First of all, my apologies for not doing my usual blog hopping and commenting last week. I meant to, but I ended up spending this week trying to shut down my daughter’s Girl Scout troop’s cookie season. Technically, the season is still going until March 20th (extended from March 13th), but this season has been such a nightmare–not because of GSUSA or our Service Unit, but the bakery–that we were all done. I still don’t know if I have all the money or how many cookies were sold as the tech side is all mixed up, but I’m hoping that things straighten themselves out soon. On a somewhat related note, I’ve given up eating Girl Scout cookies for Lent. I did it because I was enjoying a few too many of them, but I have to admit that I get a little satisfaction thinking that I’m “sticking it to them” by not eating them. I mean, I still have a lot of boxes of cookies in my house that I’ve paid for, but I’m not eating them. Until Easter.
In other news, Pat and I have been binging the Netflix show The Last Kingdom which is set in the time of Alfred the Great and his descendants. This show has been around for a while (the 5th season drops this coming week), but I had never heard of it–which is strange, because that it my bread and butter. I have a degree in medieval English history! I only heard of it because I had checked out the book for my husband, who read about half of it and swore he had seen “a movie” about it. I guess he watched the first season way back when. Anyway, we caught up with it last night and now we’re counting the days (3!) until the next season drops. We tried to watch Vikings: Valhalla once we finished The Last Kingdom, but we couldn’t even make it through the first episode.
Speaking of Pat, thank you all for your words of concern about his health scare a few weeks ago. We’re managing things and he’s doing well, but we’re still in the investigative stage of things. We met with a specialist on Thursday and more tests are coming. The crisis has passed, but we still don’t know if this is something that will recur in the future.
Anyway, onto the books. It looks like I had a spectacular reading week, but the truth is that I was close to finishing a couple of books at the end of last week.
As usual, I’m linking up with Kathryn at Book Date and her It’s Monday…What Are You Reading? blog hop.
Last week, I finished reading:
A History of Wile Places by Shea Ernshaw
Date Finished: March 1, 2022
Star rating: 3 stars
I really wanted to love this book. It sounded exactly like the kind of book I’ve been craving.
There were things I did love about this book. Ernshaw has a lovely writing style and the world she creates in Pastoral is vivid and enticing. The general premise of this book is strong–it is what ultimately drew me to this book.
However, this felt like finishing a jigsaw puzzle and finding a dozen pieces are missing. Things just didn’t fall into place in a way I could believe with this story. I’m not sure exactly what was missing or which cog was working improperly. While I’m glad I read it for the reasons I stated above, and I would certainly read other books by Ernshaw, this one just sort of left me befuddled.
The Postscript Murders (Harbinder Kaur #2) by Elly Griffiths
Date finished: March 3, 2022
Star rating: 4 stars
The short review is that I enjoyed this book, the characters are fun, and I never figured out the mystery. I liked the literary setting and I hope more is coming in this series.
The slightly longer review is that I wish I had read this book at least a month earlier than I did. While everything I said before was true, I found myself continually distracted through no fault of the book. You see, there is a lot of talk about Ukraine and wars in Ukraine and I started this right when Ukraine was invaded. Obviously, the unrest referenced in the book (which is set in 2018) is not the unrest currently happening in our world, but it was enough that it kept bringing current events to mind. So, this book ended up not being the escapism I had hoped for.
As I said, this is a very personal issue set in a very specific period of time and should not reflect on the book. However, if you are stressed about the Ukraine situation, you may want to put this on your TBR shelf until things have resolved (or at least settled down).
The Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot #2) by Agatha Christie
Date finished: March 4, 2022
Star rating: 3.5 stars
While I’m still early in my Agatha Christie reading journey, this book brought me an epiphany.
This is the 3rd Poirot novel I’ve read (the previous two being The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Death on the Nile, but I’ve read about half of the Poirot short stories. From a pure mystery standpoint, this book is a very good mystery. There are a lot of twists and turns and the hints are there (if you can pick it up) and everything makes sense in the end. Plus, we get some epic Poirot shade directed towards a self-satisfied young French detective.
But here is my epiphany: I prefer Poirot without Hastings. In the short stories, Hastings is easier to take as sort of the bumbling sidekick. However, in the novels, he’s just infuriating. I understand he’s supposedly the Watson to Poirot’s Holmes and he plays the narrator role, but Poirot doesn’t need a Watson and the third person point of view works well in these sorts of stories. If Hastings and his insta-love with the first pretty girl who shows up (and maybe the second) were not in this book, this easily could have been a 4.5-star mystery. But we can blame Hastings for bringing this down a star.
Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Date finished: March 4, 2022
Star rating: 4 stars
I always look at short story collections in two ways: the quality of the writing and the scope of the collection as a whole. On both these counts, this book excels.
I read this for one of my Diverse Voices book groups and I think it was an excellent choice. Fajarda-Anstine is a gifted writer and skilled at getting into her characters’ skin and letting the readers get to know them. These are all stories about Latina-Indigenous women from a very specific area in Denver, Colorado. They are unique in both their differences and their similarities.
And this is the second way this book succeeds. As a collection, it is seamless. The scope is well-defined and Fajardo-Anstine uses the self-imposed boundaries to make her stories bloom. While I recommend you read one story a day from this collection, I guarantee that you won’t be able to read just one story from this collection.
A Spindle Splintered (Fractured Fables #1) by Alix E. Harrow
Date finished; March 5, 2022
Star rating: 4 stars
This was a fun little diversion. I’m glad that Harrow decided to go the novella route with this because I think trying to force too much out of this story would have ruined it.
I will admit that Sleeping Beauty is not my favorite fairy tale, but I love the fracturing of it here. Harrow made everything make sense as well as one can in such a fantasy story and I found myself highlighting more than I usually do.
I had some of my own issues with this, trying to make sense of this work’s version of a multiverse, (are they in the Quantum Realm?), but I am attributing that to my spending too much time in the MCU and in no way consider this a knock against this story.
Still, it was a fun fairy tale of its own invention and I loo forward to more Fractured Fables.
What I started last week:
- The Hidden by Melanie Golding