Okay, July!! Woohoo!!
Also! I happened to be on my phone the other day and looked at something on my blog and realized that the mobile version has decided to completely ignore my paragraph breaks! I don’t really know how to fix that – maybe I should go back to the old-school method of inserting the paragraph symbol whenever a new one is started?? ¶ So apologies to anyone who may attempt to read these posts on mobile as apparently WordPress is determined to make me look a bit ridiculous, probably because I insist on using the Classic Editor instead of the horrific Block Editor that I genuinely hate. Lack of paragraph breaks is a small price to pay to avoid that atrocity!
Escape from Warsaw by Ian Serraillier – 3.5*
Apparently this one was also published as The Silver Sword. Set in Warsaw during WWII, the story follows a family whose parents are arrested by the Nazis, leaving the children alone and homeless. Their father manages to escape the prison camp, but doesn’t know how to find the children. Meanwhile, the children decide to try and make it to Switzerland to their mother’s family and begin a cross-country journey. Along the way they pick up another orphan who has been living on the streets even longer than they have, mostly by stealing stuff. He’s quite obnoxious and drove me crazy for the entire book. This wasn’t a bad story, but was a bit disjointed. An author’s note explained that although he made up this story, he based their adventures on various true stories, which could account for the way this book felt like it was kind of pulling together bits and bobbles that didn’t always go together. I think this also greatly increased the “we need a coincidence to move this along” factor. It wasn’t at all a bad book, and I can see the middle grade audience for which it’s intended getting very caught up in the drama and excitement, but this one did go into the giveaway box when I was done reading it.
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson – 4*
I’ve been working my way through Swanson’s backlog of books, and I feel like this is the one that always comes the most highly recommended. While it was a good, pacey thriller, I didn’t absolutely love it. Swanson has an amazing knack for being able to keep me 100% engaged in a book to the point that I really don’t notice all the niggling coincidences and inconsistencies and completely lack of character development until I’m done! So he gets great kudos for keeping me in the moment, but maybe not so much for actual writing lol I also get a little exasperated that he seems to think that sex is the ONLY motivation for 100% of men and 98% of women. Like no one does anything unless the angle involves sex in some way, and that gets old to me. But still – his pacing is impeccable. It’s rare for me to start one of his books and not finish it within 24 hours!
Harbor Lights by Sherryl Woods – 3*
Another mediocre installment to the Chesapeake Shores series. Woods has a great habit of writing a book that I’m totally fine with it until she gets to the final drama and then I just want to bonk everyone’s heads together. Just. Why. In this one, Kevin is a widower with a young son (I think… maybe it was a daughter, I can’t remember, this was back in July haha) and he meets the new girl in town, Shanna, who is opening a bookstore. Kevin spends literally the entire book (because he has ZERO character growth) saying things like, “I really like Shanna but I want to take it slow” which honestly makes sense given his relationship history. Consequently, while I generally enjoy books with large, boisterous, slightly-obnoxious families, the O’Brians really got on my nerves here as they just were constantly trying to force Kevin to up his relationship with Shanna, to the point that I was starting to cringe every time they all got together. There was one particularly dreadful scene where Kevin’s in-laws (parents of his deceased wife) are there to visit their grandson, and while at supper with the whole family, Kevin’s sisters start teasing him about Shanna, despite the fact that it’s obviously making the in-laws, who are still, you know, mourning the death of their daughter, seriously uncomfortable. It was terrible! This isn’t that much of a spoiler, because these books are designed to have the HEA, but even the proposal at the end made NO sense. Kevin literally says something like, “I still really think we need to take this relationship slowly because I’m not sure of myself” and Shanna is like, “Look, I need some actual commitment from you if you want to keep going” (which I honestly also thought was fair) and Kevin IN THE SAME CONVERSATION where he has JUST SAID that he IS NOT READY to progress this relationship PULLS AN ENGAGEMENT RING OUT OF HIS POCKET and says, “oh wow you’re right, we should go ahead and get married, I am 100% on board with this” WHAT??!?!?!! I couldn’t deal.
Summer Days and Summer Nights by various authors – 3*
I got this collection of short stories from Book Outlet for a dollar or two, but didn’t pay very close attention and thus didn’t realize that they were actually all YA stories. Whew boy, there were some doozies in here. And maybe it was just me, I actually didn’t realize it but I was getting sick the two days I was reading this book (maybe this book got me sick? Could be), but none of these stories hit right for me. They were pretty much just girl meets boy, they argue, they fall in love, now they’re together forever! I read these kinds of collections in hopes that a new author will tickle my fancy, but while most of these were okay, none of them really wowed me.
A Chesapeake Shores Christmas by Sherryl Woods – 3.5*
Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I went ahead and picked up the next Chesapeake Shores book even though Kevin had driven me batty in the previous book. The background story of this entire series is that the parents, Mick and Megan, got divorced back in the day, but now that all the kids are grown, Mick wants to try their relationship again. It’s actually handled pretty well, with all of the now-adult children coming to grips with their parents having their own reasons for why the relationship didn’t work, and neither Mick nor Megan completely blaming the other for the failure of their marriage, and both of them admitting that they screwed up with how they handled it. But for the last couple of books they have slowly been trying to rebuild something between them, and this book focuses on the two of them.
Here’s my problem with all of the books by this author that I’ve read so far. She introduces a legitimate concern between the two potential lovers. The characters discuss it and try to work through things throughout the story. Then, in the end, they’re just like, “yay, we’re in love, everything is good!” WITHOUT ACTUALLY FIXING THE PROBLEM. Like I get that I’m supposed to get a HEA here, that’s the whole point of reading this, but why introduce a problem that you aren’t going to solve?? It leaves me feeling like these characters aren’t actually going to have a successful relationship long-term. And that was the case here – I actually really like Mick and Megan together and feel like they have made some great progress over the course of the first three books, but there is this whole thing with Megan’s art gallery that is a huge part of what they are trying to work out, and in the end it’s just kind of glossed over like of course everything is going to fall into place, despite the fact that it has NOT fallen into place during ANY conversation so far! It’s what keeps making these books a soft pick for me. Why do I keep reading the next one??? I can’t even explain it LOL