September Minireviews – Part 2

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.

Still trying to catch up on at least SOME of the books I read this month!!

Three Fates by Nora Roberts – 4*

//published 2002//

This book had excellent pacing and interesting characters, although it was a little slow to start.  I liked the thriller aspect of it, with everyone dashing around and trying to find the statues.  It’s a little heavy on coincidences, but Roberts honestly weaves that into the story, as I really liked the way she incorporate the concept of fate and also the story of The Fates (the myth) into what was happening.  There was one quote in particular I liked – ” [The Fates looked at me.] The first, who held a spindle, spoke. ‘I spin the thread, but you make it what you will.’ The second held a silver tape for measuring and said, ‘I mark the length, but you use the time.’ And the third, with her silver scissors, told me this. ‘I cut the thread, for nothing should last forever. Don’t waste what you’re given.’ “

Engaging Mr. Darcy by Rachel John – 4*

//published 2018//

This was a fun little modern adaptation of Pride & Prejudice that I quite enjoyed.  I really liked the way the author decided to update some of the situations, especially with why Mr. Bennet is a lax father, Lydia’s behavior, and how Wickham played into everything.  For some reason, the author decided to randomly change the first names of the some of the characters from those in the original, but not all of them, which felt a little jarring at times.  Overall, though, this was a fun little romp.

Arabella by Georgette Heyer – 4.5*

//published 1949//

This was a reread from quite a while back, so I didn’t really remember any of the story.  However, it was just as delightful as I’ve come to depend on Heyer being.  I loved Arabella and all of the other characters.  I was on vacation while I was reading this one, and it was just perfect.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – 3*

//published 2016//

This book totally had me hooked while I was reading it, but left me feeling a little disappointed and confused.  The whole thing was just way, way too elaborate.  I was mostly left wondering why, if you were going to murder someone, you would EVER choose this way of going about it?!  The ending was quite jumbled and depended entirely upon luck.  So while this was fun while I was reading it, it definitely didn’t blow me away.  I’m still planning to check out more of Ware’s work, though.

First & Then by Emma Mills – 3.5*

//published 2015//

It’s ironic, since this was Mills’s first novel, but if I had read this first, I’m not sure I would have bothered to pick up her other books, all of which I’ve loved.  It’s not that this one is bad, because it’s actually a perfectly nice book.  However, it doesn’t particularly stand out – just kind of regular YA lightly-angsty story, lacking the delightful snark and close group of friends that has drawn me to the author’s stories.  Still, this was overall a well-written and thoughtful story that I did enjoy, with characters that I liked.  I appreciate the way that Mills manages to create high school characters who basically learn to look beyond themselves, recognizing that they are actually a small piece in a much larger puzzle.  To me, that should be the lesson you learn in high school – that life doesn’t revolve around you – and Mills manages to do that in each of her stories, yet in a different and engaging way each time.

September 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.

Oh wow, it’s the end of September and I haven’t posted a SINGLE REVIEW!  Ha!  September is always a busy month for me, plus this year we also went on an epic western roadtrip (almost 4300 miles in nine days, woot!) so things have been a leeeetle bit crazy.  Still, plenty of reading has been accomplished!!

I really don’t want to do minireviews of some of these books, as I thoroughly enjoyed them, but I am suuuper behind on reviews!  So, as always, the star rating is a more accurate representation of my feelings on the book rather than the length of the review!

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – 4*

//published 2019//

Oh my gosh, this book was SO adorable.  Basically, Leon needs some extra money.  He works nights, so he decides to sublet his flat for the times that he isn’t there.  The flatmate will get the apartment nights and weekends.  Tiffy needs a place to stay, so even though the concept is a bit irregular, she rolls with it.  Through a series of events, which O’Leary paces perfectly, Tiffy and Leon don’t actually meet for quite a long while.  But roommates really do need to communicate, even if they never see each other – and so the sticky notes begin.

I just really enjoyed this book.  It was lighthearted and fun, and the romance was adorable.  The chapters that were from Leon’s perspective were a little strange to read at first because of the way his steam-of-thought rolls, but after I adjusted I got into it.  I really loved the way their relationship developed over time.  I thought the drama with Tiffy’s ex was a little bit much, and it was hard to figure out how much of it was real, how much of it was just in Tiffy’s head, and how much of it was actually worse than Tiffy thought it was, since all we had was Tiffy’s perspective on the situation.  Still, overall this was thoroughly enjoyable.

Special thanks to reviews by Stephanie, Bibliobeth, and From First Page to Last, which inspired me to give this book a try!!

Those People by Louise Candlish – 3.5*

//published 2019//

This was a thriller that kept me completely gripped throughout with its excellent pacing, but felt like it just kind of ran out of gas and stuttered to an end rather than having the tight conclusion I was hoping to see.  I loved the format at the beginning of the book – an excerpt of a police interview from one of the characters, and then a chapter headed “[x] Weeks Ago” – it really made the build-up to the tragedy tense.  The reader knows there is a tragedy, that there is at least one death, knows at least one of the characters who is involved in the tragedy – but the details are vague and unfold slowly.

The ending isn’t unreasonable by any means, it just felt a little loose.  I was also a little big confused – a minor character ties in, and I didn’t really understand why, or what he had to do with anything, or why he would be the one suggesting the specific means of causing the accident.  That may also have been part of the reason I was left feeling mildly disappointed by the conclusion.

But overall excellent, taut writing.  This is my first book by Candlish, but I have a couple of her other books on my list, and will definitely be finding them!  For this one, reviews by Stephanie and Jennifer led me to read it, so thank you!!

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill – 4.5*

//published 2017//

A while back I bought the most adorable card game ever, where players are raising tiny tea dragons.  I bought it solely based on the artwork (although luckily it turned out to be a fun game to play, also).  Last month, I found out that the card game is based on a BOOK and I had to read it as soon as I could get my grabby hands on a copy.

The artwork is STUNNING.  I could seriously look at the pictures in this book all day long.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the fact that all the friendships are actually gay relationships – I still just really feel like it devalues friendship a lot; like this could be about two lonely girls becoming friends, but instead now they are MORE, and the implication seems to be that friendship wouldn’t have been enough.  But it’s still a very gentle part of the story, and the overall artwork is just soooo beautiful.  Apparently there is a sequel being published this fall, and I’m on the waiting list at the library.

Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome – 5*

//published 1931//

Swallows & Amazons was my favorite read in June, and the sequel was my favorite read in August (even if I’m just getting around to reviewing it).  This book was everything I could possibly want from a sequel and more.  I don’t really have words to explain why I love these books so hard, but I cannot WAIT to read Peter Duck.

The Girl on the Boat by P.G. Wodehouse – 4.5*

//published 1922//

Is it possible to go wrong with Wodehouse?  Not in my experience.  Who else can pull off a line like this?  “At this, she melted perceptibly. She did not cease to look like a basilisk, but she began to look like a basilisk who has had a good lunch.“

Rearview Mirror // August 2019

Well, another busy month has come and gone!  I can’t believe that summer is over and fall is here already.  August was a very busy and somewhat weird month.  It’s always a busy month at the orchard for me, because we aren’t quite at full staff yet, so I actually work more days in August than I do throughout the regular season in the fall.  However, I do it because I actually love working there and love my employers, so even though it’s been hard work it’s been good fun.

I’ve still been doing plenty of reading, but not as much reviewing!!  I’ll get caught up one of these days, as I always do eventually.

Favorite August Read:

I think I’m tagging  Swallowdale for this slot, even though I haven’t reviewed it yet.  It was such a warm, fun read – an excellent sequel to Swallows and Amazons, which I also loved.  I am so excited about continuing this series.

Most Disappointing August Read:

The Wedding Chapel ended up being a real downer of a read, that left me feeling so sad that I didn’t even bother reading the final book in the series.

By the Numbers…

In August –

  • I read 6231 pages – over a thousand less than July, but I’m not surprised, considering how crazy busy things have been.
  • My average star rating is 3.6 again, although closer to 3.7.  While I did have a few books I really enjoyed this month, it was overall a lot of just pretty average reads.
  • This month the majority of the books I read were from the library – out of 23 total books, 16 of them came from the library, and only one book this month was a Kindle read – the rest were all hard copies.
  • This month’s oldest book was The Story of a Whim by Grace Livingston Hill, published in 1903.
  • As well as being my favorite read this month, Swallowdale was also my longest at 453 pages – and I enjoyed every single one of them.
  • The shortest book this month was a graphic novel that I also haven’t reviewed yet, called The Tea Dragon Society.  It was only 71 pages long, but every single page was full of the most adorable illustrations you could imagine.

August DNFs:

  • I started to read Rachel Hauck’s The Wedding Shop, but just couldn’t get into it, especially with the bad taste of The Wedding Chapel lingering around.
  • I was planning to read another Redwall book, Lord Brocktree, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  I’ve put it back on the list for a later date.
  • My book blogging buddy Stephanie sent me a copy of The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey.  She and I have both enjoyed Pettrey’s books in the past, but she warned me that this wasn’t one she particularly enjoyed.  I didn’t even bother finishing it – the main character was incredibly annoying, way too many characters and plot lines were introduced in the first 25 pages, and there were some serious issues with civilians and criminal investigations going on!  This one just wasn’t for me.

#20BooksofSummer Update:

I don’t think I’m going to quite make the list this summer!!  I’ve completed 16 books (although I’ve only reviewed 14), and I’ll probably finish #17 today.  Although I won’t have the full twenty read by the official deadline, I’ll get to them eventually and it’s all good fun.  You can see my list here.

TBR Update:

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  436 (up six)
  • Nonfiction:  100 (up ten)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  659 (up one)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  235 (up one)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 116 (up two)

I definitely blame the uptick of ALL the TBR tabs on Litsy!  I’m still really, really enjoying the book loving community over there, even if it is wrecking my resolutions to get TBR numbers DOWN!  :-D

Awaiting Review:

  • The Flatshare  by Beth O’Leary – loved this one
  • Those People  by Louise Candlish – great pacing, weird ending.
  • The Tea Dragon Society  by Katie O’Neill – as mentioned, an absolutely adorable graphic novel.
  • Swallowdale  by Arthur Ransome – so much love for these books.  I can’t wait to read  Peter Duck.
  • The next five 87th Precinct books – I really have been enjoying these a lot.
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George – a childhood favorite that was a great reread.

Currently Reading:

I’m in the midst of another delightful Wodehouse read, The Girl on the Boat.  I just don’t understand how Wodehouse can be so perfect all the time.

I’m also finally making progress on my Vietnam book ( Vietnam: A History ), also thanks to Litsy – I’m part of the Book Fitness Challenge right now, and my reading goal is 100 pages a week from  Vietnam!  Goodreads tells me I’m 35% of the way through!

The Probable Next Five(ish) Reads…

  • There are actually two sequels to  My Side of the Mountain, so I am going to read those as well as soon as they come in at the library.
  • The Lady Vanished  by Gretta Mulrooney is supposed to be the first in my next mystery series – if it’s any good, I’ll read the next six books in the series as well.
  • My next Judy Bolton book is  The Clue of the Broken Wing.
  • I’m still working through that random pile of Nora Roberts books, and the next one in the stack is  Three Fates.
  • My next crazy Regency book is The Fugitive Heiress by Amanda Scott.  The title alone is perfect.

That’s all for this month – hope everyone has a fantastic September!!!