Book Reviews

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

I think I’ve found my favourite book of the year. Possibly favourite book of all time. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself here, but hand on heart, I haven’t felt this way about a book in a really long time. I’m not even sure how Project Hail Mary got onto my radar but it was probably thanks to Goodreads. I haven’t read any of Andy Weir’s other novels but I’ve obviously seen the movie adaption of The Martian and thought it was great, so that was enough for me to plunge into a Sci-Fi book that I otherwise would have been quite apprehensive about.

It starts with our main character waking up inside a space craft with no idea who he is, where he is, or how he got there, so it’s a gripping read from the very first page. We soon learn his name is Ryland Grace, and he’s a scientist on a mission to save Earth from something known as Astrophage that is basically absorbing our sun’s energy, dimming it and threatening to plunge us into another ice age within years. If that sounds complicated, it is! I’m not even going to pretend that I understood half of the science in this story, but it’s written in such a way that you don’t need a PHD to enjoy it.

Ryland Grace is such a fun character – he’s wickedly smart but also sarcastic and funny, and reading the events from his perspective is a lot of fun. The most joy actually comes from a friend of Ryland’s but to tell you more would be giving too much away and I’d rather not talk about any spoilers. Just know that the friendship between Ryland and “Rocky” is the greatest I’ve ever read about!

I’m primarily a movie fan and so I can’t help but wonder when I read, would this book make a good movie? Project Hail Mary would be an EXCELLENT movie. There’s one particular element which I’m not sure how filmmakers would translate to the big screen but the rest would be so entertaining. There’s a stomach-dropping twist that would be so great on screen. So, imagine my excitement when I read that the movie rights to the book have already been bought and Ryan Gosling has been attached to play Ryland Grace! I had Paul Rudd pictured in my mind, but Ryan Gosling would be equally great, I’m sure.

Book Reviews

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Considering the fact I don’t read that many books in the space of a year, I try to make an effort to read from a variety of genres, as well as authors. However, after I read Malibu Rising and loved every page, I couldn’t turn away from author Taylor Jenkins Reid straight away. I’d already heard about another book of hers, Daisy Jones and the Six, but the book I saw a lot of hype about was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. At face value, it didn’t seem like something I would find that interesting, which in actual fact made me want to read it all the more. How better to find out if I love the author’s style of writing so much?

Evelyn Hugo was a huge name in Hollywood, most well-known for her looks and her string of relationships. But now she’s nearing 80, and she’s ready to tell her story. That’s the gist of the entire book. Evelyn offers the book to the young and career-hungry Monique who jumps at the chance for such an exclusive opportunity. But Monique could never be ready for the truth behind Evelyn’s life.

I think it’s safe to say I have a new favourite author. I don’t know how Taylor Jenkins Reid does it, but I think she could write about paint drying on a wall and I would still be excited about it. She just has a way of writing that I find exciting, and it leads to books that I just can’t put down. Evelyn’s story is fascinating, and she’s a really complex character. She isn’t a good person, but it’s somehow easy to find sympathy for the things she had to go through and the truths she had to hide, whilst also condemning her for the terrible decisions she made.

Throughout the book there’s one glaring question begging to be answered which is, why did Evelyn choose Monique to tell this story? The link isn’t clear at all, and it isn’t until the very end that it’s revealed. In any other book this would have frustrated me no end and it would have felt anti-climatic, but not this time. I was desperate to know, of course, but I was so swept up in the events on the pages that I was more than happy to wait.

So this won’t be the last Taylor Jenkins Reid novel that I read, but I do need to give a couple of other books a read first. Has anyone else read her books? Would you recommend I look at Daisy Jones and the Six next?

Book Reviews

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

This is probably going to be the toughest book review I’ve written so far, because I’ve never felt so conflicted about a book since False Witness by Karin Slaughter. Let me tell you what it’s about before Ii attempt to unravel my thoughts. Leigh and Callie are sisters, with a fiercely strong bond but ended up living vastly different lives when they grew up. Callie used to babysit for a young boy, but she was molested and abused by the boy’s father and on one fateful night when things took a turn from worse to hell – Callie fought back and Leigh came to finish the job. Together they hid the body and tried to get on with their lives knowing what they had done.

Of course, the past always comes back to haunt you and that’s what happens to Leigh and Callie. Leigh is a successful defence lawyer but a case is brought to her under unusual circumstances, and it turns out her client is the now-grown up boy that Callie used to babysit for. What’s worse is he’s showing signs of knowing what they did.

So first up, let me lay out the positives so it’s clear I enjoyed this book. The characters are so well written I feel like I know them better than some of my own family members, there is so much detail. The story was dark, and twisty which is definitely my kind of thing. It could be too dark for some though, I’ll admit. I never knew what was going to happen next, nor did I have any inkling about how it might end, so it was easy to keep picking up my Kindle whenever Ii found the time. Towards the end, Callie has an important conversation with a father-like figure to it and it’s one of the best passages I think I’ve ever read. So please know, I liked this book!

However. I’m still sleeping poorly which gives me more reading time and it’s still taken me 3 weeks to read. I’m not a fast reader, I probably average a book every 2 weeks, but with extra time I should have finished this quicker. I don’t know if it was the pacing or what, but it felt never-ending. Also, when everything inside those pages is described and explained in such detail, there is nothing there to make me believe that a teenage girl would be capable of chopping up a man’s body and hiding it. I know the girls had a rough childhood but that seemed extreme, even for them. It was a minor detail I couldn’t move past. It also felt quite over-dramatic towards the end, but I’ll admit it got me reading at a faster pace.

So all in all, I feel a bit mixed!

Book Reviews

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The benefits of having a three-year-old not sleeping due to a growth spurt? Having extra time to read at 3am! Got to find the silver lining, right? That’s why I managed to finish my next book quicker than usual. In all honesty though I think I would have read this one pretty quickly anyway, it was so hard to put down. That book in question is The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.

Several years ago, Alicia Benson murdered her husband. No one knew why, because after the incident she refused to speak, and hasn’t spoken a single word ever since. The case was high profile and famous at the time, but after a while Alicia’s actions faded into the background. She now resides at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London. Then there’s Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time to be able to meet Alicia and work with her. Alicia used to be a painter, and after the murder she painted a self-portrait that has long fascinated Theo. He’s determined that he’s going to be the one to finally get her to speak again.

The Silent Patient is a detective story more than anything else, as Theo delves into Alicia’s past to try and work out what happened in her past to cause her to refuse to speak. The pieces of the puzzle are all there, they just need to be put into the right place. The majority of the book flicks back and forth between Alicia’s journal, detailing the last few weeks before the murder, and Theo’s active mission and what’s going on in his personal life. Those parts confused me, they took me out of the story somewhat and I couldn’t understand what the relevance was or where that angle was going, but it all made sense by the end.

Obviously I was expecting a major reveal at the end. Either Alicia was going to finally talk, or we’d learn another way why she murdered her husband, but the actually ending really took me by surprise. I feel like I could do with reading the whole thing again to fully make sense of it all – but I won’t tell you why! I’d definitely recommend The Silent Patient if you’re up for a fast-paced thriller/mystery novel.

Book Reviews

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Making the decision to read at night before going to bed is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I used to get into bed and spend at least an hour mindlessly scrolling on my phone and now it’s August and I’ve read 13 books so far this year! I read until my eyes are struggling to read the words and then I don’t struggle at all to fall asleep. Sure, I’d love to be able to read double the amount I am, but there’s just not enough time in the day for all the hobbies. Anyway, I’m here to tell you about my latest read, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Set in the 80s, the four Riva siblings host an epic annual party at the eldest siblings house, but this party in particular will change everything. That’s as much as I knew when I started reading, but this wasn’t the book I was expecting at all. The majority of the book switches back and forth between the present time and the preparation of the party to back in the 60s and delves into the past of the main characters. Nina is married to a successful tennis champion and hosts the party each year in their huge house on the cliffs above the beach, but her marriage is troubled to say the least. Jay has made a name for himself in the surfing world but his career is in jeopardy because of a health condition. Hud has found the love of his life, but she just so happens to be Jay’s ex. Kit is lost and doesn’t know who she is, and all these problems come to light on this fateful day.

At face value, not a lot actually happens in this story, but it’s all about the characters and they’re absolutely fascinating. I really struggled to put this book down each night because I just wanted to know more, about both the past and present. It’s a testament to the author because in anyone else’s hands this could have been an awfully dull tale. Malibu Rising is the most recent novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid but her last two books have been really well received and I’ll definitely be reading one of them before the year is out.

Are there any fans of the author out there? What would you recommend more out of Daisy Jones & The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo?