Free Books with Amazon Prime

You may know that Amazon offers a chance to pick up a free book every month if you’re a Prime member? Sometimes I add one of these to my already groaning TBR pile, sometimes I skip it, depending on whether any books look appealing.

Well, this month the potential free books are shown in the email SOLELY as covers. You can, of course, click through to read the description, but not even a single line of description is presented in the email. This is an interesting technique! Here are the covers. What do you think?

My reaction: AAAAH NO RUN AWAY

This looks absolutely horrific. That scissors! Juxtaposed with that title! In those red letters! No no no!

After clicking through, I can tell you that this is indeed “horror suspense.” Here is one line from the description: As the walls close in, the ghosts of Grace’s past collide with a new but familiar threat: Mom.

Yeah, I’d say my initial reaction was spot on. Okay, let’s look at the next:

What is this? I think maybe a Rom-Com? To me, that’s what those two sunbathers seem to imply. Clicking through … yes again. Is she willing to swap her lifelong dreams for a shot at healing her broken heart?

This one is much more difficult! “The Maid’s Diary,” what could that be? I have no idea. Let’s click through.

Kit Darling is a maid with a snooping problem. She’s the “invisible girl,” compelled to poke into her wealthy clients’ closely guarded lives. It’s a harmless hobby until Kit sees something she can’t unsee in the home of her brand-new clients: a secret so dark it could destroy the privileged couple expecting their first child. This makes Kit dangerous to the couple. In turn, it makes the couple—who might kill to keep their secret—dangerous to Kit.

Goodness. I’m not sure I would have expected that.

When homicide cop Mallory Van Alst is called to a scene at a luxury waterfront home known as the Glass House, she’s confronted with evidence of a violent attack so bloody it’s improbable the victim is alive. But there’s no body. The homeowners are gone. And their maid is missing. The only witness is the elderly woman next door, who woke to screams in the night. The neighbor was also the last person to see Kit Darling alive...

Oh ho, looks like Kit may not be the protagonist at all! Maybe she’s the murder victim, and we start off in her pov, but then she’s killed at the end of the first chapter. This says it’s “psychological suspense,” but to me, from this description, it sounds like it falls squarely into the murder mystery genre. Maybe not, there’s a line about an unexpected twist at the end.

All right, moving on:

Colors! So that’s good. But I’m guessing — this is a pure guess, and I think I’m being pulled toward this idea because it reminds me of Wild Awake, which I’ve never read but it’s one that has been on my radar for a good while — anyway, I’m thinking Wild, Beautiful and Free may be about a female protagonist with some sort of mental or emotional illness. Let me click through and see.

Born the daughter of an enslaved woman and a Louisiana plantation owner, Jeannette Bébinn is raised alongside her white half sister—until her father suddenly dies. His vindictive wife refuses twelve-year-old Jeannette her inheritance and sells her into slavery.

Nope, I was off base with that guess! Looks like Jeannette promptly escapes and her story goes on from there, by the way, which does make the story sound more appealing. But not enough for me to add it to my TBR pile. I already have at least one historical-ish fantasy mystery set during this period, and I’m much more likely to try that.

Suspense, horror, mystery? What do you think? Got a guess? The cover doesn’t scream HORROR the way the first book on this list does. Okay, let’s click through

Twenty years ago, in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas, Annie Randall took her dog for a walk. The dog returned. Annie did not. When her body was found, cruelly broken and posed like a runner, there was only ever one suspect: Annie’s husband, Frank. Now he’s served his time and come home – but the locals won’t let him forget. Especially when there’s a new ‘running girl’ murder… Can [the detective] find the answers that could heal her broken family before the wind and the waves hide them forever?

So it’s a murder mystery! Doesn’t sound bad, but not super appealing either. Next:

Why is there a peacock on this cover? Why is there a peacock on the cover of a book titled “Hospital?” I’m having some trouble here. The title itself in combination with the dark color scheme suggests … what? Horror? To me, it suggests horror. But then … a peacock? Could the setting be historical and maybe Indian? Peacocks are mostly from India, though I think there’s a different species in Burma. That’s my guess: historical fiction set in India.

A complimentary bottle of mineral water from the hotel minibar results in sudden and debilitating stomach pain, followed by unconsciousness. With no explanation, the hotel forcibly sends him to a hospital for examination. There, he receives no diagnosis, no discharge date… Armed with nothing but his own confusion, Yang Wei travels deeper into the inner workings of the hospital and the secrets it’s hiding from the patients. As he seeks escape and answers, one man’s illness takes him on a quest through a corrupt system and his own troubled mind.

I have no clue. I hereby declare this is literary because what the heck else could it be?

Oh! No, looking at the one review, I see this is actually SF! I did not figure that out from the description or the cover, so I think that’s an epic fail of presentation. Here’s what the review says: What if all other countries destroyed themselves during a world war, leaving India and Nepal to rule the world and space missions to go off in search of the Buddha? You know what, how about if you put THAT in the actual official description? Also, if “space missions” are a thing, perhaps you should indicate that.

Okay, next:

Well, this time it says “a thriller” right there on the cover, so that’s much easier. As small-town gossip weaves a harrowing web of jealousy, deceit, and betrayal, Kate and Alex discover that whether you’re in or out, the status quo can turn on you deadly fast. I don’t think this sounds like my cup of tea.

One more:

I don’t know … romance, maybe? I really can’t guess. Women’s fiction, whatever that means? I don’t know.

A youth group’s temple road trip through India is a liberating escape for a former mean girl and sunshine boy to explore their past and their feelings for each other.

Well, in that case, I guess this may be a contemporary YA romance?

As Tara and Silas embark on the trip to remote pilgrimage sites from Punjab through the Himalayas, they each discover what it means to be a child in the Indian diaspora, the significance of karma, and the healing power of love.

Fine, yes, I’m calling this contemporary YA romance. The setting does sound interesting; the characters perhaps less so.

I don’t think I’m interested enough in any of these to pick up the book, but to me, Mother and Lovely Girls are the most successful in indicating, with nothing but cover and title, what category the book falls into. Hospital is BY FAR the least successful at indicating genre, and wow, it’s not close. I think what I’m taking away from this is that (A) sure, the cover is important, but (B) honestly, you really need to have genre expectations in mind when you do the cover and for heaven’s sake, you need to indicate genre in the description, how is that not obvious?

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8 thoughts on “Free Books with Amazon Prime”

  1. Maybe the author for Hospital is one of those people who writes SF but sneers at “genre” stuff, and thus prefers to come off as literary? Or maybe it’s a translation issue of some sort – do books in China have different cover art norms/cues than here?

  2. I’ve read some books by Loreth Anne White and loved her earlier thrillers but her last few books were too dark for me.

    Her books tend to be very atmospheric, she writes beautifully about nature, e.g. Canadian wilderness in winter. Can be darkish, the characters are often not unscathed after what happens, but in the older books the good guys survived, had a chance to heal and there was romance, or the beginnings of one to counter-balance the darkness.

    In the new ones there has been less romance, greyer characters and in some of them a doubt whether they got away with murder or not. Quite well-written though, if you like that kind of thing.

  3. I suspect Hospital’s poor genre fit is a translation issue, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.

    Maybe I’ll look up one of White’s older books! The newer ones don’t sound nearly as inviting.

  4. Still wondering about the peacock, but not enough to read the book, lol. Also, I almost never find any appealing books in the “free with Prime” selections, which is too bad.

  5. Laurel, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually read one, but I have picked up several. Usually things like, hmm, let me find one. Okay, here. This is The Fire and the Ore, and the description begins 1857. Three women—once strangers—come together in unpredictable Utah Territory. Hopeful, desperate, and willful, they’ll allow nothing on Earth or in Heaven to stand in their way. So, it’s a historical that might or might not wind up appealing to me, but sometimes I like historicals, so there it is on my Kindle. Will I ever, EVER read it? That remains to be seen …

  6. The Han Song book is coming via the “Amazon Crossing” imprint (translations) rather than “47North” imprint (SF/Fantasy). I didn’t even look at the cover too closely because the description was so clearly a “dystopian SF” book which often trend literary-ish anyway, but it sounded like a Kafkaesque horror. He’s definitely a big SF guy in China, so not a genre-sneerer (he’s won a bunch of Galaxy Awards in his country).

  7. I think I only pick up books from the Amazon Prime early reading thingy like maybe 2-3 times a year, though I did pick up two in recent months–S.B. Divya’s “Meru” (SF) and Mark Stevens’s “The Fireballer” (contemporary; I can’t resist baseball books). They also had Veronica G. Henry’s New Orleans voodoo mystery book, “The Quarter Storm,” and B.L. Blanchard’s alt history book, “The Peacekeeper,” which I found super interesting as she posited a world without European colonialism.

    But without fail, their historical fiction options each month are 99% WWII era, which I’m so incredibly tired of.

  8. I definitely agree, huge emphasis on WWII, but I’m not particularly tired of that era, so for me that’s not such a limitation.

    I wonder if I picked up The Quarter Storm? That doesn’t sound familiar. It may have been one of the months where I just didn’t even look at the Prime books.

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