Did Not Finish, Vol. 2

The urban fantasy edition. My favorite genre, which is probably why I take so many chances and try so many books, even ones that I doubt I would like in the off chance that it would be a hit. It’s usually not, and that’s why I DNF so many in this genre. When it’s good, it’s really good, but when it’s not, it’s… please see below.

A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark #2)
by Kresley Cole
This is the second book in the Immortals After Dark series and the only time I will ever read anything by Kresley Cole. Not only is this bad, but it’s bad in a “how did this get published???” kind of way.

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1)
by J. R. Ward
This is the first book in the popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series and most likely the only book I’ll ever try by J.R. Ward. Not any better than Kresley Cole, but sort of more interesting? Maybe. Sort of.

Hexed (Iron Druid Chronicles #2)
by Kevin Hearne
Nothing wrong with this book or series; the writing is just not for me–too much “jaded” snark crammed in. The first book was meh with a dash of try-hard, as in it tried too hard to appear “cool” or “cooler” than its urban fantasy counterparts. Case in point? The main character is a 2,000-something years old wizard, yet speaks and thinks as though he’s a hipster millennial, but he’s neither a believable hipster or a believable millennial. He reads like what he is–a young character written by an author who mirrors his characters after what he thinks is “cool.” Being from hipster central myself, I just don’t find that part of the characterization believable, so that’s a deal-breaker.

A Local Habitation (October Daye #2)
by Seanan McGuire
After finishing and not liking the first book, I kept this series on my radar because so many friends kept recommending and saying it gets better, but what little I read of the sample chapter failed to capture my interest. Even the title bores me.

Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson #2)
by Patricia Briggs
After finishing the first book and was on the fence about it, I gave the second one a try because the world building was pretty good tbh and I didn’t wanna miss out on a series that could very well turn out to be good. First books in urban fantasies are dicey, and long series don’t really take shape until the second or third book (or fourth or fifth). What stopped me from continuing this series was the main character. Simply put, Mercy bores me and I have no interest in following her around for twenty more books.

Two Serpents Rise (Craft Sequence #2)
by Max Gladstone
While I liked the first book just fine and enjoy Max Gladstone’s writing in general (A Kiss with Teeth, The Angelus Guns), I had a hard time getting into this one because the main character was a bit boring and there was too much going on at the beginning. Plus, I think at the time I was impatient for a story that I could sink my teeth into without having to work so hard or wade through so much text to get to the good stuff. Temporary DNF for now with promises to return soon… ish.

***Finished!*** (review)

Firefight (Reckoners #2)
by Brandon Sanderson
Too young for me, just like the first book, but this time I couldn’t bring myself to care enough about the characters to keep reading past the sample chapter. I think this was around the time I was fed up with Brandon Sanderson in general, and reading any more of his particular, repetitive style of fantasy was just too much.

Fool Moon (Dresden Files #2)
by Jim Butcher
This one bored me right out of the gate because… well, Harry Dresden. I pushed through the first book to prove a point and put an end to doubts. Turned out I was right: this series is not for me. But again, friends kept on recommending it, saying it would get better, so I gave the second one a try and it’s further proof that this series is not for me.

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2)
by Laini Taylor
Another one that’s too young for me. The first book had all the irksome quirks of young adult, but the world building was good, so I stuck with it to the end. The second book was more of the same, but I was looking for something with more depth and less YA. I think all the “beautiful” descriptions of all the pretty things just got on my nerves. Why the obsession with beautiful things? What’s wrong with plain fugly things? They need love too… as all things need love…

Cast In Courtlight (Chronicles of Elantra #2)
by Michelle Sagara
I read the first book with Beth as a buddy read. She liked it a lot more than I did (her thoughtful and concise review here). I expected to like it, because 1) long series, 2) the description was interesting and 3) several Goodreads friends gave it high ratings, but I found the writing too messy and meandering. Plus I’m not a fan of the stream of consciousness style. Also, the main character, who is a detective, is bad at her job and entirely unbelievable. While I believe she is bad at her job, I don’t believe her as a detective, but the thing is, this whole series revolves around her being a detective and it’s told from her first-person POV… which really sucks.

Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows #1)
by Kim Harrison
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book and wondered “have I read this before?” I’m usually pretty good at recalling beginnings, especially beginnings of books I end up abandoning, but with this book, there was a moment in which I couldn’t be sure whether or not I had read it or abandoned it because the writing style was not only familiar, but it’s so familiar that I was sure I’d read this book before. I hadn’t though. It was PNR deja vu. Rachel Morgan is full of sass and snark and has very little substance, and her antics get old very quickly, like around page 10. I think I pushed myself to the 30% mark before call it quits due to recurring boredom.

Pacific Fire (Daniel Blackland #2)
by Greg Van Eekhout
I tried reading this one right after the first one, hoping it would get me more into the series. Didn’t work. Only made me more annoyed with the main characters which were too young and teenager-y for my liking. The world building is still fantastic though. I just couldn’t get into the characters or gave a damn about their life-or-death situations or cared about how they’ll save the world. It really is too bad because I really liked the setting, world building, and magic.

Sixty-One Nails (Courts of the Feyre #1)
by Mike Shevdon
Couldn’t get into this one. Don’t know why. There was something about the writing in the first 10% that didn’t capture my interest, and so reading on felt more like a chore than an escape. Didn’t help that the whole series is about the fae and their courtly politics. Kudos for the middle-aged main character though… perhaps I will give this one another go.

London Falling (Shadow Police #1)
by Paul Cornell
I wanted to like this book. Other than Two Serpents Rise, this is the only other book on this list that I regret not finishing. It’s got all the makings of a nice, chewy cop drama with some paranormal thrown in. Also, it’s set in London. But the book opened with too much going on. The writing moved too quickly from scene to scene and very little info is given about what’s going on and the characters involved. I couldn’t follow what was being said, let alone catch all the subtle implications. So I got bored not being able to follow the story or, rather, not being in on the take. Stopped at around 30% with plans to return, but I don’t know at the point. Maybe I’ll audiobook it.


Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1) by Laini Taylor


Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆
Date read: April 22 to 24, 2013
Read count: 1

Books with cliffhanger endings are difficult to rate, and they’re especially difficult to rate when they’re part of an ongoing series.

With that said, I enjoyed this book, but at times, it was too YA for my taste, but now I can see why people gravitate toward Taylor’s writing. It’s engaging and different from the usual flimsy YA urban fantasy fare. It’s heavy on adventure and character development and light on romance and romantic interest.

Since this book is only one part of the mystery, I will stick to listing things that worked or didn’t work for me as a reader (who has an aversion to YA).


  • World building. The story starts in Prague, and just when you’re about to get comfortable and settle in, you’re plunge into mystery and Elsewhere.
  • Sensory descriptions: the otherworldly gothic-ness of Prague, the bustling market of Marrakech, the feel of breezes or heat on skin, tingling or prickling sensations, warm soft pastries, the sensation of flying, tangible loneliness
  • Pain: both physical and mental, especially the beheading scene, this was gruesome in a page-turning way
  • Magic. Although we do get glimpses and short explanations, we still don’t know how the magic system(s) work or how Brimstone’s resurrections work yet.
  • Wishes. I find the very idea of wishing and the wisdom of hoping fascinating or rather I find most of everything Brimstone says fascinating.
  • Brimstone and the rest of the shop.
  • Surprisingly uplifting quotes such as this one: “You were true to her, even if she was not to you. Never repent of your own goodness, child. To stay true in the face of evil is a feat of great strength” (Brimstone).
  • Izil. Poignant and quoting dead philosophers one moment (“Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?”), and remarking on their wisdom and “exceptional” mustaches the next.


  • Karou
  • Akiva
  • Angels. I’m neutral on this because, on one hand, it’s angels, but on the other hand, no biblical references or tie-ins. So the hands cancel each other out.


  • Beautiful creatures. This is not a critique of how beautiful the creatures are in this book, but rather a point I need to make about these things plaguing urban fantasy. Why do most creatures in YA need to be impossibly beautiful? (No sympathy for fugly ones?)
  • This quote: “She moved like a poem and smiled like a sphinx.” …What? There are a few more like it. Fortunately there aren’t that many.
  • Origin mythology. Too rushed, needs more explanation. Why are there so many Chimera tribes? How did they come to be? What is the reason for their various animal parts? Hopefully all will be explained in later books.
  • [ETA] High human Chimeras valued/envied for their looks. I don’t understand why this would be. It would make more sense, since Chimeras hate the Seraphs, that any creature resembling the enemy physically would be caste off or disdained for their looks. It doesn’t seem congruent with what we know about Chimera’s knowledge of humans.

I’m curious enough to pick up the second book, but I heard it also ends with a cliffhanger and the third book has no release date yet, so I think I’m gonna wait.


[ETA: 07/17]

My initial rating upon finishing this book was a solid 3 stars, a strong 3 stars, but now that I’ve had some time to think on it and compare it to other YA books, I’d have to say this book is better written. So 3½ or 4 stars, depending on my mood of interpretation.

*     *     *     *     *


Rating: ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
Date read: April 22 to 24, 2013
Read count: 2

Very cute, almost unbearably so, almost tipped right into the realm of cutesy–I hate that realm. Fortunately Laini Taylor’s writing style, full of quirks, humor, and quotable moments, saved it from escalating further in cuteness.

This is the story of how Zuzanna and Mik got together, which happened off scene in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I listened to the audio and am glad I did because I don’t think I would’ve liked reading it–too much cuteness makes me teeth ache. The voice actors for Zuzanna and Mik both did a great job, though, of bringing the characters to life and turning their tentative courtship into a believable fairy-tale-like proceeding.

I don’t believe in prayer, but I do believe in magic, and I want to believe in miracles.

I don’t think it full achieved magical, but it came close to recapturing the mystifying atmosphere of the first book.