Must Read: The Martian by Andy Weir

There aren’t many books that I gush about anymore. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve read so many by this point in my life that it takes a special one to stick out, or if it’s because when I recommend one to people, I want them to take it seriously. Whatever the reason, I’d like to take a moment to gush about The Martian by Andy Weir.

The_Martian_2014Okay, I’ll try not to gush too much. I know what happens when people do that: Expectations go up, up, up, and inevitably those expectations aren’t met. So, I’ll keep my recommendation short and sweet:

Read it! It’s awesome.

Fine, fine. I’ll gush a little more. But only a little, I promise.

I first heard about The Martian last fall when I went to a writing conference run by publishing guru, Chuck Sambuchino. During the session that revolved around writing great first pages, he mentioned this book. I can’t remember exactly what Sambuchino said, but it went something like this: “If you want to read a flawless first page and a near flawless book, then read The Martian.”

So, of course, I did. And, of course, I loved it! I’m not even a huge sci-fi fan and I couldn’t put it down.

Since then, I’ve recommended The Martian to all of my friends, and they’ve agreed it’s addicting. Just this morning, my mom text me and told me she finished it (she started it two days ago), and then proceeded to gush about it as well.

…I won’t go into any specific details as to why The Martian is so great (I despise spoilers), but let’s just say it’s been about six months since I finished it and I’m still not over it!

book leavingTalk about an epic book hangover! Thanks a lot, Andy Weir. 😉

Okay, okay, I’ll stop now. Just go read The Martian! And definitely read it before the movie adaptation gets released in November. As amazing (and accurate) as the trailer looks below, we book nerds know the movie is rarely better than the book. So read it before you head to the theater!

To read more about The Martian, click here!

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Jen’s Top 10 Favorite Books of 2014

Although I’ve cut way back on the book review side of my blog, I still like to spotlight books every now and then. And today, I’d like to spotlight my top 10 favorites from 2014. As you’ll see below, I read and enjoyed a wide variety of books last year: Light and heavy. Adult fiction and YA. Historical fiction, drama, sci-fi, contemporary romance, paranormal…I was all over the map! So, check them out. Maybe you’ll find a few that pique your interest?

Jen’s Top 10 Favorite Books of 2014

#1: Cress by Marissa Meyer

13206828I read Cress in early 2014, and it stuck with me the whole year. Like its predecessors in the Lunar Chronicles series, Cress was fun, witty, adventurous, and downright entertaining. Marissa Meyer has definitely proven to me old tales can be remade in exciting and creative ways. I can’t wait for Winter, the final book in this amazing series, to be released later this year!

To read my full review and more about Cress, click here!

#2: The Martian by Andy Weir

18007564I just finished The Martian during the holidays and…wow. Just wow! Think the movie Cast Away, but on Mars. Seriously, it’s like nothing I’ve ever read before. Gripping, intelligent, funny. I might’ve even shed a tear at the end.

The second I finished The Martian, I said, “Well, that has Hollywood written all over it.” And, guess what? The film is set to be released in November 2015. Ha! So don’t wait. Go read it before you see the movie…And then thank me for recommending it to you. 😉

To read more about The Martian, click here!

#3: Winter of the World by Ken Follett

12959233You know what amazes me about Ken Follett? He can write a 1,000 page story that flies by like a 400 page one. What amazes me more? He can write a 1,000 page historical fiction that doesn’t bore me to tears! Just like its predecessor, Fall of Giants, Winter of the World ensnared me from the start and has everything you want in a story: likable characters, rich settings, suspenseful plots, and so much more.

Trust me, don’t let the daunting size of this book stop you from reading it. It’s too good to pass up!

  To read more about Winter of the World, click here!

#4: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

15745753So, I read three Rainbow Rowell books in 2014, and I must admit, I wanted to put all of them on this list. But, I resisted the temptation and only put two (sorry Landline).

I’m sure most of you have already heard a lot of buzz about Eleanor & Park, and I’m sure many of you have already read it (and if you haven’t, you should.) It’s an addictive tale that takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions: Anger. Humor. Fear. Love. I’ve never read a contemporary romance quite like this one. You go from smirking at Eleanor and Park’s resentful start, to grinning at their magical connection, to holding your breath at their uncertain future.

In a nutshell, it’s awesome. So go read it!

To read my full review and more about Eleanor & Park, click here!

#5: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

16131484You know, there has been some debate about this sequel to The 5th Wave. Some have liked it. Some have not. Personally, I did. No, it wasn’t as great as The 5th Wave, and yes, it did feel like a middle book in a series (you know, the wobbly bridge that connects the 1st and 3rd book). But, whatever. I still enjoyed it and I’d still recommend it to others.

And, hey, here’s another book that will likely be adapted to screen someday since they’re already filming the first in the series. So, go read it before you head to the theater!

To read more about The Infinite Seaclick here!

#6: The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo

10194157After seeing this book cover all over the place for a couple of years, I finally decided to place a hold on it at the library…and then I proceeded to devour it within two days…and then I proceeded to devour its sequels within a week. Yeah, The Grisha series is ahh-ddicting! Magical, mysterious, scary, romantic, all three books (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising) have the perfect elements to make a perfectly entertaining story.

So, if you’re looking for a quick, fun, adventurous read, here you go!

To read more about The Grisha seriesclick here!

#7: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

13618440Considering Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my favorite books of all time, I placed its final segment, Dreams of Gods & Monsters, at the top of my must-read list for 2014. I can’t even explain how excited I was to get my hands on it. Once I did, I was satisfied with it. I’ll admit, it wasn’t my favorite in the series, but it wrapped things up nicely, answered all my questions, and made me both happy and sad. It’s always bittersweet to finish a wonderful series, you know?

Trust me, this is a must-read!

To read more about Dreams of Gods and Monsters, click here!

#8: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

8909152Annnd here’s the second Rainbow Rowell book on my list. Thinking about it, I should’ve listed this above Eleanor & Park because, honestly, I enjoyed it more. It’s not as intense and it’s just a tad more addictive. Plus, I totally fell in love with Lincoln. He’s one of my biggest book crushes ever.

*cue googly eyed expression*

…Hmmm…

Okay, I’m gonna keep daydreaming about Lincoln while you go read Attachments. I promise, it’s awesome!

To read my full review and more about Attachments, click here.

#9: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

8755785This was another highly anticipated book for me in 2014. And–unlike some of the other books I had looked forward to reading–City of Heavenly Fire lived up to my expectations. It also polished off The Mortal Instruments series in a satisfying way. As usual, Cassandra Clare wove a wonderful tale of adventure, wit, and love. And, of course, there were plenty of twists and turns, “Oohs” and “Ahhs”, and even a few “Noooooo…!” moments.

If you haven’t had a chance to get into this series, and you enjoy paranormal stories with a dash of humor and lots of action, then I highly recommend it!

To read more about City of Heavenly Fireclick here!

#10: Vampire Academy series Richelle Mead

18660669Oh, yes. I did it. I put the Vampire Academy series on the list. Go ahead and laugh, mutter “Huh?”, and poke fun at me all you want. But, you shouldn’t judge me until you read these books. Talk about addicting! I ended up reading all six of them in just over a month.

And, fine, these are not the most serious, challenging, or life altering books out there. But you know what? Sometimes, light and easy books are the best. And these are some of the best I’ve read in a long time. So check them out!

To read more about Vampire Academy, click here!

Overall, I read some great books in 2014 (and, okay, some not so great books, but we won’t talk about those). I can’t wait to read all the adventures awaiting me in 2015! I’ve already gotten off to a great start with Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

If you’d like to check out more of my book reviews, click here!

Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

18081809Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis

“Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now. Maybe that was always besides the point. Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts …

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?”

Jen’s Review

Meet Georgie McCool (er, but with blonde hair): 

Meet her husband, Neal: 

Meet their life:

Meet Georgie’s magical phone: 

yellow painted classical phone

Now meet the novel where all of this goodness happens:

18081809

And now meet my Two Thumbs Up for it: 

Okay, seriously, if you haven’t read a book by Rainbow Rowell yet…well. You better get on it! As of this month, she has four–FOUR–awesome books published. And her newest, Landline, is no exception. Just like her other novels, Landline had me hooked from page one. It was thoroughly engaging, filled with vivid, relatable characters, and so addicting, I didn’t want to put it down. I also enjoyed how it wasn’t completely adult fiction. There was plenty of YA moments, which made it all the more special.

So go pick up Landline and get reading. Scootch-scootch!

Jen’s Rating

4 Star

Read more about Landline here!

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The week in GIFs: Mark Ruffalo edition

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From Working Girls to Devils in Prada: Top Female Leaders on Film and TV

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Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

8909152Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis

“‘Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ‘
Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.
When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.
By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.
What would he say . . . ?”

Jen’s Review

<<Jennifer to Beth>> You are a complicated woman.

<<Beth to Jennifer>> No. Doy.

<<Jen to Reader>> Oh my gosh! I just read an AMAZING book!!!

<<Reader to Jen>> Yeah? What?

<<Jen to Reader>> Attachments by Rainbow Rowell! I couldn’t put it down. It. Was. So. Ahhh-dicting. Seriously, Rowell is officially one of my favorite authors.

<<Reader to Jen>> Wow, really? Why?

<<Jen to Reader>> Well, besides writing good stories, she knows how to write fabulous characters. She makes them feel so real, so relevant, so relatable. I swear, my life is a Rainbow Rowell novel. It’s like she knows me. The problems her characters face, the thoughts they have, the fears they deal with–all me! It’s creepy, but in a cool, “whoa” way, ya know?

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the guy in this book, Lincoln!…siiiigh

<<Reader to Jen>> Spill!!!

<<Jen to Reader>> I don’t know. He’s just so darn cute! Sweet and endearing and polite. I just wanted to wrap him up, take him home, and keep him forever. I mean it, he’s the kind of guy you wanna meet and fall in love with in real life…Where are you Lincoln??? Where, where, where…

<<Reader to Jen>> Um, you do know you sound a little crazy now, right?

<<Jen to Reader>> …yes.

<<Reader to Jen>> Okay, good. Just checking. So Attachments is really good?

<<Jen to Reader>> YES!

<<Reader to Jen>> Better than Fangirl and Eleanor & Park?

<<Jen to Reader>> Well, I wouldn’t say “better”, per se. Just different. In my opinion, Attachments was lighter and more fun as a whole. But, don’t get me wrong, it still had its dramatic, epiphany-filled moments. They just didn’t seem as intense or prominent as the other two novels.

<<Reader to Jen>> Okay, so I guess that means you’d definitely recommend it?

<<Jen to Reader>> Duh!

<<Reader to Jen>> Okay, okay! Sheesh.

<<Jen to Reader>> Sorry! I get pushy when I find a book that I love, and I LOVED Attachments. Let’s just say as you near the end, you’ll start to feel anxious and sad, because you won’t want it to end.

b9d10050302e88e870291e52c4ada5bf<<Reader to Jen>> Fine, fine. I’m heading to the bookstore now.

<<Jen to Reader>> Good! Trust me, you won’t regret it!

“I think I missed my window,” he said.
“What window?”
“My get-a-life window. I think I was supposed to figure all this stuff out somewhere between twenty-two and twenty-six, and now it’s too late.

Jen’s Rating 

5 Star

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Top 10 Books I Read in 2013

Okay, I’m breaking my rule of no blogging until I’m done with my vacation, but I wanted to share with you the top ten books I read in 2013. I was surprised to discover I read over 60 (I assumed it was closer to 40, maybe 50). And I was even more surprised as I scrolled through the titles how many outstanding stories I experienced. It was difficult for me to narrow it down to ten.

But, I did! So here we go…

10. The Selection by Kiera Cass

10507293I had very low expectations for this book, but within the first chapter, my low expectations were shattered. The Selection is light, fanciful and truly entertaining. Give it a try!

Read my full review here.

9. Champion by Marie Lu

14290364 Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this final book in the Legend series. It was a fitting ending to an outstanding story. I highly, highly recommend it to one and all!

Read my full review here.

8. Just One Day & Just One Year by Gayle Forman

1284211512842134Okay, I’m cheating on this one. But it’s hard to separate these two books because they go hand-in-hand, and they’re equally amazing. They’re moving, eye-opening, and one hundred percent entertaining.

Read my full reviews here and here.

7. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

11870085This was the first book I read in 2013, and it stuck with me throughout the whole year. Now, normally I’m not into stories about cancer and sickness and whatnot. They’re just too sad. But this is a special story everyone should read. Plus, the movie is coming out in 2014, and you know my rule of thumb: read the book before you see the movie. So go read it!

Read more about The Fault in Our Stars here.

6. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

17237214Two Boys Kissing is more than a story about two boys kissing. It’s a story about love. And life. And appreciating love and life. It’s a story that has the power to change minds–hearts–lives.

Read my full review here.

5. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

7315573I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but this one was awesome! Fall of Giants kept me hooked from page one all the way to page 960! I’m planning on diving into its sequel, Winter of the World, early in the new year.

Read my full review here.

4. Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

11235712

13206760Okay, okay! I’m cheating again. But, you know what? This is my blog and I can do what I want, so there! 😉 I just finished these first two books in the Lunar Chronicles, and I’m in love! In fact, I’ve been dealing with a massive book hangover the past few days because I can’t get over them. So. Good.

I’ll  be doing full reviews for these books soon, so check back later for my complete feedback. Or, better yet, take my word for it, and go read them. You won’t be able to put them down.

3.  Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

18335634There aren’t many books, let alone series, that I want to read more than once. But The Infernal Devices is one of them. This prequel series to Clare’s Mortal Instruments shares the same fun, rip-roaring action and smart humor, but it feels richer and more endearing. And by the last page of its final book, Clockwork Princess, I was crying (and I’m not a crier) and wishing a thousand times it wasn’t over.

Read more about Clockwork Princess here.

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905Few books have touched my heart–my soul–the way Fangirl did. If you’re looking for a story that’s a perfect combination of funny and serious, and has a dash of fantasy to it, this is it!

Read my full review here.

1. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

16101128I can’t believe I’m saying this, but of all the books I read in 2013, this aliens-take-over-the-world tale was my favorite. And, trust me, I’m not a fan of alien stories. But The 5th Wave was crazy good. It was addicting, terrifying and action-packed. And it made me truly believe an alien invasion could actually happen. I’m counting down the days to the release of its sequel, The Infinite Sea, due out in May 2014.

Read my full review here.

Well, that’s it, folks! I’m so excited for 2014 and all the great books I’m sure to read. I already have a nice lineup set to go, starting with Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

Happy New Year!

Movie Review: The Book Thief

It’s taken me longer than I planned, but I finally saw The Book Thief last weekend. I grabbed a bucket of popcorn and a box of tissues and sat back to–hopefully–enjoy one of my favorite books on the big screen.

MV5BOTE3NzkyMjAyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDc5MTE0MDE@._V1_As a whole, I did enjoy the film. I feel the adaptation was true to the book and brought Himmel Street to life beautifully. And judging by the round of applause inside the theater at the end, I’d say other fans enjoyed it too.

Probably the best and most spot-on part about the film was the cast. Sophie Nélisse as Liesel was amazing, and Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson as Hans and Rosa were exactly as I imagined them. And–just like the book–my favorite character was Rudy. In fact, I might love him even more after seeing the adorable and endearing Nico Liersch play him. (I just want to pinch his cheeks!)

_MG_6517April 02, 2013.cr2Okay, now for a couple of things that…disappointed me. And let me preface this by saying 1) These are nit-picky complaints coming from a book lover’s perspective, and 2) Despite these complaints, I still give the film two thumbs up.

First, was Death’s downgraded role. In my opinion, one of the best parts about The Book Thief was Death’s unique narrative. It added such an eerie tone and impending sense of doom. And although the movie opened with Death welcoming us, it quickly faded into the background and only returned here and there. This caused the movie to fall a bit flat for me. Without the ongoing presence of its morbid storyteller, the story just wasn’t as dark or suspenseful or special as it could’ve been.

book-thief-trailer-08212013-125609(If haven’t read the book or seen the movie (and plan to), don’t read this next paragraph).

****

****

Second, was Rudy’s death. One of the worst and best parts of the book was its horrific ending. I knew the moment Hans said goodnight to Liesel and left her in the basement that I was going to need my tissues. And, trust me, I used them. BUT my tears were staunched when Liesel ran to Rudy’s body amongst the rubble, shouting his name and begging him to open his eyes–and he did! Whhhattt? Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking: “What’s the big deal? So what if Rudy lived an extra couple of hours than he did in the book? He still died and it is still awful.” And yes, it is. But, for me, Rudy’s death was one of the most haunting scenes in the book. The way Death embraced his soul and took extra care of it was both tragic and comforting…I also felt his death scene was on the melodramatic–even cheesy–side. When Rudy opened his eyes and gasped, “Liesel, I have to tell you…” and then died, I felt more amused than sad. It just seemed so cliche and predictable.

****

****

Okay, I’m done complaining. Back to the positive.

Overall, I’d highly recommend this film to both fans of the book and those who’ve never heard of it. It’s a remarkable story that stays with you for days–weeks–months–years after reading/watching it. So don’t miss out!

And, seriously, go read the book if you haven’t. It’s. Amazing!

Jen’s Rating

4 Star