Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The DNF Round-Up

My pile of ARCs is beyond out of control and if there is any hope of me seeing the light at the end of the tunnel I have given myself permission to start DNF'ing (Do Not Finish) more.  I DNF for a variety of reasons - which this round-up will ably illustrate.  Here are three titles I recently gave up on, but hey - maybe they'll work for you!

Snowbound Surprise for the Billionaire by Michelle Douglas was downloaded via Netgalley because 1) Harlequin Romance 2) Christmas read and 3) Boss/Secretary trope.  Unfortunately I ended up DNF'ing it around 30% out of disinterest.

It starts out promising, with the hero buying the heroine's family farm but stipulating that he wants her to stay on to help jump start his business plan.  She's desperate to "escape" and have a life of her own.  When the hero overhears this he proposes she travel with him to Munich on business.  His PA cannot travel with him for some reason that I forget now and heroine would serve as his temp.

This lost steam for me with the, what I felt was, odd transition from the farm to being the hero's PA on a business trip.  After that it descends into a travelogue of Munich, the heroine being a wide-eyed tourist, happy to finally escape the Australian countryside.  Nothing terribly "bad" about this per se - I was just bored by it.  It didn't grab me.  It was totally shaping up to be an "average" C read for me, and I was ready to move on.

If you know absolutely nothing about baseball there's probably a good story in A League of Her Own by Karen Rock - an author I've really enjoyed in the past.  Heroine was collegiate softball star and now coaches.  Her Daddy owns a minor league, Triple-A baseball team.  Daddy has heart attack, heroine convinces him to give her the vacant head coaching job on the team.  Hero is a washed up pitcher, now sober, who was signed by Daddy and hopes his second chance jump-starts his baseball career.

The baseball stuff here is wronger than wrong.  Triple-A is the top minor league stop before you go to the big leagues.  Minor league owners do NOT sign players.  General Managers and the front office with the "big clubs" are responsible for filling out rosters (through free agency, the draft, Rule 5 picks etc.) in the entire farm system (Single, Double and Triple A teams).  Their job, their desire, is to pick talented players who will eventually become major league baseball players.  Your farm system, at all levels, is there to serve the major league club.  Hence no minor league owner anywhere would sign a player.  A major league owner might have some sway, but not a piddly minor league owner.  It's not plausible.

Minor league owners do NOT hire coaches!  Again, GMs and the front office at the "big clubs" do that.  The major league club has drafted all of these talented players, they're not leaving those players in the hands of a some coach that the minor league owner hired who could be a total wahoo.  And while I'm at it?  There is more than one coach on any minor league team.  Using the Toledo Mud Hens as an example (Detroit's Triple-A team) you have a pitching coach, hitting coach and yes - then your manager (head coach).  Hell, when the Tigers hired new pitching coaches for both Triple A and Single A this off-season the announcement came from Dave Dombrowski's office (Tigers GM).  And while I'm at it - even though Daddy is looking to sell his Minor League team because they are losing money?  He'd have a hard time doing it without input from the major league club, who he would be under contractual obligation to.  Major League Baseball teams enter into agreements with these minor league affiliates.  Teams can even change affiliation over time (the Syracuse Chiefs, now Washington Nationals Triple A was once the Triple A team for the Toronto Blue Jays, one example) - but again, these are contractual agreements.  Like stadium deals.  You're going to be "our team" through 2017, for example.  Now if the major league club decided to not renew the contract?  Then yes, Daddy could sell the team.  But he'd also have no players - since the abandoning major league club would move their rosters to whatever city they set up camp in next. 

Then the heroine gets the job as manager and starts thinking of ways to increase attendance.  Uh, no.  NOT YOUR JOB CUPCAKE!!  Your job is to manage.  To coach.  To get the players ready for a possible call-up to the big club.  The job of PR?  The job of getting butts in the seat?  Minor league teams, especially as high up as Triple A (!!!) have front office staffs for that.  Minor league promotional departments are legendary in fact.  Best family fun a little amount of money can buy in a lot of cities.

So yeah, the baseball stuff is jacked up.  But if you know nothing about baseball and don't rightly care?  Heroine is desperate for Daddy's approval, the hero is a recovering alcoholic, and if you combine both of the chips they have on their shoulders you've got Texas.  I've liked Rock's books in the past but this one was a non-starter for me. Because, you know, baseball

You can all wake up now.  This concludes Inside Baseball Hour at the Bat Cave.

Texas Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday is the first book in a trilogy and doesn't release until January 6.  For that reason I hesitated blogging about it, but figure my quibbles are minor enough that they won't turn off every reader of this blog.  Heroine is a mail order bride from the South (uh, somewhere - I can't remember) who steps off the train only to realize her groom (the hero) has no idea she even existed.  He didn't write her all those letters, some impostor did - and his two brothers have assured him it wasn't them.  She has nothing to go home to so convinces the crotchety general store owner to give her a job.  Hero continues to be flummoxed by her very arrival and presence even though they were barely on page together for the first couple of chapters.  Naturally, you have the two sequel-baitin' brothers hanging around and it appears someone is out to settle a score with the hero over Lord knows what because I didn't get that far.

I DNF'ed this one because of writing style.  I've read Broday in the past and liked those books to varying degrees.  But here?  Ever start a book and feel like you should "know" the characters already?  Like you're jumping into book #3 in a series without having read the preceding two?  Yeah, that.  And since this is book one in a trilogy?  It was really unsettling.  There's just....no early character development.  I was like, "I don't know these people so why should I care about them?"  What I did read led me to believe this is going to be a "fun" historical western of the light, bantering variety - and honestly?  Those are harder sells for me.  I like dark, gritty, holy crap are we gonna die when winter hits?! historical westerns.  But if you like fun westerns?  Read a sample, see if it's your thing.  The older I get the pickier I get with westerns, mostly because I want what I want - and so very few western romance authors seem to be working in "gritty" milieus these days. 

Maggie Osborne could come out of retirement any day now.  Seriously.

Don't feel too sorry for me though.  In between the DNFs I found several quality reads, including two books that will make my eventual Best of 2014 list.  We'll see how many more of these style posts I do in the future.  One of my resolutions for 2015 is to put books on shorter leashes.  Otherwise, I'll never get through the pile. 


Anonymous said...

I feel you on the baseball. No way could I get past that level of inaccuracy!

Wendy said...

Sigh. Yeah, I couldn't get past any of that. Maybe if it had been an independent league team? Or if the heroine stepped in to take over "owner stuff" instead of coaching? It probably could have worked for me, but as is? Uh, no. A good example of why I read very, very few sports romances.

Anonymous said...

I rarely DNF books. If I've ploughed through something at least a quarter of the way and it's a turkey, then I want to loudly complain about it afterwards!

I've tried this year to keep my ARC requests to a more manageable level, and I think I've definitely read and reviewed a higher proportion in 2014 than in previous years, so that's good. But I'm partly doing that by requesting fewer titles by new authors. I do think it's important to give some of them a try, and with my AAR hat on, I do so, although to be honest, the majority of those I've read have been average at best. So I've decided to cut back a bit on those next year, as there just isn't time to waste reading average books.

Overall though, 2014 was a pretty good year, reading-wise, so I can't really complain!

Phyl said...

Thanks for the warning about the baseball book. I just could not... Sadly, I don't think I'm a candidate for the others either. Just as well. I have plenty left to read :)

Marguerite Kaye said...

When I read only print, I never, ever DNF'd a book, no matter how bad. Now that I read fiction primarily on my ereader, I find it much easier (though still not very easy) to DNF. Thinking about it, if I paid for it I'm less likely to DNF, it's a freebie - more likely. But then, freebies have led me to sample lots and lots of stuff that I wouldn't normally, and have led me to some duffers, but quite a lot of authors I've then gone on to buy, My ereader (I was late to the party, only just over a year old) has radically changed what I read, I think DNFing is one more symptom of this.

Have a fantastic 2015 Wendy, wishing you health and happiness and lots of amazing reads and an end to all this bloggy horribleness that's been going on.

azteclady said...

These days I DNF constantly--but unless something about the first third or so of the book is incredibly offensive or otherwise completely unacceptable to me, I just keep the book around and give it another try at some other point.

Why? Because I'm a moody reader, and a lot of the time it's not the book, it's me.

Also, because life is too short for me to keep at something I don't enjoy.

Wendy said...

Caz: I used to not DNF at all, but TRR kind of cured me of that after 8 years of reviewing for them. I started to give myself permission to DNF "non-review" books, because I finished every single review book to the bitter, awful end.

That has carried over a bit - as I still have a hard time DNF'ing ARCs. But I'm trying to get better. Life is too short and there are SO many books I want to read. Also I'm declaring 2015 the year where I'm not going to be so hard on myself.

Wendy said...

Phyl: Yeah, it was not a good baseball book. I had to quit it for my own sanity.

Wendy said...

Marguerite: I think you're on to something there. It would easier to DNF something you're not wild about if you "didn't pay for it" - and certainly ARCs fall into that category. I'm getting better about DNF'ing mostly because of the sheer volume of my TBR. Paid, free, ARCs - it's huge. I really mean it this year - I'm going to try to make a concerted effort to get it more under control (ha!)

Wendy said...

AL: KristieJ does that too. She'll put a DNF back into the pile in some instances. I can't do that. Even if I suspect it's my mood. Because by that point the book has the "DNF Stink" on it and I'll be hesitant to ever pick it up again. In those instances I'm more likely to start skimming, see if things pick up for me. Sometimes they do and....sometimes they don't.

Miss Bates said...

The "DNF Stink" ... wow, I am so stealing that. I haven't written any DNF reviews, but I thought this was fantastic. Thinking about WHY something doesn't work is as important as thinking about why it DOES. It's part of reviewing, you're so right. I like the round-up idea though because it doesn't isolate a title starkly in its "didn't-work-ness." It also makes the gems stand out and the reasons for them "crystallize" all that more clearly in one's mind. I like.

Wendy said...

Miss Bates: And to be fair - a lot of times a DNF happens because the book just "isn't your thing." For example, I loathe "fated to be mated" or "soul mate" themes. So if I start a book and that starts coming into play? I'll DNF it so fast your head will spin. But, certainly, other readers LOVE those themes, and they'll think I'm crazy for giving up on the book.

I think DNF reviews can be valuable mostly because readers are nuts and we all have our own personal baggage :) But yeah, I try to do them as round-up style posts unless I read a big chunk of the book before DNF'ing. With all three of these? I probably read around 30% or so. Not enough for me to feel like they should get their own, individual posts.

Nikki said...

That baseball book would get thrown against the wall for me. All sports books walk a fine line for me (except Nascar, of which I know nothing). And I will certainly steal "DNF stink" from you, too.

Anonymous said...

The majority of the books I read at the moment are for review - I don't worry so much about DNFing my own books; I can always come back to those if I'm so inclined. But there have been some ARCs I've had to DNF - not many, and they've been so dire that reading them felt like my brains had been picked out and put back in the wrong order!

Lea said...

I'm glad I read this, for two reasons. First off, I too aim to dnf more books this year instead of trudging through. Second, I'm a huge baseball fan and have A League of Her Own in my TBR list - now I can skip it so I don't have to scream!

Wendy said...

Nikki: Me too. I read very, very few sports books. Jami Davenport consistently works for me - but she's it so far. I keep trying though, hoping to find new authors.

Wendy said...

Lea: I was at the point with A League of Her Own that skimming was not an option. It was too far gone for me. So DNF it was - and I'm moving on.