The Sunday SamplerSunday Sampler highlights some of the books I've received for possible reviews or that I pick up in bookstores or off library shelves that for one reason or another just don't make it to the finish line. This also includes those "try free sample" books available in Kindle and Nook online stores. These are a good way to decide whether or not to pursue a full-length copy.
Sometimes a book doesn't live up to it's cover or publisher's blurb. Sometimes, the writing doesn't pull me in, sometimes the subject matter just isn't well done enough, or I can't figure out the plot. These aren't necessarily bad books, and to another reader they might even be a great book, but for now they've fallen off my TBR mountain and landed in the DNF pile.
This week, I've had a lot of opportunities to spend short periods of time reading- perfect to go through several of the 'samples' in my Nook and Kindle apps. Here are a few of them:
The Blurb: Annie Callaghan is an artist living in Chicago, a struggling painter trying to build a career and rebuild her life after kicking out her ne'er-do-well husband. Things become even more complicated for her when she discovers that her last, ill-advised fling with her husband has resulted in an unexpected pregnancy.
My impression: I'm just starting to read Julie Hyzy, and when Nook offered a sample of her debut work (2004) I grabbed it. Just the 32 pages of the sample were enough to convince me to buy it. Watch for a review sometime this year...it looks like a great summertime read.
by Bridget Asher
The Blurb: Brokenhearted and still mourning the loss of her husband, Heidi travels with Abbott, her obsessive-compulsive seven-year-old son, and Charlotte, her jaded sixteen-year-old niece, to the small village of Puyloubier in the south of France, where a crumbling stone house may be responsible for mending hearts since before World War II. There, Charlotte confesses a shocking secret, and Heidi learns the truth about her mother’s “lost summer” when Heidi was a child.
My impression: First of all, I love romances set in the south of France. Although the short sample didn't give an indication that this was a romance, with a title and cover like this, and the story unfolding as described in the blurb, I can see one coming. I was immediately hooked. It's going onto the wishlist to get the full copy.
by Wendy McClure
The Blurb: For anyone who has ever wanted to step into the world of a favorite book, here is a pioneer pilgrimage, a tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder, and a hilarious account of butter-churning obsession.
Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder-a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places she's never been to, yet somehow knows by heart. She retraces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family- looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House, and explores the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura's hometowns.
My impression: I was immediately drawn to this book from the blurb because my daughter grew up on these books. We watched the TV series, we read the books to her, she read (or should I say devoured?) the books herself, and one summer, as we were driving cross country on one of my husband's many PCS moves with the Navy (east coast to Hawaii), we took a 400 mile detour to make a pilgrimage to DeSmet South Dakota. It was a magical trip for all of us. But, I couldn't tell from the short sample Nook was offering whether this one is worth buying, so I'm going to try to check it out from the library before I buy a copy to give her for her birthday.
Told through the eyes of a charming, impish, and wickedly observant Afghan boy. The Taliban have withdrawn from Kabul’s streets, but the long shadows of their regime remain. In his short life, eleven-year-old Fawad has known more grief than most: his father and brother have been killed, his sister has been abducted, and Fawad and his mother, Mariya, must rely on the charity of parsimonious relatives to eke out a hand-to-mouth existence.
My impression from the sample: Yes, the writing is charming, and yes it sounds like it might be heartwarming story, but it's not grabbing me. Maybe I'm just becoming intellectually and emotionally fatigued of stories set in the Middle East and trading on the innocence and vulnerability of children, and if that's so, I'm the one poorer for it. But for now, I'm passing on this one.
That's it for samples this week. I'll be doing this periodically because there are so many books out there to try, that no one has time to read every one of them from cover to cover. But one that doesn't quite make it for me may be just your cup of tea, so do let me know if you find any of my "not nows" to your liking.