DNF List #2

These books might be someone’s favorite, but they weren’t for me. Still try them out!

A Discovery of Witches

It felt slow, dry, full of backstory, too much description, too much “telling” & too much long narrative. There was one great sentence I liked at the end  of chapter one with a cliffhanger ending- “Are you sure?” Whispered a long-ignored voice.” The tenses switched back and forth from past to present. Too much explaining. I felt “talked down to“ by the author instead of letting me put two and two together on my own. The story seemed to be told from a reference of a few hours after all the events happened. So I didn’t feel connected to the present moment. For example:
“No matter what I told myself in the quadrangle, my walk home was faster than usual.”

I’d rather read something like this- “I jogged through shadows, stifling my panting each time the slanted moonlight beamed off my shoe. Only twenty more feet until the clattering of my feet would be silenced by the safety of soft grass.”

The Unwilling

I didn’t get far so it’s not fair to write much of a review. The writing style didn’t capture or engage me. However others view it as an epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, this deeply immersive novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

A short book, but a slower read for me. 1st person, past tense. I prefer stories in 1st person these days so i appreciated that. A middle aged man has lots of backstory, recalling his past in his childhood home and reconnecting with Lettie.

The Raven Boys

I LOVED the start of Raven Boys, especially the opening scene at the church. Blue & Gansey’s fate seems to be a chicken or the egg dilemma.
It was a great hook. But it went downhill fast.
Pg 40- too many male names introduced in a row. I’m trying to track
I can’t tell who are brothers and who are friends and who are roommates. I’m unsure what added benefit or purpose the POV from Adam was for. Reading about arrogant teen boys who own buildings and skip class isn’t my cup of tea. I was much more interested in Blue’s story and wish we stayed in her POV and her aunts with the fortune tellers. By chapter 5 we’re on the 4th POV, one of their professors. It’s too much for me because now I won’t connect as much with the main characters and the story is too spread out. I’d recommend this to YA supernatural readers.


This novel was published in 1993. I’m learning I enjoy books written 2010 to current. The writing style drastically differs. No matter the potential of the powerful WWI love story in the “Birdsong,” I can’t connect when there’s
– minimal dialogue
– extensively long exposition
– repetitive sentence structure
– telling instead of showing
I have not mastered these elements in my juvenile writing, yet as I learn more about craft it’s hard to enjoy stories when these examples stick out so frequently

I Owe You One

A main character, heroine, who is a bit neurotic, a family dynamic full of older siblings, two men Sebastian & Ryan makes a full romcom novel come to life. Fixie’s character struck a little too close to home with her anxious behavior & people pleasing patterns so it wasn’t the most enjoyable read for me & induced some stress. But, if you like witty remarks & “I owe you’s” then this could be your next favorite. I loved her small family shop, that was an endearing setting.

Example of a representative quote from Kinsella’s writing style (pg 321): “Use that anger. Punch your way out of the bubble … like a ninja.”
“A ninja?” I can’t stop laughing.”

The Night Circus

The Night Circus had a good start with Celia & Marco, but I only made it to page 70. The last two chapters seemed pointless and aimless. I didn’t like the nonlinear narrative that was written from multiple viewpoints. Different chapters change from second person then to third person, and tenses change too. I don’t like the writing style at all. It feels forced, unnatural, rigid and choppy. I feel disappointed since this is so popular on bookstagram but I couldn’t hold on. The love story plot seemed interesting, but when I skimmed ahead, I still wasn’t happy with the vibe of the writing style so I’m not worried about missing out on much.

In the Ravenous Dark

I recommend this novel to readers to try who enjoy darker fantasy with fluid sexuality. I was excited for my first read with a pansexual main character, however the writing style didn’t captivate me. I felt there was too much “telling” and too much narrative which slowed it down. There wasn’t very much “white space” on the pages which usually is an indicator for me that it takes me longer to feel connected, which is unfortunately what happened. I didn’t feel a part of the story of experiencing the story, but rather being educated about what happened. Some books feel jarring in first person present tense and others flow naturally. I’m not sure why but the present tense didn’t work for me in this story, maybe the way sentences were phrased. The crutch “as if” was written a lot and became noticeable and distracting.

The Betrayals

I made it to page 49/400. There were 3 POV within 42 pages and they all felt random/unrelated and choppy. The Rat , Leo and The Magister Ludi are third person present tense (which is jarring for me). Then the next chapter is inserts from a book in a different tense. Honestly, nothing hooked me, I felt bored & events felt monotonous. I bet if I kept reading the plot would turn to gold, but unfortunately I don’t have the reading patience if not interested quickly.

Malibu Rising

I borrowed this book from the library because it seemed popular on social media. There is way too much head hopping for me to enjoy it. The head hopping is not only within chapters but within the same paragraphs. There have been several instances where one sentence is in one characters head and in the next sentence it switches. I recommend this book to those who don’t mind head hopping. I only made it to page 30. The plot seems like a great dynamic between siblings and drama within their relationships.

The Summoning

The first person, past tense made the prose vivid, painting a creepy vibe. But this fantasy book wasn’t for me since it fit too much in the YA stereotype. When events start about midterms, conversations about getting a period and what clothes to wear, I can’t connect to that life anymore. I usually enjoy YA when it’s a potential crossover to NA. I liked descriptions like “rippling skin that fell off in chunks,” but overall I lost interest in Chloe and her goals as the story progressed. It felt as though more could’ve been done with the plot and there was more potential than what actually resulted. The further I read the more the writing felt intended for age 14-15 instead of 18 as I had hoped.

Before I Saw You

Themes and settings involving hospitals cause me anxiety right now in Covid-world. Here’s the blurb if you’re interested: 

Alice Gunnersley and Alfie Mack sleep just a few feet apart from one another. They talk for hours every day. And they’ve never seen each other face-to-face. 
Although they don’t get off to the best start, the close quarters (and Alfie’s persistence to befriend everyone he meets) brings them closer together. Pretty soon no one can make Alice laugh as hard as Alfie does, and Alfie feels like he’s finally found a true confidante in Alice. Between their late night talks and inside jokes, something more than friendship begins to slowly blossom between them. 
But as their conditions improve and the end of their stay draws closer, Alfie and Alice are forced to decide whether it’s worth continuing a relationship with someone who’s seen all of the worst parts of you, but never seen your actual face. 

The Love Scam

I was excited about the Italy theme, but it didn’t work for me. This is the first book I’ve read with two prologues, then the first chapter is a time period months before the prologue. Doesn’t “prologue” mean “before?” The beginning few chapters also felt quite chaotic in time jumps. 

I didn’t like the main character or the voice of Rex. The writing style of both italics and parenthesis also annoyed me. I didn’t click with this romcom.

The Girl with Stars in her Eyes

I made it to page 50/440
I recommend this to rock lovers, guitar lovers & music lovers in general. The song/sheet music at the back of the book was cool. I feel as if there’s different versions of the meaning of the word feminism, and would be interested in taking a class or having a discussion sometime about how a variety of women define this term/concept.
Too many side characters
The main character had too many names- Antonia, Toni, Nia, Sweet Potato
I think sometimes books with prologues throw me off because of the time jumps. I was more interested in the prologue compared to the first few chapters and wish the story started there but at an older age. 
There was too much music lingo, which is fantastic that the author is such an expert, but it bored me when the plot didn’t seem to move forward as quickly as I wanted it to
Lastly, when “adult” Sebastian entered the scene I didn’t care the way I wanted to.

Behold the dreamers

I made it to page 50.
The blurb was interesting but once I got further into the chapters, I was bored. The multiple one-sided conversations were difficult to follow in the car transits to understand what was important and who the character was talking to and why it mattered. There was also various time jumps between sentences. One sentence to the next was “3 months later” then one sentence to the next was “30 minutes later.”  The voice of the main character from Africa came across as believable authentic. I enjoyed this family man’s sweet personality from the pages I read. I haven’t done research to know if this is accurate but it felt like the author’s primary language isn’t English, but if it is then she did a great job of realism within the descriptions and dialogue from the POV of an immigrant. I enjoy reading books with varied cultures and several languages incorporated but this novel’s plot just bored me too quickly.

The Fifth Season

I don’t like prologues & this book shows an example of why. Also, I didn’t like second person POV for the first chapter. The second chapter felt too disjointed from the first part of the story and I wasn’t engaged because the connection between the characters and stories didn’t seem obvious. Then chapter 3 goes back to second person POV. I skimmed forward & this pattern continues throughout the book so I decided to DNF. I didn’t enjoy this style and didn’t feel invested enough.

Published by CassieSwindon

Fiction author

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