10 Books I Did Not Finish (DNF) (Guest Post)

*This is a guest post written by Kattiah RichardsonIf you would like to do a guest post for To Borrow or Buy, please email me at toborroworbuy@gmail.com*

Hello Bookdragons and Bibliophiles….Wait, this isn’t my blog…. Ah! I am super ecstatic to be writing a guest blog post for one blogger I have read before I even made mine. *gasps and fangirls* When this opportunity arose, I jumped onto it let me tell you. Zakiya is so kind and sweet, and if y’all haven’t followed her yet, do so now. Anyway, my top 10 book DNFs.

When a book lover hears “DNF,” some gasp and scream at the horror of those letters, while others shrug it off because it’s a part of the reading experience. If you don’t agree with the second kind of reader, let me tell you one of my greatest pieces of advice: Life’s too short to struggle through a book you hate just so you don’t have to put it down. There are too many good books in the world to read one that is not your type of book. This thinking brought me to my blog post today…

1. Red Queen Series by Victoria Aveyard


This book just did not do it for me at all. I found the characters irritating, the story familiar, the pacing slow, and there was a love triangle I was just not here for. I know many people love this series and as much as it is disheartening to say and hear, I will be getting rid of it and have no plans to read this in the future.

2. The Maze Runner by James Dashner


Ah, this book…. I couldn’t handle it. I was not a fan of the characters or the writing. I think I might have tried to pick it up again if it were not for James Dashner’s writing. I did not enjoy his writing for reasons still unknown to myself. I am willing to possibly try this again, but only if my life depended on it. It doesn’t, so I won’t be picking this up again any time soon.

3. The Finisher by David Baldacci


I could not stand this book. I got to page 57 (I still have my bookmark in it for some reason) and I could not deal with the author’s writing, style, or word choice. Also, the characters seemed flat and one dimensional. The premise was not my cup of tea. Overall, younger Kattiah could not pick a book correctly.

4. How to Meet Boys by Catherine Clark


If you know anything about me, you know I love contemporaries as long as they are developed well and not a morally wrong concept. My mistake picking this up. I knew the friend would be attracted to her best friend’s ex, but as the story progressed, it didn’t stop. I thought it would be a situation where she would explain herself and swear off boys or whatever, not sneak behind her best friend’s back like a coward. Why would you do that?

5. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson


This book. I can’t.  First of all, the writing is terrible. Secondly, the characters are terrible to each other. I had to force myself to read this book. Not good. .000001/10 recommended. Enough said.

6. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey


The Fifth Wave, book one in this series, was great! I really loved it. Then I got this one, started it, and wanted to cry. It was terrible. It definitely has a case of middle book syndrome. I couldn’t even finish it even though the last book was supposedly epic. I’m sad the relationship between me and this book did not work out, but you live, let go, and learn!

7. Where She Went by Gayle Forman


I tried really hard (twice) to read this book, but I could not do it. It was worse that any word to describe bad. Times ten. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first book, If I Stay, but I thought the sequel might be worthwhile. Haha, no. The characters changed. It was much moodier. It was terrible. DNF!

8. I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson


This was my first DNF book and so I cannot remember, specifically, why I stopping reading, but I do remember not clicking with the main character.

9. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter


Not. A. Fan. To be honest, I did not really give it a shot, but I just didn’t like it. It seemed too millennial for me. Some love it, I did not.

Book Ten: Hoot Carl Hiaasen

10. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen


Ah, don’t shoot me! I know this is a beloved book by many and that it clearly won an award. I, however, did not like it. At. All. I thought the writing was bad and the beginning didn’t suck me in like I had hoped. I am sorry to say, but this book is not a personal favorite.

If you are still reading then you have been here through all of my minor hate on these books, but these are my personal opinions as we are all entitled to our own. PLEASE follow this blog and like this if you liked it and if you want to see more of my writing head over to my blog here! You can also follow Zakiya’s bookstagram here and mine here! Thank you so much for reading. Bye!!

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My Life As An Author (Guest Post)

*This is a guest post written by Sara Hantz, author of the new novel There’s Something About Nik, which is on sale today. If you would like to do a guest post for To Borrow or Buy, please email me at toborroworbuy@gmail.com*

Thank you for inviting me on To Borrow Or Buy to talk about my experience as an author. It’s been a long road which started about 14 years ago when I decided to write my first book. I’d always read a lot but up until that moment hadn’t thought about writing. I had no idea that normal people like me could actually write and sell books.

When I first started I wrote chick lit, and then quickly moved to writing young adult novels. The first book I sold, in 2007, was a book called The Second Virginity of Suzy Green, and I was very excited because it made the prestigious “New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age,” list. I still have a soft spot for that book today, even though I’ve published several since then.

I often get asked by aspiring authors if I have any tips for them. I have several:

  1. Join a writers’ group. I learned so much after joining the Romance Writers of America, which has a young adult chapter, and Romance Writers of New Zealand. Not only did I learn all about craft and storytelling, I also met so many awesome people and some have become my closest friends.
  2. If you want to write, don’t put it off. Just get your butt in the chair and start. There’s no time like the present!
  3. Find yourself some critique partners. People who you can trust with your work and who will help you make it better. It’s a two-way street. You send them your work to read and they send you theirs. I’m part of a small group, there are 3 of us, and we’ve been together for 12 years. We trust each other implicitly. And none of us will send out our work without passing it by the other two first. Our writing, has evolved over the years, and now we all write different things – well, all romance, but one of the group writes hot romance, I mainly write YA, and the other partner writes sweet romance, YA and middle grade.

Before I go, I’d like to talk about my future projects. I’m working on several things at the moment. In particular, I’m very excited about a young adult book I’m working on, that’s in its early planning stage, which is about a teenage girl and set during World War 2, in London.

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To learn more about Sara you can read her bio and find her social media and website info below!

Bio: Sara Hantz has been a prolific reader all her life, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that she got the writing bug. She writes contemporary adult and young adult fiction and her debut book The Second Virginity of Suzy Green made the prestigious list ‘New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age’. Sara lectured for many years before deciding to devote more time to her writing and working in the family hospitality business. She has two grown-up children and when not writing, working, or online with her friends, she spends more time than most people she knows watching TV – in fact if TV watching was an Olympic sport she’d win gold.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

Five Books That Actually Live Up To The Hype (Guest Post)

*This is a guest post written by Darian Duckworth and she runs her own book blog, The Novel Millennial, and a BookTube channel of the same name . If you would like to do a guest post for To Borrow or Buy, please email me at toborroworbuy@gmail.com*

If you’re anything like me, you tend to get turned off by really popular or hyped up books and series. But I’m here to tell you that there are actually some popular books that actually live up to the pedestal they’re put on. Proof: I didn’t read Harry Potter until a friend forced me to read Prisoner of Azkaban in the third grade. (PS: it’s still my favorite book in the series). Recently, I caved and picked up some seriously popular books that I was extremely turned off from because of their popularity. Here are five books that I think actually live up to their hype:

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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ACOTAR is a retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairytale. If you’re looking for a strong female protagonist, don’t let the fantasy genre of this series deter you. Even if you don’t typically like fantasy, ACOTAR has something for literally every reader. There’s adventure, fantasy, romance, and lots of action, especially towards the end.

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Okay, if you don’t like fantasy then you probably don’t like sci-fi with cyborgs and all that jazz either. Well, here’s the series that’s going to change that. Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella but the similarities between the two stories are few and far between. There’s cyborgs, a different race that lives on the Moon called Lunars, and a plague threatening Earth. It’s pretty intense.

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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You’re probably sitting there like “Who hasn’t read THG?” but I know y’all are out there. If you haven’t read this series, do it now! I can’t say that enough. The political atmosphere alone is enough to make this book live up to the hype. Pro Tip: The rest of the series is pretty good too, and Catching Fire is the best one.

4. It’s Not Okay by Andi Dorfman


I’m not one for self help books and I’m definitely not one for self help books about breakups but I am a fan of all things The Bachelor. Andi Dorfman made waves on both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and people were legitimately shocked when she and her fiancé called it quits nine months after the finale. It’s Not Okay is Dorfman’s raw and emotional journey at coping with the aftermath of that very public breakup and it is every bit worthy of you clicking “Buy Now” on Amazon.

5. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur


I hate poetry, mostly because it takes too much effort to interpret, usually. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is the exception to that first statement. The poems are raw and real and powerful and I damn near read the entire thing in the bookstore. I simply could not put it down!

Amber Sea of Children

*This is a guest post written by Morissa Schwartz and she is the author of the new book Notes Never Sent, a collection of inspirational creative non-fiction made up of anecdotes and letters . Check out this amazing sneak peak of her book and check out her publisher’s site to learn more. Thursdays are guest post day. If you would like to be featured email toborroworbuy@gmail.com.*

Hi, I’m Morissa Schwartz. My new book, Notes Never Sent, is being released by VIP Ink Publishing next month. It’s an inspirational creative non-fiction book made up of anecdotes and letters that form a cohesive tale of growing up.

The people I write about have shown me that you never truly know a person until you let yourself get to know them. No one is shallow; they only appear that way when you view them from afar. I like to delve into what makes us each an individual and express that sentiment in letters to those who inspire me to write. I have learned just as much about myself from the stories of those around me than from many of my own experiences. Although, I do have my own story to share.

Amber Sea of Children

A sea of children clad in their amber Catholic school uniforms surrounds me. They all know each other and yammer on about their summers and plans for the school year. They gather around the flagpole in the center of the school entrance, where a Mary Mother of God statue sits, but the statue is hidden behind the uniformed legs of the students.

I look on in horror. I cannot make sense of any of it. It is my first day of Catholic school. There are more students than I have ever seen in one place here. My last school had class sizes that rarely exceeded a dozen.

All these surroundings are so foreign: the students, the building, the crucifix…I have never seen anything like this in my ten years of life. I should take solace in the familiarity of the Pacific blue sky I would gaze at every morning, the leafy trees like I have my backyard, and the hard blacktop similar to the one in the park that I had taken a tumble on, but I cannot. I am too distracted by all these new things to notice the true beauty surrounding me. Particularly, I am sidetracked by the students my own age who I can only hope to fit in with.

Past the students is the school building. An old building, which according to the welcome brochure that my mother picked up from the office, has been around for over seventy-five years. It obviously needs some serious renovations. The bricks no longer appear strong, and the paneling on the gymnasium building looks like it can crumple if hit by a heavy storm, but I’m more afraid of the other students than by the faulty architecture.

In the worn windows, behind the damaged shades, above the elementary part of the building are cardboard cutouts of students in their little yellow uniforms. The faculty made them to welcome the younger students. They didn’t add anything for the older students; we are expected to already know our way.

The entrances are numbered. Entrance 1 is to the gym behind the playground. The other entrance is 2, which is where middle-shoolers enter. The doors are open, but we are not allowed in yet.

The middle school students wear custard yellow shirts, skirts, and shorts, as opposed to the lemon peel jumpers the younger students wear. This is our privilege, and if one has their skirt too short, it is off to the principal’s office and a note home to Mommy. Many girls are testing these rules. I am not. I measured my skirt before coming here against my fingers about five times for fear of being chastised.

The middle school students gathered around the flagpole have segregated themselves: boys on one side, girls on the other. I barely even notice the younger students walking hand-in-hand with their parents; I am too fixated on the students my own age and how different I am from them. Even our shadows look different.   Mine includes long braided strings on my bag, long hair that goes way past my shoulders, and a purse. I’m the only girl carrying a purse. Are purses not allowed here? Or are they just not cool?

I stand farther back from the students, centered with my long hair glowing auburn under the sun, like my defiantly red backpack. Just as I am original, my backpack radiates just how unique I am to this school. While the girls on the right have their magenta and bluebonnet backpacks and the boys on the left have their blue, black, and gray ones, there I stand with my fire-engine red hiking bag, which is bolder than me. I don’t actually feel that confident. I just feel different. The only other bold backpacker is Kayla, who stands to my right in her buttercup bag. It was that moment of sharing distinctive backpacks that spawned our three-year friendship.

Our shoes are also telling of how different the other girls are from me. I am wearing penny-loafers or “old-lady shoes” as the girl next to me in the Pumas calls them, but I simply followed protocol, just as I did with my skirt. The nun on the far left, standing with the middle school boys says, “no heels, no colors, no sneakers.” I follow her commands, because her scowl scares me. But not as much as the unfriendly woman in the turquoise dress on the right, Ms. Endlolf, who does not care for those who are different. It is obvious even on this first day. She is heading to the middle-schoolers, where she will lecture them about the nail polish they are not supposed to wear and the gum they cannot chew. Then, she commands them to proclaim the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by Hail Mary, and My Country Tis of Thee. She reprimands those who do not follow along and punishes anyone who talks.

I have no one to talk to, so I do not have to worry about Miss Endolf’s punishments today. All these people are strangers…scary strangers…scary strangers in amber shirts. I am too fixated on the people to notice the air-conditioning units in the windows that signify that for the first time in my life, I will have to sit in a hot classroom. And I definitely do not notice the reflection of the “exit” sign in the window of the middle school entrance, even though that is what I want to do more than anything. I want to exit this scary new land where I surely won’t fit in. If I flip around, you will see the fear on my face. It is a helpless fear like none I have ever felt before, because I have never experienced anything like this before. I have never been to such a large school or seen so many new people and things at ones.

I see the playground on the far left and wish I could just go back and play all day on those slides. I find it funny how no one, not even the little kids, are playing on the playground. If I were just a few years younger, there would be no prying me off those monkey bars, but in this foreign place, the playground is a ghost land. This whole place is like an alternate universe. It is a crowded place of many rules, religious objects, and amber…lots of amber.

Then the nun stands next to me, “I like your shoes,” she says. For the first time that morning, I smile. Those four simple words change my entire frame of mind, as I realize that if that scary nun is actually nice, maybe everyone is. I think this place is going to be okay.

Five Great Book-To-Film Adaptations

*This is a guest post written by Shant Istamboulian, writer of Shantipedia. Check out his awesome post and fantastic blog. Thursdays are guest post day. If you would like to be featured email toborroworbuy@gmail.com.*
the color purple

Adapting popular books into films has always been a popular idea. Since the silent era, filmmakers have reached into the publishing realm to inspire their vision. D.W. Griffith’s infamous and controversial movie, The Birth of a Nation, was based on Thomas Dixon, Jr.’s equally incendiary novel (later play) The Clansman, while Cecil B. DeMille used the Bible as the impetus for his 1927 film based on the life of Christ, King of Kings.

Classics ranging from Ben-Hur (the silent version and the Oscar-winning masterpiece starring Charlton Heston) to Gone with the Wind, were all based on best-selling books that entertained and challenged readers young and old alike.

The trend continued this past weekend with the release of Paper Towns, the popular YA novel by The Fault of Our Stars writer John Green, while later in the year we’ll see the release of the eagerly anticipated final chapter in the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay—Part II.

Books are constantly being turned into movies, sometimes great, sometimes not, but in the past 30 years there’s definitely been some standouts. Here’s my top five.


The Color Purple (1985, based on the book by Alice Walker)

When screenwriter Menno Meyjes set out to adapt the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, he was met with a tall order. Alice Walker’s piece is structured as a collection of letters written by protagonist Celie (played by Whoopi Goldberg in the film). How do you turn that into a feature film screenplay? The unenviable task was handled with care by Meyjes and the resulting film is touching and powerful from first frame to last and proved to be a classic example of how to adapt tricky material. Filled with wonderful performances by a great cast, including Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey in early, career boosting roles, The Color Purple also had the distinction of providing a bridge for Steven Spielberg to segue from blockbuster filmmaking to more prestige films which would later include Empire of the Sun, Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan.


FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009, based on the book by Roald Dahl)

Roald Dahl was a children’s writer but his books always contained an edge missing from others published in its day. This is why adapting his books has never been easy as filmmakers desperately try to toe the line between the sweet and salty. Most Dahl adaptations are serviceable at the very best. (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is considered a cult classic but a great adaptation of a Dahl book it is not.) The one filmmaker to successfully translate Dahl’s voice from page to screen was Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel). His version of The Fantastic Mr. Fox is a great time, thanks to wonderful stop-motion animation, a collection of star talent (George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray) that gets the material, and the perfect blending of tastes between author and filmmaker. Anderson’s style is not for everyone, but I dare you to watch this Fox without a smile on your face.


GONE GIRL (2014, based on the book by Gillian Flynn)

It’s rare for an author to adapt their own book into a screenplay. Rarer still is for them to knock it out of the park as Gillian Flynn did with her script to her dark page-turner. Working with David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club), Flynn perfectly eliminates all the fat from her novel to deliver a tautly-paced stunner that never lets up, even to those who read the book (the “shock” moment in the book’s climax still managed to get me in the silver screen version). The Gone Girl script serves as a master class on how to adapt a popular novel and it was unfortunate that the Academy failed to nominate Flynn for a much deserved Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar (she would’ve deserved the win, too).


JACKIE BROWN (1997, based on the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard)

Crime novelist Elmore Leonard always seemed like the bridesmaid when his work was adapted into films. While some of his westerns (3:10 to Yuma, Hombre) became minor classics, his crime novels never turned out the way you expected. Anyone remember 52 Pick-Up or Cat Chaser? It wasn’t until the late nineties when a trio of his books were turned into films that are now modern classics. Between 1995’s Get Shorty and 1998’s Out of Sight, Quentin Tarantino adapted his comic thriller Rum Punch into Jackie Brown. The brilliance of Jackie Brown is how Tarantino made the source material completely his own, changing protagonist Jackie Burke, a white, blonde-haired Miami flight attendant, to Jackie Brown, a black Los Angeles-based woman, while still retaining Leonard’s voice. Jackie Brown was Tarantino’s follow-up to Pulp Fiction so it didn’t get the proper attention it deserves, but with outstanding turns by Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, and the one and only Pam Grier (in the role of her career), who makes magic with co-star Robert Forster in his Oscar-nominated role, this is a must watch. Better yet, read Rum Punch before watching Jackie Brown and marvel at Tarantino’s achievement.


MISERY (1990, based on the book by Stephen King)

A Stephen King film adaptation comes around almost every year but none have reached the perfection that is Misery. Director Rob Reiner tackled King for the second time (after Stand by Me) with a little help from Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman (All the President’s Men) to deliver a sometimes darkly comic, mostly chilling take on what it means to take fandom to its limits. James Caan (as novelist Paul Sheldon) and Kathy Bates (as his “number one fan” Annie Wilkes) are superb, playing the ultimate game of one upmanship. Goldman (against his will) even managed to soften the novel’s most brutal moment (SPOILER ALERT: in the book Annie chops off Sheldon’s foot and cauterizes the wound) without sacrificing its integrity and created an iconic moment in the interim. Bates won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Actress and her performance still tingles the spine.

Old Stories, New Life: Persephone Books

*This is a guest post written by Shelbi Starnes, writer of The Nobby Life. Check out her awesome post and fantastic blog. Thursdays are guest post day. If you would like to be featured email toborroworbuy@gmail.com.*

Old Stories, New Life: Persephone Books

Shelbi Starnes

If you’re a reader (and if you’re reading this post, I assume that you are), you can sympathize with the fact that it can often be a challenge to find new, compelling books to read when you are in need of a fresh story that is simply a pleasant experience. I often find myself in bookstores, scanning the shelves for the elusive book to pop out at me, or to discover a beloved author’s lesser-known work that I can probe and explore. Perhaps the most rewarding of all is to find an author I’ve never heard of before – and thanks to Persephone Books, this happens more often than not these days.

I discovered my first Persephone book several years ago when it was sitting primly on a Barnes & Noble bookshelf, and I must admit, it was the cover that caught my eye. On closer inspection, I noticed with interest that the book was a story by Frances Hodgson Burnett, of The Secret Garden fame. That she had written other novels had never occurred to me, but now that I held The Marchioness in my hands, I wondered how many more she had written, and how many other authors had books that they had labored over but, for whatever reason, had never enjoyed success.

I also found another Persephone on the same visit (it was Christmastime and I believe the store had received a special shipment, as I have never been lucky enough to discover Persephone books at Barnes & Noble again), and I noticed with interest that it had been penned by Monica Dickens, Charles Dickens’ granddaughter. Wondering if she was as compelling an author as her grandfather, I purchased it and began reading it shortly after with my book club. When we met the following month to discuss it, we all agreed that we hadn’t been able to put it down. Who knew that Charles Dickens had offspring who wrote? and wrote in a style worthy of her literary heritage? Since then I have been on a quest to collect more of Monica Dickens’ books (not easy here in the US, as they were published in Britain quite some time ago) and have been interested in discovering more unknown literary greats.

Persephone books not only brings overlooked authors to life, they also focus on women authors by publishing works that were neglected over the years because they were not written by men. In bringing these novels to life at last, Persephone is helping to right a literary injustice. It is also interesting to note that this publishing company is owned by a woman, and her extraordinary vision and dedication to her business has imparted a unique credibility to her desire to publish female authors.

Not only am I discovering “new” authors and works, but there are authors who became successful without all of their books being well-received. To that end, Persephone brings out those neglected, overlooked novels and introduces them to a new audience.


Persephone Books is not just a publisher, but the creator of a reading experience, as their books are lovely in their simple gray covers with exquisite interiors awaiting those who crack the covers open to peek inside. A matching bookmark will begin to slide out as you open the book further, and if you’re not hooked by now then you are probably not appreciative enough of a bookish experience (of course I speak tongue in cheek…).

Should you happen into their store in London (which sits on the cutest, quietest street that just begs you to stop awhile and take it in), you will be greeted with more of the publisher’s simple, but elegant aesthetic. Clean bookshelves bearing neat stacks of their gray books beckon invitingly from a tiny, sun-filled room. Just beyond the counter, you may glimpse employees having afternoon tea. While I was visiting, a young employee popped into the shop with a profusion of flowers in her hand “just because”. It is perhaps because of their attention to beauty that Persephone has been able to succeed in creating a literary life of its own – one that is simple, beautiful, and worth exploring.