DNF Round Up

Reading time 4 mins

Well, its that time again. Time for me to tell you all about the books lately that didn’t make the cut. All of these books got DNF’d because I wasn’t enjoying the reading. It’s unfortunate, but it does happen.

My apologies to the authors and publishers in advance.


DNF Round UpMagonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Series: Magonia #1
Published by HarperCollins on April 28th 2015
Pages: 336
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, General, Romance, Social Themes, Death & Dying
eBook provided by My Wallet (purchased)

Maria Dahvana Headley's soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy where Neil Gaiman's Stardust meets John Green's The Fault in Our Stars in a story about a girl caught between two worlds . . . two races . . . and two destinies.
Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.
Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who's always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.
Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza's hands lies fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

DNF at 43% – Page 129 of 309

This thing is, I bought this book because I was approved for the sequel, Aerie. I tried so hard to like this book. I had a feeling once that MRI showed she had an actual feather in her lung that I wouldn’t like this. The lungs, and most of the inside of our bodies, are wet. So that feather would have looked more like a stick with gooey stuff on the hairs, (was that too graphic?). Also, I was so confused once this story moved from a sick girl to a girl on a ship in the sky with bird people. Oh and she is their queen. Yea I just couldn’t see it at all. The details weren’t there to set the scenes and Aza was really unrelate-able. Not really worth my time. I obviously sent the publishers a note saying why I couldn’t even start to read Aerie and I learned to look and see if a book is a sequel before requesting. Lesson learned.


DNF Round UpIll Will by Dan Chaon
Published by Ballantine Books on March 7th 2017
Pages: 480
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Psychological, Crime
ARC provided by Ballantine Books

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.
“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves.” This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?
A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.
Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient's suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.
From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

DNF at 47% – Page 213 of 458

This book just frustrated me. I spend a lot of time trying to understand the story and once I did get what this book was about I was left scratching my head at the delivery. This was a thriller but it wasn’t very thrilling. The author uses alternate formats to convey the story. I do enjoy alternate formats in books, but this just didn’t add to the story. The formatting took so much away from the story. Dustin, the main character, had a habit of not finishing sentences. That is frustrating! Then there was the back and forth of timelines. Once again, I usually enjoy that in a story but there was too much back and forth for me. Bottom line is that I wasted a lot of time on this book and it wasn’t something I enjoyed.


DNF Round UpA Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
Published by Del Rey on October 17th 2017
Pages: 624
Genres: Fiction, Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Epic, Paranormal
eARC provided by Random House

From the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles, a thrilling novel that kicks off a fantasy series with an entirely new mythology--complete with shape-shifting bards, fire-wielding giants, and children who can speak to astonishing beasts
MOTHER AND WARRIOR Tallynd is a soldier who has already survived her toughest battle: losing her husband. But now she finds herself on the front lines of an invasion of giants, intent on wiping out the entire kingdom, including Tallynd's two sons--all that she has left. The stakes have never been higher. If Tallynd fails, her boys may never become men.
SCHOLAR AND SPY Dervan is an historian who longs for a simple, quiet life. But he's drawn into intrigue when he's hired to record the tales of a mysterious bard who may be a spy or even an assassin for a rival kingdom. As the bard shares his fantastical stories, Dervan makes a shocking discovery: He may have a connection to the tales, one that will bring his own secrets to light.  
REBEL AND HERO Abhi's family have always been hunters, but Abhi wants to choose a different life for himself. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, Abhi soon learns that his destiny is far greater than he imagined: a powerful new magic thrust upon him may hold the key to defeating the giants once and for all--if it doesn't destroy him first.
Set in a magical world of terror and wonder, this novel is a deeply felt epic of courage and war, in which the fates of these characters intertwine--and where ordinary people become heroes, and their lives become legend.

DNF at 19% – Page 121 of 640

Will you just look at that cover? I so wanted this book. I was elated when I got the eARC of it. There is a storyteller recounting stories for the people. The stories include many cultures but there wasn’t enough of a distinction for me when the storyteller went from one story to the next. It was confusing. Also, after 121 pages I still didn’t care for any of the characters, I will say that this story had a lot of potential. Maybe I should have given this another 100 pages, but I just can’t stomach being so confused while reading. It killed my enjoyment.


DNF Round UpBookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
Series: Ever After #1
Published by Spencer Hill Press on January 12th 2016
Pages: 378
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
eARC provided by Spencer Hill Press

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins' life would be a book. Preferably one filled with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn't even qualify for a quiet contemporary.
Everything changes when Phoebe learns that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her. So, Phoebe turns to the heroines in her favorite books for inspiration, but becoming as awesome as her book characters isn't as easy as it sounds. When another girl nets Dev for herself right out from under Phoebe's nose, she's crushed.
And, to up the suckage, she gets assigned as his co-counselor at a sixth grade camp and has to spend an entire week tied to the hip with the one guy on the planet she wanted to avoid. Can she make it through the potential danger of romantic bonfires and nature walks, or will her counseling career end in emotional disaster? Can she ever go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?
Find out if Dev makes Phoebe forget all her book boyfriends in this first book of the Ever After Series.

DNF at 33% – Page 125 of 378

This may be a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” but I could not make myself care about Phoebe and her little romance issue. I rolled my eyes a lot reading this, and that is not a good thing. I thought I might like this because the main character was really into books, but no. It turns out I am not a “book loving main character” fan. I don’t like how she was a bad stereotype for fan girls. We are not all like that and I hope most of us were a little embarrassed by being compared to this girl. It made me really weary to pick up a book about book lovers. That is not a good thing.


DNF Round UpThe Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo
Published by Simon and Schuster on March 14th 2017
Pages: 352
Genres: Fiction, General, Literary, Family Life
eARC provided by Simon & Schuster

The breakout novel from the critically acclaimed author of the short story collections Who I Was Supposed to Be and Why They Run the Way They Do—when a middle school girl is abducted in broad daylight, a fellow student and witness to the crime copes with the tragedy in an unforgettable way.
What happens to the girl left behind?
A masked man with a gun enters a sandwich shop in broad daylight, and Meredith Oliver suddenly finds herself ordered to the filthy floor, where she cowers face to face with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in her eighth grade class. The minutes tick inexorably by, and Meredith lurches between comforting the sobbing Lisa and imagining her own impending death. Then the man orders Lisa Bellow to stand and come with him, leaving Meredith the girl left behind.
After Lisa’s abduction, Meredith spends most days in her room. As the community stages vigils and searches, Claire, Meredith’s mother, is torn between relief that her daughter is alive, and helplessness over her inability to protect or even comfort her child. Her daughter is here, but not.
Like Everything I Never Told You and Room, The Fall of Lisa Bellow is edgy and original, a hair-raising exploration of the ripple effects of an unthinkable crime. It is a dark, beautifully rendered, and gripping novel about coping, about coming-of-age, and about forgiveness. It is also a beautiful illustration of how one family, broken by tragedy, finds healing.

DNF at 45% – Page 158 of 352

I really need to stop picking book just based on covers. That cover is awesome, the story is not. This book follows Meredith as she tries to move on after the most popular girl in school is abducted right in front of her. Meredith is a middle school aged girl and as such she is very immature. She makes up this whole scenario in her head where Lisa is not so much abducted but she is being held and maybe by her boyfriend and maybe she has a dog. I thought this would be a thriller, and it wasn’t thrilling at all.


DNF Round UpKilling Kate by Alex Lake
Published by HarperCollins on October 6th 2016
Pages: 416
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Psychological, Suspense, Crime, Contemporary Women
eARC provided by HarperCollins

From the author of ebook No. 1 bestseller and Sunday Times top ten bestseller AFTER ANNA.
A serial killer is stalking your home town.
He has a type: all his victims look the same.
And they all look like you.
Kate returns from a post break-up holiday with her girlfriends to news of a serial killer in her home town – and his victims all look like her.
It could, of course, be a simple coincidence.
Or maybe not.
She becomes convinced she is being watched, followed even. Is she next? And could her mild-mannered ex-boyfriend really be a deranged murderer?
Or is the truth something far more sinister?

DNF at 40% – Page 166 of 416

I am usually the last person to figure out a “who-done-it”. Thriller are among my favorite genre and I read a lot of them. If I can figure out who the killer is in the first 50 pages then you are doing it wrong. I stuck this out for as long as I could before admitting to myself that I was just not enjoying it and I already knew who the killer was. I didn’t feel compelled to find out if my hunch was correct. None of the characters are well written or more than one dimensional.


So there is my DNF round up. I know some of these books are old, but I am a bit behind on putting this post together.

Do you DNF? If so, what was your most recent DNF? Do you agree with any of my DNFs?

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By | 2017-10-08T10:11:56+00:00 Monday, October 9, 2017|dnf, reviews|15 Comments

About the Author:

Mother, Lover, Writer, Reviewer, Social Media Princess. Karen has been a blogger since 2010. She is a US Army veteran, a medical professional, and the mother of four. Karen is the owner of That Book Store llc. She reviews books and shares mind vomit for this blog in her 'spare' time. Karen lives in New England.


  1. Briana @ Pages Unbound October 9, 2017 at 11:16 am - Reply

    I was sort of interested in Magonia when it came out, but I saw some reviews that convinced me to pass.

    I also really like the title of Bookishly Ever After, but it doesn’t seem like my kind of book either.
    Check Out Briana @ Pages Unbound’s most recent post- And Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieMy Profile

    • Karen Blue
      October 9, 2017 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      Good call on passing up Magonia. As you can see, I disliked it a lot. Thanks for checking out my round up!

  2. Let's Get Beyond Tolerance October 9, 2017 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    I’m curious about Ill Will, but I’m sorry to hear you just couldn’t deal with the formatting, etc.

    I’ve never read Killing Kate but I’ve read one book by the author that I did really like and I DNFed another, so she’s hit or miss for me I guess. LOL

    Check Out Let’s Get Beyond Tolerance’s most recent post- Five Dares by Eli EastonMy Profile

    • Karen Blue
      October 9, 2017 at 8:17 pm - Reply

      I was actually excited about Ill Will and I hated to DNF it, but I had to do it. Thanks for stopping by Lauren!

  3. Sam@WLABB October 9, 2017 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    I have an ARC of Ill Will, but as I saw more and more negative reviews, I wanted to read it less and less. I actually like Magonia, but I get why you didn’t like it. There are too many books that will give us the experience we are looking for to try and like books you just aren’t feeling.
    Check Out Sam@WLABB’s most recent post- Giveaway: A Short History of the Girl Next Door – Jared ReckMy Profile

  4. Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature)
    October 9, 2017 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    I like this post! I may try to do one of these a month maybe next year. I do DNF, sometimes more than I want to. Magonia is sitting on my TBR, I still need to give it a try. I won it in a giveaway, so I need to try it. Bookishly Ever After is one I still want to try as well. Great post, thanks for sharing!

    • Karen Blue
      October 9, 2017 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      I would love to see more DNF posts. I am always curious about books that people really dislike, especially if they are really popular. Thanks for stopping by Lisa!

  5. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction October 10, 2017 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    The only one of these I’ve read is Bookishly Ever After, which I thought was cute, but not much more than that. I love the author, though—she’s adorable. So, I’ll still definitely be reading her next in the series. I think the books are perfect for a younger teen, and we’re missing a lot of those.
    Check Out Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction’s most recent post- Otherworld by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller: Review & GiveawayMy Profile

    • Karen Blue
      October 10, 2017 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      True. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so harsh since it is geared for a younger audience. I think the girl on the cover (if you look closely, there is a girl there) looks to be in her late-ish teens, so that is kinda misleading. Or maybe that is just me. Anyways, glad you enjoyed one of these books.

  6. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
    October 13, 2017 at 8:33 am - Reply

    I love the cover of Magonia but you lost me with the feather in the lung thing. I mean – just what? I’ve heard some pretty scathing reviews for Bookishly Ever After which is too bad because the cover is adorable but I don’t think it’s the book for me. These all sound like books I should pass on! Hopefully you’re reading something fantastic now.
    Check Out Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library’s most recent post- Friday LInkups – In the WoodsMy Profile

  7. Evelina October 15, 2017 at 7:31 am - Reply

    Such a shame, they all look so good! I feel like I would have maybe liked the first one, but you are right, a feather in a lung.. Ugh. Only if it’s a magical feather, then maybe 😀
    Check Out Evelina’s most recent post- Sunday post #28My Profile

    • Karen Blue
      October 15, 2017 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      Even if it was a magical feather, I still couldn’t really understand why that would make a her a bird person. She could have had hollow bones or stubs where wings could be, it just could have been done better in my opinion. Thanks for checking out my list!

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