The following is my current process for “discovering” books:
- Scan Amazon until a cover catches my attention
- Read the blurb
- Send the “Free Sample” to my phone (Kindle app)
- Buy & download if the sample holds my attention
After all, time is of the essence. I need to seized and held captive by an author’s first chapter(s). (Side note: Traci Finlay address this topic from a writer and editor’s perspective in her article, “A Winning Beginning”.)
Using the method listed above, I’ve read two books so far this year, and here’s what I have to say about them.
Trinity by Luke Romyn
- The opening of Trinity grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I highly encourage anyone interested in this genre, supernatural suspense, to read the free sample.
- Trinity is incredibly well-written. While labeling a work of fiction “unpredictable” comes across as cliche, I genuinely couldn’t predict what would happen from one chapter to the next, from one page to the next. Likewise, in addition to the non-stop action, readers can expect unique, original characters and a striking premise.
- While my experience reading this book was mostly positive, I did get impatient with the narrative at roughly the 70%-80% mark. When I felt the story should be wrapping up, it dragged on, and I didn’t feel propelled to speed-read to the conclusion like I had previously.
Just for fun, check out the novel’s alternate cover, posted on Goodreads:
(Just to be clear, it’s the Amazon version, with the gauze-mask and creepy hallway, that caught my attention.)
Twisted by Andrew E. Kaufman
In my opinion–and it won’t be a popular one–the blurb for Twisted vastly oversold the actual book. The mention of “psychiatric hospital” (especially the Alpha Twelve ward) in the first chapter kept me reading, as that topic is one of my fictional weaknesses (both in literature and in film). And while there’s an interesting storyline here, the writing itself fell short.
As someone who comments on college-level essays all academic year, I wanted to suggest sentence structure variation throughout this book. Even when writing in first-person POV, the pronoun “I” doesn’t have to be used in every sentence (or more than once in each sentence).
See these examples from just two Kindle app pages:
- “I take a closer look..”
- “I remind myself…”
- “…I’m constantly hearing…”
- “I find my phone…”
- “I can’t count the number of times…”
- “I set my gaze uphill…”
- “I straighten my wheels…”
- “I’m racing up the hill…”
All I could think about is how these independent clauses could have been revised to form stronger, more engaging sentences, without the repetition that distracts oddball readers like me. (BTW, I’ve left out the instances from these pages that justified the “I + verb” construction. Also, these two pages weren’t the only to exemplify this trend.)
That being said, most people probably won’t even notice or care about this nuance, and it’s an author’s choice how to write his or her story. In this case, it simply wasn’t a good fit for me.
While I mostly enjoyed the first half of the story, it fell off for me after that. The execution of the plot (a difficult task of weaving storylines, to be fair) fell short of its potential.
DISCLAIMER: Both ebooks were purchased by me through Amazon. I appreciate authors’ efforts immensely, and these comments reflect my reading preferences only.