I’m back, with more exciting minireviews!
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg – 3.5*
This was a book I read as part of the traveling book club on Litsy (#LMPBC). It’s the kind of sappy historical fiction that I wouldn’t normally read on my own. In the present, Doris is super old and weak and struggling to live on her own in………… wow, I’ve blanked. Sweden, I think. In the meantime, she’s writing a letter to her niece (Doris doesn’t have any children of her own) telling the story of her life. The pacing was good, and while I’m not always a fan of the dual timeline, it worked decently here. I also liked that the story was about Doris while she was still alive, rather than her niece discovering everything after Doris had already died. It allowed for some actual resolution of some of the things that were happening in the past timeline.
HOWEVER (and there are going to be spoilers in this paragraph) I did NOT buy the true love/star-crossed lovers bit between Doris and Allan. Allan went on to get married not just once, but TWICE – not exactly the actions of someone whose heart has been broken beyond repair. Doris dropped everything in her life, abandoning people who actually loved and needed her, on multiple occasions to be with Allan (despite it not working out before). I especially didn’t understand why she felt like her niece, as a little girl, really needed her, yet never moved back to the US permanently. It just didn’t make a lot of sense to me.
Part of it is probably just that I have a completely different personality type than Doris. I wouldn’t have made basically any of the decisions that she made, so I found her tedious after a while. Still, this wasn’t a bad story. For me, a bit too sappy/plot twists just for the sake of screwing with your emotions, but some people like that kind of thing.
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan – 4*
I’ve been meaning to read this series for quite some time. Set in Victorian-ish times except not in our world, Isabella is an aristocrat who yearns to break free of society’s constraints so that she can devote her life to science and the study of dragons. This book is written as though Isabella is publishing her memoirs at a much later date, which worked for the most part, although she has an aggravating habit of referring readers to other works that, of course, don’t actually exist. This one started slow with a lot about Isabella’s childhood and whatnot. Luckily, she has a father who cares about her, so when it’s time for her to find a husband, he gathers together a list of eligible young men who he thinks will allow Isabella to at least somewhat continue her studies. She manages to marry one of these guys and FINALLY the action begins when she convinces her husband to allow her to travel with him as a group heads to a foreign country to study dragons.
There was a lot to like here, which is why I ended up with a 4* rating. The overall concept is fantastic and the writing is fairly good. Once Isabella finally makes it to where the dragons live, the pace picks up a lot, with just enough mystery to keep things rolling. To me, the biggest negative (besides the absurdly unnecessary death of a beloved character at the end – still mad about that) was that this book needed to be set in an alternate universe of our world. It’s obvious that Brennan is using large parts of England and Europe as a basis for her world’s geography – why not just USE THEM and then everything would make more sense. Then there wouldn’t have to be so much time spent on boring backgrounds of politics and government (which got significantly worse int he second book). It would be obvious how far apart things are, giving a sense of distance and time. Languages would make sense. EVERYTHING would make more sense. Creating a completely different world that is basically just the same as ours except with a bunch of different countries and names just made this story unnecessarily confusing. Overall a pick, but a somewhat aggravated one.
His Good Opinion by Nancy Kelley – 4*
This is a super straight Pride & Prejudice variation – it’s literally just Darcy’s perspective of the whole book. It’s done really well and is a nice companion piece, but it lacks Austen’s sparkle. Part of it is Darcy himself – he’s kind of the straight guy, so to speak, so his inner dialogue isn’t exactly full of jokes, but I always get the impression that Darcy has a lot of snark under his stiff exterior, and that wasn’t in this book at all. The other big thing this book lacked was any kind of background about Darcy – the author had a great opportunity to show us how Darcy became the man that he is, even if it’s through flashbacks or something, but no – this book starts with Darcy discovering Georgianna’s almost-elopement in Ramsgate and goes from there. While I’m sticking with my 4* rating for solid writing, this book had a lot of potential that it just didn’t capitalize on.
Washington Wolves Series by Karla Sorensen
- The Bombshell Effect (4*)
- The Ex Effect (3.5*)
- The Marriage Effect (4.5*)
Let me just preface this one by saying these books are kind of trashy. There’s a decent amount of sex in them and they’re overall pure brain candy. But sometimes I NEED some pure brain candy, and although these were sexier than I prefer, I really enjoyed the characters and stories, and liked the way the trilogy came together as a whole.
The stories focus on a (fictional) professional football team, the Washington Wolves. In the first book, the owner of the team dies and his daughter ends up inheriting it. Of course, some of the team members are nervous about having a random woman in control of their livelihood, especially the star quarterback. For anyone who reads romance, it’s not going to be a surprise that the quarterback falls for the new owner, but Sorensen does a great job of writing this enemies-to-loves trope and I totally enjoyed it.
The second book was my least favorite of the three, mainly because the main character was my least favorite of three and tended to make what I considered to be dumb decisions, but it was still a good time.
The third book was my favorite, possibly because it employed my all-time favorite trope, marriage of convenience. It’s done super well here, and there was actually a decent amount of depth concerning the children involved and trying to make things work together.
There’s also going to be a spin-off series from this one. So far only one book has been published (Focused), which I of course also read and enjoyed.
Like I said, these aren’t stellar, thought-provoking reads, but if you’re looking for plain old zone-out relaxation, and don’t mind the sexy times, these were pretty fun.