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 I’ve started a monthly post with minireviews of all those books that just didn’t get more than a few paragraphs of feelings from me.
The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World by E.L. Konigsburg
So growing up, Konigsburg’s The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was one of my favorite books. As an adult, I discovered her book The View from Saturday and loved that one, too – a lot (I even read and reviewed it again!). But for me, The Mysterious Edge just didn’t work the way her other two books did. The plot is disjointed and strange, the characters inconsistent and unrealistic, and the entire premise centers around a lot of coincidences.
I really wanted to like this book – two kids becoming friends while helping an elderly lady clean out her house that’s full of interesting stuff – doesn’t that sound like fun?? But the old lady, Mrs. Zender, is really weird, and so are both of the boys – and not in the realistic, quirky way of some of Konigsburg’s characters in Saturday – just weird, weird: the kind of weird that leaves you scratching your head in puzzlement.
A lot of the story centers around a picture that one of the boys finds, a drawing of a naked woman. Now we’re informed that this is art, so this is a “nude” which is different from just someone being naked. But… it still felt really inappropriate for the age of the characters and the intended readers, and, once again, was just kind of weird. Like why does the picture have to be of a naked person??
There are almost some good discussions about how people perceive us and how we perceive ourselves, about people who are rich and people who aren’t, about whether or not a government should be able to decide what is or isn’t art. But none of those conversations really go anywhere, so the whole book feels awkward and stunted.
All in all, 1/5 for a book that I wanted to like but just couldn’t. I’m still planning to read some more of Konigsburg’s books because I have enjoyed a couple of them so very much, but I don’t see myself ever revisiting this one.
American Gardening Series: Container Gardening by Suzanne Frutig Bales
This is one of those random books that I picked up for a quarter at a library book sale at some point. It’s not a terribly thick book, but it does have a lot of photographs and plenty of good information about choosing plants for container gardens and then keeping them alive after you’ve planted them! Bales has a lot of enthusiasm for container gardening as it is very flexible and can be done in almost any amount of space.
I’ve been working through several gardening books this month, and I always glean some new tips and ideas. This one is well worth the shelf space as a great reference book. I especially enjoyed the chapters that focused on planning container gardens – I think that a lot of times people go into container gardening assuming that you just sort of jam some plants in and it will look great, but this book spends some time talking about not just the color of the plants you are planting, but texture, size, and growing requirements. Definitely recommended if this is a topic you’re interested in learning more about.
The Princess by Lori Wick
This is a (multiple time) reread for me, and I have a more detailed review here. Sometimes I just need some happy fluff, and this book always fits the bill. It involves my favorite trope (marriage than love), and just is a happy, gentle little tale that I have read many times and yet always find enjoyable. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump here at the end of February, what with starting my new job and being super tired all the time, so The Princess helped get me through!
I just discovered your blog and am in love. I 100% agree with your opinions on kids lit (Carol Ryrie Brink, etc). What are more of your favorite”marriage then love” titles?
Thank you so much for stopping by and enjoying some of my reviews. :-) It’s fun to find someone who has similar tastes, isn’t it?? While I’m sure that I’ve read others, some of my favorite “marriage than love” reads are ‘The Five-Minute Marriage’ by Joan Aiken, ‘Friday’s Child’ and ‘A Civil Contract’ by Georgette Heyer, and ‘The Convenient Groom’ by Denise Hunter. I feel like L.M. Montgomery’s ‘The Blue Castle’ also somewhat falls into this category. In most of the stories, one person in the relationship is already in love at the beginning of the marriage, but I still count it. :-)
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Thanks for the titles! I just re-read ‘The Princess’ today. It had been several years, and this time I had the benefit of being married myself. And yes, I’d say ‘The Blue Castle’ counts. Looking forward to the next hundred times I’ll check out your blog. ;)
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