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Thursday, March 23, 2023

A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen

 A  Doll's House (play
Original language: Norwegian, Danish

Author: Henrik Ibsen (Norwegian, 1828-1906)
Originally published: 1879
Page count: 72

Dates read:
2023 book goal progress: 7 out of 23

A play that happens to be around Christmas time.
Read my other book reviews for my 2023 goals HERE.

Note inside the book:
One of the most enduringly popular dramas of the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House was in its day a startlingly bold exposition of the hypocrisy and concealed struggle within a seemingly happy marriage. Ibsen's characterization of Nora scandalized 19th-century audiences, for it suggested that the naivete and childlike impulsiveness of a middle-class housewife were in fact part of a willful facade erected to achieve a slight autonomy in a society in which women were virtually powerless. Although social and artistic developments have lessened the shock of the play, it still retains its power in its depiction of material dependency in affairs of the 'heart' and that human relationships can stifle an individual's inner reality.

First line:
NORA: Hide the Christmas tree, Helen. Be sure the children do not see it till this evening, when it is dressed.

Favorite quotes:
MRS. LINDE: I have come to look for work
DR. RANK: Is that a good cure for overwork?
L: One must live, doctor.
R: Yes, the general opinion seems to be that it is necessary.

MRS. LINDE: I have learned to act prudently. Life and hard, bitter necessity have taught me that.
NILS KROGSTAD: And life has taught me not to believe in fine speeches.
L: Then life has taught you something very reasonable. But deeds you must believe in.

TORVALD HELMER (Nora's husband): I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora - bear sorrow and want for your sake. But no man would sacrifice his honor for the one he loves.
NORA: It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.

CAWPILE Rating: Overall - 5.9/10 - ⭐⭐⭐/5
Characters      - 5
Atmosphere   - 5
Writing Style - 7
Plot                - 7
Intrigue          - 7
Logic             - 4
Enjoyment     - 6
What is a CAWPILE Rating?

I have VERY mixed views about this play. I found both Nora and her husband quite petty. The way she (pretended?) to spend money and be frivolous was annoying. The way he over-the-top doted on her, yet didn't really listen to anything she had to say was also annoying. Taking out a loan should be a decision of both persons in a relationship and committing fraud is just stupid. I didn't like any of the characters, except possibly Mrs. Linde, and the general situation no longer applies to this generation. If that was all the play was, I'd say it wasn't worth the read.

BUT there's the ending, the last 7 pages or so, when Nora sits her husband down and tells him she's leaving. The dialogue is absolutely beautiful. The last bit is truly wonderful. Unfortunately, much of it won't make sense without the background knowledge given in the rest of the play, which is bleh. I recently was divorced myself and, though he asked for the divorce not me, I related to a lot of what Nora said on a very personal level.

Now I'm off to read another book... but since a review should be more about the author of the book than about the writer of the blog, I will let Henrik Ibsen have the last words:

TORVALD HELMER: Are not your most sacred duties to your husband and your children?

NORA: I have other duties just as sacred.

T: That you have not. What duties could those be?

N: Duties to myself.

T: Before all else, you are a wife and a mother.

N: I don’t believe that any longer. I believe that before all else I am a reasonable human being, just as you are—or, at all events, that I must try and become one. I know quite well, Torvald, that most people would think you right, and that views of that kind are to be found in books; but I can no longer content myself with what most people say, or with what is found in books. I must think over things for myself and get to understand them.

T: Can you not understand your place in your own home? Have you not a reliable guide in such matters as that?—have you no religion?

N: I am afraid, Torvald, I do not exactly know what religion is. I know nothing but what the clergyman said, when I went to be confirmed. He told us that religion was this, and that, and the other. When I am away from all this, and am alone, I will look into that matter too. I will see if what the clergyman said is true, or at all events if it is true for me.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

 Bridge to Terabithia

Author: Katherine Paterson (American, 1932- )
Originally published: 1977
Page count: 163

Dates read:
2023 book goal progress: 6 out of 23

March Mindful Readers' Family Bookclub 
Read my other book reviews for my 2023 goals HERE.

Description on back of the book:
Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys' side of the playground and outruns everyone.

That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together, she and Jess create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits. Then one morning a terrible tragedy occurs. Only when Jess is able to come to grips with this tragedy does, he finally understand the strength and courage Leslie has given him.

First sentences:
"Ba-room, ba-room, ba-room, baripity, baripity, baripity, baripity - Good. 
His dad had the pickup going."

Favorite quotes:
"Momma would be mad as flies in a fruit jar if they woke her up this time of day."

"This was where he would choose to be - here where the dogwood and redbud played hide and seek between the oaks and evergreens, and the sun flung itself in golden streams through the trees to splash warmly at their feet."

"Everybody gets scared sometimes."

CAWPILE Rating: Overall - 6.7/10 - ⭐⭐⭐/5
Characters      - 7
Atmosphere   - 8
Writing Style - 6
Plot                - 6
Intrigue          - 6
Logic             - 7
Enjoyment     - 7
What is a CAWPILE Rating?

Overall, this is an OK book. It's very much a children's story (the main characters are in 5th grade) and a different type of read than usual for me, which is why I probably feel that way. It's a cute coming-of-age story with a lot of fun, imaginative play. I enjoyed the Narnia references. It shows a strong female character who's willing to break gender roles/expectations, which I appreciated. There's a chapter where a female teacher takes a male student to a museum just the two of them and that felt super weird and inappropriate. (Maybe that's just something they did in the '70s?) 

Then... wham! Out of nowhere, an unexpected tragedy hits. Did I cry? yes. Strangely, I wish it happened about halfway through, instead of about 3 quarters. I would have liked to see the growth after the tragedy as a bigger part of the story. The ending felt a bit rushed, but it was good overall. I would highly suggest this for elementary and middle school students, but it could probably be passed over by adults for a more 'mature' novel that touches on the same themes, such as overcoming fear.

Book to movie review:
Coming soon!

Now I'm off to read another book... but since a review should be more about the author of the book than about the writer of the blog, I will let Katherine Paterson have the last words:

A little reminder of 'the power of YET.' (Google it if you haven't heard of it.)

" 'I just can't get it right,' he said.

She nodded. 'Don't worry,' she said. 'You will someday.'

He believed her because there in the shadowy light of the stronghold, everything seemed possible. Between the two of them, they owned the world, and no enemy, bully at school, his own fears and insufficiencies, nor any of the foes whom Leslie imagined attacking Terabithia, could ever really defeat them."

Sunday, March 19, 2023

By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey

 By the Sword (Stand Alone, Kerowyn's Tale)

Author: Mercedes Lackey (American, 1950- )
Originally published: 1991
Page count: 482

Dates read:
2023 book goal progress: 5 out of 23

Author Challenge: Mercedes Lackey
Read my other book reviews for my 2023 goals HERE.

Description on back of book:
Granddaughter of the sorceress Kethry, daughter of a noble house, Kerowyn had been forced to run the family keep since her mother’s untimely death. Yet now at last her brother was preparing to wed, and when his bride became the lady of the keep, Kerowyn could return to her true enjoyments—training horses and hunting.

But all Kerowyn’s hopes and plans were shattered when her ancestral home was attacked, her father slain, her brother wounded, and his fiancĂ©e kidnapped. Drive by desperation and the knowledge that a sorcerer had led the attack, Kerowyn sought her grandmother Kethry’s aid, a journey which would prove but the first step on the road to the fulfillment of her destiny.

First sentence:
"Blessed - look out!"

Favorite quotes:
"If every man doesn't want the same thing, then why should every woman want the same thing? We're not cookies, you know, all cut of identical dough and baked to an identical brown and sprinkled with sugar so you men can devour us whenever you please."

" 'I can't offend them - by "them" I assume you mean the men - by competing with them. You want me to give up everything I've worked for all this time, and even my recreations.'

Doesn't it just figure, she thought angrily, that when I finally get to the point of reacting like a professional fighter, he pulls this on me? Offering me anything I want - as long as I don't do anything that embarrasses him. Like act like a human being capable of thinking for herself."

"If there's one thing I can't stand besides maps, it's a holy war. These religious fanatics are so damned - unprofessional. Messy, that was what it was. Seems like the moment religion enters into a question, people's brains turn to mush. Messy wars and messy thinking. Messy thinking causing messy wars."

"That word again. That stupid, suicidal word. Honor won't pay for much of anything. More stupid wars have been fought over honor than I care to think about. Seems to me that honor is a word that gets used to cover a lot of other things. Things like greed and ambition, hatred, and bigotry."

CAWPILE Rating: Overall - 6.6/10 - ⭐⭐⭐/5
Characters      - 8
Atmosphere   - 7
Writing Style - 8
Plot                - 7
Intrigue          - 6
Logic             - 3
Enjoyment     - 7
What is a CAWPILE Rating?

I have mixed feelings about this book. It is good overall, but it had a pretty slow start. It is incredibly feminist - to a fault. The 'sword' referred to in the title is a magical sword called Need. It will only be wielded by a woman against a man. Even when another female is directly attacking the female wielder of the sword, it won't let the wielder harm the other female - putting the wielder herself in grave danger. There were other things that I had an issue with regarding this book's view of feminism, but I'm not going to go into details here.

The story is mostly set in Rethwellen, not Valdemar. We briefly meet a Herald in the middle of the book, but they don't really come into play until the very end - which is a disappointment. Heralds have a very strong moral/honor code, which seemed to be broken without any thought in this book. For years, a Herald goes into a person's dreams to be with them while they're apart... but the other person doesn't know it's a dream. To me, a Herald would NEVER enter into a person's dream without express permission to do so beforehand or at least tell the person right away in the dream what the situation is. They have sexual encounters and she tells him much more than she probably would have if she knew it was real. It just felt like a rape of the mind to me and it did NOT fit in with the behavior of a Herald. This, more than anything else, is the reason why the book rating is so low for me.

Most of the book takes place before the original Arrows Trilogy, then it jumps ahead and the ending is after the Arrows Trilogy. Despite most of it being pre-Arrows, I would suggest reading it after the trilogy due to spoilers in the ending. I enjoy Kerowyn as a character. I cried multiple times reading the last chapter. The ending is great!

Now I'm off to read another book... but since a review should be more about the author of the book than about the writer of the blog, I will let Mercedes Lackey have the last words:

These are sayings/teachings from Tarma, Kerowyn's teacher.

"No learning, no knowledge is ever wasted."

"If there was one thing that studying under Tarma had taught her, it was never to discard a book. You never knew when something in it - even in so innocuous a volume as a book of poetry - could prove useful."

"A slighted friend is more dangerous than an enemy."

Friday, March 10, 2023

Associated Shades Quartet by John Kendrick Bangs

 Associated Shades Quartet:

-A House-Boat on the Styx (1895) - 70 pages

-The Pursuit of the House-Boat (1897) - 80 pages

-The Enchanted Type-Writer (1899) - 69 pages

-Mr. Munchausen: Being a True Account of Some of the Recent Adventures Beyond the Styx of the Late Hieronymous Carl Friedrich, Sometimes Baron Munchausen of Bodenwerder (1901) -  76 pages

Author: John Kendrick Bangs 
(American, 1862-1922)
Page count: 295 total

Dates read:
2/1/23-2/7/23; 2/9/23-2/19/23; 3/1/22-3/6/22
2023 book goal progress: 4 out of 23

From my TBR shelf
Read my other book reviews for my 2023 goals HERE.

Description on back of book:
This volume contains the four humorous and witty novels by John Kendrick Bangs about "The Associated Shades" a group of famous dead people who become a sort of corporation or exclusive club. Members include Confucius, Socrates, William Shakespeare, Napolean Bonaparte, Dr. Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Charles Darwin, George Washington, and Walter Raleigh.

CAWPILE Rating: Overall - 7.3/10 - ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
Characters      - 9
Atmosphere   - 9
Writing Style - 8
Plot                - 5
Intrigue          - 6
Logic             - 6
Enjoyment     - 8
What is a CAWPILE Rating?

Note: The above rating is for the first 2 novellas and doesn't include the last 2.

First sentence:
"Charon, the Ferryman of renown, was cruising slowly along the Styx one pleasant Friday morning not long ago, and as he paddled idly on he chuckled mildly to himself as he thought of the monopoly in the ferriage which in the course of years he had managed to build up."

Favorite quotes:
" 'Hamlet was a good play, just the same,' said Cicero.
'Very,' put in Doctor Johnson. 'It cured me of insomnia.'
'Well, if you don't talk in your sleep, the play did a Christian service to the word,' retorted Shakespeare."

" 'I the germ of an idea have got!'
'Well, go quarantine yourself,' said Doctor Johnson. 'I'd hate to have one of your idea microbes get hold of me.' "

"That isn't the point, as the man said to the assassin who tried to stab him with the hilt of his dagger."

" 'A magnificent old maid was lost to the word when you married,' said Queen Elizabeth. 'Feeling as you do, my dear Xanthippe, I don't see why you ever took a husband.'
'Humph!' retorted Xanthippe. 'Of course, you don't. You didn't need a husband. You were born with something to govern. I wasn't.'
'How about your temper?' suggested Ophelia, meekly."

It's a men-only club, which is a bit annoying. A lot of the book is about the actual authorship of Shaekspeare's plays, which is quite comical. At the very end, when the men all leave the houseboat to see a prize fight between Samson and Goliath, a bunch of women take over the boat. It is very humorous and I enjoyed the addition of women in the end. 

First sentence:
"The House-boat of the Associated Shades, formerly located upon the River Styx, as the reader may possibly remember, had been torn from its moorings and navigated out into unknown seas by that vengeful pirate Captain Kidd, aided and abetted by some of the most ruffian inhabitants of Hades."

Favorite quotes:
" 'Up to a certain point, notoriety is like a woman, and a man is apt to love it,' said Xanthippe. 'When it becomes exacting, demanding instead of permitting itself to be courted, it loses its charm.'
'That is Socratic in its wisdom,' smiled Portia.
'But Xanthippe in its origin,' returned Xanthippe. 'No man ever gave me my ideas.' "

"The study of women is more difficult than that of astronomy; there may be two stars alike, but all women are unique. Women have views now - they are no longer content to be looked at merely; they must see for themselves; and the more they see, the more they wish to domesticate man and emancipate woman."

" 'I think if Columbus would go up into the mizzentop and look about him, he might discover something either in confirmation or refutation of the theory,' said Sherlock Holmes.
'He couldn't discover anything,' put in Pinzon. 'He never did.'

"The ladies become eligible for membership, and, availing themselves of the privilege, began to think less and less of the advantages of being men and to rejoice that, after all, they were women."

This was humorous, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the first one. Sherlock Holmes is an annoying character. My favorite parts were with the women, which include Queen Elizabeth, Cleopatra, Xanthippe, Delilah, Mrs. Noah, Ophelia, Calpurnia, Portia, Madame Recamier, and Lucretia Borgia.

First sentence:
"It is a strange fact, for which I do not expect ever satisfactorily to account, and which will receive little credence even though those who know that I am not given to romancing - it is a strange fact, I say, that the substance of the following pages has evolved itself during a period of six months, more or less, between the hours of midnight and four o'clock in the morning, proceeding directly from a type-writing machine standing in the corner of my library, manipulated by unseen hands."

Favorite quotes:
"A man does not like to hear a click which he cannot comprehend. To hear a mysterious click, and from a dark corner, at an hour when the world is at rest, is not pleasing."

"I had a story of Alexander Dumas about his Musketeers that he wanted translated from French into American, which is the language we speak below, in preference to German, French, Volapuk, or English."

" 'I've got a very gloomy prospect ahead of me.'
'Well, why not? Where do you expect to have your gloomy prospects? They can't very well be behind you.' "

"At this point, she returned to my office, and I of course reported progress. That is one of the most valuable things I learned while on earth - when you have done nothing, report progress."

This was dialogue and stories told from one shade (usually Boswell, though sometime Xanthippe or others) to the living narrator. Due to this, you missed out on the humorous banter back and forth between shades. It was very political. It couldn't tell if it was sexist or feminist. It was meh overall.

First sentence:
"There are moments of supreme embarrassment in the lives of persons given to velocity, indeed it has been my own unusual experience in life that the truth well stuck to is twice as hard a proposition as a lie so obvious that no one is deceived by it at the outset."

I really liked the first two stories because they were about famous fictional and historical figures meeting each other and having witty conversations. This one was just an interview between a reporter and Munchausen, both shades. So you don't have the great dialogue and you're just left with the over-the-top stories of Munchausen, which are just too outlandish to even really appreciate. All that to say that I didn't finish this novella. The previous one was a disappointment and this one just didn't hold my interest.

I recommend reading the first 2 novellas, but don't bother with the last 2.

Now I'm off to read another book... but since a review should be more about the author of the book than about the writer of the blog, I will let John Kendrick Bangs have the last words. The below is a longer bit from the beginning of the first novella.

" 'Hullo, William,' said Doctor Johnson. ' How's our little Swanlet of Avon this afternoon?'

'Worn out,' Shakespeare replied. 'I've been hard at work on a play this morning, and I'm tired.'

'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,' said Nero, grinning broadly.

'You are a bright spirit,' said Shakespeare, with a sigh. 'I wish I had thought to work you up into a tragedy.'

'I’ve often wondered why you didn’t,' said Doctor Johnson. 'He’d have made a superb tragedy, Nero would. I don’t believe there was any kind of a crime he left uncommitted. Was there, Emperor?'

'Yes. I never wrote an English dictionary,' returned the Emperor, dryly. 'I’ve murdered everything but English, though.'

'I could have made a fine tragedy out of you,' said Shakespeare. 'Just think what a dreadful climax for a tragedy it would be, Johnson, to have Nero, as the curtain fell, playing a violin solo.'

'That’s all right,' said Nero, with a significant shake of his head. 'As my friend Bacon makes Ingo say, "Beware, my lord, of jealousy." You never could play a garden hose, much less a fiddle.'

'What do you mean by attributing those words to Bacon?' demanded Shakespeare, getting red in the face.

'Oh, come now, William,' remonstrated Nero. 'It’s all right to pull the wool over the eyes of the mortals. That’s what they’re there for, but as for us—we’re all in the secret here. What’s the use of putting on nonsense with us?'

'We’ll see in a minute what the use is,' retorted the Avonian. 'We’ll have Bacon down here. I’m getting tired of this idiotic talk about not having written my own works. There’s one thing about Nero’s music that I’ve never said, because I haven’t wanted to hurt his feelings, but since he has chosen to cast aspersions upon my honesty I haven’t any hesitation in saying it now. I believe it was one of his fiddlings that sent Nature into convulsions and caused the destruction of Pompeii—so there! Put that on your music rack and fiddle it, my little Emperor.'

Nero’s face grew purple with anger. 'You can’t kill me,' said Shakespeare, shrugging his shoulders. 'I know seven dozen actors in the United States who are trying to do it, but they can’t. I wish they’d try to kill a critic once in a while instead of me, though,' he added."

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

 Where the Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens (American, 1949- )
Originally published: 2018
Page count: 365

Dates read:
2023 book goal progress: 3 out of 23

February Mindful Readers' Family Bookclub 
Read my other book reviews for my 2023 goals HERE.

Description on back of book:
In late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals of Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast, immediately suspect the "Marsh Girl," Kya Clark. She is not as wild as they assume, but sensitive and intelligent. Kya has survived for years alone in the marsh, finding friends in the gulls, and lessons in the sand. When two young men become intrigued by her, Kya opens herself to a new life—until the unthinkable happens.

First sentences:
"Marsh is not swamp. Marsh is a space of light, where grass grows in water, and water flows into the sky."

Favorite quotes:
"Sometimes she heard night sounds she didn't know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land that caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and marsh became her mother."

"You all listen now, this is a real lesson in life. Yes, we got stuck. but what'd we girls do? We made it fun, we laughed. That's what sisters and girlfriends are all about. Sticking together even in the mud, 'specially in the mud."

"The definition of a man: one who can cry freely, feel poetry and opera in his heart, and do whatever it takes to defend a woman."

CAWPILE Rating: Overall - 7.9/10 - ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
Characters      - 9
Atmosphere   - 9
Writing Style - 6
Plot                - 8
Intrigue          - 8
Logic             - 7
Enjoyment     - 8
What is a CAWPILE Rating?

I enjoyed this much more than I expected! I can't really say much since it's a mystery and I don't want to give anything away. The book is divided into 2 parts and the chapters go back and forth between Kya's backstory and the present mystery. I would have preferred there be 3 parts: the first would solely focus on Kya's backstory, the second would introduce the murder mystery and go back and forth between the timelines, and the third would focus just on solving the mystery and wrapping up the loose ends. I really enjoyed Kya's story and the mystery was extremely slow in the beginning - they felt like annoying intrusions on the part of the story I actually wanted to read.

I liked the ongoing saying that certain things of nature keep secrets better than others. Mud doesn't keep secrets well - nor do crows, but both sand and shells keep secrets really well. My favorite characters were definitely Jumpin' and Mabel - an older black couple. I cried twice. The poetry was a little annoying and felt unnecessary until the very end. For a little bit, I thought the book was going to end without solving the murder, but I was wrong! The ending was great, bittersweet for several reasons, but great nonetheless.

Book to movie review:
The movie was alright but didn't feel true to the book. The story spans Kya's life from about 6 to 23 - except at the very end when they fast forward a lot. There were all of 2 actors that played her and it should have been 4. There was an upper elementary actor and an adult actor, but there should have also been a lower elementary actor and a teenager.

It was way too tidy and clean - she's a little girl living alone in a marsh - she looked too perfect all the time. The timeline was completely jumbled. Jumpin' and Mabel didn't come off as endearing in the book - and Mabel was horribly cast. The movie also completely botched the ending. It felt like a rushed afterthought than the wonderful surprise it was in the book.

I did like the build-up of the character Tom, her lawyer. I also liked how she saw her mom at the very end. Overall, though, the movie just isn't worth it compared to the book.

Now I'm off to read another book... but since a review should be more about the author of the book than about the writer of the blog, I will let Delia Owens have the last words:

"Autumn was coming; the evergreens might not have noticed, but the sycamores did. They flashed thousands of golden leaves across slate-gray skies... And just at that second, the wind picked up, and thousands upon thousands of yellow sycamore leaves broke from their life support and streamed across the sky. Autumn leaves don't fall; they fly. They take their time and wander on this, their only chance to soar. Reflecting sunlight, they swirled and sailed and fluttered on the wind drafts."

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

 The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1)

Author: Patrick Rothfuss (American, 1973- )
Originally published: 2007
Page count: 722

Dates read:
6/18/22-9/18/22, 1/17/23-1/30/23
2023 book goal progress: 2 out of 23

Author Challenge: Patrick Rothfuss
Read my other book reviews for my 2023 goals HERE.

Description on back of book:
My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during the day. I have written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me.

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature - the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man's search for meaning in his universe, and how that search gave birth to a legend.

First sentences:
"It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts."

Favorite quotes:
"When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind."

"A poet is a musician who can't sing. Word's have to find a man's mind before they can touch his heart, and some men's minds are woeful small targets. Music touches their hearts directly no matter how small or stubborn the mind of the man who listens."

"Once I knew what was bothering me, the greater part of my uneasines left. Fear tends to come from ignorance. Once I knew what the problem was, it was just a problem, nothing to fear."

"I knew he was trying to do me favor, and a week ago I would have jumped at the oppertunity for free shoes. But for some reason I didn't feel right about it. I quietly gathered up my things and left a pair of copper jots on his stool before I left. Why? Because pride is a strange thing, and because generosity deserves generosity in return. But mostly because it felt like the right thing to do, and that is reason enough."

"I finally found what I had wanted most, yet it was not what I expected. As is often the case when you gain your heart's desire."

CAWPILE Rating: Overall - 7.4/10 - ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
Characters      - 8
Atmosphere   - 7
Writing Style - 7
Plot                - 8
Intrigue          - 8
Logic             - 6
Enjoyment     - 8
What is a CAWPILE Rating?

I read the first half of the book last year and finished it this year. It is a story within a story, like The Princess Bride. The main character is telling his life story, so it goes back and forth between 'the present' and 'his past.'

I don't want to say too much and give things away, but I do not like his love interest. There are 6 strong female characters in the story, all with their own unique personalities and talents (including the woman he swoons over). Though the book redeems his love interest a little, she's the least interesting with a toxic personality that happens to have a pretty face. There are 3 other women I think would be great for him, but he goes for the pretty face - boring.

Side note: Six strong females may seem like a lot. Yay! Feminism! But if you start counting the strong male characters... I can't help but be disappointed by the extreme lack of balance. Maybe the second book will have more/better representation.)

Despite that, the love story is really a very minor aspect of the general story, which is nice. Overall, I enjoyed this fantasy story with magic, 'demons', fae, humor, tragedy, and even a dragon. Oh! And a huge library called The Archives - which he gets banned from, but you'll have to read the story to find out more...

Now I'm off to read another book... but since a review should be more about the author of the book than about the writer of the blog, I will let Patrick Rothfuss have the last words:

"Bast stood in the doorway, practically dancing with irritation. When he spotted the approaching figure he rushed down the street, waving a piece of paper angrily. 'A note? You sneak out and leave me a note?' He hissed angrily. 'What am I, some dockside whore?'

Kote turned around and shrugged. 'I knew you would just argue with me, Bast.'

'It wasn't even a good note. "If you're reading this I am probably dead." What sort of note is that?'

'You weren't supposed to find it till morning,' Kote said tiredly."

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

The Martian by Andy Weir

 The Martian

Author: Andy Weir (American, 1972- )
Originally published: 2011
Page count: 369

Dates read:
2023 book goal progress: 1 out of 23

January Mindful Readers' Family Bookclub 
Read my other book reviews for my 2023 goals HERE.

Description on back of book:
Six days ago astronaut Mark Watney became on of the first people to walk on Mars. Now he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars with no way to signal to Earth that he's still alive. Even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue arrive.

Armed with nothing but his ingenuity, engineering skills, botany skills - and a gallows sense of humor, which proves to be his greatest strength - Mark embarks on a quest to stay alive.

First sentences:
"I'm pretty much fucked. That's my considered opinion. Fucked. Six days into what should be the greatest month of my life, and it's turned into a nightmare."

Favorite quotes:
(All are from the logs of Mark while he is stranded on Mars.)

"Hell yeah, I'm a botanist! Fear my botany powers!"

"Also, I have duct tape. Ordinary duct tape, like you buy at a hardware store. Turns out even NASA can't improve on duct tape."

"If ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Martian vampires, I'll have to risk it."

"Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped."

"I got bounced around a lot, but I'm a well-honed machine in times of crisis. As soon as the rover toppled, I curled into a ball and cowered. That's the kind of action hero I am. It worked, too. 'Cause I'm not hurt."

CAWPILE Rating: Overall - 6.9/10 - ⭐⭐⭐/5
Characters      - 9
Atmosphere   - 8
Writing Style - 9
Plot                - 4
Intrigue          - 6
Logic             - 5
Enjoyment     - 7
What is a CAWPILE Rating?

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It did get a little redundant: 

Shit! I'm stuck on Mars. I'm going to die.
I figured it out. I'm fine.
Shit! Something broke. I'm going to die.
No worries. I fixed it. I'm going to live.
and so forth from the beginning of the book to the end.

The book gets much better when NASA is introduced and you have some actual dialogue. The dialogue (which is just text/emails back and forth) between Mark, the man stuck on Mars, and NASA are some of my favorite parts of the story. I love Mark's humor and positivity throughout his ordeal. Did I cry in the end? ...yes.

Side note: Though I read the book before watching the movie, I knew Matt Damon played Mark, the main character, so I read most of the book with his voice in my head. 

Book to movie review:
Overall the movie was a pretty true representation of the book - until the very end. It is, obviously, a shortened version of the book, so you lose some details and some of my favorite, humorous dialogue/interactions. The end is changed significantly on 2 points, which makes the movie very Hollywoodified. It was a good movie but, despite the book being a bit slow, I would still say the book is better.

Now I'm off to read another book... but since a review should be more about the author of the book than about the writer of the blog, I will let Andy Weir have the last words:

"I thought a laptop would be fine outside. It's just electronics, right? It'll keep warm enough to operate in the short term, and it doesn't need air for anything.

It died instantly. The screen went black before I was out of the airlock. Turns out the 'L' in 'LCD' stands for 'liquid.' I guess it either froze or boiled off. Maybe I'll post a consumer review.

'Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.' "