Books I DNFed in 2019

One thing becomes more and more apparent each time I check my To Be Read list on Goodreads (currently including 423 titles): that I simply do not have enough time to read all of the books I want to.

So in 2019 I worked on eliminating my aversion to putting a book down and walking away if we weren’t clicking. It’s so difficult because I always end up wondering, well what if it got better later on? What if I’m just missing something? But can you say a book is truly amazing if the first however-many pages were a chore to get through?

The following are the five books I just couldn’t make myself see to the end. That doesn’t mean they’re bad books though, and if you enjoyed them then I’m really glad! I just feel that my time is better spent on books other than these:

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire


I really wanted to like this book. All of the titles in the series sound so inviting and the covers are really pretty too! For some reason I just could not get over the writing style. It was not my thing on any level, which is so strange because I loved the writing in Into the Drowning Deep, another book by McGuire written under her penname Mira Grant.

I DNFed at 11%

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh


I learned something about myself in 2019: I really cannot stand listening to a narrator drone on about clothing. I guess I should’ve known that I’d have problems with that here because our main character is a former dress-maker but I was hoping that the beginning would be more interesting right out of the gate. It wasn’t. I wasn’t sure when exactly all the fun vampire things would start happening, and I didn’t feel like waiting around to find out.

I feel a bit bad that I tossed this one so early, but I’ve read some middling reviews that lead me to believe I wasn’t missing out on much.

I DNFed at 7%

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig


This one started out really good. I thought the main character had some nice depth to her. The family dynamic was interesting, and the frightening idea that these sisters were all dying one by one really had my attention. But then… it lost me. The story shifts its focus to the romantic suitors, who I found completely bland, and the extravagant clothing that these girls are wearing.

I have since heard that the twists later in this book are phenomenal and genuinely pretty creepy so I might be convinced to give it a second try at some point. But it’s not high on my list of priorities at the moment.

I DNFed at 26%

The Institute by Stephen King


I’ve loved nearly every King book I’ve read, but this one was not doing it for me. It was entirely average for as long as I was reading it, but I realized I was hundreds of pages in and I didn’t feel a connection to the characters or the plot. I know some of King’s books can take a lot of time to get going (Salem’s Lot and Pet Sematary for example) but there’s usually something along the way to keep you invested.

I picked up The Institute thinking it would be similar to It, in that it centers around a group of children experiencing trauma together. Where It had me deeply unsettled, and outright scared at multiple parts, The Institute had me checking my watch because I just wanted to get to the end.

I DNFed at 62%

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White


I read White’s book And I Darken last year and I liked it. I gave it 3.5 stars for having some good characters (two of them), pretty writing, and probably the only love triangle I’ve ever been interested in. My biggest problem with Darken was that there were a lot of stretches of time where characters just walk around rooms and give out exposition. It’s boring and it makes me not want to come back to the story once I’ve put it down for the night.

I had the same issues right away with The Guinevere Deception and I just don’t feel like sitting through 11 hours of audiobook just to come to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth it.

That cover really is attractive though.

I DNFed at 21%

Do you DNF books? If so, how do you decide when to put them down? And if you don’t, why not? Let’s talk about it!

I’m wishing you all a magical day!



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Top 10 Best Reads of 2019 ❤️

This is my favorite part of the year as a book reviewer. Out of the 95 books I read in 2019, I get to share with you the very best of the best that I personally experienced. I hope somewhere in this list you find a title that piques your interest! I think it goes without saying that all of the books here get my certified seal of approval and I love for you to love them too.

If you’d like to see my favorite picks of 2018, click here!


But first, some honorable mentions…

Sabriel by Garth Nix

This is a tragically underappreciated book about a young girl who goes off on a journey to find her missing father– a necromancer tasked with putting raised spirits back to rest. The magic system is totally unique, the characters are lovable (if not a little flawed), and the setting shows off Nix’s incredible imagination. This gets two big thumbs up from me!

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The Way of the House Husband vol. 1 by Oono Kousuke

This is a very funny and wholesome story about a former Yakuza boss that was just as enjoyable to read as it was to look at. I’ve already preordered the second volume and I can’t wait to get a hold of it when it comes out!

Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin

One of my biggest reading surprises of 2019. I haven’t seen anyone posting about this book so let me be the one to tell you that it’s an extremely well-written story about family, obsession, and power. Smoke is full of twists and turns and memorable characters.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

Definitely the closest book to making it onto my top 10. Despite reading some nasty reviews as I was just starting the audiobook, I was hooked into the world of Sabor from the first chapter.

All of the previously mentioned titles are wonderful books and I highly recommend that you give them a try!

Now we’re onto the big 10, in descending order. I agonized for hours over this list, mixing and matching the placement of them but I think I’ve finally settled on a ranking that properly reflects my feelings.

#10 Monstress vol. 1: The Awakening by Marjorie Liu

monstress 1

This has to be one of the most visually striking graphic novels I have ever come across. I was constantly blown away by the love and care that illustrator Sana Takeda put into drawing and rendering each frame with brilliant color. This is to say nothing of the characters or the story itself which are phenomenal as well. This is a gritty, violent story so please beware if that’s not something you’re interested in. If that doesn’t turn you away though, you’ll be treated to a layered and imaginative story full of mythos, magic, and war.

#9 The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black


Ending a series is really hard. You need to wrap up all the loose ends, finalize your character arcs, and (hopefully) have readers feeling satisfied, if not a little sad that it’s over. I have been let down by finales before (thinking of: Ruin and Rising, The Amber Spyglass, and another that you’ll see in my next list) but I was really hoping Holly Black would stick the landing here. And she absolutely did.

I devoured QoN in a matter of hours and I am so pleased to say that this is a nearly flawless end to the Folk of the Air series. These characters had me biting my nails the whole time and now, Jude and Cardan have officially been welcomed into my OTP Hall of Fame.

#8 Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

daisy jones

This book is a Goodreads Choice Awards winner for a reason. I’m sorry, did you say it won best historical fiction? You’re telling me it’s fiction, and this wasn’t a real band? I’m not sure I believe you.

Daisy Jones is a classic rock icon up there with Stevie Nix and Robert Plant. I felt like I was getting a real glance into the lives of old rockstars and I felt for them on a deep level. They are extremely flawed and nuanced. I loved every moment of this story.

#7 Lord of the Flies by William Golding


While the beginning takes a while to get going anywhere, the last 100 or so pages of Lord of the Flies had me reading with my eyes wide and my mouth agape. I never read this one for school and I can totally understand why so many who did, really didn’t like it. I’m 22 years old and this book freaked me the hell out.

It still comes to me so vividly, like I was really there on the island myself. Flashes of little boys playing in the sand, and older boys adorning their faces with war paint. The white hot heat of a bonfire. A pig’s head, skewered on a stick.

I haven’t had such a visceral reaction to many other books, and I like to think I’ve read quite a few. I’m still being haunted by Lord of the Flies and so I feel like it has to be here on this list.

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#6 The Wicked King by Holly Black


Has the ending of a book ever made you feel physical pain? I had to take an Advil after finishing this. It made me feel emotions I didn’t know I had, and I loved it so much. I can’t say much else about it because it’s the second book in a trilogy and I have to tiptoe around spoilers.

If you loved The Cruel Prince you should read this. If you felt lukewarm about The Cruel Prince you should read this. So much happens, everything changes, and thank goodness Queen of Nothing is already out so you don’t have to wait months in agony to find out how it all ends.

#5 Claymore vol. 27: Silver-Eyed Warriors by Norihio Yagi

claymore 27

Speaking of perfect endings to book series…

I mentioned in my last Rapid Fire Book Reviews post that I’ve been following Claymore as a series for ten years. I started watching the anime at twelve, and began saving up my money to buy the first couple volumes of manga. For a long time I only had up to volume five, but I read them over and over again. I admired the courage of our main character Clare, and I could relate to the struggles she was going through. The fantasy setting gave me a place to escape to.

What I’m getting at, is that Claymore holds a lot of nostalgia for me. It’s incredibly close to my heart. So when I got to read the ending ten years after beginning the series, I felt like I was finally saying goodbye to a part of my childhood that I’ve been hanging onto all this time.

Yagi gave us a wonderful ending that I feel respectfully ended the main character’s arcs with a hopeful tone for the future and I really really appreciated that.

#4 The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien


My older brother and I started watching the Lord of the Rings movies when we were 5 and 8 years old, respectively. He hates to read, and I… have been distracted by other books for seventeen years. But this is the story we have bonded over all this time, the characters we used to pretend to be, and the quotes we always write in each other’s birthday cards.

I’m only upset that it’s taken me this long to finally read the book. I alternated between reading my copy and listening to the audiobook narrated by Rob Inglis and I adored both. Inglis really performs the book– he gives different voices to all of the characters and he actually sings all of the songs. It was such a pleasure, I found myself looking forward to my commutes to work and to my boyfriend’s house an hour away.

#3 Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

bloody rose

2019 was my introduction the genius that is Nicholas Eames. He’s here to prove that as a fantasy fan, you really can have it all. And Bloody Rose is just another fantastic example.

This is a very character-centric story with a fast paced plot to match. All of the characters in the main plot are given enough time to grow and develop before your eyes. By the end of the book you’ll feel like you know all of them personally. The struggles they go though are real and human even if the circumstances and settings are not.

If you want to check out the best of what modern fantasy has to offer, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not picking up this series by Nicholas Eames.

#2 Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames


Guess what? I’m not done talking about how much I love this author and his work.

Here is another character driven narrative, but with a slightly more upbeat tone. In the words of fantasy Youtuber, Daniel Greene, “This book… gets the Most Fun Award. My god, this was a blast to read.

Like with Bloody Rose, every character in the main cast is meticulously fleshed out with personality and back story. It’s diverse and nuanced. Everyone has agency!

One of my first praises of Kings was that it touches on every emotion and it does so with care and respect. Our cast is made up of older men who haven’t been in their primes for ages yet are still going at challenges with everything they have. We see hilarious banter between them and we also see them experience moments of weakness where they are brought low and made vulnerable. I loved that grown men can cry without any reservation. I wish we saw that portrayed more often.

This book had me laughing out loud at the start of a chapter, and crying by the end of it. You really do get the feeling that you’ve gone through these trials with Clay Cooper and his band.


I had the most difficult time wrestling with the placement for Kings of the Wyld on this list. It could very easily have been number one, if not for the book I decided to put in its place. Genre-wise they fit together but in terms of everything else they are so different that it almost seems unfair to compare them. I tried going off of my enjoyment, but I enjoyed them both more than anything else I read this year. I tried going off my emotional responses to both books, and came to a moot point there too. Then I did a thought experiment: what if I was stranded on an island and I could only read one of them. That didn’t help either…

My point is that while Kings of the Wyld is number two on this list, in my heart it’s a number one along with the book listed in that spot. They’re both absolutely incredible and I think my life has been made brighter by reading both of them.  I think you should read both of them too.

But for the sake of proper end-of-the-year Top 10 Lists, I present to you my number one pick of 2019:

#1 The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson


Here’s a book that rivals A Game of Thrones in terms of its scope and its characters. This is surely a fantasy epic of the highest caliber. I’m always amazed that authors like Martin, Tolkien, and Sanderson can manage to work out all of the fine details that go into making a fictional world so real and relatable.

I might even go as far as to say that out of the three, Sanderson has the most original world building. Roshar is a vast and alien land full of conflicting ways of life. On that alone, I could give this book five stars, but the characters are the true gems on this crown. Shallan, Dalinar, and Kaladin are some of the most moving characters I’ve come across. Period. Set in their own ways, influenced by their unique worldviews, they spark serious change in the story they bring to life.

I have no idea how Sanderson does it but I am extremely impressed and I can’t wait to see where else the Stormlight Archive takes me in future books.

I did a full length review of this book at the beginning of the year that you can read here.

So there you have it, my favorite reads of 2019! What were yours? I’d love to know, so please drop a comment. My TBR can always get longer.

I hope you have a wonderful morning/day/night wherever you are, and I wish you a happy New Year!



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Rapid Fire Book Reviews // Part IV

Previously in Part III…

So let me cut to the chase: my 2019 resolution of writing a review of every book I read was very difficult for me to keep up with. Out of the 95 books I read this year, I formally reviewed 39 of them. So… yikes.

Since I have a day off, and I have too much pride to call it quits entirely, I’ll be finishing up the last 50-something reviews I have in two final installments of RFBR. This time, this reviews will be even quicker because I’m not completely masochistic.

If you’d like to get a little taste of the other books I’ve read this past crazy year of 2019, then read on. Settle in with a snack of some kind and get cozy because this is going to be a long post

Welcome to the fourth and final 2019 installment of Rapid Fire Book Reviews! Thank you for joining me.

Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep by Ales Kot

Image result for bloodborne the death of sleep

This comic is very heavy on the visuals which are beautifully drawn and colored. Like Bloodborne the game, the plot is nearly nonexistent so your enjoyment may depend on how much meaning you can glean from the bread crumbs scattered across the pages. I for one, really liked the way the “story” is presented and I’ll be trying to get my hands on the next few volumes.

4/5 stars

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

I listened to this audiobook one day while I was home with a cold playing Breath of the Wild. It was engaging enough to keep my attention but not so complicated that I couldn’t also play the game at the same time. The story fell off for me around the 75% mark but that’s my typical experience with most YA mystery thrillers. They’re just kind of predictable. Overall, I ended up liking it more than I expected to.

3/5 stars

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman

This is a really dark, haunted retelling of Snow White and I loved it. Julie Dillon’s illustrations pop off the page in vibrant color while still keeping a sharp edginess to them. This story is 18+ for anyone concerned– there are some explicit frames. This is probably one of my favorite fairy tale retellings!

4.5/5 stars

Monstress vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu

Image result for monstress vol 1

Excuse me, but why did no one tell me about this series? A gritty matriarchal society full of monsters, magic, and Old Gods set in a 1900’s steampunk, Asian-inspired setting? Cosmic horror? Disabled characters? People of color? LGBTQ+ rep?

Every page of this volume is breathtaking. I want them all framed and put on my wall. If you can get through the very dense story unfolding here, Monstress will take you on a ride you won’t soon forget.

A 2020 resolution of mine is to get caught up on the rest of it!!

5/5 stars

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Geisbrecht

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, and it came out on my birthday! The beginning really had me too. Elendhaven has the oily strangeness of Lovecraft’s Innsmouth and I loved that. The prose has a distinct voice that makes me interested in what else Geisbrecht will be offering us in the future. That being said, the back half of the book didn’t go anywhere and I found myself asking “That’s it…?” once I reached the final page.

3.5/5 stars

Stolen Tongues by Felix Blackwell

It always fills me with a kind of giddiness when a Reddit Creepypasta grows infamous enough to become an actual book. Dathan Auerbach’s Penpal is probably the best example of this and it remains one of the scariest books I’ve read.

Stolen Tongues has some really frightening moments, made even more unsettling by the fact that the author uses real names and places and tells the story as if it’s real. The ending lost me a bit, as so many Creepypastas do when they just get too big to be properly contained. It lost the believability that made it so good.  Still, it was a fun ride and I’d like to see what else Blackwell might come up with.

3/5 stars

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

I’m going to lose some of you here. I did not care for this book, and no one feels more cheated about that than me. I try so very hard to not let the hype get to me when books like this one come out. But I guess I wasn’t able to properly check my expectations at the door. I was really into the first few chapters where the magic system and the witches were first explored. But then I got really bored, way too fast. I was not sold on this enemies-to-lovers development even a little bit. And it’s one of my favorite tropes! Lou is  annoying as all hell and so is Reid. I nearly DNFed the book on more than one occasion and I wish I had.

2/5 stars (though it feels more like a 1.5)

The Fisherman by John Langan

Want to feel like you’re having a fever dream without having to go anywhere or do anything? Give this book a try. It’s a trip, and I loved it. I love that there are authors out here doing Lovecraftian horror in a way that H.P. himself would have to applaud.

There’s a scene in this book that gave me full body chills and had me scared to turn the lights off to go to bed. I had to stay up watching funny videos on Youtube until 2AM to make myself feel better.

4/5 stars

The Way of the House Husband vol. 1 by Oono Kousuke

Image result for the way of the house husband

A Yakuza boss gives up the gang life to become a house husband. What ensues are hilarious episodes of this huge scary dude rushing to sales at the grocery store, attending cooking classes, and playing with the Roomba. I can’t wait for the second volume to come out in January.

5/5 stars

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

A cute and cozy story about a girl finding her destiny and following her dreams upon the death of her estranged mother. Lim tackles heavy topics while still keeping the overall tone light and hopeful. I read this while going through a low point with my mental health and it felt like a comforting bowl of soup to help me heal and get back up on my feet.

4/5 stars

If I Could Reach You vol.1 by tMnR

A young girl must come to terms with her romantic feelings for her brother’s wife.  This is a very moody story where not a whole lot happens. You mostly just watch the main character struggle with her unrequited love. It was a bit slow but I still enjoyed it and plan to continue with the series at some point.

3/5 stars

Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

A nearly perfect ending to one of my new favorite trilogies. Serpent & Dove should be taking notes because THIS is how you nail the enemies-to-lovers trope.

5/5 stars

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

If Warrior of the Wild and Sky in the Deep could switch settings and romantic subplots, you’d have two (nearly) 5 star books. They are very similar in a lot of ways, but there were also things I liked better in each of them. I guess if I’m picking one over the other, Sky in the Deep is overall superior. That being said, Warrior had some really good character development and romance.

3.5/5 stars

Strange Planet by Nathan Pyle

Image result for strange planet comic

I’ve been sharing these comics to my Facebook page since I first came across Pyle’s work. There’s not a whole lot to say here; the book is just a full-color compilation of his best comic strips. It’s fun to read, nice and simple.

4/5 stars

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

I read so many scathing reviews of this book that I was sure I wasn’t going to like it. Low and behold, it’s one of my favorite books I read this year. The audiobook was phenomenal and I felt an immediate connection to the protagonist, Fie. The world-building is rich and wholly original. I’ve loved the concept of tooth magic since Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Owen’s take on it is just as interesting. This was another extremely well done example of the enemies-to-lovers trope and I’m waiting with baited breath for the next book.

4.5/5 stars

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia

I’m not a fan of superhero stories but I did like the original Teen Titans cartoon as a kid, and of course, Raven was my favorite character. Gabriel Picolo’s art brings her to life in a way I didn’t realize I wanted this badly. A really enjoyable, quick read. I’ll probably pick up Beast Boy when it comes out too.

4/5 stars

Claymore vol. 17: The Claws of Memory by Norihiro Yagi

The Awakened Beings in this series just get cooler and cooler. I don’t even mind that the story is now just a chain of monsters getting bigger and stronger than the one previously formed. Somehow Yagi keeps it interesting.

4/5 stars

Claymore vol. 18: The Ashes of Lautrec by Norihiro Yagi

There are actually grave consequences for the things that unfold in this story and I really appreciate that. One thing I can’t stand in other shounen/seinen series is that nine times out of ten, the main character is triumphant without any lingering traumas to speak of. This really isn’t the case with Claymore. The characters here are molded and scarred by their experiences.

4/5 stars

Claymore vol. 19: Phantoms in the Heart by Norihiro Yagi

It’s now just starting to get kind of silly. Here we have the equivalent of Yu-Gi-Oh! monsters with boobs. I’m still in love with the series of course, but that really made me laugh and took me out of the story for a second.

The final scene is brutal though, and it sucked me right back in.

3/5 stars

Claymore vol. 20: Remains of the Dead Claws by Norihiro Yagi

This is the first volume since #3 to make me cry and I wasn’t expecting that at all. I can’t go into much detail because I’m trying to avoid spoilers for the series. Just please read Claymore.

4/5 stars

Claymore vol. 21: Corpse of the Witch by Norihiro Yagi

Image result for claymore vol 20

Raki could kind of get it, though? So could Miria, but that’s always been the case. I love that she’s really become a main character all her own. The newest conflict is one of the most compelling in the series.

4/5 stars

Claymore vol. 22: Claws and Fangs of the Abyss by Norihiro Yagi

The boss fight here was just a little too slow to warrant it being this long. I’m also really not a fan of one of the awakened being designs. Usually they’re very cool and interesting but this one is just… ugh.

The ending does pick up and some of the frames look like they came right out of a Junji Ito story.

3/5 stars

Claymore vol. 23: Mark of the Warrior by Norihiro Yagi

We finally get to see a reunion that we’ve been waiting twenty whole volumes to see, and it’s very emotional. We also come to understand a mysterious scene from volume 3. This volume is more NSFW than previous ones in terms of nudity so be warned if that’s something you’re not into.

4/5 stars

Claymore vol. 24: Army of the Underworld by Norihiro Yagi

クレイモア 24 [Kureimoa 24] (Claymore, #24)

I’d like to nominate this cover as the most breathtaking one in the series. I don’t have much else to say about this one as it’s mostly a continuation of a boss fight from the previous volume.

4/5 stars

Claymore vol. 25: Sword of the Dark Deep by Norihiro Yagi

Miata turns into a freaking Bloodborne boss and I love her for it. Someone makes a sacrifice that I did not anticipate and it made me ugly cry.

4/5 stars

Claymore vol. 26: A Blade From Far Away by Norihiro Yagi

This is the penultimate volume of the series and everything is ramped up to the highest level of tension. Every frame is breathtaking. It took me twice as long to read this installment because I was savoring every moment of it.

5/5 stars

Claymore vol. 27: Silver-Eyed Warriors by Norihiro Yagi

I started reading and watching Claymore when I was twelve (ten years ago) and so a part of me always felt like the story would go on forever. But like all things, it must come to an end. Even though that breaks my heart, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to a series that has been with me all this time. Clare, Teresa, and Miria remain some of my favorite characters of all time and Priscilla is one of the most compelling villains I’ve ever loved to hate.

If you like manga, and/or fantasty, and/or badass female characters, I implore you to give Claymore a try and then message me about it so we can cry together.

Image result for claymore anime gif

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

Maybe not the coziest book to read on Christmas day. This book is absolutely brutal, right from the start. A fanatically religious sect carries out the will of The Emperor by eradicating any and all wizards. No amount of innocent lives will keep them at bay, either. Heloise is a young woman trying to figure herself out in a world that punishes all who stray from the norm. This story reminds me a lot of Joan of Arc, in fact, Cole mentions her in his dedication. I’m currently waiting for the sequel to be delivered to my house.

4/5 stars

Delicious in Dungeon vol. 1 by Ryoko Kui

A warrior, a caster, and a rogue walk into a dungeon… and they’re hungry but also severely lacking in provisions. So, naturally, they start to devise ways to eat the monsters in the dungeon. This was a lot funnier than I was expecting and everyone in the main cast is incredibly endearing.

And finally, we’re done!! I’m hoping that 2020 will see me writing more consistent reviews so you’ll have more than these tiny snippets to look forward to.

Again, if you’ve made it this far, I LOVE YOU!!! Thank you for seeing me through to the end!

My next few posts will include: Top 10 best and worst books of 2019, books I DNFed this year, 2020 bookish resolutions, and the books at the top of my 2020 TBR. So stay tuned if any of those sound interesting to you!

I hope the last few days of 2019 treat you well.



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