Thursday Rambles: Samplers and First Chapters

I have never been so appreciative of samplers and Amazon’s “Look Inside” than when I’m considering to purchase some books. Or the library. Or a First Chapters ezine.

These four–samplers, “Look Inside”, the library, first chapter peek–allows me to…well, sample the story, the author’s writing style, etc in order to make informed judgments before parting with my hard-earned $$$. I usually read reviews before buying, but there are always contradictory voices, and until I find a reviewer whose tastes runs similar to mine, a peek into the book is always very welcome.

Like Monica Burns’ Forever Mine. I love Jude Devereaux’s Knight in Shining Armor, being one of the first romance books I’ve read. I love the way I was swept into the past, the fun times the heroine got up to living in history and amazing them with modern-day tricks. So, when I saw Forever Mine in the ezine, I dug eagerly into the first chapter, and the mystery of the paintings, the entire situation set up in the chapter, the author’s writing style drew me in, compelled in me an urge to know more about Nick and Victoria, and what would happen to them. It’s a romance, so we know they would have an HEA, but would it be in the past or the present? How would they get there? I immediately went to get a copy and I can’t wait to read it!

When I need an adventure, I go hunting for fantasy books. But I’m not well-versed in them, and I don’t like hard-core fantasies. I like fantasy books with a bit (okay, maybe more than a bit) of romance in them. So, I went to browse the reviews on Amazon, but due to the abovementioned conflicting voices, I couldn’t make up my mind. And reading the first few pages of the book via Amazon and the library helped me make up my mind about these books:

Well of Darkness by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Sadly, the reviewers were right. Prince Dagnarus (one of the main characters) is a spoiled brat, and I don’t like the way he treated his whipping boy, Gareth. At first, when Dagnarus took Gareth’s side, I thought the reviewers were mistaken and that there was something redeemable in Dagnarus. I can live with that. However, when he changed Gareth’s name to Patch, it was unacceptable. Perhaps that is something common in this world, with him being a prince moreover, but it speaks to me of a lack of respect. And I can’t continue reading a book where I despise the main character. So…No.

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Robin Hobb, and despite mixed reviews on Amazon, I wanted to start this book a lot of times, but just never found the time. So, as I was craving for fantasy, I decided to try this and checked it out from the library.

Perhaps I hadn’t read enough reviews but I hadn’t read any that said this book was written in the first person perspective. I don’t dislike this POV, but it’s not my favorite, and certainly not in a fantasy book (IMHO). And coupled with the hint of bitter commentary in the character’s voice, erm…No.

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