Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir book cover and review
Finally! A book that I loved. (My reading slump continues and wasn't helped by the fact that prior to this one, I quit on a book that I had read 50%. Ugghhh. I'm so frustrated!) But...I couldn't put Project Hail Mary down. If you enjoyed The Martian, then you will want to read Weir's latest.

The main character wakes up, after what seems to be a very long sleep, and is alone. He soon realizes he's on a spaceship. Why is he here? What is he supposed to be doing? Why is he alone? And...what is his name?

Weir is so creative in his ideas about survival in what seems to be an unsurvivable situation--much like The Martian. The main character has a unique and entertaining voice, although different than The Martian. I really love how he uses his characters to tell the story -- even though they are alone and most of the "dialog" is just their thoughts. It is unique, and I can't get enough. 

I don't want to say any more about what happens. It's wonderful -- it will get you thinking. And you won't believe what he comes up with this time! My husband is reading it now, and I can't wait to discuss it with him. Project Hail Mary is highly recommended.

Published by Ballentine, May 4, 2021
eARC obtained from NetGalley
496 pages

Rating: 5/5

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Book Review: The WIfe Upstairs, by Rachel Hawkins

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins book cover and review
I was easily drawn into The Wife Upstairs and pleasantly surprised by a twisted ending.

Jane has found a pretty good job walking dogs for several people in a wealthy subdivision in Birmingham, Alabama. She has secrets -- but no one needs to know what her life in foster homes was like, or what she is running from.

She doesn't make enough money to pay her sleazy housemate his rent, but the rich women she works for don't notice when they lose an earring or some other bobble once in a while. 

She runs into Eddie, whose wife has recently died in a boating accident. Eddie becomes interested in Jane, and before she knows it a serious relationship is beginning, and she is moving in with him. All of a sudden the women who she has worked for must try to accept her as one of them. Jane has never known such luxuries and can't believe her good fortune. She even feels comfortable telling Eddie a little bit about her past.
We get a few morsels from the POV of Bea, the "Wife Upstairs," who Eddie has locked up so she can't tell anyone what happened on the boat. And then Bea's death is determined a homicide, not an accident, and the police are asking questions.

 That's pretty much all you are going to get. There are a lot of details about Jane's life - past and present - and the lives of others in this neighborhood that add to the intrigue. And like I said, I loved the twisted ending. If you've enjoyed Hawkins' other books, or enjoy these popular twisty domestic mysteries, put The Wife Upstairs on your list.

Published by St. Martin's Press, January 5, 2021
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
304 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Book Review: The Engineer's Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood

The Engineer's Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood book cover and review 

The Engineer's Wife is an interesting historical fiction, based in truth, about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The building of this amazing structure was no small feat, taking decades to construct. It was also a very dangerous undertaking, causing many permanent injuries and even several deaths. The men had to spend much time in an underwater enclosure and were subject to the bends due to the pressure. Of course, in the 1800s, no one knew anything about this condition and subjecting themselves to this day after day caused many men to be permanently affected.

Washington Roebling was one of these men. And he was in charge of building the bridge. When he became so ill that he could no longer be at the building site, he sent his wife, Emily, with instructions and decisions about how to proceed. Emily took it upon herself to become knowledgeable about the design and engineering of the bridge so she could make decisions on her own.

The book starts out with Emily's and Washington's courtship and marriage. Washington's illness also caused a huge rift in their relationship, and Emily became friends with and eventually fell in love with P.T. Barnum.  Many other famous people make appearances in the novel.

Many of the descriptions of the building of the bridge were difficult for me to understand without pictures. These served to heighten my interest rather than frustrate me as a reader. I now intend to watch Ken Burns' documentary about the building of the bridge so I can better understand what the book was trying to describe.

It was an interesting story, however, it took me many weeks to get through it. Part of that was just because I didn't feel like reading, but maybe I didn't feel like reading because the book was a bit slow-paced.

Emily's feats are fascinating, and of course, she got little credit for her essential part in the completion of the bridge.

If you are interested in the subject, The Engineer's Wife won't disappoint.

Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, 2020
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
356 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Book Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Richardson. Book cover and review
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek depicts a time and a place that I knew little about. I found it touching and compelling. And I'm a sucker for books about librarians...

In the 1930s, in the deep hills of Appalachia, Roosevelt's Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project hired women to deliver library materials to the most remote and isolated people in the state. Cussy is one of these librarians.

Her father is determined that Cussy get married since he is her only family. Cussy knows that she will lose the job she loves since married women can't be packhorse librarians. She also knows that no one will want to marry her since her skin is a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. She is the last of her kind, one of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky.

Cussy survives many hardships, many having to do with the discrimination against the blues, but also just because she is poor. Her father's life is a horrific one, working in the coal mines every day.

The depiction of Cussy and the people she meets is eye-opening and fascinating. Minor characters are a bit muddled-I had a bit of trouble keeping track of who was who-but I needed to find out what happened to all of them. And some of it is very sad.

I'm still thinking about Cussy and her life (and feeling thankful). I think that says a lot about a book. If you are interested in history, and in particular the hardships endured by these people, you should check out The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

Published by Sourcebooks Landmard, 2019
eBook purchased
320 pages

Rating: 4/5

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