March Minireviews – Part 1

Wow, friends, it has been over a month since I posted here!  I would love to be able to give you some dramatic reason why, but the truth of the matter is that my brother introduced me to the joys of playing Stardew Valley and I have become a total addict.  So most of my extra computer time is spent doing chores on my computer farm that I also do in real life.  I may need help! :D

Anyway, I have been reading, even if I haven’t been reviewing.  I’m going to see if I can get a few batches of minireviews out the door and get somewhat caught up.  I never even got around to doing a February Rearview, and now it’s time for March’s!  I haven’t READ a single blog post in weeks!  I really miss all of you and am sad that I have no idea what is going on in your lives!

Since I last posted, all the corona craziness began.  At this point, I’m still considered an “essential” worker (agriculture) so I have been super busy at work.  We aren’t exactly sure what is going to happen with all the plants we are transplanting (most of our business is wholesale and thus dependent on what our customers decide/are required to do) but we are still transplanting them like crazy!!  Despite the stress of everyday life right now, and even though working in a greenhouse can sometimes be stupidly hot and frustrating, I still really like it there and love coming home smelling like basil and lavender, since the majority of the plants we raise are herbs.

Anyway, that’s the skinny.  Here are some book reviews, and maybe I’ll post some more soon…

Well Met by Jen DeLuca – 4* – read February 8

//published 2019//

This is a happy little piece of chick lit, although it’s a bit obvious that it’s a debut as well, as there were places where the story dragged a bit.  The setting – a Renaissance fair – was fun, unique, and done well.  Anyone who has ever worked behind the scenes for an event even somewhat similar to this will find plenty to relate to.  Emily was a likable character, although a bit slow on the uptake at times.  However, I had mixed feelings about Simon.  The idea is that he’s a bit strict and cranky in real life, but when he is playing his character he becomes more more relaxed and dashing… okay, except that still leaves him being a bit of a jerk the rest of the time, and I wasn’t ever quite convinced that the relaxed and dashing version was the “real” Simon, if that makes sense.  I also get annoyed when a female character complains about men “ogling” women, but then proceeds to go on and on and ON about how attractive a man is.

Still, this was overall a great deal of fun, and I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel.

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead – 2.5* – read February 11

//published 1999//

This is a book I picked up for Litsy’s #AuthoraMonth challenge – each month all the participants try to read at least one book by that month’s author.  I hadn’t read anything by Colson before, but was rather attracted to the premise of an elevator inspector, simply because of the complete randomness of it.  However, I just never really got into this story.  Long stretches of it were incredibly boring and wordy.  The whole things feels like an overwrought allegory, with Whitehead trying to make some kind of point about racism but never actually getting there.  Also, I’m not sure if it’s just because of my ignorance about elevators, but it was really hard to tell where reality stopped and Whitehead’s made-up world began, which added to the confusion of the story (for me, anyway).  I also always get aggravated when people mix up racism and classism – was the character really being ignored because she was black, or was she being ignored because she was a waitress?  Because whenever she was dressed in her professional suit/office attire, everyone paid attention to her as much as anyone else, so it seems like the difference was the societal position, not the color of her skin.

At any rate, this was an alright read, but not one that remotely encouraged me to pick up another of Whitehead’s books, despite glowing reviews for several others that I saw on Litsy, especially for his most recent release, The Underground Railroad.  I’m really just not a fan of serious novels that work too hard to make a point, and this definitely fell into that category.

Particular Intentions by L.L. Diamond – 4* – read February 12

//published 2016//

We all know that I love P&P variations.  In this one, Elizabeth overhears Darcy and Bingley discussing the Bennett family, and Darcy actually defends them, rather than insults them, meaning that Elizabeth becomes much more open to Darcy as a person.  This was a fun little romp of a variation.  However, there was a lot of missed potential with the Wickham angle – instead, Diamond decides to create all her drama with some random chick who is desperate to marry Darcy, and that all felt unrealistic and melodramatic.  Overall, though, the characters were likable and the story not too terrible.

Particular Attachments by L.L. Diamond – 3.5* – read February 13

This is the sequel to Particular Intentions, set after Darcy and Elizabeth are married, and focusing more on Georgianna.  This one was a lot slower than the other.  Basically, this fellow shows up whose family has known the Darcys for a long time and he has always secretly been in love with Georgianna.  However, his life-long devotion seemed a little unbelievable since he hasn’t really seen her much since she was basically a little girl.  I could have understood him wanting to get to know her better, but to immediately jump to “We were meant for each other and I’ve never loved another!” just made me roll my eyes.  A lot.  The middle of the book dragged, with Georgianna dithering about telling Nathaniel about Wickham – because obviously Nathaniel isn’t going to actually reject her no matter what she says, so that all felt a tad overwrought.  Still, a perfectly pleasant sequel, even if it wasn’t anything groundbreaking.

Falling for Mr. Darcy by Karalynne MacRory – 3.5* – read February 17

I tend to read multiple P&P variations in a row, and this one was on Kindle Unlimited so I picked it up, since I had read another MacRory variation before and enjoyed it.  This one was fine, but not particularly memorable.  Elizabeth hurts her ankle while on a walk, and Darcy is the one who finds and rescues her, which means they actually have a conversation like adults.  It also means that Elizabeth doesn’t walk into town and meet Wickham.  This was fine for a KU read, but one I was glad I hadn’t spent any money to read.

The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy – 4* – read February 20

//published 2012//

I don’t exactly remember where I heard about this book, but I ended up being quite surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  Part of my enjoyment was because I really enjoy animal stories (think Black Beauty, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Jungle Book, etc.).  Set in India, this story is about a clan of stray cats who live there.  Cats can communicate with one another even over a reasonable distance via the “whisker network” but every once in a while a cat is born who is called a Sender, who can communicate not just with other cats, but with all other animals, over far great distances.  At the beginning of the story, a Sender appears in the clan’s territory, causing much consternation, especially since the legend is that Senders are only born during times of great needs – and the clan is actually experiencing a time of great prosperity.  Meanwhile, there is a creepy house in the middle of the territory where an old man lives with his band of house cats, who are all terrifyingly evil.  Roy does an amazing job pacing this story, and while her cats may talk with one another, they never behave in any way other than how cats would behave, which makes the story believable at some level.  I was completely caught up in this adventure, and actually have the sequel on my shelf to read very soon.

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills – 3.5* – read February 21

//published 2020//

While I have enjoyed a lot of Mills’s other books, this one didn’t really spark anything for me.  It almost felt like Mills had an idea for a story, but then rushed to finish it and left some stuff just dangling.  A lot of the concepts were really disjointed, and the whole point of the story – the radio program – was really underdeveloped.  Even the tie-in to the title was a little weak, and there was a whole side story with Nina’s sister that just kind of … was there.  This is probably my least favorite of her books so far.  It wasn’t bad, it was just pretty meh, and even the moments of friendly banter – the reason I always come back to Mills’s books – wasn’t quite enough to bring this up any further in my ratings.

Also, as a side note, I was also sad to see a departure of the cover style of all of Mills’s other books.

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.

Still trying to catch up on at least SOME of the books I read this month!!

Three Fates by Nora Roberts – 4*

//published 2002//

This book had excellent pacing and interesting characters, although it was a little slow to start.  I liked the thriller aspect of it, with everyone dashing around and trying to find the statues.  It’s a little heavy on coincidences, but Roberts honestly weaves that into the story, as I really liked the way she incorporate the concept of fate and also the story of The Fates (the myth) into what was happening.  There was one quote in particular I liked – ” [The Fates looked at me.] The first, who held a spindle, spoke. ‘I spin the thread, but you make it what you will.’ The second held a silver tape for measuring and said, ‘I mark the length, but you use the time.’ And the third, with her silver scissors, told me this. ‘I cut the thread, for nothing should last forever. Don’t waste what you’re given.’ “

Engaging Mr. Darcy by Rachel John – 4*

//published 2018//

This was a fun little modern adaptation of Pride & Prejudice that I quite enjoyed.  I really liked the way the author decided to update some of the situations, especially with why Mr. Bennet is a lax father, Lydia’s behavior, and how Wickham played into everything.  For some reason, the author decided to randomly change the first names of the some of the characters from those in the original, but not all of them, which felt a little jarring at times.  Overall, though, this was a fun little romp.

Arabella by Georgette Heyer – 4.5*

//published 1949//

This was a reread from quite a while back, so I didn’t really remember any of the story.  However, it was just as delightful as I’ve come to depend on Heyer being.  I loved Arabella and all of the other characters.  I was on vacation while I was reading this one, and it was just perfect.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – 3*

//published 2016//

This book totally had me hooked while I was reading it, but left me feeling a little disappointed and confused.  The whole thing was just way, way too elaborate.  I was mostly left wondering why, if you were going to murder someone, you would EVER choose this way of going about it?!  The ending was quite jumbled and depended entirely upon luck.  So while this was fun while I was reading it, it definitely didn’t blow me away.  I’m still planning to check out more of Ware’s work, though.

First & Then by Emma Mills – 3.5*

//published 2015//

It’s ironic, since this was Mills’s first novel, but if I had read this first, I’m not sure I would have bothered to pick up her other books, all of which I’ve loved.  It’s not that this one is bad, because it’s actually a perfectly nice book.  However, it doesn’t particularly stand out – just kind of regular YA lightly-angsty story, lacking the delightful snark and close group of friends that has drawn me to the author’s stories.  Still, this was overall a well-written and thoughtful story that I did enjoy, with characters that I liked.  I appreciate the way that Mills manages to create high school characters who basically learn to look beyond themselves, recognizing that they are actually a small piece in a much larger puzzle.  To me, that should be the lesson you learn in high school – that life doesn’t revolve around you – and Mills manages to do that in each of her stories, yet in a different and engaging way each time.

June Minireviews – #20BooksofSummer Kickoff!

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.

Turns out that this month’s minireviews are also my first few #20BooksofSummer reads!!  Of course, I ended up posting the review for Swallows and Amazonsmy fifth read, first, so I’m out of order as usual!

Cliff’s Edge by Meg Tilly – 3*

//published 2019//

A while back I read Solace Island, which I found to be a decent, if not stellar, read.  It was good enough to intrigue me to read the second book, Cliff’s Edge, which was just published this spring, mainly because I really liked Maggie’s sister, and she was the main character of this book.

All in all, I had a lot of the same problems with Cliff’s Edge that I did with Solace Island.  Both books are labeled as romantic thrillers, but both were a lot more romantic than thrilling.  And, in my mind, both would have been a lot better if they had been written as straight romances.  In this book especially, the thriller aspect of the story definitely brought down my overall enjoyment and rating of the book, as it always felt clunky and stilted, and mostly consisted of brief chapters of Eve’s stalker lusting after her and being sexually aroused by the thoughts of what he would do once she was in his power… ugh.

The romance part, however, was great fun.  Eve and Rhys have great chemistry (although I could have done without the sexy scenes) and it felt like they each had a lot to offer the other.  But while I enjoyed that part of the story, it just wasn’t enough to bring the overall rating of the book any higher.  I don’t really see myself pursuing any other books that appear in this series.

Book #1 for #20BooksofSummer!!

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills – 4*

//published 2017//

My second read for #20BooksofSummer, Foolish Hearts was everything I’ve come to expect from an Emma Mills book.  The characters were likable and snarky, the angst level felt realistic, and the main character had a family that loves her, with parents who actually like each other!  I really liked Claudia overall.  In some weird way she reminded me of Lincoln from Attachments, I think because Mills did a great job of letting Claudia’s character growth be natural.  In the end, Claudia still was playing her goofy video game and still had her awkward sense of humor, yet she had matured as a person.  It was the same with some of the other characters, Iris in particular – like Iris didn’t suddenly turn into this warm, bubby person.  Instead, she simply began to acknowledge that sometimes showing love means stepping outside our comfort zones for the person we love.

This wasn’t a perfect book by any means, but honestly I think Emma Mills is everything YA ought to be – funny, gently thoughtful, and not full of sex.  She creates characters – even secondary ones – that I like and care about.  She hasn’t written very many books, so I think First & Then is sadly the only one I have left to read.  Hopefully she has something else in the works.

Stephanie’s reviews are the ones that first brought Emma Mills to my attention, and you can read her review of Foolish Hearts here.

Dreamology by Lucy Keating – 3*

//published 2016//

This was a YA story that had a fun concept, but it just didn’t play out well at all.  For Alice’s entire life, she’s had a constant character who has appeared in all of her dreams – a boy named Max.  Alice feels like she knows Max better than anyone, after all of the adventures they’ve shared.  When Alice and her dad move to Boston, Alice is stunned to see Max – a real, live, actual Max – at her new school.

The premise presented this as a thing where other parts of the dream worlds were starting to merge in the real world and all this stuff blah blah blah, but what followed was a really disjointed story that didn’t seem to know where it wanted to go, and didn’t do a particularly good job of getting there.  Max himself was completely annoying, since he couldn’t seem to decide if he wanted to acknowledge Alice or not, plus he was dating someone else in real life, so he basically is cheating on this other girl with Alice, which I found completely unacceptable.  Meanwhile, Alice makes friends with another guy at school, Oliver, who was like a thousand times better than Max on every level, but Alice kind of treats him like trash because she’s so obsessed with Max.

The actual dream-part of the book is just SO poorly done, to the point that it makes no sense.  For instance, Alice and Max both act like they aren’t in charge of what happens in their dreams, just like real dreams.  So they don’t control where they go or what happens, yet apparently they DO control what they say?  Alice goes on and on about how she knows Max is funny and adventurous and thoughtful because that’s how he is in her dreams – except I thought they had no control over what happened in dreams??  So why would dream-Max be the “real” Max? There were just a LOT of logic-loopholes in a book that was overall very disjointed and uneven.

This was my #3 read for #20BooksofSummer.

A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay – 3.5*

//published 2018//

My fourth #20BooksofSummer read was my first Linwood Barclay book, and actually is another book I added to the TBR because of Stephanie’s recommendation!  Her minireview of this title really captures a lot of how I felt about it – the rather unexpected ending wasn’t exactly what I wanted to have happen, but it was ballsy and Barclay more or less made it work.  However, there are times that I am reading a thriller and the book just goes what I consider to be one twist too far.  A twist really only works if it makes sense, but sometimes authors want to add just one more “What?!??!” moment, and are willing to sacrifice credulity to get there.  This was one of those times – while it mostly made sense, it felt like a lot more of a stretch than I wanted it to.  I felt the same way when I read Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson earlier this year.

Still, I would definitely be into trying out another of Barclay’s books, especially since there are about a million of them.  Any suggestions on which one should be next??

Famous in a Small Town // by Emma Mills

//published 2019//

In an attempt to keep the TBR from growing even more voraciously, I’m trying to read new books by authors I like as the books are published, instead of just adding them to the TBR to be read at some vague, future, maybe-will-never-happen date.  Consequently, I read Spinning Silver and The Other Wife when they appeared last year, The Suspect last month, and Famous in a Small Town just a couple of weeks ago.

Before this book, my only foray into Mills’ writing was This Adventure Endswhich I read last spring.  I absolutely loved that book (with, of course, a few caveats), and have been meaning to get my hands on another of her books ever since.  While I didn’t enjoy Famous in a Small Town quite as much, there was still a great deal to enjoy.

Sophie is the main character.  Just finishing her junior year in high school, she’s looking forward to a summer of band camp, hanging out with her friends, and enjoying life.  When a new guy moves into town, it’s pretty obvious what direction the story is going to go.  Nonetheless, it was a thoroughly enjoyable journey, mainly because Mills has a brilliant talent for writing friends/banter/down time.  I’ve realized that the reason a lot of authors’ characters come through as stiff or inaccessible is because those characters are only doing the things that forward the plot.  But it’s a tricky thing to write, because I also don’t need to hear all the details of every mundane moment in the character’s life, either.  Mills has struck that perfect balance of including just enough regular, everyday conversation and activity to make her characters feel personable and real.  In fact, the banter between this group of friends is really what kept me reading.

The actual story is not one of big thrills and adrenaline-laced twists.  It’s really just some small town life with small town drama, although that being said there was one twist that I did not know was coming and that I thought was done quite well.

Negatives for this one mostly come under the heading of “unnecessary crudity.”  Supposedly these kids were 15, 16, 17 years old, yet they were getting drunk constantly and literally no one acted like this was a big deal.  This honestly bothered me a lot, just because the attitude towards it was so casual.  I understand that there is a fine line in YA between writing “realistically” and writing “edgy.”  But I am a firm believer that fiction should, at some level, be written the way we wish things were.  Constantly reassuring young people that getting trashed, having casual sex, constantly swearing, etc. is normal by portraying it as normal doesn’t seem healthy to me and never will.    While this book wasn’t big on the sex angle, there was a lot of joking around about sex and comments made that seemed unnecessarily crude.  There was also more swearing than I like to see, especially in YA.

However, I do give Mills some credit for portraying at least a couple of happily married couples.  There is a younger couple that Sophie babysits for that I especially loved.  I loved that they had fallen in love in high school, had gotten married, and were raising a family and making adjustments for unexpected changes in their lives – together.  That was so nice to see.

I also really liked the way that Mills portrayed small town life in general.  Usually, fiction either shows it as the most desperately narrow-minded, racist, horrific, backwards way of life possible OR a beautiful utopia comprised of warm, loving people and open doors.  The truth, as most are, is somewhere in the middle – mainly because small towns are generally made up of really regular people.  So yes, you know a lot of people and can find connections immediately, there isn’t a lot to do if you’re big into the theater and fancy restaurants (although if you prefer parks and a fabulous burger you’re all good), you know everyone in your graduating class, and you’re always within a moment’s drive of a cornfield.  But here is what Mills did so well – that life can be both amazingly satisfying and also horribly restrictive.  It depends on who you are.  Not everyone in a small town loves living there, but some people do.  And I felt like Mills captured the fact that not everyone is counting down the days until they can shake the dust off their feet and leave home.  Some of us actually enjoy our roots.

All in all, Famous in a Small Town was worth the read, but it isn’t one I would read again.  It’s on that line between 3.5 and 4*.  I still want to get through any other books Mills has written, and while I’m at it, I really need to read This Adventure Ends again as well.

March Minireviews – Part 1

I have had just zero inspiration for blogging lately.  These anti-blogging moods come on me from time to time, and no longer really fuss me, as I know the urge will return at some point.  In the meantime, I’ve still been reading aplenty, so I thought I would at least share a few notes on some of my recent reads…

Tulipomania by Mike Dash

//published 1999//

I love reading nonfiction on random topics, and doesn’t get much more random than the tulip boom (and bust) of the 1630’s.  Dash does an excellent job painting a picture of the times, and I was honestly intrigued by what was going to happen next.  I couldn’t get over how crazy the entire boom was, with people buying, selling, and trading bulbs – bulbs!  You can’t even tell if they are really what the seller says they are!  Can you imagine paying more than a year’s worth of wages for one??

This book definitely needed pictures – I had to keep stopping to look up different styles/types/varieties of tulips (most of which no longer exist).  Charts and graphs would have been awesome as well, and could have definitely bumped this book a half star.  Dash also had a tendency to sometimes go off onto rambling trails to Nowhereville, but on the whole usually brought it back around to something at least moderately relevant.  On the whole, a 4/5 for this one, and recommended.  It also made me want to plant some tulips.  I feel like I have really underappreciated them up to this point.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

//published 2011//

This was one of those books that I wanted to like more than I did.  While it was creative and not a bad story, it just didn’t have magic.  And despite all the adventuring in the middle bits, in the end it felt like everyone just ended up back where they started, instead of their being some kind of growth.  In the end, 3.5/5 for an alright but rather bland fairy tale.  However, I will say that I originally added to this to the TBR after reading a review over at Tales of the Marvelous, so be sure to check that out for a perspective that found this book more engaging than I did!

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

//published 2016//

This book totally had me glued to the pages when I was reading it, despite the fact that I found Zoe to be rather annoying, and Simon even more so.  (Maybe I found Zoe annoying because she was with Simon?  He just seemed like such a tool!  And her ex-husband was a sweetheart.  I was confused by the creation of a very nice character who is still in love with his ex-wife… but who cheated on her??  The pieces of Matt’s character didn’t always fit together for me.)  I enjoyed having a first-person narration and also a third-person narration instead of all first person, which I think can frequently start sounding very same-y.  I’m sticking with 4/5 for this one because I couldn’t 100% get behind the conclusion – it was like Mackintosh took the twists to one more level, and I couldn’t quite follow her there, so I felt like the conclusion was just barely in the plausible realm, although other people seem to disagree with me, so it’s possible that I just have a different perspective of human character haha Anyway, this one was definitely worth a read and I’m looking forward to reading some more of Mackintosh’s writing soon!

NB: I would 100% be behind another story with Kelly and Nick!

I feel like this book was reviewed by just about everyone when it was first published!  For some other great reviews, check out Stephanie’s Book Reviews, Reading, Writing and Riesling, Cleopatra Loves Books, Chrissi Reads, Bibliobeth, and Fictionophile!

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

//published 1877//

This is a definite childhood classic for me.  I was very much into horses as a girl, and still own multiple copies of Black Beauty, each with its own style of illustrations and binding.  My favorite for reading is still the small Scholastic Book Club paperback.  It’s illustrated with line drawings, but doesn’t say who drew them!  I’ve had this particular copy since I was about ten, and have read it many times.  However, it had been several years since I had pulled it out.  I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, although as a more pessimistic adult, I find the ending not as confidently positive as I did as a youngster – after multiple times a sudden change in the life of Beauty’s owners leading to his being reluctantly sold, I was necessarily confident that the same wouldn’t happen again in his retirement.  What a grump I’ve turned out to be!

Of course, the story is quite polemic in nature – Sewell’s entire goal was to expose many of the everyday cruelties endured by horses and other animals (and people) with no one to speak for them.  But everything is presented in such a gentle and loving way that it’s hard to take offense.  It’s just many little stories that collectively remind readers that the power to make the world a better place is within everyone’s grasp, if they are willing to step forward and do their small part.

Despite the fact that much of the tale is a bit out of date as far as societal issues go (I don’t really remember the last time I saw someone forcing a horse to draw a heavy load uphill while using the bearing rein), the overall lessons of kindness, generosity, and always looking out for those who are weaker than you are timeless.

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

//published 2016//

It’s really hard when I don’t feel like writing serious reviews, but then read a book that I really like a lot, and this one definitely falls into that category.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve read about a group of friends that I liked as well as I did Sloane and her group.  Despite the fact that there wasn’t this big urgent plot, this was the book I kept wanting to come back to, just so I could see what snarky adventures everyone was going to have next.  I realized when I was finished that one of the big reasons that I enjoyed this book so much is that it is way more about friendship and the importance of having a core group of good friends that you can really trust than it is about romance and falling in love.  The love story was really a small side issue to the main thrust of the story.

This wasn’t a perfect read for me.  It felt like it took way too long for Sloane to “get” that she part of the group, and what that meant she needed to do.  I really liked Sloane’s dad and her relationship with him, but I definitely needed more of Sloane’s mom – she only appears a few times, so she just kind of comes across as this weird grumpy person in the background.  I personally thought a lot of the things she was grumpy about were justifiable, but she never really gets an opportunity to explain her point of view of their family issues, so in the end the entire relationship between Sloane’s parent is still really ambiguous, which detracted from the overall story for me.

But I legit could read like five more books about this gang of friends.  I so enjoyed their banter and loyalty.  I also loved reading a story where one of the main characters is popular and beautiful and nice, as I am really tired of the trope where the girls who are into girly things are empty-headed back stabbers.  Emma Mills has definitely been added to my list of authors whose backlogs I need to find.  In the meantime, if you enjoy funny, engaging YA, I recommend This Adventure Ends.

This book first came to my attention thanks to Stephanie’s Book Reviews, so be sure to check out her thoughts as well!