You know the feeling of a highly anticipated book? Where you hear all the buzz, and see all the bookish boxes advertising their special editions? Then you get a copy and you're so excited that it's finally here?

Imagine that, but then the book not being for you. Bummer, right?

Thanks to, I got an early audiobook ARC of A Crown of Ivy and Glass by Claire Legrand. I was so excited to dive into it! The audiobook was daunting (10+ hours at 2.0x speed!), but I was ready!

The premise of A Crown of Ivy and Glass is that Lady Gemma Ashbourne is the belle of the ball in all areas of her life: she's beautiful, she's wealthy, and she knows her way around every social situation ever. (Think season 1 Daphne from Bridgerton). The world is her oyster, and she lets everyone know it, but internally, she's suffering from depression, anxiety, and self-harm. Her mother seemingly abandoned the family, her sister Mara was forced into military service (in Gemma's place, no less), and her remaining sister and her father treat her as if she's a fool--a fool made of glass. Then, a dashing stranger shows up and turns her world upside down. She's (almost) instantly smitten with Talan d'Astier; he's the only survivor of his family, the rest of whom sullied the family name by consorting with a demon before their deaths, and Talan is determined to repair their damage and restore his status in polite society. Gemma and Talan strike a mutually beneficial bargain: Talan will help Gemma destroy her family's rivals, the Basks, and Gemma will help Talan boost his reputation. But when attacks on their land begin to increase, their bargain becomes the least of either of their worries.

I just couldn't bring myself to care about anyone (other than Gemma's dog, Una), no matter what happened. My greatest issues are with Gemma: she's petulant and fickle, childish, and weak minded. While we love a stubborn female main character, Gemma is entirely selfish, and lets that cloud her judgment. She asks things of people with no thought to what it may cost them, and when it inevitably backfires, she's gaslighty about it. And don't get me started on how she is with Talan: she will "hate him forever," then she is immediately in love with him, then she can't stand to look at him, then her loins quake with need for him. Barf. Actual barf. 

I'm not an insta-love girlie, okay? I need a semi-slow burn at the very least. This book is not that, at all. Not even a little bit.

And I understand that love and life are not black and white, and that some betrayals can be forgiven because relationships are complex. But Gemma's internal monologue and Gemma's actions are often very contradictory in a confusing way.

There are a few spicy scenes, but they weird. It was almost as if they were written by a middle schooler, or like someone who didn't have much...experience, if you catch what I'm saying. This book reads very much like a YA until a character throws out a "take that c*ck" comment that just doesn't flow at all. It was cringy and awkward and not at all what I think the author was trying to achieve. For most of those scenes, I had the Chrissy Teigen grimace on my face--it was just so uncomfortable. Oh, and they happen at the strangest, most inopportune times. Think: Rhys and Feyre in the war camp level awkwardness.

And don't get me started on Talan. I hated him from the second he appeared. He's manipulative and dishonest and gives big Tamlin from ACOTAR energy. Even when it's right in her face that she can't trust him, though, Gemma is going to talk herself out of everything she's been pronouncing about him for days. All he has to do is quirk an eyebrow and she loses any semblance of common sense she's mustered up since his last betrayal and the inevitable forgiveness.

I'm saying it now: I bet Gemma truly ends up with Ryder Bask. There's a longstanding family rivalry, but I just get vibes that there's more to Ryder than we've seen so far, and I believe that we'll have a Tamlin/Rhys situation happen in later books.

As far as the plot: for me, it felt all over the place. I truly felt like this book took the plots of four books and smushed them up into one. I really struggled to understand how Gemma went from working with Talan to suddenly being indoctrinated into a group of "wild women" 100 miles from where she lived, and them claiming her as one of their own/her pledging to break their curses. It felt like a fever dream, honestly.

As an aside: the audiobook narrator, Evelyn Rose, does a wonderful job of capturing Gemma in all of her moods, as well as the voices and personalities of the other characters. I will definitely seek out more books narrated by her!

This is absurd, but I'm DNFing at 87%. Part of me is so disappointed in myself for that, but I have to practice what I preach: you do not have to finish a book that isn't for you.

Read that again.

You do not have to finish a book that isn't for you.

Even if it's highly anticipated.
Even if other people loved it.
Even if it's by an author you usually enjoy.
Even if you're close to the end of it.

If you are not enjoying a book, then you do not have to finish it. Point blank, period.

So, this was a DNF for me. I just did not enjoy it, and was tired of making myself feel like I was wasting time that could be spent on books on the never-ending TBR.

Before I leave you, I want to point out that, other than the spicy scenes being cringy, I'm not at all saying that this book was badly written. Claire Legrand does an excellent job at descriptive writing: you never wonder what things look like, or how the main character is feeling. It just wasn't for me. I'm sure that there are people out there who will absolutely love this Bridgerton/ACOTAR mashup, and that's wonderful! 

I'm not going to leave a purchase link, because I feel like that would be unfair of me, after DNFing. But, if you think this is a book you might like, then grab a copy of A Crown of Ivy and Glass by Claire Legrand when it releases June 13 and let me know how wrong I am--I'd love a different perspective than my own.

Love and self care in the form of DNFing books that don't do it for you,


Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this audiobook from NetGalley and for free and have voluntarily written this review with my honest feedback. You can (and should!!) create your own account here, where you can support your local bookstore while enjoying audiobooks either through a monthly membership, or by purchasing audiobooks a la carte.