Books I couldn’t finish in 2019

I DNF a fair amount of books, whether I’m not in the right mood, or not sleeping well, or they don’t speak to me. Or maybe they just suck. In 2019 I started and failed to finish 21 books, though I’d read 1 of them before. Of these, 9 were by authors I’d previously read, and 2 were by Yoon Ha Lee. I hope to give 9 of them another shot, but for sure will get back to 4 of them. In addition to 10 books that began new series, I failed to get through one Book #2, two #3’s, and one #4.

Here are a few notable ones:

1. Ghosts of Gotham – by Craig Schaefer

What began as a thriller with supernatural elements took a hard turn into fantasy and it was so abrupt that I… lost it. The story. Or the plot. Or the… whatever. I tried to continue, but everything was completely different. It was like beginning a totally new story at the halfway mark. It was really weird. DNF on page 213

2. The Dark Blood – by A.J. Smith

After I was fairly critical of the Black Guard, A.J. Smith reached out to me saying he was sorry I didn’t like it, but hoped I’d be willing to give his world another go in the future. The world-building was actually really good in book #1—not my problem with it at all, so I acquiesced. Book #2 was actually a lot more enjoyable. Until I got to the end of the first part and just kind of drifted away from it. Eventually it got shelved, and I’m not really sure why. Hopefully I’ll get back to it soon, but we’ll see. DNF at page 111

3. An Easy Death – by Charlaine Harris

After trying to force my way through this for 1.5 months, I finally admitted it wasn’t working. Thing is, I can’t for the life of me tell you why. It’s only a 300 page book, after all. I’m really gutted by this because I’ve heard such great things about it! I just couldn’t get into it. Recently I’ve had issues with losing focus on books, so I’m hoping to revisit it later. Maybe I’m feeling a bit burned out this year. DNF on page 132

4. The Quantum Thief – by Hannu Rajaniemi

I’ve always wanted to read the Jean le Flambeur series, but that’s not likely to happen anymore. Truth is, I found The Quantum Thief boring, unfocused and disjointed. After the first tenth I couldn’t’ve even told you what was happening, or what HAD happened. DNF at 11%

5. The Buried Giant – by Kazuo Ishiguro

I got this as a library book and was intrigued by some much of it. The description, the cover, the first chapter…. then we got to the actual story. I think. It was… dry, to say the least. Very little happened. I lost interest and eventually the loan expired. Doubt I’ll ever get back to it. DNF at 14%

6. Nation – by Terry Pratchett

I love Terry Pratchett’s work! From Discworld to the Carpet People, Dodger and more, I love his humor, wit, adventurous writing and creativity. Ergo, Nation was quite the surprise. I wasn’t in love with the beginning, nor the middle, but I powered through because… well, because it was by Terry Pratchett! I was certain that the story would get better, and I’d start having fun. Except I never did. DNF at 74%

7. Magebane – by Stephen Aryan

This is another one I’ll give multiple more attempts. I’ve loved everything Aryan’s offered thus far and the end of his second trilogy should’ve been a no-brainer. But after my third attempt to get past page 50 failed… I shelved it. For now. DNF at page 43

8. Brief Cases – by Jim Butcher

I’m in Dresden Files withdrawal. That must be it. That’s the only reason I can think of to have a Dresden-themed, Jim Butcher book on this list. The only solving it has got to be a full-length new adventure. The short stories are good, interesting and all but… they’re just not doing it. Plus, I’d read the Bigfoot ones before. DNF at 28%

Review: Ghosts of Gotham – by Craig Schaefer

Standalone

Mystery, Urban Fantasy, Supernatural

47North; April 9, 2019

427 pages

DNF (No rating)

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Ghosts of Gotham was described to me as a “mystery-thriller with supernatural elements”, something like the early Preston & Child books before they got all… well, bad. So I was completely unprepared when the story went sideways, entering a realm of witchcraft, demigods and immortals. What it really should’ve been described as was a novel of conflicting genres. The first third doesn’t mention any kind of supernatural forces, beyond saying that they’re a hoax. When the “supernatural” element of the supernatural-thriller shows up—it’s all at once. No build. Then we have to deal with it as any first sequence magic book introduces us to its magic system. I thought this slowed both the story and lost the mystery while things were explained. Wasn’t particularly smooth, though also not the reason I stopped.

Actually, there were two elements that really killed my interest in this book.

First, the relationship of Maddie and Lionel. Honestly, I thought the story picked up when Maddie was introduced as a POV. We got to see things from a different perspective, travel the paths to an objective a different route, not to mention the limited interaction between the two was quite entertaining. I felt the story slowed when Maddie and Lionel hooked up, the disconnect between the two shrank, the paths they walked independent of one another withered away, and the book fell completely to the mystery. And it was quite the mystery, with unexpected twists and turns. It was not, however, enough to keep me invested in the plot.

The second was the supernatural itself—or, really, Lionel’s reaction to it. At some point he’s quoted as saying that the realm of magic is “something he’s been searching for his whole life”, which is why he’s made a living defrauding charlatans and fakes. The ease at which he takes to the supernatural world in Ghosts, however, is… out of character. At other points, he says things like that “he knew this time was different” because of all kinds of ridiculous things. The timbre of someone’s voice. The goosebumps he got from thinking about someone. The look in someone’s eyes. The… please don’t get me started on the love scene.

I made it to a little past that, but it really was the last straw. I wanted to like this, I saw so many good reviews of it, but I just couldn’t. And I don’t waste my time with books I can’t stand, just like how I don’t throw my kindle off the wall. Anymore. It’s old and fragile enough as it is.

Since this was a DNF (I made it to the 70% mark, but hey) I can’t rate it. I’d even hazard to recommend it. As far as I can tell, I’m one of the few people that didn’t enjoy Ghosts of Gotham.

Huh, sucks.

I DO LOVE the cover, though. So, there’s that.