February in Review

I read 8 books last month, which was a kinda low number for me, but it was a rough month. My mom died on the 1st after a recent diagnosis of Lewy Body dementia. There has been a lot of up and down over the last month, and at times reading is a nice distraction, while at other times, I just don’t care (some of the difference there was also caused by how interested I was in the book I was reading, and at least one slowed me waaaaay down because it was a bit plodding). The only reason I even managed to get all of the books I read last month reviewed before posting this is because I didn’t read that many and I wrote the last couple here at the beginning of March.

Here are the books I read in February:

The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (4 / 5)
Saint Patrick the Forgiver by Ned Bustard (5 / 5)
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder (5 / 5)
The Cat Who Went into the Closet by Lilian Jackson Braun (5 / 5)
A Star In The Breaking by Bill Myers & Ken C. Johnson (4 / 5)
The Office BFFs by Jenna Fischer & Angela Kinsey (5 / 5)
Olivia & the Gentleman from Outer Space by Moses Yuriyvich Mikheyev (2 / 5)
The Escape Game by Marilyn Turk (2.5 / 5)

This list includes 3 ARCs. My favorite book from February was The Office BFFs. I started 0 series, continued 4 series, and finished 0 series. My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads. Despite my almost too-long TBR list, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book Review: The Office BFFs

The Office BFFs
by Jenna Fischer & Angela Kinsey
Read by the authors

My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: Memoir

Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey—Pam and Angela, respectively, from the TV show The Office—talk about their time on the show (both on and off set), how they came to be on it, and life after the show. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll probably enjoy the stories about their fellow cast members, the directors and other crew, and ways that working on this show was different than other acting jobs they’ve had. I liked the conversational style and the topics they hit.

I listened to the audiobook, which was great, because there were extras like a letter about the authors written and read by Rainn Wilson and a song written and sung by Creed Bratton. It also adds a lot to the conversational style, and you can hear their love for the subject at hand and for their friends. Some reviewers have mentioned that this book doesn’t cover much more than you can hear about on the Office Ladies podcast, and I can’t speak to that—I’ve only listened to a few episodes. But I did enjoy the book, and if you plan to read it, I highly recommend the audiobook. (On the other hand, there are pictures all throughout the book, so if you can get a copy of the book or e-book, even if from the library to look through, you might want to do that too.)

Find out more about The Office BFFs

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: A Star In The Breaking

A Star In The Breaking
McGee and Me! #2
by Bill Myers

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Children’s Christian fiction

Unlike the first book in the series, I did not watch the short movie that came out around the same time as this book over and over (maybe once, but I’m not even sure about that). That might be a small part of why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the previous, but I think the main reason is that the story just wasn’t as emotional and heart-filled. The pattern so far is that Nick makes some bad decisions and learns a lesson as he has to correct or overcome those decisions. In this book, his bad decision was mostly to get too full of himself as he let the “fame” of being selected to be on a local kids’ game show go to his head. Then he’s taken down a few pegs and has to re-think his view of himself. It’s a good short story overall, though McGee, Nick’s animated friend, isn’t as enjoyable on the page as he is on the screen. These books may not be easy to find anymore, but if you do have the chance to read this book or procure it for an 8-10-year-old child, I recommend it.

Find out more about A Star In The Breaking

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: The Escape Game

The Escape Game
Heroines of WWII #9
by Marilyn Turk

My rating: 2.5 / 5
Genre: Christian historical romance

Beryl Clarke is doing her part in England during WWII, working as an air raid warden and helping her mom get through the devastation of her husband’s recent death during a bombing. More bad news comes when they learn that Beryl’s brother James has been captured by the Germans. The women will do whatever they can to help, even if it’s just packing Red Cross boxes and their own care packages for James and his friend Kenneth, who is also in the camp. But then Beryl learns of an escape kit disguised as a Monopoly game that is headed to various POW camps and knows she has to try to give the prisoners a heads up about it.

This book promises intrigue, adventure, and romance, but I found very little of any of those things. Most of the story was just showing life in Leeds during WWII, as well as life in a POW camp. James’s friend Kenneth is actually the second MC and is captured and taken to a POW camp before James is. He attempts to escape several times, unsuccessfully, but more detail is given to his time in the camp than the actual escapes. Kenneth and Beryl knew each other before the war started, when the two of them and James all attended Oxford University, and Kenneth and Beryl both thought fondly of each other at that time. This is what we’re told. So when Kenneth starts writing letters for his crippled friend James, Kenneth and Beryl remember each other fondly and start to hope for more some day. This we’re also told. The romance doesn’t really develop as much as it is just there for us to be told about. Maybe some flashbacks to the time they knew each other before would have helped, but overall, it just felt forced and empty.

The story of the Monopoly game being sent to POWs with an escape kit hidden inside is such a tiny part of this book. I feel like the story would have been better to have been more focused on the camp and less on Beryl’s life, but then, the series is called “Heroines of WWII,” so clearly she needed to be a main character. I also think it would have been better if Kenneth had been a stranger that Beryl met and got to know through letters he wrote for her brother, and then maybe the romance could have been more of a budding one by the end of the book, rather than what it was. Also, the epilogue was completely unnecessary, and that reminds me of the incredible coincidences that happen throughout the book. After several of these moments, I still thought for sure that my suspicion about the identity of a certain character’s relative would turn out to be wrong, because there was no reason I could think of to have such a huge coincidence. But sure enough…well, I won’t give away any spoilers. And the truth is, most people probably won’t be bothered by most of this. If you’re a fan of WWII-related Christian romance and aren’t bothered by the things I mentioned in my review, please do give the book a try. It does have plenty of good reviews.

Thank you to Netgalley and Barbour Publishing for providing me a copy of this book to review.

Find out more about The Escape Game

See what I’m reading next.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!