I’m starting to be cautiously optimistic that, in the very near future, I’ll be reviewing books only ONE month behind!!!
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.
Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley – 5*
I’ve reviewed this book a couple of times (here and here), because I have reread it so often. In fact, for some unknown reason it’s because important to me to take this with me and read it whenever I go on vacation. So when Tom and I went to Maine in September, Spindle’s End came along. I can’t exactly explain why I love this one so much, or why I don’t get tired of rereading it, but the very act of holding this book and turning its pages has somehow become comforting to me. I think the book is now imbued with the power of multiple happy vacations haha At any rate, my earlier reviews do a much better job summarizing the story, so do check them out if you’re interested. This one isn’t for everyone as it’s very rambly, but I love it a lot.
Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham – 3.5*
I also took several fluff books with me on vacation, ones that I’ve picked up on the cheap from Book Outlet over the last year but haven’t gotten around to reading. I really liked the concept of this one – Penny works at a post office in the Dead Letters office. In a final effort to find the recipient of a letter, the post office can open the letter and look for clues. Penny finds letters written by a man named Thomas to a woman he obviously loves, telling her how sorry he is about how things turned out, and writing about how he is trying to live a new, better life. Penny becomes emotionally invested in these letters and is determined to help reunite Thomas with his love. Etc. etc. This wasn’t a bad book, but it honestly was rather boring for most of it, and then has this absolutely ridiculously dramatic ending that felt completely unrealistic. It was readable but not one I’d revisit, and also not one that made me yearn to find out what else Fordham has written.
To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne – 4*
Continuing my trend of books-based-on-letters (I didn’t realize it when I packed for vacation, but I brought five books and four of them were based around letters??), this one is Shop Around the Corner vibes that was really fun to read. Gracie did get on my nerves a bit, but I liked the chemistry between her and Seb (even if it was ridiculously obvious that he was also Sir) and liked the way things came together in end.
When You Read This by Mary Adkins – 3.5* (published 2019)
I was drawn to this one because of the format, which includes emails, blog posts, text messages, and other media. Sometimes epistolary books can feel a little narrow in their scope, but including other conversations kept this one engaging, although it did sometimes get confusing if the same person said something twice in a row – so there’s an email heading for each email telling who it is to and from, but if the same two characters are going back and forth, I tended to skim that bit and not really register it… and then get confused because someone had emailed twice in a row instead of going back and forth. Basically, the story starts because a woman named Iris has died of cancer. She worked for years for a guy named Smith, and leaves him a letter telling him that she’s actually been writing a blog and wants him to get it published as a book after her death. But in order to do so, Smith needs permission from Iris’s sister, Jade, who is NOT a fan of the concept. This is one of those books that the synopsis makes it sound sort of romcomy, but it actually is a bit of a downer. It deals not just with the death of Iris, but also addiction, cancer, and midlife crisis. While I found the writing engaging and liked the characters (mostly), and even found myself laughing at some points, the overall tone was definitely a downer. One of the characters has a serious gambling addiction, and it felt like that was wrapped up way too tidily by this person just being like “oh you’re right, I do have a problem so now that I’ve acknowledged it, my addiction will magically go away!” I was also annoyed because the only person presented as having any kind of religious belief was Jade’s mother who, we’re told repeatedly, is VERY conservative and VERY Christian, yet also had a life-long affair with a married man and just… sorry, yes, I know a lot of hypocritical people (both in and out of the church), but I don’t know a single church that would agree that having a decades-long affair with a married man jives with being a Christian. I mean, seriously. So that came across as just plain annoying.
On the whole, this was another of those pleasant-to-read-once-but-I’ll-never-reread-it kind of books. I was perfectly happy to send this off to someone else when I was finished.
The Picts & the Martyrs by Arthur Ransome – 5* (published 1943)
It’s no surprise that my favorite book for the month was the next installment of the Swallows & Amazon series. Only one left after this, and I’m going to miss them!! This one was full of the regular shenanigans and adventures of the other books. I just love these stories SO much. They’re so funny and adorable, and the characters feel so realistic to me. I enjoyed every page and wished for more.
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – 4*
My second-favorite read of the month was a total surprise. Scifi can be really hit or miss for me, so I didn’t have very high expectations for this one – and ended up being SO fun. Snarky, entertaining, engaging – conversations explaining the world-building that felt natural – likable characters – tons of humor -I loved it! My only slight beef is that entire thing is first person, but from SO many different perspectives, like it bounces around between ALL the characters, so that did sometimes get a little confusing, plus they don’t really sound THAT different from each other. But it still worked on the whole, meaning this one ended up being tons of fun.
Note: This is book one in a trilogy – I read the second book in October, and the third book wasn’t published until this month, so it’s waiting for me at the library!!