Toss the Bouquet // by Ruth Logan Herne, Amy Matayo, and Janice Thompson

The spring installment of the second Year of Weddings was marginally better than the first (A Season to Wed), but only marginally, as I didn’t even finish the second story in this collection.  Overall, sometimes it feels like the authors are just trying to hard.

All Dressed Up in Love by Ruth Logan Herne – 3/5 – While this wasn’t a bad little story, legit the ENTIRE time Tara keeps going on and on and ON in  her head about all the reasons why Greg isn’t a good match for her – and a lot of her thoughts are really reasonable!  Then she finds out ONE small good thing that Greg has been doing – and decides that all of her other thinking was ridiculous – and then all of a sudden, in front of a whole bunch of people, Greg proposes?!?!  They’ve barely even talked during the entire story!  Like, if he had come back from his trip and been like, “Hey, we should definitely be a serious couple,” then I could have gotten behind the whole thing, but there was no way that I could believe that they were going to go off and have a great marriage – the epilogue made me roll my eyes so hard they almost fell out of my head.

In Tune With Love by Amy Matayo – DNF – I flat out hated April, who was obnoxious and annoying.  It also unreasonably aggravated me that she was always writing song lyrics down on all sorts of things, like okay I can understand a napkin in a pinch, but using ALL the toilet paper????  Buy a freaking notebook for pity’s sake!  Overall, she was just so unforgiving and ridiculous.  Her sister was supposed to be this horrible selfish person, but she was the only person giving April any kind of reasonable advice.  None of the characters’ actions matched who they supposedly were as people, so the whole story felt dumb and disjointed and I gave up about halfway through.

Never a Bridesmaid by Janice Thompson – 3/5 – This was actually a really fun little story, but the entire premise is built around the fact that Mari sister doesn’t choose Mari as her maid of honor – and it made NO sense.  Mari and Crystal are super close and really genuinely good friends as well as sisters, so while I can accept that MAYBE Crystal let her future mother-in-law pressure her into choosing someone else as her maid of honor, I couldn’t believe that she put six other friends ahead of Mari in the line.  So while I wanted to like this story better, there was this huge illogical jump from the get-go that really annoyed me.

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Mirror Lake Trilogy // by Miranda Liasson

So, like I’ve mentioned, I went through a major reading slump in the middle of August.  I just kept having extremely bland reads and couldn’t work up any kind of enthusiasm for…  well, much of anything.  So I flipped through my Kindle to the oldest books on there and decided to just start reading.  The first book in the Mirror Lake trilogy was one of the very first free Kindle books that I got, and while it wasn’t an awesome story, I did enjoy it enough to read the other two books in the series.

This Thing Called Love – 3/5 – The first  book centers on Olivia and Brad.  Olivia grew up in Mirror Lake, but then went on to college and a successful career.  She and Brad were super serious in high school, but somehow their relationship stalled out.  Later, Olivia’s sister married Brad’s brother, but at the beginning of the book those two have died in a car wreck and left their infant daughter to Olivia.  So Olivia is back in town trying to get life sorted out, and of course all of a sudden Brad is back in the picture.

This was a perfectly fine way to waste a few hours.  I liked both the main characters, even if there was quite a bit more sexy times than I thought necessary.  There was also a bit more angst than I really like to have, with a lot of I’m just not good enough from both characters.  It annoyed me because every time they ought to have sat down and had a good talk, instead they sat down and had a serious snog.  If they’d done the conversation first, the book would have only been about two chapters long.

But even though I’m griping about it, the story was actually perfectly pleasant, which is why I went on to read book two.

This Love of Mine – 3.5/5 – Actually, the real reason I went on to read this book was because it had a good fake relationship trope, which I do enjoy.  And it was actually set up in a pretty plausible manner, so I was willing to roll with it.  Meg is one of Olivia’s best friends, and Ben is Brad’s brother, so there were plenty of cameo appearances from first-book characters, which I always enjoy.  I liked Ben and Meg even better than Brad and Olivia and felt like their whole relationship made a lot more sense.  There was still too much sexual energy focus, but they were also able to actually have conversations that helped them grow as individuals.  The ending seemed a little bit abrupt and a little too “Happy endings for everyone!” (and this is coming from someone who is 100% all about happy endings for everyone), but was still a really pleasant read.

This Loving Feeling – 3/5 – I really wanted to like this story better than I did, because I really liked Samantha (Sam, of course) – she is Brad and Ben’s younger sister, so she had cropped up in the first two books, as had her ‘bad’ boyfriend, Lukas.  In the story, Lukas took off six years earlier and has become a rich and famous musician since then, but now he’s back in town, and sparks are flying.  Once again, this was a pleasant story that was kind of ruined with too much sex.  It also felt like all their problems were resolved at about 2/3 through, and the rest of the ‘issues’ were very contrived to make the book longer.  Still…  pretty average read.

All in all, I don’t see myself returning to Mirror Lake, but they were perfectly fine for one-time reads and did help me while away my long August book-drought days.

The Tottering TBR // Episode XIX

A weekly(ish) post wherein I pretend to lament the fact that I have so many books on my TBR… but in fact am secretly rubbing my hands together with delight that there are so many amazing books left to be discovered…

This week felt strangely ‘normal’ – nothing weird or exciting happened – and it was fabulous!  I went to work, I cleaned house and worked in the garden, we grilled out a few times, and I visited with my family most of the day on Thursday.  I’ve still been doing quite a lot of reading, but while I’ve kept up the volume of reading, I don’t really feel like I’ve read anything really good. There haven’t been any books in quite a long while that have given me a genuine thrill.  I really felt like that was emphasized by the July Rearview I published this week – it was difficult to choose which book I liked the least, because there were quite a few I didn’t like, but picking out a favorite was difficult because there weren’t really any books in July that I loved – and I reviewed twenty books!

The pattern is continuing into August.  I’ve already published a post of minireviews just from the last two days of July and the first week of this month, because it feels like everything I’m reading isn’t really bad or really awesome – just kind of meh.  Hopefully I’ll stumble into a read that mixes that up soon…

Added to the General TBR:

Only two additions this week (maybe triggered by my jaded attitude towards reading right now haha).  Stephanie said that even though she wasn’t sure at first about What To Say Next, she ended up really enjoying it.  Fictionophile reminisced about an old favorite during Throwback Thursday – she originally reviewed Three Graves Full back in 2012 and still remembers it as a 5* read.

Off the General TBR:

I didn’t actually read/review anything from the General TBR this week, but I did remove three titles while reserving my  next three books from the library – sometimes I add books and then, later, when I am rereading the synopsis and such, I change my mind about even bothering haha

Total for the General TBR:  791 (down one!)

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Added to the Personal TBR:

Free Kindle books continue to beguile me/ruin my life – I added five this week!

Off the Personal TBR:

Luckily, I did get a few titles checked off this week, too.  I read and reviewed A Dark Lurewhich was a pretty meh free Kindle book from a while back, and also a childhood favorite – The Cat Sitter Mystery by Carol Adorjan.  As an aside, rereading that book made me wonder if Adorjan had written anything else – and of course she had!  One of the books looked like it might be a sequel to The Cat Sitter Mystery, so I found a cheap secondhand copy on eBay, and it’s on its way!  I also read and reviewed a biography of Amelia Earhart that has been on the shelf for a while.

Total for the Personal TBR:  595 (up two)

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Total for the Series TBR:  No change this week – steady at 222.

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Total for the Mystery Series TBR:  No change this week – holding steady at 103.

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Added to the Nonfiction TBR:

Reading Amelia Earhart’s biography inspired me to find some of the books that she herself wrote.  I added her personal account of the flight across the Atlantic, 20 Hrs., 40 Min., to the list.

Off the Nonfiction TBR:  

Even though I did review a nonfiction book this week, it came off the Personal tab rather than this one, so none off.

Total for the Nonfiction TBR:  80 (up one).

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Grand Total for the Week:  Eight on and six off, so up a net of two – not bad!  :-D

High-Yield Vegetable Gardening // by Colin McCrate & Brad Halin

//published 2015//

I’ve mentioned in the past my love for Storey Publishers (I even have a page dedicated to their books that I’ve reviewed).  They publish tons of unique and interesting books on all kinds of homesteading/DIY topics.  Their books are colorful and well-organized and full of practical, accessible advice.

High-Yield Vegetable Gardening, subtitled “Grow More of What You Want in the Space You Have” was one of my birthday scores from last year.  I really enjoy gardening, and I LOVE reading about gardening.  I own literally dozens of different books on a variety of gardening subtopics.  I was attracted to this book because it’s a bit “next level” – it’s really designed for people who already  have grasped the basics of vegetable gardening and are ready to start growing beyond what you are planning to eat fresh.

While I’m not ready to start selling veggies at a roadside stand or a farmers’ market (yet), I am working on growing more produce to preserve for our personal consumption throughout the year.  And even if I wasn’t wanting to expand our garden, High-Yield has a lot of practical tips for simply making your vegetable garden a healthier place to raise plants more easily.

The book roughly follows the stages of a garden through the season – starting with “Planning and Planting What You Need” and ending with “Timely Harvesting and Storage.”  In between, the authors cover the basics of things like soil amendment, crop rotation, irrigation systems, setting up a home nursery, using crop tunnels and greenhouses, organic fertilizing, and transplanting methods.  A lot of time is spent on seeding and growing seedlings, as this is the most financially efficient way to grow a large number of plants.

There are loads of charts that make it easy to reference back to information that has been covered in more depth throughout the chapter.  There’s also a great list of references in the back that not only lists tons of books, but also supplies recommended by the authors, useful apps, online access to record keeping charts, and places that will do soil analysis.

All in all, High-Yield is a great addition to my ever-growing collection of gardening books (and Storey publications), and one I definitely recommend if you already have some gardening basics under your belt and are interested in taking it up a notch.

The Tottering TBR // Episode XV // The Saga Continues

So I haven’t posted a Tottering TBR Episode since all the way back in February!  But life seems to be somewhat under control again (ha!), and I am working my way back into my more regular blogging habits.

A couple of weeks ago I did a pretty massive overhaul of the TBR, sorting some titles into the categories where they belonged, deleting duplicate entries, and other things like that.  I’m sure there are still lots of things I missed, and it’s still not uncommon for me to choose a book and then either remove it from the list based on a reread of the synopsis, or DNF it within the first few chapters.  I’m a generous adder to the TBR because I don’t (usually) feel obligated to actually finish books.

Anyway, as most of you know, I keep the TBR divided into five basic categories:

  • The General TBR:  All standalones and duologies
  • The Personal TBR:  All books that I personally own, physical and ebooks, but any series are only counted as one entry; books that I’ve read since I started blogging are considered checked off the list
  • The Series TBR:  Any set of books with at least three books that are not mystery/thrillers – each series counts as one entry
  • The Mystery Series TBR:  For…  you guessed it!  Mystery series!  Each series counts as one entry
  • Nonfiction:  For nonfiction titles that I don’t actually own – all my own nonfiction are include in the Personal TBR

So, here are the current totals for each category:

  • General:  783
  • Personal:  629
  • Series:  220
  • Mystery Series:  103
  • Nonfiction:  77

In case you were wondering, that adds up to 1,918 entries, which would be bad enough… except a BUNCH of those actually represent multiple books.

Now, I found this convenient TBR calculator that tells you how long it will take you to read through all your books, given the number of books on the TBR and how many books you read per year.  I went conservative and multiplied my 1,918 by only four to reach 7,672, and estimated that I read about 100 books per year.  This means that as long as I do not add a SINGLE other book, I’ll finish these in March of 2094 at the ripe young age of 108.  Sounds doable, right??

In the meantime, I’ll keep you all updated on how many books I add and which ones.  If the rest of you could stop reading really good books and then writing enticing reviews about them, that would really help me out a lot…  ;-)

 

The New Way Things Work // by David Macauley

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//published 1998//

This is one of those books that I’ve been reading off and on for literal months.  It’s a huge, bulky, heavy book, so I only read it if I’m going to be sitting for a while.  Luckily, it isn’t necessary to read this book cover to cover – and actually, after doing just that, I don’t even particularly recommend it!

Macauley has done a fabulous job taking some complicated things and explaining them in layman’s terms.  With the aid of his brilliant illustrations, Macauley works his way through simple machines, showing how complicated machines are actually several different types of simple ones linked together.  Thus, his book is divided by the mechanics behind a machine’s abilities, rather than by types of machines.  For example, wheelbarrows, pliers, nail clippers, and pry bars all make use of levers and consequently are found together.

Throughout the book, Macauley presents himself as a scientist who is living among a tribe of people who use woolly mammoths in their every-day lives.  At the beginning of each section, Macauley aids these people in working with their mammoths by teaching them a new principle of machines.  The illustrations are delightful and educational, especially for a visual learner like myself.

In some ways, though, I found myself thinking that this book would probably be better as a reference than as something you just sit down and read, as I was.  Because Macauley doesn’t go into a great amount of detail on any one thing, reading more than a few pages at a time could be overwhelming, which is part of the reason that it took me so long to work through the book.

The book is slightly dated.  Obviously the sections on inclined planes and zippers are still completely relevant, but the final section on “The Digital Domain” is bound to be out of date almost before it is published.  The original book was published in 1988, and this edition appeared in 1998, and it could use another refresh.  While I don’t think of any of the digital information is wrong, some of it may be a bit incomplete.

Still, it is definitely a book worth checking out.  Macauley combines entertainment and education quite well, and I came away with a lot more knowledge than at the beginning!

Sorcery and Cecelia // by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

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//published 1988// I like this cover much better than my copy //

I was on vacation ten years or so ago and picked this book up in a random bookstore in Boulder, Colorado.  I was actually drawn to the subtitle of the book, and the fact that it was co-authored by Patricia Wrede, who wrote the Enchanted Forest series, which I love.  

But who can resist a book that states on the title page:

Sorcery & Cecelia OR The Enchanted Chocolate Pot: being the correspondence of two Young Ladies of Quality regarding various Magical Scandals in London and the Country

The authors say in the afterword that this book originally wasn’t supposed to be a book at all.  Instead, it was their own private edition of the “letters game,” where you write back and forth in character.  They had chosen an alternate reality version of England in the early 1800’s, where magic is an excepted part of society.  But when they were finished, they realized that what they had written was a book.  They said they didn’t change much about their letters before publishing them, and the entire book has a very natural feel to the correspondence.

Cecelia and Kate are cousins who have grown up together.  However, Kate has been spirited away to London by her aunt (Kate is an orphan, and Cecelia’s mother also passed away when Cecelia was little, although her father is still alive) for a Season – mainly, it turns out, so that Kate’s younger sister, Georgina – who is considered much the prettier sister – can have a Season as well.  Both girls have many lively adventures, which are, it turns out, not so disconnected as one might think at first.

I have reread this book on multiple occasions, and decided that it – plus its sequels – would be perfect fare for our recent vacation.  I love to take well-read books on holiday.  (Last year I took Indiscretion and The Blue Castle.)  It’s just so relaxing to have an old friend (in fiction format) to visit as time allows.

The point is, I enjoy this book every time.  While the other books in the series are good, this one just has the spark of originality.  The setting is perfect, the story is funny and engaging, the characters likable and interesting.  While there are always little things to complain about (I always wish there was more development of Cecelia’s relationship with her young man), on the whole this is wonderful holiday reading and highly recommended.