February Minireviews

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.

I must be getting super lazy about reviews, because I am actually giving minireviews of entire series this month… those are like mini mini reviews!

Anyone But You series by Jennifer Shirk

  • Fiance by Fate – 3*
  • Wedding Date for Hire – 3.5*
  • Wrong Brother, Right Match – 3.5*

This was my first foray into Shirk’s writing, but I don’t think it will be my last.  While ultimately forgettable, these books were lighthearted, funny, happy, and clean.  They were the perfect fluff bits for a stressful week.  Shirk does a good job of writing tropes in a way that makes them easy and fun to read.  I really appreciated that Shirk wrote happy, believable romances without having to insert a bunch of sexy-times.  There was tension between her characters that worked, but she didn’t have explicit sex, she didn’t have her characters spending absurd amounts of time sexually fantasizing about the other character (tip for writers: there’s a big difference between having someone be interested in someone/find them attractive and having someone go on and on and ON about how they would like to bang someone), she didn’t even leave me with a bunch of cut scenes implying that these characters were having loads of sex off-screen.  Instead, the story was about the romance between the characters.  Consequently, even though these stories were a bit silly and slightly absurd, I really did enjoy them and found myself rooting for the romances even if they were a little on the insta-side.

All in all, these were really fun little stories.  If you’re just looking for something low-stress, I totally recommend these.  Personally, I’ll definitely be checking out more of Shirk’s writing in the future.

Fields of Wrath by Mark Wheaton – 3.5*

This was another free Kindle book I’ve had forever.  There were a lot of things I liked about this story.  The main character is a Catholic priest named Luis Chavez living in a city in California (can’t remember which one).  Through a series of events, he’s drawn into a situation where he believes people are being trafficked from Mexico, so he goes undercover to see what he can find.  Although Luis is a rogue in the sense that he isn’t any kind of official law-enforcement, it never really felt like he was taking the law into his own hands.  Instead, he believes in the importance of justice and protecting the innocent, and is determined to make sure these things happen.  I really liked the way that Luis’s faith was central to his actions.  He actually reminded me a lot of another Catholic character I love – Brother Cadfael.  He had that same sort of earthy wisdom tempered with a strong faith.

However, the story was a bit disjointed.  There were several other (third person) perspectives going on, which made it difficult to remember which characters already knew what.  The body count was extremely high, yet I had a lot of trouble connecting emotionally with this story, so even when people I liked got knocked off, it didn’t really stir me to the depths.  Honestly, Wheaton killed off so many people that it almost felt more emotional when someone lived!

In the end, it was a book that I wanted to like more than I actually did.  Although there are two more books with Luis as their central character, I just wasn’t interested enough to read them.

A Damsel in Distress by P.G. Wodehouse – 4.5*

When in doubt, turn to Wodehouse.  He never fails to bring me joy.  Even when I feel like I’m not in the mood for a Wodehouse book, within a page or two, it’s the only thing I want to read.  This one was full of his usual capers and coincidences, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page.

Alaskan Bride Rush series by various authors (Love Inspired)

  • Klondike Hero by Jillian Hart – 3*
  • Treasure Creek Dad by Terri Reed – 3*
  • Doctor Right by Janet Tronstad – 3*
  • Yukon Cowboy by Debra Clopton – 3.5*
  • Thanksgiving Groom by Brenda Minton – 3*
  • The Lawman’s Christmas Gift by Linda Goodnight – 3.5*

Those of you who have been with me for a while may remember that quite a while back I inherited roughly half a billion romance paperbacks from my great-aunt, the overwhelming majority of which were “Love Inspired,” a Christian romance series that used to be a thing where you signed up and the mailed you a book every month, which is obviously what my great-aunt did for YEARS.  Originally I wanted to try to read them all, but the overwhelming mediocrity of the first few batches I plowed through made me realize that this wasn’t how I wanted to spend my life.  Instead, I packed them off to various book donation locations, except for a few where I actually had an entire series of them.

As you can tell from the series title, these weren’t exactly intensely serious, deep stories.  Instead, they’re just Hallmark movies in book form.  Honestly, they’re probably more like knock-off Hallmark movies in book form if I’m honest.  :-D  Like most of the Love Inspired books I’ve read, these were super relaxing, incredibly forgettable, very quick reads.  I always enjoy series like this where you get to know a place and background characters, and I was impressed at how well the different authors were able to build off of one another’s stories and characters.  Set in a remote Alaskan town, the stories begin because of an article in a woman’s magazine touting all the hunky single guys to be found in Treasure Creek.  The whole thing is a misunderstanding because the journalist who wrote the article was supposed to be from an outdoors magazine and was supposed to write about the wilderness tours in the area, but apparently she was more into the tour guides.  So women start trucking to Treasure Creek to see what they can find, and there you have one of the goofiest settings for a series of romance stories that you can imagine, yet it somehow mostly worked.

Sometimes you just want to read some stories that follow simple, predictable lines.  They’re the comfort food of books.  While I don’t ever see myself returning to Treasure Creek, they weren’t bad for a one-time read.  So if someone else wants these, you should let me know before I drop them off at Salvation Army next time I’m in town…