I have had just zero inspiration for blogging lately. These anti-blogging moods come on me from time to time, and no longer really fuss me, as I know the urge will return at some point. In the meantime, I’ve still been reading aplenty, so I thought I would at least share a few notes on some of my recent reads…
Tulipomania by Mike Dash
I love reading nonfiction on random topics, and doesn’t get much more random than the tulip boom (and bust) of the 1630’s. Dash does an excellent job painting a picture of the times, and I was honestly intrigued by what was going to happen next. I couldn’t get over how crazy the entire boom was, with people buying, selling, and trading bulbs – bulbs! You can’t even tell if they are really what the seller says they are! Can you imagine paying more than a year’s worth of wages for one??
This book definitely needed pictures – I had to keep stopping to look up different styles/types/varieties of tulips (most of which no longer exist). Charts and graphs would have been awesome as well, and could have definitely bumped this book a half star. Dash also had a tendency to sometimes go off onto rambling trails to Nowhereville, but on the whole usually brought it back around to something at least moderately relevant. On the whole, a 4/5 for this one, and recommended. It also made me want to plant some tulips. I feel like I have really underappreciated them up to this point.
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
This was one of those books that I wanted to like more than I did. While it was creative and not a bad story, it just didn’t have magic. And despite all the adventuring in the middle bits, in the end it felt like everyone just ended up back where they started, instead of their being some kind of growth. In the end, 3.5/5 for an alright but rather bland fairy tale. However, I will say that I originally added to this to the TBR after reading a review over at Tales of the Marvelous, so be sure to check that out for a perspective that found this book more engaging than I did!
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
This book totally had me glued to the pages when I was reading it, despite the fact that I found Zoe to be rather annoying, and Simon even more so. (Maybe I found Zoe annoying because she was with Simon? He just seemed like such a tool! And her ex-husband was a sweetheart. I was confused by the creation of a very nice character who is still in love with his ex-wife… but who cheated on her?? The pieces of Matt’s character didn’t always fit together for me.) I enjoyed having a first-person narration and also a third-person narration instead of all first person, which I think can frequently start sounding very same-y. I’m sticking with 4/5 for this one because I couldn’t 100% get behind the conclusion – it was like Mackintosh took the twists to one more level, and I couldn’t quite follow her there, so I felt like the conclusion was just barely in the plausible realm, although other people seem to disagree with me, so it’s possible that I just have a different perspective of human character haha Anyway, this one was definitely worth a read and I’m looking forward to reading some more of Mackintosh’s writing soon!
NB: I would 100% be behind another story with Kelly and Nick!
I feel like this book was reviewed by just about everyone when it was first published! For some other great reviews, check out Stephanie’s Book Reviews, Reading, Writing and Riesling, Cleopatra Loves Books, Chrissi Reads, Bibliobeth, and Fictionophile!
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
This is a definite childhood classic for me. I was very much into horses as a girl, and still own multiple copies of Black Beauty, each with its own style of illustrations and binding. My favorite for reading is still the small Scholastic Book Club paperback. It’s illustrated with line drawings, but doesn’t say who drew them! I’ve had this particular copy since I was about ten, and have read it many times. However, it had been several years since I had pulled it out. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, although as a more pessimistic adult, I find the ending not as confidently positive as I did as a youngster – after multiple times a sudden change in the life of Beauty’s owners leading to his being reluctantly sold, I was necessarily confident that the same wouldn’t happen again in his retirement. What a grump I’ve turned out to be!
Of course, the story is quite polemic in nature – Sewell’s entire goal was to expose many of the everyday cruelties endured by horses and other animals (and people) with no one to speak for them. But everything is presented in such a gentle and loving way that it’s hard to take offense. It’s just many little stories that collectively remind readers that the power to make the world a better place is within everyone’s grasp, if they are willing to step forward and do their small part.
Despite the fact that much of the tale is a bit out of date as far as societal issues go (I don’t really remember the last time I saw someone forcing a horse to draw a heavy load uphill while using the bearing rein), the overall lessons of kindness, generosity, and always looking out for those who are weaker than you are timeless.
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
It’s really hard when I don’t feel like writing serious reviews, but then read a book that I really like a lot, and this one definitely falls into that category. It’s been quite a while since I’ve read about a group of friends that I liked as well as I did Sloane and her group. Despite the fact that there wasn’t this big urgent plot, this was the book I kept wanting to come back to, just so I could see what snarky adventures everyone was going to have next. I realized when I was finished that one of the big reasons that I enjoyed this book so much is that it is way more about friendship and the importance of having a core group of good friends that you can really trust than it is about romance and falling in love. The love story was really a small side issue to the main thrust of the story.
This wasn’t a perfect read for me. It felt like it took way too long for Sloane to “get” that she part of the group, and what that meant she needed to do. I really liked Sloane’s dad and her relationship with him, but I definitely needed more of Sloane’s mom – she only appears a few times, so she just kind of comes across as this weird grumpy person in the background. I personally thought a lot of the things she was grumpy about were justifiable, but she never really gets an opportunity to explain her point of view of their family issues, so in the end the entire relationship between Sloane’s parent is still really ambiguous, which detracted from the overall story for me.
But I legit could read like five more books about this gang of friends. I so enjoyed their banter and loyalty. I also loved reading a story where one of the main characters is popular and beautiful and nice, as I am really tired of the trope where the girls who are into girly things are empty-headed back stabbers. Emma Mills has definitely been added to my list of authors whose backlogs I need to find. In the meantime, if you enjoy funny, engaging YA, I recommend This Adventure Ends.
This book first came to my attention thanks to Stephanie’s Book Reviews, so be sure to check out her thoughts as well!