The DNF Report #21 – August 2023

Posted August 30, 2023 by Lisa Mandina in Review, The DNF Report / 10 Comments

Continuing this as a monthly post, even if I end up with none. This month I will have some DNFs of books that I started for the Gateway committee, but didn’t finish, even though I think I got through them far enough to rate them for the committee decisions.

The Christmas Season by Ally Sinclair

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 #21 – August 2023The Christmas Season by Ally Sinclair
Published by Hera on August 10, 2023
Genres: Adult Contemporary Romance, Adult Holiday Romance
Pages: 339
Source: Rachel's Random Resources
Format: E-galley
My Rating: DNF

You are cordially invited to your Happy Ever After... Emma Love is a matchmaker who believes in old fashioned courtship, over swiping left or right. She's inspired by Jane Austen, Bridgerton and a thousand and one perfect romance stories, where matches were made at elegant soirees and not by sliding into your intended's DMs. This year, Emma is inviting you to a very special social season, where a hopeful singleton might find their own Mr Darcy waiting under the mistletoe. At a series of glamorous, festive, and, most importantly, romantic events, Emma is making it her mission to find love for everyone this Christmas Season. How will she fare trying to find perfect matches for the Price twins, both too busy trying to outdo the other to ever look for love? Can she encourage the sexy Season rake, Theo, to change his ways? And what of Hope Lucas, who Emma has failed to match before, but who still has faith that Mr Right is out there? And with Emma so focused on finding everybody else’s happy ever after, is she at risk of letting her own perfect match slip away? Welcome to the Christmas Season. An uplifting, original and romantic read that fans of Lex Croucher and Lindsey Kelk will love. Praise for Ally

My thoughts:

So this one just didn’t work for me. And I had been excited for my first holiday book of the “season”. Unfortunately there were just so many characters and some of them didn’t seem to quite be what I’d expected, and not in a way that made me want to keep reading. But that’s just me. I did love the whole idea of the singles/dating service and would love to get to take part in something like that myself!

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor

I received this book for free from the library, 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 #21 – August 2023Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor
Published by Razorbill on April 5, 2022
Genres: YA Fantasy
Pages: 400
Source: the library, the publisher
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover
My Rating: DNF

For fans of Caraval and The Night Circus, this decadent and darkly enchanting YA fantasy, set against the backdrop of a Belle Époque-inspired hotel, follows seventeen-year-old Jani as she uncovers the deeply disturbing secrets of the legendary Hotel Magnifique.
All her life, Jani has dreamed of Elsewhere. Just barely scraping by with her job at a tannery, she’s resigned to a dreary life in the port town of Durc, caring for her younger sister Zosa. That is, until the Hotel Magnifique comes to town.
The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel—appearing in a different destination every morning. While Jani and Zosa can’t afford the exorbitant costs of a guest’s stay, they can interview to join the staff, and are soon whisked away on the greatest adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets.
With the vexingly handsome doorman Bel as her only ally, Jani embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of the magic at the heart of the hotel and free Zosa—and the other staff—from the cruelty of the ruthless maître d’hôtel. To succeed, she’ll have to risk everything she loves, but failure would mean a fate far worse than never returning home.

My thoughts

So I tried and just couldn’t get into this one from the very start. I was trying the audiobook from the library, so maybe I could try reading the book, but even though I couldn’t get into it, I could tell it was one that other people would probably really enjoy. And based on the reviews on Goodreads as well as the ratings from the other committee members, I figured it wouldn’t matter too much if I gave up on it.

The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson
The DNF Report #21 – August 2023The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson
Narrator: J.D. Jackson, Sarah Mollo-Christensen, Christopher Salazar, Joy Nash, Karen Malina White
Published by HarperAudio on September 6, 2022
Genres: YA Horror
Length: 10:55
Source: the library
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: DNF

Author Tiffany D. Jackson ramps up the horror and tackles America’s history and legacy of racism in this YA novel following a biracial teenager as her Georgia high school hosts its first integrated prom.
When Springville residents—at least the ones still alive—are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all have the same explanation... Maddy did it.
An outcast at her small-town Georgia high school, Madison Washington has always been a teasing target for bullies. And she's dealt with it because she has more pressing problems to manage. Until the morning a surprise rainstorm reveals her most closely kept secret: Maddy is biracial. She has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington.
After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High's racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their image: host the school's first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it's possible to have a normal life.
But some of her classmates aren't done with her just yet. And what they don't know is that Maddy still has another secret... one that will cost them all their lives.

My thoughts

So, while I didn’t actually finish this, I feel like I got far enough in it that I could rate it for my library committee. I am sure if I had finished it I would have given it about 4 stars. It wasn’t bad, but it was so close to just being a retelling of Carrie in so many ways, and then I could figure out so much of the other things happening, that I didn’t want to waste any more time on it. So I think it is probably good, but I just didn’t have the time to finish it.

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds
The DNF Report #21 – August 2023We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds
Narrator: Tamika Katon-Donegal
on November 29, 2022
Genres: Adult Contemporary
Length: 10:22
Source: the library
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: DNF

Family secrets, a swoon-worthy romance, and a slow-burn mystery collide in We Deserve Monuments, a YA debut from Jas Hammonds that explores how racial violence can ripple down through generations.
What’s more important: Knowing the truth or keeping the peace?

Seventeen-year-old Avery Anderson is convinced her senior year is ruined when she's uprooted from her life in DC and forced into the hostile home of her terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty. The tension between Avery’s mom and Mama Letty makes for a frosty arrival and unearths past drama they refuse to talk about. Every time Avery tries to look deeper, she’s turned away, leaving her desperate to learn the secrets that split her family in two.
While tempers flare in her avoidant family, Avery finds friendship in unexpected places: in Simone Cole, her captivating next-door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, daughter of the town’s most prominent family—whose mother’s murder remains unsolved.
As the three girls grow closer—Avery and Simone’s friendship blossoming into romance—the sharp-edged opinions of their small southern town begin to hint at something insidious underneath. The racist history of Bardell, Georgia is rooted in Avery’s family in ways she can’t even imagine. With Mama Letty's health dwindling every day, Avery must decide if digging for the truth is worth toppling the delicate relationships she's built in Bardell—or if some things are better left buried.

My Review

This is another one that I could tell was going to be a good story and one that my students should read, and I rated it as a 4 star on Goodreads and for the library committee. I did get a little tired with some of what felt like back and forth about some things, but I could see the pieces slowly coming together as I got to the point where I ended up DNFing.

After Dark with Roxie Clark by Brooke Lauren Davis
The DNF Report #21 – August 2023After Dark with Roxie Clark by Brooke Lauren Davis
Narrator: Jordan Killam
Published by Dreamscape Media on October 4, 2022
Genres: YA Mystery
Length: 09:33
Source: the library
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: DNF

Roxie Clark has seen more dead bodies than your average seventeen-year-old. As a member of the supposedly-cursed Clark family, most of her ancestors have met tragic ends, including her own mother. Instead of fearing the curse, however, Roxie has combined her flair for performance and her gruesome family history into a successful ghost tour. But her tour never covers the most recent body she's seen―her sister Skylar's boyfriend, Colin Riley, found murdered in a cornfield. A year after the murder, Roxie's desperate to help Skylar find closure and start to heal. Instead, Skylar becomes fixated on finding the killer. As the sisters dig into what really happened, they discover that more than one person has been lying about that night. And the closer they get to the truth, the more Roxie starts to wonder if some scary stories might be better left untold. Brooke Lauren Davis offers another thought-provoking and eerily satisfying tale, perfect for fans of Kara Thomas and Cruel Summer.

My Review

So I may go back and finish reading the actual book of this. But when we got to the end of my time on the committee, I assumed this one might not be making it into the final 30 to be read down this fall, so it would be okay if I just rated it and didn’t finish it. But it did make it. I’m not a big mystery reader, and while this was finally starting to get a little more interesting at the point I DNFed it, it still wasn’t keeping my attention as I listened to it. So I think I have students that would enjoy it, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

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10 responses to “The DNF Report #21 – August 2023

    • Lisa Mandina

      Some day I’ll hopefully get to that point. I’ll stop taking blog tour reviews for authors I don’t know, and stop taking a bunch of ARCs or getting on committees to read tons of books, lol. But I’ll never force myself to finish a book I’m not enjoying anymore. Even when/if I get to the ones on my physical TBR shelf that I’ve already spent money on.

  1. I really loved The Weight of Blood but will agree that if you had any knowledge of Carrie, nothing in the book would really surprise you. Sorry you had so many DNF’s this month. I’ve went back on forth on trying Hotel Manifique but am glad I’ve held off.

    • Lisa Mandina

      I think it is still probably a good book that my students will enjoy, but just didn’t feel I needed to spend any more time on it. Hotel Magnifique might be good, but it just didn’t grab me enough.

  2. Suzie B

    Oh wow! I am surprised that the Tiffany D. Jackson book was a flop! I have been impressed with the books of hers that I have read prior.

    • Lisa Mandina

      It wasn’t a flop for me, just wasn’t one I felt I needed to keep reading because I pretty much knew where it was going. If I didn’t already know the Carrie story so well, I might have kept reading!

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