Happy March, everyone!!! This week things are starting to smell like spring and I’m so excited!!! In the meantime, here are some books I read back in January.
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.
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi – 3*
Do you ever read a book that just leaves you feeling !??!?! That book was Pinocchio. I never thought I’d say this, but Disney actually made this story more cohesive and actually somewhat make sense compared to the original! Part of my problem with this one is that the sense of time was all wrong. It seems like Pinocchio is only with his carpenter-father for like, a day, yet constantly references things his father taught him. There were a lot of situations where I was confused about how long something had been going on. It wasn’t a bad book, exactly, just choppy and confusing. I did appreciate that Pinocchio’s attempts to be a “good boy” did cycle a lot – he would learn a lesson, be good for a while, and then slip-slide back into something he knew he shouldn’t be doing. Been there, Pinocchio. This was an interesting read, but did also make me wonder, once again, about why certain stories become classics while others fade away.
Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie – 4*
This one was a reread for me (as most Christies are these days) and I really enjoyed it. Poirot receives a letter from an elderly woman who, in a roundabout way, seems to be fearing for her life. However, the letter is dated nearly two months earlier – and Poirot finds out that the woman is dead. Seized with a sudden feeling that because this woman wrote to him, she’s technically his client and he owes it to her to investigate her (supposedly completely unsuspicious) death, Poirot and Hastings head off to the countryside to chat up the family. As always, there are tons of red herrings and potential murderers, plus the usual everyday people holding back irrelevant information that makes them look bad. Not my all-time favorite, but a very solid entry.
The Fire by Katherine Neville – 3.5*
This follow-up to The Eight, published twenty years later, was not as strong as the original story. Following the daughter of The Eight’s main character, there is a lot of running around but it just felt like this book’s main character, Xie, wasn’t really the main character. Things happened TO her the entire time, but it never felt like she was in charge of what was going on. Her best friend, Key, felt way more like the MC and I think the whole book would have been more interesting (and made more sense) if either Key was the MC, or Xie had some of the circumstances in her life that Key did, if that makes sense. There was also this thing where I literally lost count of how many times characters realize that the room/conversation is bugged, to the point that I was confused about why they even attempted to have a conversation inside of any building or within 20 yards of any electrical device ever. It was kind of ridiculous. In The Eight the second story-strand set during the French Revolution enhanced and explained a great deal of what was going on in the modern-day story. But in The Fire the historical part never really made sense to me and just felt like filler. All in all, while there were some good elements here – and I really liked the ending – The Fire just didn’t jive like The Eight did.
The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour – 3.5*
In this nonfiction book published by favorite homesteading publishers, Storey Publishing, Jabbour explores ways to extend the gardening season beyond the frost dates. A resident of Nova Scotia, Jabbour has added cold frames and a non-heated greenhouse to her personal garden, and also examines methods like cloches, row covers, etc. as ways to protect crops from the cold and lengthen the growing season. There’s a lot of good information here, but no matter how you cut it, the main plants that are going to grow in the cold, even in cold frames, are plants like lettuce, spinach, carrots, etc., so in the end it seemed like a lot of work for not a lot of payback. However, Jabbour also has a really great vegetable index in the back with notes on different varieties, varieties of various veggies that are more cold-tolerant, and planting/harvesting notes. This comprises probably half the book and has some really great information. All in all, not my favorite gardening book, but it is one that I’ve referenced a few times, and I’m still thinking about putting in a cold frame for some early season plants.