Thursday, December 19, 2019

Books I have not finished in 2019 #2

Okay, I got adventurous for the second half of 2019 and I experimented A LOT. I found some great new authors but sadly, many didn't work out for me either. Anyway, this is going to be a long one and it's the last of my DNF reviews for the year. So if you're into finding out what I didn't enjoy and why, you might want to grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and relax. There are a bunch here. And maybe the reasons I didn't like a book don't bother you at all and you'd actually want to read it. :-)

Capturing Carmen by K A Knight and Loxley Savage

Review: Capturing Carmen by K A Knight and Loxley Savage

I read a few excerpts of Capturing Carmen and thought it sounded fun and hot. Sadly, when I started reading the book, I hated Carmen almost immediately. She's all the things in a heroine I hate. Brash, loud, disruptive, defiant, rebellious, more than a little crazy. Carmen is a bratty brat who acts out because she can't have her way. I hate to slut shame but Carmen's a tart. She's a little too free with her body and while I applaud her for embracing her sexuality, her outright disobedience with regards to what she is supposed to do and learn in her role as a Harvest Girl does not endear her to me at all. I mean, I like a good sexy scene as much as the next person but I prefer the sexy times to be between the heroes and the heroine and not just any old person. The book has barely started and Carmen has already made the rounds with one of her fellow Harvest Girls, and two random hookups for her supposed last night of freedom before being given to the aliens who are supposed to claim her and be her mates. I'm okay with a heroine having a past and having had previous relationships and sexual experiences but I draw the line at reading about those sexual experiences in the book. I can already tell Carmen is going to be a pain in the rear end and fighting and resisting her alien mates at every turn, and I just do not have time for that nonsense. Yes, I know this is branded as a dark romance but regardless of whether it's dark or not, I tend to prefer a certain degree of fidelity in my characters. So nope, Capturing Carmen is a big ol' of DNF for me because I freaking hate Carmen.

Dirty Bruised Martini by Nikki Belaire

Review: Dirty, Bruised Martini by Nikki Belaire

I picked up this book because I was intrigued by the way the story is presented - in the form of journal entries. I love things like that. Personal messages, text messages, journal entries. etc. What I found was not quite what I was expecting. For starters, there are no journal headers so you don't really know who's making the journal entry - whether it's Giselle or Kane, so you kinda have to guess. It starts off obviously from Giselle's POV but I found transitions into Kane's POV difficult to track. I also found the writing style difficult to engage in. Even though this was written in first person and I was essentially in their heads, I didn't feel connected with them as characters or sucked into the storytelling. I felt like a very dispassionate observer looking in. I did worry that this would be too dark for me (I'm a wuss) but I didn't get far enough for it to be an issue although the first part of the books is VERY dark. There would be a lot of triggers for someone who can't stomach things like rape, beatings, humiliation, and degradation even though the events have already taken place (she's recalling her experience in the journal) so consider yourself warned on that front. Sadly, much as I love the journal storytelling style this didn't work for me.

Contaminated by Amanda Milo

Review: Contaminated by Amanda Milo

I've enjoyed a few of Ms Milo's books in the past and thought I'd give this one a shot. I liked the idea of a sci-fi Beauty and the Beast fairy tale retelling. I couldn't exactly tell much about the Beauty and the Beast part but I'm assuming it's Erreck since he's an alien with quite an alien appearance while Nancy is human. Here's the thing. The world building was excellent although it came across rather clinical and dense. I enjoyed the fact that the story was told from Erreck's POV because it's always interesting to get the hero's POV and that's something I enjoy. That aside, I couldn't get into the story. There was too much sci-fi-ey jargon that made my brain hurt trying to keep track of them, and I didn't feel any connection with Erreck. Nancy, being human, was the alien to Erreck and some of her initial behavior was very strange to Erreck. I was quite icked out by a rather vivid description of Nancy's body functions (I prefer to limit my reading of peeing and pooping in a romance) when she was introduced. All in all, there wasn't enough to hold my attention and keep me reading. I thought I might go back to it later on when my brain was feeling less nutty especially after skipping to the end and seeing that some of their final interactions towards the happy ending were quite fun but alas, it didn't call to me. And this is just me but I felt the name Nancy just seemed so ordinary in the setting of a sci-fi romance. Maybe it was to show that she was human, but I really wanted my heroine to have a more interesting name. Pretty sure that's just me because I felt that way about a heroine named Karen recently and that was a contemporary romance. My brain is weird.

Illusion of Escape by Lana Kole

Review: Illusion of Escape (Crystal Clear #1) by Lana Kole

This book was recommended to me by one of my friends who was really enjoying it. When I checked it out, I realised I had DNF'ed a previous book by the same author. Now, I generally do not read another book from an author if I've DNF'ed a book from them, but since this came highly recommended and I quite liked the little snippet that was posted, I decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately, this story did not engage me. I didn't feel connected or invested in the characters and even though the story was intriguing enough, it wasn't enough for me to keep reading. Something terrible happens to Mori early on in the book and I expected to feel a sense of anger and outrage over it but the emotions were muted and the whole situation was downplayed. I understand the reasons for downplaying it but I still expected to feel a lot more for what happened but didn't. On top of that, even though I kept reliving some scenes in the story, I wasn't inclined to pick up the book to keep reading. And when I did, I got distracted and couldn't concentrate on reading for long. I kept getting out of the book and checking Facebook instead. I know myself well enough to know now that if I procrastinate going back to reading a book even when I have time to read and I check Facebook or watch YouTube videos instead it means the book is not capturing my attention. It was a toss up between struggling on and stopping and I finally decided to stop reading. The premise is interesting, and the events as they evolve are intriguing but the writing lacked impact and emotion and didn't draw me in. Sadly, I think the next time someone recommends this author even if the book comes high recommended, I think I'm going to pass.

Carried Off by Raven Willow

Review: Carried Off by Raven Willow

For some reason the writing style of this story didn't resonate with me. Even though it started off hot and steamy which I loved the story didn't draw me in. I felt disconnected and disengaged from it all and couldn't get into it. As much as I think I would grow to like Alistair his POV didn't draw me closer to him. Again, I think that was the fault of the writing style. And goodness save me from resisting heroines, I think I've had my fill of them in one lifetime. I don't think I want to put the effort into reading them resisting the hero for the better part of the book until he effs them senseless repeatedly and makes them change their mind. So done with that.

Pretend for Daddy by BB Hamel

Review: Pretend for Daddy by BB Hamel

I've recently become a fan of Ms Hamel's work, or at least some of Ms Hamel's work. I say this because with this book (and one other previously) I feel like I'm writing a book that's been written by someone else entirely and not by Ms Hamel or whoever the writer was for five other previous books I've read. The first four books of hers I read I really enjoyed. They flowed seamlessly, they had great plot and character development, and were sexy as heck. Then I read another one which was good but strange and I felt confused and like I was having reading whiplash because it felt like I was reading something that was written by someone else entirely. Then I read another book that was akin to the first four which I really enjoyed again. Now this. I got that confused, reading whiplash feeling again. Some phrases in the sex scenes were repeated from the first strange book so I know the same person wrote that book, but they are completely different in style and tone from the other five I've read. I don't know who Ms Hamel is and I haven't found much about her online or on social media. There doesn't seem to be much of a presence at all for readers to connect to, so I don't know if she's one person or multiple people all writing under one pen name. That said, I struggled with this book. Not just the confused, reading whiplash thing, but also the story and Ruby. Ruby is in trouble and Knox makes a deal with her to protect her if in return she gives him a baby. It's all very cut and dry even though Ruby is very attracted to Knox sexually. I struggled with Ruby's attitude and how she kept talking about everything being temporary. Even more than halfway into the book there's no talk about feelings, just an emotionless, business transaction between two people. Most of it is all on Ruby's part. She has trust issues and commitment issues. Aside from not liking the style and tone of the writing, I didn't like Ruby's lack of emotional buy-in to the relationship. It seemed like Knox was making all the moves, spending all the money, doing everything he can to help and protect Ruby and she's talking about keeping her tiny little apartment as a place to go back to when it's all over. Like she's planning on it all being over. I didn't warm to Ruby at all even though I liked Knox. Knox is a bit of an enigma and I liked that about him. He's got some mystery in his past from something that seems like a military or mercenary background, and a whole host of rather questionable connections. I like those things about him. They made him intriguing. Aside from all that, I couldn't connect with the book or the story itself. It's not like me to keep picking up and putting down a book. I tend to be pretty good about reading for significant chunks of time but this book did not hold my attention. I'd read for a few minutes, check Facebook, chat with my friends, read a few more minutes, repeat, over and over again. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've picked up and put down the book, but enough that after reading half the book my Kindle app Reading Insights didn't even register that I've read for the day because I didn't actually log enough consecutive time reading. Imagine being stuck in a traffic jam. Start stop. Start stop. Start stop. That was me continuously while trying to read. LOL. Traffic jam reading. I finally decided enough was enough and I skipped to the end, reading their happy ending, and called it a day. I will still continue to read Ms Hamel's books because I like the other writer but if I come across this particular writer or style again it's going to be an immediate DNF.

The Devil's Angels MC by Lola Wright

Review: The Devil's Angels MC by Lola Wright

This story had all the hallmarks of a cute story with badaxx bikers and a strong, sassy heroine but it fell short for me in it's execution. I can't fault the writing but the pacing was a little slow and I got impatient with how long it took for Ava to warm up to Gunner and then falling back onto her own insecurities and distrust of Gunner being the Prez of an MC to push him away. The men themselves, including Gunner were all great. They had fun personalities while being a little rough around edges and good hearts. And of course, Ava's animals were adorable. Gee who thinks he's human instead of a mini pig. Mac with this fould mouth who can mimic anyone and has a dirtier vocabulary and I do. Loki the gentle giant, I think he was a mastiff cos he's a giant dog, and the indifferent cat who's name I can't for the life of me remember. My bad! I also liked that Ava was a baker and an awesome cook because food in stories is totally my thing. It's just a shame that I got impatient with Ava's insecurities and 25% into the story she was still as twitchy as all get out and resisting Gunner. That just got boring after a while. Maybe when I'm in a different mood I'll pick it up again and try to finish it but not right now.

Mine by Loki Renard

Review: Mine (Possessive Alien #1) by Loki Renard

This is a very strange book. It's a weird mix of classic sci fi with post apocalytpic Earth as a backdrop with mild erotica. You could sort of say it's a slightly dark erotic sci fi romance, but mostly I just found it weird. There's good world building in there as Reaper and Tarkan discover a devastated Earth, a world like nothing they have encountered in the past. One is a strong yet fragile creature compared to these Scythkin aliens who are ridged, horned, and nine feet tall. I can't fault the writing in this book but I found it difficult to track as the POV bounced between Reaper, Tarkan, and One. The storytelling felt somewhat disjointed and I felt disconnected with the story I was reading. It didn't feel like the sci fi and the erotica blended well and I struggled with the lack of communication between the characters, mostly because One didn't speak their language and vice versa. I felt like the characters while likable spent too much time in their own heads and that got boring after a while. Ultimately, even though it sounded interesting at first, and the world building is good, and the writing decent, it didn't hold my attention enough for me to want to finish reading it. I did skip to the end enough to find out that One and Reaper did fall in love with each other.

Redemption by Christina Phillips

Review: Redemption (Realm of Flame and Shadow #1) by Christina Phillips

This is a first for me. Not finishing a book because of the hero because as I've often said, I tend to be more forgiving of heroes but Gabe is a grade A jerk and he pops in and out so often he's giving me whiplash. He's rude, uncommunicative, and deliberately insensitive. I understand he's suffered a great deal in his past to make him what he is today but seriously, does he need to be so unlikable? And I'm gutted I'm struggling with this book because I like the premise and the concept of the story, and I like the heroine, Aurora a great deal even though she's naive, but she's also smart, persistent, and inquisitive, and most importantly not afraid of Gabe when he's growling like a bear. There are lots of hints to Gabe's past which is intriguing but those are dribbled out like little crumbs that drop from a cookie when you are naughty enough to eat in bed and then have the bad fortune of lying on one. Not saying that Ms Phillips needs to lay it all out at once but this is just too much dribbling. Just a tad annoying. I generally like the writing and I like Ms Phillips work. I've enjoyed her other books in the past. And I want to learn more about Aurora but man, she's right now digging around where she shouldn't and I hate that in characters, and of course, I'm certain all hell will break loose when Gabe finds out which is only going to make Gabe even more surly than he already is since she's prying into his personal life and rooting around where he specifically said not to go. Sigh. I had to put the book down. Between the lack of communication (they really should just talk to each other instead of throwing a few words out and then storming off repeatedly) and Gabe's shining personality, I really needed to put this book behind me. I'm sorry, Ms Phillips.

Hard Lessons by Lily Harlem

Review: Hard Lessons by Lily Harlem

It makes me very sad that I did not enjoy this particular offering from Ms Harlem as much as her previous works. I guess not everything hit the mark. Maybe it was my mood or maybe it was just that I hated Serena. She was brash, arrogant, full of sass, and disloyal. I think what bothered me the most was the fact that she was utterly self-serving and she sold out Luca in a heartbeat without so much as a blink of an eye. It's hard for me to get past that disloyalty. And she was utterly unrepentant for what she did, blaming Luca for the situation instead. Given the world they live in and what had gone down, they are all culpable. Luca for his jealous rage and explosive temper, Serena for overplaying her part and enraging Luca. It's just plain bad luck for them that the con the tried to pull backfired on them and the authorities got to them rather quickly. I expect Luca deserved his time in jail for what he did, and Serena deserved what was coming to her after Luca was released. Neither Luca nor Serena were particularly nice of likable people. I guess that's the thing with a mafia romance, but I particularly disliked Serena with a passion. They are not exactly upstanding citizens, are they? I have a hard time with Serena's betrayal, Luca's need for revenge though he never truly hurts Serena or goes to any extreme. Of the two of them, I'd say Luca despite his questionable history and affiliations, was the more likable of the duo. Still, overall, this book was a struggle for me. As much as I love Ms Harlem's writing, this was not a fun read. I kept trying and trying. I'd pick it up, read a bit, put it down, and did that a few too many times until I wondered why I was torturing myself over it. Loyalty to Ms Harlem, mostly, because there was nothing likable about Serena. I hope Ms Harlem can forgive me for not enjoying this one. This is a first for me.

Falling For Her Boss by Flora Ferrari

Review: Falling For Her Boss (A Man Who Knows What He Wants #119) by Flora Ferrari

I picked up this book to read because I love the boss/employee trope and throw in a shy, innocent assistant, and it checks lots of boxes for me. On top of that, the blurb said "there is some ow drama" where "ow" stands for "other woman". Not that I'm a fan of other woman drama but I appreciated the call out since I've seen quite a few people in book groups asking about it. I even mentioned it in one particular book group and some people were all over it and one-clicked the book. I hope for their sake, they enjoyed it a lot more than I did. For me, the story started off well enough, but I didn't like the argument and rift between Logan and Isabella's brother right at the start of the book. Then things kind of went downhill because Logan gets into some strive and heads off to see his ex about it. I really don't think it's cheating since this is before he and Isabella connect and begin exploring their feelings with each other even though there is a lot of internal monologue about their mutual attraction. The reason I gave up on the book is I didn't feel emotionally connected with either Logan or Isabella. Neither of them endeared themselves to me and I didn't like them enough to want to keep going to find out where their story led. I don't think I got particularly far into the book either. Maybe 5% or 10%? I'm not sure since I returned the book to Amazon almost immediately after I decided I wasn't going to finish reading it. I don't know if this will stop me from reading more of Ms Ferrari's books but it's 2 out of 3 of her solo books that I've not finished now. I guess I like the premise and idea of her stories but it fails in the execution for me. It's not poorly written but it didn't work for me.

Owned By The Alphas by Jayce Carter

Review: Owned by the Alphas (The Omega's Alphas #1) by Jayce Carter

This is my second omegaverse book and it didn't work for me. While I love the concept of the omegaverse, so far, I've hated the execution and the omega. For some reason, the two I've read, the omegas hate the alphas and they don't want anything to do with them, so even though they can't resist them, they resist them and the fight them. There's fear and loathing, mistrust and unease, even while there's an inevitable attraction and an undeniable heat between them. They can't deny the physical pull between them, but the omega pushes the alphas away with everything in them. When I think of the dominant alpha and the submissive omega, I think of a symbiotic relationship where one empowers and protects while the other revels in the care and comfort. Unfortunately, this is nothing like that. Neither was the other book I read. Maybe this whole omegas hating the alphas and intentionally forcing their distance from them is the norm? What do I know, I've only read two books, but both books, I've rapidly gotten tired of the heroine's attitude and couldn't be bothered reading on or trying to finish the book. Of course, these are romances, so I skipped to the end and found they do have a happy ever after together, but frankly with the kind of fight the omegas put up along the way, I do not have the patience to wade through all that angst and battling between the omegas and the alphas. In this one, granted, Claire seems to have had a bad experience with a previous alpha and is wary and fearful of them. That said though, Bryce, Joshua, and Kaidan came to her aid unasked and were only careful, protective, and kind to her. She lets her fear rule her rather than opening up to the possibility that they are good men. I do not like when the heroine automatically and without reason based on her own prejudices writes off the heroes. Some might think it's worth reading and worth it for the heroes to have to work hard for the heroine's affections, but to me a relationship is all about give and take, and it didn't look like there was going to be any give with Claire for the long time. I didn't have the patience to wade through her fears and her prejudices. I don't like resistant, defiant heroines mired in fear and mistrust. I'm not sure if I'll give another omegaverse a try. Like I said, I love the concept. I'll think about it. The guys in this one are great, BTW. And the writing itself it quite decent. Oh and the opening scene when the guys come upon Claire breaking into the office? Hot as heck. That was good.

Survivor by Debbie Cassidy

Review: Survivor (Survivor's Heart #3) by Debbie Cassidy

This book is part of the Planet Athion world and Ms Cassidy is a new author addition to the world after the first three original authors. I've enjoyed all the books in this shared world but for some reason Ms Cassidy's books have not resonated with me. I enjoyed the first book. Thought the second book was okay and now with the third book, I'm bored and struggling to finish it. It just don't care enough about Rogue and her men to put in the effort to find out what happens to them as they try to stay ahead of their pursuers and forge a life for themselves. I can't fault the writing because the writing is fine. It's also quite sexy so there's enough steam to keep me going, but I can't seem to get involved enough with the characters to care about them. So between being bored and not caring what happens to them, I finally gave myself permission to stop reading and move onto something else. I tried though. I really did.

Crave To Conquer by Zoey Ellis

Review: Crave to Conquer by Zoey Ellis

Sigh! This one is entirely my fault. I asked for a recommendation on omegaverse books and this was a rec. I should have paid more attention when I read the blurb because frankly, I love the concept of an MF omegaverse romance. Why didn't I like this one? Because the heroine is deceiving the hero intentionally right off the bat and anyone who has read any of my reviews or followed the bloggity for any length of time knows I cannot abide by deception. I get even the slightest whiff of deception and it's an automatic DNF for me. The writing itself seems decent enough from the little I managed to read but other than that, I know very little about this story aside from the fact that I skipped to the end, there's a cliffhanger (that's in the blurb), and she continues to try to deceive the hero going into the next book. Yay! More deception!! Nope! Sorry, this book is not for me.

There you have it. Ending the year with a few lackluster books.

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. I always think it is sad when you can't finish a book, but these days there are so many books out there to read and not every book is going to hit the spot, I have only had one this year that I didn't finish :)

    Have Fun


    1. I did a lot of experimentation the second half of this year. Some didn't work out for me.

  2. I've finished all but 1 of the books I've started this year.
    Up on Horseshoe Hill. Whilst I'm not yet ready to put it in the dnf file yet, as I hope to go back to it. There was just others I preferred to read first. I did find the style of writing difficult though, so we'll have to see.


    1. It's wonderful when that happens. I've got a book lingering that I haven't DNF'ed yet because I'm not sure if I will go back to it. I got to about 14% and stopped reading for no reason other than I wasn't feeling it and it is by a favorite author. I've decided to leave it for now and see if I ever go back to it.