TBR list

Sample Sunday: Gifts And Giveaways

My Sample Sunday spotlight this week is turned on three books that I never purchased myself. I either won them in a giveaway or they were given as a gift. As a reminder, Sample Saturday is where I look at all the books I own but have yet to read, and decide which to part company with and which to keep.

The Restoration of Otto Laird by Nigel Packer. The blurb tells me that Otto Laird is an architect once renowned for his radical and controversial designs. Now he lives a quiet life communing with nature and writing eccentric letters to his friends, that he never posts. His peaceful existence is disrupted when he learns that his most significant and revolutionary building, a 1960s tower block estate in South London is set to be demolished.

I see that the book is described as a “charming debut that will restore your faith in second chances”, “funny and poignant.”. That doesn’t fill me with confidence. Books described as charming rarely hold much appeal for me.

I’ve applied my 30 pages test and the tone isn’t wowing me.

The Verdict: Set Free

The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman by Mamen Sánchez. Translated from Spanish by Lucy Greaves

And now for the book with the longest title in my collection. I can’t remember how I came to own this one. It’s a hardback edition so I’m unlikely to have bought it for myself.

Goodreads describes it as “A fiendishly fun and charming novel” Oh dear, that word charming again.  I’d be tempted to let this one go but for the blurb inside the front cover. It begins: “Atticus Craftsman never travels without a supply of Earl Grey and a favourite book.”

A man after my own heart in fact.

It might be the most ridiculous idea to base my decision on a fictitious character’s tea drinking habits, but I’m tempted. I can tell from the first few pages that it will be a light read but maybe that’s just what I’ll need in coming months.

The Verdict: Reprieve

Overdrawn by N J Crosskey

This one turned up in a Secret Santa with some bookstagrammers in Wales. It’s a sombre dystopian novel that follows a couple in their 60s who are battling against serious health issues. The setting is Britain, a country where the health service has been privatised and ill and elderly citizens are encouraged to “Move On” – a euphemism for euthanasia. 

The Guardian chose this as a book of the month and described it as ” often a harrowing read, though one which offers redemption and a modicum of hope.”

This could be a challenging read but one that asks some searching questions about our attitudes to care for older people. Not one I can face reading in the current climate but I’m putting it back on the shelves for when I feel more mentally equipped

The Verdict: Reprieve

So that’s one more less on the TBR shelves. I’ll give the other two a reprieve for a year – if I haven’t read them a year from now, they’ll be given away too. Did I make the right choices?? What would you save from these three??


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

16 thoughts on “Sample Sunday: Gifts And Giveaways

  • Great idea and I would have kept the Earl Grey drinking character’s book, too. Poor old Otto never stood a chance though, did he?

    • It was good fun to delve into those books, and try and refresh my memory about how I ended up with them

    • I don’t exactly want comfort or feel good reading but last thing I can take right now is to read a scenario that makes me more anxious

  • I definitely wouldn’t read a dystopian novel at the moment. As for charming, it’s a turn off for me too. Add to that: inspiring and uplifting.
    IF I HAD to pick one it would be the Earl Grey one too.

    • Those two adjectives would send alarm bells off for me too. My least favourite phrase is along the lines of “their lives were changed forever”…

    • It’s certainly proved a good litmus test in the past. Goes along with “heart warming”

    • I don’t apply it strictly though. Some books take longer to get going so I might go to 50 or 60 pages….Others I can tell within 5 or 10…


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