Monday, December 30, 2019

DNF&Y [24]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

Coral by Sara Ella
Synopsis (via Goodreads): There is more than one way to drown.

Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans—emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light?

Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?

Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?

When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive, and Coral might even catch a prince in the process. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?

Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved—yet tragic—fairy tale,
Coral explores mental health from multiple perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost. *I originally reviewed this book on December 12, 2019.

DNF at 10% 

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

"The colors made sounds and the sounds created colors." 

I had a really hard time with Coral from the start. I love losing myself in new worlds, but everything about this book was perplexing. I felt like this story followed a different set of rules, but had no idea what they were. Coral can see sounds and hear colors (synesthesia, I think), but her explanations only furthered my confusion. She said certain colors were loud, but never seemed overwhelmed by them. How is that possible? She's surrounded by color, so wouldn't everything make noise? Like, all the time? Did she not suffer from sensory overload?

"The bedclothes were ruffled and her pillow slept in the sand."

How?? She's underwater, she has a tail, so wouldn't her clothing just be wet all the time? Also, how does one wear bedclothes over fins and whatnot? Was it just a t-shirt, or...?? How do they make clothes underwater? What are they made of? I needed more details! 

"Jordan rolled her eyes, crossed to the heavy chamber door carved from old ship wood, and shut it."

Wouldn't the wood deteriorate underwater over time? How did they salvage the material for a door? When I read this sentence, I immediately pictured rotting wood that was soft and mushy. 

"Easy as a kelp pie.”

"Coral’s mouth bowed and her insides turned to jellyfish. She didn’t want Jordan to go, despite how she tended to get under Coral’s scales more often than not."

They don't associate with humans, so why did they have pie specifically? I know it might be nitpicking at this point, but I felt like the author was trying too hard to make correlations between her world and common phrases we use today, which made the story ring false. Her insides turned to jellyfish?? I wish the author had created a language that had terms specific to her characters and the world she created. 

I really wanted to see how Coral used merpeople to discuss mental health, but I barely made it through two of the three perspectives. I gave up when Merrick's chapter started, so I can't really comment on his portion of the story. However, I can comment on how Brooke was a very antagonistic and vexing character. She was in a treatment program, but doesn't share why or how she got there. I'm sure this was done to add suspense to her story, but it made her unlikable and unrelatable. She was callous and cruel to a child because she felt bad, and I thought her actions were that of a spoiled brat, and not someone suffering from a mental health issue. We don't know anything about her, so it was hard to sympathize with her feelings and actions.

Side note: I'm not saying Brooke should be likable or friendly, but the lack of information made it hard to understand her. I don't suffer from mental health issues, so I cannot comment on how people with them should be portrayed, but I do know how her character came across and can share those feelings with you.

Coral's community deals with something called "the Disease" that impacts a mermaid's emotional state, and they are shamed for experiencing anything other than cool disinterest. It really bothered me that only merwomen suffered from this "affliction," because it made it seem like mermen couldn't be emotional or depressed. Anyone suffering from "the Disease" was written off and ignored, and I haaated that aspect of this book. 

Needless to say, this book wasn't a good fit. I was confused, frustrated, and disinterested in the overall story, which was not a good combination for enjoyable reading. I liked the concept, and I can appreciate what the author was trying to do, but it really missed the mark for me. (★★☆☆☆)


Lost Girl: A Shelby Day Novel 
by Holly Kammier
Expected publication: January 5th 2020


As her search draws closer to uncovering the twisted truth, she begins receiving ominous warnings to stay quiet and drop the story. The young journalist is in danger. Her cameraman and best friend, a person with his own secret past, says he wants to protect her. But Shelby is headstrong and dodging anything that could lead to love. She can't allow anyone to distract her as she fights for the two women who deserve justice.

She never expects along the way she'll have to stop and save herself.

Tick tock… If Shelby doesn't solve the crime soon, she'll become the killer's next v

DNF at 12%

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Lost Girl: A Shelby Day Novel made me stabby. You know the people in horror movies that repeatedly make bad decisions? The people you just know are going to die? That's Shelby. She makes bad decision after bad decision, and her reasonings were ridiculous. If someone leaves a threatening note on your door after you "investigate" a murder, you flarking tell people about it! 

"Jack didn’t need to know about the note. I wasn’t going to be scared into losing my lead story because of some creep, and I definitely didn’t need anyone’s protection. I could take care of myself just fine."

I'm also not sure why someone would leave her a vaguely threatening note for simply doing her job. Other news stations also reported on what happened, so Shelby being singled out didn't make sense. She wasn't a detective looking for clues, or a person that had access to the bodies. She was an investigative journalist that reported her findings based on interviews and some sleuthing. Why was she targetted??

"Fear was a waste of time."

No it's not! Fear is healthy. Fear is normal. Fear will likely keep you alive, because you're less inclined to do something stupid.

"...I typed in my phone and posted updates on Twitter and Instagram about our exclusive interview with Melissa Rossi’s ex-boyfriend."

I have no idea how investigative journaling works, but wouldn't you want to keep your "exclusive" interviews under wraps until they aired? Anything could happen... they could cancel the segment, or decide to go in a different direction, etc. Again, I have no idea how this works, but it seems like blasting it on social media immediately after the interview is unprofessional and has the potential to hurt the story itself. 

Shelby is also a woman-hating, self-destructive psycho. She's always working, so she can "be the best" and get out of the town she's in. She wants to go home, make her dad proud, yada yada. I didn't read enough to understand what her reasons were. However, I was there for her belittling, hurtful comments, and her need to be seen by everyone. She wants to work hard so she can be on top, but gets frustrated when someone else does the same.

Example 1: "It was cheating. But Lily didn’t care about that, she was determined to make it to a big market faster than any of us. Her fake Colgate smile and relentless drive exacerbated my competitive side and worked my last nerve."

Example 2: "I envied Kaya’s carefree spirit. She wasn’t like the rest of us. She’d grown up in this charming small town with her loving, all-American, intact family. Her brother and sister had probably come with her parents to cheer her on when she played high school softball. I could imagine Kaya taking annual summer camping trips with her family and gathering in the living room each Christmas to eat popcorn and watch their favorite old movies. Her life seemed so intoxicatingly normal."

I just love how she tried to excuse her behavior. 

"Covering those gruesome murders followed by a threatening note on my door and then a suspicious call to my work, had left me feeling cornered and vulnerable, and the alcohol wasn’t helping. The toxic combination made me mean."

She likes Jack, Jack likes her, but she refuses to acknowledge their shared feelings. She thinks emotions and a relationship will get in the way of her success, so she keeps him at a distance. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean she's mature about it. She gets jealous when other girls talk to him, and then tries to make herself feel better by making him jealous?? What is happening?? Is this high school? 

More of Shelby being a dumbass: "In other breaking news, Melissa Rossi’s supposed best friend had called the station this afternoon. Despite any concerns regarding my personal safety, I was going to get another exclusive, my third in a row, a major coup in the news business."

Why is Shelby getting these interviews? What has she done to earn people's respect? Make out with a producer at a bar? Badger a police officer into commenting on camera? Stalk the ex-boyfriend of a victim for an interview? Secretly hate and publicly belittle her coworkers? 

"Having said my own sloppy goodbyes and cursing out Jack under my breath for taking off with Kaya, I stumbled across Main Street feeling completely paranoid."

"He was the toughest guy I knew. The kind of man who made you feel safe at night. 'You’re worth the wait.' I held his gaze with a loopy grin as I sipped my wine. With Jack off doing who knew what with Kaya, I had no intention of going home alone."

Jack offered to walk Kaya home since it was late, dark, and two girls had recently been murdered. Also, I thought she wasn't afraid? What happened to "fear is a waste of time"? She talks big about being able to take care of herself, and then she's meeting a guy so she can feel safe (with the added bonus of potential revenge-sex). Revenge for what? Her friend Jack walking a coworker home? 

I'm getting worked up just writing this review! Shelby is a horrible person and an unrelatable character. Her actions are ridiculous and vindictive, and she keeps really important and relevant information to herself. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Jack was the murderer. Everything else has been bananas so far, so that's my guess. Sorry it that spoils something for you, but I honestly have no idea who the killer is. (★★☆☆☆)


  1. I used to follow Sara Ella back when she was a YouTuber and was working on getting an agent and her first book published. I enjoyed her videos and she seemed super sweet, but I was never drawn to her books. They seemed realllly on the sweet/squeaky clean side of YA and that’s just not my style when it comes to YA. It sounds like Coral had a world where they’re weren’t any clearly defined rules or world building. As a reader, I can’t get past that and just go with it.

    1. It's awesome that you knew her when she was a YouTuber! Does she still do that? I don't know about sweet and squeaky clean (since I didn't get that far), but the world-building left a lot to be desired. I also wasn't a huge fan of the characters, so I DNFd this one pretty early on.

      I know a lot of people that can suspend their disbelief, and read books with vague rules and incomplete world-building, but I'm not one of them. I need clear expectations and a firm grasp on the rules. I also prefer for the world to be believable (even when it's fantastical), so it becomes a place I can easily visualize while reading.

    2. It's been 2-3 years since she posted on her YouTube channel.

      I can suspend my disbelief only so far. And the, like you, I have questions. :)

  2. Haven't read either of these. I never have good luck with mermaid books for some reason!

    1. I've been struggling with mermaid/siren books too! The last one I remember enjoying was Lost Voices by Sarah Porter, but it was really dark and I never continued the series. The same thing happened with Of Poseidon by Anna Banks.

  3. I've been seeing Coral all over the place and while I loved reading your thoughts, they sound much more entertaining to me than the book :) I'll be passing on both of these.

    1. Coral was supposed to address mental health (I think), but I didn't get that far into it. I was too annoyed by the world-building and the characters to continue.

  4. I enjoy a good mermaid story, but I want the world-building to make sense, even if it's magical and fantastical!

    1. Yes! There are plenty of fantasy books out there that create realistic worlds that make total sense. Places I can envision myself visiting one day! ;) I had a really hard time losing myself in the flow of this book, and kept getting distracted by how unrealistic everything was.

  5. Coral sounds extremely confusing and I'm scratching my head trying to make sense of the sentences you posted and not getting anywhere. I think I'd want to shake Shelby! Lost Girl would definitely not be for me either and I can totally understand how both these were DNF for you. Hope you love your next read, Lindsi!

    1. The underwater world was confusing before the author added sounds to colors and colors to sounds. It was really hard to follow and keep track of. I really wanted someone to shake Shelby! I think I was visibly frustrated at one point, because my husband asked me if I was okay. Haha! He said I was making a "pained" face. ;)

  6. I think I would have DNF'ed both of these as well! Bummer, hopefully your next read is better and I hope you have a safe and happy New Year!! So glad I discovered your blog!!

    1. My current reads are amazing! I'm glad we met through blogging! I love visiting your site and discussing books with you. :)

  7. Oy yeah I don't think I could have handled these either! For whatever reason, I stayed away from Coral and now I am soooo glad I did! Sorry that these didn't work out for you, but great reviews!!

    1. I really wish I'd stayed away from it too! I was super disappointed, but they can't all be winners, right??

  8. That's a shame because all mermaid books should be awesome haha! Oh well... extra bummer because i love that tagline on the cover too lol.

    Hope you had a great New Year's Eve!

    1. Right?? They totally should! I thought it was an interesting concept, but poorly executed.

  9. Your review of the first book is cracking me up. HOW ARE THEY DOING ALL OF THIS UNDERWATER?? lol

    I read a good book about synesthesia (I'll try to remember the name - the cover was white?? with a colorful feather on it.

    Karen @ For What It's worth

    1. Fantastical books still have to make sense!! I've read plenty of books with an underwater setting that seemed totally plausible. This one wasn't. Oh! If you remember the title, let me know!

  10. I agree that, if a bookish culture is different from ours, they should have terms/phrases/idioms that go along with it. I recently read The Way of Kings with Brandon Sanderson. I could tell where within the world the expressions the people used come from, and it made such a difference in my reading experience!

    I'm sorry these books didn't work out for you, but it was VERY ENTERTAINING for me to read your comments on things that happen in the novels.

    1. That sounds like a wonderful reading experience! I still haven't read anything by Brandon Sanderson, but I plan to this year! I only hear good things about the author and his books. If you create something totally new and unprecedented, then the terminology and language should reflect that.

      Haha! Thanks! I'm happy my post was entertaining for you. :) <3

  11. I'm so weird about not finishing a book, I just can't do it for the most part. lol Happy New Year! I wish you and your family a wonderful 2020!

    1. When I first started blogging (my first blog, not this one), I would finish every book I started, and it made me miserable. Why was I forcing myself to read something I wasn't enjoying? I started to hate reading, because it felt like more of a chore, and less like a hobby. Once I started DNFing the books I didn't like, I was happier with my reading. It meant I only stuck with books I liked, and it improved my entire outlook on blogging and reviewing.


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“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless