To kick off my first chapter challenge, a personal challenge this summer to whittle down my review pile, I read the first chapter of 5 books that have been sitting on my shelf a long time to determine if I would keep them on my shelf or give them away.
The School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schrefer
Release date: January 2009
One sentence summary: Bad girl Angela is sent to a reform school whose methods are questionable.
First sentences: All of the girls fell silent. The woman took a few seconds to look around the room, making eye contact with each of us. When she finally spoke, her voice was cold, with a slight accent that said she had lived years in places beyond our reach.
First chapter review: In the space of 8 pages, we are introduced to Hidden Oak, the girls, and a Dr. Spicer who asserts her absolute authority over the girls. We are also teased with flashbacks of what Angela might have done to be deemed dangerous - which is possibly murder. It's a solid start, but it's nothing that can't be put down.
Verdict: Return to TBR. The reviews I've read of this have been mixed, but considering David Levithan edited it, I'll give it a chance.
Suddenly Supernatural Book 2: Scaredy Kat by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Publisher: Little, Brown for Young Readers
Release date: February 2009
One sentence summary: Kat, who has recently discovered that she's a medium like her mother, investigates the disappearance of a boy in the abandoned house next door.
First sentence: The truth is, I find it very embarrassing when my mother talks to plants.
First chapter review: Although this is the second book in a series, I didn't get the sense from the first chapter that I needed to have read the first one to understand this one. The voice is fresh and fun and although I could've done without the e-mail correspondence, this is a nice set-up to what seems like a quick read with some spooky elements.
Verdict: This is one I definitely want to pass on to my favorite 11 year old. If I manage to get to it before I see her again, I'll read it myself. If not, I will pass it on to her with a good feeling.
The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Release date: March 2009
One sentence summary: 15 year old Catherine Howard catches the eye of Henry the 8th who wants to make her his 5th wife.
First sentence: The Thames is a messenger of fortune, rippling smoothly beneath the prow of this barge.
First chapter review: The first chapter is a mere 2 1/2 pages and has a very reflective, dreamy tone. In order to get more a sense of Catherine, I also had to read chapter 2, which introduces the central tension of the narrative. She's proud of being chosen as Henry's next wife but also terrified (considering what happened to Anne Boleyn). She knows she has to deliver another male heir or else... The writing flows well, but knowing what happens to Catherine is basically a retread of Anne's story, I'm not that intrigued.
Verdict: Pass on to a friend who loves Tudor historicals.
The Dracula Dossier by James Reese
Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)
Release date: October 2008
One sentence summary: Dracula author Bram Stoker is the prime suspect in a series of killings that will be attributed to Jack the Ripper and he must work to clear his name.
First sentence: You do not know me, and you never will.
First chapter review: This dossier starts out with a letter from an unknown collector to a senior editor at William Morrow. With the letter he includes a lost diary of Bram Stoker which tells of his involvement with Jack the Ripper. It's a pretty dry start. I probably would've been more hooked had it immediately begun with Bram's diary whose first line states "It seemed wise to hide the bloodied knife."
Verdict: Meh. It sounds like an ok book, but I have a pile of books waiting with some amazing premises, so I think I'll pass on this. I'll donate it to the library.
Suffer the Children by Adam Creed
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Release date: none in the US yet, May 2009 in the UK
One sentence summary: After a paedophile is brutally murdered, Inspector Staffe must question the families of his victims.
First sentence: Staffe raises his head as high as he can, sucks in the underground air.
First chapter review: To be honest, I couldn't even finish the first chapter. It is written in third person present, which is beyond awkward, and the subject matter is just not my thing.
Verdict: Didn't hook me. Will donate to library. I did like this cover the most of the 5 though.
Anyone want to weight in and tell me if I making a huge mistake keeping or getting rid of any of these?