Friday, July 31, 2020

DNF&Y [31]

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!

A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Korean-American author Jayci Lee delights with this delicious and light-hearted romantic comedy that readers will devour and ask for more.

Bake a chance on love.

Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see her gorgeous Korean unicorn again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.

When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as sharing a villa.

When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart. 

This review was originally posted on 7/9/20. You can find it here.

"Her jaws went slack, and her tummy dipped and swerved at the appreciative gleam in his eyes."
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 Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

I really wanted to like A Sweet Mess, and thought the idea of two Korean-American foodies sounded adorable, but it was sooo cheesy and unromantic. I honestly thought this was the author's first book until I talked to Karen (from For What It's Worth). We'd unknowingly been trying to read it at the same time, but both struggled with the story. It was after messaging her that I realized the author has been published previously.

I'm also not a fan of telling over showing. I should be able to see and understand the humor without someone screaming, "LOOK! RIGHT HERE! THIS IS FUNNY! LAUGH!" I really struggled with the dialogue as well, since their conversations made them seem like teenagers in high school, and not adults with their own businesses and careers.

The formatting was atrocious. I'm already not a fan of POV changes in the middle of a chapter, but this book gives you absolutely no warning before dropping you into someone else's head. I would be reading thinking I was one person, but a few pages later realize that I'd been someone else all along. I would have to backtrack and start over, but even that was hard to do since there were no page breaks or any indication that there'd been a switch. Additionally, the story skips ahead a month without making that abundantly clear, and there wasn't a confirmed chapter until CHAPTER 4. How does that work?

The relationship between Aubrey and Landon wasn't all that believable either. Yes, people have one-night stands, but it felt like they rushed through everything at the start. I wanted there to be more build up before they banged. Basically, they meet at a bar, start to drink together while enjoying some light conversation, then abruptly jump up to act on their "uncontrollable" urges. I wish they'd deepened their conversation, explored their connection, and then left to go boink their brains out.

Finally, I cannot stand it when someone is attracted to a person that has screwed them over, like it's completely out of their control. Landon did something that was truly terrible, and other than "feeling bad" about it, doesn't really give a shit. He doesn't want to risk his reputation to do right by someone else. His "reasons" for staying out of it were crap, and I hated that Aubrey still wanted to hump his leg whenever she saw him again.

"Standing on the brink of losing her dream, she still wanted the man."

"She was determined to hate him, but the thought of him naked on her bed stalled her brain."

"She mentally slapped herself, annoyed as hell at her body’s reaction to him. He was the bringer of destruction. The pusher of her rage buttons."

Aubrey was a smart, successful woman, but the thought of this jerk naked made her act like a hormonal teenager. She should have had more respect for herself and the dream she'd worked so hard for. He could have easily remedied his mistake, but his pride was nearly as large as his ego. It also felt like the author was trying to justify her interest in Landon, despite him clearly being an asshole.

The parts of the book that I think were meant to be funny (like Darth Dimple) ended up making me cringe instead because of the context. She's justifiably mad at him, but mentally making excuses for his behavior. Nope. Sorry, bucko. You don't get any v-candy after being an asshat. His "roving eyes" should have made her angry, not horny. Instead of writing to him and his employer, she should have complained publicly and shared her story with the world. His review of her business was done unfairly, and she shouldn't have sulked around waiting for him to fix things for her. DNF at 20% (★★☆☆☆)


Memory Clouds by Tony Moyle

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The Circuit knows everything about you…because they are you.

Ascension Eve. 

Jake Montana waits for the letter every eighteen-year-old receives on their birthday. It’s the one from the Circuit. It’s the one that determines the rest of your life. Your life partner, job, home, and crucially, your importance factor, all selected for you. In the year 2054 your ‘importance factor’ is everything, but it’s not random. It’s based on a detailed assessment of every thought, emotion and memory you’ve ever stored in your Memory Cloud since the day you first received the implants. Your fate, the Circuit insists, is always yours.

But the future that Jake wants most won’t be inside his letter. It can’t be. His childhood sweetheart, Christie, won’t reach her Ascension Day for months so it’s impossible that her name will appear. He’s right, but there are bigger surprises in store. The Memory Cloud has chosen a life for Jake that no one would want. A life that will drag him into the murky world of the Spectrum, a community who denounce the Circuit and refuse to comply to their rules. A life designed to keep Jake from Christie and to hide the truth that lives deep inside him.

A truth that the Circuit will stop at nothing to keep from the world.

Memory Clouds is book one of the 'Circuit' series, the brand new dystopian thriller from Tony Moyle. if you liked 1984, A Brave New World or The Hunger Games then this is a must read. Grab hold of this wickedly dark, fast-paced page turner today. 


I received a complimentary copy from the author 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 liked the premise for Memory Clouds, but really struggled with the story from the start. There is a lot of telling instead of showing, which is something I dislike when reading a book. If I'm being introduced to a new world, I want to experience it through the characters. I don't want a lot of info-dumping right at the beginning. The author tried to cram too much world-building into the first few pages, and it left me feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from the story. DNF at 2% (★★☆☆☆)


The Mall by Megan McCafferty

Synopsis (via Goodreads): New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty returns to her roots with this YA coming of age story set in a New Jersey mall.

The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes and 90210 are, like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she and her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education and happily ever after.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans...

Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, and ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places. Megan McCafferty, beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to
The Mall.

"Then Dad kissed Mom on the cheek, and I was ready to leggo my Eggos all over the Volvo’s leather interior."
I received an ARC from the publisher via 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.

Reading this book was the equivalent of listening to someone scrape their fingernails down a chalkboard. My mind recoiled at the unwitty dialogue and over-the-top attempts at humor (see previous quote). Cassie is an obnoxious, offensive character, and there's no way I would have been able to finish this book with her as the only POV. 

Let's look at some of the horrible things she says, shall we?
  1. "...until I saw Troy’s tongue in Helen’s snaggletoothed yuck mouth."
  2. "This Helen was not beautiful. She was tiny and terrifying like a feral Chihuahua with a horrendous home perm."
  3. "Helen stopped groping Troy and casually twirled a crusty curl around her finger."
  4. "But I couldn’t avoid passing him in the halls, this denim-on-denim dirtbag who reeked of weed and Designer Imposters Drakkar Noir even at a distance."
I get that Cassie was upset her boyfriend had been cheating on her, but she just goes on and on with her hateful thoughts and commentary. I don't care that she didn't actually verbalize most of what she was thinking, she's still the sort of person that belittles others to make herself feel better. Additionally, what she says about Sonny Sexton (the dirtbag comment) was totally unrelated and said for the sake of being mean. She admits to not knowing him - - to never even having a conversation with him - - yet she's quick to judge him based on appearances and perceptions. All of this happened within the first 10% of the book, so I can only imagine how it would've progressed from there.

Cassie's inner dialogue was also way too wordy, and it's clear the author was trying too hard to be funny and make her character seem more relatable than she actually was.
  • "Slade was just so predictable with his handsomeness, the quintessence of every uncreative football-playing, homecoming queen– dating, keg-tapping high school stud stereotype. It’s as if he’d enrolled in a master class at the Cobra Kai Academy of Asshole Arts and Sciences but took it pass- fail because he couldn’t be bothered to put in the extra effort required for a unique spin on teenage cockiness."
Cassie is a shallow, self-centered character that isn't even remotely relatable. Her 90210 references were peppered in to make the 90's connection, but it wasn't explained at all. If someone picks up this book and is unfamiliar with the show, most of the commentary will go over their heads. It's going to alienate a lot of readers and significantly reduce this book's potential audience. The Mall might make some people feel nostalgic, but it just made me cringe. DNF at 10% (★★☆☆☆)

*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 really don't like it when an author is trying to tell you where to laugh! I tend to find my humour in unexpected comments and slapstick moments rather than where the author wants me to laugh.

    1. Same! I love it when books make me laugh, but it has to feel authentic and natural. I'm not going to laugh just because the characters are laughing, or because they say something is funny.

  2. I put The Mall on my "later" list. It's where I put DNFs and books with way too many negative reviews. I was excited about this book, because it spoke to teen me - NJ malls in the early 90s, but all the bad reviews are definitely putting me off. I see you didn't like the character, but I have been hearing the book is boring, which scares me more.

    1. I was excited about reliving some of the 90's in this book (I was still pretty young during that decade), but the character was awful. She wasn't hard to like, but impossible to tolerate. What I read of the book wasn't interesting, so I can see why some people would say it was boring. Good luck? ;)

  3. The Mall didn't work for me either. I did finish it but I had to force it at time. I just found Cassie really unlikable. Completely self-absorbed and super judgey of others. I just didn't care about her and her crappy attitude.

    1. I can't force myself to finish books anymore. I barely have time to read these days, so I'm not going to waste what little time I do have reading something I'm not enjoying. I understand why some people feel inclined to finish though... the possibility of something getting better is somewhat motivating, but I just can't. I'm sorry it didn't work for you either! Cassie was so awful. I didn't like anything about her.

  4. Such a bummer that A Sweet Mess didn't work for you or Karen. I'm not a fan of forced humor as well.

    I've been hearing a lot of meh things about The Mall. That's too bad.

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

    1. It wasn't just the forced humor, but the main character didn't have any respect for herself. A man's body was too distracting for her common sense, and her thoughts about him were obnoxious. The timeline is also a little confusing at times. The Mall was UGH.

  5. Ooh, yikes, The Mall sounds like a mess - with totally unrealistic dialogue and inner thoughts!

    1. Yes! It was really hard to read and the main character was THE WORST.

  6. I should be able to see and understand the humor without someone screaming, "LOOK! RIGHT HERE! THIS IS FUNNY! LAUGH!"

    "This Helen was not beautiful. She was tiny and terrifying like a feral Chihuahua with a horrendous home perm."
    ??? If one could perm their hair at home, I would be so lucky LOL.
    Seriously...what an insufferable jerk, with a weird jargon on top of that.

    1. It's true! A book should be funny without having to tell you it's funny. :)

      Cassie was a horrible person! I wish the author had written a nicer and more relatable character. I was initially excited about the setting, but the MC ruined it.

  7. We're not always going to like the books we start to read and that's ok.

    1. Totally agree! There's no point sticking with a story you're not enjoying. :)

  8. DNF'ing really is the worst. I've done a lot of that lately too. Maybe it's just me though. I can't tell if my tastes have changed or if it's all the chaos right now affecting my reading.

    1. I've been wondering the same... has life made me more cynical when it comes to the books I'm reading, or have they just not been right for me? I know my reading has been affected, and I'm just not finding my footing again.


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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