11.14.2017

Artemis by Andy Weir (NetGalley Review)


Artemis by Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown (November 14, 2017)
Description from the publisher:

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.
Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.
Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

Oh, how I wanted to love this book! One of the reasons that the majority of advance copies I request are from authors I've read and enjoyed is because I really hate giving a negative dedicated review. I absolutely devoured The Martian, and it was one of my favorite books of 2014. The idea of a female protagonist who was going to 'science the sh*t' out of things on the moon was also very appealing. Alas... 

Let me start with the good: Weir is SUPERB at world building. The city of Artemis is fully realized in my mind and full of fun and unique details about the way people live, eat and entertain themselves on the moon. Like many great sci-fi novels, I can ABSOLUTELY picture the inevitable movie version. And, like Mark Watney's character in The Martian, Jazz's ingenuity was compelling. However...

The main character has a similar irreverent shtick that worked in The Martian, but didn't work for me in this novel. The salty language was not used to any kind of great humor - I just felt as if Jazz somehow needed it to make her seem tough and have a chip on her shoulder. For the life of me, I never really figured out why she was so angry at the world or her dad. If I did, it might have gone a long way to make me want to pick up the book more often and care about her plight. The action was fun, but I didn't care how it would play out. It's one thing to think about being stranded on another planet, trying to get home to your family. That has drama and heart. An inexplicably angry woman trying to pull off an illegal heist? Not so much.

If interesting science (lots of stuff about heat, atmosphere, how things would work on the moon in zero gravity - like the way dust settles, which was really interesting!) or a cinematic heist sounds like fun fare, by all means, you should definitely read Artemis. These are things I nerd out on as well, but I just wanted a little more.

Many thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review!



11.08.2017

October Monthly Meal Wrap Up

My husband and I kicked off the month with a day date to Rattlesnake Ledge for some hiking and our first visit to Twede's Cafe: home of the 'damn good cherry pie' of Twin Peaks fame. It was damn good, as was the club sandwich and my spinach omelette the size of my head!
 I didn't try many new meals this month, as it was pretty hectic with school commitments and my husband taking back to back business trips. I did make Skinnytaste's baked potato soup with cauliflower for a few solo dinners and it was super easy! I added some sauteed garlic and onion to give it a little more depth and it turned out quite tasty.
 For solo dinners when my husband is MIA, I almost always grab a Tarte D'Alsace from Trader Joe's. However, this year I had to try the seasonal tarte with gorgonzola and butternut squash. Sooooo good! I stocked up on a few before they are gone for the season. They're perfect with some roasted greens, brussel sprouts being a favorite.
Speaking of Trader Joe's, they remodeled my local store in a new shopping development across the street from the old one and it is GLORIOUS. Of course we went on opening day to pay our respects!
 And to finish out the month, we dealt with my least favorite holiday - yay! I know, I know. I am a Halloween scrooge, but I make up for it tenfold over Thanksgiving and Christmas. We get our pumpkins at the local fruit market which has plenty of fun for the kids with games, free popcorn and cider.
 And then I hand the reins over to my husband for the carving assistance. 
 This year, though, my son did it entirely on his own and I think he did a pretty good job replicating his toy sloth. And my husband did a lovely job replicating my daughter's Pusheen.
Now it's time for planning menus for the most wonderful time of the year, starting with Thanksgiving!

11.02.2017

Books I Read in October

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
I don't know if there's anything more I can add to the conversation about this fantastic novel! I also got a signed copy and heard her discuss the book, which was wonderful.
The story of these two starkly different families that come together in an affluent American suburb is a blistering take on privilege and class. My only small critique would be that it felt more like allegory than story. You will not finish the book wondering what the message is that Ng is trying to convey, especially in the case of the two mothers. However, it is a very worthwhile one. I am probably in the minority when I say that I loved Everything I Never Told You (a favorite from 2015) a smidge more - also definitely worth a read.

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur
Yes, this was a HIGHLY frustrating read about the Trump campaign. I'm thankful that my main takeaway from the book was a glimpse inside the life of a campaign reporter, which was surprisingly fascinating stuff. The focus on small, yet intimate stories on food (seriously, she talks about food A LOT), travel horrors, mirror-less curling iron conundrums, and thousands of cups of coffee made this such an enjoyable read. And the stories about her personal life, especially the chapter about her parents who are also journalists, were heartfelt. In the end though, fair warning, having to look some terrifying and grotesque realities in the face is difficult: "I will never unhear him, not the man's message, and not the thousands of other voices that summarize 2016 by not shouting him down. 'Assassinate that bitch,' the man said, and the crowd said nothing. 'Assassinate that bitch,' and the crowd cheered on."

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
This sequel did not live up to the excellent Garden Spells, but it was fun to immerse myself in the world of the Waverly's again. There were a lot of plot points that seemed scattered, meandered a bit, and didn't have a clear sense of urgency. The only fun was catching up with all of the characters and her whimsical writing. I definitely plan to read more of her work, though.

The Party by Elizabeth Day
I burned through this dark and compelling psychological thriller. It's one of those stories that starts with the feeling that something is 'off' that you can't put your finger on and becomes more and more ominous as it goes on. Similar to Big Little Lies, it starts with an incident at a party that gets the police involved and flashes back in forth in time to drop clues for the reader to piece together. I loved Day's vivid scenes and searing commentary on sexism and class politics. I wrote more extensively about it here.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstoree by Matthew J. Sullivan
I'm not usually a big mystery fan, but I'd been hearing about this one a lot and it was on the lucky day shelf at the library. I'm glad I picked it up, it was a perfectly quick October whodunit. It was smart with well fleshed out characters and great atmospheric writing. Sullivan had me guessing until the last, and it was a pretty big shocker that also made perfect sense - which I feel is lacking in a number of contemporary thrillers/mysteries. It is also a little more maudlin than the title and cover lets on, FYI.

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
This was my Newberry pick for the month and it was a sweet and touching story of a girl trying to find her 'higher power' in the aftermath of her mother's death, while being raised by her father's ex wife. It reminded me a lot of the themes from Flora and Ulysses, as well as the eclectic characters and the 'magical thinking' of children. It's a little on the morose side and the atmosphere that Patron conjures up is so evocative of Lucky's desolation, literally (set in the Mojave desert) and figuratively, yet also her optimism. 

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's monthly quick lit - be sure to check out all the great book recs!