The Martian

The Martian

by Andy Weir

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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

I admit that I can be a ‘book snob’ because I tend to steer clear of books that become instant hits. You know which books I mean. The novels that, all of a sudden, everyone is talking about. Usually these books just don’t live up to the hype and this is why I avoided reading The Martian for so long.

It was quite stupid because I knew it was my type of book the instant I read the back cover. And yet, I still hesitated! Then I saw the movie trailer and realized that I was just being stubborn. Space exploration and astronomy are favorite subjects of both my dad and my husband (and me!) I’ve watched every documentary and I needed to read The Martian. I purchased my copy the next day and I couldn’t put it down.

The Martian tells the survival story of Mark Watney, a Mars astronaut that is accidentally left behind when his mission is aborted. It is Andy Weir’s debut novel and my favorite novel of the year! I loved the journalistic writing style and the  plot flowed smoothly, keeping me consistently engaged. was great. I enjoy how Weir mixes Watney’s storyline with that of the scientists on Earth, his crew, and the backstory of the equipment. I even enjoyed the science and had no problem understanding the application.

Many might consider the technical and straight-forward writing style too dull but I loved it. I’m a blunt, literal person so I t worked for me. The secondary characters are cookie cutter and underdeveloped but the only one that really annoyed me was Annie, the PR rep. I’m pretty sure Weir can’t stand media people from his descriptions of her. I also doubt Weir will be able to write any other novels in this style with the same level of success. I don’t see him as a one hit wonder but I do hope to continues to grow as a writer and expands his character development skills.

So many reviewers have complained that the book is trying too hard to be funny. I personally loved the corny humor of the novel. Watney’s goofy attempts to lighten the mood kept me reading and for those who wanted to see someone struggling to deal with the trauma of being left on Mars? You got it! Humor is one way many people deal with a bad situation (we all have been to a funeral where one person won’t stop laughing). Read a YA romance novel or modern women’s lit story if you need 300-400 pages of angst and tension. The humor is obviously Watney’s way of coping with the boredom and stress of being stuck alone for over a year. Go back and read the parts where our plucky astronaut is actually dealing with a life or death situation. You’ll realize that he’s not making jokes in the heat of the moment. They come afterwards. Plus, the journal is what Watney wants other people to know. He mentions that MANY times, so it may be a window in to his personality and experience but it’s edited. Sheesh!

I definitely recommend The Martian but I also understand that it might not be the book for everyone. Let me know if you have any questions or please share all the things you love about this story! I can’t wait until October 2nd because I NEED to see this movie!

Lindsay

The Search

The Search

by Nora Roberts

The Search

The #1 New York Times-bestselling author presents a riveting novel where a canine search and rescue volunteer fights danger and finds love in the Pacific Northwest wilderness.

To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life-a quaint house on an island off Seattle’s coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescues. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare…

Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona’s cop fiancé and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He’s the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon’s house, and he’s at his wit’s end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can’t handle. Simon, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he’s a rugged and in-tensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. Simon never wanted a puppy-and he most definitely doesn’t want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to his hormones.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona’s life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands…

I’m not going to provide a summary of The Search as the one included is pretty informative. I will say The Search is one of my favorite Nora Roberts novels and one that I have read numerous times. Now let’s jump straight in to the review. 

I keep coming back to this novel for a number of reasons, the first of which is the well developed central characters: Fiona and Simon. I enjoy that each have unique character backgrounds and that both are smart, independent, down to earth, and competent business owners. The relationship between Simon and Fiona is sweet and snarky and it’s nice that Fiona surrounds herself with funny and loving friends and family. I loved reading the story of a strong female lead who has a tough time battling her demons but still perseveres and who is capable of actually wanting a healthy relationship with a man. So many of Roberts’ heroines are man haters, which quickly gets old.

I was surprised to read so many negative reviews of this novel and decided to address a few points that were repeatedly mentioned. There is a lot of technical information about dog training and canine search and rescue procedures. Dog training is Fiona’s livelihood and the activity keeps her sane. Do not read this book if that info is going to irk you. I personally found it interesting. I don’t understand why so many reviewers whined about how Fiona’s tendency to try to train Simon. 1. She is a dog trainer and can’t help it! 2. Simon doesn’t let her get away with it! He calls her out every time and Fiona respects him even more as an equal! Pshhh…whiners!

I will admit that I wasn’t a fan of the ending. Fiona should NEVER have participated in the search for the missing woman or be allowed to take off after her stalker. That’s just dumb! Also, the climatic scene lacked the exquisite details such a scene deserves. It just happened… the sounds, smells, emotions, and struggles I expected were missing. It was, sadly, an anticlimactic ending. 

And now for the funny part of this review. My mom recommended this book because the banter between Fiona and Simon reminded her of me and my husband. She was right! So many reviewers go on and on about how the relationship is unromantic and unrealistic. HA HA HA HA…WRONG! People, this is what a relationship between two independent, stubborn, and snarky adults look like. It is loving, bluntly honest, and full of laughter and compromise. I wouldn’t want any other type of relationship and it was refreshing to read it in a murder mystery/thriller.

So, I definitely recommend The Search and can’t wait to hear your thoughts! Happy reading!

Lindsay

The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters

by Rick Riordan

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The heroic son of Poseidon makes an action-packed comeback in the second must-read installment of Rick Riordan’s amazing young readers series. Starring Percy Jackson, a “half blood” whose mother is human and whose father is the God of the Sea, Riordan’s series combines cliffhanger adventure and Greek mythology lessons that results in true page-turners that get better with each installment. In this episode, The Sea of Monsters, Percy sets out to retrieve the Golden Fleece before his summer camp is destroyed, surpassing the first book’s drama and setting the stage for more thrills to come.

Well, I’m pretty much hooked on Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. The Sea of Monsters is book two in the series and I was excited that our heroes travel to the same lands in one of my favorite stories by Homer, The Odessy. Camp Halfblood ‘s defenses are failing and monsters are attacking in droves. It is up to Percy, Annabeth, and Tyson to save Grover and recover the only item that can restore the camp, the Golden Fleece.

My favorite aspect of this series is the well rounded main characters. They are kind, strong, and intelligent but also maintain more flawed characteristics. We are introduced to the Cyclops, Tyson, who is treated rather unkindly by fellow campers due to his species and slow speech. We watch Percy come to terms with the nature of his relationship with Tyson and it was refreshing to see him struggle with both shame and irritation at his situation, as well as eventually overcoming those feelings in the end. Headstrong and confident Annabeth must even deal with the knowledge that her fatal flaw is hubris. Riordan’s well developed characters are why I recommend this series to young readers. He makes his characters deal with mentally and physically difficult situations and shows readers how to grow and overcome personality flaws. Great lessons for today’s youth!

Once again, Riordan also expertly melds the modern and Ancient Greek worlds. This history buff could barely contain my excitement at Percy battling Odysseus’ Cyclops and I am secretly hoping the crew eventually returns to the Sea of Monsters! I wish Grover was more involved with the story but reading about him running around in a dirty wedding dress was worth it! And I LOVED Riordan’s use of the historic Civil War Iron Sides!

I really don’t have any negative thoughts about The Sea of Monsters except I wish I knew more about the driving factors for both Clarisse and Luke. These two characters do read a tad two dimensional, but I am hoping Riordan continues to develop them as the series progresses. Luke is still a mystery for me, but it was refreshing to learn about the tense relationship between Clarisse and her father.

I love how The Sea of Monsters ended and I’m going to leave it at that. No hints kids! Which means you need to read it! I can’t wait to finally get the third book on audio so I can listen to it during my work commute.

Have a great weekend guys!

Lindsay