Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Mini-Review Roundup

Mini-Review Roundup

I liked these books. They're short reads and each chapter is about a page or two long. So, they're super easy to read. I read them in the background, so to speak, where I might pick it up, read a chapter or two, and put it down again for a few days. I return to it when I want a moment of peace, rest, or to re-find my composure. For that, they're nice. Not every chapter is profound and sometimes they don't really stick, but often enough they do and they give me something to ponder or something that causes me to stop and pause or shift my mindset.

Elizabeth Norton has long been on my TBR bu this is the first book of hers I've read. It won't be my last, but...I'm not rushing out to read more of her books either. The pros? When she got into the groove, her writing was easy and enjoyable to read. I got into it. I liked reading about the queens I knew just as much as reading about the queens I didn't know, which tells me that her narrative style was accessible and provided enough information that I was entertained even if I was already familiar and enough information that I could follow along even if I'd never read about the queen before. That's all good and why I would read another one of her books.

Now, the downsides? First minor quibble: typos. A few times Henry VI was used when it should have been Henry V, or vice versa or similar. Not a big deal if you know the history, but super confusing if you don't.

More importantly, there was too much repetition and telling and not enough showing. The "thesis" of this book is essentially that history blames strong women and unfairly judges them for actions that are justifiable and wouldn't have been considered wrong if a man had done them. Okay. A little annoying, but fine. I could have gotten on board with this had the author focused on giving examples of what the women did and let me come to my own conclusions that they were 1) badass, 2) justified, and 3) wrongly maligned (which I would have determined on my own had she made a strong case in the examples for 1 and 2).

Instead, the author glossed over the examples so I could only sort of come to these conclusions on my own and she used more page time just repeating the tired thesis. The chapters fell into a similar pattern of: State thesis, give brief overview of queen's life that somewhat demonstrates her strength and how her actions were justified, and then repeat thesis...a few more times. Had these repetitive "telling" parts been removed, it would have been a solid, if not amazing, book.

I wasn't sure if I was going to continue with this series right away, but it tugged at my mind and I decided to pick up the second book. It was just as good as the first. Same quirky style, same funny and relatable situations, and the characters continued to grow on me. Not much else to say except if you liked the first book, then definitely pick up the second. 

Please Don't Eat the Daisies

I stumbled on this through Goodreads while looking up Shirley Jackson's Life Among the Savages (below). It was reviewed well and only 142 pages so I figured, why not? And started reading it right then and there. It was...okay. It was worth reading to the end, I guess, since it was so short. There were some funny parts. I didn't really like the narrator though, and the whole thing had a mean edge to it that I think was supposed to be funny but didn't appeal to me. The humor sometimes hit the mark exactly, but more often than not I felt like I was supposed to find it funnier and wittier than I actually did. 

While quite a departure from the Shirley Jackson I'm familiar with, I may even like this side of her writing more. At least, it hit the spot. This is another one of those "humor through commenting on mundane life" types of books, but unlike Please Don't Eat the Daisies, this one felt nice and relatable. I didn't feel like the author was sneering at me, rather, I felt like we could sit across a worn kitchen table together sipping sub-par coffee and splitting a chocolate bar. It was a quick read and ended nicely, so while I don't need to read the sequel right away, I'd like to pick it up soon.

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