20 Books of Summer!

So as my life as been taken over by work, my normally very organized reading schedule has spiraled out of control.  This was mainly due to the fact that I just could not make it to the library regularly.  In the end, I did something I have done only rarely throughout my years:  I returned ALL my library books!

Consequently, my focus has been on books that I already own – and there are plenty from which to choose!  In the last couple of weeks I’ve read Cynthia Voigt’s “Tales of the Kingdom” trilogy, Trenton Lee Stewart’s “Benedict Society” books, and am now working my way through a slew of Dee Henderson books in anticipation of reading an ARC of her latest, Threads of Suspicion.  It’s totally different from the haphazard way that I’ve been jumping around over the last year or so, and in some ways it has been really enjoyable.  But I had also forgotten the pleasure of just sitting and reading straight through a series.

But I only have two weeks left at work (YAY!) and what better way to get back in the reading groove than to participate in the #20BooksofSummer Challenge with Cathy over at 746Books??  You can read the details about her challenge here.

My list will depend a bit on how much reading I get done over the next couple of days, as the challenge does not officially begin until June 1, but here is my tentative list…

  • Unspoken; Undetected; Taken; Traces of Guilt; Sins of the Past; and Threads of Suspicion – all by Dee Henderson.  I’m basically reading all of her “stand-alone” novels right now, as they all actually have interconnecting characters.  The library has all of these available as ebooks, so they’ve been great for the busy time when I can’t get to the library.  Threads of Suspicion is a review for the publisher, so I’m hoping to get to it before the end of June.  These are all thrillers with a big dash of romance – some more romance than thriller, I’m afraid.  But Henderson does an excellent job working religion into her books with natural conversations between her characters, and I love that she is unafraid to tackle some big God questions rather than just mouthing platitudes.  All that to say that I’ve been enjoying revisiting some of her books, and delving into the ones that I haven’t ever read.
  • The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart – rereading the Benedict Society books (which I love) reminded me to see if Stewart had written anything else recently – and he had!  I splurged and bought this one new.  If nothing else, Little & Brown does such a beautiful job binding these books that they are a joy to have on the shelves.
  • Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman – for a few years now, I’ve subscribed to a monthly subscription box called Cairn that sends hiking gear every month.  It’s been super fun and I’ve gotten a lot of nifty stuff, but let’s be real:  what with this house and everything going on, we just aren’t hitting the trail as often as we used to.  So when Cairn announced that they would be raising their prices, I decided that I was ready to let that one go.  But getting a box every month is so much fun!  So, of course, I turned to book subscriptions instead…  for the price of my Cairn subscription, I’m actually getting two book boxes.  Girl Out of Water is my first arrival from The Book Drop, which is the simplest kind of book box: they send you a book!  Currently, I’m trying the YA subscription box, but I may actually switch to the Children’s box later.  It’s month-to-month, so you’re allowed to switch it up (or even put your subscription on hold for a month or two).  They also have the “Jane” box which is mostly woman’s fiction, and the “Ernest” box, which is mysteries and thrillers (and also sounds fun).  Anyway, if I’m honest, Girl Out of Water doesn’t sound like a book I’m going to enjoy (any time the synopsis involves the phrase “Then she meets Lincoln, a charismatic, one-armed skater…” I begin to wonder…), but sometimes it’s good to jump out of my comfort zone and at least give something new a chance.

The rest of my list is comprised of random titles from the TBR, which has grown significantly since I haven’t been getting to the library…

  • Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer
  • Woman With a Gun by Phillip Margolin
  • Sunlight and Shadow by Cameron Dokey
  • Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  • The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain
  • The Making of a Marchioness and The Methods of Lady Walderhurst by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Girl from Summer Hill by Jude Deveraux
  • Water Song by Suzanne Weyn
  • What Lies Within by James Morris

All in all, I’m excited not just about reading, but about trying to get back into a good blogging groove.  I’ve got a whole stack of books that at least deserve a paragraph of recognition, and maybe sometime soon I’ll do an April/May combined Rearview, since I never did get around to wrapping up April.

In the meantime, I’ll leave with you with a Paisley picture, because she is cuter than ever…

 

Happy Reading!!!

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April Minireviews

Usually this space is reserved for books I felt kind of “meh” about, but this time around it’s just a way of trying to catch up on some of the backlog.  I’m ready for summer break!!!

Paper Towns by John Green

//published 2008//

I really was going to write a whole long review complaining about this book, but who has time for that?  I read this book because I felt like I needed to actually read one of Green’s books before dismissing him as a pretentious and condescending guy who just says whatever young adults want to hear so he’ll stay popular.  (These days, they call that “being relevant.”)  Now I can be quite smug about not liking him, because, after all, I have tried his books!

Paper Towns was about what I expected.  The main character was completely unrealistic, a high school senior who cared about grades, grammar, and making his parents proud.  And it wasn’t really those things that made him unrealistic, it was just his entire manner and way of speaking.  He spends most of this book running around trying to solve a mystery, following clues he believes his neighbor/crush has left for him.  I’ve heard Green get a lot of flack for perpetrating the “manic pixie dream girl” method of creating a story, but I’m not sure I buy that.  Like half the point was Quentin realizing that he saw Margo as a manic pixie dream girl (although he doesn’t use those words), and understanding that he’s only ever seen her as a very one-dimensional character instead of an actual person.  Yes, Margo is weird and quirky; and yes, she helps Quentin appreciate his life more fully; and yes, we don’t really get to know her from her own perspective – but I still felt like Quentin’s realizations of her were above the MPDG level.  A little.

Overall, the story was just dumb and kind of pointless.  It was a book that desperately was trying to be poignant and deep, but really just came through as cliched and boring.  I compare that to something like The Scent of Waterwhich doesn’t at all try to be poignant and deep and yet manages just that, and can’t believe that people hail someone like John Green as a genius and brilliant writer.  OVERRATED is the main word that comes to my mind, as this book was desperately boring, the characters were flat, and the entire book read like one long cliche.  2/5.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

//published 1817//

Somehow, I had never gotten around to reading this particular classic, and I’m quite sorry that I waited this long.  While this book didn’t have the character studies of some of Austen’s other works, I found myself laughing out loud on multiple occasions.  Austen’s wry sense ofhumor was at the forefront of this rather frivolous tale, and I loved the way that she poked fun at all sorts of things, but all in such a gentle and kindhearted way.

I purchased the perfect copy of this book, a wonderfully-sized paperback that I love.  My only problem was the “introduction,” in which I was treated to a ten-page synopsis of the story (complete with all the spoilers) and not a word of actual insight or thought!  I’m really heartily tired of introductions that are actually a CliffNotes version of the book.  Just because it’s a classic doesn’t mean that everyone who picks it up has already read it!  I mean really.  If the foreword isn’t going to actually give information, what’s the point?!

But the story itself is adorable and fun, and although this may have been my first reading of it, I don’t anticipate it being the last.  5/5.

Wild Palomino: Stallion of the Prairies by Stephen Holt

//published 1946//

This is another book in the Famous Horse Stories series, and one that I’ve had on a shelf for years and never actually read.  I wasn’t really missing all that much, as Wild Palomino was a wildly impractical tale from page one through the finish.  At the time that I actually read it I kept thinking, Wow, I should make sure to point out that crazy plot twist when I review this book!  But I honestly don’t remember many of specifics as this was an easily-forgotten story.  It’s perfectly fine, and the younger audience for whom it was written would probably enjoy all the drama and excitement, but it was just too implausible for me to really get into.  2/5.

The Prince and Betty by P.G. Wodehouse

//published 1912//

So I mean, sure, some people complain about Wodehouse’s books being a little samey.  I’ve never found that to be an issue for myself personally, because each one has its own unique charm, despite following more or less a set of guidelines.  But I found myself getting major deja vu when I was reading this book, mainly because it wasn’t my imagination – Wodehouse actually used part of one of his other stories!

The part I haven’t been able to figure out completely is whether or not this book or Psmith, Journalist came first, mainly because of the whole thing where Wodehouse wrote lots of his books as serials before printing them as a book, and also tended to have some of his books published first in the U.K. and then in the U.S.  or vice versa.  Either way, this whole book felt weird because of the inclusion of virtually the entire plot of Psmith, Journalist, including a character named Smith!

The Prince and Betty starts as its own story, with Betty’s rich stepfather (or possibly actually father or possibly uncle, I’m not sure which as it has been a while) deciding that his next big scheme is going to be opening a casino on a small European island country.  Complicated hijinks begin, including the rich guy’s attempt to  make Betty marry the prince of said small country.  Of course, Betty and the prince already knew each other from before (except she didn’t know he was a prince… and neither did he!), but Betty thinks that the prince is just trying to appease her father (or stepfather or uncle), so she gets angry and runs away.  So far, so good.

Except next the story takes a strange turn.  Betty lands a job as a secretary for a small newspaper and – well, insert the entire plot of Psmith, Journalist here!  It’s a shame because I actually love Psmith, Journalist  – like, a LOT – but it didn’t feel like it fit into this book at all.  I’m not sure if it’s because I had already read Psmith, or if it really did read like two different books mashed together.  So yes, both halves were good reads, but they didn’t go well together, but that could have just been me…

Life Updates…

First off, I’m still alive!!!  I have really missed book blogging, both writing and reading, but things have been quite crazy.  My seasonal job at the greenhouse really took over this year, and I’ve worked a lot of overtime lately.  On the other hand, I have a great tan and have learned so much about plants (and people).  I only have a few more weeks left, and I am totally ready to be home for a few weeks before my other seasonal job (at the orchard) starts with peach picking at the end of July.

In the meantime, I have piles of books to review (and one minireview post mostly written!), but who knows when that will actually happen??  Especially since we just added our newest family member to the clan yesterday…

Paisley!!!

All this to say that I miss all of you and hope to be back in the groove sometime in June.  Until then – keep reading!