Wow, friends, it has been over a month since I posted here! I would love to be able to give you some dramatic reason why, but the truth of the matter is that my brother introduced me to the joys of playing Stardew Valley and I have become a total addict. So most of my extra computer time is spent doing chores on my computer farm that I also do in real life. I may need help! :D
Anyway, I have been reading, even if I haven’t been reviewing. I’m going to see if I can get a few batches of minireviews out the door and get somewhat caught up. I never even got around to doing a February Rearview, and now it’s time for March’s! I haven’t READ a single blog post in weeks! I really miss all of you and am sad that I have no idea what is going on in your lives!
Since I last posted, all the corona craziness began. At this point, I’m still considered an “essential” worker (agriculture) so I have been super busy at work. We aren’t exactly sure what is going to happen with all the plants we are transplanting (most of our business is wholesale and thus dependent on what our customers decide/are required to do) but we are still transplanting them like crazy!! Despite the stress of everyday life right now, and even though working in a greenhouse can sometimes be stupidly hot and frustrating, I still really like it there and love coming home smelling like basil and lavender, since the majority of the plants we raise are herbs.
Anyway, that’s the skinny. Here are some book reviews, and maybe I’ll post some more soon…
Well Met by Jen DeLuca – 4* – read February 8
This is a happy little piece of chick lit, although it’s a bit obvious that it’s a debut as well, as there were places where the story dragged a bit. The setting – a Renaissance fair – was fun, unique, and done well. Anyone who has ever worked behind the scenes for an event even somewhat similar to this will find plenty to relate to. Emily was a likable character, although a bit slow on the uptake at times. However, I had mixed feelings about Simon. The idea is that he’s a bit strict and cranky in real life, but when he is playing his character he becomes more more relaxed and dashing… okay, except that still leaves him being a bit of a jerk the rest of the time, and I wasn’t ever quite convinced that the relaxed and dashing version was the “real” Simon, if that makes sense. I also get annoyed when a female character complains about men “ogling” women, but then proceeds to go on and on and ON about how attractive a man is.
Still, this was overall a great deal of fun, and I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel.
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead – 2.5* – read February 11
This is a book I picked up for Litsy’s #AuthoraMonth challenge – each month all the participants try to read at least one book by that month’s author. I hadn’t read anything by Colson before, but was rather attracted to the premise of an elevator inspector, simply because of the complete randomness of it. However, I just never really got into this story. Long stretches of it were incredibly boring and wordy. The whole things feels like an overwrought allegory, with Whitehead trying to make some kind of point about racism but never actually getting there. Also, I’m not sure if it’s just because of my ignorance about elevators, but it was really hard to tell where reality stopped and Whitehead’s made-up world began, which added to the confusion of the story (for me, anyway). I also always get aggravated when people mix up racism and classism – was the character really being ignored because she was black, or was she being ignored because she was a waitress? Because whenever she was dressed in her professional suit/office attire, everyone paid attention to her as much as anyone else, so it seems like the difference was the societal position, not the color of her skin.
At any rate, this was an alright read, but not one that remotely encouraged me to pick up another of Whitehead’s books, despite glowing reviews for several others that I saw on Litsy, especially for his most recent release, The Underground Railroad. I’m really just not a fan of serious novels that work too hard to make a point, and this definitely fell into that category.
Particular Intentions by L.L. Diamond – 4* – read February 12
We all know that I love P&P variations. In this one, Elizabeth overhears Darcy and Bingley discussing the Bennett family, and Darcy actually defends them, rather than insults them, meaning that Elizabeth becomes much more open to Darcy as a person. This was a fun little romp of a variation. However, there was a lot of missed potential with the Wickham angle – instead, Diamond decides to create all her drama with some random chick who is desperate to marry Darcy, and that all felt unrealistic and melodramatic. Overall, though, the characters were likable and the story not too terrible.
Particular Attachments by L.L. Diamond – 3.5* – read February 13
This is the sequel to Particular Intentions, set after Darcy and Elizabeth are married, and focusing more on Georgianna. This one was a lot slower than the other. Basically, this fellow shows up whose family has known the Darcys for a long time and he has always secretly been in love with Georgianna. However, his life-long devotion seemed a little unbelievable since he hasn’t really seen her much since she was basically a little girl. I could have understood him wanting to get to know her better, but to immediately jump to “We were meant for each other and I’ve never loved another!” just made me roll my eyes. A lot. The middle of the book dragged, with Georgianna dithering about telling Nathaniel about Wickham – because obviously Nathaniel isn’t going to actually reject her no matter what she says, so that all felt a tad overwrought. Still, a perfectly pleasant sequel, even if it wasn’t anything groundbreaking.
Falling for Mr. Darcy by Karalynne MacRory – 3.5* – read February 17
I tend to read multiple P&P variations in a row, and this one was on Kindle Unlimited so I picked it up, since I had read another MacRory variation before and enjoyed it. This one was fine, but not particularly memorable. Elizabeth hurts her ankle while on a walk, and Darcy is the one who finds and rescues her, which means they actually have a conversation like adults. It also means that Elizabeth doesn’t walk into town and meet Wickham. This was fine for a KU read, but one I was glad I hadn’t spent any money to read.
The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy – 4* – read February 20
I don’t exactly remember where I heard about this book, but I ended up being quite surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Part of my enjoyment was because I really enjoy animal stories (think Black Beauty, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Jungle Book, etc.). Set in India, this story is about a clan of stray cats who live there. Cats can communicate with one another even over a reasonable distance via the “whisker network” but every once in a while a cat is born who is called a Sender, who can communicate not just with other cats, but with all other animals, over far great distances. At the beginning of the story, a Sender appears in the clan’s territory, causing much consternation, especially since the legend is that Senders are only born during times of great needs – and the clan is actually experiencing a time of great prosperity. Meanwhile, there is a creepy house in the middle of the territory where an old man lives with his band of house cats, who are all terrifyingly evil. Roy does an amazing job pacing this story, and while her cats may talk with one another, they never behave in any way other than how cats would behave, which makes the story believable at some level. I was completely caught up in this adventure, and actually have the sequel on my shelf to read very soon.
Lucky Caller by Emma Mills – 3.5* – read February 21
While I have enjoyed a lot of Mills’s other books, this one didn’t really spark anything for me. It almost felt like Mills had an idea for a story, but then rushed to finish it and left some stuff just dangling. A lot of the concepts were really disjointed, and the whole point of the story – the radio program – was really underdeveloped. Even the tie-in to the title was a little weak, and there was a whole side story with Nina’s sister that just kind of … was there. This is probably my least favorite of her books so far. It wasn’t bad, it was just pretty meh, and even the moments of friendly banter – the reason I always come back to Mills’s books – wasn’t quite enough to bring this up any further in my ratings.
Also, as a side note, I was also sad to see a departure of the cover style of all of Mills’s other books.