Thursday, April 30, 2020

DNF&Y [28]

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!
The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Meet Roxy. She’s a sometimes vegan, always broke artist with a heart the size of Texas and an ex living in her spare bedroom. Her life is messy, but with the help of a few good friends and by the grace of the goddess Venus she’ll discover that good sex, true love, and her life’s purpose are all closer than she realizes.

Bridget Jones penned a diary; Roxy writes letters. Specifically: she writes letters to her hapless, rent-avoidant ex-boyfriend—and current roommate—Everett. This charming and funny twenty-something is under-employed (and under-romanced), and she’s decidedly fed up with the indignities she endures as a deli maid at Whole Foods (the original), and the dismaying speed at which her beloved Austin is becoming corporatized. When a new Lululemon pops up at the intersection of Sixth and Lamar where the old Waterloo Video used to be, Roxy can stay silent no longer.

As her letters to Everett become less about overdue rent and more about the state of her life, Roxy realizes she’s ready to be the heroine of her own story. She decides to team up with her two best friends to save Austin—and rescue Roxy’s love life—in whatever way they can. But can this spunky, unforgettable millennial keep Austin weird, avoid arrest, and find romance—and even creative inspiration—in the process?

DNF at 46%

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 Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.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 Roxy Letters are about Roxy (obvs). She writes letters to her ex-boyfriend who is also her new-and-now-ex-roommate, and tells him everything that's going on in her life (whether that's her work life, sex life, or just dumb stuff she did during the day). I didn't understand why the letters were being written to Everett in the first place... yes, he doesn't have a cell phone, so she would leave him notes, but these letters were long. They were full of dialogue, so they didn't really feel like letters. When Everett moved out the letters to him continued, although she never gave them to him. It would have made more sense if these letters had been journal entries, since Roxy was basically talking to herself.

Roxy's boss (Dirty Steve) definitely had a filthy mouth. He called her Poxy Roxy (due to the adult chicken pox she contracted), and loved to sling racial slurs at the other deli maids. Like, SeΓ±or Slowpoke. It was horrible, yet they easily excused his behavior. He was part of the original store, which was a "different" time, so his actions were tolerated. For a feminist like Roxy, her what-you-know-is-better-than-what-you-don't attitude was very frustrating. 

I really didn't like Roxy, so it was hard to feel invested in her story. She was so entitled, and often called her parents to ask for money. She's the one choosing to work at Whole Foods instead of pursuing the artistic career she actually wants. Yes, and ex-boyfriend royally screwed her over, and essentially stole one of her ideas and used it for evil (her words), but that shouldn't have created the three-year rut she's currently in. She claims to be super independent, but she's emotionally and financially dependent on others. She can't even communicate to a guy that she wants him to pay attention to her lady parts, and instead just continues to give. Where was her self-respect? I would not continue to have sex with a guy that only cared about getting himself off.

I also disliked both Annie and Artemis. They weren't very good friends, and often laughed at Roxy's problems. They would give her advice, which mostly felt like Life Instructions, that Roxy would attempt to follow and then fail at spectacularly. Annie was on a mission to save animals in her position at Whole Foods, and Artemis clearly has a lot of secrets she's not willing to share. Her behavior was super shady, but I will admit that she seemed to have a somewhat positive influence on Roxy. At least she got her out of the house.

I wish there had been other perspectives, especially Everett's, since that's who Roxy has decided to spill all of her secrets and stories too. We learn certain things about his character, but everything is through Roxy's point of view. She's biased. 

Everything about the Tweakers next door made zero sense. One minute they're claiming they would never hurt her dog and loving on Roscoe through the fence, and the next he's covered in Nicorette gum and devil horns. She called 311 and was told they "had bigger fish to fry," but I feel like that definitely deserved a 911 call. She prayed to Mars to give her a battle strategy, when SHE SHOULD HAVE CALLED THE ACTUAL POLICE. I just could not with this girl. 

Basically, this book was a hot mess.
This Boy by Lauren Myracle

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Lauren Myracle brings her signature frank, funny, and insightful writing to this novel of a teenage boy’s coming-of-age.

Paul Walden is not an alpha lobster, the hyper-masculine crustacean king who intimidates the other male lobsters, beds all the lady lobsters, and “wins” at life. At least not according to the ego-bursting feedback he’s given in his freshman seminar. But Paul finds a funny, faithful friend in Roby Smalls, and maybe — oh god, please — he’s beginning to catch the interest of smart, beautiful Natalia Gutierrez. Cruising through high school as a sauced-out, rap-loving beta lobster suits Paul fine, and if life ever gets him down? Smoke a little weed, crunch a few pills . . . it’s all good.

But in the treacherous currents of teenage culture, it’s easy to get pulled under. With perfect frankness, Lauren Myracle lays bare the life of one boy as he navigates friendship, love, loss, and addiction. It’s life at its most ordinary and most unforgettable.

DNF at 40%

I received an ARC from the publisher 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.

I haven't personally dealt with a twitching dick, or envisioned myself fondling a female's bouncing boobs, so the main character wasn't someone I could relate to. Even his high school experience was laden with thoughts of sex and how his body was changing, and it was weird to read about him dropping his pants to examine himself. There was way too much dialogue about Paul's penis. If a teenage boy thinks about sex all the time, or they objectify women in their minds, okay. I'm sure there's some truth to that when portraying an adolescent boy, but it's not something I want to read about.

This Boy might be very relatable for some people, and I hope it finds its audience, but I'm way too old to find humor in the occasional booger and frequent fart. I definitely don't want to read about how a high school sophomore handles their private bits, thinks about them, or dreams about how they might one day be used. Additionally, the story progressed slowly, and wasn't all that interesting.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
Expected publication: June 2nd 2020

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she's also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she's also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.

DNF at 39%

I received an ARC from the publisher 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.

This started as a buddy read with Roberta from Offbeat YA, that I sadly could not finish. For one thing, the adults in this book were awful. Secondly, the author used a lot of terminology that I wasn't familiar with, and gave little-to-no explanation for their actions and behaviors. I had to Google what certain things were, but the author had her own unique spin, so it just added to my confusion. Thirdly, it felt like she was trying to tackle too many issues (racism, social injustice, etc.) and a lot of it was lost within the story. I never felt like there was a clear direction. Additionally, the plot was too predictable, and I guessed the ending pretty early on (I flipped to the end to see if I was right, and Roberta shared her thoughts once she was finished).

Tavia's father is also Effie's "play-father", another term that I had to look up, and one that rubs me the wrong way. Tavia also called Effie her "play-sister", and Effie thought of them as her "play-family". Effie has lived with them for three years, and I thought the terminology made her situation feel less warm, and more formal. I wish it had felt like she'd been wholly accepted into their family, and not like an obvious addition that was added later. Tavia's father feared for his daughter's safety, but he took it too far. He never listened when she was speaking, and wanted to blame her for being something that was outside of her control. He should have embraced and loved Tavia for who she was. Her mother wasn't any better. She would try to console her husband without attempting to comfort her daughter. Effie's grandmother was equally frustrating. She kept secrets from Effie about her identity and parentage, even though it was clear her granddaughter was struggling.

I think the author tried to include too many mythological creatures, and did it in a way that made the story feel convoluted. Elokos aren't something I'm familiar with, and the author's explanations weren't very thorough, and only further confused me. Sprites, sirens, mermaids𑁋the author added her own spin, but still kept some of their more common attributes when describing them. It was hard to juggle everything being thrown at me about the new-but-not-new mythical creatures. I wish she had created her own mythical characters, or at least made her versions more coherent. 

Also, the start of the book talks about a black woman's death, and Tavia complains about people not caring or saying her name until it's revealed that she was possibly a siren, but then we don't hear anything else about the woman's murder. If you're going to introduce something like that into the story, I feel like it needs to be addressed later on (unless it happened after I stopped reading). It felt really significant, and clearly had a heavy impact on Tavia, but it stopped being a focal point.

Effie has a skin condition, which Roberta and I were both happy too see in a YA book, but were equally disappointed when it turned out to be magical and not natural. Why can't characters have flawed skin in books? 

There's also a large focus on a siren faire (I forget what it's actually called), which is surprising since people seem to really hate sirens in general. Why have a faire that celebrates them, or even has them at all, if the world is so against their existence? That addition the story didn't make sense, and even less so when the author tried to tie it to Effie and her family. 

There's also a lot of bullying and kids treating each other abhorrently, which I also didn't understand. They were supposed to be a community (people who were magical and whatnot), or a support group of sorts, but it was like they competed with one another instead. A lot about this book just didn't make sense, and left me feeling underwhelmed. I'm really disappointed since the cover and premise were so interesting.

*Share your DNF&Y post! Please leave the direct link to your DNF&Y post and not just your blog's URL. Thank you for participating and happy reading!


  1. "I haven't personally dealt with a twitching dick, or envisioned myself fondling a female's bouncing boobs, so the main character wasn't someone I could relate to."
    πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I managed to convey the absurdity of those descriptions while admitting you aren't the target audience for this.

    The Roxy Letters sounds like a hot mess all right. Why Roxy would let her ex-boyfriend crash at her house without even paying a rent, in the first place?!?! Self-respect, girl! As for A Song Below Water, my review will go live on the 13th, but basically, I did like it - though I hear you about all those issues. The story had potential, and it was well (if not gorgeously) written, and it was a fresh take on sirens/mermaids.

    1. Apparently, the author is in the center of a lot of Twitter drama right now, and someone drug my review into it (since it was already posted on Goodreads). She was the moderator on a diversity/POC panel, and started talking about her book and how "middle class white boys" deserve more attention. They're being "overlooked" or some nonsense. Then said something about how her book was based on her two sons, and that's where my review got pulled in. I've had a ridiculous number of notifications every time I've logged on to Twitter, because people are tagging me and my review (in addition to some pictures I posted of the book), and using them to fuel their rage.

      The Roxy Letters gave me a headache. The ex-boyfriend was supposed to pay rent, but he didn't have a job, and she had to ask her parents for money to make ends meet. When he did pay her, it was so late the next month's rent was already due. Then he leaves! For a REALLY WEIRD REASON. Have you ever heard of orgasmic/orgasm meditation? No? I hadn't either. Not until reading this book.

      I'm looking forward to reading your review! I didn't hate the book, and the premise was unique, but it simply didn't work for me. I did enjoy our brief buddy read! :)

    2. "She was the moderator on a diversity/POC panel, and started talking about her book and how "middle class white boys" deserve more attention." about bad moderator choices...So you got viral? LOL. I hope no one threatened you or something!

      "Have you ever heard of orgasmic/orgasm meditation? No? I hadn't either. Not until reading this book."
      I can confirm LOL.

  2. You read pretty far before you DNF. I like your optimism. I don't normally go past 25-30% unless it's an author I love or the issue is small

    1. I'll keep reading if it's something small, but if there's no change by a certain point, I have to stop. I can't keep pushing myself to read something that isn't working for me, just because I hope it might get better. For example, I love Jenn Bennett, but I'm not enjoying Chasing Lucky. The main character is incredibly frustrating, so I never want to pick it back up. I'm going to give it one more shot, and if things don't improve, it will likely be on next month's DNF&Y post.

  3. I love this post. I haven't DNF a lot of books myself. But it's good to share I think.

    I haven't heard about these books before. And I'm sorry these books didn't work for you.. When you don't like the main characters it's definitely hard to keep on going.

    1. I feel like a lot of people choose to simply ignore and forget about the books they DNF, but that doesn't help other readers. Maybe you DNFd a book because it felt too wordy and descriptive, but someone else might love that! I think it's good to share why something didn't work for you, as long as you do it in a way that doesn't bash the author or their story.

  4. Replies
    1. I'm currently reading Seven Endless Forests, Spark and the League of Ursus, and listening to Don't Read the Comments and enjoying all three! ;)

  5. It is a pet peeve of mine when a book is supposed to be written in the form of letters, but then it's basically just like a book anyway - who writes dialogue in letters??

    1. Right?? I think it should have been written from Roxy's perspective instead of letters to her ex-boyfriend. The letters didn't feel like letters, especially with all of the dialogue. There was just too much detail for them to be believable. Even if they'd been journal entries, the dialogue wouldn't have been there.

  6. "I haven't personally dealt with a twitching dick, or envisioned myself fondling a female's bouncing boobs, so the main character wasn't someone I could relate to."

    OH MY GOD.
    Also how am I not surprised given that author's behavior? Sorry these didn't work for you.

    1. I wasn't aware of the author's behavior until after all of the diversity panel stuff. I'd read something of hers previously (Shine, I think), and enjoyed it. I thought This Boy would be something similar, but it wasn't. It was a very, very descriptive book about an adolescent boy thinking about girls and his own personal appearance.

  7. Replies
    1. I was really bummed when Songs Below Water didn't work out, since it's one I was really looking forward to reading. The Roxy Letter and This Boy piqued my interest (or I wouldn't have read them), but the cover and premise of Song Below Water really wowed me. :(

  8. I like this post concept. I usually do not say anything about DNFs, but maybe it would be better to say why. Hmmm.

    The Roxy book sounds stupidly awful. I would not have made it as far as you did with a premise like that. Good on you for sticking it out that long!

    1. I think it's helpful to say way, even if you just make a list! I used to do pros and cons, but then I always ended up with more to say, haha. I wanted to try The Roxy Letters because it seemed was not.

  9. First of all, kudos to you for being able to DNF so late in the game. I worry so much about the time I have already put in and usually force myself to finish which is good for no one!

    UGH I HATE the thing where MCs write letters to people who don't make any sense! It is the worst and I would have had to stop too tbh. As for This Boy, I hate everything about it. I see in the comments that you have heard how it is based off her son which... EW. Especially after reading your review, that is just SO much ew. And honestly if that IS how teenage boys act, I am kind of disgusted. Not that he cant or shouldn't think about his body or sex but ALL the time? Seems like a cause for concern! Also she sounds like a pretty crappy person in general, so. SAD about A Song Below Water. I really didn't think it would be for me based on the synopsis (I really just don't care about Sirens, especially in a contemporary setting) but it's kind of a bummer that it was DNF- level. Hope your next books are better!

    1. I think about it like this... it's not a waste of time if I DNF the book once I know it's not for me. It starts being a waste of time when I keep reading something I know I'm not enjoying. It could get better, but it probably won't. I'd rather stop halfway through, then spend more time on something that's not making me happy. :)

      The Roxy Letters made zero sense. We hardly know the guy she's writing them to, and then her "letters" are crazy detailed with dialogue, so they weren't believable. You can't have something called The Roxy LETTERS, and have that aspect of the story not be realistic. My review for This Boy posted on Goodreads long before it went live on my blog, and people on Twitter were using it to be hateful when the author did something stupid during an online panel. A Song Below Water is one I REALLY wanted to like! There were some interesting aspects, but it just wasn't a great fit for me.

  10. That's a shame about Song Below the Water. πŸ˜•


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