Recent Reads #1

I’m taking a small break from beauty related posts. I’ve been pretty tired these past few weeks and kept makeup to the bare minimum plus the next palette I’ve planned to review deserves special attention. Anyway, I figured it’s time to talk about another one of my passions – reading. This year I’ve upped my Goodreads reading challenge to 30 books and so far I’m keeping up just fine, partly because most of the books I’ve gone through so far were pretty good. Here are my short reviews/thoughts on them.

‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir – This is one example of me breaking my rule of always reading the book before watching anything based on it, because I saw ‘The Martian’ the week it got on the big screen. Despite the fact, that recent sci-fi movies have upped my expectations for the genre beyond the clouds, I can still honestly say that I love the movie. I’ve seen it maybe 5 or 6 times already. It’s an odd animal in it’s genre, in a good way, and the same can be said about the book.It’s a rare thing for me to like the screen adaptation and the source material equally, but it happened.
I think the plot of the book is pretty obvious/famous, but I’ll sum it up in a few words: It’s about a smart ass botanist, who gets left for dead on Mars by accident and has to summon all of his knowledge, stubbornness and bad language to survive. I love it. I love the main character, I love the setting and I love the moral: just start somewhere, solve your problems one by one, move one stone, then move the next one and just don’t give up. I think this is a book anyone can enjoy, not just sci-fi fans. It’s funny, witty, empowering and easy to read while remaining plausible and scientific enough. I honestly almost couldn’t believe this is Andys first ever published novel and before it he was a software engineer (like me, yay!). I’ve already set my eye on his second book – ‘Artemis’, but ‘The Martian’ is a must read.

‘Origin’ by Dan Brown – I’ve been following the Robert Langdon saga since my high school years. I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of Dan Browns work, but the fact that I continue to read it, says a lot. His books usually suck me in with the history background and lose me with the story, because beneath all of the fantastic real historical settings, myths, legends and facts it’s the same old we-live-in-a-big-conspiracy-but-an-american-super-smart-hero-professor-will-beat-the-bad-guys-alone-except-for-a-hot-female-sidekick. His latest novel is no exception. Not that it’s a bad thing. I read Dans books well aware that the good guys will win and I mainly focus on the history and legends he bases the story on, which are always interesting. That being said I think ‘Origin’ is not one of his best works. Maybe I did not enjoy it as much, because this time he focused a large part of the book on a field I understand well enough (that being software and artificial intelligence) to see how shallowly and unrealistically it’s represented. Still, it’s a nice enough weekend read and I don’t regret going through it. His books are always easy to read and to me are worth the time, even just because of the amazing stories they tell about (mostly) European cities and heritage. A large part of the book is set in Barcelona and given I’ll spend a couple days there in a few weeks, I’m really glad I learnt a bit of history about the city landmarks. I’d recommend the book for an easy, mindless read, but I wouldn’t go back to it and if it’s your first time reading Dan Brown, definitely don’t start with this one.

‘Chocolat’ by Joanne Harris – Here is another example of me watching a screen adaptation before I read the book it’s based on, purely because I had no idea there was a book. I adore the movie – Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Carrie-Anne Moss are amazing in their roles and the whole thing is packed with chocolate, a huge serving of that elegant yet rural french lifestyle and just enough romance to spice everything up. Top all of that with a young Johnny Depp and you have a feel-good masterpiece. The book on the other hand… not so much. It’s not unreadable, it’s just disappointing after you’ve seen the movie. The warmth, the sweetness, the ‘je ne sais quoi’ (‘almost’ the only thing I know in French) are simply not there. The story is the same, but without the magical performances and setting, the book comes of kinda cold and uninspiring. Maybe my expectations were too big, but if I were you, I’d stick with the movie.

‘Rabel Rising’ by Beth Revis – Up until a while back I wasn’t a big fan of Star Wars. I did like the first six movies, just not with the cult-like devotion of most fans, who grew up with them. I had a few favourite characters, but being a sci-fi fan I always found the saga too fantasy-ish for my taste. I think the first time I realised the movies are growing on me was after ‘Rogue One’. I don’t know how, but I walked out of the cinema and went straight on the internet spending a good few hours reading reviews/blog posts about what I’ve just seen, easter eggs and explanations. I was hooked. I’m still definitely not the biggest fan of the franchise, but now I just get the hype and devotion. Still I wasn’t very sure about the books in the Star Wars universe, so I had decided to skip on them (I’m kinda prejudiced towards books based on movies) until a very good friend of mine gifted me this one for Christmas. The story predates the events of ‘Rogue One’ and focuses on the childhood of Jyn Erso – the female protagonist of the movie. I actually enjoyed the book more than I anticipated, but I do have one ‘minor’ complaint. The story is so dark! It’s Disney meets Game of Thrones in terms of tragedy and hopelessness. I figured this is geared towards young adults and I really did not expect this much doom and gloom. Besides that, it’s an ok book. It does shed some light on Jyns background and motivations and sets up the movie nicely. Of course there is a cliche/out of nowhere love story, but it’s bearable. I liked the writing style. I’m not sure if I would try other books in the Star Wars universe, but I don’t regret reading this one.

What have you read lately? :)

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