When I went to DeptCon2 last October, there were lots of sample chapters available for attendees to take home and see for themselves if they’d like to continue reading the full thing. Yes, that was back in October, it’s now April and I’ve made no dent in those samples yet. What happens when life gets in the way, huh?
So, now I have a little time to myself I’ve decided to make a start on some of the samples and see if it was something of which I’d read the full version. I’ve got five on my list at the moment, three of which are a little further out of my comfort zone than the others.
The only samples I didn’t include here were The Call and The One Memory of Flora Banks, both of which I’ve already read. I have full versions of Holding Up The Universe and All About Mia, so it’s time to find out if my purchases were a waste of money.
All About Mia by Lisa Williamson
Blurb: One family, three sisters.
GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student.
AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion.
And MIA, the mess in the middle.
Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers.
When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves.
But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.
Would I read on?: Definitely. That sample was far too short – I really like this story, and I’ve instantly connected with Mia. Already, I can tell I’m going to like the full version of this.
Street Song by Sheena Wilkinson
Blurb: RyLee’s career is over. After winning a national TV talent show and becoming a teen pop sensation, his fame and success has quickly been followed by addiction, media scrutiny, and career suicide. After a brief spell in rehab, 18-year-old Ryan has some rethinking to do.
His stepdad – music promoter and self-appointed creator of ‘RyLee’ – wants him at home and in school, and under his thumb. But after an argument descends into violence, Ryan decides to run away from his old life, his failed career, and his dysfunctional family.
When he meets the stunningly witty but distinctly average guitar-player Toni almost directly outside his front door, the opportunity to start afresh seems too good to pass up. Before long, he has arrived in a new city, joined Toni’s amazingly talented band, and reinvented himself under the name ‘Cal’. For the first time in his life Ryan has friends around him, he’s playing the music he’s always wanted to play, and – despite living in a hostel, busking for his wages, and living under a false identity – he’s finally happy.
But just when Ryan feels like he has truly started over, his past begins to catch up with him.
Would I read on?: I’m not big on the idea of reality shows in books or its consequences – Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern confirmed that for me. While I do like the writing, I don’t think the story is something for me.
The Jungle by Pooja Puri
Blurb: Mico has left his family, his home, his future. Setting out in search of a better life, he instead finds himself navigating one of the world’s most inhospitable environments the Jungle. For Mico, just one of many ‘unaccompanied children’, the Calais refugee camp has a wildness, a brutality all of its own.
A melting pot of characters, cultures, and stories, the Jungle often seems like its own strange world. But despite his ambitions to escape, Mico is unable to buy his way out from the ‘Ghost Men’ the dangerous men with magic who can cross borders unnoticed. Alone, desperate, and running out of options, the idea of jumping onto a speeding train to the UK begins to feel worryingly appealing.
But when Leila arrives at the camp one day, everything starts to change. Outspoken, gutsy, and fearless, she shows Mico that hope and friendship can grow in the most unusual places, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll show you the way out as well.
Would I read on?: Honestly, I don’t think I will. This chapter was just a little too heavy for me, and I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I did the others.
Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven
Blurb: Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognise faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.
Would I read on?: Yes. From what I read in the sample, I’m really intrigued by what’s going to happen when Linby enters mainstream school. I’m also intrigued by the face-blind storyline.
Frostblood by Elly Blake
Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Would I read on?: This book wasn’t for me. It’s a little Game of Thrones territory, and I’ve never really been into that kind of fiction. It’s one that my Dad would really enjoy, but I don’t think it’s for me.