September Minireviews – Part 2

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.

I realize that it’s now October, but September really flew by!  I had most of this post already written up, and they are books that I read last month – so here are a few quick paragraphs just to try and get somewhat caught up!!

The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola – 3.5*

//published 2016//

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from this book.  I had read a couple of good reviews of it (by Books for the Trees and also Cleopatra Loves Books), so I knew that it was a historical crime book – and that was about it!  The setting was fantastic and the characters were well-drawn.  However, while I found this book compulsively readable, it never really captured me.  There was a twist at the end that I had guessed almost from the very beginning, and it made me feel rather out of sorts with a few of the characters along the way!  So while I did overall enjoy this read, it didn’t really make  me want to rush out and see what else Mazzola has been up to.  I think part of it was that I was expecting to experience some terror while reading this, and that just never really happened.

The Accident by Chris Pavone – 3.5*

//published 2014//

A while back I read The Travelers by this author.  I liked the book enough to want to try another of his works, and while I enjoyed this one as well, it didn’t really blow me away in any sense.  It was a good plot and good pacing, but it just felt like loads of people got knocked off unnecessarily.  The ‘villain’ of the piece was a big vague – like we know who he is, but he’s really just sort of a shadow man; there is never anything from his point of view or anything.  I think the book definitely would have benefited from having him be a little more concrete.  The other problem was that I didn’t like anyone in this book, so while I wanted to root for the ‘good’ guys, they weren’t super likable either, so in a way I kind of didn’t care. However, there was a really good twist towards the end of the book that suddenly made everything come together, which bumped this up half a star.  Pavone isn’t a super prolific writer, so I’ll probably still check out his other couple of books.  They’ve  been fun for one-time reads, even if they aren’t instant classics.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik – 4.5*

//published 2015//

After reading SO MANY 3-3.5* books, I really wanted to read something that I knew I would love.  Ever since I finished Uprooted last year, I’ve wanted to reread it, so I picked it up the other day and enjoyed it even more the second time around.  This was one of my top three books from 2017, and my reread only cemented that opinion.  This book is incredibly magical, with fantastic world-building and engaging characters.  I absolutely love the terror inspired by the Wood, and the ending is just so, so perfect.  I’m still not a fan of the sex scene, because it makes me feel uncomfortable recommending this book to younger teen readers, but other than that this book is really just a complete delight.  I’ve ordered Novik’s second novel, Spinning Silver, and am really looking forward to it!

The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer – 4*

//published 1940//

We were camping this weekend, so I grabbed this one for a quick read.  Heyer never disappoints, and this book was full of all sorts of lively adventures and genuinely funny moments.  Heyer’s writing frequently involves a somewhat-older male lead with a somewhat-younger female lead.  I have mixed feelings about this, and I realized when reading this book that it really depends on the female’s situation.  In a lot of her books, the girl has been out and about in the world (Frederica and Deb from Faro’s Daughter come to mind), and then I don’t mind an age difference so much.  But other books, like this one (and actually the last Heyer I read, The Convenient Marriage), the girl isn’t even ‘out’ yet, so having an older (and by older I mean late 20’s/early 30’s, not like her dad’s age or something) fellow sweep her off her feet feels a little weirder.  I realize that it’s a product of the time, where (upper class) men frequently waited until later in life to marry than women, but it still sometimes feels a little strange to have a 29-year-old man who has been out and about in the world marry a 17-year-old girl who hasn’t even had a Season.

HOWEVER all that to say that despite that, this book was still great fun with some very likable characters and some hilarious hijinks.  Heyer is so reliable as an entertaining and fun writer.  I can’t believe that I am still working my way through her bibliography, but I’m grateful that she was so prolific!!

The Travelers // by Chris Pavone


//published 2016//

Okay, I think I am working through this blogging slump – this is post #4 in as many days!  Woot!  It’s really great to get some of these to-be-reviewed books off the pile, too.  Always satisfying.

So.  Will Rhodes works for an old, well-established traveling magazine that has been around for decades.  He travels around the world, interviewing people and writing articles, and he’s done it for several years.  All in all, he’s a normal kind of guy – married to a woman he loves, trying to fix up an old house that they inherited, thinking about starting a family.

But then, while he’s in Europe, Will meets Elle.  She’s stunningly beautiful and more than a little alluring. Will has never cheated on his wife before, and he resists Elle, too – this time.  But when they coincidentally (???) meet again in South America, Will finds himself falling down the rabbit hole – into way more of an entanglement than a one-night stand.  Suddenly, Will finds himself embroiled in international intrigue and espionage, completely unwillingly.  As the lies and secrets begin to pile up, it becomes increasingly difficult to know who is working for whom.

All in all, The Travelers was a fun book.  For me, espionage books should be a romp.  I don’t necessarily expect a lot of in-depth character development from these types of books – just lots of action and twists.  And while this book had both, it somehow just didn’t have enough to really engage me.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I was bored by the book, because I did definitely keep reading it and was curious to see how things played out – but it somehow lacked the tension that a really good spy book needs.

Part of it may have been the present tense (thankfully first person) narrative, which is just 100% getting on my nerves.  Just why.  Please stop.  EVERYONE please stop.  I have picked up so many books written in the stupid present tense narrative lately and it is getting quite old.

But I think a bigger part was that Pavone didn’t (for me) completely strike that balance between revealing enough information to keep the story going, but keeping enough hidden to keep things tense.  At times, a twist could be seen coming a mile away.  At others, I would get very frustrated because it felt like I couldn’t really get into the story without knowing some information that was being withheld.  But it’s that balance that makes thrillers what they are, and can make a story that I don’t necessarily like still incredibly readable.  (In a Dark, Dark Wood comes to mind – I didn’t particularly enjoy the story or like any of the characters – but if you had told me halfway through that I wasn’t allowed to finish it, we would have had to take that issue outside and duke it out!)  In this case, the magical balance just wasn’t quite right, so while I was interested to see what was going to happen, I never felt desperate to know what was going to happen.

I think that the book could have been much improved if we had spent more time with Will’s wife, Chloe.  We get little snippets of what is happening with her, but it’s actually an important part of the story and was one those aspects that Pavone was kind of keeping hidden for dramatic effect but would have actually been more dramatic if we had actually known what was happening at her end.

Overall, though, it was a solid 3/5 read.  I really liked the ending, and would actually probably even pick up a sequel to this book if one ever appeared.  I liked a lot of the characters, and despite Will’s moment of infidelity, this was overall a book that was surprisingly positive towards marriage.  In many ways, Will and Chloe are at a crossroads in their relationship, and a decision to remember the things that brought them together initially and to go forward from there was so refreshingly mature.

While I don’t really intend to purchase The Travelers and read it over and over again, I’m interested to pick up another of Pavone’s books and see what else he has written.  In the  meantime, this one gets a moderate recommendation, and I would love to hear if anyone else has read it – did you find it more exciting than I did?