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On the Hunt for that Magical Read…

July 18 Alternate Reality Pauline Baird Jones Instagram

Years ago, when I first started blogging, I would occasionally write about books I had read or was reading. I was, after all, a reader before I became an author, so it was natural for me to write about what I was reading. But two unfortunate side effects occurred that stopped me in my blogging tracks. I started getting review requests and friends wanted me to read their books and review them.

There is a big difference between mentioning a book you enjoyed reading and writing a review for a book—especially for a friend. 

Big difference. Huge. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a “reviewer.” Saying, “I like it” does not make me a reviewer. Reviewing is a skill, a craft, and a challenge that I don’t want to embrace. And I’m not going online to review a book I didn’t like. I don’t have time for that. 

Reviewers have to assess the books they read to the best of their ability. 

Some are better at it than others and reviewing, even by the most skilled, is inherently subjective. Oh, a reviewer can pick the plot and editing apart, but badly reviewed books still sell. 

I believe that reading is about connecting with the reader and having a personal chemistry with the way someone uses words to tell a story. Where the skill comes in is the ability to convey that chemistry to other readers. It’s “I liked it or I didn’t” in a lot more words.

And then there is the friend conundrum. Over the years, I’ve learned that I can like someone very much and still not connect with how they use words. (That’s one reason blogging is valuable to the author and reader. It’s a peek into how an author uses words, what they think about, and what matters to them.) 

This would be why I don’t review friends’ books on my blog. Because if I like a book, I say that. But if I don’t connect, then I can’t say that. My mom taught me, that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.

So you see the problem. If I highlight some friends’ books, and not others, I don’t have to say, I didn’t like their book. It’s pretty freaking obvious. <—–insert wry grin here

And even worse, they’ll think that if I just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet! <—insert horrified look here

This would be another reason I’m not a reviewer, even though I’m still an avid reader. I’m too tender-hearted.

And the last reason is time. At present, I probably have 1,000 books on my various e-readers (I LOVE technology like a hobbit loves mushrooms). I have loads of my friends’ books on my Kindle and some on my real shelves, all patiently waiting for me to get to them. 

I probably have enough books right now [not to] read until I die. I have so many I’ve had to impose a personal ban on buying new books. I have to read a book before I can buy a book. This still leaves me with 1,000+ books, but it’s a progress of sorts, right?

So, I sort of get around my own rule by Kindle sampling. I see an interesting book, or a friend has a new release, then I grab the sample so I won’t forget to check it out. 

Once a month, or sometimes every other month (because time has still not expanded to make my days longer, and when I’m writing I don’t always have time to read), I’ll have a sample day, where I go through and read samples. If I like what I read, the sample stays on my Kindle. If it doesn’t, off it goes. (And I sometimes buy, even though I told me I wouldn’t.)

So I thought this might be a fun time to share some of my samples and hopefully, you’ll share some of yours.

The first sample I see is a book called First Contact by Kaitlin O’Conner. Here’s the blurb:

Alida had always wanted to be an astronaut. She thought the mission she was assigned to would make her mark in the history books. It did but not quite the way she had expected.

Alida was stunned when she spotted the planet just drifting behind the sun’s corona, but she would’ve put it down to an illusion if not for the bogie that appeared directly behind the sighting.

And the massive alien ship that appeared not far behind that.

Commander Vulcan Aurelious was sent to determine the human threat. The one he found was one he hadn’t counted on.

If you want to check it out, too, click here. 

Up next is Decimate by Christopher Rice. Here is the blurb:

A desperate family confronts the mysteries that lie between life and death in this soul-gripping novel of supernatural suspense by Amazon Charts and New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice.

Claire Huntley and her brother, Poe, were on a midnight hike in Montana when the woods went wild. A blinding, devouring light and a rumbling pulse that blasted them off their feet left both kids with little memory of what happened. Their father insisted it was a violent extraterrestrial abduction; his wild obsession would tear their family apart in the wake of the trauma.

Fourteen years later, Claire, who’s battled anxiety attacks since that fateful hike, wants to heal her relationship with her brother, which has been damaged by his years of addiction. But only hours before their reunion, Poe’s crowded passenger plane plunges into the Colorado mountains. No one survives the fiery crash. In the midst of her grief, Claire accepts her estranged father’s request to join him in Montana, where he continues to investigate the paranormal force he believes altered his children down to their bones.

As they reunite, Claire’s anxiety attacks take on a new dimension. Is she experiencing hallucinations or visions? Is her brother’s presence in them a symptom of grief, or is she receiving messages from beyond life? The answers Claire and her father seek will take them on a breakneck journey deep into the Montana wilderness and the shadows of history, where they will unearth a secret force with terrifying implications for their family—and the world.

If you want to check it out, it is free on Amazon here. 

And the last one, Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchin. Here’s the blurb.

Two Ships. One Chance To Save The Future.

Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space, with little chance of rescue—until they encounter the research vessel Gallion, which claims to be from 152 years in the future.

The Gallion’s chief engineer Uma Ozakka has always been fascinated with the past, especially the tale of the Fortunate Five, who ended the war with the Felen. When the Gallion rescues a run-down junk freighter, Ozakka is shocked to recognize the Five’s legendary ship—and the Five’s famed leader, Eldric Leesongronski, among the crew.

But nothing else about Leesongronski and his crewmates seems to match up with the historical record. With their ships running out of power in the rift, more than the lives of both crews may be at stake…

If you want to check it out, click here. 

Well, that’s all for now! 

This brings me to the “question of the blog” moment. How do you find books that you like? Do you sample? 

Obviously, I find many of my samples through word-of-mouth, but whose mouth do you trust? Any books you’ve read recently that you just had to tell your friends about? Share the love. I’ve always had room on my Kindle for samples. 🙂

Perilously yours,