Books I Didn’t Finish: August & September 2018

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
Genre: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Houghton Mifflin
eARC, 384 pages
Source: NetGalley

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

I am OBSESSED with Japanese fantasy and have been desperately craving more. So when I heard of this book, I was stoked! I wanted so badly to love this one, but sadly the writing style ruined it for me. I’ve had this problem with Emiko Jean’s prose before, but I was hoping it had improved. It was really sophomoric and there’s just something about her writing that feels awkward and grates on my nerves. I was intrigued by the world and concept, and of course the Japanese culture, but I didn’t give a crap about any of the characters. It was also really boring. Pretty much nothing happens until 40% into the book – which is like 150 pages. A hundred fifty pages. Of NOTHING. No thanks.

I’m really sad I didn’t like it, so I’m hoping to try the audiobook of this one when it comes out.


Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Published by Dutton
Hardcover,  448 pages
Source: Library

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Okay, I think Richelle Mead just isn’t for me. I hated Vampire Academy and the writing of this one just didn’t jive with me either. I didn’t give a crap about any of the characters. It’s a shame, really. I made it about 100 pages and just knew this one wasn’t for me.



Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Genre: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Delacorte Press
Hardcover, 432 pages
Source: Library

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

I made it about 92 pages before I had to put this one down. I was kind of enjoying it in the beginning, but it felt SO GENERIC. My interest waned as I continued, and I put it down for a few hours and by the time I picked it back up I had lost interest. It just didn’t feel like it had anything new to add to the High Fantasy genre, and I felt like I was reading the same book that I’ve already read before in almost every other HF.



Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis
Genre: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Putnam’s Childrens
Audiobook, 352 pages
11 hours, 37 minutes
Source: I own it (returned)

Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart.

While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer.

I made it a full 4.5 hours into the audio and just couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t like ANY of the narrators. I chose the audio because of the horrible reviews the book had: I didn’t think I’d like it if I read it, and usually when I listen I’m likely to enjoy the book more. That is, if I actually like the narrator(s).

  • Vincent’s narrator is annoying and whiny and he sounds ridiculous narrating females. Listening to him just makes me cringe. The way he talks reminds me of Varys from GoT.
  • Whitt’s narrator overpronounces T’s, he’s annoying too.
  • Dara’s narrator’s voice was so raspy I found myself constantly wishing she would clear her throat, which made ME clear my throat a lot when listening. Sadly she’s the only character I remotely liked.
  • Khosa’s narrator had NO EMOTION WHATSOEVER which only accentuated the fact that she had the personality of a wet noodle.

The concept was really cool – albeit the “born to breed and die” bit being cringeworthy – but the characters were terrible. Also, four POVs was a TERRIBLE idea, sorry. I am 99% positive that if I had been reading I wouldn’t have been able to keep who I was reading straight. The difference in narrators helped with that problem, but the bouncing around was rather irritating. Not to mention it was horribly inconsistent – Dara’s POV is in third person omniscient (which I haaaaate) so it bounced around different POVs in the POV, and I’m pretty sure the rest were all first person. How awkward is that?! I don’t know what Mindy was trying to do, but wow did it fail. Which is a total shame because I usually like Mindy’s work. (If you read this and hated it PLEASE don’t give up, try The Female of the Species it is phenomenal and nothing like this one!)

Books I tried to read and wasn’t in the mood for

I didn’t make it very far into any of these, I just wasn’t in the mood. I didn’t care for the prose of The Poppy War at all, so I don’t know if I’ll try that one again. Tiger’s Daughter is a toss up, but I actually thought the color-coded dragons and the blood magic in the first chapter of Waking Fire were awesome, so I will definitely try that one again! I think I just need to be in the mood for the tediousness that is Adult High Fantasy.

Books I started to read and lost interest in

I made it about halfway through all of these and just…lost interest. I blame my serious reading slump! I was actually enjoying them for the most part, so I don’t want to give up on them just yet.

Jessi (Geo)

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