June: Month Of The DNF

Lately, I’ve been doing more of a month end followup with a listing of books I’d recommend from the month rather than packing the month with reviews. Not for June.

June kind of crystallized why I’ve been changing all of my book blogging and reviewing habits lately, including stepping down from the staff position at Envie! Magazine. Something is shifting for me.

Last month, I had 6 DNFs. That is more books in one month I didn’t finish than in the entirety of 2018 and almost half of my total for last year. In one month. And I’ve already added one to that so far in July and we are only on day 3.

What I did read and finish, I mostly wasn’t loving. They weren’t awful, but I just wasn’t as into them as I thought I’d be. Including books from authors I’d thoroughly enjoyed in the past. I found that new peeves are peaking their heads out and partying with my old peeves, making a nasty mess of an awful lot of books lately.

Apparently, I just need something different from my reading. Something I’m not getting and, at the moment, don’t even know what that something is. It is frustrating beyond belief. At the same time, I’m not looking at it as an entirely bad thing.

I know that a portion of that (only a small portion) is feeling a bit burned out at the “required” part of reading that I was starting to feel. Between having to have a review every month for the magazine (a positive review, mind you), the deadlines to get any NetGalley reviews completed and the personal push to post reviews on the majority of books I read, I over did it. And it’s not the first time. You’d have thought I learned the last time.

I needed the reminder and that is why I don’t see this weird state as so much a bad thing as it is an opportunity for me to shift my focus. I need to get back to why I was writing about books in the first place, writing about them because I felt like I actually had something to say, good or bad, and not just writing about a book because I read it.

One thing I’ve learned along the way is that as cool as it is to get books ahead of release day via NetGalley, I’d much rather have the official version rather than the not-always-clean ARC version. That peeve about not great editing or mistakes is amplified when you combine it with imperfect or non-existent formatting (definitely not all books from there are this way, but many have been). It makes it really hard to look past sometimes and just get to the story. And that is ultimately all I’m really after anyway, the story.

The other piece to this is when I get like this, not feeling all that satisfied with the books I’m reading, something else seems to spike in its place. It seems like this time it is going to be the drive to be really creative, in a number of ways. The photos are absolutely still a huge focus, but I want to try and dig a little deeper into them. I’ve also really been loving spending a lot of my time in my studio, whether it has been working on the masks or any number of smaller, “fix it” kind of projects.

Hubby and I have talked about actually finishing out that space. The lighting is atrocious. Any effort to rectify that will require a lot of other kinds of work, so might as well go all the way. With that in mind, I’ve been brainstorming what my ideal craft room/studio space would actually look like rather than a couple of random, crappy free standing cabinets on bare concrete floors and walls with an equally crappy folding table with probably a dozen storage bins in different locations across the basement holding all the various different bits of fabrics, yarn, and I’ve forgotten what all else that didn’t make it into said cabinets. The only really great thing I have in there is my workbench, which creates all kinds of other difficulties.

All that just means that I’m going through a shift. Where all the crafty, creative stuff has taken a backseat to the books the last few years, it may be going the other way for a while. I’m still not sure.

I want to spend some time trying to come up with a plan for my studio that is doable without being too much. Enough that I don’t feel like I have to put protective sheets over every surface to keep the cat hair, dust and pesky multi-legged creatures out of my space and make it more functional and appealing to spend time in. I want to spend more time there doing the creative bits and not the clearing things off so I can work bits, or the hunting down the materials bits.

I want to do that and still read, but I’m needing to rebalance my time. All those DNFs just managed to drive it home that it’s past time. I have a list of projects I want to work on or that I’ve considered. As soon as I get through recital next week, assuming I survive the stress, I’m going to start working on prioritizing and planning. And, hopefully, getting creative.



Book Review: The Need – Helen Phillips: DNF

Author: Helen Phillips
Book Name: The Need
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense/Mystery/Sci-Fi
Overall SPA: DNF @31%


Blurb: When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows.

But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement.

Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion.

I’m going to make this brief. I DNF’d this because it was like trying to watch, or in this case read, the internal workings of another person’s head. While they were dropping acid. What the hell does “breezy dirty banana” actually smell like?

I don’t think I’ve ever attempted to read a more confusing and convoluted work. I have no clue really what happened from the beginning to the point I gave up other than it jumped all over the place and spent an inordinate amount of time focused on the explicit details of breastfeeding and some weird obsession with milk.

I couldn’t decide if the main character actually liked being a mother or if she was really insane and/or tripping on some seriously good drugs and getting ready to kill her kids. Maybe it gets better after the point I put it down, but I didn’t see that it was worth it to try and untwist the mess it was causing in my brain to get there. I don’t know if part of this was also because I missed the sci-fi genre tag (ticks me off when I miss those), but this was so not the book for me and not JUST because it is marked as sci-fi (I don’t think I really got to anything that fits that genre before dropping this anyway).

Black And White Splash Zone

Today is a two photo day because the book review I was hoping to post was yet another DNF. When I get to the point where I have to ask myself why I’m still reading a book I’m really not enjoying in anyway, it is beyond time to put it down and walk away.

So I decided to play for a bit instead. I’ve always really loved the high contrast black and whites, probably more so after Hubby and I got our engagement photos done in that style. It is possible that I like it for the same reasons I like macro; it forces you to really look at the details. Funny how I don’t often play with getting that effect with the photos I take, but I’m trying it out on more of them.

This one was particularly interesting and fun because one part of this appears really high contrast while the other part is more just a grayscale..

Book Review – The Color of Ordinary Time by Virginia Voelker

Author: Virginia Voelker
Book Name: The Color of Ordinary Time
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Family Drama/Religious Fiction
Rating: DNF

Blurb: One summer in the life of a young teacher pulled between the needs of her biological family and those of the family she has chosen as hers. Troubled by past decisions, Keziah must find a way forward. Will she strike out on her own, into an uncharted future, or will she take the path others have laid out for her?

It isn’t often that I will write a review on a book I couldn’t even finish, but I felt like I needed to make a point with this one because it landed pretty heavily on one of my peeves. Inaccurate categorizing/genre placement.

I fully understand that sometimes it is really difficult to pick the top categories for a book. You want them to be the most accurate and draw in the most readers. The problem is, by leaving a category off that truly does apply, not something iffy, but rather something that is at the core of your book, you are running 2 rather huge risks. One is missing out on readers who will love your book. The other is pissing off readers that feel like they have been mislead into picking your book up and feel like what they got was nothing at all like what they were expecting. Neither situation can possibly be a good one for an author.

In this case, I wasn’t thrilled with the fact that this falls quite strongly into religious/Christian fiction, which I do not personally enjoy, yet it wasn’t classified as such. When I started reading, I truly had hopes that this wasn’t the case. That it would step away from those aspects and focus more on the family drama, but you cannot get past a paragraph without some form of religious connotations or context. And while not directly preachy, it does come across a bit from a sideways angle.

I’m not saying that this wasn’t well written. I think it has a lot going for it, but I struggled with finding anything I could connect with because of how heavily it relies on that religious motif. Because of that, I had to just put this down around the 50% mark as it just wasn’t for me. I was hugely disappointed because I expected this to be more about family than anything, but it really wasn’t.

If you really enjoy fiction with a heavy religious bent, then this may be an amazing book for you. If that isn’t your thing, then you will probably be better served looking elsewhere.

Too Late: Colleen Hoover

Too LateAuthor: Colleen Hoover
Book Name: Too Late
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  DNF





Blurb: Sloan will go through hell and back for her little brother. And she does, every single night.

Forced to remain in a relationship with the dangerous and corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to make sure her brother has what he needs.

Nothing will get in her way.

Nothing except Carter.

Sloan is the only good thing to ever happen to Asa. He knows this and he never plans on letting her go; even if she doesn’t approve of his lifestyle. But despite Sloan’s disapproval, Asa knows what it takes to get what he wants. He knows what he needs to do to remain on top.

Nothing will get in his way.

Nothing except Carter.

I dropped this at about the 40% mark. I don’t know if it was a mood thing for me, but it was just not quite what I thought it would be. I knew it would be dark and ugly, but it was just a bit too much and I didn’t like any of the characters or the decisions they were making. I would put it down after about a chapter or two, go do something else and then come back. I NEVER do that with books.

Maybe if I were in a different frame of mind, I might be able to enjoy this, but I just couldn’t get into it.

Labyrinth of Stars: Hunter Kiss, Book 5

Labyrinth of StarsAuthor: Marjorie M. Liu
Book Name: Labyrinth of Stars
Series: Body Farm
Order: #5
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  DNF/Maybe Later

Blurb:  Tattoos with hearts, minds, and dreams. Created to be the armor that protects my body, these obsidian shadows come alive at night—demons made flesh.

After the Aetar nearly kill Maxine’s unborn child, and a betrayal within her own ranks leaves Maxine’s husband, Grant, poisoned and dying, Maxine is forced to attack a race of beings that possesses almost unlimited power. Doing so will require she make a deal with the devil—the devil that lives inside her—risking both her sanity and her soul as she slowly transforms into something more than human.

But even that might not be enough to save Grant, because the very thing that Maxine is becoming is destined to destroy the world.

Review:  In the past, I have really enjoyed the books in this series.  It has been a while since I read one, so maybe that is the issue, but I just couldn’t get into this one like I have in the past.  It is possible that I just wasn’t in the mood for it.  Whatever it is, I will try to read this one again at some later date because I do love the world and characters in this series and I want more of the boys.  Apparently, just not right now.


Wait for Me: Montgomery Brothers, Book 1

Wait for MeAuthor: Samantha Chase
Book Name: Wait for Me
Series: Montgomery Brothers
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  DNF


Blurb:  Executive assistant Emma Taylor is desperate for a little time away; away from her job, her life and from thoughts of her boss’s son who doesn’t seem to know she even exists. Tired of waiting for the time to be right, she takes advantage of her boss’s generous offer for a little weekend getaway to thank her for helping out with a difficult business deal.

Former NFL superstar Lucas Montgomery is still suffering from a career-ending injury. His self-imposed exile from life is exactly what he wants; a sanctuary where there’s no chance for disappointment or distractions and that’s exactly the way he likes it. While his family has been patiently waiting for Lucas to come around and embrace life once again, they don’t realize that it wasn’t just his career that was lost, but his sense of identity.

Lucas thought everything was fine until sweet, sexy and completely off-limits Emma Taylor comes crashing into his carefully constructed world one snowy weekend and turns his entire life upside down.

Review:  I couldn’t finish this.  I think I’ve just had it with pushing through lack luster stories with uninteresting characters, but this just was annoying.

Emma is a melodramatic shrew with such a contradictory personality that the term bipolar could easily apply, so could multiple personalities.  Lucas is a self absorbed, self pitying ass who has not one thing to recommend about him.  Outside of some not so great characters, the story and set up was so contrived that I thought I was going to strain a muscle from all the eye rolling going on.

I was probably close to half way through this when I decided to just stop.  If I was really that not into it, why torture myself by forcing myself to finish?  It is something I do way too often and there are just too many books that I do want to try and read to waste time on something that just isn’t doing it for me, so down it went.


Still Mine: Mary Wine

Still MineAuthor: Mary Wine
Book Name: Still Mine
Series: **
Order: **
Genre: Romance
Rating:  DNF


Blurb:  Love is the last line of defense.

Jolene Benate has spent six years keeping a vow to herself to never again be that weak woman weeping at her young husband’s graveside. Now she’s a deputy marshal on the elite warrant squad, as physically and mentally tough as they come. But moving on isn’t as easy as it looks.

Especially when the husband she thought was dead suddenly reappears. And, even in the face of his betrayal, she still wants him.

Paul Benate’s gifted mind was groomed from a young age to serve the military and its top-secret projects. His one youthful act of rebellion was to marry Jolene, only to discover a terrorist could use her to force him to give up his classified secrets. For her own safety, he had to let her go.

But the safety he thought was assured by his “death” was only an illusion. Secrets have a way of surfacing, and once again Jolene is the perfect target. There’s only one thing left to do…reclaim the woman that he has always loved.

Even if she’s mad as hell at him.

Review:  Reading the blurb for this book had me thinking that this was going to potentially be a potent book emotionally.  Yeah, didn’t happen.

For the first 20% of the book, pretty much the only thing that happens is that the main female character, Jo (or is it Jonnie or is it Jolene, because that is so not clear as it switched on almost every reference so I wasn’t always sure if we were talking about the same person every time) still thinks about her dead husband all the time.  Not even so much how much she loved him, but how great the sex was with him and that she can’t, even six years later think of anything else.  Pretty much non-stop.  In her sleep, because she dreams about it.  When she is talking to a co-worker, because obviously, there is no way he could be as good as the dead husband was.  Even when she is in a safe house after being shot and having no clue why, the only thing she is thinking about is that awesome sex.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe that people grieve differently, in different ways, process loss differently and there is no set time frame in which that happens, but this came across so incredibly off for me.  I really wasn’t liking Jo so much because of it.

When they finally throw the not really dead husband in front of her, he comes across so incredibly cold and cutting that I instantly disliked him.  Oh, and he so wasn’t any better with regards to the sex thoughts thing either.  Because, seriously, there is nothing at all wrong with admitting that he married her because he wanted to get laid.  He was also stalker creepy having watched her the entire time he was supposed to be dead.  Even had pictures of her sleeping?  Yeah, that’s not weird at all.

Needless to say, after forcing my way through about a third of the book, I couldn’t stomach any more and put it down.  I just couldn’t do it.  Sorry.


Trailer Park Fae: Gallow and Ragged , Book 1

Trailer Park FaeAuthor: Lilith St. Crow
Book Name: Trailer Park Fae
Series: Gallow and Ragged
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like/DNF


Blurb: Jeremiah Gallow is just another construction worker, and that’s the way he likes it. He’s left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased. Like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be. Now the half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae – by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Her name is Robin, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer’s Court is breaking loose.
Be afraid, for Unwinter is riding…

Review:  I could not force myself to finish this.  The writing style came across as someone with grandiose plans of writing high literary fiction.  Considering that is not at all what is expected when reading the blurb, it was incredibly disappointing.  Most people pick books like this up to read for entertainment, not a reminder of high school English and the Shakespeare unit they had to plow through.

The vague and archaic style that this book was entirely written in made reading it a chore rather than a joy.  If I have to spend tons of time while reading a few sentences to try and decipher the meaning, and even then it is only a guess, then it is a complete waste of that time.  Again, I’m reading for entertainment, not a class credit.