Hmm. In June. Checks out.
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.
Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White – 3.5*
One of those books that I really wanted to like more than I did. It’s an intriguing concept/world and that cover is GORGEOUS, but it was just really light on some plot points. It was only 275pgs long and should have been longer as some parts of the story felt more like an outline than the actual story. The main character was also a little too “independent and sassy” at times – like girl, I get it, you’re independent, but that doesn’t mean you just do the opposite of what everyone thinks you should do?? This was a fun one as a one-off, but I just wanted more!
The Inn at Eagle Point by Sherryl Woods – 3.5*
Woods is one of those romance authors whose books I see everywhere but somehow haven’t gotten around to reading yet. I had a few of the books from her Chesapeake Shores series so thought I would start there. This was a perfectly nice and regular romance and a good set up for the series, which follows the romances and adventures of a sibling group, one of my favorite ways to do a series. I didn’t fall in love with this one, but it was good enough to get me to pick up the second book.
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan – 3.5*
The second book in the Percy Jackson series was perfectly enjoyable, even if it did follow the same basic outline as the first story. There were a lot of fun capers here and it’s an engaging way to meet some of ye olde gods in a new context. Percy himself is likable, especially as a middle grade hero, and the book does a decent job of being its own thing while still building towards a series finale.
Sensible Kate by Doris Gates – 3*
I have another of Gates’s books on my shelves that I’ve read several times and weirdly enjoyed, The Cat and Mrs. Cary, so when I came across this one I thought I would give it a try. However, this one just didn’t quite strike the right tone with me. It was an odd little book about an orphan named Kate who has decided that since she can’t be beautiful, she can at least be sensible, a word that was used about 500 times too many in 189pgs. This book had a lot of potential with some interesting side characters, especially the grumpy old lady next door who doesn’t like children, but Gates never really went anywhere with it. She also ruthlessly killed off another side character for literally no reason – I kept expecting him to come back, not dead, but he never did! I was genuinely upset by it. Everything came together okay in the end, but this definitely wasn’t a book I’ll be rereading.
Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century by Dick and James Strawbridge – 3.5*
I’m always on the lookout for new books to add to my nonfiction collection of practical literature, but while this was a decent one to check out of the library, it didn’t have enough new information for me to want to keep it forever. This is the 2020 update to the original 2010 book by the same title. This father/son duo own and operate their own homestead in the UK, and this book is full of concepts and ideas for becoming (as the title implies) more self-sufficient. While there were a lot of things about this book that I really liked, the organization and direction felt muddled to me. For instance, the entire first section of the book just jumps directly into getting off the grid – generating your own electricity, dealing with your own waste water, running plumbing that works from collecting rain water, building a water wheel, building a windmill, etc. It felt strange to start the book with these huge, expensive, complicated, advanced projects. There also isn’t really any kind of progression – nothing like “the top five goals you should set“ or anything along those lines. It’s just page after page of somewhat haphazardly organized projects and ideas.
It’s definitely not a book I would recommend to a beginner, but if you have already been gardening and that sort of thing for a few years and are looking to “level up“, this book may be good for inspiration and ideas. It’s not detailed enough to be an actual handbook, but for instance, while if you wanted to build a windmill you’d need to do some more research, there is enough info here to help you decide if a windmill would even work for you at all.
I did feel like this book’s emphasis on self-sufficiency sometimes meant that they skipped middle steps. Instead of going from “buying all your food at the big-box grocery store“ to “using a small electric food dryer to try preserving some of your own“ they dismiss a small dryer like the one I have (~$40) as “too expensive“ and give you a two-page spread on building a solar dryer, the materials for which had to be at least $40 in and of themselves. There were a lot of things like that, where middle steps that can help you decide if this is even something you want to do (for instance, do you even LIKE smoked meat? That would be good to know before investing in building an entire smokehouse) were basically dismissed as not self-sufficient ENOUGH – straight to the big guns. I liked some of the ideas, but honestly in some ways this book felt overwhelming and discouraging because of its lack of progression, and the tone sometimes came across as a little condescending if you weren’t willing to go ALL IN. For most people, it’s not practical or possible to go straight off-the-grid completely, based on how much time it takes up in your day alone, but the Strawbridges didn’t really seem to see it that way.