I'd gotten low in my bookstack but thankfully a few more freebies arrived recently. Clearly this means I need to catch up on my reviews...
- A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama
I enjoy books that have a historical element but aren't entirely about history. I like books that focus on specific characters facing timeless issues while also revealing a bit about that moment in history. I think the author does a good job at creating this sort of context. However, I ultimately found the novel disappointing. I don't need a book to wrap the ending in a big bow, but I didn't care for the way she ended the characters' stories. I felt the characters were interesting but could have been developed a bit more. Enjoyable, but not a stand-out for me. 3.5 stars, rounded down where forced to pick "full star" rating since it left me wanting something more.
- The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri
I wanted to enjoy this as a simple, "beachy" read but struggled to stay involved. Some of the characters were interesting, but there were too many unrelated bits of drama thrown in. Overall, very little of the emotion felt real to me. There's a current of magic that felt very unsatisfying. Many issues, especially surrounding the magical elements, go unresolved but, to be frank, I wasn't invested enough to really care.
There are also a number of points at which the prose felt jumbled....not sure if they'll be resolved in the final copy but I haven't seen this extent of issues in other advance editions and some feel more like stylistic choices rather than grammar issues that could be easily resolved by editing. Three stars, saved from 2.5 because I enjoyed the aunt's character.