March & April 2016 Reading Recap

You may have noticed I didn’t include a March Reading Recap last month, but March was a bit of a slow month for me since we were on vacation (and you would think that I would read more on vacation but I don’t!). So I decided to combine March and April and include some of my favorites and more popular reads.

I read 8 books in the last two months, which brings me to a total of 20 books this year! My goal is 52 books, so that puts me three books ahead of schedule. I would have liked to read a little bit more so  I don’t fall behind during finals and the move back home, but I’ve still got a bit of wiggle room!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – 3/5 stars
Eleanor & ParkThis young adult novel follows Eleanor and Park, two teenagers who meet at school and slowly fall in love. Everyone thinks Eleanor is weird and she comes from a troubled home, but Park seems to see right through her differences to who she actually is. I really wanted to love this story, truly. Everyone I heard raved and raved about this book, but I should know by now to not set my expectations based on other people’s opinions because I’m often disappointed.

Let’s start with the good. This story took place in the 80s, so this was really refreshing for a young adult romance novel. I love all the quirky tidbits and the lingo that they used, and I feel that Rowell really captured the thoughts and the reactions of teenagers in high school three decades ago. There were thoughts that characters would have that I couldn’t help but giggle or relate to. But there were just so many little things that constantly bothered me in the back of my mind. I tried to push them away until I finished the book, but here we are.

I understand teenage infatuation – I’m only four years out of high school (crazy, yeah!) and I remember the feeling of being swept away by someone (who I am now married to! :heart: ). But their relationship escalated in such a weird way for me. At first they hate each other, and then two days later they are professing their undying love. C’mon. Second, I understand Eleanor’s home life was sucky, but my goodness I felt like she was whining and being so self-deprecating all of the time, and getting mad for absolutely no reason at the one person that made her life better. Third, there were little situations throughout the book that just didn’t make sense to me. For example, near the end of the novel (I won’t go into too much detail to avoid spoilers), Park has to sneak out to help Eleanor and his father catches him. But instead of doing the responsible thing that most parents would do, like accompanying Park and Eleanor to make sure everyone is safe and a dangerous situation, he says, “Sure! Go have fun!” I don’t get it.

Overall, if I didn’t think about it, I enjoyed the book. But the more I stew over it the more it bothers me, so let’s end this long review here. :)

The Martian by Andy Weir – 5/5 stars
The MartianI would like to start out with the fact that I’m really not that interested in science. It was my least favorite subject in school, and while I admit that it’s kind cool, I just don’t really enjoy it. I bought this book for my mother-in-law last Christmas and she has been wanting to talk to me about it but I hadn’t read it yet! I also wanted to see the movie, so I thought a bit reluctantly that it was time to read it.

Mark Whatney is stranded on Mars after he and his crew are hit by a storm and they presume him dead. He has no way to communicate to earth and has to fight to survive in a harsh and unwelcoming Martian environment.

I just, oh my goodness. I don’t know where to begin. I loved everything about this novel, and I’m not even that interested in science. I couldn’t put it down. Mark’s humor was absolutely perfect. It wasn’t a “laugh out loud” kind of humor; it was dry and subtle, but it kept me smirking as I flipped the pages. For example, he takes his laptop out into the Mars atmosphere and when it stops working, says,

Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”

Smirk, smirk. Another gem:

I’m traveling 90 kilometers per day as usual, but I only get 37 kilometers closer to Schiaparelli because Pythagoras is a dick.

Also:

They’re not much different than kitchen trash bags, though I’m sure they cost $50,000 because NASA.

I could do this all day, but let’s move on. Weir put so much detail and research into this novel, you would think he was an actual astronaut stranded on Mars and lived through what Mark did. He used such specific numbers and calculations that a lot of the time went right over my head, but were still understandable to an average person without a degree in rocket science. How he managed that perfect balance, I’ve no idea. And through all of the problems and crazy situations that Mark got into, his science-y answers weren’t far fetched. It made sense in a crazy, oh my gosh he’s really going to do that? way.

Hands-down the best book I’ve read all year. I don’t want to see the movie now (though I’ve heard it’s quite good) because I don’t want to be disappointed. D:

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal – 4/5 stars
Kitchens of the Great MidwestI love food; I love to eat, I love to cook, I love Food Network, so when I saw had a Goodreads Choice Award and it was about food, it was a no-brainer. The novel follows our food-loving protagonist, Eva, from birth to the height of her culinary career.

The narration of this novel was very unique. The POV changed every chapter to someone that Eva knew – from her father to an ex-boyfriend she dated for a couple months in high school. Every chapter also highlighted a dish that is either important to Eva or to the character currently narrating the story. This was such a fresh and unique way to get to know the different characters but to also see Eva and how she was perceived in the eyes of others.

This was a charming, quick read that I would recommend to any foodie. It will make you hungry while simultaneously warming your heart. Also, I thought it was a wonderful depiction of the absolutely fabulous and kind people that live in the Midwest.;)

Ptolemy’s Gate (Bartimaeus Trilogy #3) by Jonathan Stroud – 5/5 stars
Ptolemy's Gate (Bartimaeus, #3)The first two books in this series that I previously reviewed were good, but not absolutely riveting. The second was actually a bit hard to get through. However, this book was very unlike the others which was such a relief because this series had so much potential, and Stroud was finally capitalizing on it! As the book progressed, I was absolutely glued to the pages. Nathaniel became a likeable protagonist again, Kitty become a likeable character for the first time in the whole series, and their stories were finally intertwining like they should.

And then all of the pieces started to fall into place. Just like Rowling artfully pulled every last detail together in the final Harry Potter book, Stroud pulled all of the pieces together so that as I neared the conclusion, I could only go, “Oooohhhh.” I finally understood why certain things happened in the earlier books and saw how Stroud had been planting little seeds throughout the series to finally draw them all together at the end. The ending was bittersweet, but very fitting and realistic. Stroud put all that he had into this last novel and it really changed the whole series for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve read such a perfect ending to an intricate series, so I would definitely recommend! Just be patient with the first two novels. :)

Okay wow! This Reading Recap went a lot longer than I thought. Happy reading!

20 thoughts on “March & April 2016 Reading Recap”

  1. Believe it or not, I actually picked up a copy of Eleanor and Park a few days ago! There was another version of the book with pictures in the inside, which I didn’t get at the time, and I kind of regret not getting it, but the image you posted is the exact same cover I have sitting on my desk. I am just waiting for college to die down some so I can read something I want to read for once (though, I’ve kind of been doing that and slacking on homework a little bit). My goal is to read 20 books before the end of the year, so far, I have read about 7 books. It would appear that I may actually get to finish a challenge for once! Haha.

    I have yet to read or watch “The Martian” with Matt Damon. I swear, the story line looks fantastic (this is just from the movie alone). I’ve heard really good reviews on the book as well. Though, I don’t know if I’d want to spend money on a book that I may or may not enjoy. Ya know? You stated that science was your least favorite subject in high school? It was actually one of my favorite subjects in high school (despite the math).

    I’m proud of you for keeping up with your reading challenges. Will you and Andrew get a place of your own when you move back home?

    1. You’re making great headway on your goal! Almost halfway done!

      If you don’t want to pay for the book, you can always borrow from your local library! I don’t usually buy books but borrow them because I feel the same and don’t want to spend money on a book I won’t even like.

      We will have a place when we move back. I will be sure to blog about it in the next few weeks!

  2. That’s great that you’re ahead of schedule! Eleanor & Park sounds really familiar. I think I read a review of it somewhere else, and it’s too bad it wasn’t as good as other people made it seem.

    I want to read The Martian! I have it; I just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. My husband read the book after watching the movie, and it made him want to watch the movie again. I really liked the movie though! I’ve known a few others who read the book first, and they said they still enjoyed the movie, even if some things were changed.

    Kitchens of the Great Midwest seems like something I’d like! I love food and cooking too!

    1. If you liked the movie, then I think you will really enjoy the movie! The movie cut a lot of the plot and character development out so I thought the book was way better :)

  3. I have not heard of The Martian but I love science fiction. And it looks like a humorous book I would enjoy. I want to recommend The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series to you, though, because it’s also a very humorous and crazy science fiction novel that doesn’t get too bogged down in hierarchical politics and is about the zany and unreal. I don’t love that dull action packed sort of science fiction, but I love the humorous kind. I might try to sit down and read The Martian some day, if you end up reading Hitchhiker’s then I would love to know what you think!

    I also heard a lot of raving about Eleanor and Park, but I had a friend tell me it was not enjoyable – much the same opinion you had. It can be pretty unrealistic. I remember reading Twilight before all the hype, when it was still brand new, and I thought it was good, but not amazing. The series went downhill. And then I just noticed all the book’s flaws haha. But a love story where you are in love in an unrealistic way is usually not a great book. ?

    1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has been on my to-read list for a while! I don’t know a lot about it but it’s on so many lists for suggested books to read. I’ll have to borrow the book from my brother. Thanks for the rec!

      I read the Twilight series as well, but it just felt like a bad fan fiction and it just got worse and worse as the series went on lol

  4. You’re almost halfway through your goal and it’s barely May! Hopefully you’ll have more time to read after you graduate in a few weeks ;).

    Eleanor and Park looks like an interesting story. It’s great when people see others past their appearing problems and find good within. That’s love! The quotes from The Martian are hilarious! Of course, everything simple can be marked up because it’s related to NASA.

    Kitchens of the Great Midwest sounds pretty cool, especially since it brings people through a journey of a foodie!

  5. Yay books! Blah I need to get back to reading more.

    I kinda want to read “The Martian”. At first I was like meh, but it does seem interesting. And kinda been wanting to try the Bartimaeus Trilogy. Someday!

  6. I read The Martian last year, right before the trailer was released. it would not have been a book I would have picked up, but it as highly praised and I needed to read a sci-fi novel for a reading challenge I did at the time, so i thought why not. It was a good book, but it was a bit blah here and there. I id enjoy the humor, of course.

    1. Really? I couldn’t your it down! I felt like it was really action packed, but I guess I could see how some people might not find all of it interesting. Thanks for sharing your opinion, Kenny!

  7. I have seen Eleanor and Park for a numerous time but didnt bother to buy it because I don’t know if it’s a good book but after reading your review about it, i might consider buying one. The Martian looks the most interesting among th books you mentioned, and Ill give this a try, I just dont know if this book has stock here in the Philippines.

    1. I would look for it! It’s a really popular book especially since they made it into a big movie, so I would think they would have it!

  8. Eleanor and Park is going to be in my Booklog post, which I’ll probably post this week, but I’ve given it 5 stars. I’m a sucker for a good overly-dramatic, teen romance. I read the entire thing in one night, because it was so good. I never thought about how irresponsible Park’s parents were though. Probably because I watch too many Studio Ghibli films and everyone just leaves their kids in those. They’re like the authority on bad parenting.

    I never fancied The Martian, to be honest, but after your review I really want to read it. I thought the title sounded quite dull – I’m not into science, really – but it definitely sounds as though it’s worth a read now! Those quotes are so funny!

    1. I can see why people loved Eleanor & Park, but it just didn’t work that way for me. Solid book, but I just think it needed some improvement.

      You didn’t care for the movie, you mean? I just watched it the other night and I thought it was SO BORING. Andrew really liked it but man the book was way way better! #booksovermovies

  9. HOMG. Eleanor & Park. You don’t want me to start on why I hated that book so, so much. Just, whoah. I could probably write a whole blog post ranting about that book X____X I’ll save you the trouble of not ranting here LOL

    I’ve not heard of the other books, but the Martian one sounds neat. The midwest cooking book also reminds me of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her pioneer cooking days, haha!

    Good job on almost being halfway to your reading goal! You got it, girl! 52 books in a year is definitely doable, and I’m sure you’ll have more time to read after you finish college! ^^

    1. Hahaha! I don’t think I felt as strongly as you about Eleanor and Park but yeah, there were a lot of things wrong with it.

      LOL I never would have thought to compare Kitchens of the Great Midwest to Little House on the Prairie, though I do love those books.

      Yes! I’m excited to be done with school so I can have more time for some of my hobbies!

  10. Oh, how I wish that I made the same goal regarding reading as you did. :P I made the foolish mistake of choosing to read 300 books this year, but anyhow The Martian is on my list, as was Eleanor & Park.

  11. Hey Becca!

    I have read just one book from your list, Eleanor & Park. I took most than two weeks to finish this book and well, I liked it when I was reading but once I was done, not so much!

    I have seen the movie of The Martian (The one with Matt Damon) and I loved it! I’ll surely give the book a try!

    I am trying to read 52 books too this year and so far I’m lagging by almost 10 books! I did read 2 book in four days but there is a lot of catching up I need to do !

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