Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Artemis

Artemis by Andy Weir

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I’m 30% of the way through, and I just can’t bring myself to care enough about this book to finish it. I dislike the main character too much. I think the story probably would have benefitted from a stronger hand in editing; for some reason, the character breaks the fourth wall fairly often to address the reader. And not in a great way.

Plus I have real issues with the way the characters’ sexuality is handled; mostly, I don’t know why all the references to her sex life are present at all. They add nothing to the story and are frequent enough to be gross.

There are interesting facets to the story, like the multicultural aspects of the moon colony, the pen pal letters between Earth and the moon, the science parts. But it just wasn’t enough for me to keep going.



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Review: Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A very unexpected book! I picked this one up because it was available at the library and I was generally aware it had gotten some attention. The beginning had me thinking it was good but pretty far outside my normal reads; not in a bad way, just a leisurely meander of a character study. But the second half pulled the rug right out from under me!

The first half is a great character study. Every perspective feels different, and allows us to see the character’s inner thoughts and motivations as they participate in the health resort. Teasing out their reasons for attending was interesting without being laborious, like a slow walk on a cool day. It was a nice change of pace.

Then things got crazy…

I’m glad I picked this one up. It’s good to get to know a perfect stranger, sometimes.



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Review: Turtles All The Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A magnificently well done look out of the eyes of someone with mental health concerns. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I picked up this book—I grabbed it based on vaguely knowing John Green was a YA author and because there was an underlying murder mystery. But I’m so glad I did. The teen-girl parts and the mystery were both interesting, but this book shines in its treatment of mental health. Everyone should read it, to see how to empathize with others, to try to understand.



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Review: Happiest Baby on the Block

The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was one of the few books my hospital recommended. I read it before the baby arrived (and I’m glad I did). It provides practical solutions to at least one early parenting trial: how to calm a crying baby when you have no idea what to do.

I’m not sure I love the tone of the book, which can be a smidge patronizing, but that is forgiveable for the incredible usefulness of the practical tips. I think there’s also some “noble savage” assumptions at the root of this concept, but the tips are based on real situations and examples.

In practice, I can say the “5 S’s” do really work! It’s great to have an approach to help soothe a very young baby who can’t express his needs. Plus it reduces my stress to have something to DO when baby is so very upset.



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Review: The Testaments

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I picked up my copy of the book at a Margaret Atwood live event, during which she talked euphemistically about the book and why she wrote it and about her opinions on the world as a whole today. That undoubtedly colored my perspective as I read this book: I had heard Atwood’s motives and insights from her own lips, how could I be a fresh reader now?!

Of course, I loved seeing Atwood speak. She is charming, and effortlessly brilliant, and cute as a button. Her talk also convinced me that she really had written The Testaments because she wanted to, not because some TV exec had twisted her arm as I had feared.

I was not the kind of fan who desperately wanted a sequel to Handmaid’s Tale; I think the story stands up exceedingly well on its own. But will I welcome more writings by Atwood, now that her work has captured public attention? Obviously!

The Testaments is a different story; start with that. It is set some years after Handmaid’s Tale, when Gilead is firmly established and hardening in its ways, showing cracks. Handmaids are barely in the story at all, kept to the fringes of polite society. We follow three characters, including former villain Aunt Lydia. The other two offer contrasting looks at youthful views on Gilead, from both within and outside, which is an interesting comparison.

Testaments fleshes our Gilead—perhaps too much. I’m disappointed in that I anticipated all the twists and big reveals. But the book is still captivating and gives me much to think about. Atwood’s writing is inherently poetic and enthralling. And you have to wonder: facing serious hardship, is there a chance YOU would be an Aunt Lydia? Or are you meek and accepting? Or just a loudmouth teenager who has never faced real adversity?



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Review: Sword and Pen

Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


An end of all things. The culmination of the attacks on The Great Library of Alexandria—drama all around.
The stakes are high, and the group of former students is in the middle of it. The stakes were a little too high for me. Maybe I’m just in the wrong state of mind for this book, but it was overwrought and I kept wondering where the adults were. Maybe that’s the curse of YA, or maybe it is just me.



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Review: Damn Fine Story

Damn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful NarrativeDamn Fine Story: Mastering the Tools of a Powerful Narrative by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn’t able to attend the DFW Con writing convention this year, where Chuck was the keynote speaker, but I did get to read this book, so I still feel like I got to have a good long conversation with him.

The book is both light-hearted and zippy and meaty and something you’ll ponder. It took me a long time to get through because I kept ruminating. Which is the point! Thank god this was a different kind of writing book! There is no torture over adverbs or controversially short memory devices; Chuck leaves all that to King and the plethora of his imitators. Instead, this book is about the overall shape of a story. That’s a mushy, hard-to-define topic, which Chuck handles with movie story examples, quick jokes, and great illustrative metaphors.

You’ll have something to think about, and you’ll damn well like it, young man!

(Seriously though, I just want to watch TV with Chuck. He has excellent nerd taste.)

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