love and approval, and of following a life path of his family’s making.
When things go drastically wrong Fin decides it’s time to stand on his own two feet and follow his own dream.
Star is bereft when her handsome stranger stops coming to her coffee shop, but a chance encounter in the most unlikely of places leaves her wondering if her fantasy could now become a reality?
Can opposites attract over their love of a city and music or is their story simply doomed to fail?

Previously Published as ‘Star Attraction’

My thoughts:

There were a lot of info dumps and a lot more telling instead of showing. And I just couldn’t connect with the characters. Some things they did or said were just kind of weird or didn’t flow for me. Seeing it was over 300 pages also made me realize I couldn’t read all of that with the misgivings I had right away.

Can’t Help Loving You by Eve Kasey:

I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The DNF Report #11 – March through May 2022 (9 books)Can't Help Loving You by Eve Kasey
on March 29, 2022
Genres: Adult Contemporary Romance
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Format: E-galley
My Rating: DNF

"I'm yours. Even if you're not mine."
AVAWhat happens when you meet the boy of your dreams in a bookstore?You pretend you’re not leaving for college in the morning, and instead spend the night falling hard for his blue eyes, dimples, and creative soul – even if Maddox is a poetry hater.You pretend you don’t get that tattoo in his honor.You spend the next ten years telling yourself that a corner of your heart isn’t taken by a boy from your past.When you see those blue eyes again, you pretend you don’t feel seen—awake—for the first time in a decade.You remind yourself that you said yes to a man you didn’t want to marry, and now you’re stuck.You tell yourself that this is the life you wanted.But it isn’t. Not anymore.
MADDOXWhat happens when you run into the woman you haven’t stopped thinking about for a decade? The wild-haired, free-spirited sunshine girl from your past?You pretend she’s not at that brewery with her fiancé, your new friend. Leo. The man who can make or break your design career.You pretend neither of you see that Leo is keeping secrets and close to breaking.You pretend you don’t know how miserable Ava is with her life, how she only lights up when you’re around.You tell yourself you don’t ache for the one woman you can’t have.But you do. You want her as badly as she wants freedom, and the time has come to stop pretending.
Can't Help Loving You is a steamy second-chance romance intended for readers 18+. Content warning: PTSD, panic attack, language, sexual situations. Some readers may feel this book contains emotional infidelity. Rest assured this forbidden romance includes no blatant cheating and guarantees a happily ever after—for everyone.

My thoughts:

Unfortunately this one didn’t work for me. I thought the meet up at the beginning would be a pretty quick thing, yeah, a lot of feelings, but not as much as they got. And for high school seniors it was too much for me to keep going. Just a personal preference. I’m sure others will enjoy more!

Fireproof (Busy Bean #8) by Delancey Stewart:
The DNF Report #11 – March through May 2022 (9 books)Fireproof by Delancey Stewart
Series: Busy Bean #8
Narrator: Desiree Ketchum, Aaron Shedlock
Published by Tantor Audio on March 8, 2022
Genres: Adult Contemporary Romance
Length: 08:38
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: DNF

The newest barista at the Busy Bean is about to steam the place up...

Former Marine Mason Rye can make a cappuccino with military precision, but he finds it much harder to serve up a smile. It’s not that he doesn’t like people. But he knows from experience that once you let someone in, it hurts like hell when you lose them. And Mason’s lost too many people already.
So it’s pretty damn inconvenient when his old Marine buddy shows up on Mason’s goat farm with his younger sister in tow. Heather’s work in Washington D.C. has turned dangerous, and she needs a safe place out of town.
Mason doesn’t need a new roommate, especially not a pretty, single one who insists on rearranging his spice rack and giving his chickens cute names. Although there’s no denying the haunted look in her blue eyes. Every time her fear shows its face, he wants to reach for her.
The problem is that she wants him, too. And when Mason breaks all his rules, they practically burn down his bed together. But her life is in D.C. And the threat against her is over.
Unfortunately, neither of their hearts is fireproof...

Warning: this stand-alone novel contains cute goats, bossy Marines and small town charm.

My thoughts:

I have been wanting to try this series for a while. I didn’t realize they were written by different authors for each book. I picked this one because one of the narrators is supposed to be at Book Bonanza. But I couldn’t really get into it unfortunately. There was a bit of excitement at the beginning with something that happened to the female lead, but other than that I just couldn’t make myself keep listening to it. So I ended up returning the audiobook on Audible and getting a different book.

Flirt by Adriana Locke:

I received this book for free from Home Cooked Books Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The DNF Report #11 – March through May 2022 (9 books)Flirt by Adriana Locke
Narrator: Lance Greenfield, C.J. Bloom
Published by Umbrella Publishing Inc. on April 29, 2022
Genres: Adult Contemporary Romance
Length: 10:09
Source: Home Cooked Books Tours
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: DNF

I’m a single female that’s tired of relationships ruining my life. However, there are times when a date would be helpful. If you’re a single man, preferably mid-twenties to late-thirties, and are in a similar situation, we might be a match.
Candidate must be handsome, charming, and willing to pretend to have feelings for me (on a sliding scale, as the event requires). Ability to discuss a wide variety of topics is a plus. Must have your own transportation and a (legal) job.
This will be a symbiotic agreement. In exchange for your time, I will give you mine. Need someone to flirt with you at a football party? Go, team! Want a woman to make you look good in front of your boss? Let me find my heels. Would you love for someone to be obsessed with you in front of your ex? I’m applying my red lipstick now.
If interested, please email me. Time is of the essence.

My thoughts:

So there were a lot of good things about the characters in the book that made me keep going and make it almost halfway through before I finally gave up. I’d been wanting to read more by this author since I read my first book by her, well listened, earlier this year. Unfortunately I got really tired of the two main characters constantly telling themselves why they wouldn’t be a good match, why they shouldn’t get together. It was over and over and over. I mean, the listener, or the reader gets it at a certain point, and I was tired of that. That’s being an issue with another book I just gave up on as well. I was actually supposed to do a review last week, and this is a little earlier than I like to do a DNF, but I just had this post almost ready to go so I went ahead and added this in.

The Dream Guy Next Door (The Guys Who Got Away #5) by Lauren Blakely:
The DNF Report #11 – March through May 2022 (9 books)The Dream Guy Next Door by Lauren Blakely
Series: The Guys Who Got Away #1
Narrator: Shane East, Vanessa Edwin
Published by Audible Originals on November 30, 2020
Genres: Adult Romantic Comedy
Length: 06:38
Source: Audible Plus
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: DNF

Length: 6 hours 38 minutes
A sexy, swoony falling-for-the-neighbor standalone romance from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lauren Blakely!
Just my luck - my new next door neighbor is a unicorn.Yep, the British hottie is clearly a mythical man because - get this - he's a sexy, witty, charming, big-hearted single dad.Who, wait for it, wants to find Mrs. Right and get hitched.He’s a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of man, and it’s a darn shame I’m not on the market. If I were, his accent alone would melt me. Add in the fact that he's a veterinarian, and my animal-loving heart would be flip flopping.But my heart's on the mend. I'm a single parent like him, and raising my teenage daughter is my top priority. Plus, falling for a guy who shares your property line is a line you shouldn’t cross.Still, I'm an outgoing gal, so I do the neighborly thing and offer to be his dating insider. Surely, I can help this small town’s most eligible bachelor ever navigate his way through all the fantastic single ladies eager to make his acquaintance. What could possibly go wrong in helping the dream guy next door find his one true love?So I set him up on one date, two dates, three dates -- and I’m about to find out exactly how dangerous my offer is.

My thoughts:

Once again this had some hilarious characters and lines and scenes. But, again the two main characters kept saying how they couldn’t be with the other one to themselves. I get it in a way for her, she didn’t want to have more babies, and he would have liked to. So I can see that. But before she knew that about him and he knew that about her, why wouldn’t they have seen each other as perfect? Two single parents? I also had trouble connecting to her. I get why she felt the way she did, but I don’t feel that way as someone who has never been married and will never get to have kids, so when I can’t connect with the main character, I just have trouble enjoying a story. Also, while Shane East is a good narrator, he is also the narrator, under a different name, who does the Hardin character in the After series, so I always have trouble hearing his voice as anything but Hardin. I find I have more trouble with male narrators like that than I do with female narrators. I think the women do a better job at changing their voices enough that I don’t get them stuck with one character or book. But that’s me. And not true for all male narrators! As evidenced by my love of Wil Wheaton’s narration! Finally, while the audio for this says it is #1 in the series, it is #5 in the book series, and I loved or really liked the other 3 I’ve read in that series, so sad about this one!

Final Thoughts

I don’t always do final thoughts with this type of post, but I wanted to mention the other two books that I DNFed but might go back to. One was Sealed With a Kiss by Erin Nicholas. It was an audiobook, and I think I might have enjoyed reading it, while I had issues with listening to it. The second one was a huge surprise and disappointment for me, it was Checking You Out by Ann Whynot. You see I loved her debut last year but was kind of bored and had trouble getting into this one. I think part of it was that I was in a hurry because of all the SmartyPants Romance books coming out and having to get them read and reviewed so I didn’t have time to linger and let it get me and it didn’t have the hook that the first one did. But I had pre-ordered the paperback of this one since I loved her first book, so I have it and will try to read it probably!

Man, too may DNFs! I think a few were during a time I had what people call a book hangover because I’d read some books I LOVED and that blew me away, and I had issue with anything that didn’t live up to that. Plus a lot of audios it seems because I’m getting a bit pickier or else just to stressed at work sometimes to let my brain concentrate in the car ride on the way home.

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