I just finished my second BookSneeze book, and I’m pleased to report I’m two for two in the quality book category! In exchange for an honest review, posted on my blog and at a consumer website like Amazon.com, BookSneeze will send me a free copy of any book I select from their publications. Both of the books I’ve selected to date have been fiction, but there are a variety of genres from which to choose.
If this sounds like a good deal to you, and you have a personal, public blog with a minimum of 30 followers to which you post at least once a week, you can apply to BookSneeze. Be aware, however, that “BookSneeze is a blogger review program owned and operated by HarperCollins Christian Publishing.” I missed the Christian part when I first signed up, and probably would not have joined had I known, simply because I don’t want to be preached at while reading a book for fun. That being said, neither of the novels I have chosen have had in-your-face religious themes, just characters with strong moral beliefs who aren’t afraid to occasionally look to a higher power for help.
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Samantha Moore has not had an easy life. As a child moving in and out of foster homes, Sam learned early not to rely on characters made of flesh and blood, instead choosing icons from classic literature as her friends. The lines she borrows from those characters may give her a voice to deal with uncomfortable situations, but they also prevent her from making social connections and achieving professional success. When she is fired from her first post-graduation job because of her inability to engage, Sam is forced to reconsider a grant opportunity she had passed up the previous spring. A mysterious benefactor, calling himself Mr. Knightley, offers her a full ride to the prestigious Medill School of Journalism, so long as she agrees to write him personal letters detailing her progress there.
Sam finds freedom in the letter-writing, revealing her heartaches from the past, her struggles in the present, and her hopes for the future. Anonymity allows her to bare her soul as she never has, analyze her weaknesses without criticism, and eventually trust that her own voice is just as powerful as the words she borrows from the characters in her favorite novels. Sam’s journey is not an easy one, and I found myself alternately wanting to shake her, cheer her, and comfort her.
I thoroughly enjoyed the letter format of Reay’s debut novel, although I admit to being skeptical at first about her ability to adequately develop supporting characters through one-way correspondence. The cast was well-rounded, the story was well-paced, and I was moved to tears on more than one occasion. I have not read all of the classics that are referenced in the story, but I did not find the frequent quotes from unknown literary characters to be any worse than getting stuck in the lunchroom with coworkers who are incessantly reciting lines from movies I’ve never seen. On the contrary, I’ve been inspired to download some of Sam’s reading list to my Kindle to fill my time as I anxiously await Katherine Reay’s next novel.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.