Tag Archives: DNF

A Fool’s Errand (In All Jest 1) by D.E. King

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DNF at 25%.

I managed to finish 6 books since I started this one, but I had to force myself to come back to this time and time again, read about 10 pages, then loose interest again. I’m calling it quits because I haven’t opened this book in 4 days and have no desire to come back to it again.

The sad part is – there is a good story in this book, but it’s buried under mounds of useless minutiae that don’t do anything to drive the plot forward. Case in point: the book opens with a strong sequence where our protagonist has a run-in with local guards, finds a dying man, and is entrusted with a dangerous artifact… And then we have 4 chapters following a completely different character in another part of the world, sitting through a long meeting discussing school reforms, study rotations, and rations. any tension that the first chapter had built is killed at the vine.

The other problem is that the characters are very lukewarm. I would have followed them if the book was more tightly written, but I don’t feel like wading through pages upon pages of worldbuilding and often useless details just for the sake of these characters. I don’t care enough about them. As I said, any high stakes that were set up in chapter one were lost by chapter 5 because the story just can’t get started in earnest.

It’s sad, because as I said, there is a good book somewhere in there, it would have benefited from another content editing session and a 200 pages cut.

PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Vagabond King by Jodie Bond

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DNF at 25%.

I’m sorry to say this, but I couldn’t get into this book at all, no matter how much I tried.

The characters aren’t distinct or likable enough, and their motivations are not shown enough to me to care or get invested.

I mean, seriously, what does Savanta want? The author says that she misses her daughter, but we are never shown that. You could have shown us a scene of her sneaking over to her village at night to spy on her family at night, longing to talk to them, but unable to show them the monster she became… or working towards a way of restoring her humanity. I would have been invested in that. As it stands, I couldn’t care less for her.

As for Threon, plot armor is strong with this one. The amount of stupid stuff he does is phenomenal. He should be dead 10 times over. The fact that he isn’t, and doesn’t seem to learn either, doesn’t make him particularly endearing.

Add to that the fact that the world building is sketchy at best, and the story unfolds Ata glacial pace after a very strong opening chapter, and this is not a book I feel like sticking around for.

PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Green Samurai by Brian Christopher Shea

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DNF at 35%.

I am baffled by this book, and I don’t understand all the glowing reviews.

The plot holes are so big 6 can sink a semi truck in them. For example, why the heck do you put your Interpol profiler in an undercover position with the yakuza without consulting with him first? Also, if you are going to use him as an undercover agent, maybe go with a better legend than “HI, I’m Jimmy and I’m in real estate”. Especially since he is checked into the hotel under his real name. I mean, he isn’t making contact with a group of kindergarten bullies. These yakuza have proven that they are able and willing to kill.

Also, young and brash doesn’t equal braindead. In what normal world a jakuza lieutenant would drag a stranger he just met and knows nothing about to the very location of his stash of weapons?

As a lover of the Japanese culture, I appreciated the tour of Tokyo and the descriptions of all the foods that I personally enjoyed when I was there. However, this blatant unprofessionalism displayed by everyone involved was so irritating, I simply wasn’t enjoying this story anymore.

The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport by Samit Basu

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DNF at 60%

I love the cover of this book. It’s what drew me to it in the first place. The content, however, was rather disappointing. 

Part of it is due to the rather non-existent worldbuilding. There is the city of Shantiport that might or might not be sinking, and it’s implied that it’s part of a bigger inter-galactic civilization, but we don’t get much more details than that. What planet is this on? How is this civilization organized? Why are people fleeing it? Is it really sinking? There are hints here and there, but they never form a coherent picture. 

Problem is, since I can’t see the overall picture, I don’t understand the stakes. And since I don’t understand the stakes, I can’t really get invested in the characters’ fights. Will a revolution be good for Shantiport? How is that better or worse than what they have now? 

Another reason for my gradual lack of interest with this book is that the author chose to tell this story through the eyes of dispassionate (at least at first) observer. Yes, Moku ends up getting involved in the action and even taking sides, but it was a little too late for me. Since Moku can’t read Lina or Bador’s minds (after Bador blocks him), he can only observe their actions and speculate to their motives. Problem is, they show very little, especially Lina, who had to live with constant surveillance all her life and learned to show a blank mask to the world in most occasions. 

It’s an interesting concept in theory, but a boring read in execution. I can’t empathize with a character if I have no clue what their motives are. Both Lina and Bador appear shallow and self-centered at times because of their actions, since the reader isn’t privy to their motivations. Which also means that some of their actions come a bit out of the left field as well.

The pacing of the book is also very slow. The action sequences are fun, especially Bador’s intervention during the fight between two giant robots, but they are few and far between. What we have most of the time are pages upon pages of dialog (and sometimes monolog) that go absolutely nowhere. And since the characters are under surveillance, they speak in riddles, which makes those passages even more convoluted and, honestly, boring to read.

I am very disappointed in this book. The cover drew me in and promised something fun and original, but the content let me down.

PS: I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Blade Through Time (Desolada 1) by Louis Kalman

DNF at 48%

This book started so strong. The first chapter was intense and full of danger and tension… Unfortunately the rest of the book that I managed to wade through before I gave up wasn’t as good.

We start with a vicious attack and a young boy who lost everything in the space of a day, almost died, and discovered that he can rewind time. So he flees the city and vows to master his time-shifting gift enough to come back and save his family. Wonderful premise for what could have been a great story. 

But that potential is wasted, because absolutely nothing happens for the next half of the book. Leones gets to the philosophers… and the story comes to a grinding halt. We have pages upon pages of Leones training with weapons, or drinking and gambling in an opium den, or just brooding around. He does nothing productive. He doesn’t even explore the city he ended up with beyond the philosopher’s gardens and the gambling dens. He doesn’t try to find out what happened in the city he fled. He only uses his time rewinding ability when it’s convenient for him. And he mops around and he feels sorry for himself. It’s boring.

I think I wouldn’t have been as boring if this part of the book was populated with interesting characters, but Leones is so self-absorbed that he barely pays attention to anyone besides himself, and only if those people can serve him in some shape or form. As a result, the other apprentices are barely described. I don’t know anything about them beyond their names and physical appearance. And because Leones never bothers to ask, I don’t know anything about their pasts or their aspirations. Heck, I don’t even know what most of them do outside of the philosophers’ gardens. 

As a result, they seem more like cardboard cutouts then real people that I should care about. Even when Leones’s maybe girlfriend is assassinated, which should be a big traumatic discovery for him, my reaction was very lackluster. Probably because Leones didn’t particularly grieve for her either. 

Speaking of which, Leones as a character didn’t work for me at all. He is depicted as being completely detached from his feelings. He is either a sociopath, or so traumatized by what happened in chapter 1 that he can’t allow himself to feel anything for anyone. If it’s the later, it’s not made clear enough in the book, so he comes across as self-absorbed, selfish, and unfeeling. Not a character I want to spend a whole book with.

By the time the action finally picked up in the book, and things were finally starting to happen, I realized that I simply wasn’t interested enough to continue. I mean one of the characters seemed to have been erased from existence, but I couldn’t’ are less. So I decided to call it quits, because I didn’t care how this story ended enough to invest any more time into it.

PS: I received an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 2) by Jen Williams

DNF at 55%.

I had loved the Ninth Rain, the first book in this trilogy. I had loved it so much that I was really looking forward to reading this book and learning more about the world and our characters… until I actually started reading the book. 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s well written, and we learn a lot more about the worm people, as well as more insight into the Erborans and their relationships with the rest of the world, but the story is just so… boring, I guess. The opening chapter was excellent, don’t get me wrong! it was  a fun-filled epic battle that our heroes epically fail. That chapter had me excited about the rest of the book. But then the action just stops. And we get pages upon pages of dialogs, monologs, descriptions, and characters basically just sitting around doing nothing. Even by the time they actually start doing something, the story is so disjoined that I found it hard to keep up with everything, or even care for where it was going.

I think the biggest hurdle for me was the author’s choice to split up the core group that was created at the end of book 1 and send them all on their own epic quests. It’s all well and good, but I found myself loosing interest in most of those quests. Yes, I kinda wanted to know if the Origin island where the sacred tree came from really existed, or whether the war beasts would regain their memories. But the rest of the story arcs? I found myself completely disengaged from them.

I kept trying to get back into this book for four months, resolving to read at least 20 pages each time I picked it up. But I found my attention starting to wander after about 5-10 pages and getting to those 20 page count would be a chore. I mean, I read 15 other books while I was on and off attempting to finish this one, and I found myself making excuses not to pick it up. That’s when I decided that maybe it was time to call it quits.

Other reviews say that the story picks up in the last 30% of the book, but I’m not sure I have the willpower to wait that long, wading through the slow and dreaded middle. I own this book, so I might pick it up at a later date and try again, but for now, I am calling it quits and taking it off the list of books I’m currently reading, just because I feel guilty every time I see it on my Goodreads page and that stresses me out.

Centers of Gravity (Frontlines 8) by Marco Kloos

DNF at 45%.

I love me a good space opera from time to time. Heck, I’m both a Star Wars and a Star Trek fan. I watch and read plenty of scifi. Problem is, I want my space opera to be, if not smart, then at least entertaining, with a good story and relatable characters I want to invest my reading time into. Not the case here.

The characters here are absolutely lifeless. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they are not characters at all, but cardboard cutouts with a series of threats needed by the author to progress the story. Heck, even the protagonist is so bland that I can’t remember his name a week after I gave up on this book. We don’t know his motivations, we don’t know his needs or wants, or even his fears. Yes, we are told that he is married and misses his wife, but it’s told in such a clinical manner that there is no sentiment behind it. The side characters are even less defined.

My other problem is that there really isn’t much of a female representation in this book. And the little we have are either guys in skirts, or a guy’s wet dream. Which we often see in books written by men, unfortunately. It takes talent to create tridimensional characters, especially those of the opposite sex. And effort. In my opinion, the author simply didn’t put in the effort here. Which might be okay for some if action is all they had come for. Unfortunately, action is usually not enough for me.

Speaking of action, this book takes way to long to set up the stage for it. The first 30-40% is basically set up where nothing happens. Characters fly through space. Characters talk. Characters walk. Characters make plans. It can be made interesting if the characters were interesting which is not the case here. 

The writing is… serviceable when it comes to description and action scenes, but sucks when it comes to dialog. All characters sound the same, which, since they have no personality to speak of, is not surprising. But the dialog also doesn’t sound natural. People don’t speak like that, even in the future. This is when I’m glad that I don’t listen to audiobooks, because good luck trying to instill life into those conversations. 

In summary, this is definitely not for me. I mean, the action might be phenomenal in the second half of the book, but I didn’t care enough to stick around for it.

PS: I received an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Malice House by Megan Shepherd

Stars: 2 out of 5.

This book started so well. I was engaged and a little creeped out for the first 25% of the book. Then I was bored for the next 50% of so, because the book dragged its feet and bogged down in little insignificant things. Then it took a swan dive off the cliff and lost any goodwill I had left for the story.

 And now I’m sitting here, looking at raving 5 and 4 star reviews, and don’t understand what other people found so great about it. The story is convoluted and full of plot holes, some of which I can’t ignore no matter how much I suspend my disbelief.

First of all, I don’t think the author ever had to try and survive with almost no money. I mean Haven gets paid maybe 300 dollars per movie summary she does. And as the story progresses, she does less and less of them. She mentions a couple times that her bank account is very close to the red. So how can she afford gas, electric, wi-fi when she install is, food, etc.? Why is her first impulse, when she gets 900 bucks for the typewriter, to go order expensive cameras from Amazon? She doesn’t know what the meaning of frugal is to save her life.

Haven herself is an extremely unlikeable character who is so full of herself that assumes everything revolves around her. By the end of the book I seriously was rooting for the monsters. She is very judgmental and suspicious of other people for no particular reason. Her over the top reaction to the Ink Drinker’s comment on her art was very telling in that regard. 

She also makes decisions that make no sense. Why the heck would you go digging in the woods behind your property in the middle of the night? When to do that you have to climb up a ladder and jump on the other side of the fence… with a hurt ankle? Why don’t you take your cellphone with you? Why would you basically commit breaking and entering when you go check on Kylie? AND steal her laptop? AND steal a weapon from the neighbors? Why won’t you report the disappearance to the police??? 

Why do you decide that going into an isolated house to confront a possible murderer alone is a good idea? Yes, you have a stolen hunting riffle. Do you even know how to use it? The author told us several times how Haven never was an outdoorsy type. That she never went camping, yet alone hunting. How can she be sure she’ll be able to load and fire that riffle? I an assure you it’s not as easy as they show it in the movies. 

Also, who gives a total stranger her spare key just because she is attracted to him and he smells nice? Girl, you don’t know anything about him or his past. You saw him burn something big in his backyard in the middle of the night, but sure, give him access to your home.

The only reason I gave this 2 stars instead of 1 is because the little snippets from Bedtime Stories for Monsters before each chapter are amazing. I would have gladly read a whole book just about that. They were weird and mesmerizing, and much better written than the rest of the book. 

PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  

The Half Life of Valery K by Natasha Pulley

Stars: 1 out of 5.

DNF at 50%.

I think I am done with this author.

This could have been a wonderful book about the price of human experimentation, damaged people, suffering and atonement… it chose to be a weak romance between two unlikable characters instead.

I mean this was a subject matter ripe for the taking. We are talking about a period in the history of USSR when the government was responsible for the imprisonment and deaths of literally millions of its own people. And the author insists that this book was based on a real “closed” city with real events that happened as well. This could have been an exploration of the horrors of human experimentation, of how political doctrine could distort people’s perception of right and wrong, of how even normal people could commit atrocities for a perceived “greater good” of their country. 

And Valery was the ideal vessel for that exploration. He was a victim as well as a torturer himself. Yes, he spent six years in a GULAG, so he knows first hand the abuse and total dehumanization that happens there. Yet he also worked with Mengele before WWII and experimented on prisoners. If the author would have made this book about his journey of realization that what he had done before was monstrous and his attempts to atone for this by preventing the horrible experiment happening how in City 40, I would have been happily along for the ride. But it wasn’t. In fact, Valery doesn’t feel guilt about any of his actions before his imprisonment. He justifies it all by saying that “science had to be done.” And you are asking me to care for a character like that? Sorry, no can do.

Unfortunately, we didn’t even get that in this book. We got a lackluster romance for which this city and the horrors committed within are just a backdrop. And it was probably my fault for not reading the tags and realizing it was a romance, but this was definitely not what I had wanted in this book. Especially since this romance feels so forced. The author had to fridge both Valery’s first love interest and the KGB guy’s wife just to make that happen. Plus, as I said, they are both despicable human beings, so watching them grow to care for each other did nothing for me.

Also, does the author hate women? This is the second book I have read from her where all the women are either absolutely awful, unfeeling and domineering towards men, or sweet non-entities who are immediately fridged to provide angst for the male protagonists. Either way, they all end badly. Even the main big bad of this story is a woman, and even though she is so over the top bad, she is the most interesting character in this story, which is sad.

PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Atlas (Atlas 1) by Isaac Hooke

DNF at 67%.

Every once in a while, I pick up a military scifi book, because the description or the cover spoke to me. Also, just to see if I might like it. With rare exceptions, like the Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, those books are a disappointment. Unfortunately, this one will fall into that disappointment category as well. 

What I want in the books I read is good characters that are interesting to follow (even if not necessarily likeable), and a good story that doesn’t have too many glaring plot holes. A modicum of internal logic with the worldbuilding is also highly appreciated. As you can imagine, military scifi is a genre that is very light on all of those attributes. 

This story is typical military scifi fare – light on worldbuilding and substance, but hey, we have cool giant robot suites for our protagonist to pilot. The protagonist is also a typical representative of the genre – a wisecracking smartass that is cooler and better at everything than anyone else in the book, despite his humble beginnings. He seriously can do no wrong. 

The supporting cast is just as uninspiring. The men are either the protagonist’s allies and then they are okay guys, or they are his enemies/competitor, in which case they are usually horrible human beings. The female characters are even worse off. They are defined solely by how attractive our protagonist finds them. Other than that, they have no function or personality on their own. But hey, we have cool combat robots!

Once again, I proved to myself that no, I still don’t like military scifi.

PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.