Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Books I have not finished in 2016 #2

Every now and then there's a book that doesn't work for me. Here are a few that have been like that in the last few months.

A Devilish Slumber by Shereen Vedam

Review: A Devilish Slumber (The Rue Alliance #1) by Shereen Vedam

I was gifted this book by the author for an honest review, and honestly, I didn't like it. I tried and tried but I could not get into it. I feel terrible about it because when I get asked to review a book, I sincerely hope to like it. I gave this my best shot.

Why didn't it work for me, you ask?

Well, I felt it had a lot of telling instead of showing.

I tried really hard to like it and gave it a fair shot but I found the lead up to Rose and Phillip meeting again dragged somewhat. I'm certain it was intentional by Ms Vedam in order to build the relationship with Ben Turner (you'll find out who he is, if you read the book!).

I also had a hard time with the animosity and distrust Rose had for Phillip. This is a second chance romance. I always have a hard with the trope. It inevitably starts with hurt feeling and all sorts of negativity based on the reason the couple were separated in the first place, and then a lot of recriminations and misunderstandings along the way as they get back to getting to know each other, either the hero or heroine, or both redeeming themselves. Of course, this is entirely my personal opinion and I know a lot of people love a second chance romance, but Rose's obvious distrust of Phillip and her unwillingness at the start to communicate with him soured me towards her.

As for Phillip. I liked him right from the start. He has this rather wry and dry sense of humor that I liked. He's also observant and from what I had read an honorable man.

I'm really sorry I didn't like this book. I hate when that happens.

Awakened by the Wolf by Kristal Hollis

Review: Awakened by the Wolf by Kristal Hollis

Oh, I so wanted to love this story. I wanted to finish it too but I got to the 56% mark and Cassie just hit me the wrong way.

Let's start with what I liked. The writing is good. I did not have a problem with Ms Hollis' style or writing at all. It read well and flowed easily.

I also liked Brice a lot. He was sexy, alpha without being too alpha and cute as heck. I loved his sense of humour and his roguish personality. His patience with Cassie was incredible and how he slowly and extremely patiently courted her should have him sainted. I lost patience. I also felt really bad for Brice. With his past trauma, being separated from his family (we find out why during the story and well, the reason surprised me), and the pain he's suffered, I wanted to wrap him up in a hug and cuddle him. For all the nasty stuff in his life, he's remained kind, gentle (Cassie is kinda skittish) and charming. He's a great guy all round.

As for Cassie, I admired her independent streak and I admired her for wanting to make it on her own give where she's come from, but her need to be independent and her resistance towards Brice because she didn't want to seem to need anyone, or be a charity case wore on my nerves after a while and it dragged on. That's the reason I could not finish the book. I simply ran out of patience dealing with Cassie's resistance and her over the top need for independence.

I'm still curious about how she gets abducted and how they get together but I don't have the tolerance to find out right now. Perhaps I will get back to it at a later date.

Given how much I liked Brice and how much I liked Ms Hollis' style of writing, I think I will try something else of hers later on.

Deception Island by Brynn Kelly

Review: Deception Island by Brynn Kelly

I'm very sorry to say I did not get much past 10% on this one. I had a hard time getting into it and found it did not engage me for the most part. There's also some silliness on the heroine's part that I couldn't get past.

At the beginning of the story, Holly is about to be kidnapped and held for ransom (this is not a spoiler). Rafe (the hero) is grabbing stuff to bring along for her and he asks if there was anything she needs (she's tied to the boat at that point). Her response:

"Chapstick," she said, automatically. Two men just got eaten by sharks and you're asking for Chapstick?

Yes, really Holly, two men got eaten my sharks and you're asking for Chapstick? Perhaps it's the stress of the situation but I found it difficult to believe.

I didn't make it much further after that. It was difficult to read because my attention kept wandering and I was getting easily distracted by other shiny things.

I thought I'd go back to it after a little while (and some other reading) but I never had the inclination to pick it back up again.

This book simply did not engage me enough to stay interested and to read to the end. :-(

No Rest For The Wicked by M L Sparrow

Review: No Rest for the Wicked by M L Sparrow

No Rest for the Wicked is a slow meandering journey into the relationship of Elira and Anthony.

This story starts with Elira being rescued by Anthony from freezing to death in the snow. It's set in what appears to be an alternate magical Regency England where there are wizards with magical powers. Anthony is one of them.

I loved Anthony. He's gorgeous, charming, powerful and very well off. He's also got confidence in abundance. I loved his confidence combined with his charming personality. All round, he was a great guy. He was incredibly understanding and patient with Elira, more so than I think she deserved, especially since she made me want to yank my hair out in frustration.

I also loved Anthony's magic. It's so awesome he's a wizard. I loved the little sprinklings of magic and even some of the bigger examples of it throughout the book. I'd have liked more back story and world building around the magic but for the most part, there was enough magic to satisfy. The best part of the magic for me was the self-cleaning house. If there ever really was such a thing as a magical self-cleaning house, yes please, sign me up!! I'll take two!

Elira is a real damsel in distress. Through the story, she transitions from being a damsel in distress to a somewhat reluctant heroine. She's reluctant all the way. Even at the end when she finally decides she'll stay with Anthony she sounds reluctant in her own internal dialogue (I skipped ahead and read the ending!). I want to be understanding about Elira since she's come from a difficult upbringing first with a father having abandoned her and her mother to a terrible time growing up in an orphanage. However, given Anthony's care and concern for her, with a safe place to live, surrounded by loving, caring people, you'd think she's open up and allow herself to take some chances. She doesn't and when she does, she does so with so much reluctance and trepidation, it made me want to shake her. There are short moments of quiet strength in her which I applaud but too often she fell back on her insecurities and the harsh negative reinforcements of her childhood. I understand how childhood issues can take a toll on a person's psyche but the number of times Elira waffled backwards into negativity did not sit well with me. Elira is the most downtrodden, negative heroine I have ever encountered. I needed more optimism and hope coming from her.

As for the story itself, I really could not tell what the point of it was besides a slow journey towards a happy ending for Elira and Anthony with Elira being the reluctant heroine being dragged along for the ride. I really do admire Anthony's patience because he had to pretty much coax her along every step of the way. There are hints of some kind of problem Anthony finds himself dealing with - a few hints of something more treacherous going on, but there's nothing to show for it at least for as much of the book as I read. I would have liked to have known that the point of this book was early on. The pacing was slow, and I felt like I was talking a slow, wandering walk through the woods aimlessly. It didn't work for me.

Ultimately though, the reason I didn't finish the book was because of Elira. She frustrated me and she wore down my patience. Then at one point she did something she was specifically asked not to do by Anthony and that was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I have a hard time being sympathetic to heroines who do something they are asked specifically not to do, particularly in this instance where Anthony has not asked anything of Elira except for this one thing. I stopped reading at that point, so I don't know what happened to her after she did the thing. I'm really sorry, Ms Sparrow, even though I enjoyed your writing, Elira didn't work for me as a heroine.

I'm not sure if I will try other books by Ms Sparrow. It all depends on whether this pacing and style is a signature of hers or whether her others books pack a punchier pace than this one.

The Millionaire and the Maid by Michelle Douglas

Review: The Millionaire and the Maid by Michelle Douglas

Not finishing this book makes me very sad because I have certain expectations of a Harlequin Romance imprint book and I want to love every one of them. Sadly, I didn't love this one. Instead, I felt like I was battling with it as Jo and Mac battled it out with each other.

I had a hard time connecting with Jo because she was such an Amazon of a woman. Amazon in stature and Amazonian in temperament. She fought. She yelled. She did what she could to get Mac to want to live again and to be a better man than who he had allowed himself to become. It's all very admirable but I could not connect with her. She was too brash, too abrasive, too harsh. She got loud, she yelled and she battled. There's something very formidable about her and I found it intimidating. I couldn't relate. Instead it made me remember a rather unpleasant time in my life when I had to be all those things for work purposes and I did not like the person it was turning me into. I found Jo admirable in fighting for Mac and his life, as well as her care and her compassion but I could not condone her techniques.

As for Mac, I felt terribly sorry for Mac. He's such a broken man, physically and emotionally. To me, that he was scarred physically didn't matter but it hurt me how guilt ridden he felt over an accident which affected not just his life but someone else's as well. In his guilt, his penance was to punish himself and wallow in the misery and negativity that was being heaped upon him by others. It was terrible to behold. I wanted better and brighter for Mac and Jo did that for him. But before he got to being a healed man, there was pain, guilt, recrimination and then more guilt and more recrimination. It was miserable.

On a brighter note, I loved Ms Douglas' descriptions of the area where Mac lived and the towns and beaches. I could visualise them so clearly. I live near the areas Ms Douglas mentioned and have driven through them so I felt I was experiencing those towns and areas all over again. Also, I loved Bandit the dog. Her description of Bandit's antics and who Bandit bonded with was quite gorgeous. Oh, oh, and the cooking parts when Jo is cooking Mac's recipes. I loved the discussion about cooking, ingredients and herbs, etc. It made the foodie in me happy.

I read Harlequin Romances because I expect them to be uplifting and comforting, like a warm cozy sweater on a cold winter's day. Like fresh baked cookies. With this particular story, I got one very broken hero, and antagonistic heroine and a whole lot of yelling and fighting between the two of them. I didn't get the warm fuzzies. And even though I understood why the story needed to be told the way it was in order for Jo to find herself and her self worth, and for Mac to heal and become whole again, it didn't work for me. I have read other works by Ms Douglas and enjoyed them so it is not a reflection of Ms Douglas' skill as a writer. Or perhaps it is because kudos to her, what she made me feel in reading about Jo and Mac got a reaction out of me, albeit a rather negative one.

To boil it down simply, I wanted my Harlequin Romance read to be uplifting. This one was not. It didn't work for me. It won't stop me from picking up another book from Ms Douglas to read.

So there you have it. That's all the books I've read this year that have not worked for me.

Tell me, are there any hot buttons that don't work for you in books? Something that will make you shut the book and not keep reading? How many books have you not finished so far this year?

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  1. Hi Deanna

    I am pretty good at finishing the books I start maybe I am lucky and click with the characters I do get annoyed when a character will keep going on about the same problem/thing continuously that does my head in and I have been known to race through a page or two to get over that bit, I am pretty sure that I have finished all the books I started this year but yes there have been books that I have not finished.

    Have Fun

    1. Helen, maybe I'm too finnicky? I am sitting at around a solid 10% of my total books read as DNFs. :-( It always makes me sad.