A Very Long Review of The Martian by Andy Weir

I’d like to tell you a little story about how I never listen to my dad. First, let me start by saying that when I was a kid my dad would always joke, “don’t trust your father.” Obviously he was kidding, but I did end up taking that lesson with me in two aspects: books and movies.

Movies are the easiest for me to explain. For a long time we would watch movies together that he wanted me to see and know of. I would always play it cool and say that they weren’t that great of movies (even though they were pretty fricken awesome). So whenever he recommended a movie to me he’d say, “don’t you trust me?” and I’d always say “No.” Of course this has changed, and if my dad recommends a movie now it goes immediately onto my watch-list…

…Except for Chappie, which he pitched to me as “it was so bad. You really shouldn’t watch it…. Actually, watch it and see how bad it is. It’s so bad.”

But books are different. My dad is an avid reader, albeit an incredibly slow reader, but he loves books. He got me addicted to fantasy and science fiction, and I’m forever grateful for that. However, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, I take books very seriously. I love when people give me recommendations so I can add them to my to-read list, but I don’t like being pushed into reading a book. I’m stubborn like my mom and the more you push me to read a book, the less likely I am to read that book out of sheer principle.

My dad is the King of Pushers. He will recommend a book, and I’ll usually find that book’s concept pretty interesting, but I’ll add it to my list and keep going through the books I already have lined up. This does not satisfy my dad. He will continually say, “You HAVE to read this book. When you’re done with your book, you NEED to read this one.” and when I finish my book, and start reading a different book, he’ll say the same things. Over and over again, until he gives up and reads a new book that I HAVE to read.

But something strange happened. I learned about the upcoming movie, The Martian, starring Matt Damon (and if you read my To See or Not To See post back in February you’ll know that I love Matt Damon. I really do. He’s wonderful. Also, my sister would hate me for saying this but Ben Affleck is not as attractive as everyone thinks. Matt Damon totally wins that contest, hands down), and realized it was a book. The second I found that out, I was hooked. I had to add it to my list.

But then my boyfriend and I went over to my parents house for dinner. I told my mom about this really cool new movie that’s coming out that has Matt Damon in it, about this guy that’s stuck on Mars and has to plant crops on Mars and survive, and it’s even a book! And to my surprise she said, “That sounds like the book that Dad’s reading.”

What?! My dad is reading a book I want to read before I even hear of it?? What alternate universe is this??

It turned out, he was reading The Martian. He recommended it instantly and said, “oh my God, Rae, you HAVE to read this. The writer reminds me so much of your writing style. It’s funny, written well, and you just have to read it.” But this time, I trusted him. (Note: Sorry, Dad, I’m learning how to trust you again. I know this dampens your street cred.)

What happened when I started reading The Martian, written by Andy Weirwas magical. The first page made me laugh, and I entered a world that was completely foreign to me, but I felt completely at ease.

The story is about a man who is believed to be dead on Mars, but he’s not. He needs to figure out a way to survive on Mars indefinitely, using only a small amount of resources. It’s so good.

Andy Weir’s writing style is so sarcastic, but so detailed and rich that it’s not like reading a book where the author just tries to be snarky, instead it’s actually like reading this man’s life, and reading what he’s going through – being Mark Watney’s friend. Weir is an incredible writer, with a ridiculous amount of knowledge when it comes to science and math (something that just went straight over my head), but always finds a way to make the characters relatable even with them being super science and math driven.

If I could give this book 500 stars out of 10, plus 15 high fives, and four thumbs-ups, I would. 18 Quatloo’s for you, sir!

Everyone needs to read this book before the movie comes out. I know I’ve mentioned a hundred times that I don’t necessarily think that seeing the movie first is a bad idea, but in this case: read the book first. The movie comes out October 2015, so you have a few more months to read it, even if you’re as slow of a reader as my dear old dad. Go get it!

All that said, I’d like to give a shoutout to my dad (as if there haven’t been enough in this post) for finally getting me to read one of the books he’s recommended. Good job, Pops. This is a big day for you.

If you’ve read this book, please comment below so we can discuss it because oh. my. god. All I want to do is talk about it right now. If there could be a The Martian chat room, I’d join it right now.

Until next time, blog family!


email: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Fool Moon Review – The Dresden Files

Hello friends! After a long couple of weeks, I’m back in the writing game. I know it’s been quite sporadic, but you’ll have to bear with me. I’m trying!

I’ve been reading rather slow lately. While a couple months ago I could read 150 pages in one night of reading, recently I’ve been reading maybe 30 pages every night of whatever book I’m reading (no matter how awesome it is). I’m just an old person now and when I read more than ten pages I just get so tired. So my actual book reviews seem to be pretty far apart nowadays.

Nonetheless, I’m still reading! And my most recent finished book is the second book in a series I started called The Dresden Files. The series is about a wizard private investigator named Harry Dresden who is often used by the police in the Special Investigation unit. They bring him in if there is a case that seems, well, different. It’s really well written and there are currently 15 books in the series.

The second book by Jim Butcher, the one I just finished, is called Fool Moon and chronicles Harry Dresden’s next case after the first book’s case has been solved. This time: werewolves.

I think I may have mentioned this in the previous Dresden File blog, but I didn’t actually find this book on my own (sadly). I was looking for new genres to read because I kept reading the same types of fantasy stories. I was getting a little tired of the genre, not because I don’t love it, but because I really felt like I had exhausted myself with mystical beings and creatures and lives, and needed a break.

So of course, the next books I started reading were of the fantasy genre. I JUST CAN’T QUIT SOMEBODY HELP ME! HALP!

I read two of the Maze Runner books and ended up frustrated with the writing and never read the third (even though I bought it. side note: I have a serious problem. Does anyone else start reading a book and love it so much you just go out and buy all of the books in the series? Because I do that, and then sometimes I end up hating the series and wasting money on a book. Again, HALP!). But then I did venture out of my comfort zone a little and read Gone Girl. Holy crap, Gone Girl. Easily one of the most suspenseful, intricate, well-written, exciting, and fucked up books I’ve ever read.

But then I was at a loss. I had books that I’d bought and stockpiled, but nothing that I was in the mood for. That was when my boyfriend’s friend suggested The Dresden Files (and just about everything else Jim Butcher has written). I thought it sounded interesting, and definitely different from what I’d been reading: instead of young adult fantasy books, I had graduated to adult fantasy books. BOOYA!

I read the first book, Storm Front, and loved it. I loved the writing style, I loved the story, I loved the creativity, I just loved it. But I didn’t run out and buy the other books of the series (oddly), instead I read other types of books. The Fault in Our Stars, The Legend of Drizzt, etc. But then I couldn’t take it anymore. I bought Fool Moon and the third book, Grave Peril. (HALP ME!)  The good news about me buying Grave Peril is that I absolutely loved the second book. So I’ll definitely be reading the third book.

So yes, I loved the book. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys dark, well-placed humor, a good action-y book, and super creative story lines. My only concern is that it’s 15 books. I’m a little worried I’ll get sick of it, although I can guarantee that my boyfriend’s friend will tell me “ABSOLUTELY NOT. YOU’LL LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT” We’ll see.

5 stars, Jim Butcher, 5 stars.

Until next time, friends.


P.S. I’m always open to suggestions if you ever think there’s a book I should review!

email: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Life is Short

Hi blog family! I just wanted to put out a little public service announcement. The past week has been incredibly difficult with the loss of my boyfriend’s amazing mother.

I can’t pretend that this hasn’t changed either of us in a huge way, and I can’t say that it isn’t a really sad time right now. What I can say is that life is too short. Enjoy the people you love while you can, because you never know when they’ll be gone.

This can also be said for doing something you love. Life is too precious to be doing something that doesn’t interest you. Life is too short to sit at a desk for forty hours a week being chronically unhappy. If you have a dream, go for it. If you can see the potential in yourself, then others will see it too.

If you put the work in and you’re willing to fall down and keep getting back on the horse, then you’ll have succeeded.

I’ve been listening to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ The Heist and there’s a line in the first song that says,

The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint,

The greats were great because they paint a lot.”

It’s true for a lot of things. You’re never going to be great the first time. But if you’re passionate and you’re willing to fight for what you want, you’ll get there.

In the meantime, tell the people you love that you love them. Tell your friends thank you for being there. And don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ll get there.

Until next time,


e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Everyone Drop What You’re Doing And Re-Read A Book

Hello blog friends! I’ve been meaning to discuss something that’s very dear to my heart: re-reading. I’m a habitual re-reader and proud. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games and don’t even get me started on how many times I’ve read Hamlet. I just love it. Shakespeare for the win!

But really, it’s an amazing joy for me to re-read books that have meant a lot to me. So I’m here to tell you to do it. Alright, let me rephrase that because you’re your own person and you can do as you please. But let me give you a little insight as to why you should re-read.

When I was in high school I read some of the best books. Not even a part of the curriculum, just good books. When I started college I had so many stories to read as an English major, that I needed the comfort of a genuinely good book that I didn’t have to think about the symbolism for, or have to think at all really. I mean there’s only so many times you can read The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman or D.H. Lawrence’s The Rocking Horse Winner before you’ve run out of meanings behind it. I mean for Christ’s sake they’re only like 15 pages long!

So rather than lose my shit over the books and stories I had to read, I started re-reading to clear my mind. As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, I tend to read to relax. So all I wanted was something I didn’t have to think about. The first things I started re-reading like crazy were the Harry Potter books. I’ve read those books since they first came out so Hogwarts is more or less my second home. This was a wonderful thing. Being submerged in a world entirely unlike your own for just a couple of hours, with the characters and places you love, before you have to go back to the real world is something that I’ll never take for granted. It’s freeing to be able to escape for a while.

As time went on, and the work got more difficult, I read even more (oddly). This time I delved into Amy Tan books. The Bonesetter’s Daughter was read and re-read in less than a week. Hamlet, The Hobbit, My Horizontal Life, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Night, I re-read them all. Of course I don’t want to give you a false impression: I read a lot of new books too, or at least books I’d never read before. But my comfort was more with re-reading books I’d read.

So, here’s what I propose: think of a book that has made a huge impact on you, or at least a book you’ve read that you’ve enjoyed reading, and re-read it. I know re-reading isn’t for everyone. A lot of people think, “I’ve already read it, I know what happens! Why would I read it again??” And here’s the answer: Why not?

There’s absolutely no harm in reading a book you’ve enjoyed again. Yes, you may know what happens, but do you watch movies that you’ve seen before? Seriously, my Jaws DVD is WORN OUT because I watch it so much. I can guarantee that at least once in your life you’ve re-watched a movie. You know the plot, you know who the bad guy is and who gets shot at the end, but you watch it again anyway. So why not try the same with a book? Yeah you know the ending, but it doesn’t make the story any less good. And it certainly shouldn’t make you not want to read it again. It should make you say, “wow, I remember loving that book. I should read it again and understand why I loved it so much.”

Now, I’ll say this: there have been times when I’ve read a book that I loved and then when I re-read it I was utterly disappointed and thought to myself, “This? This is what I was so excited about?” But don’t let that discourage you. Give another book a shot. One you’ve read more recently and know you’d still enjoy. Perhaps you’ll find new meanings in the story – I’m still finding new hidden things in Harry Potter. That shit is loaded with hidden meanings. But that’s why it’s amazing!!!!

So give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments or via e-mail. The books might surprise you.

Until next time,


e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com