We interrupt your regularly scheduled quarantine programming for some bookish content (I know finally, right?). I have been in a bit of a reading slump in April not going to lie as I have mentioned before all of this quarantine business has really messed with my schedule and has just thrown me for a complete loop. So, unless I finish Legend by Marie Lu today, I will have only read 2 books for April (Spoiler, I did not finish Legend.). March on the other hand was a very different story, I read 6 books total. Six for some reason tends to be the number I just cannot get past. It is the greatest number of books I have read in one month since I started keeping track. I really want to beat it, maybe May will be the month I do.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this book. It was such a joy to read and it had everything I need in a book. It is funny at parts, dramatic at others, and emotional in others. I was a bit concerned going into it cause it’s an adult sci-fi novel and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get passed all the science jargon, but I was actually able to keep up better than I thought I would be able to. Now I cannot explain what Watney did or how he did it, but I could visualize what he was doing so I was not getting lost in the science and math of it all. Weir is a beautiful writer that combines the technical aspects of what he is writing about and the entertainment aspects into a vivid and imaginative story. I also loved how the book jumps back and forth from Mars to Earth I think it really added to the story and it gave way for some truly beautiful one liner. As soon as I finished the book I did go back and watch the movie (again). I saw the movie when it first came out and I had not read the book yet, but I had not seen it since it came out and I wanted to compare it to the book. Lucky for me I was not disappointed at all! For the most part the movie is about 90% book accurate. There were a few things that differed but nothing major and I could see why they took out what they took out and put it in what they put in. They did change one characters last name and his religion, which I do not know why they did, but at least they kept him Indian cause he was Indian in the book. So, nothing was whitewashed which was nice to see. Overall, I give the book 5 stars and the movie 4 stars.
There are spoilers in this review.
The Surface Breaks is a feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid by Has Christian Anderson. I enjoyed this book, a solid 4 stars, as far as the feminism goes that really doesn’t come into play till the last 100 pages or so (maybe even 50 pages) but it does make some great commentary about societies view on the place of women in society throughout the book. I wish Gaia had found her inner power a bit earlier in the book I think it would have made for a more compelling plot, but because she didn’t find her strength till closer to the end I really want a sequel of her exploring that strength and bringing down the patriarchy. Alas this book is a standalone and not likely to get a sequel. I did like that as far as retelling go I love that O’Neill incorporated parts of the original story that tend to get left out of retellings, for instance in the original fairy tale when he tail gets turned to legs every step she takes feels like pins and needles and is incredibly painful. It was nice to see O’Neill include this detail. It added to the story as the cost of the magic and a way to manifest the emotional pain she had been suffering for years at the expense of her place within the merpeoples society. Spoiler, but this story does not have your traditional fairy tale ending. Gaia does not end up with the prince in the end in fact she does not even really end up alive. They originally also don’t have a happy ending, she the prince marries another and she turns into sea foam. In O’Neill’s version she ends up turning into a rusalka, which is the Slavic version of a siren. They sing out and lure sailors to their death to seek revenge for how they were treated in their human life. Overall, the story was great and the only reason that it was 4 stars instead of 5 was because it just felt rushed in the end and there could have been more depth to it.
I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this series! Carriger just does such a brilliant job with world building and character development that it’s just such an enchanting read (or in my case listen). I have been steadily working my way through the Finishing School series on audio book and I just adore the women who reads them, Moira Quirk, she just has such a lovely voice and it just adds a lovely element to the story. In this installment Sophronia finds herself and her friends mixed up in a Picklemen plot quite accidentally as her original mission was to get Sidheag to Scotland to help her wolf pack. I love Sophronia so much! She is quick witted, strong, adventurous, and loyal, but if I had to pick a favorite it will forever and always be Dimity. I love how her goal is to be the wife of some noble and travel the world before coming back to England and being a staple in society despite going to a school for espionage and all of her friends respect that about her and don’t try to change her. I also love the friendship she has with Sophronia. Even though she isn’t the best intelligencer she always has Sophronia and Sidheag’s backs no matter what. I will say that I am totally Team Soap, but I do adore Felix and Sophronia does not give him enough credit. But Soap is her perfect match, they are always on the same page and they read each other like books. Five Stars!
Tigger Warning: Themes of Abuse and Rape
Recipe for a Perfect Wife is an absolute must read! I enjoyed it so much. It offers such great commentary on what it means to be married and what it means to be married to the correct person and to not lose yourself in your marriage. Alice Hale is a publishing executive, or at least was until the incident, and lives with her husband in their minuscule apartment in New York City, or again she did till the incident. The Incident changed Alice’s life and had her trading in her minuscule, but beloved apartment, in for a mid-century home that had seen better days (but at least it had a beautiful garden) and trading her extra high work heels for a spatula and ovulation kits. Nellie Murdoch on the other hand is a 1950s housewife. She lives in her modern home with her husband Richard and spends her time tending to her beautiful garden, the best on the block, and making mouthwatering meals. At first glance these women have nothing in common but as Alice delves deeper into fixing up her house, she learns more and more about Nellie’s life in it, but Nellie has her secrets and Alice has her own problems. Brown did a brilliant job crafting a beautifully poignant story about two women decades apart but yet so eerily similar. While Nellie and Alice do not necessarily have the exact same marital issues their husbands harbor some of the same red flags. Richard, Nellie’s husband, tends to be controlling and demanding as well as violent at times. While Nate, Alice’s husband, is never shown to be violent he is demanding and controlling. While Nellie was such a joy to read and I adored her character it was Alice’s character that I resonated with. She is at a point in her life where she is just lost and not sure where the next step all the while dealing with a husband whose life plan is not what she thought it was going to be. Alice had always seen herself as a city girl with a big job in publishing and sure wanted kids but wasn’t ready for them and then all of a sudden she is whisked off to the suburbs to be a housewife and trying for a baby. This book was quick to end up on my favorites of 2020 list! Highly recommend it to anyone looking for something entertaining with some depth to it. This also made me want to start baking and gardening while wearing vintage clothes.
There is nothing I want more in this world to be a Victorian lady in a Historical YA novel. I love me some Victorian vibes, it is my favorite era other than the reign of the Henry the VIII, and this book brings them hard. I enjoyed Audrey Rose as a character. She is headstrong, determined, quick witted, and fashionable. I do wish she was bit less of the “I’m not like other girls’ trope” though. She doesn’t really have any female friends which I always love to see and there is a bit of insta-love between her and Thomas Cresswell but I will forgive it cause honestly if faced with Thomas Cresswell I would fall in love instantly too. I love the friendship these to have and I also love that Thomas is always impeccable dressed and yet seems to have a complete disregard for all of societies norms. The flirting between these two is absolutely A+. I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading the rest of the series. The only reason I gave it 4 stars and not five is that it was pretty easy for me to figure out who the killer was based on the blurb on the back of the book, which is all the fault of the publisher and none on the part of the author. Had that blurb not been there I would not have even begun to guess the identity of the killer till much closer to the end. High recommend to anyone who loves a good historical mystery!
Addie, out heartbroken heroine, is in Ireland for her aunt’s wedding and after the wedding she is supposed to board a plane to see her best friend in Italy with her brother Ian, but Ian has other plans. In order to secure her future Addie ends up trekking across Ireland with Ian and Ian’s cute mystery friend all the while following a travel guide of Ireland for the broken hearted. When I say this book made me want to go to Ireland I wanted to jump on the next plane. This is the first book I ever read from Welch and it is part of her Love & Gelato series, which is a series like Anna and The French Kiss is a series, meaning you can read any book in the series without reading the other but if you do read the others your favorite characters may make an appearance. Love & Luck is the second one with Love & Gelato being the first. As soon as I finished Love & Luck, I immediately bought Love & Gelato. This was such a light and fluffy read that was just super quick and easy which is perfect if you are in a bit of a reading slump. I fully expected this to be romance heavy, but it was more focused on friendship and family which was really refreshing. Now there is an implied romance, but nothing is really explicitly said or done about it. I loved how the focus was on mending Ian and Addie’s relationship, Addie learning how to heal form heartbreak and lean on her friends and family when she needs to. This is also a favorite of 2020!
Sophronia once again finds herself in at the center of a Picklemen plot, only this time it involves the school. What is an intelligencer to do? Put on her most stylish ballgown and save the school of course! Again, I listened to Manners & Mutiny on audio book and I loved it. This whole series was five stars for me, and it is one of the best series I have read in a while. I was delighted by the ending and how everything played out. I have such a deep love for all these characters that I want nothing more to read more of their story. I know some of these characters show up in the two other series that take place in the same universe and I cannot wait!
Soulless is the first book in The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. It takes place 26 years or so after the events of Manner & Mutiny and follows Alexia Terabotti, who has the unfortunateness to be half Italian and soulless (but only the supernatural set know about the soulless part). This is also an adult series as compared to the YA prequal. This was also an audiobook for me and at first, I was a bit put off because the narrator is not the same narrator from the Finishing School series. I kind of grew attached to Moira Quirk’s voice and how she pronounced certain names and the women who narrates The Parasol Protectorate series, Emily Gray, pronounced things a bit different and it through me for a loop at first. I eventually settled in and was able to get into the story and now I do not even notice. I love Alexia! She is smart and her sense of humor is so undeniable British it makes for some scathing retorts. He inner dialogue is utterly fantastic. I love the relationship she had with Lord Maccon (Sidheag’s grandfather). They have such great banter and chemistry! I also love how he loves her just the way she is even though all of English society seems to want to change her in some way. I also love the fact that Alexia had a knack for getting into trouble without really trying. Several characters from the prequals make an appearance in the first book, such as Lord Maccon and Lord Akeldama. It was always a thrill when one would show up. One of the things I love most about Carriger’s world is the way the supernatural are portrayed and the natural laws that they have to follow and I love how one becomes supernatural and the role Alexia plays in it! Not shockingly this was another five-star read for me!