Mini Reviews: The DNF Edition: Things I Want My Daughters To Know, Portrait Of A Killer, Ella, Dracula, The Strange Journey Of Mr Daldry

Hey guys! I promised I was going to find my courage to write some DNF reviews HOLD ME and today is the perfect day for it. One of the bookstagram challenges I signed up for this month has a prompt for today that’s about books you didn’t finish, so here we are. So without further ado, here are some books I didn’t finish.

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To be honest, this book deserves more to be in the “put aside for now” pile. The story focuses four sisters trying to recover from the death of their mother in the present time, while also telling the story of the mother and her fight with cancer and, eventually, how she simply tries to come to terms with the idea that she can’t win the battle, so she decides to write a journal, if I’m not mistaken, for her daughters to read after her death. The story is compelling and it certainly isn’t my first foray into the world of sad, heartbreaking books where one of the MCs dies of cancer. But at the time I picked it up, without really thinking about it consciously, really, my grandma was fighting her battle with cancer. So I didn’t manage to keep my distance from the story enough for it to not become a painful reading experience, so I felt the need to put it down. It doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy what little I read, it just means I needed to step back a little bit from the story. I will definitely pick it up later to read.
I’ve always been attracted to books or documentaries that focus on unsolved crime mysteries, and there’s no bigger mystery to me than Jack the Ripper. I expected greatness from this book, to be honest. The thing that kept me from fully enjoying the book was that I felt like I spent too much time in the author’s head, with her focusing a bit too much on her own journey and thoughts during and about this investigation. It’s not my first time reading nonfiction about serial killers and unsolved mysteries, but they all managed to somehow not include too much detail about the author. I would have wanted less of that, to be honest.
This book is about Elizabeth Bathory, one of the bloodiest serial killers ever in my opinion. Which got me excited, because as a psychologist, I love delving into the minds of the darkest human creatures that have lived on this planet. I read this book way, way before I stated book blogging, so I might not remember the finer details as much, but from what I remember the story is told from a male protagonist’s perspective, who knew the countess from when he was a boy and was afraid of her, and he tries to tell this story of the bloody countess. That’s really all I remember. While this would seem like such an interesting story, I couldn’t get past the first 30 pages or so. First of all, I don’t know if this was the way the book was written as in the original language, but the translated version was a bit too flowery for my taste. There were some metaphors there that killed me, and not in a good way. But my biggest issue was with the way the author portrayed my country’s ancestors. I usually can manage to distance myself from any personal thoughts while reading, so when a book bothers me, it really bothers me. I myself was… I won’t say offended, because that’s a too strong word, but bothered by the way the Dacians were portrayed (if you don’t know, the Dacians are the ancient people who inhabited the territory that is today known as Romania; Dacia was a bit bigger than today’s Romania, but that’s not the point here). Why the author felt the need to even mention Dacians in a book about a Hungarian countess is beyond me, honestly, and I’m sure they get as much page space in the overall book as a dedication page, but the little that was written bothered me. I understand challenging history, since we know history is written by winners, therefore is not always accurate, but this didn’t feel like that. Maybe I exaggerated, but to me it proved to be too much and I couldn’t continue reading.

ETA: I feel the need to add this one phrase again, just to make sure nobody got me wrong. I wasn’t offended by what was said, but mostly by how it was said in this book. I understand how, if you’ve read the book, or if you want to, you might misunderstand me and accuse me of something I’m not. It’s not about what was implied here, but about the how

This book is the most painful of them all. Marc Levy is one of my favorite authors, and I was excited when this book came out, because it felt different than all his previous books. The story takes place a few years after WWII and it’s about Alice, who gets her fortune told. She then moves into this apartment that has, according to her neighbor, Mr Daldry, “the best lighting he needed for his paintings”. He then somehow convinces her to listen to the fortune teller, and go on a journey. That’s the short version of where I got into reading the book. I started reading the book all excited, and halfway through I realized I misinterpreted just about everything about this Mr. Daldry, so much so that I was convinced I was reading about an old guy. Which made sense to me, because the way he talks, the way he acts, even his way of thinking, all made me imagine an 80 year old guy. For some reason I just couldn’t connect with the characters, and for me that is just as important as the plot itself.

Okay, so this might not be as painful as I originally thought. Let’s discuss. What book did you recently DNF and why?