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.
Hey, guess what! I’m actually reviewing books that I read in November! Progress!
Peter Duck by Arthur Ransome – 3.5*
I’m slowly working my way through the Swallows & Amazons series, and LOVED the first two books. Peter Duck was still adorable and fun, but because it felt a lot less plausible, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much. I was also confused because in the last book, Swallowdale, Peter Duck was an imaginary character that the children had created a bunch of stories about. In this book, Peter Duck is a real person that they meet. I could get behind them finding a real live person with the same name as their imaginary friend, but they NEVER acknowledged a single time that they had ever even heard the name Peter Duck before! It seems as though there ought to have been at least a paragraph of something like, “Can you believe we’ve found a real live sailor with the same name as our imaginary sailor??” Still, overall this was a fun one, and also had a great book map, which is kind of my favorite thing in the world.
Birthright by Nora Roberts – 4*
This ended up being romantic suspense that was a surprisingly emotional story, touching on things like adoption, nature versus nurture, what family means, divorce, and second chances. I couldn’t get completely behind the book because the main character, Callie, was just a smidge too abrasive for my personal taste – her go-to response was just RAGE every time and it got old for me. But I really liked the way that the love story was between her and her ex-husband, as he is quietly determined to do better the second time around. This was definitely one of the better reads I’ve pulled out of the random Nora Roberts box, and it’s one I can see myself reading again in the future. I will say that it’s definitely a mature rating as there is some language and some sexy times, but it was stuff I could skim over for the most part.
They Shoot Canoes, Don’t They? by Patrick McManus – 4*
McManus is one of those authors that I don’t remember reading for the first time – it’s as though I have always read McManus in the past. He wrote humorous articles for magazines like Outdoor Life in the 1960’s and 70’s (and beyond), and most of his books are collections of those articles – so short stories, or essays on a topic. They mostly focus on hunting, fishing, and McManus’s childhood on a small, poverty-stricken farm in the backwoods of Idaho. Like all collections, some of the stories are stronger than others, but there wasn’t a single one that didn’t make me laugh at least once. The childhood stories are definitely my favorites, and there is a regular cast of secondary characters, including (my favorite) an old backwoodsman named Rancid Crabtree, who always knows how to accomplish important things, like skinning a skunk or cutting a hole to go ice fishing. If you’re someone who thinks hunting is barbaric, steer away from McManus at all costs, as you will definitely be offended. But if you’re a bit of a country person at heart (and have a sense of humor), you should definitely give him a try. Many of McManus’s life lessons have been imbedded into my family’s philosophy permanently, as he tackles all kinds of hardships with a good-natured dose of self-depreciating humor.
The Phantom Friend by Margaret Sutton – 3*
In this installment of the Judy Bolton series, my mind was blown. The entire premise was that an unethical advertising company was creating television commercials with faint phantom pictures that would cause the viewers to be semi-hypnotized into purchasing what the company was advertising! Subliminal messaging taken to the next level! What I don’t know is – was this a serious fear back in 1959?? I can see that it would be, as television was still a very new technology that many people found suspicious. In many ways, it reminded me of The Secret Benedict Society – can subconscious messages be transmitted into our brains via other technology we are taking in? Maybe Sutton was onto something, and it’s only our long association with television that has numbed our natural suspicions. Or maybe the subliminal messaging over the decades has convinced us that television is harmless?? So many questions.
A Regency Rose by Miriam Lynch – 3*
This one started out at a regular level of 1980’s Regency romance ridiculousness, but then took a sharp turn into the completely implausible, which was disappointing, since I actually did like the characters for the most part.