So I find that I not-infrequently read books that I just don’t have a lot of things to say about. Sometimes it’s because it was a super meh book (most of these are 3/5 reads), or sometimes it’s because it was just so happy that that’s about all I can say about it! However, since I also use this blog as a sort of book-review diary, I like to at least say something. So I’ve started a monthly post with minireviews of all those books that just didn’t get more than a few paragraphs of feelings from me.
Album of Horses by Marguerite Henry
This is an easy 4/5 read, and a childhood favorite – it just isn’t very long, so I don’t have a lot to say about it. It’s an oversized book full of gorgeous illustrations by my fave, Wesley Dennis. Each chapter is about a different breed of horse. I love how Henry usually manages to tell a little story or anecdote about each breed. She even says in the afterword that writing this book inspired her to write several of her other stories, because the little mini-story she was writing in Album just got way too involved and interesting! If you have a young horse lover in your life, this is a perfect gift book. The illustrations are amazing, and it’s just the right amount of information to get them going.
I will say that, rereading as an adult, I was intrigued by how some of the chapters did actually feel dated. Album was published in 1951, and she says things about various draft horses still being used to plow fields, which was in fact still happening in the 1940’s, but has disappeared pretty much completely almost 70 years later. However, rather than detracting from the book, I felt that it gave it even more charm!
Bronco Charlie by Henry Larom
This children’s book is about a boy who becomes the youngest rider ever for the Pony Express. It seems like a completely improbable tale, but I looked it up, and most of it is actually true! I picked this up at a booksale eons ago, but hadn’t read it in years. Of course, I was attracted to it because of the illustrations… by Wesley Dennis! Have I mentioned that he was an artistic genius?? :-D In all seriousness, his pencil drawings really do add so much to this story, and made me want to saddle up right along with Charlie. This is an adorable story, and definitely deserves a slot on the children’s bookshelves here at my house.
A Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer
Another 4/5 read – the perfect combination of fun, frothy, and witty that Heyer always presents, even if it is in a rather predictable pattern!
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
I’ve never actually read a book by Hoover before, but Stephanie mentioned reading this one a while back, so I thought maybe it would be a good place to start. In this story, Fallon meets Ben right before she moves from California to New York. They have an instantaneous connection, but Fallon doesn’t want to start a relationship at that moment. Instead, they agree to meet on November 9 for the next five years, but to have no contact with each other – not even through social media – in between.
This book has a fun concept and I did enjoy it for the most part, but it began to feel kind of same-y, since we only get the story on November 9 each year – nothing in between. Fallon and Ben are super insta-love-y, which I would have been okay with, except it began to translate into the sexual, so now the November 9 dates not only don’t have a lot of story, they do have a decent amount of sex, which also felt kind of weird since they don’t actually know each other all that well. There was also a decent amount of swearing, and there is nothing like a string of completely unnecessary f-bombs to put me off a book.
Part of the problem was that I never liked Ben, like not even a little. I thought he was obnoxious and pushy and kind of a creeper. And while I did think the twist was clever, it didn’t really make me like Ben even more. He’s still kind of a self-centered whiner.
I did like the ending and felt like things came together well, and I really did want to see how things turned out, but overall I felt pretty meh about the whole book, and not particularly inspired to look up more of Hoover’s works.
The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne
This story is about a woman who opens an agency that helps men get their lives together – she’ll help them shop for the right clothes, purchase nice gifts for people, redecorate their apartments, etc. She’ll also provide herself as a date to various events where a plus one is needed – basically, she’ll help you with girlfriend stuff – but “no laundry, no sex.” I really liked this concept and thought that this book would be about Melissa having various misadventures helping befuddled bachelors. But this book turned out to be surprisingly boring. Melissa aggravated me to no end, with her complete lack of self-confidence and the way she always knuckled under to her dad. Her relationship with her long-time friend/flatmate (who is a guy) seemed extremely weird and confusing to me, especially since she was supposedly falling in love with this other guy. Her dad was so horrifically obnoxious that I could hardly stand reading the scenes where she had to deal with him. I was also confused about how Melissa was supposedly starting her own business but seemed to have no concept of how much money she had/was making/was spending… I feel like I keep better records for my small, part-time Etsy shop than Melissa was keeping for a business that is supposedly becoming her livelihood.
I will say that I appreciated the lack of sex in this book. While there were some romantic scenes, there was no shagging, and Melissa doesn’t sleep with anyone for the entirety of the book! This was so refreshing and made me frustrated that I didn’t enjoy the book more overall.
The biggest problem was that this book wasn’t remotely funny. There weren’t any humorous scenes at all, and there was so much potential! Instead, it was basically just listening to Melissa waffle around and be stressed, which got kind of old after a while. The next biggest problem was that there was not a single happily married person in the entire story. Everyone who was married was miserable. And I honestly didn’t feel like Melissa’s guy was going to make her happy, either. It really put a damper on the overall tone of the book.
In short, this book didn’t make me feel happy to read, which is the whole purpose of chick lit. It honestly made me feel low-grade stressed because I disagreed with so many of Melissa’s decisions. And without anything funny to leaven the story, it just sort of dragged on with an overall dark gray tone to life. 3/5 for being fairly readable, but not particularly recommend. At least I can mark this series off the TBR without bothering to read the other two books.
The Man Upstairs & Other Stories by P.G. Wodehouse
Honestly, this was my least-favorite collection of Wodehouse stories that I’ve read to date. While they weren’t terrible, they really lacked that sparkle and wit that I think of as trademark Wodehouse. If I hadn’t known that these were Wodehouse stories, I wouldn’t have guessed it. They were just rather flat, several with abrupt endings. Not terrible for a one-time read, but rather disappointing on the whole, as I’ve come to expect more from Wodehouse, even with his earlier works.