Thursday, May 20, 2021

DNF&Y [37]

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!

*Posting this early since I have a lot of tour stops coming up!

Astrid Sees All by Natalie Standiford
Published April 6th 2021 by Atria Books

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Most Anticipated: The Great First Half 2021 by The Millions

New York’s last bohemia—the glittering, decadent downtown club scene of the 1980s—is the setting for this brilliantly winning novel about a smart, vulnerable young woman taking a deep dive into her dark side, essential for fans of Sweetbitter, Fleabag, and books by Patti Smith.

New York, 1984: Twenty-two-year-old Phoebe Hayes is a young woman in search of excitement and adventure. But the recent death of her father has so devastated her that her mother wants her to remain home in Baltimore to recover. Phoebe wants to return to New York, not only to chase the glamorous life she so desperately craves but also to confront Ivan, the older man who painfully wronged her.

With her best friend Carmen, she escapes to the East Village, disappearing into an underworld haunted by artists, It Girls, and lost souls trying to party their pain away. Carmen juggles her junkie-poet boyfriend and a sexy painter while, as Astrid the Star Girl, Phoebe tells fortunes in a nightclub and plots her revenge on Ivan.

When the intoxicating brew of sex, drugs, and self-destruction leads Phoebe to betray her friend, Carmen disappears, and Phoebe begins an unstoppable descent into darkness. She may have a chance to save herself—and Carmen, if she can find her—but to do it she must face what’s hiding in the shadows she’s been running from—within her heart and in the dangerous midnight streets.

A love letter to gritty 1980s New York City, Astrid Sees All is an irresistible, original novel about female friendship, sex and romance, and what it’s like to be a young woman searching for an identity.

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 Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Sadly, May has not been a great reading month for me. I picked up Astrid Sees All thinking it would be the book that saved me from this slump (I'd read several really good reviews for it), but it was just as disappointing. I honestly cannot remember the main character's name (I'm sure it will come to me later), because all she ever talked about was Carmen this and Carmen that. The main character was OBSESSED with Carmen! She salivated over every crumb of attention that her "friend" deigned to give her. Where were her other friends? A roommate was briefly mentioned, but I have no idea what happened to her after she moved in with other people.

I don't even want to get into the main character - AH! Phoebe! - describing her vagina as having a "plain milky smell," or how much her boyfriend (someone she didn't even like until Carmen suggested she give him a chance) enjoyed it. Phoebe had no original ideas and couldn't go to the bathroom without Carmen's permission. Their relationship was seriously fucked up. Once Phoebe realized that Carmen was "repelled" by people who wanted her attention, she started playing hard to get. Who does that? Oh, yeah! Psychotic people. (Everything about Phoebe's relationship with Mark - including Carmen's role and the information she withheld - was VERY strange.)

"I thought the problem was with me, that in some way I was unworthy of her confidence. What was I doing wrong? I looked around at the behavior of my fellow students and came to the conclusion that carmen sensed how much I wanted her to like me, and that repelled her. I opened my eyes and received the message blaring all over campus: vulnerability equals weakness, and weakness arouses contempt. I had only to hide my longing and my desire, and they would be fulfilled."  

RED FLAG! This entire statement is problematic, and it honestly makes me think everyone involved needs therapy. Your longing and desire to be someone's friend? Why was Carmen so special? Why did Phoebe single her out and think she HAD to be her friend? Carmen wasn't even a nice person, yet that was who she wanted to emulate? 

Let's backtrack a little! The guy Phoebe started dating only because Carmen said to? Yeah, she's absolutely terrible to him. He wasn't a great guy or anything, but she did use him and then admit to herself that not being as invested in the relationship gave her power over him. If you're thinking, "What the actual fuck?," join the club.

"I tried to comfort him, but the longer he groveled, the more disgusted I felt. Did Mark really like me this much? If he did, wasn't it kind of gross of him to show it?"

Oh, so now feelings are gross? If you do read this book, can you please explain Mark's off-the-wall monologue to me? It was so confusing! And what was the point? Pregnancy? Coffee? No free will? Please, don't leave me? You guys, my brain. *mimes explosion*

I really didn't like any of the characters and thought Phoebe consistently got worse as the story progressed. She just wasn't a good person, so I had no desire to continue reading about her. At one point, the rich kids were throwing a Gatsby-themed party, and she was disappointed that it was being held where they'd filmed the movie. Girl, you weren't even on the guest list and now you're complaining about where it's being held? Go fuck yourself. 

"It wasn't very original of the host consortium to throw a Gatsby party in the Gatsby house." 

Carmen. Carmen. Carmen. It's basically every third word Phoebe says or thinks to herself and I AM OVER IT. If this was supposed to be a book about Carmen, then she should have been the protagonist. 

"I was sorry I'd hurt him, but not really, because it had been worth it. I'd glimpsed the golden world, and returning to it was my only goal."

She's so shallow! Seriously, all of the characters were awful. I stopped on page 53 because I couldn't take it anymore. I really wanted to like this book, but the characters made it impossible. The setting was interesting, but everything was ruined by Phoebe's commentary and her actions. Carmen was just as bad, but we're not in her head. Maybe a duel POV would have made her more likable? I doubt it, but anything's possible.

Oh, and everything the author wrote about Jack Kennedy (JFK's grandson, I think), only made this book feel even more unbelievable. He kept popping up in their lives (in class, at parties, etc.), and every interaction she had with him made me cringe. It just felt fake and forced, like the author needed a celebrity to make the story more interesting. 

Also, the story went from the present to the past, but then jumped around in the past? It was weird. It wasn't necessarily hard to follow, but it did make it hard to get a grasp on the characters and what was happening in their lives. The ONE thing I liked about this book were the ticket stubs. I love the idea of using the titles of shows to tell fortunes or predict the future. It sounds like a fun game you'd play at a party. Unfortunately, I only read enough of the book for the concept to be explained, and I didn't actually get to see Phoebe performing with them. (★★☆☆☆)

Spells Trouble by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Expected publication: May 25th 2021 by Wednesday Books
Narrated by Cassandra Campell

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Double double, twins spell trouble…

Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers–the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life.

When their mother becomes the first victim in a string of murders, the devastated sisters vow to avenge her death. But it will take more than magic to rein in the ancient mythological monsters who’ve infected their peaceful town.

Now Hunter and Mercy must come together and accept their destiny or risk being separated for good.

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.

Spells Trouble was just a tad too unbelievable for me. I don't want to have to suspend my disbelief that much for a story to work. I'm all for authors writing progressive female characters, but the twin's mother was annoyingly sweet and supportive. Her comments were a little too endearing and nonjudgmental, which I found off-putting. She felt more like an eccentric aunt than the girl's mother. It didn't help that they called her Abigail instead of Mom, which we get no explanation for. Right of the bat she's talking to Mercy about safe sex, condoms (making sure they make it onto her new boyfriend's penis), her clitoris (and how she's been blessed with multiple orgasms), and even discussing the ring size (Mercy's boyfriend gave her his ring) and insinuating that it means her boyfriend has a large dick. None of this felt like appropriate "Mom talk," because of how their mother chose to address these topics. She made it creepy and gross, not educational and informative. 

I enjoyed the prologue, but everything that happened in the present felt over-the-top and forced. It was like jamming two puzzle pieces together because you're convinced they fit, only to realize your mistake later on. This book had a lot of pieces that felt forced together, which really hurt the story's believability. There was also a lot of telling and very little showing. 

The chapter with Dearborn? WHAT? That whole debacle was very poorly explained, and then his behavior later on was incredibly offensive (it honestly felt like he was a completely different person). He should not have been talking to the girls about their dead mother (it's in the synopsis, lower your pitchforks) so casually. Where was his sensitivity to their loss? The other officer just kept apologizing for his behavior, but it wasn't even remotely acceptable. I don't care if he's been through an "ordeal," he can't be callous and insensitive. He also can't discuss another investigation with two teenage girls. It was just too unrealistic for me to continue reading this one. Stopped around 24%. (★★☆☆☆)

Narration: I started listening to an ARC of the audiobook and seriously considered switching to my physical ARC after a few chapters. The voice really didn't work for me, and I thought it made the characters sound ditzy and immature. Even their mother's voice had a childlike quality to it, which made it hard for me to take anyone seriously.

The Baddest Girl on the Planet by Heather Frese
Published March 2nd 2021 by Blair

Synopsis (via Goodreads): WINNER of the LEE SMITH NOVEL PRIZE

Evie Austin, native of Hatteras Island, North Carolina and baddest girl on the planet, has not lived her life in a straight line. There have been several detours―career snafus, bad romantic choices, a loved but unplanned child―not to mention her ill-advised lifelong obsession with boxer Mike Tyson. Evie is not plucky, but when life’s changes smash over her like the rough surf of the local shoreline, she muddles through―until that moment of loss and longing when muddling will no longer suffice.

This is the story of what the baddest girl on the planet must find in herself when a bag of pastries, a new lover, or quick trip to Vegas won’t fix anything, and when something more than casual haplessness is required. The Baddest Girl on the Planet is inventive, sharp, witty, and poignant. Readers will want to jump in and advise this baddest girl on the planet―or at least just give her a shake or a hug―at every fascinating turn.

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.

Basically, the main character is a terrible person. The flashbacks to her childhood weren't any better, and after a while I got really bored with the story. I'm not sure how she's supposed to be the "baddest" girl on the planet, because all I saw was a petty, jealous adult. She didn't want to be in her marriage, so she self-destructs. She also didn't seem to care about being a mom, and I hated her indifference towards her child. 

Also, a strange man touching you without your permission is definitely something that should "weird you out." Why did it matter that it was her hips instead of her breasts? UGH. She made some comment about people always looking at her boobs, and her friend explained that this guy being attracted to something else on her body was a cultural thing. Seriously, UGH. 

She was unlikable in the past and in the present (which I feel terrible saying since she's only a child in the flashbacks), so I stopped reading this one on page 67. I really tried to push through thinking it would get better, but it just wasn't for me. (★★☆☆☆)

*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. Oh I didn't know anu of these but somtimes it's just complicated mainly when you don't like the characters for example as you did for one of them.

    1. Yeah, I really struggle with books when I don't like the characters. ๐Ÿ™„

  2. Yikes. Unlikeable characters and weird sex stuff? ("describing her vagina as having a "plain milky smell," WTF?). That's the pattern these days? LOL. I hope your next reads will make up for these!

  3. Yikes, I hope you have some better reads soon!

  4. I rarely DNF books, but this month, I actually did one: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I'm always sad when I do. :(

    1. I didn't DNF my last JLA book (Storm and Fury), but it was a three-star read for me. I used to really love her books, too.

  5. I was looking forward to Spells Trouble but yeah I'm so glad I found review because the way the mum acts is very strange. My mother was very open book when it came to sex. Any questions we had we could ask and she'd be honest but she never talked about ring sizes and multiple orgasms... simply creepy.

    1. It just didn't feel very motherly, if that makes sense. I can see a friend joking about a boyfriend's ring size, but not someone's parent. Their mother also randomly mentioned that their family line (specifically the females) were blessed with the ability to have multiple orgasms, and that her daughter should be thankful. Oogy.

  6. Oh my gosh these kill me. I love DNF reviews, is that bad? And this "Phoebe had no original ideas and couldn't go to the bathroom without Carmen's permission. " Gah ?? The ticket stub thing sounds kinda neat, but yeah everything else here sounds like a hot mess.

    Baddest Girl sounds horrible :)

    1. Not at all! I love reading why people DNFd books. I think they're some of the most telling reviews, to be honest. It's not always that I agree with the reviews either, but that I can understand what bothered them about the book. Sometimes what they didn't like is something I enjoy reading about. :)

      All three of these were a hot mess! ๐Ÿ˜…

  7. Sorry to hear you didn't like these. I haven't tried reading any of them.

    1. It happens! May just hasn't been a great reading month for me. ๐Ÿ™„

  8. Yikes! That first one seems like quite the mess...

  9. I found this post very entertaining, so I must be a bad person. :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Don't say that! You're a lovely person, Nicole! ๐Ÿค

  10. I'm actually a bit confused by the little snippets I've read on the book Astrid Sees All that you showed. Like, I'm not pondering on my relationships with friends that much and I'm just enjoying the time we spend together. Or am I weird now? Like you're saying: Sounds like they might all need therapy. Will NOT read that book.

    Then the main character is weird about a guy who shows that he likes her?! GROSS! *eye roll* Poor Mark xD

    Lol, this post was so much fun to read. Thanks!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! You're not weird, haha. I thought her obsession with her "friend" was over-the-top and unhealthy.

  11. Oh dear, I am sorry there were so many dnfs here. I recently read a book where a character was obsessed with another and it got so grating so quickly that I was severely annoyed while reading the book, so I understand on that account.

    1. Right? I just wanted her to be her own person and do the things SHE wanted. Her entire life revolved around one other person, and she based all of her decisions on what THEY would want/do/like.

  12. I couldn't resist reading your review for The Baddest Girl on The Planet after seeing the Amazon shitshow! They're getting ridiculously brazen now with what they allow - it's infuriating!
    Anyway, it sounds like one I'd dislike... Thank you for being honest!

    1. I managed to get it posted after SEVERAL emails and one phone conversation. Their guidelines say book ARCs are one of their exceptions. Such a headache though!


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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