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.
A Deal With the Elf King by Elisa Kova – 4*
Sometimes I think I enjoy a book more when I have kind of low expectations going in lol This one was for the traveling book club, which can be hit or miss reads for me, but I actually ended up really enjoying this one (although it did get a bit too sexy for my tastes towards the end). The world-building was done really well, and when the main character goes to the magical land, she asks questions and people actually answer them, almost like it’s important for her to have useful information so she can accomplish the things they need her to do. (I’m looking at you For the Wolf and From Blood & Ash.) I think part of the reason this book worked for me was that it wasn’t trying too hard to be clever. It was just a fun, enjoyable story with a dash of magic, instead of trying to create this involved and complicated and mysterious system that no one ever really explains. There’s a second book out in this series, and it is on my ereader, waiting for me to get to it!
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood – 4*
I struggled a little with rating this one. There was SO much that I really enjoyed. I absolutely loved the two main characters together. There was so much fun banter and snark and several ridiculous situations that felt at least moderately plausible. I actually liked Olive a lot, and even though she works in STEM, Hazelwood for the most part managed to not get all preachy about how men suck, which was nice. I realized while I was reading this that some of my book issues are actually culture issues with the way our current society approaches sex. I just really hate that dating = sex in modern vernacular. Keeping in mind that this is a fake relationship book, so Olive and Adam aren’t actually dating, but Olive’s friends think they are – at one point, pretty early in the “relationship” her friends say something along the lines of, “Yeah, it’s nice that you have a boyfriend, but it’s just SO GOOD that you’re finally get LAID” as though Olive’s lack of sex in her life was this horrific situation that no one would have to suffer. Throughout, even at the beginning when Olive and Adam have only (supposedly) been dating for a week or two, Olive feels obliged to kiss/have physical contact with Adam in order to “sell” the relationship – I just don’t feel like you should have to full-body kiss someone after you’ve been dating them for a couple of days because otherwise no one will believe you’ve really been on a few dates??? The general attitude towards sex has, in general, greatly reduced my enjoyment of contemporary romances, because more and more it’s just literally portrayed as an obligatory part of, if not a first date, definitely a second, and I honestly think that’s kind of gross.
BUT ANYWAY I digress. The actual story had a lot of fun points, and people who aren’t as old-fashioned as I am have given this book many rave reviews because the characters really are great fun. All in all, I did enjoy this one, but I already have chucked it in the giveaway box because I won’t be reading it again.
Star Sand by Roger Pulvers – 2*
This was an odd book. I rolled with it in Part 1 because it’s translated from Japanese, so some of the odd sentence structuring and odd dialogue could be due to translation. The premise was interesting – a small Japanese island, a girl helping two AWOL soldiers – one Japanese and one American. The girl is somewhat obsessed with collecting star sand from the beach – which I had to look up because no one was actually telling me what star sand is. Fast forward to 2011. A college-aged girl, whose POV reads like a hyperactive 11-year-old, learns about the diary of the Japanese girl and the fact that three skeletons were found in the cave where the soldiers were hiding. Blah blah blah eventually she meets someone who tells her what “really“ happened in the cave and it just – didn’t make sense?? What didn’t make sense is someone going back and rearranging bodies after people were dead?? I was just so confused. Why go back a decade or more after the war, dig up the bodies, and move them around?! Also, I could be wrong here (I’m not known for being a sciency person), but if a body has disintegrated to the point that it’s just a skeleton, doesn’t it like… not stick together any more? Like if you want to rearrange a skeleton so the person is sitting instead of laying in a grave, wouldn’t you have to move each bone individually and put them back together in the new position!?! Literally nothing in the final section of this book made sense, and combined with the modern narrator, supposedly in her early 20s, whining about her brother putting games on her cell phone and saying things like “I just HATE my brother he’s SO AWFUL!!!!!!!!“ Her voice was NOT remotely believable. The motivations of the Japanese girl’s actions were incomprehensible to me, and it made the whole story fall apart. Interesting premise that went no where.
Family for Beginners by Sarah Morgan – 4*
Sarah Morgan is turning into one of my favorite authors. I just love the way that she writes relationships, and while there is always some romance in her stories, they are usually more about the connections between parents, spouses, children, and siblings, and Family for Beginners was no exception. Flora is very happy with her life, but she’s an orphan with no siblings, and now that she’s older and most of her friends are married and starting families of their own, she’s lonely. When she meets Jack, she’s immediately drawn to him. But Jack has been widowed less than a year and has two children home. Izzy, a teenager, is completely devastated that her dad has a girlfriend. This all sounds like it should be ridiculously melodramatic, but somehow Morgan just makes it feel like a real story. I genuinely felt so bad for Izzy, who is trying her best to keep her family together. Flora was incredibly likable without being annoying, and even though Jack could be dense at times, I liked him as well and really did feel like he is trying to do the best he can for his family.
The deceased wife’s name was Becca, which I thought was an interesting choice as there were echoes of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca in this story – Flora hears a lot about how perfect and amazing Becca was and feels intimidated by the legacy Becca has left behind. There was a bit of drama concerning Becca’s past that felt rather drawn out, but everything was resolved in a way I found very satisfactory. Another win for Sarah Morgan, who is turning into an auto-buy author for me.
The Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery – 3.5*
The sequel to The Story Girl is not as enjoyable of a read for me, as it tends to be a bit more bittersweet as the cousins are getting older and starting to look towards the future. However, there are still some fun stories and adventures here. This time around what really struck me is that Felicity, who is a bit bossy/snobby in The Story Girl is a LOT bossy/snobby in The Golden Road – there were multiple times where she was basically like “that’s the right thing to do, but it would make me look bad so I’m not doing it” and it really annoyed me. I actually would have loved it if Montgomery had written one more book about this crew, as she left them at a very awkward age. I would loved a story where they’ve all grown up and some of them have left the family farm – a book of letters and a reunion would have been great fun, and would have given some of these characters an opportunity to be more mature and likable than they are here. A pleasant read, but not my favorite of Montgomery’s works.