Brief Reviews From The DNF Pile

Some readers feel compelled to finish everything they read - and I applaud them for that - but life is too short to waste on books you're not enjoying. I give everything a fair shot, both in terms of time and pages, waiting to see if one might fit a changing mood, but eventually you just have to say farewell and move onto the next book on the shelf.

Maybe it's the stress of packing and preparing to move. Maybe it's the headache of trying to budget so far into the unknown. Maybe it's the melancholy weather or the misery of seasonal allergies. All I know is that I'm in a reading rut lately.

Swarm and Steel by Michael R. Fletcher
This is one I may come back to later, but I will likely give The Mirror's Truth a read first to see if I can recapture the excitement I felt while reading Beyond Redemption. I don't know whether it's a case of the novelty having worn off, or if the characters here just aren't as interesting as in Fletcher's first Manifest Delusions book, but I simply wasn't enjoying it. That first book was about as dark as fantasy gets - violent, cruel, and morally disturbing - but it was also insanely fun. I wasn't getting that sense of fun here, and I wasn't connecting with any of the characters.

The Witchwood Crown by Tad William
With this one, it's less a Did-Not-Finish and more a Definitely-Finish-Later scenario. As excited as I was to land a digital ARC of this, the 'digital' part is the problem. When I read a massive epic fantasy like this, I need to feel it . . . to experience it . . . to hold it in my hands. There are some genres that simply work better in a physical format, and this is one of them. Unless a surprise physical ARC lands on my doorstep in the coming weeks, I will be waiting to pick up a copy of the hardcover for myself on release day.

The New Voices of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle & Jacob Weisman
Unless they're connected by a theme, I tend to be hesitant about multi-author anthologies like this, especially when I've only really heard of two of the authors. The first four stories did nothing for me, but "A Kiss With Teeth" by Max Gladstone was fantastic - quite a bit better, and rather more accessible, than his Craft Sequence novels. The next two fell flat as well, but then along came "The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate" by A. C. Wise, which was just as much fun as I expected of her. When the three following stories disappointed, despite having some of the most intriguing titles in the collection, I decided I was done.

Mona Lisa's Secret by Phil Philips
I went into this expecting a grand Dan Brown type adventure, with a good bit of history and backstory, but it was a rather silly and superficial contemporary heist. Even as I tried to enjoy it as a mindless pulp adventure instead, I found it too cheesy and unrealistic to really hold my interest.

Dead On Arrival by Matt Richtel
This was not at all what I expected, with far too much sci-fi nonsense and far too little biological plague creepiness, not to mention a narrative style that jumps around far too much. The characters were thinly painted, with no real personalities, and that is a definite problem when the whole point of the book is to root for their survival. I did finish this, but only by skimming large sections of it and skipping ahead just to see how it ended - and it was disappointing.

Broken Wizards by Jeffrey Bardwell
The narrative was poorly constructed, with more tell than show, and the whole thing was in serious need of an editor to reign in the run-on-sentences and introduce some much-needed structure. I found myself confused and impatient with the early chapters, which can be effective if there's a moment of clarity coming where the story explodes into action, but no matter how far I skimmed ahead, that moment just didn't seem to be there.


  1. I don't hesitate to DNF books anymore. I applause YOU for saving your valuable time for more important things.

  2. Sorry to hear about Swarm and Steel. That's one that I have, but just havent had the time to get to yet

  3. Sorry to hear about your reading rut. We all fall into them but it looks like you tried to read quite a few books and now have a smaller tbr pile. Wish I could say the same!

  4. I'm very much a DNFer. I can't waste time on anything I'm not enjoying! However it can be depressing when you get into that rut of a pile of books you don't like. I hope that really great read is just around the corner for you.


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