BOOK REVIEW: Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle

10838718Title: Many Waters

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Book Length: 332 pages

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Classics, Science Fiction, Children’s Fiction

Read Start Date: July 31, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 23, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Some things have to be believed to be seen.

Sandy and Dennys have always been the normal, run-of-the-mill ones in the extraordinary Murry family. They garden, make an occasional A in school, and play baseball. Nothing especially interesting has happened to the twins until they accidentally interrupt their father’s experiment.

Then the two boys are thrown across time and space. They find themselves alone in the desert, where, if they believe in unicorns, they can find unicorns, and whether they believe or not, mammoths and manticores will find them.

The twins are rescued by Japheth, a man from the nearby oasis, but before he can bring them to safety, Dennys gets lost. Each boy is quickly embroiled in the conflicts of this time and place, whose populations includes winged seraphim, a few stray mythic beasts, perilous and beautiful nephilim, and small, long lived humans who consider Sandy and Dennys giants. The boys find they have more to do in the oasis than simply getting themselves home–they have to reunite an estranged father and son, but it won’t be easy, especially when the son is named Noah and he’s about to start building a boat in the desert.

This is the fourth book in the Time Quintet series.

My Past Reviews:

See my review of A Wrinkle in Time: Time Quintet Book 1 here.

See my review of A Wind in the Door: Time Quintet Book 2 here.

See my review of A Swiftly Tilting Planet: Time Quintet Book 3 here.

My Review: The events of this book seem to take place somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd book. Unlike the other 3 books, this book was heavy in the Christian overtones. I would say that this book was nothing but a Christian overtone, as basically it is the story of Noah, before, and up to the time that he built, the ark. I wasn’t too thrilled about this book. Meg and Charles Wallace are not really part of this book, and only the twins Sandy and Dennys (my least favorite characters) are part of the story.

The overall story is rather dry — nothing really happens, and it is rather boring. I think that this is why it took me almost 2 months to read. I didn’t dislike it though, which is why I am giving it 3 stars instead of 2. Since I doubt this story will impact the remaining books in the series, this one can probably be skipped without much ado.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

28257707Title: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Author: Mark Manson

Book Length (Audiobook): 5 hours 17 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Self Help, Psychology

Read Start Date: September 21, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 22, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.

My Review: “Giving too many fucks is bad for your mental health”. Truer words had never been spoken! Except for maybe a “key to a good life is giving a fuck about less”. Unlike other self help books, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k tells it to ya in a brutally honest way.  I’ve read other self help books, but what makes this unique (besides the casual swearing) is the fact that there are no sugar coated, ice cream pooping unicorns in this book. Like, you know that time your boyfriend cheated on you, and then you felt bad about it? Well, it’s your fault you feel bad. Seriously? It’s not the cheating boyfriend’s fault? Well, here’s the thing: Can you control that he cheated on you? Nope. Can you control his actions? Nope. But you can control your response to such actions, and you can take responsibility for the way you feel. This is a really uncomfortable realization — that only you can control your own happiness. My mind was blown. Totally.

Although this book was short, I do not feel that it lacked anything that longer self help books do (and it might even have been better this way). The author is just really good at cutting to the chase and saying what he needs to say in minimal words.

If you enjoy self help books, I would check this one out. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Fat Vampire 2 by Johnny B. Truant

16132952Title: Fat Vampire 2: Tastes Like Chicken

Author: Johnny B. Truant

Book Length (Audiobook): 4 hours 14 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Humor, Paranormal

Read Start Date: September 14, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 15, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: It’s been six months since fast-food-addicted Reginald Baskin was turned into a vampire too fat to live peacefully amongst the glamorous undead — six months in which Reginald and his two-thousand-year-old maker Maurice have learned that power doesn’t equal popularity. Sure, Maurice is now calling the shots, but the Council is up to new and dirty tricks, threatening to once again upset the balance…

But when the Vampire Nation faces genocidal violence at the hands of an unstoppable force and the very future of vampire kind is threatened, Reginald, Maurice, and Nikki must find their allies elsewhere… buried deep underground in a foreign land.

My Past Review(s)Fat Vampire 2 is the 2nd book in the Fat Vampire series.

You can read my review of the 1st book in the series, Fat Vampire, here.

My Review: I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars because I didn’t love this book, but it was entertaining. There are a ton of mixed reviews about this book — it seems one either thinks its funny and amazing or one doesn’t like it at all. I find that I fall somewhere in the middle. I finished this book about 9 days ago, and I can honestly say I am drawing a blank on most of the book. This could be a symptom of the cold I was coming down with, or maybe the plot just isn’t so memorable.

I remember it has something to do with angels and incubuses trying to take over the vampires? Reginald is still the worst vampire ever, but trying to hone his mental abilities. Nikki (a vampire wannabe) is in training, and Maurice is delegating his vampire council duties to avoid being assassinated.

Then they take some trip to Europe or something? I don’t really recall why. I don’t remember the ending at all, but apparently there was a twist!

Apparently there are 6 books total in this series, but I haven’t decided whether to read on or not.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Fat Vampire by Johnny B. Truant

16067851Title: Fat Vampire

Author: Johnny B. Truant

Book Length (Audiobook): 3 hours 58 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Humor, Paranormal

Read Start Date: September 7, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 9, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: From the author of “Unicorn Western” comes a story of fangs and fast food…

When overweight treadmill salesman Reginald Baskin finally meets a co-worker who doesn’t make fun of him, it’s just his own bad luck that tech guy Maurice turns out to be a thousand-year-old vampire.

And when Maurice turns Reginald to save his life, it’s just Reginald’s own further bad luck that he wakes up to discover he’s become the slowest, weakest, most out-of-shape vampire ever born, doomed to “heal” to his corpulent self for all of eternity.

As Reginald struggles with the downsides of being a fat vampire — too slow to catch people to feed on, mocked by those he tries to glamour, assaulted by his intended prey and left for undead — he discovers in himself rare powers that few vampires have… and just in time too, because the Vampire Council might just want his head for being an inferior representative of their race.

Fat Vampire is the story of an unlikely hero who, after having an imperfect eternity shoved into his grease-stained hands, must learn to turn the afterlife’s lemons into tasty lemon danishes.

My Review: This is the first book that I have read by Johnny B. Truant (is his name supposed to be punny or is this is real name?) Anyway, this book is exactly what it sounds like — a fat guy becomes a vampire. This book was funny I guess, but I never laughed out loud of anything. Not even a little chuckle.

Essentially the plot goes like this: Reginald is a fat treadmill salesman (que the irony please). He befriends a goth kid (Maurice) at work (who of course works the nightshift) only to find out that this kid is actually a 1,000 year old vampire. While bowling one night, some of Maurice’s vamp friends take a bit out of Reginald, and he will die if Maurice doesn’t turn him, so he does. Now Reginald is doomed to be fat and unfit FOR EVER. However, since his physical skills are nill, he gets mad intelligent skills, which is rare for vampire these days because they all train before being turned — its like all Stepford wives up in vampire world. BUT, Maurice did a bad thing because Reginald’s turning was not sanctioned by the Vampire Council. Uh oh.

While the plot was different than most vampire books you read, I wouldn’t exactly call it life shattering or anything. Since the book was so short and a lot of stuff happened, there wasn’t really any time for character building and I wasn’t really invested in the characters, and didn’t really care about them so much.

Having said that, I wouldn’t not recommend the book — just don’t go into it with high expectations.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Fix by David Baldacci

31562247Title: The Fix

Author: David Baldacci

Book Length (Audiobook): 11 hours 54 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: September 16, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 21, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Amos Decker witnesses a murder just outside FBI headquarters. A man shoots a woman execution style on a crowded sidewalk, then turns the gun on himself.

Even with Decker’s extraordinary powers of observation and deduction, the killing is baffling. Decker and his team can find absolutely no connection between the shooter – a family man with a successful consulting business – and his victim, a schoolteacher. Nor is there a hint of any possible motive for the attack.

Enter Harper Brown. An agent of the Defense Intelligence Agency, she orders Decker to back off the case. The murder is part of an open DIA investigation, one so classified that Decker and his team aren’t cleared for it.

But they learn that the DIA believes solving the murder is now a matter of urgent national security. Critical information may have been leaked to a hostile government – or, worse, an international terrorist group – and an attack may be imminent.

Decker’s never been one to follow the rules, especially with the stakes so high. Forced into an uneasy alliance with Agent Brown, Decker remains laser focused on only one goal: solving the case before it’s too late.

My Past Review(s): The Fix is the 3rd book in the Amos Decker series.

You can read my review of the 1st book in the series, Memory Man, here.

You can read my review of the 2nd book in the series, The Last Mile, here.

My Review: Like the first and second book, I am giving the third book 3 stars out of 5 because I liked it, but didn’t love it. Each book can be read as a standalone — there are enough hints to the plot of the first and second book that it does not ruin the book if you haven’t read Memory Man or The Last Mile.

Amos Decker, the main character and former police detective, stumbles upon this case when he witnesses the shooting death of Anne Berkshire.

My biggest critique about this series (which holds true for this book) is that everyone around Decker idolizes him as a super cool and smart magical unicorn. His colleagues and friends follow him around waiting for him to make some seriously obvious deduction about the case (because they are too stupid(?)) and Decker’s rude social habits are somehow adorable because its Decker. Like when your little puppy pees on the rug, but you are like, but look at that cute puppy face, how can I stay mad at you?

That being said, the plot was engaging (although drawn out) and I was totally surprised by the plot twist at the end. I was never bored while reading this book. Another solid airport / beach read.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Mile by David Baldacci

26245853Title: The Last Mile

Author: David Baldacci

Book Length (Audiobook): 11 hours 49 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: September 9, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 14, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Convicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution–for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier–when he’s granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime.

Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars’s case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men’s families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth.

The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars–guilty or not–a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now?

But when a member of Decker’s team disappears, it becomes clear that something much larger–and more sinister–than just one convicted criminal’s life hangs in the balance. Decker will need all of his extraordinary brainpower to stop an innocent man from being executed.

My Past Review(s): The Last Mile is the 2nd book in the Amos Decker series.

You can read my review of the 1st book in the series, Memory Man, here.

My Review: Like the first book, I am giving the second book 3 stars out of 5 because I liked it, but didn’t love it. The plot was a bit better in this book, but still somewhat unbelievable. The second book can be read as a standalone — there are enough hints to the plot of the first book that it does not ruin the book if you haven’t read Memory Man.

Amos Decker, the main character and former police detective, has been hired by the FBI due to his role in solving the case in the previous book. Alex Jameson, former journalist and Decker’s unlikely partner, has been hired as well. Their job is to solve cold case files, and their first pick is the case involving Melvin Mars, who has been in prison for 20 years on what seems now to be bogus charges. Or are they? There are a lot of twists and turns before getting to the final conclusion.

Like Decker, Melvin Mars was a football star who, had he not gone to prison, could have been one of the best football players of his time. Overall, I find the character to be bit unbelievable as well. How is he so…normal? The guy spent 20 years in prison. Wouldn’t that have changed his personality as least a little bit?

Anyway, while this book won’t be winning any awards, I think that it is an entertaining way to pass the time, if you have time to kill.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Memory Man by David Baldacci

23153154Title: Memory Man

Author: David Baldacci

Book Length (Audiobook): 13 hours 17 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Read Start Date: August 30, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 7, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice.

The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can never forget anything.

The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare–his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.

His family destroyed, their killer’s identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can.

But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

My Review: I am giving this book 3 stars out of 5 because I liked it, but didn’t love it. I haven’t read really anything by Baldacci before, but as an author he reminds me somewhat of James Patterson, except that Baldacci’s books are about twice as long.

Amos Decker as a main character is interesting — he is overweight (about 350 lbs) and has Synesthesia and Hyperthymesia, which basically gives him perfect memory and picture perfect recall. Amos uses his perfect recall to help him solve the cases — because I guess it makes him so much smarter than everyone else in life ever (that is purely sarcastic by the way). Baldacci tries to portray Amos Decker as a modern day Sherlock Holmes, but fails because Sherlock Holmes is much more likeable. Basically, the only thing that Decker seems to have going for him is his picture perfect memory — otherwise it seems like he would be a terrible detective.

The female protagonist, Alex Jamison, is a journalist who at first did not like Decker, but by the end of the book becomes his unlikely partner.

The plot kept me interested enough to keep reading, but I wouldn’t say it was enthralling or anything. The ending (and the motive for the crime) was a bit of a head scratcher — seemed really far fetched and a bit unrealistic.

The audiobook production was not so great, and this book is probably better as an actual book the audiobook. I found it really distracting that they had a female reader who only read the dialogue of the female characters (and children) in the story and a male reader for everything else (including narrative about the female characters).

This book would be good to read on the beach or in an airplane.

 

 

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.