book review

My Library Surprised Me! Did It Work?

Hey, it’s Sabrina again!  I’ve been planning this post for quite some time now, but it has turned out vastly different to what I was hoping it would be.  A couple months ago, my library gave the option for its members to have boxes of books delivered to their home, since we weren’t allowed to go to the library itself.  You could ask for certain books, or you could ask for them to “surprise” you – which I thought was such a cool idea!  I was lucky enough to be able to experience both options, but today’s post is all about the “surprise me” option and how it didn’t work out all that well for me.

Instead of a post of mini reviews and a conclusion determining whether the experiment was worth it (the answer is unfortunately a resounding no), I have some mini reviews, some DNF reviews and a list of books I lost the motivation to try out for various reasons – all exacerbated by lack of time and a growing pile of unread books.  I’m going to start with the books I didn’t read – so let’s get into it 🙂


(Any Ordinary Day book cover)

🌟 Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

This is a nonfiction book by a journalist who interviewed and recorded stories from people who experienced terrible tragedies in their lives, with a focus on how they moved forward after those events.  It has quite a high average rating on Goodreads and the reviews are generally good as well.  At the moment, and honestly at most other times, I do not want to put myself through reading about tragedy – especially when it is real things that happened to real people – so I decided to give this one a miss.

(The Quanderhorn Xperimentations book cover)

🧪 The Quanderhorn Xperimentations by Rob Grant and Andrew Marshall

This is an adaption of a sci-fi radio show about a scientist with “no morals” that’s keeping England stuck in 1952 – as far as I can tell.  The reviews of this are very mixed, with most giving it either five stars or one star.  Of all the books from the library, this is the one I held on to the longest with the intention of at least giving it a try, as it is said to be funny and I thought it might be alright.  Let me know if you think I should borrow this one again in the future!

🐉 The House of Binding Thorns by Aliette de Bodard

I was so interested to give this book a try, being that it is an urban fantasy with dragons set in Paris written by an award-winning author.  However… it is a sequel!  I was a bit frustrated to find this out – to say the least – but I did a little digging and found that you are supposed to be able to read this as a standalone.  But being that the story sounds so interesting, I do want to read the series starting from the beginning as I think that would be the best way to enjoy it.  I’m currently waiting for the first book from the library!

🌻 The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Whilst I do on occasion pick up a book that I know is going to be depressing, I try not to do it too often and now is not the time for me.  I heard this book compared to A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara not long ago and that is renowned for being a heartbreaking book so I immediately decided I was not going to read this one.  It’s also pretty long and I definitely don’t have that kind of time to spend reading a tragedy.

Unlike the previous books, I did actually try a few pages of each of these books, just to check if they were going to draw me in before I returned them.  Unfortunately for Pursuit by Joyce Carol Oates, the very day I picked up the book to try, the author…posted a picture of her foot on the internet?  I was immediately put off the book, lol.  I also heard some things about the author on Twitter that I can no longer remember but I know I decided I didn’t want to read anything by her.  The Fabulous Flying Mrs Miller by Carol Baxter was sadly not interesting enough for me – I think I’ve realised that I’m completely bored by planes and aviation, considering I also didn’t love Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein when I read that.  As for, The End of Time by Gavin Extence, I was not a fan of the voice of the main character which can often ruin a book for me.


🧬 Body Tourists by Jane Rogers

This was my first pick of the bunch sent to me, because the premise was so intriguing and it was relatively short.  Said premise is that if you’re rich enough, you can arrange to take possession of a young body for two weeks when you die and enjoy life for the last time as well as settle all the issues you left unresolved when you passed.  Unfortunately for me, I didn’t like the writing style – particularly how it was “normal” for the rich people and different for the poor people.  I also hated the opening events which I will not get into the details of, not only because of spoilers but because I don’t want to relive them, lol.

👽 The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

I knew going into this that it was a classic sci-fi and as such was probably going to have a writing style that I’d have to get used to.  This ended up being true, and I did actually get used to it in the short time I spent reading it.  My biggest issue, and what made me put the book down, is that I felt so distanced from the main character and couldn’t form an emotional connection to the story because of that. I also had a bit of difficulty visualising what was going on, but I think that is more due to me than the book.


🥘 One Pot Vegetarian by Sabrina Fauda-Role

This book disappointed me a lot 😦  I am not a great cook and don’t do it very often – it takes me a million years to peel a single potato, so you can understand why – so I thought one-pot meals would be a great option to try out.  I think the thing that bothered me most about this book is that most of the recipes – if you don’t count the entire section of pasta which called for all kinds of expensive cheeses – were less meals and more fancy side dishes.  I also discovered when I tried making a couple of the dishes that the instructions weren’t all that clear and the pictures didn’t always match up with the listed ingredients.  I admittedly enjoyed the shakshouka, but the other dish I tried, which was a kind of soup with noodles, was very bland and tasted simply like warm water 😦

📚 The Moment of Tenderness by Madeleine L’Engle

I have never read or seen A Wrinkle in Time, so this book of short stories was unfortunately my first (and probably last) experience with this author.  I was at first excited about this book, as the blurb promises different genres and an overall message of hope.  Well, I read the entire book and though there may have been some hints of fabulism that I missed, the only story that was not simply realism was the last and even that one got on my nerves.  I spent most of my time reading being bored out of my mind, only reading it to get through it.  I did appreciate a few of the stories, but for the most part nothing happened and it was not as hopeful as I was led to believe.  I ended up giving it two stars.

What do you think?

So there you have it – my failed experience with a mystery box of books.  Have you read any of these books?  Do you think I should give any of them another try?  Also, do you have a favourite recipe book?


8 thoughts on “My Library Surprised Me! Did It Work?

  1. I have to agree with you on HG Wells although I have read this and a number of other books by him, I can not seem to enjoy him as a writer. I always find his books being a great idea, bu poorly written.


  2. This is such an interesting idea, it sucks that it didn’t work out! Looking from a librarian POV they should have picked up on the sequel. But it would be tough making sure there is a variety of books that AREN’T the popular ones that are actually getting requested as well.

    Loved the post a tonne. Happy reading!


  3. How intriguing. When COVID first hit in Aus and everyone shut up shop, one of my local bookstores offered create a recommendations list for anyone who was interested. You had to answer a couple of questions and then they sent you a list of 5 (I think) books that they thought might interest you.
    From memory the questions were like: what’s your favourite book, what did you read last, and other such things, which with my answers, I thought would have pointed the person compiling the list down a YA fantasy path. Instead the list came back with a biography for a scientist I’d never heard of, a couple of super in depth sounding adult sci-fi books, and a historical fiction about bees and science.
    Suffice to say, that as someone who has primarily been reading contemporary romance novels in the last 6 months (and doesn’t really read a lot of sci-fi even at the best of times), I didn’t buy anything from the list!! It did make me wonder who was compiling the lists and were they just trying to get rid of excess stock!!


  4. My library offers mystery boxes as well but I don’t think I will ever give it a try. I’m too scared that they won’t appeal to my tastes at all haha! I’m sorry this didn’t really work out for you 😦


  5. Oh, this is such a fun idea from your library! I loved reading about your experience with the books you choose! One-Pot Meals sound fantastic (and perfect for me, as I’m not the greatest cook as well), sorry to hear that the recipe book was disappointing 😔


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