Shelf Talk: DNFing Books

shelftalk

Welcome to Shelf Talk, a bi-weekly discussion post that covers a variety of topics including, but not limited to, gardening, video games, cooking, crafting and of course books. If you have any suggestions for topics that you would like to see on future Shelf Talk posts, leave it in the comments or send me an email, and I’ll do my best to cover that topic in the future.

There comes a time in every readers life when we start a new book, but part way through we decide it’s not worth finishing. Of course this also can cause a dilemma, as we readers don’t always like giving up on a book. The reasons for not finishing a book vary greatly, from lackluster plot, to unbelievable characters to poor editing and so much more. But in the end, we all have to decide whether to continue on and hope that the story gets better, or to set it down, call it a loss and move on.

Many years ago, I had a rule when it came to reading a book. If I wasn’t loving it within 50 pages or 5 chapters (whichever came first), I would give up on it and move on. I figured that if a 200-300 page long book couldn’t draw me in within that time, there was no reason to keep going. I could put my time into other books that I would hopefully enjoy more.

Fast forward to a few years ago, when I joined the book blogging sphere, my tolerance for bad books changed. I tried to give every book I had a complete chance. If that meant slogging through 400 pages just to get to the end and say I read the whole thing, then that’s what I would do. It meant I hated some books a lot more than I should have, because I forced myself to keep going when I should have cut my loses. Now, it did work in my favor sometimes, as I would find the odd book that started out weak, but really picked up in the second half and I ended up really liking that book in the end.

Recently however, I have decided to review my reasons for not finishing a book, and accept that sometimes it is best to give up on them. A good example of this happened a few weeks ago. I was looking at my Goodreads page and noticed that I had two books in my “Currently Reading” list which had been there for quite some time. One was Stormrage and I was just over half way through the book. This book had been a slog fest from page one, but I really wanted to read the whole thing so I could say I had and then continue on with the last few books in the World of Warcraft series. But after it had sat there, half read since August I realized it was time to call it quits. I couldn’t recall what had really happened (I’m honestly not sure anything had happened story wise given how boring the while thing had been up to that point), so if I were to continue it, I’d either be lost or have to start again from page one – and neither of those options sounded good to me. The other book in that list was The Raven King. I started this book back in April but I quickly set it aside after about 100 pages (or about a quarter of the way through). I had enjoyed the first book in this series a lot, but each consecutive book was a little less interesting to me. This was another book I would have to start over again in order to finish. After sitting there for almost eight months, I knew it was time to move on.

So I listed both of them as DNF and moved on. Now I know some of you are probably yelling at me through your monitors right now, your fingers flying across the keyboard writing up a comment to convince me to not give up, especially over me not finishing The Raven King. But that is my choice. I am sure there have been some books that others have tried to read that I loved, yet they hated and perhaps didn’t even finish. Sure it sucks when that happens, because obviously we want people to like the books we like, but that’s not always going to happen.

The thing is, there are so many books out there, that I feel by forcing myself to see a book that I’m not enjoying all the way to the end, I’m taking away time I could spent on a book I will, perhaps, enjoy. If the characters don’t appeal to me, if the story feels flat or if there are way too many cliches in them (I’m looking at your love triangles!), then I will do what feel right to me and stop reading. There is always the chance that later down the road, I may wish to revisit a book, to see if my opinion of it has changed, but I can’t bother myself with bad books. Life is too short to suffer like that.

Going forward, I am going to be more decisive about not finishing books. I have hundreds of unread books on my shelves at home. Yup, you read that right, hundreds of unread books. So if I am to have any chance of getting through them all, I need to weed out the bad ones by putting them in the DNF pile and move onto the next (hopefully) good book.

There is no perfect formula when it comes to deciding when to continue with a book and when to give up. A lot of it comes down to personal preference. It is the same things that dictates whether we like a certain genre, author, etc. or not. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with not finishing a book. Others may disagree, and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, that’s one of the things I love about the reader community, is that our opinions are all so different, yet we all get along because in the end, we all have a common love of books.

How do you feel about DNFing a book? Do you have a rule when it comes to not finishing them? Or are you the type to stick it out to the end no matter what?

Book Review: Star Wars Catalyst

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I really hate giving any Star Wars book a low rating, but it happens sometimes. Sadly it has happened more often than not when it comes to the new canon series. I always go in hoping that it will be just as good, if not better, than the novels I read in the Expanded Universe (Legends) series, but in the end, I’m usually disappointed.

I’m not going to go into much details, mostly because it would probably end up being a long rant, so I will give a quick review on this.

From my perspective, this novel was essential a 300 page guide on how a Tarkin-like man, is busy manipulating a scientist into doing work for him that the scientist is against but tricking him into doing it for the greater good of the Empire just so that he can prove to the Emperor that he is better than Tarkin. There is a whole lot of time spent concentrating on trying to subtly get the scientist on board, but pointing out that he can’t be pushed into doing the work, instead they need to make him want to do it himself. There’s a lot of random research materials floating around, lots of talk of plans, some very small snippets of construction of the Death Star, and a few instances where characters from the films, including the upcoming Rogue One, make a small appearance.

There were two things that really bothered me. First, the smuggler in this book. I don’t necessary mean his character as a whole, I’m talking about his name. His name was Has. That’s right, Has. One frigging letter away from Han! Why couldn’t the smuggler have a different name? Or is there some unwritten rule in the Star Wars universe where all smuggler must have similar names? Next thing you know will we see smugglers named Hat, or Hab, or Hal. Anything to keep the Ha_ name theme going.

Secondly. In all the talk about different parts of the Death Star, the pages on end about design and whatnot, there is not a single mention of the two meter wide exhaust port that will inevitably by the downfall of the space station. Why is that? Honestly, I kept reading just to see if it would be mentioned, but it wasn’t, and that left me utterly disappointed.

And now, I have fallen into a rant. Best to stop there.

In the end, I wasn’t entirely thrilled with this book. There were a few interesting parts but overall I didn’t enjoy it, which is odd because James Luceno also wrote the novel Tarkin, which I absolutely loved. I guess I will see if this was a necessary read before watching Rogue One or not, but at this moment, I feel like it might not have been important to read first.

Top Ten Tuesday

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is the Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016.

At first I wasn’t sure how many new to me authors I had read this yet, but then I did some digging and found out that I had read quite a few. So here they are in no particular order.

  1. Lawrence Anthony. I loved his stories about his life trying to save Elephants, Rhinos and other species in Africa.
  2. Isaac Asimov. While I didn’t entirely love Foundation, I will be finishing the trilogy at some point as I am curious about it.
  3. Chris Metzen. I didn’t think I would like his book, but I really enjoyed it and can only hope he will write more World of Warcraft books in the future.
  4. Victoria Scott. Her novel Titans was a fun, unique read that had no romance at all, which was a great break from most YA novels.
  5. T.T. Flynn. This is a western author I’ve wanted to read for some time, and was glad to finally get around to one of his books this year and look forward to reading more in the future.
  6. Claudia Gray. I feel in love with her writing with Lost Stars and I cannot wait to read more of her works.
  7. E.K. Johnston. I liked her Ahsoka novel and will look for more of her books in the future.
  8. Stella Howard. I happened upon her by chance when I stumbled upon a Xena book she wrote, now I am eager to read more.

Didn’t quite make it to ten, but I was close. There were a few other new to me authors that I read this year, but since I really didn’t like the books of theirs that I read, they did not make the list. What new to you authors did you read this year?

Monday Progress Report

monday

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Breakout by Ann Aguirre
Cardwell Christmas Crime Scene by B.J. Daniels

What I did Last Week

Read

I found a decent amount of time to read last week. First up I read Knock ‘Em Dead. This was a quick and enjoyable read, much like the others in the series that I have read so far.

 

 

Then I read From The Listening Hills, which is a book I’ve been intending to read for a while. I enjoyed most of the short stories within this book. I will be posting a full review of this book soon.

 

 

 

Next I read Poor Unfortunate Soul. This book was a bit of a let down, but not as much as the previous book about the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. I doubt I will write a review for this one, because I don’t really have anything good to say about it.

 

 

While I didn’t finish Silent Harmony, I did start it last week and then promptly put it in my DNF pile. I highly doubt I will give this book a second chance as I was really not impressed with the content just 30 or so pages in.

 

Watched

We kept the TV nice and busy last week. We decided to watch a Christmas movie every day until Christmas day, so last week we watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Jingle All The Way, The Muppets Christmas Carol and Phineas & Ferb: A Very Perry Christmas. We all enjoyed these movies and look forward to watching more this coming week.

For family movie night we ended up watching Duct Tape Forever. I’ve seen this movie a couple of times, but it was the first time the boys had seen it. We all really enjoyed it.

Life

Not really much to report here. I had some baking orders to fill, but that was about it. Oh, our neck deck is finished. At least for now. They will need to come back in the spring and put some final touches on it, but for now it’s done.

What I Plan To Do This Week

Reading

Well I need to read a good book this week to make up for the last two books I read last week. I don’t know yet what I will read, but I will likely pick up something I have previously read to ensure I will get a good book this time. Reading another bad book will probably put me into a reading slump, which I don’t want to happen.

Watching

There will be more Christmas movies this week, although we have no solid plan on which ones we will watch. Some of that will depend on what we find on TV, and if there is nothing good on, we will turn to our DVDs and Netflix.

Life

I don’t have any solid plans this week. We’ll see what comes up as the week progresses.

November 2016 Wrap-Up

wrapup

With December here it’s time to look back on the reading I did in November. I barely read this month, I just didn’t have time to, but did manage to get through three books.

So what did I read in November?

  • Havoc by Ann Aguirre
  • Star Wars: Catalyst by James Luceno
  • Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper

Oh November, you were so busy. I knew the month was going to be busy, but I never expected it to be so busy. Between NaNoWriMo, participating in Sci-Fi Month, prepping for a craft fair, and then dealing with post craft fair orders, and getting some work done on our house, it was a bit crazy. I did really good with NaNoWriMo, even though I didn’t get to do any writing for two weeks, I managed to not only hit, but exceed, the 50,000 word count goal. I’m sure had I had more writing time, I would have gone even further into the word count, perhaps even pushing close to 100,000 words. Sci-Fi Month was great, but the one thing I never got a chance to do was visit and comment on all the other blogs participating in the event, I tried to set some time aside, but alas it didn’t work out. I will try to make time to go to them next month as I really want to see what everyone posted about. The craft fair was a huge success. I spent a week baking and getting ready for it, then spend two days there, even having to bake at night to keep up with demand. I got one day of rest after that and then orders started to pile in. I’m happy with the continued orders, though I am also looking forward to a time when I do have a few days off from baking, as so far it’s been pretty constant since the craft fair.

Overall, the month was very good, albeit chaotic. I look forward to seeing what December has in store and hopefully I will have more time to read next month.

Book Review: Cardwell Christmas Crime Scene

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review via NetGalley.

I have come to love B.J. Daniels writing, and more so the Cardwell Ranch series, and the subsequent series Cardwell Cousins, which this book is a part of. There is something about these books, which are the perfect mix of suspense, romance and cowboys, that makes me rush to read them.

I will admit, I was slightly confused about this book as well, because I swore I had read it already based on the title. But after a bit of digging, I realized I was confusing it with two books from the Cardwell Ranch series, Crime Scene At Cardwell Ranch, and Christmas At Cardwell Ranch. I’m sure you can see how the title of this one mixed me up a bit, as it’s a mishmash of those two.

I loved the fact that we finally got the see the real Dee Anna Justice, known as DJ, and to see much much she differed from the fake Dee Anna that was in an earlier Cardwell Ranch novel. I really liked her character, to see how she was conflicted about this family she was meeting for the first time, yet wanting so badly to be a part of it. Imagine having an entire family hidden from you and then suddenly finding them. That would certainly be a lot to process for anyone, but given how DJ finds out about them, it’s not wonder she has so much apprehension at first.

Then there is Beau. He’s a cowboy and private investigator, and he’s sort of the wrench thrown into DJ’s plans. I really enjoyed seeing the struggle between these two as they sorted out the mystery surrounding DJ and their feelings for each other.

There were definitely several unexpected moments in this book. I did try to guess where the story would lead, but Daniel’s has a great way of making the reader think one thing, and then revealing something else as the pages go on. I was really surprised by one particular event near the end, though I won’t go into detail about it to avoid spoilers, but I was actually excited about it, since it was not at all what I was expecting to occur. In fact, it was the exact opposite, and that made me really want to get through those last few pages to see exactly how it all played out.

I would definitely recommend this book, as well as the Cardwell series as a whole, as it is truly a great read. If you are going to read this one, I’d highly suggest reading the rest of the Cardwell Cousins series first, just to make sure you get the full experience. And if you want to really go all out, read the Cardwell Ranch series first, and truly get to know each and every Cardwell family members and learn about their own journey, you will not be disappointed.

Book Review: Breakout

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

As far as series finales go, Breakout was alright. After such an intense bit of story telling in the second book, Havoc, I was hoping that the action and standout plot lines would continue until the end, but alas that was not meant to be. There was certainly still plenty of action, but compared to Havoc, this book felt tame.

I can’t really go into much detail, as doing so may give away things in this book and the previous novels, but there were some things I really liked. One being that we finally got to learn more about Silence. I admit, I was curious from the beginning of the trilogy about just who she was and why she was locked away on Perdition. The revelation about her past and her reason for being there was quick shocking.

There were moments in this book where things slowed down quite a bit, yet given the happenings during these times, it made sense that the story lulled a bit. It can’t all be fast paced action (even if I wish that it could be). Given what the people on Perdition were doing, there couldn’t always be something dramatic happening every page. Some things needed to be slowly revealed, plans had to be formed and constructed, and action could show up now and then to keep things interesting.

I do have to say, that the ending was in a way a little disappointing to me. Granted I liked seeing the characters pushed out of the elements and really tested in new ways, but it just felt a bit anticlimactic. After all that had happened, for it to end like that, I mean in a way it made sense, but I just wished there could have been something more.

Overall, I really enjoyed this trilogy. Havoc was by far my favorite book in it, with Breakout being my least favorite, but still enjoyable. I have really come to love Ann Aguirre’s writing and I cannot recommend her books enough. I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future and hope that perhaps another series will be written within this same universe because I really enjoy it.