Unfinished Business: The Kindle Firsts Edition

A while back I joined Amazon’s Kindle First newsletter, which sends you an email at the start of every month giving you a choice of four new books which you can have for free until the end of the month.
It’s a good idea as the books tend to be from lesser known authors meaning that they get exposure and some customer reviews on the site. That probably makes them more likely to sell better after, or that’s the only logical thinking I can work out.
Anyway, it’s a great idea, I get a free book every month.
The problem is that since joining I’ve gone 0-3 on the deal, getting three disappointing books. I’ve only made it to the end of one of those.
In the first I lost interest too early to even write an “unfinished business” review. On the second I stuck with it, but it wasn’t a satisfying read.

For the third I decided to call it a day a few chapters in. It was partly my fault, as I had chosen a fantasy novel.
In many ways I’m a stereotypical geek, but the one area I’m not is that I don’t really like fantasy books.
As a kid I loved the Redwall series, and the Harry Potter books, but since then fantasy books which worked for me have been few and far between. I blitzed The Hobbit in a weekend, and while it held my attention I can’t say it blew me away and some of it felt like a slog (and that was with me skipping the same songs). I took an abortive tilt at Lord of the Rings, but a few chapters into part 2 I decided I’d had enough and would wait for the movie.
Now I dig Robert E Howard’s Conan stories, but aside from that the writer has to be better than average to win me over.
This can either be due to their wit, humour and invention, like Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, or else by strong characterisation and wonderfully intricate plots like George R. R. Martin.
But in the July crop I decided to take a punt on the fantasy novel as the others didn’t take my fancy.
When it finished downloading I realised it was longer than I’d thought and a few pages in I feared I’d made a mistake. It was all elves and warriors, and I found myself struggling to get into it.
The writing didn’t help, being largely uninspired. I don’t want to be too harsh, as author Bernhard Hennen is German and writes in his native tongue, so it may just be a case of something getting lost in translation.
Anyway, a few chapters in and The Elves wasn’t working for me. I didn’t really care about the protagonist and none of the characters went much further than shallow sketches.

What didn’t help was the Kindle percentage bar at the bottom, because I was always aware that I’d barely scratched the surface and had lots to go. And so I decided that it wasn’t worth it and moved on to something else.
The Kindle firsts are a great idea, but you’re flying blind, and it’s luck of the drawer in the end, so here’s hoping August brings a better book. Or maybe I’m just a harsher critic when I haven’t paid for it? That having invested my own money I’m more likely to give something a chance or keep going for longer?
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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