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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: How to Train Your Earl by Amelia Grey

How to Train Your Earl (First Comes Love, #3)

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I thought this one looked great from the blurb, but I was sadly disappointed. I could tell within a few pages that the writing style was not for me, and the next few chapters didn’t change that. I started skimming but still couldn’t find anything to draw me into the book. Brina is constantly thinking about how ‘masculine’ Zane is. There’s a lot of insta-lust but not really much substance. And the writing is…. clunky.

It seems to be getting a lot of good reviews though, so maybe if writing style isn’t a make or break issue for you (it is for me) then it’s worth a try?

*Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an e-arc to review.

ARC DNF Review: Sea of Kings by Melissa Hope

Sea of Kings

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I was excited for this book. I mean, pirates! seafaring adventure! what could go wrong?

Unfortunately, this. For a book that promises such excitement it was…. boring. Noa is supposed to be 13, but he reads much younger. The writing style is just clipped enough to bleed all the tension out and it feels like the reader is being talked down to. I couldn’t bring myself to read more than a third. I just don’t care. At all.

Actually no I skimmed a few more chapters and the action scenes are abrupt and sometimes strange and I still don’t care.

The King’s mysterious decree not to leave the island, then his insistence that Noa take the map and follow it to its end was an abrupt about-face.

Also. That the pirates and rival king just happened to have the equivalent to ‘seafaring for dummies’ on the cabin shelf — conveniently, as none of the boys knew how to sail — pushed suspension of belief rather too far.

Also there are way too many boys and way too few girls in this story. Are we expected to believe that the children of the island are almost entirely boys? Because that’s just weird.

Thanks to NetGalley and Jolly Fish Press for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC DNF Review: The Princess and the Rogue by Kate Bateman

Rating: 1 out of 5.

This book disappointed me, especially given the other ratings. I started skimming pretty much from the beginning, and eventually gave it up as it was clear that it wasn’t going to become a book I enjoyed.

The writing wasn’t particularly smooth and was the first strike against it. The next was the characters I couldn’t connect to or care about – in fact, they just irritated me. Then the cartoonish characterizations, improbable events, and unbelievable insta-lust. It became very clear very quickly that this is just not a book that I would enjoy.

I’m sure plenty of people will enjoy it – it seems plenty of other people do, from the other reviews. It’s just very much not for me.

*Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC DNF Review: The Inkeeper’s Daughter by Bianca M. Schwarz

Rating: 1 out of 5.

All right. I should have learned my lesson by now to ONLY request romance books from authors I already know and love because I’ve had quite a few duds.

This one I could tell almost from the first pages that it was absolutely not for me. It starts with a scene where a man is abusing a young woman. It was rough, but it was also full of oddly anachronistic lines (since it’s supposed to be set in 1819. Lines such as “I told ya t’ go pack yar crap” and “calling Wilkins ‘Pig Face’ was sure to get his goat” and “what the fuck’s yar problem?” (all of which happen within the first few pages).

Reading some of the reviews, I see that those anachronisms continue, as does the focus on rough, brutal sex and abuse. Not my cup of tea.

Thanks to NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for providing an e-arc to review.

ARC DNF Review: The Brass Queen by Elizabeth Chatsworth

Rating: 1 out of 5.

This one looked really promising, but I didn’t enjoy it. By 25% I can usually tell if I book is going to become more enjoyable or continue as a slog, and this one was definitely the latter.

My first issue was the the characters. Miss Constance Haltwhistle is… annoying. Brash, rude, entirely self-centered and expecting the world to revolve around her. She’s also puzzlingly supposed to be both completely sheltered and innocent AND a successful weapons dealer. Those don’t really go together. J.F. Trusdale just sort of sits back and let her steamroll over him. He’s also puzzlingly not a spy, but impersonating his dead brother (who was a spy) at the request of his brother’s agency… which, would make him a spy, right?

I wasn’t a fan of the writing style – it was obviously trying very hard to be funny but for me, it just fell flat. Some of the steampunk details (like the carriage that serves breakfast) were cool — but also a bit confusing. Why have horses at all if the thing already uses steam power for the breakfast cooking and transforming? The steampunk details also didn’t really seem to mesh well with the setting. And the worldbuilding in general was spotty.

I will say that a lot of people will probably really enjoy the style of humor employed here, even though I’m not one of them.

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