November was kind of a weird month, which I feel like I’ve said about every month in 2021, so maybe it’s just that 2021 was a weird year. Anyway, I’m still working on the review backlong, so here are some reads from late fall…
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.
Sam in the Suburbs by P.G. Wodehouse – 5*
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – even when I think I’m not in the mood for Wodehouse, I’m in the mood for Wodehouse. I was somewhat ambivalent about this one when I picked it up, but I loved absolutely every page. Wodehouse is just a delight and his farcical situations had me cracking up. I don’t know how he does it, but it’s absolutely impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re reading one of his books.
Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix – 3*
This was actually the first book in a trilogy but I felt so meh about it that I sent the other two books back to the library unread. This one is about Cinderella after the events of the traditional tale – and things aren’t going so great. It was kind of boring and not much really happened, and Ella was literally the only female in the entire story who was likable/not stupid, which is a trope that I genuinely hate. It wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but there was definitely nothing about it that made me think I wanted to drag myself through two more stories set in the same world.
Homeport by Nora Roberts – 4*
When I don’t really know what I want to read, I frequently just pick up a Nora Roberts book and go. This one was sort of romantic suspense lite, and I really enjoyed watching the proper, rules-oriented Miranda be forced to work with a literal art thief. As always, Roberts takes time to give background characters enough depth to make the story feel more real, but I felt like Miranda’s strained relationship with her mother was sometimes overplayed – it seemed hard to believe that her mother could be that much of a jerk that much of the time. This wasn’t my favorite Roberts book ever, but I did enjoy it and can see myself rereading it at some point.
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo – 3.5*
Do you ever have a book on your TBR that feel obligated to at least try before you take it off? Sometimes I don’t even know how books get there, and this is one of them. It doesn’t exactly sound like “my” kind of book, so someone must have given a stellar review of it at some point along the line!! I started this one honestly expecting to give it 50-100 pages and then DNFing it, but to my surprise, I was drawn into the story. The author does an excellent job of letting the reader understand the afterlife that correlates with the beliefs of the characters, considering I knew nothing before reading the book. While I did want to keep reading and find out what happened, it was a book that was rather meandery – one of those books that I wanted to keep reading when I was actually reading it, but didn’t exactly feel inspired to pick back up once I set it down. A fun one-off, but not a new favorite.
Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery – 3.5*
The same group on Litsy that had a buddy read of the Emily books is continuing to work its way through some of Montgomery’s other stories (they actually started with the Anne series, but I had already reread those super recently so I didn’t join in for that part). We decided to read these short story collections next, but they were just a so-so read for me for the most part. A lot of Montgomery’s short stories are her playing around with concepts she later used in her full-length novels, so these started to feel somewhat repetitive after a while, and a few inclusions of Anne felt gimmicky, especially one story told in first-person from Anne’s POV. They weren’t bad stories, and some of them were actually quite good – and more than one of them got me all choked up – but on the whole they didn’t wow me.
The Prepper’s Pantry Handbook by Kate Rowinski – 4*
Surely I am not the only one who browses the book rack at Tractor Supply and then takes pictures of the books I find interesting so I can check them out of the library later?? At only around 150pgs, this isn’t a book intended to delve into the depths of prepping, but if you find yourself wishing you had some emergency food on hand and aren’t sure where to start, Rowinski does a great job covering the basics. The word “prepper“ has frequently been associated with wild-eyed conspiracy theorists in hidden bunkers, but I think we’ve all seen over the last couple of years how fragile many of supply chains are, and how a sudden weather event can knock out the power and cause a lot of trouble. Having shelf-stable food on hand that isn’t dependent on keeping the refrigerator running, and, more importantly, knowing how to actually cook it even if power isn’t an option, are practical plans for helping keep you and your family safe during emergencies. I really liked how Rowinski suggested starting with just a three-day plan. Focusing on menus/meal planning at first helps beginners to get their heads around keeping the pantry balanced & stocked with the things that you and your family actually like to eat. There are some really convenient charts here for assessing your pantry and making sure you have balanced food groups (for instance, I definitely need more beans/protein). The recipes are pretty simple and I noted a few that I want to try. I’ve been working on slowly building my “skills pantry“ as well by learning to bake bread, can, etc. Rowinski isn’t a doomsday writer suggesting that you prep for an apocalyptic fallout. Instead, her book focuses on simple and practical steps to help families be prepared for if the power goes out for more than a day, or something happens that prevents you from getting the supplies you need. I appreciated how she pointed out that having more food on hand also makes you more able to help neighbors and others during those emergency times as well. All in all, not a book I need to own, but a great starter for those who aren’t sure where to start. I actually still have this one checked out from the library (auto-renewal is magical haha) because I do want to try to implement a few of her plans and recipes, but just haven’t had the time!! Work is finally starting to slow down, though, so maybe February will be my month to get my pantry a little more organized.