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.

In a Dark, Dark Wood // by Ruth Ware


//published 2015//

This was one of those books that I have troubled deciding whether or not I liked it.  The story was thoroughly engrossing – I basically couldn’t put it down, and finished the entire book in one evening!  But in the end, I also found the tale to just be rather depressing.  While the ending was satisfying in the sense that all questions were answered – some of them weren’t answers I really liked.

Still, for just pure on-the-edge-of-my-seatness, this would be a hard one to beat.  Ware does an amazing job building up a genuinely unsettling atmosphere.  Placing her characters in a remote location with a full glass wall looking out into the dark woods, the constant reminder that people can see in but you can’t see out – cutting off cell service and thus isolating the players from the world – the snowy weather – even the fact that the main character doesn’t have a car – it all comes together to create a setting and feel that is rather unnerving.

Through the use of flash-forward scenes (or are the other chapters flashbacks?), Ware also gives us slow glimpses of the “bad thing” that is coming.  This slow drip-feed is really more frightening than just knowing it all at once, and is done very, very well.  I was reading as fast as I could turn the pages, and was thankful that we had no evening plans, as all I wanted to do was find out what happens.  

At the end of the day, I think I am going with 3/5, although I am very close to a 4/5.  I definitely would like to see what else Ware has written, but I don’t see myself ever returning to this story again.  There were a few rather big things about this story that really bothered me – not plotting-wise, but just personal-preference-wise, but they involve spoilers, so I’ll put them below the cut.

I’ve read multiple reviews of this book, all of which made me want to pick it up, so thanks to Cleopatra Loves Books (who does a much better job of actually summarizing the story, if you’re interested!); Reading, Writing, and Riesling; Bibliobeth and Chrissi Reads; and Fictionophile for leading me towards this terrifying read!

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