Book Reviews, Received for Review

Why I DNF The Beholder, The Meaning of Birds and 5 other books

Recent books I did not finish
I’m looking at my “Review to Write” list and noticing it’s gotten pretty out of hand, its fine I’ll catch up. It’s one of my main focuses for the month.

Today I plan to lower the count by 7. Yes that’s right I’m going to talk about 7 books I chose to DNF already this year. Keep reading to see which books I didn’t finish and why.

7 book covers for DNF list: the informant, the wolf, in our mad and furious city, past life, the meaning of birds, the paper and hearts society, the beholder
Yep, there’s some uh surprising and new releases on my list. It’s why I’ve been hesitant to post it but also I don’t want to keep repeating myself so here we go. Its down on paper, well, on screen and can be referred too easier.
The Informant by Susan Wilkins
Series: Kaz Phelps #1
Genre: Crime | Adult
Length: 465 pages
Published on 20th November 2014 by Pan Macmillan
Purchase*: Amazon | Wordery | Blackwells
*these are affiliate links
Susan Wilkins: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Received for free from publisher? in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis: Set in London and Essex, The Informant is a story of ruthless criminals, corrupt cops, obsessive love and the villainy that operates on both sides of the law.

As a drug-fuelled teenage tearaway, Kaz Phelps took the rap for her little brother Joey over a bungled armed robbery and went to jail.

Six years later she’s released on licence. Clean and sober, and driven by a secret passion for her lawyer, Helen, Kaz wants to escape the violence and abuse of her Essex gangster family.

Joey is a charming, calculating and cold psychopath. He worships the ground Kaz walks on and he’s desperate to get her back in the family firm. All Kaz wants is a fresh start and to put the past behind her.

When Joey murders an undercover cop, DS Nicci Armstrong is determined to put him behind bars. What she doesn’t realize is that her efforts are being sabotaged by one of their own and the Met is being challenged at the highest level.

The final test for Kaz comes when her cousin, Sean, gets out of jail. He is a vicious, old-school thug and wants to show Kaz who is boss. Kaz may be tough enough to face down any man, but is she strong enough to turn her back on her family and go straight?

I’ll be honest, didn’t even realise this was a proof copy until last month when I picked it up which means this is very possible the first proof I ever got sent.

Its from 2014

Which is around the time I was still in education and was very hit and miss with my blogging schedule so first of all I’m sending lots of apologise to the publishers for letting them down.

And well my taste in books has changed a lot. The last crime book I read all the way through I had a lot of thoughts on and decided I’d probably had enough with the genre.

I tried again for The Informant though and noped out very early on when it was pretty violent but the guy was having a Good Time whilst partaking in the violence. Sorry! I tried even with my doubts.

The Wolf by Leo Carew
Series: Under the Northern Sky #1
Genre: Fantasy | Adult
Length: 465 pages
Published on 3rd April 2018 by Orbit
Purchase*: Amazon | Wordery | Blackwells
*these are affiliate links
Leo Carew: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Received for free from attending a book event

Synopsis: The Wolf is a thrilling, savagely visceral, politically nuanced, and unexpectedly wry exploration of power – and how far one will go to defend it.

Violence and death have come to the land under the Northern Sky.

The Anakim dwell in the desolate forests and mountains beyond the black river, the land under the Northern Sky. Their ancient ways are forged in Unthank silver and carved in the grey stone of their heartland, their lives measured out in the turning of centuries, not years.

By contrast, the Sutherners live in the moment, their vitality much more immediate and ephemeral than their Anakim neighbors. Fragile is the peace that has existed between these very different races – and that peace is shattered when the Suthern armies flood the lands to the north. These two races revive their age-old hatred and fear of each other. Within the maelstrom of war, two leaders will rise to lead their people to victory.

Only one will succeed.

I picked this up from a New Voices event hosted by the publisher, I was really excited for this one! I mean it’s a fantasy book of course I was excited for it.

I even got to talk to the author and it sounded really good.

To be honest, if I were to revisit any of the adult books I DNF it would probably be this one.

But unfortunately the book and I just didn’t get on. There was no major fault with it, I just wasn’t having a good time reading it.

And therefore it ended up on the DNF pile. It’s that simple.

Butting in here to change format a little bit because I picked up Past Life and In Our Mad and Furious City from the same publishing event(s – one was the year later) and had similar issues with them.

The atmosphere and having lovely chats with the authors and publicists is great. It makes me want to try new things. Unfortunately these both fell short on being books I enjoyed.

In Our Mad and Furious City I found myself not enjoying the writing style.

Whereas with Past Life I wasn’t a fan of reading about women in really shitty situations. I’m sure it probably gets better but I gotta prioritise my time y’know.

Okay, I can now move onto the 3 books you’re actually here for.

The Beholder by Anna Bright
Series: The Beholder #1
Genre: Fantasy | Young Adult
Length: 448 pages
Published on 4the June 2019 by HarperTeen
Purchase*: Amazon | Wordery | Blackwells
*these are affiliate links
Anna Bright: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Received via trading

Synopsis: Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

Of all these books this is the one I made the most progress with! So I’m also pretty sad I chose to DNF it because it robbed me of a lot of reading time.

I was definitely interested, I traded a book for this one!

And I still low-key want to know what happens.

But after 100 and something pages… nothing had really happened.

Other than the main character had gotten on a boat.

It was such a slowly paced book and I finally had to accept defeat (and trade it on to someone who was really excited about it so I’m hoping that they’re much happier with it than I was).

The cover is beautiful and I do think there is appeal to it for other readers.

The Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown
Genre: Contemporary | LGBT | Young Adult
Length: 368 pages
Published on 3rd April 2018 by HarperTeen
Purchase*: Amazon | Wordery | Blackwells
*these are affiliate links
Jaye Robin Brown: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Borrowed from a friend

Synopsis: Before, Jessica has always struggled with anger issues, but come sophomore year that all changes when Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. And for the first time, it feels like the future is filled with possibilities. After In the midst of senior year, Jess’s perfect world is erased when Vivi suddenly passes away. Reeling from the devastating loss, Jess pushes everyone away, and throws out her plans to go to art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever.

Desperate for an escape, Jess gets consumed in her work-study program, letting all of her dreams die. Until she makes an unexpected new friend who shows her a new way to channel her anger, passion, and creativity. Although Jess may never draw again, if she can find a way to heal and room in her heart, she just might be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi.

Lauren reading a contemporary by choice? Oh wow what is this.

Wild huh?! (Buckle up because there is a second one too)

Scrap what I said about The Behold because this is the book I’m saddest I couldn’t finish.

The Meaning of Birds is told in alternating time lines (similarly to my favourite book ever The Bone Witch). After the death of Vivi and before the death of Vivi.

The chapters that were set before Vivi’s death were amazing! I loved them so much. My heart was full experiencing all the emotions you go through when having a new crush.

Agh it was so soft and sweet and I wanted to read it all.

But the after chapters were an actual chore to read in comparison and it made me actually skip them because I was enjoying this f/f romance so much.

But then there was a very large instance of fat shaming that wasn’t addressed and BYE BOOK. Not for me.

The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie
Series: The Paper & Hearts Society #1
Genre: Contemporary | Young Adult
Length: 255 pages
Published on 13th June 2019 by Hodder Children’s Books
Purchase*: Amazon | Wordery | Blackwells
*these are affiliate links
Lucy Powrie: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
ARC received at work, not requested.

Synopsis: A brand new series from Booktuber Lucy Powrie – about what happens when you give up on trying to fit in and let your weird out! It’s time to join The Paper & Hearts Society …

Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in. She doesn’t want to go to parties – in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book.

It’s like she hasn’t found her people …

Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books. What could go wrong? EVERYTHING – especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body.

But Olivia, Cassie, Henry and Ed have something that makes Tabby come back. Maybe it’s the Austen-themed fancy-dress parties, or Ed’s fluffy cat Mrs Simpkins, or could it be Henry himself …

Can Tabby let her weird out AND live THE BEST BOOKISH LIFE POSSIBLE?

Perfect for fans of Holly Smale and Super Awkward.

I’m actually really nervous to write this review because I think everyone else has loved it.

But, and its a big but.

I don’t usually read contemporaries. I wasn’t planning on reading this either.

As a bookseller we often get sent early copies even when we don’t request them, as I knew it was a release people were excited for I figured I could at least try it. Given it was in my hands anyway?

The tone of voice is a lot younger than I anticipated, that’s not a bad thing at all, and its definitely something that the YA area needs. So I’m really excited for the kids who get to read this and it will be perfect for them.

As I realised it wasn’t going to be a book that worked for me because of these two areas I figured it was best to just give it a new home to someone who was actually excited for it, so away to a friend it went.

I’m glad they enjoyed it.

So just to clarify, nothing actually wrong with Lucy’s book. It just wasn’t written for me and that’s okay. Theres 2938394 books out there that are written for me.

Do you disagree with my DNF choices?
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12 thoughts on “Why I DNF The Beholder, The Meaning of Birds and 5 other books”

  1. YIKES, thanks for the warning on the fat shaming in The Meaning of Birds! I have an eARC I’ve had for a long while and kept putting it off, and now I think that’s a good enough reason to just… nuuuudge it off my list 👀

  2. Since i learned last year that DNFing books isn’t the end of the world, I feel really liberated from forcing myself to read things. This year I already Dnfed 2 books and I am so glad I did :D

  3. Ugh I have The Meaning of Birds from H360 and I’ll still read it but I was hoping it would be better than to have unchallenged fat shaming, but I should’ve known considering Georgia Peaches was super ableist

  4. I’m currently reading The Bone Witch and loving the interweaving timelines as well! so many people love it and I can’t wait to join them. also, there’s fatshaming in the book? i definitely won’t pick it up anymore and thanks for the warning!

  5. Okay so as much as I love contemporary, I don’t enjoy books that read quite young so I’m apprehensive about Paper and Hearts then 🙈

  6. I think I will try The Beholder and see what I think. I’m not keen on really slow books though!

  7. Oooh brave! Not all books are for everyone, and I really appreciate that you’ve posted your thoughts on them even if you didn’t love them.
    I’m a little past where you DNF’d The Beholder, and I’m quite enjoying it – but it’s also a complete change of pace from the thriller I’ve just finished so I think it’s what I needed.
    I get what you mean about Paper & Hearts – it is quite young. Reminded me of Waiting For Callback and Geek Girl, but I love books like that for self-care.
    Cora |

  8. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with a book other than it’s just not for you, and it’s like, at least you tried, and DNFing doesn’t have to mean you hated it, just means you’d rather be reading something else!

  9. with all the books left in the world to read, I personally feel like DNF-ing is the only way to get through a significant number of good ones: if it doesn’t click, then it’s not worth your time – though sometimes it’s hard to figure out when to call it quits.

    all of these books look so interesting, so certainly no one can blame you for wanting to try them; and you gave them a fair chance, that’s definitely all anyone can ask for. I’ve been looking forward to The Beholder and The Meaning of Birds, but you bring up good points that I’m glad to know *before* starting them!

  10. I was really looking forward to The Beholder, but nothing happens after 100… that’s a long time to sit and wait around. Hmm, now I’m on the fence. Thanks for sharing these! I would love for you to link up to my DNF&Y post so yours can get some more love. <3

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

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