Try A Chapter #8

The Try A Chapter Tag is back! A little longer than usual, as I’ve been away for a while – my goodreads TBR was getting too long after the new entries in the last few days…

As usual, these are not reviews and don’t say much about the quality of the work as a whole; there are just far too many books I want to read, and trying the first chapter of those I’m not completely sure about helps me understand what I want to prioritize.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho: I plan to slowly go through most of the YA books on my TBR with the Try A Chapter Tag, just to be completely sure that I actually want to read them. Most of their premises sound great – I know this one does, as magical foxes in any form are my favorite creatures in fantasy and this is about a gumiho – but let’s see if I also think the same about the story itself.
The first chapter: apart from some slightly cheesy turns of phrase, I really liked this! The atmosphere is perfect, the conflict Miyoung is facing is intriguing, and I haven’t read an urban fantasy in so long. (Also, so many food mentions already… I haven’t had lunch yet this is an Attack)
[will read at some point]

The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer: listen I actually have no idea what this is and I’ve never even heard of the author, but the cover is an ELDRITCH TOOTH SWAN. I have to know why this was a choice that was made. I have so many questions.
The first chapter: I’m just not getting along with this, and I can’t even tell why – there’s nothing exactly wrong with it, but trying to get through the first chapter felt like wading through mud. I don’t want to be unfair to the book, so I’ll say that it’s about stage magicians and I just finished a book about the same topic (…with much better writing though), so maybe I just don’t feel like it.
[goodbye, eldritch tooth swan]

Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena: to be honest, I added this for the cover only (just look at it), as the last two years had me slowly losing all the trust I had in YA fantasy, but A Song of Wraiths and Ruin singlehandedly reminded me that this genre can be great fun if you choose the right ones, so let’s try!
The first chapter: listen it’s not the book’s fault but why are maps always unreadable on ebook?? anyway, this didn’t catch my interest at all. There must be some terrible writing advice on the internet that says you have to start every YA fantasy with a scene of someone getting murdered, because I find this kind of thing in half of the ones I try. I don’t know how common of an opinion this is, but I honestly couldn’t think of a more off-putting opening – I haven’t even heard the main character speak once and you’re talking to me about arrows going through people’s heads. If I don’t know the characters, it just feels like yeah get some graphic violence, don’t you want more when actually I want to know about the characters and the world. Tell me why should I spend time here.
[removing from TBR]

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White: in theory, F/F sci-fantasy sounds like the best premise a story could ever have and exactly like the kind of book I could see going on my list of favorites of the year, but the fact that it has been on my TBR since 2018 tells me that maybe there’s a reason I don’t feel drawn to it. After the almost-all-correct Five Star Predictions post, I want to trust my gut feelings even when I don’t understand them.
The first chapter: it’s literally named D.N.F. Is this a joke? Anyway, I kind of hate the writing – listen, I’m the last one who will complain about everything being full of sci-fi-sounding words for the atmosphere™, but this has no grace to it – and couldn’t care less about race cars in space™, so I guess this is going. (I also skimmed the rest of the ebook preview and I’m just not feeling it.)
[removing from TBR]

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet: me, trying ~literary~ historical fiction? I know, unusual, but I do believe one can find something that works for them in pretty much every genre if they know where to look – and to know where to look, one has to try kind of randomly at first. This sounds interesting and everyone seems to love it, so why not? (Now, if only I were able to find an adult mystery/thriller that worked for me…)
The first chapter: this is fascinating and, as predicted, the writing is great. The fact that we’re going to be following different characters across history is encouraging, because I don’t know if I would be up for reading a whole book set in the sixties. I might check out the audiobook, because it does have the kind of writing that could work great aloud.
[will read at some point]

I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch: on one hand, it’s an F/F romance. On the other hand, it’s YA contemporary – which is very hit-or-miss for me – and got mixed reviews from my goodreads friends.
The first chapter: I guess it makes sense for an enemies-to-lovers book about fanfiction to read like mediocre enemies-to-lovers high school AU fanfiction of a pairing I don’t know, but that doesn’t mean it’s interesting. Remind me to never have high hopes for books that have anything to do with fandom.
[removing from TBR]

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He: I wanted to read this last year, then it just never happened for no reason, despite the positive hype and the lovely cover and the fact that the premise does sound interesting to me (court politics… yes).
The first chapter: now this is my kind of beginning. Carefully setting up the atmosphere, and in the meantime… let’s talk about treason. I’m intrigued but don’t want to go too far into the book before I actually pick it up. Sometimes you really do know you want to read something just from the first paragraphs.
[will read at some point]

“I felt like I was having a stroke”

goodreads review of The Pursuit of Miss Heartbreak Hotel

The Pursuit of Miss Heartbreak Hotel by Moe Bonneau: I removed this book from my TBR last year because it has almost overwhelmingly horrible reviews, all of them complaining about the writing. Which is interesting, because YA contemporary is possibly the genre in which I see authors take the least risks writing style-wise, so I’m curious – and also, it doesn’t feel right to not give a chance to a book about queer girls.
The first chapter: oh. The reviews all complained about the writing being overdone and weird and unreadable. They’re not wrong. It’s written half in slang I don’t fully understand and half in the way I think when I’ve just had a panic attack, by which I mean its writing is full of repetition, echolalia-like patterns and a kind of… rhythmic matching of words? To make some examples, this is a quote from the narration: glow little glowworm, glimmer, glimmer. I laugh and hum and pick up my marker and draw. Shine little glowworm, shimmer, shimmer. Or describing someone as everyday, every-guy, average hit hero. It’s all like that. In case it wasn’t clear, I love it and appreciate the neurodivergence of it all, intentional or not. It’s very cozy.
[will definitely read]

Have you read or want to read any of these?

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