Reading wrap-up #36

After the fun Olympic Games read-a-thon, I’m back to my regularly scheduled reading…

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Liked it enough
  • (★★): Didn’t care for it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. Finally, you can always check out my book review index page if you’re looking for my extremely important opinion on any book in particular.

The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner ...Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, history, survival

GoodReads rating: 4.19 / 5 (11,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: “In April of 1846, twenty-one-year-old Sarah Graves, intent on a better future, set out west from Illinois with her new husband, her parents, and eight siblings. Seven months later, after joining a party of emigrants led by George Donner, they reached the Sierra Nevada Mountains as the first heavy snows of the season closed the pass ahead of them. In early December, starving and desperate, Sarah and fourteen others set out for California on snowshoes and, over the next thirty-two days, endured almost unfathomable hardships and horrors.”

Thoughts: I was reading and greatly enjoying In the Heart of the Sea when I was camping in Cannon Beach and my special friend suggested this book as it’s a quite similar story of survival against all odds. I really liked this book as well, but I found some of the tangents a bit off-topic and the book unnecessarily descriptive at parts. Still, an interesting tale and I highly recommend this book.

Other adaptations: There have been a few different film and TV adaptions, none of them considered “must-sees.”

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Amazon.com: No Country for Old Men (9780375706677): Cormac ...Rating: ★★★

Genre: Fiction, thriller, crime

GoodReads rating: 4.12 / 5 (140,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: When Llewellyn Moss finds drugs and money surrounded by dead bodies and takes the $2 million, he finds himself hunted by a formidable killer as the Sheriff Bell tries to keep up.

Thoughts: I’m quite torn about this book. I really enjoyed the multiple points of view as we can see what’s going on with Moss, Chigurh and the Sheriff as the story comes together, but it was kind of slow and superfluous at parts (mostly the sheriff’s narrations) and it’s my pet hate when authors don’t use quotation marks in dialogue!

Other adaptations: Obviously, this is widely accepted as one of the best movies ever made. The Coen Brothers are untouchable and Javier Bardem gives a chilling performance as a stone-cold killer with a questionable haircut.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams

1980 - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams ...Rating: ★★★

Genre: Sci-fi, comedy

GoodReads rating: 4.21 / 5 (226,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: Facing annihilation at the hands of the warlike Vogons is a curious time to have a cosmically displaced Arthur Dent and his curious comrades in arms as they hurtle through space powered by pure improbability – and desperately in search of a place to eat. Among Arthur’s motley shipmates are Ford Prefect, a long-time friend and contributor to the The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the three-armed, two-headed ex-president of the galaxy; Tricia McMilan, a fellow Earth refuge who’s gone native (her name is Trillian now); and Marvin, who suffers nothing and no one gladly.

Thoughts: This book is doing what I wanted it to: a fun read and the comedy almost made it a four-star book. I’m not a big sci-fi fan and I think a chunk of the world-building didn’t go anywhere or make me laugh, I would have been okay with minimal descriptions.

Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams

Illustration: Life, the Universe and EverythingRating: ★★★

Genre: Sci-fi, comedy

GoodReads rating: 4.20 (nice) / 5 (191,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: “The unhappy inhabitants of planet Krikkit are sick of looking at the night sky above their heads–so they plan to destroy it. The universe, that is. Now only five individuals stand between the killer robots of Krikkit and their goal of total annihilation.”

Thoughts: This was almost a two-star read unfortunately. I have the same problems with this book as the last one but even more so: a shaky plot, too many diversions and the comedy continues to fade. The only redeeming factor was the fly/rabbit bit and jokes about how much cricket sport sucks. I don’t think I’ll be finishing this series as I’ve been told it just gets weirder and somehow less plot-focused.

Have you read any of these? 

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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