Friday, December 31, 2021

DNF&Y [39]

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!

Burntcoat by Sarah Hall

Synopsis (via Goodreads): An electrifying novel of mortality, passion, and human connection, set against the backdrop of a deadly global virus—from the “astonishing, miraculous” (Daisy Johnson) Man Booker–nominated writer

You were the last one here, before I closed the door of Burntcoat. Before we all closed our doors . . .

In an unnamed British city, the virus is spreading, and like everyone else, the celebrated sculptor Edith Harkness retreats inside. She isolates herself in her immense studio, Burntcoat, with Halit, the lover she barely knows. As life outside changes irreparably, inside Burntcoat, Edith and Halit find themselves changed as well: by the histories and responsibilities each carries and bears, by the fears and dangers of the world outside, and by the progressions of their new relationship. And Burntcoat will be transformed, too, into a new and feverish world, a place in which Edith comes to an understanding of how we survive the impossible—and what is left after we have.

A sharp and stunning novel of art and ambition, mortality and connection,
Burntcoat is a major work from “one of our most influential short story writers” (The Guardian). It is an intimate and vital examination of how and why we create—make art, form relationships, build a life—and an urgent exploration of an unprecedented crisis, the repercussions of which are still years in the learning.

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 Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

It only took me a few pages to realize Burntcoat wasn't going to work for me. I'm not sure if it was the writing style or how the story was being portrayed, but it failed to capture my attention. I honestly had no idea what I was reading (and not for a lack of trying). It was like the words were unable to make a connection in my mind; they were just letters on paper. No story - simple or otherwise - unfurled behind my eyes. (★★☆☆☆)

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian 

Synospis (via Goodreads): Meet Chloe Sevre. She’s a freshman honor student, a leggings-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. Her hobbies include yogalates, frat parties, and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her.

Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study for psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements.

When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan into action, she’ll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths—and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.

Never Saw Me Coming is a compulsive, voice-driven thriller by an exciting new voice in fiction, that will keep you pinned to the page and rooting for a would-be killer.

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.

Never Saw Me Coming was so fucking frustrating. I kept picking it back up hoping it would miraculously get better, but it never did. The synopsis makes you think you're going to be reading the story from Chloe's perspective, but fails to mention the handful of other POVs the author tosses at you without warning. There were no chapter headings or titles to give you any indication of who was speaking. You just had to keep reading until you figured it out, which felt like a huge waste of time. I want to know who's perspective I'm reading from before I'm two pages into the chapter, okay? Thanks.

Additionally, I felt like the author tried to put a huge emphasis on the one black perspective. She was constantly referring to his skin color, and only mentioned other people's race or color when the focus was on him. I want to learn about a character without being spoon-fed information that should be obvious from the writing and story itself. Andre is black. And? Does that mean he automatically points out the race of every single person he encounters?

"He came inside Tyler where three bubbly white girls were..."

"Andre knocked on the door of 615 and an older white man..."

"He was white, with muscular, hairy forearms."

"White like me or white like Deever?"

It's like Andre's entire existence revolved around his skin color and the skin color of others. He couldn't just be another character in the book. The author made him stand out by having him focus on something that none of the other characters did. No one else mentions their race or ethnicity. It pulled me out of the book and prevented me from being able to see Andre as just another person in the story. It was like the author was trying too hard to make him her Black character, who talks about Black issues, and is concerned with Black politics. She failed to just let him be a person. I'm not saying the issues and politics aren't important, but they weren't addressed or brought up in a way that left an impact. It was more like she was using him solely to say, "Hey! Look! My book has diversity!"

It also made zero sense that Andre - a freshman in college - wouldn't tell his parents that he'd watched another student die while trying to save him. He literally had someone else's  blood on his hands, was questioned by the police, experienced something traumatic, yet didn't tell his parents. Right. Okay. 

Also, wtf is FOMO? Am I that old or is this some new slang that I just haven't heard?

"Reek seemed surprised when I made a beeline..." Reek? How very Game of Thrones... ๐Ÿ™„

I didn't even make it halfway through this one, which is really disappointing. I had high expectations and the cover is stunning, but the story flopped. The characters were unlikeable and uninteresting, I didn't care about the murders or murderer, and I was more annoyed than anything else while reading it. (★★☆☆☆)
Wintersong (Wintersong, #1) by S. Jae-Jones

Synopsis (via Goodreads): "Darkly romantic and atmospheric in all of the best ways, this book reads like a fever dream you never want to wake from." —Emily A. Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints and Ruthless Gods

Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Cruel Prince.

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones's Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

If I wanted to be petty, I'd say I should have known better based on who blurbed it (Emily Duncan's books have never worked for me), but instead I'll take the blame for wishing Wintersong would be more than what it was. I think whoever compared this book to Labyrinth and The Cruel Prince did a disservice to them both. Wintersong paled in comparison. All they managed to do was set a bar so high this book never stood a chance. The author would have had to produce something truly breathtaking to even come close to the feels and emotions Labyrinth and The Cruel Prince elicit. 

My biggest complaint would have to be Liesl herself. She's constantly talking about how plain she is compared to her sister, and I hated how frequently she put herself down. What about the teenagers reading this book? Are they supposed to relate to her feeling inadequate because of her looks? Are they going to look up to someone ordinary if she is unable to see the beauty in herself? The fact that Liesl needs a man - sorry, the Goblin King - to make her feel beautiful, is absurd. She should have found strength in herself instead of relying on it from others.

Also, the musical aspects of this book were snooze-worthy. I wanted to skip over them, but they took up the bulk of the book. I get why music played a large role in Liesl's life, but I was bored to tears trying to read through pages and pages of her playing music, composing music, or just talking about music in general. Her brother's music, her father's music, etc. It was a lot.

I never understood what the point of the story was. Were Liesl and the Goblin King playing a game? What was the game? Did they like or dislike each other? The rules were weird and not properly explained, and eventually I got tired of trying to figure it out. The story itself wasn't believable, and the characters were dull and unlikable. 

I started this book back in July and I'm just now 32% into it? Hard pass, thanks. Clearly, Wintersong wasn't a good fit for me, so I'm going to stop trying to fit a square into a triangle. (★★☆☆☆)


  1. I read Winersong years ago because of that stunning cover and because of what it was compared to. I hated it. Ugh. Not for me either.

    1. Right?? The comparisons were sooo misleading.

  2. "There were no chapter headings or titles to give you any indication of who was speaking. You just had to keep reading until you figured it out, which felt like a huge waste of time."
    Uh. That sounds like a nightmare. Even if characters have distinctive voices, one should get a clue before they start reading a chapter.

    "Also, wtf is FOMO? Am I that old or is this some new slang that I just haven't heard?"
    LOL, I'm older than you, but I know about this one! Never heard of Fear Of Missing Out? That thing some people experience when everyone's reading a book, watching a series or enjoying whatever media, so they feel like they should try it as well in order to be able to join the conversation, or so that they don't miss a potentially interesting thing?

    "The fact that Liesl needs a man - sorry, the Goblin King - to make her feel beautiful, is absurd."
    I thought we were past that?

    Sorry for this batch of disappointments! Happy new year, I hope it brings better things for you (not only book-related of course...).

    1. It was definitely a headache to figure out! And no . . . I had no idea what FOMO was, LOL. Thanks for clearing that up for me. ;)

  3. All new to me. Sorry to hear they didn't work for you.

    1. It's okay! I'm sure they're a great fit for someone else.

  4. I think this is the first time I've visited your blog while a DNF&Y post was up and I would just like to acknowledge how great of an idea I think this is! I don't DNF books often, but when I do I usually just don't mention them at all in book discussions. I love that you've still made space to talk about what drove you to DNF. Though these books were disappointing (I'm sorry for that!) I must admit that I love their book covers haha

    Wishing you a happy new year :)
    claire @ clairefy

    1. Thank you! I love seeing people's positive reviews, but I also like seeing why they didn't like books. Unfortunately, most people tend to ignore and forget about the books they didn't like, because it's easier to pretend they didn't happen. :)


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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