In late December I downloaded a whole bunch (maybe 20-25?) of sample chapters. I’ve changed my book selection approach a little and am just picking random books in the middle of a series rather than at the start – mostly because some can take a while to hit their stride, and really some of my favourites have been the ones not started at #1. We’ll see how that goes.
One thing that has definitely been reinforced is to not base purchases solely on 4.5-5 star amazon reviews! So much that is, well it’s probably an exaggeration to say unspeakably awful, but shall we say close to it?
On with the books:
Sara Rosett: Murder on Location Boxed Set Books 1-3
This is quite possibly the most niche themed murders I’ve ever read – Jane Austen movie/documentary location scout. This was the first of my samples and the sample was so long that it pretty much gave me the entire first book. This was a quite clever strategy as I bought it to see what happened (even though I wasn’t terribly invested).
Trust me when I say you don’t want to read these – they’re not horrible, but just kind of ham-fisted and “meh”.
Ann Cleeves: Harbour Street (Vera Stanhope #6)
Switched to the book because the audiobook narrator (see below) was just dreadful (reviews were correct on that score).
I adore Vera – but these are definitely books to be listened to.
Beau Donelly, Nick Toscano: The Woman Who Fooled The World: Belle Gibson’s cancer con, and the darkness at the heart of the wellness industry
This is very good. You should read it. Really.
Rangan Chatterjee: The 4 Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life
I don’t know where I first saw this, but you know that I’m helpless in the face of self-improvement books.
I quite liked this and it is full of eminently sensible and achievable advice – like get your face out of devices 90 minutes before bed, spend 20 minutes outside, do daily glutes exercises, eat vegatables. Though I really can’t understand the need for soulful photos of Dr Chatterjee every couple of pages which don’t really add anything to anything.
Worth a look.
Faith Martin: The Work of a Narrow Mind
Dropped in at #6 in a series. Thought the characters played into pretty much every stereotype going and were quite poorly drawn.
This cost $1.39. I should know better. And I really need to stop paying any attention to 5 star reviews.
After bewailing in December that I had way too many credits, I really ramped up the audiobook listening in January. Mostly because they’re excellent accompaniments to housework, embroidery and balcony painting (and walking to work, and sitting about). I find that listening to a book really makes me slow down and absorb – I have an unpleasant tendency to race through written books. I also took the approach I did with reading – and just jumped into the middle.
Ann Cleeves: Murder in Paradise (Palmer-Jones #3)
Didn’t care for this very much and so returned it for refund. I’m surprised that I went on to listen to more Ann Cleeves (below) – but the audible reviews (not so misleading as amazon ones!) persuaded me, as did an interview with the author who admitted her earlier work was not the best.
I really, really adored these – Vera is curmudgeonly, bossy, irascible, heart-of-gold – you know the type. I loved these so much that I could get past #2 on my reading-hates list: inconsistencies between books in a series (but hang-on, you had X, did Y, said Z, in the last book – now it’s A,B,C?).
I moved onto #6 and couldn’t get beyond the 3rd Chapter and moved to the book because the narrator was SO TERRIBLE. Unfortunately the narrator is the same for #8 and #9, so I think I’m stuck here.
Set post-WW1, pleasant enough in that Maisie Dobbs way – but so choc-full of anachronisms that I could not continue any longer (but it wasn’t called that then, but that wasn’t invented yet, but you wouldn’t use that terminology). Infuriating – yes, I’m super-fun at parties.
I don’t know how Cherringham passed me by! These were novellas released monthly – set in cutesy Cotswold village. Neil Dungeon’s American accent is hilariously appalling – but these are well, completely charming and totally cosy (and quite inexpensive).
And there’s enough here to keep me going for a good while longer!