Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough. Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it! Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up. For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.
Final wrap-up of August reads!
The Royal Treatment and The Royal Wedding by Melanie Summers – 3*
The first book was close to a 3.5* read for me, so I was willing to give the second a try, especially since it was on Kindle Unlimited. However, I just genuinely was bored by The Royal Wedding and didn’t bother with the third book. These books had a fun concept and fairly likable characters, but I was somewhat turned off by their – for lack of a better word – crudity. Told in dual POVs from both the male and female lead, I felt like I heard way more about Arthur’s libido (albeit in weirdly euphemistic terms) that I ever wanted to know, and the method Summers used to make Tessa a “regular” person was by having her swear – a lot. Tessa also has several brothers, all of whom basically treat her like trash, to the point that I really didn’t understand why Tessa was still willing to spend time with them. If my family treated me like that, I would NOT hang around! In the second book, there was this really strong message that if men ever, in any way, attempt to care for/protect/help the women in their life, they are just sexist, horrible people, and that really grated on me.
However – these books were also very funny, and the scenario was great fun. I actually liked Arthur and Tessa a lot, as individuals and as a couple, which is what kept me reading as long as I did. Not a total waste of time, but not really books I would recommend either.
Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery – 3.5*
It had been a long time since I had read this slim book, and while I enjoyed it, I was reminded of how some of Montgomery’s books just feel a little flat to me – this is definitely in that category. First off, Kilmeny is mute, and it’s always hard to really portray that in writing, since I’m reading what she says whether she says it out loud or writes it down. Secondly, the amount of prejudice Kilmeny faced/put on herself for being mute was really an interesting testament of the times, as she literally felt like her “defect” made her “unworthy” of being a wife. This book also reflects its time in its discussion of Neil, the hired hand/son of Italian immigrants. It’s definitely something that wouldn’t be written that way a hundred years later!
Still, all in all, this book only reflects the thoughts/culture of its time. And while this story doesn’t have the magic that some of Montgomery’s other works do, it’s still a nice little story. Incidentally, this is #11 for my #20BooksofSummer challenge.
Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins – 4*
This was my first foray into Higgins’s writing, but it won’t be my last. There were a lot of things that I really liked about this book. The characters were well-written, and I loved the way that while yes, the main story is a romance, there are a lot of secondary stories going on that add a great deal of depth to what was going on. There was a strong theme about parent/child relationships that I thought was done quite well, and I really loved the way there were so many adopted kids! I also appreciated the lack of explicit sex scenes and the minimal swearing. While this book didn’t become an instant classic for me, I definitely see myself exploring some of Higgins’s other books soon, as she had a great balance of romance, humor, and serious issues.
This is #12 for my #20BooksofSummer challenge, and probably as far as I am going to get this year!
Unwilling Bride by Marnie Ellingson – 4*
Several years ago I purchased The Wicked Marquis by this author (secondhand, in a thrift store). It has become one of my favorites, so I was excited to pick up Unwilling Bride when I had a few hours of enforced downtime last weekend. While I didn’t love it was much as Marquis, it was still great fun. The story was lively, the characters engaging, and everything was just a good time and thoroughly enjoyable. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more of Ellingson’s works, all of which appear to be out of print.
The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts – 4.5*
This nonfiction story of the champion horse jumper, Snowman, was really an excellent read. I knew the bare bones of this story thanks to C.W. Anderson’s Twenty Gallant Horses, but it was so much fun to get more details about a horse of unknown (but very poor – probably plow horse) lineage, purchased off the dog-food wagon by a poor Dutch immigrant, who went on to become a champion show jumper competing – and winning – at Madison Square Gardens. Letts does a great job of giving the right amount of background information without bogging down the actual story, and I love it when nonfiction books work photographs into the text instead of putting them all in a big block of pages in the middle of the book.
I wish I had more space to review this book, as it really was quite fascinating. The horse on the cover is Snowman himself, who enjoyed jumping so much that he would do it without a rider if the jump was in the ring. If you like horses, or just a really fun rags-to-riches kind of story, I definitely recommend this one.
Chasing Ravens by Jessica Paige – 3.5*
This was a decent fantasy story with Russian vibes. While I liked it just fine, it didn’t really have the magic a story needs to become one I return to again and again. It felt like the entire beginning of the story should have been eliminated, as it didn’t really do much to the main thrust of the story, and then more time could have been spent on the actual adventure. It also felt like the story could have used either no romance, or more romance. As it was, there was just enough to be distracting but not enough to actually fell like a part of the story. Still, a perfectly nice read, and definite kudos for nice cover art.