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: 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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

BOOKS ARE ENERGY: Day 6 of 28, Fueled by Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

I have never run a 5k before in my life. This week I decided to train for one. Today is Day 6, and the exercise is 13x Walk 2 minutes / Run 1 minutes. I am really proud of myself that I was able to run through all the intervals.

While running, I had encouragement from Rachel Hollis’ book Girl, Stop Apologizing. Get healthy! Hollis basically shouts from the roof top — so here goes my experiment in getting healthy. I am currently about 5 hours into listening to the audiobook, and I really like this book. It was a great book to read while running, as it really made the time fly by. 45 minutes flew by so fast!

I have decided to post each of the runs, so that I can give myself the necessary motivation to complete them each day.


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BOOK REVIEW: A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

77276Title: A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Book Length (Audiobook): 7 hours 24 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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

Read Start Date: July 24, 2019

Read Finish Date: July 31, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: When fifteen-year-old Charles Wallace Murry shouts out an ancient rune meant to ward off the dark in desperation, a radiant creature appears. It is Gaudior, unicorn and time traveler. Charles Wallace and Gaudior must travel into the past on the winds of time to try to find a Might-Have-Been – a moment in the past when the entire course of events leading to the present can be changed, and the future of Earth – this small, swiftly tilting planet – saved.

This is the third 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.

My Review: 9 years has passed since the last book. Meg and Calvin are married and expecting their first child. Charles Wallace is now 15, and Mr. Murry still gets calls from the President. On this particular evening, the call he received warns of an imminent nuclear war started by Madog Branzillo. In order to save the world, a time traveling unicorn and Charles Wallace (aided by Meg through Kything) must go into the bodies of the ancestors of Branzillo to change the course of history.

I found this book to be really interesting, as it chronicles the history of a family through several hundred years. I do not want to give too much away, but it starts out with a man and his brother (Maddoc and Gwydyr) coming from Wales to America before even Christopher Columbus. There is a struggle between brothers, which Maddoc wins, and thereafter marries into an indian tribe, and that is where the history begins. Both lines flow with magic, but only Maddoc’s line are “good”, whereas the line of Gwydyr is portrayed as “evil”. The legends of the Indians and the magical myths of the Welsh are passed down through the generations — with each generation using a magical incantation to help them (which is in truth the Rune of St. Patrick).

The Offbeat Unicorn wrote a really good review / summary of the book and its themes. You can read the blog entry here. Frankly, this blogger wrote a better review of A Swiftly Tilting Planet than I ever could, so I urge you to click on the link.

In closing, I liked the book, and I hope that you will too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle

18130Title: A Wind in the Door

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Book Length (Audiobook): 5 hours 27 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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

Read Start Date: July 21, 2019

Read Finish Date: July 24, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Just before Meg Murry’s little brother, Charles Wallace, falls deathly ill, he sees dragons in the vegetable garden. The dragons turn out to be Proginoskes, a cherubim composed out wings and eyes, wind and flame. It is up to Meg and Proginoskes, along with Meg’s friend Calvin, to save Charles Wallace’s life. To do so, they must travel deep within Charles Wallace to attempt to defeat the Echthroi—those who hate—and restore brilliant harmony and joy to the rhythm of creation, the song of the universe.

This is the second book in the Time Quintet series.

My Past Review:

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

My Review: I had never even heard of this book as a kid, and I had never read it before this month, so I was going head first into a dark tunnel without a flashlight.

I liked this book a little less than A Wrinkle in Time. This book was a little hard to follow, and I wasn’t really sure what the point of the story was. Essentially, only a small amount of time has passed between the event of the two books (even though the events of Wrinkle don’t even get an honorable mention), and Charles Wallace is deathly ill because of his mitochondria. While reading the book, I was like huh? How can someone get sick because of mitochondria? Isn’t that the DNA that you inherit from your mom?

Well, after finishing the book. I did a little research on the internet, and it turns out that mitochondria are basically the energy producers in the body’s cells — the batteries if you will. If they are not functioning properly, then the person can get really sick, and it is thought that certain diseases such as autism, Parkinson’s, bipolar disorder, etc. are all caused by mitochondrial dysfunction. Interesting, I guess, but kind of a weird (and complicated) subject for a children’s book. I don’t really remember knowing what DNA was when I was 8-12 years old –but maybe that is good — maybe it teaches children something about science in a fun way?

Anyway, Meg Murry, Calvin O’Keefe and their new friend Proginoskes must go within the body of Charles Wallace in order to save him from the Echthroi (who are basically evil beings), and to restore balance to the “universe” of Charles’ body.

I read some reviews that called this a “christian book”, but I honestly didn’t notice — which is good, because I really dislike being hit over the head with religious themes. So don’t let that description stop you if religious books also bother you.

In general this book has mixed reviews, which is kinda how I feel about it — but I made a promise to myself to finish all the books of this series, so upward and onward!