The Martian by Andy Weir

BLOG“I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m fucked.”

Astronaut Mark Watney was part of a mission to Mars that had to be cut short due to an unexpected and strong dust storm.  During the crew’s evacuation, Mark is hit by flying debris and separated from his crew.  Believing that he is dead, the crew is forced to evacuate without him, which leaves Mark Watney as the sole occupant of Mars and relying on his knowledge and skills to keep himself alive.

The Martian is a fun read.  It is always tricky when starting a book that has already received such great reviews and is so highly recommended. Fortunately, in my opinion, The Martian really does live up to the hype.  It is part science-fiction and part comedy resulting in a very interesting and funny book.  I enjoyed Mark’s personality and sarcasm, which was the main source of humour throughout. The scientific portions are greatly detailed and obviously very well researched.  At times it did feel a little too detailed, and the parts with the calculations and science are a bit dry.  However, the dialogue, humour and overall intrigue do make up for it.  A fun and worthy read.

Favourite quote: “He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.” 

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61
How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”

My Fight/Your Fight by Ronda Rousey and Maria Burns Ortiz

BLOG“The fight is yours to win.”

Ronda Rousey is an Olympic medalist in judo and the undefeated UFC women’s champion.  In her autobiography she details her life growing up, the tragic loss of her father at a very young age, her struggles with relationships, her dedication to judo, and the challenging road to becoming the undefeated UFC women’s champion, sharing life lessons along the way.

My Fight/Your Fight is the story of an inspiring journey of incredible dedication, difficult challenges, hard-fought battles, life-lessons and success. Rousey teamed up with her sister Maria Burns Ortiz in creating this book, and the final product is well-written, engaging, and truly uplifting.  Each chapter begins with a message or a lesson such as: Know When to Move On, People Around You Control Your Reality, and Do Not Accept Less than What You’re Capable Of.  It then goes into personal stories and life experiences.  It is written and presented in a way that makes it relatable to everyone in addition to UFC and Ronda Rousey fans.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who finds themselves in need of an encouraging word and whole lot of inspiration.

Favourite quote: “I never would have been able to do any of those things without hope. The kind of hope I’m talking about is the belief that something good will come. That everything you’re going through and everything you’ve gone through will be worth the struggles and frustrations. The kind of hope I’m talking about is a deep belief that the world can be changed, that the impossible is possible.”

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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“Everything’s a risk. Not doing anything is a risk. It’s up to you.”

Madeline is allergic to the outside world. As a result, at eighteen years old she has never left the protective bubble of her house.  After a family moves in next door she begins to communicate with a boy named Olly, which leads to a romance that makes her long for more than she ever thought possible.

Everything, Everything is a touching debut novel about romance and the desire to experience life.  Not just to be alive, but to truly live. Madeline is a smart and strong main character whose voice I found to be very engaging. She is not a sad or mopey teenager, but a girl who has accepted the circumstances of her life.  Until Olly, that is.  The author does a great job of relaying Madeline’s struggle between the need to accept her situation and the yearning for more.  Madeline and Olly’s romance is really sweet and their interactions made me smile many times.

The book is composed of short, quick chapters along with illustrations, diagrams, charts, and instant message conversations.  This format works well overall, making it a fast and page-turning read.  I was very conflicted about the direction the story ultimately took and wish it would have developed in a different way.  However, I did very much enjoy the book and it’s two main characters.  There is a sweetness and charm that makes Everything, Everything a special read.

Favourite quote: “But it’s never just one moment. It’s a series of them. And your life can branch out from each one in a thousand different ways. Maybe there’s a version of your life for all the choices you make and all the choices you don’t.”

*ARC provided by NetGalley.  Publication date: September 1, 2015.

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

BLOG“I will live to see tomorrow’s sunset. Make no mistake. I swear. I will live to see as many sunsets as it takes. And I will kill you. With my bare hands.” 

A kingdom ruled by a monster.  Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan takes a new bride each night and has her executed at sunrise, leaving a devastated and shattered family every time.  When her best friend becomes one of the Caliph’s victims, sixteen-year old Shahrzad volunteers to be the next bride in order to exact her revenge and put a stop to the murders.  But once she enters the Caliph’s world, she realizes that there is more to the boy king than she originally thought. Struggling with the fact that she is falling in love with the person responsible for the death of her best friend, she sets out to discover his secret.

The Wrath & The Dawn is an engaging and wonderfully written debut novel. Renée Ahdieh proves herself to be a captivating storyteller, weaving a story that had my full attention from start to finish.  She presents a great cast of characters, from Jalal, the Caliph’s cousin to Despina, the handmaiden. Shahrzad is a witty and strong heroine, and the romance between her and Khalid is well developed and very sweet.  I found the dialogue overall to be smart, clever and thoroughly enjoyable, especially between the main characters.  Although I felt at certain times the plot could have moved along a little faster, it did not take away from the quality of the story.  The Wrath & The Dawn is a sweet romance and an intriguing mystery, that charms from the beginning all the way to the last page. This is the first book in what is set to be a duology, with the second book The Rose & The Dagger expected to be released in 2016.

Favourite quote: “Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.”

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

BLOG“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only… A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

Monsieur Perdu is the owner of a floating bookshop in a barge on the Seine. He considers himself a literary apothecary and advises customers what books to read according to their particular need, be it a broken heart or a restless soul.  But Monsieur Perdu himself is not a happy man, and is still suffering from losing his one and only love who left him twenty-one years earlier.  After a series of events he decides to finally read the letter she had written to him before she disappeared.  This leads Perdu to embark on a journey to the south of France in order to heal his own broken heart.

The Little Paris Bookshop is a novel that takes its time, and is filled with some beautiful passages that portray emotions so well, exploring themes of love, loneliness and grief. The novel has three components: Perdu’s life as the literary apothecary, his journey to the south of France and the process of healing, and the love affair between Perdu and his lost love Manon.  The literary apothecary portion is a very small part of the book, and the majority of the story focuses on Perdu’s journey to make peace with the past along with flashbacks to his time with Manon.  As Perdu states: “There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only.”  This book is for those individuals who enjoy a slow paced read, a lot of romance, and the beauty of descriptive language and imagery.

Favourite quote: “Habit is a vain and treacherous goddess. She lets nothing disrupt her rule. She smothers one desire after another: the desire to travel, the desire for a better job or a new love. She stops us from living as we would like, because habit prevents us from asking ourselves whether we continue to enjoy doing what we do.”

*E-copy provided by NetGalley for review.

5 Mystery Novels I’m Reading Over The Summer

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I love mysteries.  It’s one of my favourite genres, so I’m always excited to come across a book or a series that looks to be a good read.  Here are five mystery books I’m reading over the summer:

1. The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

This is the 11th book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, currently set to be released August 25th.  It is my absolute favourite current mystery series and I’m really looking forward to seeing what this new book has in store. Continue reading “5 Mystery Novels I’m Reading Over The Summer”

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah (A Hercule Poirot Mystery)

BLOG‘I’m a dead woman, or I shall be soon…’

The Monogram Murders is a new mystery featuring Agatha Christie’s beloved detective, Hercule Poirot. While dining at a London coffeehouse, Poirot encounters a distressed woman who reluctantly tells him that she is in danger and will most likely be murdered.  The woman known as Jennie, runs away before Poirot can convince her otherwise.  Later that night, he learns that three people were murdered at a posh London hotel, and a monogramed cufflink was found in each of the victim’s mouths.  Poirot believes there may be a connection between the murders and the distressed woman, and sets out to solve the puzzle.

Approved by the estate of Agatha Christie, author Sophie Hannah brings the character of Hercule Poirot back to life.  It is incredibly difficult to write a character that is so well known and Hannah does a nice job overall.  The mystery itself is interesting, well developed and for the most part quite enjoyable. There are portions that could have been edited down as it does come across as a little repetitive, which at certain points creates a disconnect from the story. Readers looking for an authentic Agatha Christie mystery may be disappointed as the writing and spirit of Dame Christie is not something that can be replicated. However, The Monogram Murders is a nice option for those looking for a good mystery.

Favourite quote: “One cannot do such harm to another and not wound one’s own soul in the process.”