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ARC DNF Review: In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

Publication Date: April 25, 2023


In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots–fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe.

The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled “HAP,” he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio-a past spent hunting humans.

When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio’s former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer hidden and safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. So together, the rest of Vic’s assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming.

Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached?

Author TJ Klune invites you deep into the heart of a peculiar forest and on the extraordinary journey of a family assembled from spare parts.

My Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This was a miss for me. I was wondering at 5% if I should DNF because I was bored, didn’t care about the story, and found the too-quirky characters to be incredibly annoying (especially the middle-school bathroom humor that undercut every interaction). I was wondering the same thing at 12%. At 34% I realized I still felt exactly the same about it and decided to cut my losses and say that this book isn’t for me.

Part if it may have been the narrator, as the voices he chose for each character tended toward the whiny and irritating. He also tended to overdo the drama. He also voices Vic very young, and he is written very young, and I have to keep reminding myself that it says in the text he’s 21 because he seems about 14.

It’s disappointing because I think I *could* have loved Rambo and Nurse Ratched if there hadn’t been quite so much middle-school bathroom humor in their every scene. And they had a lot of scenes. I actually still don’t have a very good sense of Vic, and he’s the main character. But his extremely quirky robot companions get most of the lines and page time which is weird.

I read through the big twist / reveal and I think it was supposed to be heartbreaking, but I didn’t really feel anything? I didn’t feel Gio was there enough as a character to make me care about what happened to him. Which is the same thing I feel about Vic, now that I’m thinking about it.

Since my feelings about the story haven’t changed from 5% to 35% I think I can safely say that they aren’t going to and it’s just not for me.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Tor/Forge, and Macmillan Audio for providing an early copy for review.

ARC Review: A Wicked Game by Kate Bateman

Publication Date: December 27, 2022


If there’s one thing impossible for a Davies to resist, it’s a challenge from a Montgomery. . .

A teasing bet.

Shipwrecked and imprisoned thanks to an incorrect map, Captain Morgan Davies has returned to London to exact sweet revenge on the cartographer responsible for his suffering. He’s also vowed to claim the winner’s prize―three kisses―in the bet he made with his long-time nemesis, the prickly, smart-mouthed Harriet Montgomery. His incarceration has clarified his feelings for her, but convincing the infuriating woman he wants to marry her is going to be his greatest challenge yet. When Harriet’s revealed to be the very mapmaker he seeks, Morgan decides to combine revenge and seduction into one delightful package. . .

A dangerous enemy.

Harriet’s always wanted witty scoundrel Morgan, and now he’s back; as handsome and as taunting as ever. She has enough on her plate dealing with her father’s failing eyesight and a rival mapmaker copying her work to play wicked games with a dastardly Davies―however tempting he might be. But when a threat from Morgan’s past puts them both in danger, Harry discovers that she and Morgan might not be enemies at all . . .

My Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Maybe I’m out of practice reading romance novels, but I was disappointed in this one. The previous books in this series had more plot, as I recall; this one was nothing but seduction and foreplay from the first page. The conflict seems to be that each of them wants the other but thinks they have to convince the other to want them. Which would be fine but… I don’t know. The writing isn’t quite up to the standards of the other books. Or maybe it’s so focused on the bedroom scenes and seduction that everything else suffers. I was willing to forgive it its flaws at first because there was a hint of plot beyond the seduction, but as it progressed I became more and more bored. And the writing became full of his “masculine” this and her “feminine” that and his large body looming over her and it just. Is not my style. At all. I finally gave up when I passed the 50% mark and no plot had shown up to distract from the seduction.

I did enjoy some of the banter and rivalry and one-up games Morgan and Harriet played, and the flashbacks to when they were younger, but I think this book could have been far, far better with some plot. There was a hint of some, in the beginning, with the maps and the treasure and the revenge… but it all gets swept away by lust. Since I don’t actually read romance books for the bedroom scenes (and prefer to skip them most of the time), this book wasn’t it for me.

I also never connected with either Harriet or Morgan. They both felt really flat to me and I was never convinced of their chemistry. They didn’t have a lot to their personalities or motivations except lust for each other which left it all feeling sort of hollow.

*Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an early copy for review.

Audio ARC DNF Review: Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim

Publication Date: September 27, 2022


After the destruction of her entire Talon gang, eighteen-year-old Shin Lina—the Reaper of Sunpo—is forced to become a living, breathing weapon for the kingdom’s most-feared crime lord. All that keeps her from turning on her ruthless master is the life of her beloved little sister hanging in the balance. But the order to steal a priceless tapestry from a Dokkaebi temple incites not only the wrath of a legendary immortal, but the beginning of an unwinnable game…

Suddenly Lina finds herself in the dreamlike realm of the Dokkaebi, her fate in the hands of its cruel and captivating emperor. But she can win her life—if she kills him first.

Now a terrible game of life and death has begun, and even Lina’s swift, precise blade is no match for the magnetic Haneul Rui. Lina will have to use every weapon in her arsenal if she wants to outplay this cunning king and save her sister…all before the final grain of sand leaks out of the hourglass.

Because one way or another, she’ll take Rui’s heart.

Even if it means giving up her own.

My Review:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I was really looking forward to this one because it sounds amazing. I love reading books grounded in other cultures’ mythologies, and Korean mythology is one I haven’t really had much experience with. The cover is gorgeous and promises a magical fantasy adventure. The synopsis brings to mind stories like Six of Crows. Sadly, the execution fell far short.

The writing could use some polishing. Everything is described endlessly, using the biggest words possible and five where one would do. It’s sprinkled lavishly with curse words that just feel unnecessary. I’m all for cursing, just, it has to make sense. Our ‘living breathing weapon’ and skilled assassin of an mc just isn’t. She reads much younger than the stated 18, is constantly getting herself in trouble with her impulsive actions (partially forgiveable because of trauma), and never actually does any killing or shows any skill, only talks about how awesome she is at it or gives a brief overview of things she’s done in the past. The closest she gets to showing her skill is entering a building and opening a chest. And not even a human chest, before you ask. Like. That’s about as much effort as she puts into the ‘steal the priceless tapestry’ escapade. Walk in, notice the dust, info dump a bit, open the chest, walk out. Mission complete. (yawn.)

She doesn’t get along with any of the other women. An awfully lot of time is spent describing how she started / continued smoking. Yes, this leads into memories of her trauma from her family dying but… it’s still sort of weird and abrupt.

The first-person present tense is my least favorite to read but it can be done well. Sadly, I did not find that to be the case here. She just reads as annoying. Also the moment she described her “shit-eating grin” I knew it was not going to improve. And it didn’t.

The instant the eventual love interest enters the scene you can clock him as the love interest. He might as well come with a flashing neon sign proclaiming it. If the detailed description of his appearance wasn’t enough, there’s the bad boy sarcastic sense of humor and the enigmatic interaction and disappearance. Like what even was the point except to go ‘hey, love interest here!’?

The narrator was ok, although her male voices were not very believable and her reading of the main character made her seem younger than she was supposed to be. I maybe enjoyed her performance less than I would have enjoyed reading the text as I was unable to skim the info-dump-y bits or the places where the descriptions dragged on.

I do think that anyone who loves Sara J. Maas’ romances – ACOTAR especially – will probably love this. It seems to be much more focused on the romance with the fantasy used more as set dressing. It also gives major ACOTAR vibes which could be part of why I reacted so negatively to it – I enjoyed ACOTAR initially but hearing about it over and over in facebook book groups and spending some time reflecting on it lowered my enjoyment of the series dramatically.

After thinking some more about what it was that didn’t work for me here, I think I’ve figured out why I was so disappointed with this book. The cover, narrator’s voice, and initial writing of the main character all led me to believe this would be a middle-grade fantasy adventure with the narrator being around 11-12 years old. So the swearing and the smoking felt really jarring when I encountered them, because they definitely wouldn’t be in a middle-grade book. And then it took a hard turn into fantasy romance with some major ACOTAR vibes which my initial impression of middle-grade fantasy did NOT prepare me for.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Recorded Books for providing an audio arc for review.

Audio ARC DNF Review: The Midnight Children by Dan Gemeinhart

Publication Date: August 30, 2022


From Dan Gemeinhart, the acclaimed author of The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, comes an extraordinary story about a family of runaways who take up residence in a small town, and the outcast boy who finds his voice and his peopleperfect for fans of Katherine Applegate and Kate DiCamillo.

“Dan Gemeinhart’s best yet and that’s saying something.” —Padma Venkatraman, Walter Award-winning author of The Bridge Home

In the dead of night, a truck arrives in Slaughterville, a small town curiously named after its windowless slaughterhouse. Seven mysterious kids with suitcases step out of the vehicle and into an abandoned home on a dead-end street, looking over their shoulders to make sure they aren’t noticed.

But Ravani Foster covertly witnesses their arrival from his bedroom window. Timid and lonely, Ravani is eager to learn everything he can about his new neighbors: What secrets are they hiding? And most mysterious of all…where are the adults?

Yet amid this shadowy group of children, Ravani finds an unexpected friend in the warm and gutsy Virginia. But with this friendship comes secrets revealed—and danger. When Ravani learns of a threat to his new friends, he must fight to keep them safe, or lose the only person who has ever understood him.

Full of wonder, friendship, and mystery, The Midnight Children explores the meaning of “home,” what makes a family, and what it takes to find the courage to believe in yourself.

* “A story of fierce friendship, bravery, loyalty, and finding—or making—a place to belong.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Equal parts Kate DiCamillo and Shirley Jackson, this book is unlike anything else I’ve ever read—you will love it.” —Jonathan Auxier, New York Times-bestselling author of Night Gardener and Sweep: the Story of a Girl and her Monster

My Review:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Really not vibing with this one. The first 12% has been almost entirely descriptions of the slaughterhouse. So like, lots of blood and dead cows and pieces of dead cows… It all feels …unnecessary.

I haven’t connected to any of the characters and haven’t been interested in what plot there has been thus far. Mostly I’m just grossed out by the slaughterhouse and just want to stop reading and wash out my brain because ew. It’s way too intense for me as an adult that can and sometimes does read bloodier books. I can’t imagine reading this – or worse, listening to it via audiobook, where the descriptions go on and on and you can’t really skip – as a child, which is presumably the audience it’s aimed at as it’s a middle grade book.

Also the bullying is intense and very uncomfortable.

I listened to the audio and the narrator was all right, but didn’t stand out to me. I wouldn’t seek out other books that he narrated, though I wouldn’t actively avoid them either.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Audio for providing an audio arc for review.

ARC and Audio ARC DNF Review: The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen

Publication Date: August 23, 2022


Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the strange and magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and Hart’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.

Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart, who seems to have a gift for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.

After yet another exasperating run-in with Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, an anonymous letter comes back in return, and a tentative friendship is born.

If only Hart knew he’s been baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most – Mercy. As the dangers from Tanria grow closer, so do the unlikely correspondents. But can their blossoming romance survive the fated discovery that their pen pals are their worst nightmares – each other?

My Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This was… underwhelming.

I requested it because I love fantasy, romance, grump/sunshine, epistolary romance, enemies-to-lovers, and You’ve Got Mail. So it really *should* have ticked ALL the boxes for me.

Instead I found myself feeling lukewarm about the characters at best and the story just didn’t hold my interest. Also the whole dealing with zombies and dead bodies (with associated fluids and scrabbling through intestines for appendixes) thing was … gross.

The first stumbling block for me was worldbuilding. A quarter of the way through the book I know very little about the world it takes place in. A few terms tossed in but never explained, a vague hand-wavey ‘super complicated portals thing that no one understands except that one guy who invented them’, references to old gods and new gods and demigods, and a brief ‘lesson recitation’ for background on the zombies themselves. (I forget the in-book term for them, which tells you a lot about how invested I am.)

I don’t understand *why* everyone thinks Hart is such a jerk. I don’t understand the beef he and Mercy have with each other. I don’t understand… basically anything.

Also, the physical descriptions and fantasies Mercy and Hart (unknowingly) have about one another are far too graphic and lewd for my taste. And I’m still at the ‘we can’t stand each other’ stage before they get physical. (disclaimer: I’m ace and very much don’t like extended on-page sex. Yes, there technically hasn’t been any yet but it’s clear that there *will be* and based on the vibes I’m getting so far it will not be my cup of tea AT ALL.)

The story is also … very much a You’ve Got Mail retelling with zombies. I knew there were similarities and that it was perhaps inspired by the movie but parts of it are way too close to the original for it to feel fresh or new or anything but heavily inspired (only grosser because that’s apparently what the original needed?).

There *are* some things that the story does well. The day-to-day lives of Hart and Mercy and their relationships to their families / friends / coworkers are really well done. Hart’s apprentice he’s forced to take on is endearing and I like that he brings out the softer side of Hart. The animal couriers are amusing. Parts of it are really funny.

But. That’s not enough to make up for the parts I found dull, boring, confusing, or distasteful. I feel like this will miss the mark for many fantasy and romance readers. For romance readers, the world is too confusing. For fantasy readers, there aren’t enough details about the world and it’s too romance-heavy.

The narration was all right. Nothing stood out, and a few of the voices used for the characters felt off to me. It certainly wasn’t terrible, however, and if I’d liked the book more I would have found it to be perfectly fine. I’d definitely try a different book read by the same narrators.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Orbit Books, and Hachette Audio for providing an e-arc and audio arc for review.

ARC DNF Review: The City Inside by Samit Basu

Publication Date: June 7, 2022


“They’d known the end times were coming but hadn’t known they’d be multiple choice.”

Joey is a Reality Controller in near-future Delhi. Her job is to supervise the multimedia multi-reality livestreams of Indi, one of South Asia’s fastest rising online celebrities—who also happens to be her college ex. Joey’s job gives her considerable culture power, but she’s too caught up in day-to-day crisis handling to see this, or to figure out what she wants from her life.

Rudra is a recluse estranged from his wealthy and powerful family, now living in an impoverished immigrant neighborhood. When his father’s death pulls him back into his family’s orbit, an impulsive job offer from Joey becomes his only escape from the life he never wanted.

But as Joey and Rudra become enmeshed in multiple conspiracies, their lives start to spin out of control—complicated by dysfunctional relationships, corporate loyalty, and the never-ending pressures of surveillance capitalism. When a bigger picture begins to unfold, they must each decide how to do the right thing in a world where simply maintaining the status quo feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately, resistance will not—cannot—take the same shape for these two very different people.

My Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

DNF at 50%

This was the weirdest reading experience. While I was reading I felt almost compelled to keep reading. But the moment I stopped I didn’t want to pick it up again AND I had no idea what I’d just read. It’s like it magically turned to gibberish the moment I stopped to think? It was bizarre.

I couldn’t decide whether I liked any of the characters or not. They were all just sort of drifting along in this dystopian future existence that was both chillingly plausible and totally out-there. It reminded me of the experience of reading 1984, actually.

In the end I decided that I’d dedicated enough time to it and since at 50% I still had absolutely no idea where the story was going – or even if there was a story – it was time to put it down.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss, and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

That a day wouldn’t come, soon after, when Joey wasn’t allowed to leave her house and her parents didn’t know whether to blame the pogrom or the pandemic, because they’d known the end times were coming but hadn’t known they’d be multiple choice.

So she looks away, as usual, a skill everyone she knows has learnt since childhood, because not looking away means seeing terrible things.

The world is better now, definitely. At least the bits of it she is allowed to see.

He tries to convince himself he’s home, genetically speaking. If home is where the people you love most are, his real home is currently a server in New Zealand.

…being all self-reliant and independent but so inherently obedient that even his rebellion is budget-friendly.

ARC DNF Review: Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts by Erika Lewis

Publication Date: March 1, 2022


Brimming with Celtic mythology, action, and danger, Erika Lewis’s Kelcie Murphy and The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts introduces readers to a new kind of magical school and a warrior who must choose with which side of an epic battle her destiny will lie.

The Otherworld is at war. The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts trains warriors. And Kelcie Murphy—a foster child raised in the human world—is dying to attend.

A place at AUA means meeting Scáthach, the legendary trainer of Celtic heroes. It means learning to fight with a sword. It means harnessing her hidden powers and—most importantly—finding out who her parents are, and why they abandoned her in Boston Harbor eight years ago.

When Kelcie tests into the school, she learns that she’s a Saiga, one of the most ancient beings in the Otherworld. Secretive, shunned, and possessed of imposing elemental powers, the Saiga are also kin to the Otherworld’s most infamous traitor.

But Kelcie is a survivor, and she’ll do whatever it takes to find her parents and her place in their world. Even if that means making a few enemies.

My Review:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I was looking forward to this book because I usually enjoy MG books – especially those set at magic schools – and the synopsis looked like something I would love. However, I failed to connect with the main character at all. The book is very plot-based, which is fine, but the events zip along with no real weight to any of them. It just feels rushed.

I felt like I was reading a list of ‘this happened then this happened then this happened’ and while it should have all been very exciting it was just boring and implausible and didn’t make a lot of sense. It also felt like it had been cobbled together from other MG magic school books and that was irritating. Like the beginning gave me major Percy Jackson vibes.

I can imagine liking this more if I were the target audience and hadn’t been exposed to a lot of other books in the genre, but for me it was a disappointment.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Starscape for providing an e-arc for review.

Historical Romance ARC DNF Reviews

The Rake Gets Ravished by Sophie Jordan (The Duke Hunt #2)


Publication Date: February 22, 2022


New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan returns with an all new sizzling historical romance in her Duke Hunt series about a woman determined to reclaim her family home from the dangerously handsome owner of London’s most popular gaming hell.

The owner of London’s most popular gaming hell, wealthy and powerful Silas Masters is feared by men and desired by women—except Mercy Kittinger. When the blackguard wins her family home in a game of cards, Mercy steals into Silas’s rooms, intent on destroying the proof. But things don’t go to plan…

She would have her way with him…

Caught in the act, Mercy must be bold to save herself… even if it means seducing the dangerous rogue and then disappearing with the dawn, debt voucher in hand. Safe at home and determined to settle back into her quiet, uneventful life, Mercy burns at the memory of her night spent ravishing the most compelling man she’d ever met. Thank goodness she’ll never see him again!

He didn’t see her coming…

No one trifles with Silas Masters. Even if he could forget the dark-haired seductress who undid him, he can’t allow anyone to steal from him. He will hunt down the sultry woman who haunts his dreams and show her just how sweet payback can be.

My Review:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

This was disappointing. I love a good regency romance, but good is the operative word here. The premise looked interesting, but as it progressed I became more and more convinced that it was not for me. The idea that Mercy would have had no romantic relationships and yet have extensively studied her brother’s erotic literature collection and be ready and willing to put that study to use stretches plausibility. But I could have forgiven that if the writing style hadn’t grated so.

We have such phrases as “he husked” — which I take it means his voice was husky, not that he suddenly started husking corn. Even that I could have forgiven.

However. Then I encountered this sentence: “Those unfurling lips were like a forest on a moonless night, with all kinds of magic humming below the surface, out of sight, but real and present.” And that’s where I decided my time could better be spent elsewhere. Sails unfurl. Large pieces of cloth unfurl. While lips miiiiiiight be described as “furled” I have never seen them described as “unfurling.” Not to mention the rest of that ridiculous sentence.

Not for me. If you like overly flowery and slightly strange similes, or can forgive them more easily than I, then you might enjoy this book very much. I care about writing style too much to do so.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Avon for providing an e-arc for review.

Say You’ll Be My Lady by Kate Pembrooke (The Unconventional Ladies of Mayfair #2)


Publication Date February 22, 2022


Opposites attract in this irresistible Regency romance, where a proper gentleman who lives by the ton‘s rules and a lady who lives to break them try to resist one another—perfect for fans of Netflix’s Bridgerton series.

Lady Serena Wynter doesn’t mind flirting with a bit of scandal—she’s determined to ignore society’s strictures and live life on her own fiercely independent terms. These days, she chooses to pour her passions into charitable causes with the vibrant group of ladies in her Wednesday Afternoon Social Club. But there is one man who stirs Serena’s deepest emotions, one who’s irresistibly handsome, infuriatingly circumspect, and too honorable for his own good…

Charles Townshend, former boxer and consummate gentleman, worries Serena’s reckless nature will earn her the ton’s scorn…or put her in serious danger. Though Charles isn’t immune to the attraction between them, a shocking family secret prevents him from ever acting on his desires. But it seems Lady Serena doesn’t intend to let his penchant for propriety stand in the way of a mutually satisfying dalliance.

My Review:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

This book was disappointing. It started with a conversation between a group of ladies at an unconventional ladies’ club. Which… should have been interesting. But it was so. Boring. Mostly because we have no sense of who any of these ladies are? There’s a name and some insipid comments to another name and… They’re not really discussing anything of substance and it goes on. And on.

The same sort of thing keeps happening. We get the introduction of the Hero and … yet another boring conversation with a lot of words that say very little. I started to skim about there and nothing really changed — the book seems to rely very heavily on long-winded telling and absolutely no showing. Nothing about it snagged my interest.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan


Publishing Date: January 11, 2022


A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

Carter’s CC

My Review:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This was a disappointment. I liked it at first, was interested in the story, and though I wasn’t 100% sold on the writing style it was at least well-written, even if it was rather passive. But then after about 30% it just… dragged. And dragged. As I kept reading I lost more and more interest in the story and the characters, until I was actively avoiding picking it up. Then when I did bring myself to pick it up I very quickly put it down again. I ended up DNFing at 55% which was disappointing but it was starting to send me into a bit of a slump.

The descriptions and mythology were beautiful, though there were rather too many descriptions and there was no urgency to the story — it definitely meandered. The thing that bothered me the most, and probably a large part of why I didn’t like it, was the two love interests for the main character. The romances were forced, unbelievable, and bland, and the love triangle was just unconvincing. I would have preferred both as friendships as that would have made more sense. The main character also has a definite “all the boys fall in love with me” thing going on.

I can definitely recommend it to people who enjoyed Elizabeth Lim’s books (Spin the Dawn, Six Crimson Cranes) although at 512 pages it’s rather longer than those. And maybe that’s my main problem with it — it’s just too long. In style and content of story it has quite a few similarities to Elizabeth Lim’s work. It also reminds me of Marissa Meyer’s Gilded — though that may be because I found them both too long.

So if you enjoyed Gilded, Spin the Dawn, or Six Crimson Cranes, give this one a try.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC DNF Review: A Duke Worth Fighting For by Christina Britton

A Duke Worth Fighting For by Christina Britton

Publishing Date: August 24, 2021


A fake relationship becomes the real thing in this Regency romance from the bestselling author Publishers Weekly calls “irresistible.”

To protect the dukedom from an incompetent and greedy cousin, Daniel Hayle, Duke of Carlisle, has promised to find a bride in London this season. But the idea of facing ballrooms and card parties is as intimidating as any battlefield in France, including the fight at Waterloo that left him terribly scarred. Perhaps a month on the Isle of Synne can provide him with the practice necessary to find a wife who can tolerate him enough to give him an heir.

Margery Kitteridge has been mourning her husband for four years, and while she’s not ready to consider marriage again, she does miss intimacy with a partner. When Daniel asks for help navigating Synne’s social scene, and they accidentally kiss, she realizes he’s the perfect person with whom to have an affair. As they begin to confide in one another, Daniel discovers that he’s unexpectedly connected to Margery’s late husband, and she will have to decide if she can let her old love go for the promise of a new one.

My Review:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I was hopeful that the issues I had with this book would smooth out as the story progressed but alas, they did not. The very first thing that caught my attention was the map at the beginning. The Isle of Synne is…. rectangular. It looks like someone plopped the state of Oregon into the sea. I had some misgivings at that point but decided to press on.

The prose is… overwritten and very much telling (at length) rather than showing. There’s nothing obviously wrong with it but I just found it off-putting and felt like I was hacking my way through a thicket trying to find the story. The characters also didn’t have a lot of depth to them and seemed very superficial, as did the instant physical attraction between Margery and Daniel. All of their conversations were painfully awkward and seemed to take twice as long as necessary with all the apologies and repetition.

Eventually I couldn’t force myself through any more of the awkwardness and decided to move on to something more enjoyable. It’s possible that those who aren’t such sticklers as I for writing style will still enjoy this.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing an e-arc for review.