Bites From Our Backlist- DNFs (For Now)

Posted March 25, 2020 by stuckint in Bites From Our Backlist, Features / 1 Comment

Well hello everyone and welcome back to another Bites From Our Backlist, a feature where we share a series of short reviews about books that are burning holes in our physical and digital TBR piles.

It’s time for another Bites From Our Backlist, where we share short reviews about books that have been sitting on our TBR for a while and whose release date has already past. So whether it was released a month or years ago, you can find all our thoughts in these posts.

*We received early copies of these books from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions are our own and do not reflect the thoughts or opinions of the publishers or authors.

The Companions by Katie M. Flynn

The Companions by Katie M. Flynn
on March 3, 2020

Station Eleven meets Never Let Me Go in this debut novel set in an unsettling near future where the dead can be uploaded to machines and kept in service by the living.
In the wake of a highly contagious virus, California is under quarantine. Sequestered in high rise towers, the living can’t go out, but the dead can come in—and they come in all forms, from sad rolling cans to manufactured bodies that can pass for human. Wealthy participants in the “companionship” program choose to upload their consciousness before dying, so they can stay in the custody of their families. The less fortunate are rented out to strangers upon their death, but all companions become the intellectual property of Metis Corporation, creating a new class of people—a command-driven product-class without legal rights or true free will.
Sixteen-year-old Lilac is one of the less fortunate, leased to a family of strangers. But when she realizes she’s able to defy commands, she throws off the shackles of servitude and runs away, searching for the woman who killed her.
Lilac’s act of rebellion sets off a chain of events that sweeps from San Francisco to Siberia to the very tip of South America. While the novel traces Lilac’s journey through an exquisitely imagined Northern California, the story is told from eight different points of view—some human, some companion—that explore the complex shapes love, revenge, and loneliness take when the dead linger on.

Quick Take: A highly contagious virus ravages the state of California and while the rich pass the time in ammenity abundant high rises where the companinship program allows them to upload their coincidenceness before they die so they can remain with their family. But things become complicated when “the companions” start to experience flashbacks from their former lives.

What I Loved: First of all, let be known that this one wasn’t a real DNF. I skimmed the last few chapters and enjoyed the audiobook for it’s full cast of stellar voice actors. I was incredibly intrigued by the premise of this book which is pitched as Station Eleven and Never Let Me Go. It also felt a bit on the nose as the books about how cities started sheltering in place when people started getting sick. Maybe not exactly a comforting read at the moment. Be that as it may, I was still excited to read this book and am sad to say I was disappointed.

What I Didn’t Love: I was really excited for this book because of the premise and I appreciate what Flynn was trying to do with her commentary on elitist mentality and social class systems. My main issue with this book was how disjointed it felt. It felt more like a tangled book of short stories than a cohesive novel and I never felt like the characters were fleshed out enough to give them any real depth. Ultimately, the synopsis sucked me in, but the choppy execution took me out of the story completely and was confusing at numerous points. I read all the way through this one and will not be coming back to it.

The Holdout by Graham Moore

The Holdout by Graham Moore
on February 18, 2020
Pages: 325

In this twisty tale from Moore (The Sherlockian), the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game, young juror Maya Seale is convinced that African American high school teacher Bobby Nock is innocent of killing the wealthy white female student with whom he appears to have been involved and persuades her fellow jurors likewise. Ten years later, a true-crime docuseries reassembles the jurors, and Maya, now a defense attorney, must prove her own innocence when one of them is found dead in Maya's room.

Quick Take: Maya Seale, when she is a young juror on one of the biggest trial of the century, convinces her fellow jurors to acquit alleged murder. Almost a decade later, Maya is a defense attorney but now must convince another jury to once again acquit- and this time, she’s the one on trial.

What I Loved: This book has an incredibly strong premise and I enjoyed the writing style. I got this one through Book of the Month and I was totally sucked in by the chapter preview. I honestly think this was more of a case of just not being in the mood for a slow burn legal procedural.

What I Didn’t Love: I think my mistake was trying to do this one on audio. It’s complicated and a bit slow moving in places and so it doesn’t make for the best audiobook because I found myself losing my place and feeling like I missed some thing even though I had been paying attention for the most part. I definitely want to give this one another chance in physical book form. I will definitely be updating my review once I do so.

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing on March 3, 2020
Pages: 803

Bound by blood.Tempted by desire.Unleashed by destiny.
Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.
Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.
As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.
With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

Quick Take: Bryce team’s up with an angel to uncover what really happened to her best friend murdered by a demon. Hoping to clear her own name, Bryce travels across this magical world to discover the truth.

What I Loved: Part murder mystery, part epic fantasy this doorstop of a book has so much going for it. In a world full of shapeshifters, angels and fae everything is great for Bryce, until her best friend is murdered and she becomes the prime suspect. I made it about a fourth of the way into this book and liked what I read but I had to set it down because it’s such a long book and I didn’t feel as invested as I should have. I tried it on audio but think I will give it ago in physical form since my library hold has basically been extended until May so I have time right?

What I Didn’t Love: the thing I disliked most about this book are twofold. First, why does SJM call everyone male and female. It annoys me to know end! I cringe everytime I read it but I’m hoping that the story will make my pain worth it. The other hang up I had about the first 15 chapters or so was how long things took to happen? Am I going to walk away from this one feeling like it could have been 300 page shorter? Probably, but I still plan on giving the rest of the book a try next month.

What About You?

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

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