In an attempt to get you all caught up on all the reading I’ve done this month, I’m cramming all of my reviews into minireviews…
Thirty Days to Thirty by Courtney Psak
This was a freebie Kindle book that sounded fun. Jill, aged 29, is confident that her life is going the right direction. On the verge of becoming a partner in the law firm where she’s been working, and confident that her live-in boyfriend is going to propose any minute, Jill considers her life ‘together.’ Unfortunately, instead of getting promoted, she gets fired. And when she comes home early, she finds out that her boyfriend is actually having an affair. So Jill moves back home to the small town where she grew up, back into her old bedroom at her parents’ house. There, she comes across a list she wrote in high school of 30 items she wanted to have done by the time she was 30 years old – and she has only done a couple of them. With the help of her long-time best friend and high school boyfriend, Jill starts getting things done on her list, and of course discovers who she truly is and true happiness along the way.
I was hoping for just a kind of happy little chick lit sort of vibe, but this book was just too ridiculous and poorly written to deliver even that. The whole thing is first person present tense, so that was already quite aggravating, and the further into the book I got, the worse the story was. Jill doesn’t read as 29-year-old at all, as she was just so immature and ridiculous at times. There were really stupid scenes, like her walking in on her parents “doing it” and then I had to go through like an entire chapter of her being “so grossed out” – like yes, that’s extremely uncomfortable, but you’re an adult now, so I really feel like you should be able to move on – like how exactly do you think you arrived in the world….???
But the worst part was that one of things on Jill’s list was something along the lines of “learn to live without a boyfriend” or something like that – and it’s the one thing she never does! She realizes how she was depending on her old boyfriend so much that she never really was herself, but she launches straight into a relationship with her old high school boyfriend. So even though I liked that guy just fine, I was never able to really get behind their romance because at the end of the day Jill still just felt like she “needed” a man to live her life. So 2/5 for being boring, pointless, and having an overall rather negative life message.
Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation by Harlow Giles Unger
When I read a children’s biography of Patrick Henry a while back, I was really inspired to learn more about this particular founding father. And while Lion of Liberty was interesting and had some more information about Henry, I overall felt more like I was reading a condensed history of the American Revolution/founding of Constitution, with a side focus on Henry rather than the other way around. There is only one brief chapter on the first 24 years of Henry’s life, and throughout the rest of the book we are only given pieces of Henry’s personal life in very brief (and sometimes weirdly snide) asides. Rather than making Henry more personable and accessible, Unger gives us a picture of a man’s accomplishments rather than the man himself.
In a weird way, I realized about halfway through the book that it just didn’t feel like Unger really liked Henry. I felt rather like he was rolling his eyes at many of Henry’s dramatic speeches, and some of his comments about Henry’s personal life came across as downright uncomfortable. E.g. – “…from then on, whenever Henry returned home he made certain that if his wife was not already pregnant from his last visit, she most certainly would be by the time he left.” ???
Still, there was enough of Henry in this book to remind me why he was one of my childhood favorites. His passion not just for freedom from Britain, but from big government in general, his love for everyday people and preserving their independence, his emphasis on the critical importance of strengthening small, localized governments – these are all themes that still resonate with me today. I especially loved Henry’s passion for the Bill of Rights, and his strong stance against the Constitution without them. Even more interesting is to see how so much of what Henry predicted has happened – in events that lead to the Civil War, and again today, with an ever-closing noose of interference and heavy taxation from a centralized government ever-distanced from the people it claims to serve.
For Lion, 3/5. A decent read for the political overview of Henry, but I would still like to get a hold of a biography that focuses more on him as a person and less on him as a founding father, and preferably without the snide remarks about how much Henry liked his wife.
Indian Paint by Glenn Blach
In my effort to read/reread all the books I physically own (and there are a lot), Indian Paint was next on the draw. One of the Famous Horse Story series, this was a simple yet engaging tale of a young American Indian boy and the colt he has chosen for his own. This wasn’t really a book that bowled me over with its intricate plotting, but I was surprised at how interested I became in the fate of Little Falcon and Shadow, especially since the fates seemed quite determined to keep them apart. While there were points that were a bit overly dramatic, the story held together well and came to a satisfactory conclusion. I have several of Balch’s books still on the shelf and am looking forward to tackling them at some point as well.
The Girl on the Train by Paul Hawkins
So this is one of those books that I had heard SO much about that I actually braced myself for disappointment. In the end, I was close to a 4/5, as it was a compulsively readable book that drew me in almost immediately. I appreciated the fact that while Rachel wasn’t a reliable narrator, she was still likable. I felt like the book was paced quite well. Frequently, books that rely on date/time headings to let the reader know where we are quite annoy me, but it worked well in this instance, and I liked the way that we got the backstory from one narrator and the present story with another. The ending came together well, leaving me overall satisfied. While I didn’t find this to be an instantaneous classic that I would want to read again and again, I can still see why it has been a popular thriller since it was published.
I have read reviews of this book on multiple blogs that I follow (with a variety of views from “THIS WAS AMAZING!” to “eh”), including Reading, Writing & Riesling; The Literary Sisters; Rose Reads Novels; Chrissi Reads; Cleopatra Loves Books; Bibliobeth; and probably others I’ve missed!