Get Back to Where You Once Belonged: Reviewing Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Hi everybody! I could be asleep right now but it’s a snow storm and it has motivated me to shrink my ever-growing TBR list. If you know me, you know I like science fiction but I am no expert in science. I wish I could know more and I am trying to know more. Thankfully, Andy Weir knows how to make science more exciting through these exciting adventures. Let’s talk about Project Hail Mary.

Ryland Grace wakes up from a coma to find himself the sole survivor on a spaceship. He can barely remember his own name, let alone the purpose of his mission. Ryland soon realizes he must do the impossible to save Earth on his own. Or maybe he isn’t alone after all.

I just want to give a huge shoutout to Andy Weir for presenting complicated scientific principles in a way that someone like me, a book nerd, can properly understand. Not only that, it was wrapped in an exciting and suspenseful adventure that kept me reading. It is certainly comparable to Weir’s first breakout novel, The Martian, but this one had some added elements that really played into my love of science fiction. You don’t have to read The Martian or even be a scientist to enjoy the thrilling ride that is Project Hail Mary.

What is hell but the life I had lived?: Reviewing The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor

Hi everyone! I hope February is at least a slight improvement over January for you all as well. I am continuing to cope with stress by reading books in rapid succession. When I am not reading or working, I am most likely napping. Thankfully, I have two little dogs who love to take naps. That has nothing to do with this review, though. Let’s talk about The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home: A Welcome to Night Vale novel.

The faceless old woman who secretly lives in everyone’s home has been a longtime resident of Night Vale. Her current fixation is on a man named Craig, who she sabotages and loves in equal parts. She was not always this not – ghost, however. Before coming to Night Vale, she was a girl who rose from tragedy to the top of a criminal empire. Now, the faceless old woman reflects on the swashbuckling adventures and twisted paths over the decades that eventually took her to Night Vale where she has discovered her true purpose.

Much like the podcast this novel was based off of, I never knew what to expect and that was probably the best part of this novel. Each chapter was a completely new experience. I love an adventure based – novel and this delivered. It was also an excellently crafted tale of revenger with some heart to it. It certainly delivered on the existentialism and overall weirdness that is a trademark in anything related to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. I don’t want to spoil anything so I will simply give my most sincere recommendation of this book if you are a fan of Welcome to Night Vale.

Sing, Muse, he said, and I have sung: Reviewing A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

Hello everybody! I am out here trying not to be too whiney about the cold but I really hate winter, especially a late winter. What better to get my mind off the weather than a good book and this is a good one. In case you didn’t know, I am a big fan of mythology particularly Greek myths. I have studied Latin for quite a few years and have done my fair share of translating the classics like The Illiad and The Odyssey. It is always nice to have a fresh take on these tried and true classics, so let’s talk about A Thousand Ships.

After ten long years of fighting, Troy is destroyed in a single night and the women of the city are left at the mercy of the Greeks. Their stories are often pushed off to the side in favor of their male counterparts. This epic, however, focuses on the women, both Trojan and Greek, and their side of the story. From the three goddesses who had a hand in starting the war, to Hecuba watching her kingdom fall, and Penelope waiting patiently for her husband, these women among many had their lives shaped forever by the ten year war.

I am all here for a feminist retelling of the Illiad and Odyssey, which Natalie Haynes certainly delivers. Haynes dives deep into layered emotions, complicated situations, and trauma throughout the various stories. The writing varies with some stories being brief and poignant and others being longer and contemplative. Many of these characters that Haynes brings to light are often just footnotes in the epics. This novel makes a powerful statement about the often neglected female characters and is delivered with intelligent and provocative writing. It should come to no surprise then when I say that I highly recommend A Thousand Ships to any fans of Homer’s original epics.

I was quiet, but I was not blind: Reviewing Mary B. by Katherine J. Chen

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and staying warm. I have always hated snow, personally. This is my second “retelling” novel I am reviewing and I have a third in my TBR list. Funny enough, this particular book was actually a gift from my aunt. Most people assume that, when you are a woman in a literary field, you must love Jane Austen. As much as I love Pride and Prejudice, I am not a die hard Jane Austen fan but I would like to be one day, admittedly. So, let’s talk about the often forgotten Bennet sister, Mary. (Note: I will leave a content warning at the very bottom of this post. It is also somewhat of a spoiler but I wanted to include it regardless.)

As the middle child of the Bennet family, Mary is often forgotten. Unlike her sisters, she is not renowned for her beauty or charm. Mary, though, is painfully aware that it is convention that she find a husband in order to have a secure life. In her despair, however, she finds solace through writing her own fictional novels. As tragedy and scandal strike the Bennet family, Mary must learn to come into her own as a woman in a time of strict social boundaries.

I am a bit biased towards this book as I deeply related to Mary as a bookish woman in her twenties. Chen’s overall take on the Bennett family shows in a more realistic light, creating and taking away sympathy. Mary is well fleshed out as a protagonist as she tries to figure out where she wants to be in life. The novel is honest in its depiction of women trying to navigate their ways in a time where options were limited. It is even rather heart- breaking in its truthfulness. Chen does not diminish any of the hope that Austen initially created. She simply shows a different side of the romantic notions which endeared us to Pride and Prejudice. Mary B is a fully fleshed out portrait of the lesser known Bennett sister’s journey of self – discovery and I highly recommend this to any Austen fan.

Content Warning: The novel does contain a graphic scene involving the loss of an infant and further discussion of the topic.

Borne ceaselessly back into the past…: Reviewing Nick by Michael Farris Smith

Hello everyone! January is becoming a bit of a drag and fiction has become a much needed escape in this dreary month. I naturally gravitated towards Nick because The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels. I have read it countless times since I was in high school, jokingly calling my friends “old sport.” Eventually, I’d love to do an in-depth analysis of The Great Gatsby but I will start by reviewing the unofficial prequel.

Before meeting the enigmatic Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway was caught up in the horrors of World War 1. In an attempt to escape his nightmares, Nick embarks on a journey from across Europe and America. On his journey of self-discovery, Nick gets caught up in whirlwind romance in Paris and a scandalous mystery in New Orleans which forever changes his life.

I really wanted to like this novel going into it. I truly enjoyed the first half when Nick is in Paris. Farris Smith delves into the trauma of war and how Nick is forced to cope with little to no help. The second half in New Orleans kind of lost me. Nick was kind of displaced more and more as the novel went on, becoming a passive and messy presence in the corner. Writing any sort of tie – in to a classic novel is certainly a tricky undertaking so I am going to give Farris Smith where credit is due because I did enjoy his unique and melodic writing style. I honestly cannot recommend this novel, nor am I saying to avoid. Instead, I would suggest just reading The Great Gatsby.

Be careful what you ask for, be willing to pay the price: Reviewing The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! As always, I hope you are doing well. I am on a serious reading kick right now. Maybe it’s because I have stumbled across a bunch of YouTube videos of people reading up to 100 books in year. I wish I could be that productive but we will settle on a few for now. This is not my first time reviewing a book by V.E. Schwab and you are welcome to read my reviews of her other novels. Let’s add another to the list then, shall we?

In a moment of desperation, Addie LaRue made a deal with a devil. She will live forever but she will never be remembered. For three hundred years, Addie has survived and traveled with the devil at her heals. Everything changes when she meets Henry, who remembers her. Now, Addie seeks to uncover the truth of her curse and to try to undo it at all costs.

If you want a slow burn romance, then this is the novel for you. V.E. Schwab always takes great care when it comes to fantastical details while still keeping a focus on the relationships between the characters. The magical realism made this novel all the more enjoyable. While romance is normally not my jam, the relationship between Henry and Addie was endearing as they were both fleshed out on their own. When they came together, their relationship was endearing. The book is fairly long but the pacing is steady, with most of the chapters being between one to five pages long. It is certainly reminiscent of a fairy tale, which made the novel all the more appealing. Overall, this is another winner from Schwab when I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy this novel as much as I did.

Fighting, Fury, and Madness: Reviewing Baptism of Fire (Book 3 of The Witcher Series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hello everyone! I’m back way sooner than I thought with another book review. I tend to read up to four books at the same time and just kind of rotate through them. Not to brag or anything, but I have a bit of free time on my hands. Being that I am in a “winter break” of sorts, I’m hoping to put out at least one or two more reviews before the end of January. With any luck, I’ll find out if I have been accepted into a PhD program or not. Enough of my rambling, let’s talk about The Witcher.

War has swept across the Continent and every kingdom is out for blood. Recovering from an injury, Geralt must rely on an odd group of travelers to help him find Ciri, who is being hunted by the villainous Emhyr. Meanwhile, Yennefer is caught in a tangled political web with her fellow mages as they try to protect the future of magic. Everything is at stake as the world descends into chaos and fire.

This book is probably my favorite so far in The Witcher series. It had a lot of traveling that was rather reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings and battle scenes akin to Game of thrones, all the while maintaining its own unique world building. I felt that the story was evenly distributed among the main characters with each having their own high stakes. Even the more expository parts were interesting as it was Sapkowski really investing the readers into the magic system and fictional history he has so carefully crafted. I personally really enjoyed this entry in The Witcher series and will continue to highly recommend this series (and the Netflix show). Maybe I’ll even give the video game a shot one day.

To be a woman is to be a sacrifice: Reviewing The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Hello and Happy New Year everyone! Here’s hoping we have a year full of pleasant surprises and better fortune. But now, I am coming to you with my first review of the year. I wanted to review this book back in October because it seemed more appropriate for the spooky season but I decided that spooky season can be all year long if you don’t care about anyone else’s opinions. Let’s kick off 2022 with The Year of the Witching.

Immanuelle Moore has struggled all her life to fit into Bethel, a strict religious society where the Prophet rules with an iron fist. Immanuelle was born of a relationship between her Bethelan mother and a father of a different race, which makes her very existence a sin. Because of this, Immanuelle does her best to remain faithful to the Father and follow the Holy Scriptures so that she might be accepted. That is until she stumbles into the Darkwood and finds her mother’s journal, which she learns that she is connected to the witches that live in the Darkwood. With this knowledge, Immanuelle sets out to uncover the corruption of the Church and the Prophet before Bethel is destroyed by its own secrets.

The Year of the Witching sets out to make a statement and a statement it makes. Henderson creates a chilling atmosphere with horrifying revelations about the society of Bethel. You certainly feel for Immanuelle’s struggle and root for her as she uncovers the horrific truth of the male – dominated religion that she is surrounded by. I could write an entire essay about the themes of this book. It gives a lot to think about, particularly if you know anything about cults or cult – like organizations. If you are interested in the Salem Witch Trials, then this book is right up your alley as it delves in to the relationship between women and religions. I don’t want to go on for too long or spoil anything so I will end this with saying that I ended up loving this book and I definitely recommend this for all of you witchy types out there.

My Favorites of 2021

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and doing your best to enjoy the holidays. I wanted to put out one more book review before the end of the year but, unfortunately, I am under the weather. Instead, I thought I would out out my annual list of favorites. It was nice being able to get out a little bit this year. That being said, 2021 was still not a fun year by any means. I did just apply for some PhD programs so I have my fingers crossed that 2022 will finally yield something even better. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my list. I wish you only the best for next year. Call me an optimist but I think we all deserve better for another year.

Books:

  • If We Were Villians by M.L Rio
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  • Devolution by Max Brooks
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno – Garcia
  • The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
  • The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  • It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  • Heir to the Empire and Dark Force Rising by Timothy Zahn

Movies:

  • The Green Knight (dir. David Lowery)
  • The Suicide Squad (dir. James Gunn)
  • In the Heights ( dir. Jon M. Chu)
  • Venom: Let There Be Carnage (dir. Andy Serkis)
  • Shang – Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (dir. Destin Daniel Cretton)
  • Black Widow (dir. Cate Shortland)
  • Eternals (dir. Chloe Zhao)
  • Spider – Man: No Way Home (dir. Jon Watts)

TV Shows:

  • WandaVision (Disney+)
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+)
  • Loki: Season 1 (Disney+)
  • Marvel’s What If?: Season 1 (Disney+)
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch: Season 1 (Disney+)
  • Hawkeye (Disney+)
  • The Witcher: Season 2 (Netflix)
  • Midnight Mass (Netflix)
  • Castlevania: Seasons 1 – 4 (Netflix)
  • Squid Game: Season 1 (Netflix)
  • Only Murders in the Building: Season 1 (Hulu)
  • Ghosts (UK Version): Seasons 1 – 3 (HBO Max)
  • Doom Patrol: Season 3 (HBO Max)

Music:

  • Flowers for Vases/Descanos by Hayley Williams (album)
  • Death by Rock and Roll by The Pretty Reckless (album)
  • Chemtrails Over the Country Club by Lana Del Rey (album)
  • Fearless (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift (album)
  • Cry Forever by Amy Shark (album)
  • If I Could Make it Go Quiet by girl in red (album)
  • SOUR by Olivia Rodrigo (album)
  • Scaled and Icy by Twenty One Pilots (album)
  • Blue Weekend by Wolf Alice (album)
  • Distorted Light Beam by Bastille (single)
  • Who Hurt You? by Jensen McRae (EP)
  • Cure for Me by AURORA (single)
  • Happier than Ever by Billie Eilish (album)
  • Solar Power by Lorde (album)
  • Soundtrack to an Existential Crisis by au/ra (album)
  • Screen Violence by CHVRCHES (album)
  • If I can’t have love, I want power by Halsey (album)
  • Mercury – Act 1 by Imagine Dragons (album)
  • Blue Banisters by Lana Del Rey (album)
  • Ruin by The Amazing Devil (album)
  • 30 by Adele (album)
  • Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift (album)
  • = by Ed Sheeran (album)
  • Planet Her by Doja Cat (album)
  • Renegade (feat. Taylor Swift) by Big Red Machine (album)

The only way to learn is to live: Reviewing The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Hi everyone! How’s everything going with you? Well, I hope it’s good. As I might have mentioned before, I typically don’t pick books to read based on their popularity. Sometimes, the hype is worth checking out and that is why I picked up The Midnight Library. This book has shown up on just about every “top books of 2021” list and, while I have been burned before by those lists, I was intrigued enough to give this one a chance. So, let’s talk about The Midnight Library.

Nora Seed has lived a miserable existence full of regret and self – pity. One particularly bad day spurs Nora to take drastic measures. She finds herself in the Midnight Library. This library, however, is full of books that show her the other lives she could have lived if she had made different decisions. With the help of the enigmatic librarian, Nora decides to explore the possibilities and see how they have affected her and those she cares about. But she must make a decision before time runs out, answering the question: what is the best way to live?

As someone who worries about the future, this book helped me put a lot into perspective. Nora’s journey is one that most people can relate to, which is why many of you will be able to connect with this book. Haig explores a lot of interesting philosophical questions but doesn’t do so in a way that is depressing or confusing. Haig shows that life is indeed a mixed bag of both good and bad in a way that realistic. Though the novel has a quick pace, it still fits in many valuable and touching moments involving a relatable protagonist. Overall, I was impressed with this book and can confirm that this novel is worth the hype. The Midnight Library is relatable, touching, and profound in its exploration of life’s possibilities.