Tag Archives: DNF

ARC REVIEW: JUST LIKE MAGIC BY SARAH HOGLE

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Group for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Bettie Hughes once knew the comfort of luxury, flaunting a ridiculous collection of designer shoes and a stealthy addiction to CBD oils. That is, until her parents snipped her purse strings. Long obsessed with her public image, Bettie boasts an extravagant lifestyle on social media. But the reality is: Bettie is broke and squatting in Colorado, and her family has no idea.

Christmas, with its pressure to meet familial expectations, is looming when a drunk Bettie plays a vinyl record of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” backwards and accidentally conjures Hall, an unexpectedly charming Holiday Spirit in the form of a man. Once the shock wears off, Bettie knows she’s stumbled upon the greatest gift: a chance to make all her holiday wishes come true, plus a ready-made fiancé.

But as the wiles of magic lose their charm, Bettie finds herself set off-kilter by Hall’s sweet gestures. Suddenly, Bettie is finding her heart merry and light. But the happier she gets, the shorter Hall’s time on earth grows. Can Bettie channel the Christmas spirit and learn to live with goodwill toward all men? Or will her selfish ways come back as soon as the holidays are over? 

DNF at 37%.

I tried, I really, really did. The premise has the possibility to be adorable, but the reality of it was a little too cheesy for me. I don’t mind silly or even just plain goofy, but this was bordering on ridiculous.

The main character, Bettie, accidentally summons a human-version of the Holiday Spirit. This spirit goes by the name of Hall. He is…basically Buddy the Elf, but on steroids. He’s innocent, has magic, and is trying his best to turn Bettie into a good person. Now, some of that would be fine, but Hall is almost child-like in his innocence. Like to the point that I wondered how he was going to turn into a love interest at all. I genuinely couldn’t see past that, and that’s one of the bigger reasons I gave up on this book.

The other reason I DNFed is that almost every OTHER character in this book — including Bettie — is an awful, self-centered mess. I cannot stand books where every character is horrible. Her entire family is horrible. Literally, every single person in her family is just awful. Bettie is trying to use Hall and his magic to get famous again, to get back at everyone who has ‘wronged’ her, when its her own damn fault that she’s in the situation that she’s in.

Blah.

JUST LIKE MAGIC WILL BE RELEASED OCTOBER 4, 2022.

Preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

ARC REVIEW: FLINT AND MIRROR BY JOHN CROWLEY

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Thank you to Netgalley and Tor publishing for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

“Crowley is generous, obsessed, fascinating, gripping. Really, I think Crowley is so good that he has left everybody else in the dust.”—Peter Straub

From award-winning author John Crowley comes a novel that masterfully blends history and magic in Flint and Mirror.

As ancient Irish clans fought to preserve their lands and their way of life, the Queen and her generals fought to tame the wild land and make it English.

Hugh O’Neill, lord of the North, dubbed Earl of Tyrone by the Queen, is a divided man: the Queen gives to Hugh her love, and her commandments, through a little mirror of obsidian which he can never discard; and the ancient peoples of Ireland arise from their underworld to make Hugh their champion, the token of their vow a chip of flint.

From the masterful author of Little, Big comes an exquisite fantasy of heartbreaking proportion.

I’m DNFing this at 32% of the way in. I hate to do it, I really do, but I am bored to tears reading this book. Flint and Mirror is written the way a particularly dry text-book is written. Everything is described matter-of-factly — there is little to no imagination used in the language. Now this might be because a great deal of actual history is used in this novel, but that doesn’t excuse the book being drier than the Sahara.

Flint and Mirror takes place back around the mid-1500’s during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The Irish clans are fighting to keep their land, while Elizabeth and England are fighting to take Ireland for their own. Very little magic is weaved throughout that I saw during 32% of the book, but it is there.

There are little interspersed scenes of actual conversations between characters, but these are few and far between. The bulk of the book as far as I read, is just told to you. Very little showing or experiencing the actions at hand, just told as flatly as possible. Each paragraph is enormous, and sentences drag on and on before they get to the point. It’s possible that’s just how John Crowley’s work is, but whatever the reason, I did not enjoy how Flint and Mirror was written.

There are battles in this book! Mentions of fae-like creatures. Murder! Plots and schemes. By all accounts, this book should have been action-packed; it should have been a page turner. Despite all of that, all I wanted to do was put it down, so here I am, putting it down.

Flint and Mirror comes out April 19, 2022.

Preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

ARC REVIEW: KAGEN THE DAMNED BY JONATHAN MABERRY

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS

Sworn by Oath
Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, charged with protection the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins.

Abandoned by the Gods
Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take down as many of this enemies as possible while plotting to assassinate the usurper–the deadly Witch-king of Hakkia. While all around him magic–long banished from the world—returns in strange and terrifying ways.

Fueled by Rage
To find the royal children and exact his vengeance, Kagen must venture into strange lands, battle bizarre and terrifying creatures, and gather allies for a suicide mission into the heart of the Witch-king’s empire.

Kings and gods will fear him.

DNFing at 22%.

This book is literally badly written info-dump after info-dump, followed by some gratuitous violence and detailed sex scenes. The info-dumps are bad. Like really bad. Every single character I’ve met at 22% of the way into the book basically speaks in info-dumps. I’ve heard there’s detailed rape scenes as well, but at 22% into the book I haven’t seen one. And to be honest? I don’t want to see one. No, thank you.

Now, the violence and the sex scenes by themselves wouldn’t bother me, but when you follow one with the other, and include mentions of dead children while your characters are having sex, well, its not for me. Not every book is for me, I know that, but just don’t with this one.

Kagen the Damned comes out May 10, 2022.

Preorder at your local indie bookstore, or at the following links:

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE