I’m sure many of you have read Andy Weir’s popular novel The Martian. For me, it was a rare re-read. I figured re-reading a book I loved would be a perfect way to guide me gently back into my regular reading life, and I was right. I knew exactly what to expect from Mark Watney and his time on Mars. It was just what I needed.
For those of you who haven’t read The Martian (or seen the movie, which is basically just as good, though a touch different, particularly at the end), I’ll give you a brief synopsis. A crew of astronauts is hanging out on Mars when an unexpected storm arrives, causing them to evacuate. During the evacuation, a man named Mark Watney is separated from the rest of the crew and left on Mars alone. He has to do what he can to survive until help can arrive… hopefully.
Wow! Has it been a while since I’ve sat down to write a book review (and recipe!), but here I am, and I’m excited. I hope you are too 🙂
I actually read Kevin Wilson’s Nothing to See Here last year. It was the first book I read after Henry was born, when I was transitioning into all e-books all the time (much easier one-handed and in the dark, with a sleeping baby), and the last book I read before 2020 showed up. I’ve apparently been a low-key Kevin Wilson fan for a while now — check out my review of Perfect Little World— and though I’ve enjoyed them all, this was by far my favorite.
His style is typically quirky, and this novel was no exception. It follows twenty-something Lillian, who feels like her life is going nowhere until her boarding school roommate Madison reaches out and asks her to move in and be a caretaker for her stepchildren. Knowing nothing about children, she agrees.
As you may recall, Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter was one of my favorite books the year I read it. So, naturally, when I heard he was releasing a new similarly thrilling sci-fi novel, I was looking forward to it. I was lucky enough to get a copy of Recursionthrough NetGalley before its release (though it’s available now; it came out June 11th). And, most importantly, I am so happy to report it lived up to my high expectations!
Just like with Dark Matter, it’s hard to describe Recursion without giving too much away. But here’s what I can tell you: Barry Sutton is a New York City cop who stumbles into an investigation on something called False Memory Syndrome, in which those affected suddenly have a whole set of real, vivid memories from another lifetime; one they haven’t actually lived. Helena Smith is a researcher obsessed with memory. She has dedicated her life to trying to preserve those memories most precious to us, so they never get lost.
When I was invited to join the blog tour for Phaedra Patrick’s The Library of Lost and Found, I couldn’t turn it down. It was a book about books! I’m a huge fan of bookish novels — as I’m sure you are too. I haven’t read Phaedra’s bestselling The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper (yet), but based on its popularity, I knew I was in for a wonderful story.
Martha Storm is a librarian with a huge heart, who bends over backwards for others, even though they don’t often recognize her efforts. Caught in a bit of a rut, without many friends or close family, Martha craves meaningful relationships. When a mysterious man leaves her a tattered novel on the library’s doorstep, it’s a sign her life may be ready for a change.
When I read the description of Lorna Landvik’s Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes), I couldn’t resist picking it up. Not only did it sound chock-full of the small town charm I loved in Virgil Wander, it focused on a small-town newspaper columnist, Haze Evans. For those of you who don’t know me personally, my first job out of college was working at a newspaper — not as a writer, but as an advertising salesperson, and unofficially, a community events organizer. My time at the newspaper was a wonderful learning experience, and I was sort of hoping to get lost in a similar world again.
Haze’s column has been running for 50 years when she suffers a stroke and falls into a coma. In an attempt to fill the now vacant column space, the newspaper’s publisher, Susan, decides to run some of her past columns and reader responses, good and bad. Soon, the whole town finds itself swept up in Haze’s wise, witty and controversial words.
Prior to Victoria Schade’s Life on the Leash, I’ve suffered through two 1-star dog-centric reads.* Thank goodness this light-hearted rom com of a novel has broken my mini-streak of disappointing books about dogs!
Cora is the owner of a successful dog training business in D.C. She loves filling her days with tricks, treats and training before coming home to her own loveable pup and an amazing supportive roommate. In growing her business (and smarting from a painful breakup), Cora isn’t exactly looking for love.
Though Louise Miller wrote The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living first, it is the second of her novels that I’ve read. Earlier this year, I picked up The Late Bloomer’s Club and adored it, falling in love with the town of Guthrie (Stars Hollow flashbacks!) as well as her food-filled writing. The paperback cover makes it look perfect for winter reading, so I waited until my holiday break to get it from the library. It wasn’t super winter-y, but it was a lovely read nonetheless!
Olivia Rawlings, Livvy to a privileged few, is a talented pastry chef working at an exclusive dinner club in Boston. When her life there goes up in flames, she flees to the nearest haven — a truck stop filled with delicious pies — and onto Guthrie, Vermont, where her best friend Hannah convinces her to put down roots, even temporarily.
Caroline Hulse’s debut novel The Adults is like a Christmas comedy (Four Christmases comes to mind) meets Big Little Lies. Though Claire and Matt are divorced, they decide it’s best for their daughter Scarlett to experience a “normal” family Christmas. So, they book a weekend away at a woodsy resort and bring their current partners along for the ride! What could go wrong?
Claire’s boyfriend, Patrick, couldn’t be any less like her ex, Matt. Patrick spends much of the novel secretly training for an Ironman, at one point even racing through a lazy river to practice his swimming. Matt takes a different approach to life. He has a laissez faire outlook, often “forgetting” important details and preferring recreational drugs to exercising. His girlfriend, Alex, is smart, extremely patient and would probably be friends with Claire in another life. The characters were almost caricatures of real people and weren’t exactly likable, but they were entertaining.
I’m a huge fan of John Green and I heard a lot of amazingness about his brother’s first novel, and that’s basically why I picked up An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. Hank did a really good job. He put together a fast-paced, entertaining novel that I couldn’t put down.
April May is like any other twenty-something in New York City until she literally stumbles into something that will change her life — and the world — forever. It’s a giant sculpture standing outside a Chipotle. She calls her friend Andy to come check it out, they make a jokey video where April dubs it Carl, Andy posts the video to YouTube, and April becomes inexplicably tied to the Carls’ fate forever.
George Sibley has recently died and left his only son, Eric, an unexpected inheritance. Eric is promised his father’s beloved Aston Martin, but it comes with a catch. He’s only allowed to keep it if he agrees to care for George’s allotment every week for the next two years.