Cover Image: Debut Fiction Sampler, Spring 2021

Debut Fiction Sampler, Spring 2021

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Member Reviews

I love the samplers, as they help me decide what I am interested in reading!  It's nice to have a sneak peek instead of just relying on a description.  I enjoyed all the stories included in this one!
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Love the sneak peeks on new books. 

Thanks to publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
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A wonderful guide to help me find my next great read.  I loved the layout and book descriptions. I recommend serious readers to pick up this fiction sampler before choosing their next book.
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This is a beautifully curated group of stories from a diverse array of authors. I love reading these samplers because I am a person who likes to try on the authors voice for size I buy the whole book.

In this collection I found three books I’d love to read more of: The Opium Prince, a story that begins with a tragedy in Afghanistan; Dial A for Aunties, a story about a Chinese family full of sunrise abs, apparently, curses; and The Dictionary of Lost Words, which is so wonderfully unique I can’t even figure out how to explain it.

Even the books that were not necessarily fir me were beautifully written, and I really appreciated the variety and diversity of voices and stories included.

Thanks to Penguin Random House and NetGalley for the lovely sampler, and OMG I really need to finish reading The Opium Prince ASAP. 😃
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Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest review!

I am always excited for sampler books as they help me to find out what I want (and don't want) to be reading next. I do prefer when the samplers include a brief synopsis of the book before the text. Most of these turned out to be not for me (mostly the writing style wasn't what I wanted to be reading), but a few I found interesting and am excited for. I'm happy to see Brood included in the sampler as I enjoyed that book very much when I got a chance to read it through Netgalley in 2020. There were a few previews in here that are very buzzy and I was excited to get a peek (Dial A for Aunties, Things We Lost to the Water, The Dictionary of Lost Words). I will definitely be picking up Things We Lost to the Water. The Sweet Taste of Muscadines was a pleasant surprise.
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I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley for review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
This periodical is a sampler of upcoming book releases. Historical fiction, family drama, tales of immigration experience, fantastical sheds where words are stored. Don't know what to read? This fine compilation will be helpful to select a personal book or assist in book club selections.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for the chance to read these samples!

I am a picky reader who tends to navigate toward books I already know I will like (ah, the power of genre fiction) and I like the opportunity that these samplers give me to at least attempt to expand my boundaries. This batch was, unfortunately, generally not to my taste.

THE OPIUM PRINCE by Jasmine Aimaq - I could tell from the opening page, where the narrators hits a young girl with his car, that book was Not For Me, and none of the subsequent pages - the head-hopping, the petty wife, the quixotic American mission - served to change my mind.

THE NINE LIVES OF ROSE NAPOLITANO by Donna Freitas really made me mad. This sample is all about how this woman never wanted kids, and then her husband hated her because HE really wanted kids, and the woman finally had a kid and was like "oh I should have wanted you all along." I hated this so much. I know many women who are happily "childfree," in their terms, and that's ok! They're not monsters! I also know women who have medical issues that means they'll never have children and that is not anybody's business to know why someone does or does not have children! This whole section was about how horrible the woman is for not wanting a baby and being devoted to her career, and how she also hates herself for it--this seems to me to just be perpetuating horrible stereotypes about what women should want and it just made me so upset. Ironically, I think it bothered me even more because I DO want children but my husband and I are aware of what a gigantic life choice it is and it's making me even more aware that this is not for everyone and not something you should be pressured into.

I was already in a bad mood and then we hit THE MUSIC OF BEES by Eileen Garvin. We are deeply in the head of our protagonist who has a lot of mental issues and is in no shape to drive let alone be transporting an extremely delicate cargo of bee hives, and she just keeps working herself up until she starts crying about her dead husband and crashes the car. At this point in the sampler I was really fed up with all these appallingly horrible people that are the main characters of these books.

I honestly have no idea what happened in the sample of HIGHWAY BLUE by Alisa McFarlane. The narrator walks someone's dog and then there is an extended flashback about getting married at 19 and breaking into a house that night?

It was eerie to read the sample of THINGS WE LOST TO THE WATER by Eric Nguyen given the recent attacks against women of Asian descent. I thought this sample was interesting--the note about how Vietnamese accents tell you how to pronounce the word, while English pronunciation is just *shrug emoji* really stuck with me--but the desperation of Huong's own situation as well as being stuck in the misery with an unhappy couple the Minhs just really makes it seem like this book would be much too bleak for me.

BROOD by Jackie Polzin is apparently a fiction book about raising chickens? I'm sure there will be some deep metaphor or something but generally this mostly just felt to me like an instruction manual.

DIAL A FOR AUNTIES by Jesse Q Sutanto was only one of two books in this collection that I'd already heard about (THE DICTIONARY OF LOST WORDS) is the other. I have to admit that this opener prologue and chapter 1 is so dizzying that if I didn't know the concept of the book (her dates dies and the aunts help her Weekend At Bernie's) I would be completely lost. The chaos of the dim sum scene and the languages constantly switching is very evocative (my husband once brought me to dim sum and, can confirm, extremely overstimulating) but also makes it hard to get into the scene. Again, I'm interested in reading this book because of what I'd heard, but if the whole book is going to be this madcap and fast-talking I might need some Dramamine for this roller coaster ride.

THE SWEET TASTE OF MUSCADINES by Pamela Terry - The prologue really confused me about whether this book was magical realism or not. I think it is not magical realism,  just came off that way because of the confused 8-year-old's POV? And the book is actually kind of a family drama/murder mystery? But I'm not really sure.

THE ELEPHANT OF BELFAST by S Kirk Walsh - This was an enjoyable opening scene, with the arrival of Violet the elephant and her parade through Belfast, with some inadvertent detours, on her way to her new home in the zoo. However, I zoned out once we moved away from Violet onto Hettie the female zookeeper and her grief, and all of the looming WWII stuff. I know WWII is this huge trend in literary fiction, but I just avoid all of it because I know it will be horribly depressing. Although I did like THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, so maybe if someone tells me that Violet lives and is a huge inspiration to the people of Belfast during the war, I might read it, but for now I have a bad feeling that tragic things will happen and I just can't deal with that.

THE DICTIONARY OF LOST WORDS by Pip Williams is the other book I'd already heard of, which also has a catchy concept. The tagline is something like "bondmaid is missing from the dictionary, this is the story of the girl who stole it," which sounds like urban fantasy or something but actually just looks more realistic, like an imagining of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary? I have read some nonfiction about the OED, like THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN, so the concept of postcards with words and examples was familiar to me, but it was also very distracting to have this double vision of prior knowledge, but to have the fictional narrative about this girl and her widowed father and her coming of age or whatever keep getting in the way of the story I'm familiar with.

Of this collection, I definitely want to try DIAL A FOR AUNTIES, but more because of the buzz than of this sample as a standalone. Some of the others, like THE ELEPHANT OF BELFAST, THE DICTIONARY OF LOST WORDS, and THINGS WE LOST TO THE WATER I would want to have recommended to me, and assurances of a happy or at least optimistic ending, before I gave the whole book a go. As you might be able to tell, I am not a literary fiction reader and that definitely means I am not a fit for many of these books!
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Looking forward to:

The Opium Prince -- "The rich world has rules and regulations. The poor world has rituals and traditions. These worlds weigh the same." This book starts with a car accident. Fast-paced and intriguing, I immediately added it to my TBR list.

The Music of Bees -- This story looks very promising and I was glad to be able to read a small sample.

The Dictionary of Lost Words -- Historical fiction, celebrating words and women’s experiences. Can't wait!!
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I love being able to read samples of books that will soon be published. There were so many great ones in this collection. Thank you so much for this opportunity, I can't wait to dive into the full copies.
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Appreciate being able to read samples of some of the books soon to be published. There were several here I am eager to read more of. Thank you for providing these great previews!
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Thank you for the opportunity to sample these books! It is a great way to get a peek at what’s to come.
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Great sampler of upcoming Spring 2021 fiction.  I always look forward to these samplers to see what books are being released that I may be interested in.
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This is a great sampler! It's made me very excited for quite a few releases! I
So many great covers and great intro's!
Thank you!
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Thank you to the publishers for providing these previews! This is a great sampler of some debut titles coming out in the spring. I found the covers particularly striking, and out of all the stories the last one, The Dictionary of Lost Words, really captivated me! A new one for the tbr, which I might not have heard about if not for this sampler.
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Thanks for this preview. There was one title that I didn’t think would interest me but after reading the excerpt I will definitely check it out when it’s released. Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for the reads. I thoroughly enjoyed them.
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Nice sampler of many new books releasing this Spring. Good chance to peruse those that might be of interest. Thanks for the opportunity.
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I'm so interested in the books in this sampler.  I'm excited for the Spring time and the new fiction titles that'll be released.
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Is it possible to want to read all these books?

First, I'd love to say that the book covers are exemplary. I was drawn in by the rich colors and it's something that I had to mention because well, I loved what I saw here.

Second, I'll state for the record that I was utterly taken by The Opium Prince and The Dictionary of Lost Words. I would love to (a) read all the books however (b) I would most definitely buy the two titles because bias creeped in as I was reading and I can't wait to know what happened next!

Thanks Netgalley for the eARC. This sampler was delicious!
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These samplers are great because not only do you get some good recommendations for new books, you also get to read a sample from each to see if you're interested! Also, this sampler is all debut author books, which is great to help them get on other's radar! The Music of Bees is one that stuck out to me, and I'm looking forward to reading the full book when it's released.
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A good glimpse at novels coming out in Spring. Quite a few interesting reads contained in the sampler and I would be keen to read more of the full length novels to get a better idea of whether they are to my taste or not.
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