Ten Books I “Did Not Finish”

Do you feel guilty not finishing a book? I do. Every. Single. Time. But I’m trying to convince myself recently that it’s okay and some books that aren’t for me could be someone else’s absolute favorite!

Book Of Night by Holly Black

I’ve read four of her other books but this one didn’t work for me.

I was soo excited in the prologue when we meet little boy, Remy, who feeds his shadow a little bit of his bloody daily to keep it as his only friend. 

Here are some thoughts live while reading:

Right away in chapter 1 we’re given too much backstory, a lot of it feeling unrelated and random instead of flowing and there’s too many characters. Within a couple pages we are introduced to
Her father
Coworkers boyfriend
Charlie’s friend’s cousin
A doctor
A butcher friend
Mrs. Silva
A guy nursing a beer

So here’s to say that I feel like I’ve been thrown in a blender and am being chopped to bits and mixed around with a bunch of other stuff but have no idea what’s going on.

Oh great. Now Vince is brought in. This feels very chaotic. 

Omg. Who’s Amber? No. There’s too many people.

At the end of chapter 1 we’re also being thrown a “Susie” and “Balthazar.”
Okay- reality check. I hate being negative but the whole first chapter felt like I was being talked down to and told a series of random bits of info. I’m going to read chapter 2 only because I like the blurb and this book is trending on insta, but if it weren’t I’d DNF already.

At least chapter 2 had some action and intrigue but there’s just too much going on and even more characters were introduced, like Posey. It didn’t feel streamlined. I’m not invested and feel frustrated overall.

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett

I loved this author’s book, The Mothers, but I didn’t finish “The Vanishing Half.”

I know this won awards for the most popular novel of the year or something recently but I was bored and didn’t finish. I don’t have much more to say. Maybe because there was too much telling and not enough showing? Well, from what I got out of the bit finished is it sounded like twin sisters left their home town and separated to live different lives. Desiree seems to break the rules and have a unique spirit and Stella feels a little more uptight so far Desiree returned years later with a child of dark skin and the whole town is talking about it. I was somewhat curious about Stella’a story but didn’t continue to read on because the dialogue felt flat and the writing felt stiff for me. But this could be a great women’s fiction drama read for you.

Merciless by Namina Forna

I’m not a huge fan of how this sequel started. I recall loving the first but this is a prime example of why I need to wait until a series is done and binge read everything. There is sooo much info dumping to remind the reader what happened before. And there’s so much of it that I’m confused. And when the action begins, because I’m in her head only and the heroine is using so many filtering words about confusion that I’m also confused. There’s too much to keep tabs on right now to immerse myself in the world so quickly without remembering details of how the first book ended.

I immediately care less about Deka since she’s immortal.

I’m not connecting so far because the talk of the gods and slain creatures coming back to life gives me little hope already that they can ever defeat their villain. 

It’s hard for me to invest emotion when a heroine is trying to “save all her people” or a whole land. It’s much more effective for me when she’s trying to protect a specific person or group that she’s close to and loves but right now I don’t feel like I know who she cares for. She seems to thrive on her new power but again, I don’t find her relatable right now if she’s one of two things: invincible or the exact opposite- no chance of succeeding if they all come back to live. Overall, what’s the point?

So this chica was burning for a thousand years in torture? Um, first- not relatable. Secondly, it makes everything else feel not important at all. Like she is worried about not telling this Firstborn about a little concern of seeing a dream/memory, and I bet that moment will be important to the plot, but it seems so trivial compared to that. So, I’m having a hard time putting priorities in order here. 

The symbol that possibly blocks her powers is a great plot point that I enjoy. 

There’s lots of telling such as: “That’s why alaki avoid me…” or pages later: “They’re the reason deathshrieks kept attacking Oteran villages…”

I do really appreciate that it’s first person, present tense and in one point of view, because that’s all the plan of my next work-in-progress, “A Crimson Oath.”

So on a random page, let’s say page 140, I can show lots of examples of telling, which is making it really hard to connect to the story:

“No one says anything directly.”

Show this by showing the silence.

“… that’s because they survived long enough to…”

Show this

“It’s important to be thorough in situations like this.”

Show this

There’s too many feeling words told like “agitated,” “unnerved,” “seeming confused,” and “surprised.” These should be evident from body language, tone and dialogue.

Target by Darci Cole

So I made It through chapter 3 of this YA feminist Robin Hood retelling.

Here are my thoughts live while reading:

Table of contents show that there will be 4 POV alternating with all great names. I’m interested in if they’re all female or not. Lex Carina Robyn Zivon The epic map images are pretty cool. It looks like the narrative will be third person past tense & Lex is a prince/male.

The substitute for mucking instead of fucking screams YA to me.

The writing feels a bit on the nose. Lex’s predicament isn’t original by any means and his voice and attitude come off as quite immature compared to other prince stories I’ve read. I love the unexpected magical coin and it’s life source power. Lex sure shows agency and determination in what he wants which is great. So far the story feels too simplistic so let’s see where it goes.

In Carina’s first chapter, I just felt like the story and writing was too juvenile for me. This had a great premise, here’s the blurb:

Pressured to choose a bride before his eighteenth birthday, Prince Lex is determined to do things the way he’s read about in legends: run away to find his true love. But soon he is at the mercy of a band of outlaws who know more about his kingdom than he does. Traveling with them, he is forced to face the reality–and naïveté–of his privileged palace life. His people suffer at the hands of greedy nobility, and they look not to Lex’s parents for help, but to this band of outlaws led by a girl named Robyn. Their problems grow worse when they discover a plot to assassinate Lex’s parents. But while they race to save the kingdom, Lex’s heart begins to race for Robyn. And the more time he spends with her, the closer he gets to falling. But when she finally shares her story, Lex finds himself wanting something he’s never wanted before: revenge.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

In the beginning, the humor is one of a kind and stands out. Fredrik’s prose and narrative perception on life in the first chapter feels as close to reality as any novel can get.

I’ve been putting off reading this book for awhile because the title scared me. I’m on anxiety meds so I didn’t really want to read about anxious people. I’ve heard raging reviews so I’m diving in, but nervously.

The chapters and super quick but I’m already confused. This may be my first experience with an unreliable narrator?

The interviews are entertaining to show the characters’ personality but most of them so far are just talking in circles as if they’re all trying to avoid the topic.

After chapter 18, the humor has disappeared and it’s gotten depressing pretty quickly. The relatability of getting through from day to day and the stress of parenting and bills and loans and debt and the never ending list is something I don’t really want to read about when I’m already living it. This was my concern before starting is reliving the hardships instead of reading by a means of escape. Trigger warning: suicide.

I appreciate the complexities of the father/son relationship and the depth of their personality but the social media references and what I mentioned above is why I DNF. I am still interested in knowing the unknowns to the plot, but don’t care enough to put myself through the stress of reading about anxiety but hits too close to home unfortunately.

“We always have a chance to save people around us. Instead of getting rational or cynical, we can be sympathetic towards each other, and maybe that will help us save the world, one life at a time.”

I didn’t know this was a mini series, so check it out if interested. Here’s the blurb:

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Rich with Fredrik Backman’s “pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature” (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious times.

Phantom Heart by Kelly Creagh

Oooh I loved the first chapter and the mood it set in this old house to flip. Her little sister is terrified that a man lives in her closet.

Zedok’s voice is super distinct and unique and dark and perfect.  It did turn me off a bit that the story still lingered on stalking and haunting a 6 year old instead of moving to the heroine at age 17/18. The creepiness might be too triggering for me if Zedok messes with Charlie anymore in the plot.

In chapter 3 I’m glad that we’ve moved into the Stephanie story of it all, but any book that has lockers and high school calculus pushes the limits for YA that I can tolerate. I enjoy YA when the characters are young but often in a fantasy world where they’re not always experiencing typical teenage drama.

But I’m already interested if Zedok and the nerd boy is the same person or not.

Why does Zedok long for the attention of Stephanie?

I was super amped that Kelly’s deliciously dark prose were better than all my recent reads but it was a DNF for me because I didn’t enjoy the school setting

Here’s the blurb:
Seventeen-year-old Stephanie Armand doesn’t believe in ghosts or spirits. Despite her six-year-old sister insisting a masked figure is hiding in her closet, and the rumors at school, Stephanie isn’t convinced her father’s latest renovation project–a crumbling Victorian mansion–houses the soul of a monster. So when the very charming (and paranormal-obsessed) Lucas Cheney takes an interest in both Stephanie and her notorious home, Moldavia, the supernatural and romantic activity escalates to an all-time high. But then there’s Erik– the dashing British boy, seemingly from another era, who’s taken up residence in Stephanie’s nightly dreams. A boy who may have something to do with the man in the mask, and the strange occurrences taking place at Moldavia.

Piranesi by Susanna Clark

I got fifty pages in but the story seem to be about nothing and feels abstract in nature. There’s a list of a bunch of type of people- from The Biscuit Box Man to The Concealed Person to The Fish Leather Man who all seem to be skeletons … but viewed by who?

It feels like a database of journals and documentary information for a lecture. I don’t know who the main character is, what the point is, where the setting is, what the goal is. It feels pointless so far. I was too bored. It’s not really fair for me to rate it because I’m not the usual reader for this genre but wanted to try something new.

Here’s the blurb:

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house―a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Unfortunately this was a DNF for me. The opening intrigued me and was highly relatable since I’ve been with my hubby since 2005 and married since 2011 so I know what it’s like to bicker in a parking lot, however when the flashbacks started to 11 years ago, then 10 years ago, then 9 years ago, the writing felt stiff, forced, staccato and unemotionally flat. I couldn’t connect to the story and felt bored. Sorry y’all. Try this one out though if the blurb intrigues you: When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.

Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson

The first few chapters just made me anxious because she hates her job and it felt depressing and dream crushing and soul sucking and I needed a different vibe for my current mood. Obviously there was probably great scenes later but contemporary does one of two things for me: gives me the tingly “feel goods” or makes me anxious because it’s too relatable. This one didn’t work for me.

Here’s the blurb:

Meet Nora Hughes—the overworked, underpaid, last bookish assistant standing. At least for now.

When Nora landed an editorial assistant position at Parsons Press, it was her first step towards The Dream Job. Because, honestly, is there anything dreamier than making books for a living? But after five years of lunch orders, finicky authors, and per my last emails, Nora has come to one grand conclusion: Dream Jobs do not exist.

With her life spiraling and the Parsons staff sinking, Nora gets hit with even worse news. Parsons is cutting her already unlivable salary. Unable to afford her rent and without even the novels she once loved as a comfort, Nora decides to moonlight for a rival publisher to make ends meet…and maybe poach some Parsons’ authors along the way.

But when Andrew Santos, a bestselling Parsons author no one can afford to lose is thrown into the mix, Nora has to decide where her loyalties lie. Her new Dream Job, ever-optimistic Andrew, or…herself and her future.

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

In the first chapter so many proper nouns/ names are brought up that I’m already feeling overwhelmed. So far there’s already been:
Loulie al-Nazari
One-Eyed Merchant
Midnight Merchant
Rasul- al- Jasheen
Najima tribe
Night Dwellers
Lady Shafia
His Majesty

There’s deals and vials and magical coins and jinn and shape shifters and the Elixir or Revival and it’s all a bit much for the opening scene and I have no idea what’s happening.

Here’s the blurb: Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

Published by CassieSwindon

Fiction author

4 thoughts on “Ten Books I “Did Not Finish”

  1. I still feel guilty when I skip a book, but having read a few _amazing_ books recently, I’ve started to recalibrate my preferences, and frankly, if I don’t feel the joy I feel when reading those great books, why am I wasting my time?

    Great on you for taking control of your reading time, and it’s awesome you record your thoughts about why too. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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