November Minireviews // Part 4

Towards the end of November, I decided it was probably close enough to Christmas to start reading Christmas books haha

The Wailing Wind by Tony Hillerman – 3.5*

//published 2002//

This one was a decent mystery, but I was somewhat aggravated by how much trouble Bernie got in, considering she had no reason to suspect that the body she found had been murdered.  Still, it was nice to see the Chee/Bernie relationship finally getting some traction!

25 Days Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander –  3.5*

//published 2019//

My first Christmas read of the season was a bit of a mixed bag.  I liked the characters and even the overall story, but Kate’s life started bad and kept getting worse and worse!  Every time there was a chance for something to go wrong, it did, so the majority of the book was kind of depressing.  Then, everything gets magically resolved in about five pages towards the end.  I don’t always need my Christmas romances to feel super realistic, but after so many pages of unrelenting things-going-wrong, it would have been nice to have more reassurances that the turn for the better was actually permanent and not a fluke!

Christmas Ever After by Karen Schaler 3.5*

//published 2020//

Schaler’s books are always a mixed bag for me, mainly because she is always a little obnoxious about herself and how popular her own books are, something she somehow manages to work into these stories in a meta fashion.  My original review says that “this one was pretty terrible, but that’s kind of what I’m into when I’m reading Christmas romances,” and I have to say that still stands haha  The drama meter was at max here, but it was still an okay read.

A Treason of Thorns by Laura Wemouth – 3*

//published 2019//

Sometimes a standalone fantasy definitely feels like it should have been more than one book, and this was the case here.  I wanted more of everything – more character development, more worldbuilding, more conversations – the concept here was SO intriguing and interesting, and I felt like we barely got the surface of what was happening.  There were also a lot of weird jumps in characters – someone is a bad guy, oh no wait actually a good guy after all! Without a lot of in between to explain why we suddenly trust this person when we didn’t trust them at all a few pages ago.  I really wanted to like this one because I found the concept so interesting, but in the end it just didn’t work for me.

The Blythes are Quoted by L.M. Montgomery – 4*

Somehow, I had never heard of this book until it was picked for our Kindred Spirits Buddy Read in November!  Apparently, shortly before her death, Montgomery gathered together some short stories and poetry and put them together, although it wasn’t published this way until just recently.  The poetry is presented as though written by Anne or Walter, with usually a few lines of commentary afterwards by whichever family members were gathered to hear it read out loud.  The majority of the book is set during the era of Rainbow Valley, with a shorter section (maybe a third of the book) set after WWI, as WWII is looming on the horizon.  If you come to this book hoping to get a lot of post-Rilla of Ingleside information about the lives of the Blythes, you won’t find it here.  We get hints that everyone married the “right” person (Rilla/Ken, Jerry/Nan, etc), and you did see some of the emotional difficulties that the family faced after the war was over, adjusting to the fact of Walter’s death.

My biggest issue with this book is that the Blythes are SERIOUSLY quoted.  Like, constantly.  Usually 3-5 times per page.  I almost wonder if Montgomery was purposefully trying to be obnoxious since everyone wanted her to keep writing Anne books long after she had lost interest in the characters.  Most of the mentions of the Blythe family (and Susan Baker) are tangential – along the lines of, “he knew it to be true, because he had heard Dr. Blythe tell the story last week” or “she reminded him of Dr. Blythe’s wife – not exactly beautiful, but still captivating.”  I recognized some of these short stories from other collections, except with a generous sampling of Blythes sprinkled in!  I was reading these just one or two stories a day for the entire month, so it worked for me.  However, I think the Blythe-references would have gotten pretty aggravating if I had tried to read this entire book in one go.  I’m not sure this is one I’ll pick up again, and I definitely don’t think that it adds anything to the Anne series as a whole, but it was still very interesting to read once.

Running Total:  I’m going to try something new and keep a running total of how many reviews I have left to write at the bottom of each of these posts! I’m curious to see if I’m gaining any ground at all, or if I will always be five months behind!!  Current number of books read but not reviewed: 86!