DNF 2012 (part 1): We Tried To Read Them So You Don’t Have To

April 15, 2012 DNF 37


See all the DNF posts

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

Kiss of Pride (Deadly Angel, #1)


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.
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?

Abigail’s Thoughts:

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

Temptation Rising (The Shadow Shifters #1)


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…

Julia’s Thoughts:

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)

by David Macinnis Gill

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.

Julia’s Thoughts:

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

Plague Town


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

Abigail’s Thoughts:

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

White Horse: A Novel


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.

Abigail’s Thoughts:

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)

by Cynthia Garner

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

Julia’s Thoughts:

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?

37 Responses to “DNF 2012 (part 1): We Tried To Read Them So You Don’t Have To”

  1. Tamara

    Wow! Thanks for this… I was all "yay" about Kiss of Pride too, but now, after reading the review and that excerpt… I think I'll pass. I think it's totally awesome that you are posting about DNF books… there should be more posts like this 🙂

  2. Lori @ Romancing the Darkside

    I'm guilty of reading Kiss of the Vampire and have Kiss of Pride on my TBR list (which might be coming off after this post…LOL). I finished Kiss of the Vampire and while it wasn't spectacular, I was able to finish the story. I do agree that had the focus leaned towards the hero and heroine the book would have been more interesting but I'll overlook the intense world-building and think I'll give the next in the series a chance.

    Thanks for sharing your DNF reads with us!

  3. Paranormal Haven

    I'm not surprised Kiss of the Vampire is on your list. It came really close to being a DNF for me as well but once you push past the info overload, it's a decent read.

    My most recent DNF was Dire Needs by Stephanie Tyler. I hated that I couldn't finish it because I was looking forward to it for so long but it was just too much of everything right from the start.

    Paranormal Haven

  4. Rain Maiden

    Ah I have Plague Town heading my way. I'm glad I won't be reading that alone. Thanks for the post guys, some books aren't for everyone. I have not had a DNF in a long time….let's hope I can get through Plague Town 🙂

  5. [email protected] More the Merrier

    I don't have any recent DNF. But I am glad for this post since i get a heads up about why some books made your list. From what you revealed of KISS OF PRIDE I can't see myself ever wanting to read it. The whole concept of the book just isn't for me, Viking Vampire Angel's seem a little too extreme to me.
    Great Post!!

  6. Julia

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience, Lori, you reinforced my impressions. I am curious if book two would be better, as the author will have less world building to accomplish.

  7. Dannielle L

    I was able to enjoy (3 stars) Kiss of the Vampire.

    A couple of my most recent DNF's are Pack and Coven by Jody Wallace and Playing with Fire by Gena Showalter.

  8. KimH

    Tanith Lee's Ars Magica. It's a historical fantasy based on the premise that Pope Sylvester II (who in actual life was an intellectual and encouraged scientific study) was actually a sorcerer and ran a magical academy. The book started off interestingly enough, but I found later gaps in timing of the action, and not enough detail to explain what was really going on which I consider extremely important. And my paperback copy was also falling apart so I decided to chunk it. I probably missed out on some interesting parts though.
    I also had trouble finishing Christine Feehan's Dark Prince (Author's Cut) for the same reasons–minus the book coming apart (it was a sturdy hardback from the library). I have read though that particular book was her first published work, and I suppose that is to be excused…

  9. aboutthestory

    Anne Bishop's Dark Jewels trilogy was a semi DNF for me for similar reasons to your breast eating zombies. I was so disgusted by all the unnecessarily gory sexual mutilations that I would never read the last two books of the trilogy even though I really loved the magic system and characters. I know a lot of other people like the Dark Jewels a lot, but seriously, the first book opens with a guy getting his balls eaten off by rats…. wtf…. On a separate note, I loved the other Anne Bishop trilogy I read (Tir Alainn) and highly recommend it…

    -Anya @ About The Story

  10. Anonymous

    I really wish this came out earlier because I just ordered Plague Town through Amazon. 🙁 Oh well. I hope I like it better than you did. At least I ordered White Horse through my library.

  11. Abigail

    Fortunately, we get very few titles that end up being DNF for us, but we will be posting two or three of these a year.

  12. Abigail

    DIRE NEEDS? Really? I was planning on reading that one too…did you post a DNF review anywhere? I'd love to read your thoughts on why it didn't work.

  13. Abigail

    Honestly, PLAGUE TOWN is probably the least offensive on this list. The writing was okay, it was the characters that killed it for me.

  14. Abigail

    I've never actually read a Christine Feehan book, though I keep meaning to. do you usually have trouble with her? Should I still give her a try?

  15. Abigail

    What!? Okay the rat thing has just assured that I won't be reading the Dark Jewel trilogy ever. Thanks for the heads up 🙂

  16. Abigail

    Sorry about that. I hope you are able to enjoy PLAGUE TOWN…I'm still recovering from WHITE HORSE and I didn't even get to the infamous corkscrew scene.

  17. Abigail

    I've just started getting into Gena Showalter's books, and likeing them so far. I'll have to be wary about PLAYING WITH FIRE though. I appreciate the heads up.

  18. Abigail

    KISS OF PRIDE was shockingly bad. Like I-can't-believe-an-actual-publisher-released-this-garbage bad. Both Kristina and I tried to get through it and couldn't. She said it reminded her of really bad fan fiction. Awful.

  19. Abigail

    Seriously? It soooo wasn't for me. Probably goes on my worst reads ever list. Did you review it anywhere? I'd love to see what you liked about it.

  20. Dannielle L

    I just thought the heroine was TSTL. Couldn't handle her, so I quit.

    I've loved her Lords of the Underworld Series.

  21. fishgirl182

    Uh oh. I totally have kiss of the vampire on my kindle. And the excerpts from kiss of pride are cringe worthy. Thanks for the warning on these.

  22. Anonymous

    It's not DNF, but I'm having trouble reading the D'Artigo sisters series by Yasmine usually it will only take me 2 days to finish a book but lately it's taking me 4 – 6 days.
    But I'm probably just burnt out from reading Urban Fantady and Paranormal books.
    I actually catched up on Revenge this weekend, watching 8 episodes on Saturday and another 8 on Sunday.
    I'm going to hunt down Joanna Bourne's latest book, I might be in the mood for romance.

  23. Julia

    Arani, we're on the same wave-length. Galenorn has been on my TBR list *forever*, but I keep getting distracted a few chapters in. Bourne may be a good palate cleanser (she's one of my favorites, and THE BLACK HAWK didn't disappoint), let me know if trying the D'Artigo sisters after enjoying another genre for awhile works.

  24. Julia

    Fighting through the *ick* on the Dark Jewels once was enough for me, but I have re-read Book Three a few times. All the crap they put up with in Book One and Two makes the HEA oh so sweet… This reminds me of how dark Bishop started out, though. Her more recent books are definitely much less explicit on the torture/rape/abuse front (and I can't believe I just typed that sentence).

  25. Julia

    It sounds like there's some good romance amidst the data dumps, I may peak back in for Book Two.

  26. Kristina

    Yeah. I read a few pages, put it down and read some more becoming slowly both offended and confused at the same time. It was an odd combination that I rarely have with books…

  27. Unknown

    Do I wanna ask about said corkscrew scene, coz you've kinda peeked my interest and not in a good way.

    TY for the post, I had A.C. Arthur on my to buy list and have since removed as I just won't be taking the chance with so many other great authors out there.

  28. Abigail

    I have read a couple D'Artigo short stories and can't say they inspired me to try the full novels.

  29. Anonymous

    The next time I kiss my boyfriend all I'm going to think about is, "using her tongue in his mouth, like a simulated penis".

  30. Book Chick City

    Hi Abigail – I've read both WHITE HORSE and PLAGUE TOWN and really enjoyed both. WHITE HORSE does have a small scene regarding an abortion but it's not detailed as you suggest. There's blood and innuendo but that's it. I did find it difficult to get into at first but it was only due to the formatting of "NOW" and "THEN" that bugged me, but I'm so pleased I pushed through as it turned out to be a great read. As for PLAGUE TOWN, I found it a really fun, exciting read – but then I do LOVE zombies! ;D

  31. Abigail


    I know we chatted on twitter about WHITE HORSE, so I'm glad you weren't as put off by it as I was. I didn't make it to the corkscrew abortion scene, but I was told about it by another reviewer. But the rape/incest scene was more than enough to turn me off. I just couldn't get past that.

    And as for zombies, bring it on! I love em too. (Did you read Sophie Littlefield's Aftertime series? Phenomenal! Her Banished YA series is also about zombies and excellent too). I wish I'd connected with the protag more in PLAGUE TOWN, but she annoyed me from the start and just got worse the more I read. I had to quit.