Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough. Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it! Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up. For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.
Almost done with December reviews! :-D
The Martian by Andy Weir – 4*
This one has been on my radar for a while, but I’m not usually into “space” books, so I wasn’t sure if I would really like this one. Set in what appears to be the not-too-distant future, Mark is part of a NASA crew set to land on Mars and spend some time living there, studying the planet. When an emergency forces the rest of the team to bail, thinking Mark is dead, he becomes the only man on Mars. Determined to survive and to make it home, the book is a combination of Mark’s journal entries and third-person narration as to what is happening on earth as well.
Like I said, I didn’t particularly have high expectations for this one, and even assumed that it would be a DNF, especially since there were multiple F-bombs on the first page. However, Mark’s wry sense of humor hooked me almost right away (and the swearing calmed down a lot, too). I know a lot of reviews actually complain about how Mark is always making humorous remarks, but as someone who survives life by finding something to laugh about, I was here for it. I did find his almost impossibly bad luck to be a little wearing after a while – every time he would start to get some momentum, something else tragic would happen and we’re back to square one. I have no idea if any of the sciencey aspects check out, and I frankly skipped a lot of paragraphs that were numbers/explanations, because that ain’t me, but for pure storytelling fun, this one was an unexpected win.
Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome – 5*
This is the fourth Swallows & Amazons book, and like the other three, was an absolute delight. The children are back at the lake where their adventures started, during that awkward period of time after Christmas but before school starts again. Another pair of children are introduced, so it was fun to see the original group from a slightly outside perspective. The whole adventure was just so much fun, and really made me want a houseboat. I can’t recommend these books highly enough.
Northern Lights by Nora Roberts – 4*
First off, who names a child Ignatius?!
This was a typical Nora Roberts story – likable characters, engaging plot, too many sexy times. Nate was a police officer in a big city (can’t remember which one) when his partner was killed, leaving Nate feeling guilty and depressed. He accepts a position as sheriff in a very small town in Alaska, assuming that the most excitement he’ll face there is the occasional aggressive moose. However, when a body is discovered in a mountain cave, a disappearance from years ago turns out to be a murder – and Nate believes the murderer is still living in town.
The mystery in this one was extremely well paced, with multiple potential murderers around. As always, Roberts gives us an incredibly likable protagonist, and plenty of engaging secondary characters as well. The setting of Alaska – remote, wild, beautiful, dangerous – is drawn very well. I can’t imagine living somewhere with only a few hours of daylight in the winter! I loved watching Nate begin to take interest in life again, although, ironically, I felt like the romance was the weaker part of this story overall, as not a lot of connection is built between the two of them before it’s suddenly FOREVER LOVE. But since I liked both characters, I rolled with it.
Roberts books are always rated Mature, but if you don’t mind skipping a few sexy scenes, there is a lot of good story to go around.
The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie – 5*
On Litsy there is an informal group reading one Christie book per month in published order, and December’s book was this one (we have some discussion questions at the end of the month, which is great fun). I’ve read all Christie’s books before, but this is a lovely way to revisit them yet again, because they really never get old to me. The Man in the Brown Suit is honestly one of my very favorites. It’s absolutely ridiculous, with spies and jewel thieves and tall, dark, mysterious men, but the whole thing is such a rollicking and humorous adventure that I just lap it all up. I’ve read this one many, many times, but it’s lost none of its charm for me, and I’m still just a little bit in love with Sir Eustace.
Also, I’ve read this one before – here’s my review from 2016 with a smidge more information on the book!
The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle – 3.5*
I’m sorry if I keep mentioning Litsy, but a lot of my reading activities are somewhat centered there now. It’s just such a fun, warm community of readers! Another Litten arranged a group she calls #NewYearWhoDis, where each participant lists out 3-10 of their top books of 2019. The girl organizing the thing then took the time to sift through everyone’s lists and pair them together with like-minded readers. The matches traded lists, agreeing to try at least one book from the other person’s list in January. All that to say, I hadn’t heard of The Storm Keeper’s Island before I saw it on my match’s list. It’s a middle grade fantasy read and was overall good fun, although there were some minor continuity problems (my favorite is where they’re outside in the middle of a horrific, rainy, windy storm yet somehow manage to light some candles with zero trouble…). The main problem is that even though this book had a decent ending, there are a lot of lead-ins for the sequel, which my library doesn’t have! So if any of you have some extra books in this series just lying about, I’d love to borrow them. :-D