Project Hail Mary – A Book Review

Today I bring to you the joyous news of a review for a book that I did, indeed, finish!

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir!

I’m going to be honest and say I’m a big Andy Weir fan. I loved The Martian and I really enjoyed Artemis (even though it wasn’t as good as The Martian) and I knew I was going to be picking this book up. I just wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to be waiting for it to come out as a paperback. Barnes & Nobel’s 50% sale on Prime Day made up my mind for me.

I’m a girl who likes a sale.

I also happen to be a girl who likes sci-fi.

This book is about Ryland Grace, who wakes up on a space ship, with no memory and two dead crewmen. Oh, he also happens to be humanities only hope of solving an extinction level event having to do with the sun.

So why beat around the bush, I loved this book. I read it in two days. Would have been one but I got distracted by The Golden Girls.

I know, I got side tracked by a thirty year old tv show. Go me.

You’re moved back in forth through time as Ryland regains his memories. This happens slowly over the course of the book. And it’s great to see how that pays off. And the memories themselves are full of colorful characters. Although Andy Weir still can’t write women very well (this was a problem in Artemis, which has a female main character) he has improved, so he gets points for that.

I enjoyed Ryland’s time in the Hail Mary. I loved the ship, how they traveled, how they got artificial gravity, the lab, all of it. The author writes complicated science jargon in a way that makes it easy for everyone to understand, it’s part of the reason I enjoyed the the time ship so much.

There is a lot in this book to love. From the character interactions to the actual puzzle of why the sun was dimming. As is typical of the authors books, I did laugh, a lot. Andy Weir like to remind you that even stressful situations can have humorous moments. It works.

Basically, pick this one up if you love great sci-fi! I gave it 5 stars.

My Top 5 So Far in 2021

So given that it’s the middle of the year, I thought I would share with you my top 5 favorite books so far. Because why not?

Now, I haven’t read as much as I would like this year, but I’m working on it. I do have a few five star reads that I can choose from, however. So here they are, in no particular order. Because I’m cool like that.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

The story of Linus, who gets sent to investigate whether or not a group of magical children, who are extraordinarily unique, are being appropriately taken care of. This heartwarming found family story is like that feeling you get when you are wrapped in a warm blanket sipping on some hot cocoa. People have compared it to being wrapped in a warm hug, they aren’t wrong. It’s amazing. Truly.

This Place: 150 Years Retold by Various, art by Various

Indigenous persons of Canada tell their history of Canadian colonization in this graphic novel. It was painful and beautiful to read. I legitimately cried at some points. I was angry at some points. This book moved me. And I loved it so much.

Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson

Broken is Jenny Lawson’s newest memoir, and it’s wonderful. The way she talks about mental health, I only wish I was that open about mine. I loved this book. It made me laugh so much!

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Nora takes her own life and ends up in the Midnight Library, a place between life and death. From here, she’s able to live her life as if she made different decisions. I am still thinking about this book a month later.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

It’s the sequel to A Discovery of Witches, and I love that book (it was a five star read too), but this is my favorite book in the series. Probably because of the time travel. No, yeah, it’s definitely because of the time travel.

Don’t ask me to pick a favorite. That’s basically like asking me to pick a favorite child. Except I don’t have children, but I do have siblings and I know that parents always have a favorite. Sigh. If I had to pick a favorite, House in the Cerulean Sea and Broken (in the best possible way) are in the top spots I guess.

Lost in the Never Woods-A Book Review

Well. How do I put this. I really wanted to like this book, and yet, alas, I did not.

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas is a contemporary Peter Pan retelling. In the authors own words, it’s more like a fanfic. This one just happens to be a not so great fanfic.

Here’s the thing, the premise sounds great. Wendy and her brothers, John and Michael, disappear in the woods one day and only young Wendy returns. Fast-forward several years later and Wendy is freshly eighteen and two more children have gone missing in the woods. Wendy wants no part of any of it, until a she almost hits a boy, claiming to be Peter Pan, with her truck.

Just to reiterate, I wanted to like this book. I really did. I loved the author’s first novel, Cemetery Boys, and was hoping this book would live up to that promise and it just didn’t.

What was wrong with the book, you may ask? I just found it, well, boring. The first real action scene in the book and I wasn’t enthralled by it. This book just seemed to leave me wanting more, so much more, at every turn.

And that’s why, at 150 pages, I gave up. I was tired of wanting more from the characters, the world, the mythology, the world the author was building.

Am I still going to pick up their next book? Absolutely. But I had to give this one 1 star.

The Midnight Library-A Book Review

TW: Mentions of fictional character suicide.

Well, this was quite the read, wasn’t it! Let me say this, if you haven’t picked up The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, you probably should.

It’s the story of a young woman named Nora, who, when everything seems it’s worst, takes her own life. She wakes up in the Midnight Library, a place between life and death, where the clock is stuck at midnight. With the help of the librarian, Nora is able to look at all the possibilities of life and see all her could-have-beens.

Now yes, I know that this sounds like it should be a terrible book, cause suicide. But it’s really not. Each life Nora lives forces her to question what happiness, what a life worth living, really means to her.

I loved this book from the moment I picked if up. It has a beautiful writing style that helps you just fall into the pages. The plot is solid and the cast of characters sucks you right in. You can’t help but feel for Nora as she goes about her journey through the libraries many tomes.

Each life Nora finds herself in is uniquely crafted. A different version of herself that she never thought she could be. And it’s interesting, and introspective, to put yourself in Nora’s shoes and wonder what your life might have been like if you had just taken that left to that job interview one day.

I truly loved this book. Another 5 star read for me this month. You should absolutely pick this up.

If you or someone you love has suicidal thoughts, please seek help. In America you can reach out to 800-273-8255.

Broken (in the best possible way)-A Book Review

Well would you lookie here. A book review. On a book I actually finished. Well ain’t that a treat!

Jenny Lawson suffers from treatment resistant depression, has a long suffering husband in Victor, and a loving daughter in Hailey. Not to mention their dog and two cats. This particular books deals with the authors struggles with her insurance company, her debilitating depression and anxiety, and a whole host of other illnesses. Because why have one thing wrong with you when five works better. Or worse. Probably worse.

First, a disclaimer. I love Jenny Lawson. I think she is a wonderful writer and I pre-ordered this the day she announced it. I also have all three of her other books, including the coloring book. So yes, I am a fan. It’s well earned, I assure you.

Jenny Lawson is absurdly funny. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions while reading this book. I shared one of the funny bits with the hubs and he laughed too. So at least I’m not the only one.

She’s also incredibly deep. I suffer from mental illness as well, and Mrs. Lawson makes me feel seen. She communicates the scariest parts of her mental illness in a way that seem like you, too, can survive it. Because, as she famously says, depression lies.

I love the way she talks about her marriage. She makes sure to point out that as great as it is, it’s not perfect. But it works for them. As all good marriages should.

I cannot stress this enough, if you want to laugh, possibly cry, cringe, laugh some more, and relate to someone, give this book a read. Or a listen. Jenny Lawson narrates her own audio books. In fact, that’s how I read the first two books. I gave it 5 stars.

You can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org, and at the authors own book store Nowhere.

The Witch’s Heart- A Book Review

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written one of these hasn’t it! Two months, at least!

I thought I’d dip my toe back in the reviewing pool by reading The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec.

It’s the story of Angrboda, a witch who was burned by Odin because she wouldn’t give him what he wanted, and who falls in love with Loki.

Here’s the thing, I didn’t like this book. I didn’t even finish it, but I think it may be that it’s a case of right book, wrong time.

See, I understand that Angrboda had been put through the ringer by Odin, but I just couldn’t connect with her. Don’t get me wrong, I love a heroine who has suffered just as much as the next person, but this character just didn’t resonate with me for some reason. And characters like this usually always resonate with me.

The writing style was fine, I have no problems with it. It wasn’t overly lyrical or particular forced, it was just there. Solid recommendation, I know.

I just, I don’t know. I struggled for two weeks to read the first one hundred pages before I finally just said “self, don’t do this, put it down and walk away.” And by “it” I mean my phone because I picked this book up through the Libby app. Thank you library.

I’m sad, because I really wanted to like this book. And I just didn’t.

What do you think, should I give this book a second chance?

One star…for now. I may come back to this later.

The All Souls Trilogy-A Book Series Review

Why is it, when we love something, we just don’t want to be critical of it?  Take, for example, Baked Ruffles.  I love them very much.  They are just the right thickness for dips, so they rarely break, they taste good, they aren’t as salty as regular ruffles, and I like the texture.  

But, and this is hard for me to admit, I hate the way they are sometimes so dang wide.  I have to break them in half to make them work for me.  

That’s the way I feel right now.  Because I’m about to review the All Souls Trilogy, or the A Discovery of Witches book series.

I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but given that the first book is 10 years old (Really, only 10?  Zeesh) some spoilers may leak out.   And given that I am reviewing three books, yes, there may be spoilers. 

Have I mentioned the spoilers?

The story of A Discovery of Witches begins with Dr. Diana Bishop, our female protagonist, finding a book, Ashmole 782, a magical alchemical manuscript.  Diana, wanting nothing to do with magic, sends the book back to whence it came.  But her calling the book forth has caught the notice of other creatures (witches, daemons, vampires), most notably Dr. Matthew Clairmont, a vampire.  

In Shadow of Night, the second book of the series, we find our intrepid (really, Lauren?  That’s the word you’re going with?) heroes thrust back in time into 1590s England by way of Diana’s witchy ability called Time Walking.  Here they meet such historical notables as Sir Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlow, and Queen Elizabeth! Rotting teeth included!   In this book, Diana is seeking out teachers for her burgeoning magical abilities and both she and Matthew are searching for Ashmole 782.  You know, before it became called Ashmole 782. 

In The Book of Life, we find Diana and Matthew returned to the present, with Diana having learned control over her magic, and they have renewed purpose in finding the book.  Also, they are married now!  Huzzah!!  They face many hurdles, though, in seeking the book.  Most of the members of the Congregation don’t want them together and members of their own vampiric family might be against them. 

So what did I think of these books?  Well, let us start at the beginning.

A Discovery of Witches is an exquisite book.  It’s almost lyrical in it’s writing style.  Not words I say often.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve said them at all before.  It’s pacing is spot on, though, as with most romance style books, I think Matthew and Diana fell in love a little too quickly.  But hey, when you know, you know. Ya know? 

But that’s not really a pacing issue, is it?  That’s a plot choice.  

Speaking of plot, I like how DNA is important to the story. The world of science being such a large portion of a vampire’s life is both funny and thought-provoking at the same time.  But that’s a small part of the first book, it’s a bigger part of the third book, though.  The plot moves along quite nicely.  No part of it feels like your rushing to get to the end of the book, which I appreciate.

The characters are rich, fully realized versions of themselves.  They never feel anything less than at their best, even when it’s just side characters, like Emily, Sarah, Hamish, or Miriam.  Our villains, on the other hand, feel a little less fleshed out.  We don’t spend enough time with Satu, Peter Knox, or Gerbert for them to be fully actualized, but more time with them would have been nice.  

There aren’t really any big plot twists to this book.  There might be one if you squint hard enough, but the author hasn’t written these books that way.  Everything flows seamlessly from one moment to the next.  Okay, fine, there is one.  And it does have ramifications for each of the following books.  But it’s not like a plot twist where you are left going “OMG, why did that happen”, it’s more like “well, that’s interesting information”.  

I really liked how this book ended.  It left me wanting the second book to read almost immediately.  And given that I got this book on Kindle when it was first released, I had to wait a minute.  Stupid waiting.  

Ah well.  Patience is a virtue.

On to my favorite book, Shadow of Night!  Deborah Harkness (the author) is a historian, and it really shows here.  In my personal opinion, this book is where the writing and research really shine.  And I love her writing style.  It just seems to flow effortlessly, and I’m sure that took quite a bit of effort.  

This book is set in 1590s Elizabethan England, France, and Bohemia.  I love how the time period really comes alive through the storytelling.  All the characters are compelling, though I hate Kit.  He really bothered me.  Which, I suppose, was the author’s point.  I also love Mary Sidney  You gotta love positive female friendships!

Again, the plot and pacing are on point.  Honestly I found no faults with this book.  Of course I didn’t, it’s my favorite.  And how many times can I say something is my favorite before I am tempted to use that gif from Elf? 

The Book of Life is the third, but not final, book in this universe.  This, in my opinion, is the weakest of the three books.  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great book in own right. It’s just not as strong as the other two books.  The pacing was a little messy.  Not terribly messy, mind you, just a little bit messy.  The plot was great.  I really enjoyed how that important detail of DNA came back into play big time in this book.  

The ending of this book felt a little, well, not rushed, but it didn’t flow as well I would have liked. It seemed like the author had so many ideas she wasn’t quite sure how to get them all out. Was it still well done? Mostly yes. Will I read it again constantly? Absolutely.

I really loved the addition of Chris, he’s a fantastic new character. And oh boy Benjamin.  Does he make an excellent villain. Disturbing, but excellent. And we can’t forget the loss of that character. If you’ve read the books, you know the one. That one hurt a little bit.  

So what do I think of the trilogy overall?  I think it’s fantastic!  Everyone should read it!  5 Stars all around! Too enthusiastic for you? Try this instead: I find these pages to be full of the most wondrous adventures to be told of witch and vampire.  You think I’m kidding? Turns out, I read these books this time two years ago too. How do I know this? Check out this photo of my cat sitting on one of the books. Silly KoKo.

No, but seriously.  I love all three of these books.  I read through them in about 9 days.  And there is still the 4th one, Time’s Convert, to read.  And (huzzah!) according to Deborah Harkness’ own Instagram account, she is working on a 5th book.  So I’m good.  

What do you think of the All Souls Trilogy?

The House in the Cerulean Sea-A Book Review

Well. I feel like I just got a big ole hug.

And there is that review done. That’s it. That’s all you need to know.

No, but really, I’ll give an actual review. If I have to. And since I am a book blog and I read this book both for enjoyment and to review it, I guess I’ll have to review it. Whoo hoo!

So what can I say about this book.

Overall it’s heartwarming and endearing, which is something you don’t often say about fantasy books. I’ve heard people describe this book as though it left them feeling like it gave them a warm hug. I’m not gonna lie, I felt the same way, if you could tell by my opening statement.

Plus, LBGTQ+ rep!

Linus, as the main character, is complex for all that he is a simple man who likes simple things. He is very straight laced. His world is made up of a set of rules set by the government agency he works for, which is the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. Linus is a case worker, someone who goes around and inspects orphanages that house magical children and makes sure that they are up to par. He likes the daily grind of his life and doesn’t wonder if there is anything more to the world than what he already knows. Plus, he has a cat, Calliope.

We love a good cat around here.

One day Linus gets assigned the most classified of jobs, to looks into the lives of the children on the island off the coast of the small village of Marsyas. That’s when things get interesting.

Arthur is the is master of the house and Zoe is it’s caretaker. And I love them both so much! The six children shall remain anonymous because to even give the name of one of them would spoil the surprise. And oh, you will enjoy this surprise. Except for Chauncey, who dreams of growing up to be a bellhop. A Bellhop! How cute is that!

Linus gets drawn into the daily lives of these children even as he is reporting on them back to the head office of DICOMY. Will Linus discover there is more to life?

I love Linus’ character progression. Nothing felt faked or forced for the sake of the plot. And Arthur was a lovely counterbalance. How each saw the world was in opposition to the other. The children were simply delightful. Each had their own unique story and way of looking at life.

So I think it’s safe to assume that I approve of the characters and their development.

The pacing in this book was spot on. It never felt like you were rushing to reach the end, or that you were slowing down to reach a hard earned point. It was consistent throughout the book. Much appreciated, TJ Klune (the author).

World building was pretty good. This book is clearly meant to be some form of magical realism, but we are never really told what country this all takes place in. I keep picturing a New England or United Kingdom setting. So the vagueness didn’t really sit well with me. It didn’t keep me from appreciating the book, but it did bother me a little.

I really connected with this story, as I think anyone who has felt like the odd one out will. It’s message of hope and being yourself was warm and, above all, kind. Which, again, not something you can often say about fantasy novels.

I really loved this book. I can see myself re-reading this whenever I am having a bad time of it mentally and am in need of a pick me up.

Self care is important!

So all in all I gave this book 5 stars, and I think you will to. So go give The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune a chance!

Everything I Read in December 2020

Here we go again! Another waltz around the month to see all I have read!

I kinda did if DNF’ing a book on my TBR list counts. I’m counting it. Because I tried to read it, I really did.

The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn

This is the story of how Nickolas came to be Santa Claus. I loved this book so much! It was such a cute Christmas read. You can see more about what I thought about this book here. I did give it 5 stars.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

This is a story that asks what if the hero fails and then the villain reigns for a thousand years. My husband has been on me to read this book for a while, and I’m not sure why I didn’t read it sooner, but man did I love this book. 5 out of 5 stars.

In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren

One woman, two brothers, a Christmas wish, and a Groundhog Day style time loop. I’m a sucker for a good time loop story. I liked this book. It was cute and fluffy. A good holiday read. 3 stars.

Paradise Planet by Jesse Lonergan

When their ship crash lands on a planet, a passenger must take care of a drug riddled captain and watch out for hungry lizards. The art was just okay in this graphic novel, and the storyline was poorly done. It could have been more fleshed out. 2 stars.

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason

Rory Thorne is a princess who has been given thirteen fairy gifts, now she has to use them to save her betrothed from a plot to overthrow his government. I had a really hard time reading this book. I would have DNF’d it, but I actually wanted to know how it would end. 2 Stars.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune is the story of Paul Atreides and his time on Arrakis where the “Spice must flow”. Obviously, it’s about more than that, but I didn’t enjoy this book. I don’t connect with the authors writing style so I didn’t finish this book. 1 star.

There. I read my TBR. Sort of. I swear I tried to read Dune. I just can’t connect with it. I still want to see the movie though. I’m a glutton for punishment.

And here are my stats! I really enjoy getting to look at these now that I have discovered The Storygraph.

I read 3 adventurous books last month. And 2 mysterious? This stat will always surprise me I guess. I do like that I managed to read 2 lighthearted books last month. That’s a nice change of pace.

Speaking of pace, 2 fast and 2 medium paced books for me.

Since The Storygraph doesn’t count DNF’s, Mistborn was my highest page read, coming in at 541 pages.

I only read 2 Fantasy books last month? How is that possible? I mean, It’s still my most read genre, but still. Only 2?

And my Average rating being 3.4 stars doesn’t really surprise me. Especially given that I had two books each for 2 star and 5 star books.

Well there you have it. All the stuff I read last month! What a short list. I’m working to read more books this month. But all amount of reading is valid, so at least I’m reading!

My Favorite Reads of 2020

Happy New Years everyone! Did you have a good evening of safe, stay at home, fun? In a move that should shock no one, I stayed home, watched Star Wars, and played Animal Crossing.

All night.

It was wonderful.

But you aren’t here for my New Years adventures (or lack thereof), you are here for the books! Without further ado, I present to you my top 8 books of 2020!

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall

A retelling of Sherlock Holmes if Holmes was a woman and a sorceress. Oh, and did I mention the queer romance? I loved this book to the point that I despaired when it was done because there wasn’t more. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars because I couldn’t give it 7 stars.

Recursion by Blake Crouch

A mysterious plague of lives never lived sweeps the Earth. This book put me through it. 5 out of 5 stars.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Patricia’s life was normal, until the vampire moved in down the street. I loved this book. My book club loved this book. It’s a really great book. 5 out of 5 stars!

Hyperbole and Half by Allie Brosh

It’s a graphic novel of a web-toon based on the authors life. She details her childhood, her struggles with depression, and her fight with a goose. I might have lol’d a few times. 5 out of 5 stars.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

A woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever but everyone she meets forgets her. 300 years later, someone finally remembers her. I cannot say enough about this book. I loved how it ended. 5 out of 5 stars.

The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn

This is exactly what it say in the title, the story of Santa told from his point of view. It was so wholesome and heartwarming. It definitely gave me the warm fuzzies. 5 out of 5 stars.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Imagine a world were a hero failed to defeat the darkness. And then that darkness reigned for 1000 years. The hubs loves this book and has been trying to get me to read for forever. I finally did it and I loved it. 5 out of 5 stars.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Humans have conquered space flight, and Adriene O’Neill is documenting her work as one of those travelers. But what has happened to the world left behind while they are gone? I only gave this book 4 stars, but the ending to this novella really stuck with me even now. I had to add it to this list.

What were your favorite reads of 2020?