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.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – 4.5*
This is a hard one to review. Christie does a magnificent job with this one, but overall it’s not actually one of my favorites because it’s also pretty depressing. Still, it’s brilliantly done, and one of those stories that leaves you pondering the ending.
As a side note, I started collecting these absolutely gorgeous editions from HarperCollins and am IN LOVE! So far they have been putting out two a year, so now that I’ve caught up, hopefully I can stay with them! I’m including a bonus picture of all of them I’ve collected so far – just LOOK at those end papers!!!
Of Beasts and Beauties by various authors – 3*
One of this year’s challenges on Litsy is to read the original and variations of a different fairy tale each month. I’ve been using it as a chance to read retellings already on my TBR. February’s fairy tale was Beauty & the Beast, so I thought it was a good time to pick up this collection of B&B retellings that I got as a free Kindle book eons ago. Unfortunately, it was 810 pages of mediocrity and five books that literally were NOT B&B retellings at all?!?! I was SO confused by that part. I struggled through these, hoping that one of them was going to make it worth my while, but they were all just boring and angsty without anything particularly engaging.
In the first, a princess marries a Dark Elf to try and build a better relationship between their cultures. It went on F O R E V E R and basically nothing happened except for her whining about how oppressed she was because her dad is a jerk (which he is but… okay, we get it, he’s a jerk). In the second, a young warrior is kidnapped by a tribe of lizard women who need him to participate in their not-sexual ceremony so the next generation of lizard women can emerge. Another yawn-fest that I skimmed a LOT. Story 3 was a contemporary thriller that wasn’t bad exactly, it was just soooo dramatic, basically her cousin already works there and the chick needs out of the city so her cousin gets her a gig working here (for the “the beast“) as a maid but then they FALL IN LOVE and now she feels SO HORRIBLE because she has LIED TO HIM about BEING A MAID. Wait, what? Like, you took the job, you’ve been cleaning the house, so actually you ARE a maid. When she “confesses“ he struggles to forgive this “lie“, leaving me honestly super confused. The whole story was like that – tiny things blown way out of proportion. Story 4 had this fun superhero concept, but the world-building was horrible and way too much was trying to be jammed into 150 pages – super choppy writing, almost like it was supposed to be longer and the editors were like, nah, you need to get rid of about half of this. I constantly felt like I was missing something. Story 5 (& final, thank goodness) was the best out of the bunch, I think, although still overly complicated for its space. Still not remotely B&B although at least there was a daughter making a sacrifice to save her dad so… kind of??
I pick up these kinds of collections thinking that I may find a new author out of them, but none of these made me remotely interested in anything else these people had written. But honestly, my review could be colored by the fact that I was really excited to read five B&B retellings and this did NOT deliver.
Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – 4*
Yes, I know it’s Sorcerer’s Stone here in the US… but this time around I’m actually reading British editions! I got these fancy Hufflepuff editions a while ago (well, I’m actually still in the process of collecting them) and have been meaning to reread the series ever since. Another Litsy readalong this year is #PotteraDay and it’s actually been really fun to read these books at a slower pace – I usually race through them as fast as I can. This way I’ve been soaking them up more and noticing more details. It’s also entertaining to read the British editions, which do have a lot of different words and phrasings. I really wish that, on the whole, books written by British authors in Britain would not be “translated” into American English as I think they lose a lot that way. If I’m reading a book set in England, I want it to be authentic!! These aren’t the best-written books ever, but they’re still great stories and I always find them enjoyable to revisit.
The School for Good & Evil by Soman Chainani – 2*
This one was just not for me, and I think a big part of it was because it did NOT feel like a middle grade book. Maybe I have a dirty mind, but here’s a phrase I don’t want to be used to describe a 12-year-old girl OR to have a 12-year-old girl read: “Her extremely short dress showed off long, creamy legs.” The entire book was like that. It wasn’t overtly sexual, but there were extremely weird phrases used that just made me feel uncomfortable. At one point, one of the girls gets tangled in a magical thorn patch and is being attacked by the plant – she’s stabbed by a “dark and engorged thorn” during a scene that felt like it spent way too much time talking about how the thorn was going to “enter” her. There are multiple instances where the girls wear skimpy clothes and make up in a way designed to attract the attention of the boys with details like the “creamy legs” sentence above. In one scene, one of the girls enters the cafeteria during lunch wearing an outfit that shows off her legs and is low-cut in the front and we’re told that the boys’ food “dribbled in their laps.” I don’t know, maybe I’m overly sensitive, but this book really gave me the weirds, which was disappointing because it seemed like, from the description, something that should be right up my alley. And on top of all of that, the whole message about good/evil/beautiful/ugly just felt extremely muddled and confusing – like in the end, it actually did feel like beautiful = good and evil = ugly, so I wasn’t exactly sure what the point was supposed to be?? On the plus side, it’s an entire series checked off my list by just reading one book!
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