Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.
Towards the end of last year, Hodder Books announced on social media that, provided anyone over the age of 18 based in the UK had the opportunity to become a ‘Secret Reader’, allowing participants early access to e-books from a range of genres. It works as follows: A small number of books from a particular genre are made available for 7 days. The ‘Secret Reader’ can then choose 1 book to read online, or via the Secret Readers App. Once the reader has made their selection and has read more than 10% of it, they have 2 months to finish the book. I decided to sign up.
In the first week, the available books were from the genre of Women’s Fiction. This isn’t a genre I’m particularly interested in (at all), so I let the 7 day period elapse without choosing anything to read.
In the second week, however, the available books were categorised as Crime, Thrillers & Mystery, which caught my attention, and, out of the 6 books available, I chose to read Framed by S.L. McInnis.
My ‘Secret Reader’ Experience
I should probably start with the positives:
- In becoming a ‘Secret Reader’, I was granted early access to a new book which I may not have come across otherwise
- Unlike NetGalley, my access to the book was immediate, and I didn’t have to wait for approval
Unfortunately, those were the only positives I could think of.
There doesn’t seem to be much publicity around being a ‘Secret Reader’ – so much so that it makes you wonder whether it’s even “legit”. I have to admit, I really can’t see much of a need when NetGalley is already so widely popular, well-known, and well used.
However, my biggest problem with being a ‘Secret Reader’ was the functionality of their e-reader app and website. As you cannot download your chosen e-book as a PDF or Kindle file, you are reliant on using their app or website in order to read, which I was disappointed by.
On the Secret Reader App, some of the icons were unclear as to what they were supposed to represent. This is a new, unfamiliar app to me, and for example, I had no idea which button meant “start reading” and which button meant “delete download” – especially as both were represented by images of books / pages. Consequently, I was frustrated to discover I’d accidentally deleting my new book, just as I was getting ready to read it! I also had difficulty adjusting the font size and using the progress bar at the bottom of the page; if I lost my place, it would either drag me too far backwards, too far forwards, or crash entirely. In the end, I gave up on the app and read the book via the Secret Reader website, on my computer, which was not ideal.
On the one hand, these technical issues may have just been my experience – my phone or the app could have been playing up on the day I tried to use it, for instance – and I may be making a big fuss over nothing.
On the other hand, I don’t particularly want to risk repeating the experience, and the prospect of reading another full-length novel on a computer screen doesn’t thrill me. With this in mind, whilst I was glad to be able to read Framed, I’m not sure I would be a ‘Secret Reader’ again.
Book Review: Framed
Framed is a crime thriller / suspense novel which focuses on two women: Beth and Cassy. They were roommates at university, but they both grew apart and moved away. Beth has made a life for herself; she has married and embarked upon a career teaching music. Cassy, on the other hand, is on the run. The LAPD are searching for a culprit in connection with a quadruple homicide and a botched drug deal. Then, Cassy turns up on Beth’s doorstep, desperate for help.
On the whole, I enjoyed Framed.
It was easy to read, largely due to the short and simple sentences used throughout. On the one hand, this writing style increased the tension and quickened the pace of the novel in certain scenes but, on the other hand, it risks making the book look a little too simplistically written.
I liked reading the different character perspectives – Beth, her husband Jay, and Cassy – and gradually learning more about their personalities, pasts, and the nature of their relationships with one another. I was less interested in following the police procedural part of the narrative, unfortunately.
I’d say Framed is a slow burner; I was halfway through the book and found myself still waiting for more excitement and more plot development to happen. Nevertheless, I was interested and invested in the story throughout.
The final quarter of Framed is where things get most interesting, and the book is packed full of plot twists. Everything changes – even the narrators aren’t being honest with themselves, or the reader, and this was fun to experience. It did mean, however, that unravelling the lies and piecing together what actually happened was somewhat confusing.
On the whole though, I thought Framed was an entertaining new crime thriller and I would recommend if you are searching for new books in this genre to read.
Star Rating: 3/5 Stars
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Have you had any experience as a ‘Secret Reader’? Would you consider becoming one?