Rachael Week Eight – Girls in White Dresses

Just don’t read this book. It is a pure waste of time. Good thing it was so easy to plow through that it only took me a few hours. I am all for new authors trying to attract the 20 something crowd back to reading, but this was just awful.

There are far too many characters. I’d tell you who they were but I don’t even remember the names of the 4975849 of them. All 20something women at “various stages in their lives”. Meaning, going to a million weddings, getting engaged, having babies, having jobs they hated and drinking a bajillion vodka sodas after work at happy hour. That is not real life.

This book tried way too hard to be “realistic”. But it was basically just a grown up version of a trashy YA book.

I don’t think there was a premise. I think it was just “life of 20somethings”.

Brb, gonna go back to my real job and not cry over dead goldfish from my boyfriends.

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Aaron Week Eight – Neverwhere

Neverwhere

By Neil Gaiman


When in doubt, read Neil Gaiman.

Neverwhere is a dark tale of London Above and London Below. Two worlds existing, one with no knowledge that the other even exists.

Richard Mayhew seems happy, or at least content with his life in London Above. One small act changes all that, when Richard stops to help an injured young girl he finds his life yanked away from him, he falls through the cracks into London Below and no one Above seems to remember or even notice him.

Plunged into a world he doesn’t understand, Richard manages to track down Door the young girl he helped in London Above thinking she might have the answer to getting his life back. Everyone he talks to however tells him there’s no chance of getting his life back, he then embarks on a harrowing journey to help young Door solve the mystery of who murdered her family and why, along the way an Angel tells him there is indeed a way to get his life back, but will he survive long enough in London Below to find out how?

From an Earl who holds court in a train car, to monks guarding a key deep in some treacherous marshes there is rarely anything resembling a dull moment in this book.

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Aaron Week Seven – All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

By Anthony Doerr


Finally a book that is completely different from what I normally read! All the Light We Cannot see has been on my reading list since day one of this project, sadly I kept finding excuses not to start it.

All the Light We Cannot See follows the life of Marie-Laure LeBlanc and her locksmith father who is in manages the locks at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, which sounds like an awesome job. Apparently not content with being a ridiculous locksmith, in his free time he builds intricate models of the city to help his blind daughter learn to navigate.

You’ll also be introduced to Werner, a German boy living in an orphanage with his sister Jutta, who has an affinity for fixing all manor of things, especially radios, despite this talent he seems fated to a future of working the mines when he’s old enough. Word of his talent spreads through the town and he begins repairing radios for the locals, eventually Werner is called on to work on the grandiose Philco radio of a German officer, many have failed to repair it before him, but Werner quickly fixes the radio. This naturally impressers the officer and Werner is fast tracked out of the mining town to compete for entrance into an elite Nazi school, because of course one small event like fixing a radio can change your life forever.

Weaving bits from before, during, and after World War II together a beautiful story unfolds and the lives of Werner and Marie-Laure brush by each other and then suddenly crash together. Go read it, even if it’s not your normal cup of tea.

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Rachael Week Seven – Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild by Cheryl Strayed now moves to the favorite so far in this resolution. An amazing story of a woman hiking along on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). I related to this book because of the time I spent in northern California, so it was cool to hear of places that weren’t far from where I lived.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll definitely root for Cheryl along the way. I think if anyone were to attempt this feat in 2015, you might not have as much luck with the whole hitchhiking thing. The PCT is INTENSE, topographically and weather-wise. Props to her for doing it in the summer, NorCal heat is insane. You’ll love every character she meets along the way and this book will definitely make you want to abandon everything for 3 months to trek 1200 miles of trail.

Some of the reviews I read before picking this book said things like “not very exciting”. Yeah so she may not have wrestled bears and scaled icy peaks, but the psychological journey was very exciting. Now I gotta get my hands on the movie.

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Aaron Week Six – The Martian

The Martian

By Andy Weir


A riveting tale of interplanetary travel, exploration, and the hardships of growing potatoes on Mars. Set in a much happier time, a time when NASA has not only a budget, but a budget large enough to send manned missions to Mars. The Martian eerily chronicles the story of Mark Watney’s fight to survive in the aftermath of a sandstorm that forces his fellow crew members to abandon their mission and leaves Mark stranded on Mars with no means of communication.

In reality, I would probably freak out and give up pretty quickly if I was stranded on mars, despite that fact I still kind of want to get stranded on Mars. Or the moon, the moon would be a nice compromise.

I’m not smart enough to know if the science in The Martian was up to snuff (I’ll wait for the XKCD explanation), but it was certainly impressive and kept me simultaneously in awe and feeling very stupid. At the end of this book, I was back to the childhood dream of wanting to be an astronaut, to explore the unknown.

Like space? Read this book. Like science? Read this book. Like inspiring stories? Read this book. Like Potatoes? Read this book.

Buy this book!

Rachael Week Six – Dark Places

Since I’ve already read the other 2 books by Gillian Flynn, I figured I might as well complete the trifecta. Dark Places was just as far fetched and totally not believable as the rest of them. I actually had to go reread a synopsis to do this review, since it was a forgettable book.

Libby Day is one of the only remaining members of her family after her mother and 2 sisters were brutally murdered when she was a kid. She lives her life until her 20s on money from donations to her as a “miracle child”. She runs out of money and no more comes in 20 years after the crime, so she finds out that a “Kill Club” is willing to drop some money to her for little tidbits from her childhood. Like that would ever happen in real life. A club, fascinated by a “Satanic crime ritual” paying someone for info about that night. Sure.

Anyone, you spend the whole book trying to figure out the whole crime yourself, there’s an ending I didn’t exactly see coming but I’m not bitter about it or anything.

Read this book if you’re a boring woman who thinks reading these wildly unbelievable books makes you edgy. Otherwise, don’t waste your time. Thank god there’s no more books by her for me to cringe through.

Buy this book!

Rachael Week Five – Fourth of July Creek

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson was GREAT. Not really in my usual tunnel vision of “mentally disturbed women fiction”, but still dark.

You follow a social worker (Pete) in rural Montana in the 1970s. He takes kids out of their homes and has his own network of “foster families” that he puts the kids in. He gets a call about a “stray” child, Benjamin, on the playground at a school. Ben doesn’t actually go to that school, that’s where the concern comes from. Pete tries to clean the kid up, get him some new clothes to replace the tattered ones he has, but Ben can’t accept any of this because his dad will object.

Pete has his own family problems to worry about, a divorce, his own teenage daughter getting in with the wrong crowd.

You find out Ben and his father are at the center of a manhunt by the FBI due to the antics that Ben’s dad Jeremiah has been up to all his life. Like punching holes in coins because he wants to take currency down as we know it.

Exciting and quick read, highly recommend. Might be my favorite so far in this challenge.

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Aaron Week Five – Departure

Departure

By A.G. Riddle


As much as I try and branch out, I almost always find myself returning to the comforting arms of science fiction.

After reading a few chapters, I started comparing Departure to Lost in book form, admittedly an oversimplification on my part. Similarities beyond a plane crash and a few crazy twists/sci-fi improbabilities quickly fade away the deeper you get into the storyline. Speaking of which, as you might have surmised Departure follows the misadventures of a seemingly random group of people who are in a plane crash, in a not at all original “twist” the people that really were random in this equation die. Now that we have the red shirts out of the way, the real fun begins. Mr. Riddle really does a fantastic job of slowly weaving the lives of the remaining individuals together, in the past, the present, and the future. Confusing, I know.

While I may be incapable of experiencing emotion in the real world, a good book seems to elicit an endless supply of emotional reactions. Including, but not limited to chills, I tell you, chills. Most definitely worth a read in my opinion. Maybe just not on an international flight.

Buy this book!