We do our best to only accept books for review that we think we will enjoy, but it is impossible to safeguard 100% against bad reads. These are the books we Did Not Finish (DNF). We do not give up on books lightly. In fact we hate not finishing a book, even a bad book, but there are times when for one reason or another, we just can’t bring ourselves to reach the end. In our latest poll you guys said you wanted to hear about which books made it onto our dreaded DNF pile, so here are the DNF titles so far for 2012. We’ll be posting them when we collect a few DNF reads or every few months depending.
Kiss of Pride (Deadly Angels #1)
by Sandra Hill
SOME MEN ARE TOO BAD TO BE TRUE…
Is he really a Viking with a vampire’s bit? An angel with the body of a thunder god? A lone wolf with love on his mind? Alexandra Kelly, his prey, thinks Vikar Sigurdsson is either flat-out crazy or he’s trying to maneuver her into his bed–which is hardly where a professional reporter should conduct an interview, tempting as that prospect might be.
SOME MEN ARE TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE…
Until Vikar does something a teensy bit unexpected, and Alex begins to wonder whether her mystery man could really be everything he says he is: a Viking Vampire Angel on a thousand-year-long mission with his pack of sinful brothers—and a man who’s finally found the woman of his dreams. By then, Vikar is already wrapping his chiseled arms around Alex’s body…and sinking his wicked fangs right into her neck. If this is sin, why does it feel so good?
Reading a paranormal romance book about viking angel vampires should be crazy hot. Like a tri-fecta of alpha male qualities rolled into one. And that cover! It looks exactly like the kind of book I expected KISS OF PRIDE to be. Wow is this false advertising.
The book starts off with a painfully juvenile (not to mention off-puting to anyone with even the most basic religious sensibilities) conversation between God and the Archangel Michael. The dialogue would have been more at home in a Budwieser commercial. It was just silly:
“God loved Michael’s idea. “You will head this enterprise. Viking vampire angels. Well, not really angels. More like angels-in-training.”
The archangel gasped with horror at his mistake. “Oh, not me, Lord. I have to help St. Peter repair the Pearly Gates. And Noah is building another ark. We have no room to put another ark. And those hippos! Phew!” –KISS OF PRIDE
And the sex scenes…I almost don’t have words. Just awful. The vocabulary used goes from medically accurate (which just screams sexy, doesn’t it?), to just plain uncomfortable:
“When she was on top again, she punished him for making her come before entering her by using her tongue in his mouth, like a simulated penis.” –KISS OF PRIDE
And did I mention the Lucipires? That would be Lucifer’s vampires. Not to be confused with the vangels, vampire angels.
Temptation Rising (The Shadow Shifters #1)
by A.C. Arthur
They live in the shadows—part man, part animal—hiding their true nature while defending the human race from the most savage of their kind…
Washington D.C. police officer Kalina Harper still dreams about that night, two years ago, when a huge cat-like creature saved her from a crazed attacker. Although she kept the truth to herself, Kalina can never forget the ferocious strength of the beast’s fangs and claws—or the raw animal hunger in its eyes. Until she meets Roman Reynolds…
Powerful, passionate, and impossible to resist, they are the Shadow Shifters…
Muscular, magnetic, and all man, Roman is a high-powered attorney with a predatory smile and seductive charm. He is also a criminal suspect with suspicious connections to the Amazon jungle. But when Kalina discovers that Roman is linked to a secret race of shapeshifting jaguars—who hunt down maneaters—she is forced to put her trust in a man who unleashes her wildest fantasies and fears. A fierce creature of the night whose nature is to protect his female at any cost…
I was intrigued by this book’s summary description, but couldn’t make it past a writing style that made even characters’ inner thoughts feel stilted and stiff. Reading along as Kalina was an unbelievable undercover agent was barely tolerable (though to people who can’t hear her inner monologue, I’m sure she didn’t seem like quite so much of a cyborg), but when the hero appeared and was just as stiff, I had to bail. Part of me is still curious about their sex scenes, as if Kalina’s clinical awareness of sexual arousal is any benchmark, I missed out on some fantastically bad sex.
Invisible Sun (Black Hole Sun #2)
Obsessed with MUSE, the clandestine project that created the AI in his brain, mercenary chief Durango draws the ire of the government when he steals part of the secret project data and hightails it with his lieutenant, Vienne, to an ancient monastery. There, he meets the monks who raised Vienne from an orphan and also encounters soldiers working for his old nemesis, the crime lord Mr. Lyme. Lyme controls the territory surrounding the monastery, as well as the datacenters housing the rest of MUSE.
Undeterred, Durango and Vienne pull off an ill-advised raid on Lyme’s complex. During the ensuing battle, however, Vienne is captured, and Durango is beaten and left for dead. Now, wounded and shaken, Durango must overcome bounty hunters, treacherous terrain, a full scale civil war, and a warrior monk with an eye for vengeance (not to mention his own guilt, self-doubt, and broken arm) to find Vienne and free her from Archibald, a brain-washing pyromaniac with a Napoleon complex who wants to rule Mars–and kill Durango in the process.
After a whole bunch of technical concepts and jargon in chapter 1, I knew INVISIBLE SUN was going to be more hardcore sci-fi than we normally reviewed for ATUF. Snappy dialogue and charming characters kept me going, but the multi-prong conversations between Durango and his implanted AI, Mimi soon became overwhelming rather than entertaining. Mimi is also used as a backstory crutch, and after the umpteenth poorly masked data dump I gave up. Reminiscent of Simon R. Green’s Secret Histories series in terms of tone, INVISIBLE SUN should appeal to Sci-Fi fans who don’t mind more banter and world-building than character.
Plague Town (Ashley Parker #1)
by Dana Fredsti
Ashley was just trying to get through a tough day when the world turned upside down.
A terrifying virus appears, quickly becoming a pandemic that leaves its victims, not dead, but far worse. Attacked by zombies, Ashley discovers that she is a ‘Wild-Card’ — immune to the virus — and she is recruited to fight back and try to control the outbreak.
It’s Buffy meets the Walking Dead in a rapid-fire zombie adventure
Perhaps my expectations were too high with PLAGUE TOWN, but it’s hard not to get excited when a book is described as ‘Buffy meets The Walking Dead.” Suffice it to say, the wildly flattering comparisons were way off in my opinion. I only read the first three chapters, but from the first page things were off. A mother with a dying little boy leaves him alone to try and save her husband only to have her breasts eaten by both when they zombiefy. Ewww. When the main character showed up, she was grating and over the top snarky. The guy who presumably becomes her love interest was a sanctimonious jerk for no reason that I could see except to keep them apart until he drastically changes at some point in the book. I hated him immediately and my dislike of the protagonist grew as she kept getting distracted from his scumbag dialog by how hot he was. Insert eyeroll a dozen more times and I was done.
White Horse: A Novel
by Alex Adams
Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the President of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are not defined by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.
I had such lovely high hopes for this book. The description reminded me so much of the phenomenal AFTERTIME series by Sophie Littlefield. In reality, they were very very different. The writing style in WHITE HORSE is very disjointed and challenging to follow. It jumps back and forth between ‘Now’ and ‘Then’ and the phrasing is very literary, though not exactly in an accessible, immersive way. Several times I stopped to reread sentences that pulled me completely out of the story. But none of that is why I only made it to page 16. Nope, the reason I stopped reading was because of the incestuous rape scene. It’s described in the same literary style as the rest of the book and I really wish I could scrub the words and the images they created from my brain. It was extremely upsetting.
Kiss of the Vampire (Warriors of the Rift #1)
Warriors of the Rift
Once a generation, the rift between the paranormal world and the human world opens, allowing supernatural entities to cross. Vampire, demon, or shapeshifter, they can save the world-or send it spiraling into chaos.
Half-demon, half-human, Nix de la Fuente is accepted by neither and mistrusted by both. Determined to prove she’s more human than not, she devotes herself to solving crimes between the world’s mortals and its most unsavory undead. But her latest case brings her face to face with the one vampire she could never resist . . .
Called in to investigate a string of violent murders, special agent Tobias Caine isn’t interested in rekindling his relationship with Nix. Yet one look and the vampire knows his need for her is as strong as ever. Once, their all-consuming passion nearly cost Nix her fragile hold on her humanity. Now, as their hunger for one another intensifies, exposing them to an unimaginable danger, it could cost them both their lives
If I had been trapped on a plane with no other reading material, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE might have made it past the 85 page mark… but with freedom of reading choices being as they were, I couldn’t push myself to finish. After a big ol’ data dump of a “Prelude”, and some very clunky crime scene dialogue designed to force more world building down my throat, I had lost patience with this book long before the love interest showed up. Tobias and Nix weren’t bad in and of themselves, but I could barely get past all of the clunky para-biology lessons explaining vampires, weres, and demons in this world. By the time elves showed up, I was done.
What is one of your recent DNF titles? Did you read any of our DNF titles? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts?