using kindle samples to test my tbr, part one

This post is inspired by my try a chapter posts, as well as by Inge – who is a wonderful human being and part of the Of Wonderland team. The past few years, I’ve created a habit of buying books on my Kindle because they are cheap and never actually reading them. There are now quite a few unread ebooks on there, and it’s stressing me out. Then, a few months ago in our Twitter group chat, Inge mentioned that she’d be downloading a Kindle sample of a book she was interested in.

It blew my mind. How had I completely forgotten about the existence of Kindle samples? It would save me so much money and stress if I learned to try out a sample before buying anything. That brings me to today’s post.

I have downloaded Kindle samples of every book that is on my to-read or interested-in-reading list. The only ones that I did not consider for this test are sequels to books I love, novels that haven’t been released yet, and ones that are unavailable on Kindle. Today, I’m going to pick 5 random books off this list, read the samples, and decide whether it’s a book I want to buy or whether it’s one to remove off the TBR.

If this works out the way I want it to, the Kindle samples test should a) lower my TBR, b) save me money, and c) help me make smarter purchases.

madness in civilization: the cultural history of insanity

madness in civilization

Through twelve chapters organized chronologically, from antiquity to today, from the Bible to Freud, from exorcism to mesmerism, from Bedlam to Victorian asylums, from the theory of humours to modern pharmacology, Andrew Scull writes compellingly of the manifestations of madness, its meanings, its consequences and our attempts to treat it.

my thoughts on the sample

While this was a very interesting introduction to the book, I don’t think I will purchase it at the moment. It is a nonfiction book I would want to pick up at some point in time, but I don’t see myself getting to it in the coming year or two. Therefore, it shouldn’t be added to my shelf just yet. I’ll leave it on my to-read shelf on Goodreads, but I’ll mark it as a not-to-buy in my Google Sheet.

darius the great is not okay

darius the great is not okayDarius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. 

my thoughts on the sample

Darius the Great Is Not Okay is going on my to-buy list immediately. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll buy a hard copy of this book or listen to the audiobook instead, but I’m going to pick this up and read it this year. In the short amount of the novel I read, there were a lot of mentions of tea and Lord of the Rings, which makes it sound like the perfect book for me. I feel like Darius’ voice is one I’ll really enjoy reading from, and I do love family-oriented novels.

one word kill

one word killIn January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

my thoughts on the sample

The sample was definitely not what I expected, but I find myself intrigued nonetheless. I don’t actually know all that much about One Word Kill, other than it being a science fiction novel written by Mark Lawrence, and that the entire trilogy will be released in 2019. I’m pretty sure the first book and sequel were released within a month of one another? Anyway, from the sample I now that it’s 1986 and Nick has just been diagnosed with leukemia. The science fiction elements haven’t come into play yet, so this could have been the introduction of a contemporary novel if I hadn’t known better. I’m adding this to the to-buy list because I think it’s fascinating to have a main character who is suffering from cancer and is the hero (I presume) of a science fiction story at the same time.


draculThe prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s–and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

my thoughts on the sample

I’m not sure what I was expecting from Dracul, but I hoped it would be spooky, atmospheric, and mysterious. The sample was none of that. In all honesty, it was quite boring. It’s about Bram Stoker’s life, and the first few chapters or so talk about him as a sickly child. No one knows what ailed him, and the disease disappeared at a certain point in his life. His nanny took care of him as a sick child, and there was this pattern where he would get better and she would be sick for two days, then he would get worse again. I honestly don’t really care, and I think this isn’t a book for me. I won’t be buying this one.

the color of our sky

the color of our skyA sweeping, emotional journey of two childhood friends—one struggling to survive the human slave trade and the other on a mission to save her—two girls whose lives converge only to change one fateful night in 1993.

my thoughts on the sample

This was so beautiful! I wish I could keep reading, to be honest. I think this is a novel that’ll end up making me cry… I’m definitely going to buy a copy of The Color of Our Sky. Probably a paperback too, because I feel like I’ll want to annotate this book as I read it. I can just tell there will be tons of quotes and passages I’ll want to highlight. Ones that moved me, others that sparked a discussion within me. I’m so glad I’m doing this experiment, because this novel is one I’d kind of forgotten about after adding it to my to-read shelf on Goodreads. Now, it’s going on the priority to-buy list.

Have you read any of these books? Do you use Kindle samples?

try a chapter part 2 (more books to unhaul?)

3 weeks ago, I did a ‘try a chapter’ post in which I read the first chapter of 5 books and then decided whether to keep the book or to unhaul it. I had originally picked 10 books off my shelves for this post, but kept it down to 5 in my original post because I didn’t want it to be too long. Today, I’m back with part 2! Let’s see whether I’ll keep any of these, shall we?

 the gunslinger

the gunslinger

In the first book of this brilliant series, Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, The Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. 

my thoughts on the first chapter

I finished reading this chapter, and have honestly no idea what on Earth I just read. My brain did not retain anything other than the word ‘ideograph’ being mentioned 2 times in one chapter, as well as ideogram. Had no idea what that meant, and had to look it up, which is why I remembered. King fans, please don’t kill me. I’m getting rid of this… Sometimes,  you don’t get along with the writing style of a novel, and this is one of those times. Another (minor) gripe is that his chapters never start on a new page. I don’t know why that bothers me so much, but it does.

the dinner

the dinnerA summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified – by everyone except their parents.

my thoughts on the first chapter

I’m not sure how I feel about this book yet. I think I might get rid of it, and try reading it in the original language later. My library does have a copy of the Dutch version, so I could do that for free. I want to know whether the ‘odd’ writing style is due to the translation or whether it’s the author himself. I do want to know what the boys did, even if I already dislike the main male character (the father of one of the two boys).

the keeper of lost causes

the keeper of lost causesCarl Mørck used to be one of Copenhagen’s best homicide detectives. Then a hail of bullets destroyed the lives of two fellow cops, and Carl—who didn’t draw his weapon—blames himself. So a promotion is the last thing he expects. But Department Q is a department of one, and Carl’s got only a stack of Copenhagen’s coldest cases for company.

my thoughts on the first chapter

I read the prologue and first chapter of The Keeper of Lost Causes, as I thought it only fair. I would never skip a prologue when starting a novel either. Both were quite captivating, which makes for an easy decision. I’m definitely keeping this book. I want to know what happened in the murder case that got his colleagues shot, and I need to find out what happened to the liberal politician who disappeared. She seems like a fighter.

lock in

lock inFifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. 4% suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And 1% find themselves ‘locked in’ – fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. A few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, allowing those who are locked in to occasionally ‘ride’ these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.

my thoughts on the first chapter

While the premise of this book does sound interesting, I can’t seem to connect to the book itself. I bought Locked In a few years ago, and read about 80 pages at the time. I don’t remember any of it at this point in time, which made it a perfect book for the try a chapter post. After reading the first chapter again, I think I’m just going to unhaul it. Despite the intriguing synopsis, I’m not very interested in actually reading this.

the lake house (aan de rand van het meer)

aan de rand van het meer

A missing child, an abandoned house, an unsolved mystery. Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure.

my thoughts on the first chapter

I bought the Dutch translation of The Lake House at a garage sale, but haven’t picked it up yet. It’s quite an intimidating book, because it’s around 500 pages and has the tiniest font ever. After reading the first chapter, I’m still not quite sure what to do with it. It was fascinating, and it does sound like a story I would enjoy reading. However, I’m quite intimidated by the size of this novel and the genre being somewhat out of my comfort zone. Is that really a reason to get rid of it, though? I’m keeping it for now, but may revise my opinion later…

Have you read any of these books? 

try a chapter part 1 (in which I try to decide whether to keep these books)

I’ve seen a few videos recently in which people read the first chapter of a book to decide whether they’ll keep the novel on their TBR shelves or whether they’ll donate it instead. There are a few books on my shelves I bought because they were cheap or on sale, ones I’m not sure I’ll ever get to. So I decided to do a “try a chapter” post myself!

As I don’t want to make this post incredibly long, I’ll split it up. I have 10 books to reach a verdict on with me, so they’ll probably fit nicely in two posts. Let’s get started!

the boy with the porcelain blade

the boy with the porcelain blade

“The first in an ornate yet dark debut fantasy series, set in an original and beautifully imagined world, and populated by unforgettable characters.”

my thoughts on the first chapter

I was a bit terrified the first chapter wouldn’t be very telling, as this is a fantasy series. Fantasy novels often require a fair amount of chapters of set-up so the reader can get used to the entirely new world they’ve just been dropped in.

However, the first chapter of the boy with the porcelain blade was quite interesting. From what I can gather, this is an Italian-inspired fantasy novel about a boy called Lucien. He’s one of the Orfano, who are all marked. Lucien has entirely black nails. The first chapter is him mentally preparing for a Test, which I presume is swordfighting or fencing? Either way, I’m into it. Definitely keeping this one!


riders“Nothing but death can keep eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.”

my thoughts on the first chapter

When I started this, I was fairly sure I would unhaul it after finishing the first chapter. I bought a translated copy of Riders a while ago in a sale, and hadn’t picked it up yet. I so rarely read books in Dutch anymore, and it’s clearly going to take a while to get used to. I think I’ll write a post in the future on why I seldomly read in my first language. 

At first, the fact that it was translated took me out of the story. However, by the end I was intrigued enough to want to continue. Surprisingly, I’m deciding to keep this book! Reading the first chapter made me more excited about picking this novel up than I’ve been since buying it.

the graces

de graces

Everyone said the Graces were witches. They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair. They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different. All I had to do was show them that person was me.

my thoughts on the first chapter

I can already tell from the very short first chapter that I will get rid of this.

It literally had an I’m-not-like-other-girls moment, and the female main character spent multiple paragraphs demeaning other girls. Might it be that this is related to the plot, or that she grows to be better? Sure. Still not interested in reading it, though. The first book of this experiment to be added to my unhaul pile! It had to happen at some point, I guess. 

the king’s last song

the king's last song“In the shadow of Angkor Wat archaeologists make an astonishing discovery: the memoir of Cambodia’s greatest king, preserved on leaves of gold for centuries. When the treasure is stolen, two ordinary Cambodians, a young moto-boy and a middle-aged ex-Khmer Rouge, join forces to recover it.”

my thoughts on the first chapter

Honestly, I couldn’t even finish the first chapter of this book. I picked it up during a library sale 3 or 4 years ago, which I apparently shouldn’t have. 

I do not get along with the writing style of this book. It was so hard to concentrate on, and felt so unnatural to me. I don’t even know how to explain why I dislike it so much! Sometimes, you come across an author whose works simply aren’t for you. Geoff Ryman is one of those for me. Added to the unhaul pile.

altar of bones

altar of bones“From the frozen wastelands of Russia, to the winding maze of Paris’s backstreets, from Washington D.C, through America’s mid-west all the way to San Francisco, THE ALTAR OF BONES is a gripping global thriller that spans the generations and unearths the dark secret behind one of the biggest conspiracies of all time.”

my thoughts on the first chapter

Another one I picked up during a book sale and promptly forgot about. After finishing chapter one, I’m absolutely kicking myself for that. I just read the prologue, and was so captivated by the story already!

I actually wanted to keep reading after the prologue, even though I had to a) write this section of the post, and b) go to sleep because I have to go to work tomorrow. I’m definitely going to read this book soon, because it was so compelling. If it wasn’t obvious already, Altar of Bones is going in the ‘keep’ pile!

My first ‘try a chapter’ post ended in me keeping 3 books and unhauling 2. Not bad, right? I’m so happy I decided to do this challenge. Not only does it help me weed out the books I’m not that interested in, it also reignites my excitement for books I had forgotten about.

Have you ever done this challenge? Have you read any of these books?


More books I’m getting rid of | book unhaul

I last did an unhaul in September, which you can see here, but I’ve culled my shelves some more. I did already get rid of some books between the last unhaul and this one, but I’ve given them to friends and can’t remember them at all. Oops! Anyway, here are some books that are leaving my shelves.

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Curse #1) by Marie Rutkoski
I read The Winner’s Curse in 2015, when this series was so popular in the bookish community. I’ve had the sequel pretty much ever since, and still haven’t read it. That tells me I have lost interest in the series, so I’m getting rid of it.

The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Curse #2) by Marie Rutkoski
Like I mentioned above, I have officially given up on continuing this series. While I have several series on my shelves that I started years ago and haven’t finished, this one simply didn’t excite me. When I hold it in my hands, I’m not excited to read it or get back in to the story.

The Gift (Book of the Pellinor #1) by Alison Croggon
I bought this during a sale in my favorite bookstore in Brussels (Sterling Books), and I still haven’t read it. Once again, when I look at it, I’m just not excited to read it.

Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas
Another book I got during a sale! Can you see a theme here? This was 100% a cover buy because I couldn’t even tell you what this is about even after it being on my shelves for 3 years.

The Fallen Angel (Nic Costa #9) by David Hewson
I used to love this series as a teenager. It’s about a cop in Rome, who solves multiple murders and mysteries. While I would still pick up the books, I would start at the beginning of the series again. Besides, I can probably find these in Dutch at my local library.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I’ve finally given in. I’m never going to read this book. It’s been sitting on my shelf, unread, for 4 years now! I’ve already seen the movie… Besides, while the author is from Jackson (where the story plays out), she is white. I’d rather read a story on racism, the treatment of black women (and men), and slavery from a black author.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
I’m just never going to read this. I’ve already seen the movie (with Reese Witherspoon), and I don’t have any interest in reading the book too. Sorry.

His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire #1) by Naomi Novik
No worries on this one! I accidentally bought 2 copies a few years ago, and I still haven’t gotten rid of the second one. So I’m doing that now. I will still have an unread copy of this on my shelves!

Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne
Another book I’ve actually already read. When I first read this series, I really enjoyed it. It’s about a 21-century-old Druid in modern day, trying to survive when gods are trying to kill him. However, there was a certain scene in the second book that weirded me out, and I’ve heard that the amount of sexism increases in the next books too. So I don’t want to read it anymore.

Hexed (Iron Druid Chronicles #2) by Kevin Hearne
Like I said, at first I really enjoyed this book. It’s fast-paced and funny. However, there’s a scene in here that really put me off. If you’ve read it, message me on Twitter!

Hammered (Iron Druid Chronicles #3) by Kevin Hearne
This is the only one of the three I haven’t read. Like I said, I’m giving up on the series because the dynamic between men and women doesn’t seem all that great.

11 books that are leaving my shelves! Not bad, right?
Have you read any of these books? What do you think of unhauls? I happen to love doing them, and reading about other people’s unhauls!

Another Bag of Books I’m Getting Rid Of | Book Unhaul

It’s the opposite of a book haul: the book unhaul. The past year or so, I have become more mindful of the books on my shelves. When it comes to books I’ve read, I only want to keep those I’ve truly enjoyed, the ones I will come back to, or the ones that hold special memories or associations for me. When it comes to the unread ones, I only want to keep those I actually want to read -and would pick up again in a bookstore today.

Books I’ve Read

Angelfall, World After and End of Days by Susan Ee // I’m getting rid of this trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this when I read it a few years ago. It’s one of the series I read after I started getting into BookTube and reading again in 2013/2014. It’s a great dystopian read, and I enjoyed every second of it. But I know I will never re-read it again, and there’s really no reason to keep them. Also, the third book is much shorter than the other two and it bothers me so much.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones // I know, another really popular book! I did read and enjoy this, and I even watched the movie adaptation. Although I wouldn’t necessarily call it an adaptation because it’s so different from the book. I don’t have any particularly fond memories attached to this book, and I didn’t truly fall in love with it either so I’ve decided to get rid of it.

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso // For some reason, I always tend to spell her last name wrong. I switch up the vowels by accident because it my head that seems more logical? Anyway, #GIRLBOSS served its purpose for me. I read it, was inspired and got some great tips from it. I won’t read it again, so it’s time for someone else to get inspiration and tips from this book.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman // I didn’t like this book. It’s actually the only Alice Oseman book I didn’t like! Radio Silence is one of my favorite books, which is why this one was so disappointing to me. So I’m getting rid of it. Sorry!

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon // I’m giving up on this series. There’s no way I’m ever picking up all the books in the series. Ever. How many are there at this point in time? Nine? Ten? And they’re all huge tomes as well. I’m being realistic, it’s never going to happen. So I might as well get rid of the one book I read in the series too.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green // It’s actually the only John Green book I own. I read and loved it years ago, but I know I probably wouldn’t feel the same way about it today. It doesn’t inspire any particularly sentimental feelings in me either, so I’m getting rid of it.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes // Aaaah, this book. When I first read it, I absolutely adored it. It just seemed so beautiful and heartbreaking. Since then, I have been made aware of the awful and ableist message this book actually sends and I can’t see it in the same light anymore. I won’t re-read it because I know I won’t love it anymore. So it’s leaving my shelves.

Splintered by A.G. Howard // This is another case of me giving up on a series. I really enjoyed this book but I have no desire of finishing the trilogy. I’ve forgotten most of what happened in this book and I honestly can’t be bothered.

Books I Haven’t Read

The Circle by Dave Eggers // I really wanted to read this at some point in the past 2 years. But then the movie came out and the reviews weren’t overly enthusiastic. I slowly lost all interest in ever reading this.

Desire by Louise Bagshawe // This just doesn’t seem like a book I’d pick up anymore. I don’t have anything against “chick lit”, but this one just doesn’t speak to me.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer // Once again, lost all interest in reading this. No idea why though, so I can’t elaborate on this one for you.

The Mask of Troy by David Gibbins // Somehow I feel like I’ve already read this but at the same time I feel like I haven’t read it? It’s confusing, and it makes my brain hurt every time I look at it.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne // Why did I buy this? I have zero interest in reading this book.

Peter Pan & Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie // No, my copy is not this beautiful. If it was, I probably wouldn’t have gotten rid of it. I genuinely don’t think I’ll ever read Peter Pan, so I’m unhauling it.

Sepulchre by Kate Mosse // I quite enjoyed the first book in the trilogy, Labyrinth, but not enough to continue the series.

Those are the books I’m getting rid of this time! Have you read any of these? What do you think of my decision to unhaul them? Do you frequently unhaul books?

Weekly Wrap Up | February n° 4

what i read 80c8b0

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson // DNF // This book just wasn’t for me. I made it to page 133 before deciding to continue. I think I can actually see why people love it as I think the writing is really unique, but it just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t invested in the story, nor in the characters, and once put down I didn’t feel the need to pick it back up. 

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab // ★★★★★ // I read this immediately when it was released, to avoid all spoilers. I took my time though, as I read it in 3 or 4 days. I absolutely loved the conclusion of this trilogy. Yes, it was long, but it never felt dragged out -in my opinion. I’m excited to see what V.E. Schwab will do next.

Wicca: Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham // Read in translation – Dutch // ★★★★ //  An interesting non fiction pick, right? I was never raised in a religious manner, and know next to nothing about it. I’ve also never been attracted to any of the biggest religions, as I feel no connection to them. While I didn’t agree with everything in this book, I did find a lot I could relate to, understand and get behind. I’ll definitely be reading more on Wicca, (Neo)Paganism, Druidism, etc. If you have any recommendations, feel free to let me know!

what i watched 80c8b0

I didn’t really have any time this week, so I just watched the new Shadowhunters episode, and rewatched some of my favorite Skam ones. 

in real life 80c8b0

I had an interesting week at work today, as the event we’ve been working on for 2 months finally happened. I’m quite happy and proud with the way it turned out! 

Other than that, not much happened this week!

So that was my week! How was yours? Did you read, watch or do anything? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!