Friday Review: Would You Care For a Sample?

A few weeks ago, I did a post on some samples of books I was considering for purchase. I have now finished reading the last five of the samples I downloaded, so I’m going to give you my impressions now.

A couple of things first. I haven’t (of course) read the whole story of any of these, so I am going to just give a quick synopsis of the plot from the published description. I also have to say that it is really difficult to make a judgement on some of these with just a small sample. There are some that I am not sure where it’s going or what the point is. Some where things seem confusing and difficult to sort. Others where the writing seemed off somehow. I had to keep reminding myself that these are just samples, and only the beginning of the whole story. That most of those issues would hopefully be resolved if I chose to buy the book and continue reading. A sample is, after all, just a tease, right?

Balor Reborn (Rebirth Cycle, Book 1) by Paul Carroll:

This is a retelling of the Irish legend of Balor of the Evil Eye, set in modern day Dublin. I have to admit, I was skeptical about this book when I read the author’s notation that it was written and published in one week. I was rather pleasantly suprised. I half-expected it to feel rushed and unfinished, and in need of some serious editing. Yes, all the prejudices against independently published books that I fight against- usually. The writing did seem a bit awkward in spots, but that’s something I’ve found in books that took years to finish and publish. I have always loved mythologies of all sorts, and I am intrigued when an author takes a lesser known tale and spins it anew. The story starts with a man who has lost his wife in childbirth and can’t bear to even look at his newborn son, so he abandons the child at an orphanage. And then it takes a complete turn and introduces new characters and a new location. It is just intriguing enough that I want to know how the two will come together, as I assume they must at some point. A definite possibility.

Chasing Rabbits (The Underground, Book 1) by Erin Bedford

This is another spin on an old favorite. In this case, Alice in Wonderland. Although, here, Wonderland is the land of the Fae, and Alice is more of a sidebar. The principle character is Kat, who, like Alice, finds herself in the land of Fae through a rabbit chase. But this Wonderland is far different from the beloved Alice tale, with a romance overlay along with the fantastical inhabitants of the Underground. I am torn on this book. Kat didn’t appeal to me at all in the sample, but characters have grown on me before. I was intrigued by the small taste of the Underground and wanted to know more. Some of the (few) Fae folk introduced in the sample are interesting and appealing; some seem to be caricatures and a bit overdone. I’m not ruling it out, but it probably won’t be a first choice.

Untamed (Untamed Book 1) by Madeline Dyer

This is a post-apocalyptic sort of story. Mankind has been fragmented into two distinct parts: the Untamed, who live in the wild, free and more like humanity as we know it, and the Enhanced (or the Chosen, as they prefer to call themselves)- enlightened, perfect, and dependent on chemical augmenters for their continued perfect existence. Seven is one of the Untamed, until she is captured by the Enhanced and broken down until she accepts the augmenters and begins to change into one of the Chosen. But she seems to never really forget her past life as an Untamed, and her family. It seems to be a little bit Stepford Wives, and a little bit Neal Stephenson. I’m interested in Seven as a character, and fascinated by the idea of the augmenters, and what the ongoing battle between the Untamed and the Enhanced will mean for the survival of mankind. Another definite possiblility.

Foul Is Fair (Fair Folk Chronicles, Book 1) by Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins

Fantasy here, and another with Faerie components. Megan is trying to live with ADHD. She takes her medication daily, and obsesses over her math homework, copying formulas over and over. Her best friend is connected to the Faerie world and has a pixie replace one of Megan’s medications with Vitamin C, presumably so she will then be able to see the existence of the faerie folk. Once she does, she and her friend are chased by a Red Cap, and Megan is scratched, marking her so that the demon can find her wherever she goes. The girls are attempting to escape or at least find refuge at the Seattle Seahawks stadium (the story is set in present day Seattle). Okay, this one really ended the sample on a cliffhanger. Why Megan? I suspect she has some sort of power or ability that the faerie folk need. Does it connect to her ADHD? Maybe. Yeah, I think I am hooked. This one is almost a definite yes.

The Singing Stones of Rendor (Eidolon Trilogy, Book 1) by Neils Knudsen

Well, this one was a must try. I am always interested in stories that use music as a part of the magic system. The story opens with an old woman, who appears to be some sort of mage of an ancient religion. She sneaks around the local taverns, listening to the bards who perform in them, looking for a true singer. She is accosted by two men who recognize her braid and her shawl as being from the old religion, but she overpowers them, learning that they have this musical talent. She feeds on their talent. She learns that there is a child about to be born who may become the savior of her people, and who she hopes will exact vengeance on those who killed her family when the old religion was suppressed. She tries to set some sort of control or binding on the boy’s ability as he is being born, but he is too strong even then and she dies. It’s a bit confusing, but like many high fantasy stories, there are a lot threads to pull together and I hope the plot manages to do so. I am fascinated by what I’ve read so far. Another possible yes.

(Image from Pete’s Seafood Club)


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