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Monthly Try A Chapter #3

Welcome to the third monthly Try A Chapter! This one will be mostly backlist, as there aren’t many February releases I was on the fence about.


The Books

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The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso: I’ve been hearing a lot about this for a while, and the reviews so far have been mixed – most seem to agree the way this was marketed was kind of misleading – but I am interested in a fantasy story focusing on a failed marriage, we don’t get a lot about the developments of established relationships in fantasy. Also, Kameron Hurley recommended it on twitter.
The first chapter: every time I see the words “bitch queen” I get a flashback to the Throne of Glass fandom when Queen of Shadows came out. That quote was everywhere and I hated it. Anyway, I don’t think I love the writing – it feels really dry so far – but I’m intrigued. Since I haven’t had the best luck with fantasy lately, I’m not sure I want to read this, but I’m not ruling it out either.
[keeping it on the “maybe” shelf]

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If, Then by Kate Hope Day: I’ve seen this appear on some queer SFF list last year, and it should be sapphic, but it’s also in that “literary sci-fi” niche I have no experience with and many doubts about (I hope it doesn’t mean “sci-fi, but boring”).
The first chapter: just like I’m too old for most middle grade and a good portion of YA fantasy, I’m too young for married adults regretting their life choices and boring lives. I wouldn’t be too surprised if that continued to be true even as I get older, but you never know. Anyway, next.
[removed from TBR]

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The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin: after not loving The Fifth Season, I kind of lost interest in N.K. Jemisin’s books, until I tried almost by chance her collection How Long ’til Black Future Month, in which the story The Narcomancer made me understand that I absolutely need to try this.
The first chapter: can I just say that I love this a lot? The world and the magic system are what’s drawing me in the first place – as it was for The Fifth Season, but this time I think this will be more of my kind of story and less… that. I hope I like the characters, because everything else seems gorgeous.
[will definitely continue]

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My Education by Susan Choi: dark academia is that genre that keeps drawing me in in theory and so far doesn’t work in practice (I… didn’t even get what one could like about If We Were Villains, for example) but this is about a queer woman so maybe?
The first chapter: yeah, no! I quit a paragraph in. You can just feel the pretentiousness radiating from the writing, which is going out of its way to purposefully sound like that. I think I keep hoping for dark academia to mean something different than it actually does – probably because most of it is inspired by The Secret History. But why does “dark academia” have to mean people being pretentious about things I don’t care about when you could do so many other things with it? What a waste of a name.
[removed from TBR]

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Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland: on one hand, asexual representation! villain romance! On the other hand, it’s an m/f one, and the way gender roles are tied into those kind of turn me off and I’ve been slowly losing interest in YA fantasy as time goes on, so I’m not completely sure about this one.
The first chapter: I don’t love the tendency to infodump – the prologue of this was basically an enormous infodump masked as a lesson – but this was intriguing enough. I want to know more about this world and its mythology, though I have to admit I still have some doubts (…as someone who isn’t much for romance and has gone on and off identifying as aromantic but is definitely not asexual, I like villain “romances” because of the sexual tension and don’t really actually care about the romance. So. We’ll see?)
[will probably continue]

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Rebelwing by Andrea Tang: this has been getting some hype on twitter since it just came out, and it does look sufficiently weird (sci-fi dragons?). However, it was compared to The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, which I hated (it’s not bad. It’s deeply not my thing), so I want to try first.
The first chapter: I think I like this? It’s absurd and over-the-top, as it means to be, and the opening scene is really funny. However, I feel like it’s the kind of thing that might wear off quickly. I’ll see if I’m ever in the mood for it in the next few months, if not, I’ll remove it.
[keeping it on the “maybe” shelf]

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Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams: an award-nominated contemporary adult novel following a British Jamaican woman and her struggles with mental health and everyday microaggressions. I’m not familiar with this genre at all, I’m just trying to venture in the adult contemporary spaces, but I’m curious.
The first chapter: awkward, feels real, and I already really like the voice of the main character. Funny and sad at the same time. Does it make sense to say that I’d probably love this more in a few years? The only thing that holds me back is that I kind of feel that “adults doing boring adult things” detachment, but at the same time I am an adult, just… still young enough for this to feel that kind of distance. I don’t think it’s going to be that much of a problem, though.
[will definitely continue]

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The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao: Might this be the one time I actually like an adult contemporary mystery? I’m always looking for something that might work for me in this genre, so far everything I’ve tried has disappointed me. Anyway, this one *starts* with a mass poisoning, so maybe I won’t spend 30% of the book wondering when people will begin to die? (Looking at you, Untamed Shore & If We Were Villains)
The first chapter: of course it has a loooong flashback right after that is all about rich people life details I don’t care about. And it’s just… going from a long, drawn out description of the death of an entire large family to rich people problems is a weird shift in tone and I’m probably not interested in this one either. I really don’t like the idea of not liking a whole genre, but so far… I don’t know why adult thrillers are all so unreadable to me. They always sound amazing until I actually try them.
[removed from TBR]

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Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston: the thing is, you see, that I don’t care that much about ultrarich/famous people’s everyday life. So I thought to go through my TBR and remove all the ones dealing with that. Then I remembered that this is probably last year’s most hyped book, and that I should at least give it a chance.
The first chapter: a romance book that starts with an infodump? I don’t want to know what’s in the room of a main character I haven’t even met! The first dialogues are about the characters talking about tabloid coverage of themselves, and the main character has a rivalry with the prince of England. While I might be interested in the author’s next book – the writing is fine, once you get through the beginning – I realize that I deeply don’t care about any of this. Please don’t kill me.
[removed from TBR]


Have you read or are you anticipating any of these?

14 thoughts on “Monthly Try A Chapter #3

  1. I think deeply not caring about Red, White & Royal Blue is my entire aesthetic right now. After reading A Princess in Theory and Of Curses and Kisses in February, I’m just not interested in royal romances so you’re definitely not alone. Glad you like what you’ve read of The Killing Moon so far! I really want to read more of Jemisin’s work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I just don’t see the appeal as well – I remember thinking that maybe one of the reasons I liked Once Ghosted, Twice Shy and not A Princess in Theory was that the characters weren’t actual royals.

      Like

  2. I loved reading your Try a Chapter post! I have been eyeing Beyond the Black Door for a while now and currently have it on my Maybe Shelf, so I liked reading your thoughts about it! I can tolerate an infodump in the beginning, if it doesn’t happen all the time 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this. I usually have a pretty good idea if a book is going to be for me after the first chapter or so. Oh no, SJM flashbacks. Every once in a while I get those too. Still, like you, I am still intrigued by The Wolf of Oren-Yaro. Hope some of these work out for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well if you decide to read The Wolf of Oren-yaro, I hope you love it! I agree I really did not like it when she was referred to as “bitch queen”. I think she was using it in a self-deriding manner, so I eventually sort of got over it. The Killing Moon sounds really good too! I’d love to know your thoughts when you get around to it since I also wasn’t the biggest fan of The Fifth Season even though I respect and admire Jemisin a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, it felt self-deriding, it just reminded me of a series in which the same words are used… more seriously and with pride? I remember it really making me cringe at the time.

      I hope I’ll be able to get to at least one of them soon! I haven’t read an adult fantasy novel in a while.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah- it made me cringe regardless (and I think I may have used the wrong word, is it self deprecating I wanted? Although, looking at the definition of deriding it still look like it applies.) I understand the message the author wanted to convey I just don’t think it was executed all that well. The other book you are talking about would have been a DNF for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I really love this Try a Chapter thing! It feels like a really great way to clear books of your TBR. I’m a bit weird about things like this, though. It’s hard to explain – like, I feel that if I read the first chapter and am immediately turned off, does that mean I won’t like it or am I just not in the mood for it right now? What if it gets better? Could I be missing out on something great? Sometimes if I’m unsure about whether I will like a book but am also curious about it and excited about it I will literally avoid reading even a single line unless I’m in a perfect mood, in the hopes that I’ll like it more. Which is ridiculous because I almost always know how much I will like a book just after reading the first chapter; it’s very easy for me to discern from the writing style how I’ll get along with a book. Still makes me nervous though. :p

    Re: Oren-Yaro, I’m tentatively excited about that one, but LOL at your bitch queen comment. I feel that.

    Re: The Killing Moon, I’m so excited for you to read that! Personally, I think that the sequel, The Shadowed Sun, has far superior characters and is overall a better book, but The Killing Moon is still a really great read that introduces a fantastic world and intriguing magic system.

    LMAO @ Susan Choi’s book; a friend who just finished reading Trust Exercise messaged me to be like “DON’T READ THIS BOOK YOU’LL HATE IT” because she knows how much I hate pretentious literary fiction and from the screenshots she sent me it seems being super pretentious is kind of this author’s forte!

    Re: The Majesties, that one is on my list and I am unsure! I’ve also recently discovered that adult thrillers generally are just not my jam, and I can’t really pinpoint why, though I think I think it has something to do with the fact that this genre tends to prioritize plot over character, if that makes sense? Like I feel like thrillers are kind of shallow when it comes to creating characters and they rely heavily on a big twist but that’s all. They’re almost always forgettable.

    Re: Red, White, and Royal Blue, I struggled deeply to get into that one! It wasn’t until I was about 100 pages in that the pace picked up, and I ended up enjoying it a lot and giving it four stars but it’s a rough start. But see, this is what I mean when I say I’m afraid to try a chapter and then give something up! Because this is a book I considered DNFing but ended up enjoying later on, so it’s rare books like this that give me anxiety about doing Try a Chapter haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I only try chapters from books I don’t know if I’m interested in to begin with – more than a way to see if I would like a book or not (though it’s mostly reliable in that too), it’s a way to see if the first chapter manages to spark some interest. I feel the fear of missing out too, especially with hyped titles like RWRB, but I know that even if I kept the books I removed on my TBR, they would just stay there to take up space – and I really want my TBR to stay small.
      (Also, I routinely re-add and re-remove things. I’m like that.)

      Re: Susan Choi’s books, it really seems so. I don’t have much experience with literary fiction but… now I know which kind I plan to avoid

      Re: Mystery/Thrillers, that’s probably it! I find them forgettable if I manage to get through them, and I did feel like the ones I tried tended to have flimsy characters. Plot-driven books aren’t particularly my kind of thing and that’s even more true for anything set in the real world.

      Liked by 1 person

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