BOOK REVIEW: The Death Cure by James Dashner

7864437.jpgTitle: The Death Cure

Author: James Dashner

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 55 mins

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Read Start Date: August 25, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 30, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: It’s the end of the line. WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test. Will anyone survive What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say. The truth will be terrifying. Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He’ll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all. The time for lies is over.

Past Reviews:

You can find my review of the first book, The Maze Runner, here.

You can find my review of the second book, The Scorch Trials, here.

The Death Cure is the third and final book of the series.

My Review: This book was terrible. I mean, really. For so many reasons. The synopsis of this book makes it sound like some thrilling adventure — in reality it was so boring. For example, the main characters seriously spent pages looking for a hotel, finding a hotel, and then going to sleep in a hotel. Snore. And, how is there such a thing as a hotel in the first place? The whole Earth has been more or less wiped out by a virus, but don’t worry guys, the Hilton is still operating!

The characters also went into a Cafe. Again, seriously? Where do they get coffee from? It sure doesn’t grow in Denver (where the Cafe was). This did not make any sense. Also, the characters spend time looking for a taxi — need I say more?

Lastly, this book was utterly pointless. So Thomas survived the trials, good for him. And for what, oh yeah, I forget the variables and the patterns to build a “blueprint” for a cure. Ugh. Not how vaccines are developed. Besides this, nothing happens in this book. Basically, the characters just going around in Denver and the author describes how the virus is affecting people. Okay, that’s interesting I guess, but not for the FINAL book of a TRILOGY! This book is supposed to wrap things up, not introduce new concepts. It really seemed like the author had no concept on where to go with this book and so just did more world building — but again, not appropriate for a final book.

I was super disappointed in this book and it really made me question why I even wasted my time reading the whole series.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

36809135Title: Where the Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens

Book Length (Audiobook): 12 hours 12 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Read Start Date: August 22, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 25, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

My Review: I did not know anything about this book before reading it, but added it to the waitlist at the library simply because it seemed to be pretty popular. I was not disappointed. We first meet Kya when she is just a young girl living in the marsh with her family. Very early on in the book, her mother and older siblings abandon her, and she is left all alone with her abusive, alcoholic father. Instead of leaving herself (because she was only a child), she stays in the marsh, skipping school to earn a living (basically just surviving) by selling muscles that she had caught herself.

The book follows Kya as she grows up, and alternates between that and “present day” when the police have discovered the murdered body of the town’s Golden Boy. The two plot lines are brilliantly weaved together, leaving you sitting on pins and needles to know what will happen next. Did Kya do it, or is she just a victim of public prejudice?

I normally do not love characters as much as I loved Kya. Although she never had a day of formal education, she is smart and resourceful. As she grows up, she blossoms into a mature (yet innocent) young woman, ready to explore her sexuality, but not quite knowing how. The tragic events in her life do not define her, but rather make her stronger and more resilient.

Rarely does a book stay with me after I put it down, but I thought about this one for many days after finishing it. If you read any historical fiction this year, this one should top the list.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

7631105Title: The Scorch Trials

Author: James Dashner

Book Length (Audiobook): 10 hours 23 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Read Start Date: August 17, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 22, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.

There are no rules. There is no help. You either make it or you die.

The Gladers have two weeks to cross through the Scorch—the most burned-out section of the world. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. All bets are off. 

There are others now. Their survival depends on the Gladers’ destruction—and they’re determined to survive.

My Review: This is the second book in the Maze Runner series. At the end of the first book, the Gladers are rescued and taken to a WICKED facility. The start of the second book puts them back into another “trial”, where they have 2 weeks to reach the “Safe Haven”. The Safe Haven is a long way trek across arid desert lands. Along the way the characters meet up with “Cranks” who are people infected with the virus “The Flare”, who become crazies. Oh and Thomas slept. Like a LOT.

I didn’t really like the first book because I thought the whole premise of the books was stupid. Essentially, a virus has broken out globally and the Gladers were put through this first trial (the Maze) to find a cure? I mean, that makes literally no sense at all. How does going through a maze and fighting creatures help develop a vaccine? Did Dashner not pass high school science classes? Does the CDC set up Mazes to find the cure for Ebola? No. They don’t, because that’s stupid.

But ok. Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to give this series another shot and I read The Scorch Trials. Was it a huge mistake, eh. The book was entertaining, I will give it that. There was a lot more action than in the first book (although I have read reviews that say otherwise), which was good, and the author started to give more clues as to what was happening. But that is again where it got really stupid. Okay, so now, the Gladers have to get through these trials because the scientists at WICKED are looking at “variables” to try to find a vaccine. Again, I have to ask myself — huh? That is not how viruses work, sorry. Which is why I gave it only 3 stars, because the plot is not just unbelievable, it is totally ludicrous.

As for things like character development, I don’t really feel anything for the characters. Teresa betrays Thomas, oh well. (Although maybe she doesn’t because it was all an act?) There is a sort of love triangle now? Ho hum. I’m just unimpressed. And to be honest, if I have to hear the word “Shuck” (meaning F***) one more time, I will scream. It was like everything was a Shuck. This Shuck door. Shut your Shuck Face — I mean the word isn’t even used correctly! And it is SO NOT COOL! Sorry, but this book is not Battlestar Galactica.

BOOKS ARE ENERGY: Day 12 and 13 of 28, Fueled by The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Unfortunately, I have to report that I have been really slacking on this whole exercise thing. Last week I had so much work and some colleagues were in town on a business trip and so I had to go to dinner with them. Therefore I really did not have time to do any exercising. Therefore, I ended up picking up back where I left off, at Day 12, only a week later. I am really disappointed in myself, that I have been unable to keep up with this goal. I really need to make the time for myself.

On Friday, Day 12, the goal was 30 minutes of non-impact cardio. Since I am in Vienna visiting my boyfriend, and we were going to dinner at a pizza place (they have some really bomb GF pizza!), I decided that I was going to walk there.

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On Saturday, Day 13, the goal was to run intervals of 20 x Walk 1 min and Run 1 min.

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During the Friday workout, I finished listening to All The Light We Cannot See and started listening to The Scorch Trials, which is the 2nd book in the Maze Runner series.

I read The Maze Runner a while back — you can see my review of it here. I wasn’t too thrilled with it, because the ending was rather stupid, but okay. I thought that maybe the second book would be somehow better. I am a little over 2 hours into the book, and it does have a bit more action than the first book, but I still found my thoughts drifting a bit. I had to go back a few times to listen again.

Essentially, in case you have never read the first book, a bunch of teenagers (this is a YA novel) are stuck in this maze. They use different words (like “Schuck” instead of you know what). I am not sure if this is supposed to make it more “sci-fi” or “cool” or whatever, but I just find it rather annoying, especially because the author doesn’t use it correctly. “What the schuck” — correct. “This schuck door” — not correct (assuming the grammar is the same in this other world, which it seems to be.)

Anyway, so they are stuck in this maze and they have to figure it out. After having figured out the maze by the end of the book the group are taken to some government facility and it is revealed to them that it has all be an experiment because the world has a virus (wtf?) and that the trials are somehow going to help save the world (double wtf). Not sure how that makes sense, but okay.

At the beginning of The Scorch Trials only a day or so has passed and they find out that there was another experiment going on at the same time (Group B) which mirrored the experiment going on with Group A. Now they are told that there will be a second experiment, and oh by the way, the Group also has the virus so if they don’t do what they are told, then they won’t get the cure. I still don’t really get what solving a maze has to do with an epidemic or how that will help at all — however, the book has been entertaining so far, so let’s see if this continues.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Lonesome Era by Jon Allen

45179333._SX318_Title: The Lonesome Era

Author: Jon Allen

Book Length: 424 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Comic

Read Start Date: August 19, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 19, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Cute animal characters tell the tale of an awkward, coming-of-age, unreciprocated queer crush in Rust Belt America.

Camden is a cat! Camden is also crushing hard on his best buddy and terrible influence, Jeremiah. Young, bored, and trapped in their slowly decomposing Rust Belt town, Camden tamps down his burgeoning feelings for the local ne’er-do-well and allows himself to be dragged along with every awful idea, every hair-brained plan, and every threat to life and limb Jeremiah can come up with. The cartoon cast belies the ever-increasing volume of stupid and dangerous risk-taking Camden allows himself to be swept up into, endangering life, limb, and reputation. How much longer can this go on?

My Review: A fast and cute read! I really liked the artwork and found that the main character Camden was relatable. Who hasn’t had a teenage crush on a person that was bad for you? Since I was able to get through the book in about 30 minutes, I didn’t spend too much time thinking — only enjoying. I read a lot of reviews that said that they didn’t like the overall story because Camden is crushing on a guy that makes him feel worthless — but I think that this is all part of the teenage experience (at least mine) and it makes the story even more relatable because of it.

Anyway, you should check this book out and form your own opinions.

10 Book Reviews

Professional Reader

 

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

BOOK REVIEW: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

18143977Title: All The Light We Cannot See

Author: Anthony Doerr

Book Length (Audiobook): 16 hours 2 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWII

Read Start Date: August 6, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 16, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

My Review: Living in Austria / the Netherlands, and having been to Normandy, France, a few weeks ago, it is really surreal to read about WWII events. As I was listening to the book, I was running in a place where abandoned WWII Nazi bunkers were. Marie-Laure is a blind French girl living in Paris with her father, who works at the Museum of Natural History. They are forced to flee Paris when the Germans start bombing it. Werner, an intelligent orphan German boy, is recruited into the war by the Nazis. The book alternates between the stories of these two characters, but it isn’t really until the last part of the book that the stories intersect.

The identities of these main characters makes the book more interesting because you experience two very different sides to the war. The Germans are of course portrayed as the bad guys, but Werner is somehow a sympathetic character, as he was brought into the war unwillingly and I got the feeling that he does not agree with what the Germans are doing. I really liked the character of Marie-Laure, as she is a courageous young woman despite her disability and able to accomplish things that not many others were brave enough to do.

When the novel begins in 1934, Werner and Marie-Laure are children. As the story progresses and the children age, the author gives you a window into growing up under the shadow of war.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

32191710._SY475_Title: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Book Length (Audiobook): 3 hours 43 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Science

Read Start Date: August 4, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 6, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson. But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

My Review: This book might have been relatively short, but it was definitely not simple to understand. There was a lot of technical terms and hard to grasp concepts, which when listened to as an audiobook, was a little bit difficult. I know that he tried to make it more simple for people like me who don’t really know anything about science, but it was still very technical.

I usually listen to most of my books while exercising, driving, or otherwise doing something else besides listening. Maybe that is why this book was so difficult for me to understand and get into because I only had half a brain to pay attention to it.

I am therefore giving it only 3 stars, because my mind drifted away while listening to it, but I didn’t dislike it either.

This book fueled my workout on Day 7 of “Couch to 5K”.

BOOKS ARE ENERGY: Day 9 to 12 of 28, Fueled by All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I am a date late in posting this because last night I was just too tired. Yesterday’s goal in “Couch to 5K” was 15 x Walk 1 minute and Run 1 minute. While I was running, I was listening to the book All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I have read this book before, but it was at a time when I was not blogging, so I decided to read it again.

I am about 4 hours into it so far (yesterday I had read up to 3 hours), and it was a really good book to exercise to. The story starts off before World War II and alternates between a young blind girl in France, and a teenage orphan boy in Germany. So far in the book, the blind girl and her father have to flee their home in Paris because the Germans start bombing them. There is a side story about a famous (possibly cursed) diamond that also really caught my attention. As can be expected, the German boy is indoctrinated into the Hitler youth.

In total I ran/walked 4.81 kilometers in about 40 minutes. I wasn’t too thrilled about the route I picked because I was essentially running along sidewalks the entire time. In addition to passing cars, I was running passed smelly garbage cans. Nothing like a whiff of garbage every now and then to really pump up your run!

Annotation 2019-08-07 202548

When I look at my times, from yesterday (above) and Saturday (below), yesterday’s are only slightly better than on Saturday, but I think that’s because I was running more and walking less each kilometer. The fact that they are really only seconds apart isn’t such good motivation, but I hope to get better with time.

Annotation 2019-08-03 112554

On Day 12 (Friday August 9, 2019), I ended up having to do two workouts (Day 11 and 12) together, since I missed Day 11. Day 11 was 15 x Walk for 1 minute and Run for 1 minute. Friday was 30 minutes of non-impact cardio. Therefore, I did the 30 minutes interval training and then walked for another 40 minutes, for a total of 1 hour and 11 minutes (7.41 kms in total)

I am still reading All the Light We Cannot See, and it is really strange reading about WWII, and walking / running along the WWII Bunker trails where the abandoned German bunkers are. On Day 12 I had read about 50% (about 8 hours). Things were starting to get serious — WWII was starting. The two main characters are getting older and their lives more complicated, and the story about the cursed diamond plays a much bigger role in the book than I had originally anticipated.

Annotation 2019-08-12 204909

 

 

 

 

BOOKS ARE ENERGY: Day 7 of 28, Fueled by Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Today’s goal in “Couch to 5K” was to have 30 minutes of non-impact cardio. As you can see from the screenshots from Strava, I went a little overboard.

For the first segment (to the left), I was riding my bike to Haarlem in the Netherlands because I wanted to go to Native Coffee. I am currently attempting to write a novel, and I thought a change of atmosphere might get the creativity flowing.

On the ride there, I finished listening to Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. I was sad to see the end of this book, because this was a great book to work out to! You can see my review of the book by clicking on this link.

I then started to read Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. This was probably not a really good choice (especially not following Hollis’ book) because the subject matter was rather complicated, and I found my mind drifting a bit to other topics during the ride. The only thing I really remember, is that he was trying to explain something about antimatter.

In total on this first ride, I did 13.64 kilometers in about 45 minutes. I arrived at Native Coffee in a good mood, ready to tackle my 1,000 word goal, but was told by the barista that I could only use my computer on one table in the back, where there was already 5 places occupied out of 6.

Annotation 2019-08-04 194905

It did not look very inviting. Of course, I had already ordered a dirty Chai latte and a really good slice of gluten free chocolate cake, so I read The Cobra Event by Richard Preston instead, and then made my way to a different Cafe that didn’t have such ridiculous rules.

Two hours, another latte and 1,000 words later,  I was ready to head back to Ijmuiden. After getting a little lost on the way back from Haarlem, I finally made it home. As you can see, for some reason I ended up going through the National Park instead of going around it.

I’m not going to lie, it was rather beautiful, but it added around 4 kilometers to my ride, for a total of 17.36 kilometers on the way back (a total time of about 1 hour and 12 minutes).

On this trip, I ended up listening to about 2 hours of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, but again I found it very complicated and kept getting side tracked. This is not the first time I am reading it, and honestly I thought that it would be easier to understand the second time around. It’s not. I don’t know, I could just be super dumb, but I think that I just feel overwhelmed by deGrasse Tyson’s use of a lot of big and complicated words / concepts. Sigh.

Good thing tomorrow is a “rest” day, because I am beat!

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

40591267._SY475_Title: Girl, Stop Apologizing

Author: Rachel Hollis

Book Length (Audiobook): 7 hours 37 mins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help, Personal Development

Read Start Date: July 31, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 4, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough.

In Girl, Stop Apologizing, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.

My Review: This is the second book that I have read by Rachel Hollis. The first book was Girl, Wash Your Face. You can read the review here. Within the first 18 minutes of listening to the audiobook, I already liked it. She was speaking real truths, and I could totally understand her point. In the first part of the book, Hollis expounded on her theory that adults are the product of how, as toddlers, they learned to get attention. Over-achievers gained attention as children for doing well. Some toddlers get attention by being affectionate, so they learn to become dependent upon affection. Some toddlers get attention by making others laugh, so they learn how to entertain…and so on. This made perfect sense to me.

Her book only became better as it went on.

At about 1.5 hours into the book, Hollis had already laid down some really good advice. This book is really resonating with me so far. Hollis talks about setting realistic goals for yourself, and how to realistically achieve them. I have the goals to get more fit and to finish writing my first novel. My book currently has about 25,000 words, and I have not been able to get much done in the past few weeks. Hollis suggests that one should plan to work on her goals, at a time that works best for her regarding these goals. After working for 10 hours a day, I am usually so tired from work, that I cannot muster the motivation to do anything. Therefore, for the next week, I will give it a go and try to wake up early in the morning — maybe that will help.

So, I tried it for one day, and it didn’t help, because, well, I am not a morning person. So taking Hollis’ advice, I switched back to evenings — although it really seems that only weekends work for me.

After finishing her book, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hollis is a really smart woman, and gives some really good advice on life and how to become your best self. I even started following her instagram! This book also helped me get through some tough workouts, so this book is a big YES for me!

This book also “fueled” my workout on August 3rd and August 4th.