Image by Dani!
So it's the very first month in 2017. I had a pretty good month when it came to reading, but there were a few that needed to be cut off before their ending. And keep scrollling to see which books did not make it to or far past the 100-page rule....
You Don't Know My Name by Kristen Orlando
Fighter, Faker, Student, Spy.
Seventeen-year-old Reagan Elizabeth Hillis is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. Falling in love with the boy next door was never part of the plan.
Now Reagan has to decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she's always wanted? And does she even have a choice at all?
Pages Read: 115/320 pages
Because: Holy wow was this cheesy. And predictable. And very young-skewing? I felt like I was reading a MG that was aged up to try and appeal to YA readers? It was a very superficial read; shallow characters, blah plot, predictable narrative. I checked out mentally about 75 pages in and then gave up completely.
Maresi by Maria
Maresi came to the Red Abbey when she was thirteen, in the Hunger Winter. Before then, she had only heard rumours of its existence in secret folk tales. In a world where girls aren't allowed to learn or do as they please, an island inhabited solely by women sounded like a fantasy. But now Maresi is here, and she knows it is real. She is safe.
Then one day Jai tangled fair hair, clothes stiff with dirt, scars on her back arrives on a ship. She has fled to the island to escape terrible danger and unimaginable cruelty. And the men who hurt her will stop at nothing to find her.
Now the women and girls of the Red Abbey must use all their powers and ancient knowledge to combat the forces that wish to destroy them. And Maresi, haunted by her own nightmares, must confront her very deepest, darkest fears.
A story of friendship and survival, magic and wonder, beauty and terror, Maresi will grip you and hold you spellbound.
Pages Read: 200/256
Because: I tried with this one --- it's so short that I raced past the 100-page line in an hour. I thought to give it an extension to do SOMETHING original or just LESS GENERIC and... nope. This is very "insert generic fantasy thing/name/idea"; and it was very been-there-read-that. Even with less than 60 pages to go, I did not care enough to keep reading.
Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer (Titan's Forest #1)
At the highest level of a giant forest, thirteen kingdoms fit seamlessly together to form the great city of Canopy. Thirteen goddesses and gods rule this realm and are continuously reincarnated into human bodies. Canopy’s position in the sun, however, is not without its dark side. The nation’s opulence comes from the labor of slaves, and below its fruitful boughs are two other realms: Understorey and Floor, whose deprived citizens yearn for Canopy’s splendor.
Unar, a determined but destitute young woman, escapes her parents’ plot to sell her into slavery by being selected to serve in the Garden under the goddess Audblayin, ruler of growth and fertility. As a Gardener, she yearns to become Audblayin’s next Bodyguard while also growing sympathetic towards Canopy's slaves.
When Audblayin dies, Unar sees her opportunity for glory – at the risk of descending into the unknown dangers of Understorey to look for a newborn god. In its depths, she discovers new forms of magic, lost family connections, and murmurs of a revolution that could cost Unar her chance…or grant it by destroying the home she loves.
Pages Read: 95/336 and then 105/336
Because: I had no idea what was going on? I loved the premise for this... but the world is very sink or swim and I don't even seem to have arms? This is a very bad metaphor but I felt sunk when it came to understanding the world at play, the aims of the characters, or even how they all interacted. Just not a book or writing style that suits me as a reader. This is one I tred again but the eARC and I were not friends.
Miranda and Caliban by Jaqueline Carey
A lovely girl grows up in isolation where her father, a powerful magus, has spirited them to in order to keep them safe.
We all know the tale of Prospero's quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will?
In this incredible retelling of the fantastical tale, Jacqueline Carey shows readers the other side of the coin—the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him. The two find solace and companionship in each other as Prospero weaves his magic and dreams of revenge.
Always under Prospero’s jealous eye, Miranda and Caliban battle the dark, unknowable forces that bind them to the island even as the pangs of adolescence create a new awareness of each other and their doomed relationship.
Miranda and Caliban is bestselling fantasy author Jacqueline Carey’s gorgeous retelling of The Tempest. With hypnotic prose and a wild imagination, Carey explores the themes of twisted love and unchecked power that lie at the heart of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, while serving up a fresh take on the play's iconic characters.
Pages Read: 80/352
Because: Oh boy so even the original story of Miranda and Caliban from The Tempest... is a problematic one. I was willing to see how Carey would adapt it and change it... but her execution of that is not for me. The writing here is admittedly lovely, but it's a distant loveliness. The story is set in the childhood of the famous characters, but I didn't engage with the story or the characters. Knowing what I know about their history, I didn't feel the need to read further.
The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom (The Cruelty #1)
When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. Government is unable to help, 17 year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the sordid underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—she plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.
Pages Read: 95/384
Because: I was never too interested or invested in this story. I would not have even tried it had it not been sent to me as an ARC. Still, I gave it the benefit of the doubt and soon found myself in a story that makes fun of YA cliches (that it also possesses.) It's a book that demeans and looks down at YA while still being a YA novel. And it is a bad one, at that. This does not read like a teen girl. It reads like a middle-aged white man THINKS a teen girl would. Inauthentic. Condescending. Cliched. Self-congratulatory and pretentious. Those 95 pages were a 1-star experience.