Top Ten: Books Set Outside the US

logo-TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was a rewind, so I chose to cover July 19th’s list: top ten books set outside the US. Although I mostly read books set in England, I was able to find ten books set wholly (or partly) in ten different countries (and also another planet).

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Czech Republic: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

England: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

France: A Very Long Engagement by Sébastien Japrisot

Germany: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

India: The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

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Iran: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Italy: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Mexico: 2666 by Roberto Bolaño

Turkey: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Mars: The Martian by Andy Weir

Five Favorite: Books I Read in 2015

“Five Favorite” is a feature on thewasofshall where I lay out my five favorite “x”. Sometimes they’re relevant to a season or holiday, mostly they’re not. It’s an all-around fun excuse to give my 100% amazingly awesome opinion. To see previous (and future) topics, click here. To participate, scroll all the way down.

I read about 30 books in 2015 – a lot of them good and a lot of them bad – but only a handful were absolute re-read favorites. Here are my top five.

BetweenTheWorldAndMe

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

TheMartian

The Martian by Andy Weir

MsMarvelVol1

Ms. Marvel, vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

TheRoyalWe

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

StationEleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Have your own five favorite 2015 reads? Share them! Post them to your blog, link back to this post, and then comment letting me know!

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

TheMartianTitle: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Rating: ★★★★★
Summary: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.


If it weren’t for the big-budget movie starring Matt Damon that just came out*, I don’t think Andy Weir’s The Martian would be flying off the shelves as much as it has – but that’s kind of a shame, really, because it’s super (ridiculously) good. And not just good in a hard sci-fi kind of way where you’re already kind of enthralled by NASA and interested in Mars and always maybe wanted to be an astronaut when you grew up. It’s good in the way a spy thriller is good or an adventure story is good – good where there’s a clear good guy vs. bad guy thing going on and there’s a nail-biting chase scene (or three) and you’re not JUST rooting for the bad guy to fail, you’re actually rooting for the good guy to win.

For me, books like The Martian don’t come around very often: books that make me bark out peals of laughter, put off watching TV (admittedly, my favorite thing to do), and keep me up way past my bedtime so that I can finish just one more paragraph (okay, fifteen). A book that fills my mind so that the seconds tick by into minutes, fifteen minutes roll into thirty, and one hour somehow becomes four… hours where I’m sitting and then lounging and then stretching, all to feed the insatiable need of omg what is happening i need to know how this ends. (If I could somehow read at the edge of my seat then that’s what I was doing for, like, ninety percent of this book.) I knew that I would enjoy The Martian, but I didn’t anticipate just how much this book was going to win me over. (Kind of how Netflix thinks I’ll rate a Gritty Crime Drama with an Engaging Female Lead four stars and I’m like, “Why would I watch that, Netflix?” and then I watch it and give it four stars. (Because Netflix just knows, okay??? So let’s pretend that I’m Netflix and I just know.))

You don’t need to know a whole lot about this book before going in – namely because Weir’s fearless protagonist Mark Watney spells it out in literally the first chapter of the book – but I suppose it’s helpful to know that Watney is an astronaut presumed dead and, as a result, left stranded on Mars. So, basically, the entire book is various forms of “Way to go, Mark!” and “Have fun, Mark!” and “So glad you’re not dead, Mark!” except Mark is saying this all to himself because he’s the only human being on an entire freaking planet and he doesn’t even have a robot for company.

Basically, The Martian is sarcastic and smart and nail-biting and laugh-out-loud funny and I wish you would just read it already because this review is turning out useless. (You’ll like it, though, I swear.)

* Everybody’s Favorite Scientist™ Neil deGrasse Tyson actually shot a (real) promo for the (real) film’s (fake) Ares 3 mission, (theoretically) taped for his (real) program Star Talk. META.

Five Favorite: Science Fiction Novels

“Five Favorite” is a feature on thewasofshall where I lay out my five favorite “x”. Sometimes they’re relevant to a season or holiday, mostly they’re not. It’s an all-around fun excuse to give my 100% amazingly awesome opinion. To see previous (and future) topics, click here. To participate, scroll all the way down.

I intended to have more than five science fiction novels from which to choose – and to spend the majority of this list detailing why I had to whittle it down – but, instead, I belatedly realized that I spend way more time thinking about sci-fi literature than I do reading it. So, below are four of my favorite sci-fi novels as well as one high on my tbr list.

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11/22/63 by Stephen King (on my tbr, especially now that the mini series is imminent!!)

Blackout

Blackout by Connie Willis

TheMartian

The Martian by Andy Weir

MsMarvelVol1

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

ThePassage

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Have your own five favorite science fiction novels? Share them! Post them to your blog, link back to this post, and then comment letting me know!

Top Ten: Book-to-Movie Adaptations I Still Need to Watch

logo-TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was book-to-movie adaptations I still need to watch / to which I’m looking forward. And, since I have so many freakin’ films on my to-watch list, the following are ones that have come out within the last year (or so).

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Beasts of No Nation, based on Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala

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Dark Places, based on Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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The Diary of a Teenage Girl, based on The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures by Phoebe Gloeckner

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Foxcatcher, based on Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother’s Murder, John du Pont’s Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold by Mark Schultz

ttt_Mockingjay

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, based on Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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The Martian, based on The Martian by Andy Weir

ttt_PaperTowns

Paper Towns, based on Paper Towns by John Green

ttt_Room

Room, based on Room by Emma Donoghue

ttt_TheoryOfEverything

The Theory of Everything, based on Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking

ttt_Unbroken

Unbroken, based on Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Top Ten: Books on My Summer TBR List

logo-TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was top ten books on my summer to-be-read list.

I actually mapped out my 2015 TBR list back in December while preparing for the Book Riot #ReadHarder challenge – and then decided to read different books just ’cause I wanted to. Here are the ten I hope to finish by September 22nd.

Fiction

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Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Martian by Andy Weir

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A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Ms. Marvel, vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

 

 

Non-Fiction

ttt_SummerTBR3Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

So, Anyway… by John Cleese

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner

Top Ten: Goals for 2015

logo-TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was book & blogging goals/resolutions for 2015.

My goals:

  1. Participate in and finish the BookRiot #ReadHarder campaign
  2. Read Deborah Harkness’ All Souls trilogy
  3. Read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Andy Weir’s The Martian
  4. Read George Eliot’s Middlemarch in order to fully understand Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch
  5. Read John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In so that I can then watch its two film adaptations, Let the Right One In and Let Me In
  6. Read Lois Lowry’s The Giver series
  7. Read all of Rainbow Rowell‘s books (except Attachments, which I actually read in 2012 and got a like from Rainbow herself on Tumblr after posting a quote – like, oh my god, whoa #nojoke)
  8. Read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Complete Sherlock Holmes, vols. 1 & 2
  9. Read the following YA series that I completely missed over the past 5 years: Anna and the French Kiss, Divergent, If I Stay, Just One Day, and Shatter Me
  10. And blog at least once per week