So I find that I not-infrequently read books that I just feel rather “meh” about and they don’t seem worth writing an entire post about. However, since I also use this blog as a sort of book-review diary, I like to at least say something. So, inspired by the way that Stephanie reviews the unreviewed every month, I think that some months (or maybe all of them!) will get a post with minireviews of all those books that just didn’t get more than a few paragraphs of feelings from me.
This month I seem to already have accumulated quite a few middling books (or maybe I’m just feeling lazier about writing reviews!) so here is the first batch, and you can anticipate another before the end of the month!
Rose & Thorn by Sarah Prineas
Uggghhh this is the sequel to Ash & Bramble, a book that gave me a lot of mixed feelings – and Rose & Thorn did the same. In the end, I guess it’s a 2/5. Once again, it’s more because of the overall tone/message of the book than it is because of the story itself, which is alright but fine. But the message can be summed up from this paragraph on page 25:
“You and the Penwitch had a story together, didn’t you? Some kind of adventure … Something terrible, and also wonderful. And after it you lived happily together? Maybe you even had children, and you were a family. But not forever.” No, there was no ever-after. Shoe had taught me that. Even if the adventure ended, the story went on.
I think the reason that this book gave me a gag reflex wasn’t because of the concept that stories don’t really end, it’s the insistence that that means that there is, ultimately, no happiness to be found. Even if you have it right now, that’s only going to be for a moment because it doesn’t last, love doesn’t last, you can never be together forever. It was just super depressing, and also felt like it meant the whole story had no point. Like, if you aren’t going to find happiness, what are you even fighting for? The chance to choose your own misery? That just didn’t seem inspiring to me.
I dragged through this book and didn’t really like it. Thankfully it was in past tense, which was definitely an improvement. However, the story itself had so many logical gaps that I just couldn’t buy it. They started in the first chapter with the fact that we’re calling Owen “Shoe” after half the point of the last book was finding his true identity and giving him his name back. It felt like the whole first book was kind of pointless also – which I suppose is true when all you’re trying to do is make sure people understand that if they have a happy ending, it’s because they are letting someone else write their story: happy endings don’t happen when we have the power to make our own stories. BLEH.
The Ghost Rock Mystery by Mary C. Jane
This is one of those happy little Scholastic Book Club books that they used to print back in the day and sell for 50¢. I’ve accumulated a lot of them at book sales over the years. While they aren’t super deep, they are fun for younger readers, and this one was no exception. Janice and Tommy go to stay for the summer with their aunt Annabelle (a widow) and their cousin Hubert. Aunt Annabelle has just purchased an old house in upstate Maine that she is renting as a hotel/bed & breakfast, but many of the locals believe that it’s haunted, and she is having trouble getting guests to stay.
The kids solve the mystery, and all is well in the end – even Aunt Annabelle finds new love with her hunky neighbor who works for the Border Patrol.
It was interesting to read a book that involved illegal immigration, but written about back in the day when it was a much more cut-and-dried issue than it has been made into during modern times. At one point, one of the kids asks the Border Patrolman why the illegal immigrants can’t come into the country.
“Many of them could,” Mr. Grant replied, “if they would go about it as they are supposed to do. If they sneak in, we never know how many men among the ordinary laborers may be dangerous enemies who are using this as a way to get into the United States.”
I just find it interesting that in our current culture, if anyone says that they don’t believe that illegal immigrants should be immediately granted citizen-level rights, it’s because we’re racist and cruel – no one seems to consider that perhaps it is simply unfair to the thousands of people who are trying to enter the country legally, by following the rules – and that those rules have been created for the safety of everyone already living here.
Anyway. A fine little book, although nothing out of the ordinary.
Wait for What Will Come by Barbara Michaels
Another 3/5 so-so read from Michaels. I’ve almost given up on her, despite my unfailing love for the Amelia Peabody series. The Vicky Bliss series was pretty meh, and so have the independent novels of hers that I’ve read – and there have been quite a few that I’ve gotten from the library and then sent back because they just didn’t capture me.
Wait for What Will Come had a fairly intriguing story, with Carla returning (from America) to her family’s old home in Cornwall. She meets like five guys, all super hot and available, within 24 hours of her arrival, though, so I was already doubting the credibility of the entire story. But despite being ardently pursued by basically all of them, Carla is no missish heroine. Even though her crazy housekeeper keeps telling Carla about the curse on her family that will strike if Carla stays until Mid-Summer’s Eve, Carla refuses to be bullied out of the home she is growing to love.
Overall, it wasn’t that bad of a book, and much of the adventure kept me avidly turning pages. However, the ending felt very rushed – I even had to go back and read a few pages to make sure I understood exactly what was happening. While plausible, it wasn’t necessarily a natural ending.
Tales of St. Austin’s by P.G. Wodehouse
Another one of Wodehouse’s very early works, this book is a collection of short stories that all take place at a boys’ school called St. Austin’s. As with most short story collections, there were some that were quite funny and others that fell a bit short of the mark (mostly due to cricket).
On the whole, while Wodehouse’s school stories aren’t terrible reading, they aren’t thoroughly engaging, either. St. Austin’s was basically forgettable. While worth a one-time read, it isn’t one that I see myself returning to time and again.