DNF Roundup, YA edition: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine, Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman, and Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Posted April 22, 2016 by Jessica in Jessica, Reviews, Young Adult / 8 Comments


First of all, I want to say, it’s not that I’ve had particularly bad luck with books these last few weeks, it’s that I haven’t had any luck at all—I haven’t read a new book in weeks (I know, GASP!!)—so I’ve been making good use of the time by cleaning up my iPad of various duds that are still lingering on my dock, never to be finished.

It’s hard to say which was the most disappointing, b/c I had high hopes for all of them, but I can say that THE SHADOW QUEEN by C.J. Redwine was probably the worst overall, so I’ll start with that one.

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DNF at 15%.

After a prologue that with few exceptions felt like it could’ve been copied from the Snow and Regina plot thread from Once Upon A Time (the early version, before things got complicated with back stories), the first chapter began in what felt like the opening sequence of every bad horror movie ever.

Then came a series of stock characters, and, really . . . making a race of dragons flat is an accomplishment that no author should ever attempt to replicate.

Booooooo.

And so, disappointed and bored, I quit.

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DNF at 33%.

Two words: half-fantasy.

But this time, it was even worse than the usual disappointment that comes from a “fantasy” sans magic, b/c at 33%, it was also a story marketed as being about pirates, WITHOUT ANY PIRATES.

Oh, you could see where it was going, but it would’ve been more truthful to call this one a fictionalized account of the events that led to Blackbeard becoming Blackbeard.

Bad form.

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DNF at 46%.

This one, I was almost positive I would LOVE, based on the teaser chapters I read on NetGalley, but when I actually got ahold of the whole book, after those first couple of exciting chapters . . . Blah.

Poppy was nuts in that sad, poor, little rich girl way, Wink was nuts in that eccentric, weird family/family secrets kinds of way, and Midnight was just trying to keep his head above water, caught between them.

The common denominator between the two girls was Wink’s older brother, with whom Poppy was (is?) obsessed, and, to my mind, Wink’s oddness started to take on a The Perks of Being a Wallflower feel, so I started wondering if Brother was more sinister then he was being painted in the girls’ recollections . . .

BUT.

I couldn’t bring myself to care enough to keep reading and find out, b/c the meandering, seemingly nonsensical path we were taken on, presumably to get to the truth, was . . . Blah.

But probably the most beautiful book cover of the year. I’ll have to remember to add it to my “cover-is-a-lie” bookshelf on Goodreads.

Of the three, I might at some point in the future attempt to read WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT again. There’s a part of me that still hopes it was an unfortunate casualty of my recent book-funkiness . . . But the other two . . . MEH. MEH x500.

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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.

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8 responses to “DNF Roundup, YA edition: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine, Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman, and Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

  1. These are popular enough YA books I have been scared to read because of hype. Of all the ones here you reviewed, it saddens me about Blackhearts!!! That sucks you are finding so many duds!

  2. Wow, sorry to hear that you have had some bad luck with these great looking books. I am getting Shadow Queen to review on audio so fingers crossed I will like it. 🙂 The other two I didn’t pick up so I won’t have to worry but I have heard good things about all three which goes to show you that they are not for everyone. Great reviews. I like how you can give your opinion and not be nasty about not liking them. 🙂

  3. I stopped reading Shadow Queen too (I also got the feeling that it was super close to Once Upon a Time!). I don’t know if I marked it as DNF or just took it of my list though, but I couldn’t get interested in it really. Especially since the dragons were disappointing.

    I haven’t read the other two but I was hoping to read Blackhearts someday, but maybe I’ll borrow from the library instead of buying just in case.

    Sorry these books didn’t work out for you!

  4. Oh wow! Your first two DNFs are ones that I did enjoy. I loved the historical aspect of Blackhearts, could have done without the fantasy/magic type of storyline in it though. As for Shadow Queen, I totally agree on the comparison to Once Upon a Time. But I kind of liked the dragon characters and the way they were done. Your reviews, even as DNF ones are so thought out and explain exactly what you didn’t like, and I love that!
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