Welcome to the second monthly Try A Chapter! These posts will replace monthly TBRs this year.
Each post will be mostly focused on recent releases I’m on the fence about (the ones I’m sure I want to read at some point, like Dark and Deepest Red, won’t be here), but there will be some backlist books as well. My goal is, of course, to keep my TBR small, which will allow me to focus only on things I’m really interested in – I won’t have that much time for reading this year and I want to make the most of it.
Spellhacker by M.K. England [January new release; sci-fi]: I haven’t tried anything by this author before, but they write queer YA SFF that seem to be more or less well-liked? I have my biases against YA sci-fi but I’m always ready to be proven wrong.
The first chapter: Instant quit. I hated the magic system at first sight – there’s Maz (magic, I presume) of which some strains are, I kid you not, “Obscuraz, Songaz, Sunnaz, Scentaz and Formaz”, because certain authors have neither imagination nor sense of grace when it comes to naming things – and the way the characters interacted in the first chapters gave me Illuminae flashbacks. Not for me.
[removed from TBR]
The Outside by Ada Hoffmann [backlist; sci-fi]: this should be… cosmic horror in space with a queer autistic protagonist. And it should be weird. I’m not sure it will work for me because cult-related plotlines are very hit-or-miss, but I’m curious, even though most reviews I’ve seen weren’t positive.
The first chapter: Oh, this opens with a quote from the Inferno, and it’s a really peculiar choice for an Inferno quote. Maybe out of context it speaks of fanatism? But it’s about love in context, so I don’t know. We’ll see. And I really liked what I saw of the first chapter – physicists in space! Creeping dread! This is going to be fun.
[will definitely continue]
Prosper’s Demon by K.J. Parker [January new release; fantasy novella]: so, I’m in love with this cover, I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews, and apparently there’s something about bronze statues in here? Because of a running joke in my family, this might be relevant to my interests. However, I’ve never read anything by this author before.
The first chapter: the writing is great, the voice stands out from the beginning, and I guess this is a very effective way to open a book and give you a feel of both the world and of the main character. I can’t fault that. However, there’s quite nothing that will annoy me in a few pages as starting a book with graphic details of the death of a nameless woman – a sex worker, since that’s fantasy’s favorite victim – especially if the author is a man and the male main character makes it about himself. Please don’t take this as a meaning that this book is bad, because I have no way of knowing that – I just realize that I deeply do not care about knowing what happens next, and that’s fine.
[removed from TBR]
We Used To Be Friends by Amy Spalding [January new release; contemporary]: I liked The Summer of Jordi Perez well enough, but it was neither a life-changing nor perfectly written story, so I’m not sure about this. It’s a story about a friendship breakup in which one of the main characters is queer, and we do need more stories about friendship.
The first chapter: This was… boring. I don’t know if it’s the book or me – I find myself less and less interested in YA contemporary as time goes on – but I don’t think I’m going to get to this one.
[removed from TBR]
Blood Countess by Lana Popović [January release; historical fantasy]: this is an Elizabeth Bathory retelling focusing on a toxic f/f relationship between the countess and the girl who will become her servant. It sounds horrible and I’m so here for it.
The first chapter: starting a book about Elizabeth Bathory with a kitten had me worried about the worst immediately, but I’m glad that wasn’t the case (…so far). Still, here’s the thing: I have already read another novel by this author, Wicked Like a Wildfire, which also had everything I could ever want from a book – and I liked it but didn’t love it, because me and her writing don’t get along much, and the same might be happening here. I find the dialogue a bit clunky here too, so I’m not sure.
[will probably wait for reviews]
This was more “to remove” than I ever found in a Try A Chapter Tag! I guess it’s successful? Having a big TBR stresses me out, and while this was not a great day for first chapters, now at least there are four less books.
Do you like having a small TBR as well?