Book Review: The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.


Ever since I came across The Andromeda Strain during my undergrad, I was intrigued by the whole concept of a virus from outerspace that could potentially have a fatal affect on the whole of humanity. However, it took me over five years to finally pick it up because I forgot about it, and when I rediscovered it I was also scared that it would be too scary. However, I decided to pick it up because of the concept and the fact that I want to say that I have read at least one Michael Crichton book.

One quiet night a space satellite crashes in the small Arizona town of Piedmont. Within several hours the town is reduced to a ghost town and almost all the residents are dead except for an elderly gentleman and a baby. The United States government dispatches a specialized team known as the Wildfire project ,which consists of four biophysicists who each have their own expertise within the field and they must try and crack the mysteriousness of the Andromeda strain, which could potentially destroy all of humanity if it spreads.

The Andromeda Strain was an interesting read, but it definitely isn’t for everyone. For one, it is setup to read as if the reader is reading an actual government file of everything that happened during this case, and therefore there is also a lot of “scientific” information that some will find interesting and others will find a waste of time to read.

For those who are into the “scientific” information, this will be an entertaining read because it is told as if it really happened, especially with the inclusion of footnotes, and a reference section at the end of the book! It also interesting to read because it was published during the time of the Space Race, and the Cold War, which gives further insight into some of the actions and precautions that are taken throughout the novel, especially by the scientists.

Even though it is a somewhat thrilling read, it will leave some readers disappointed with an anticlimatic ending that seems rushed. However, the scientific information given, especially with how Crichton decides to wrap things up. 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on The Princess Bride by William Goldman.


The Princess Bride has long been one of my favorite movies, especially the satirical nature of the story, and of course the romance and the humor. When I found out about the book I knew I had to read it to see how different the movie was from the original story.

Set in the fictional country of Florin, The Princess Bride follows a beautiful young woman named Buttercup who lost her true love Westley to the Dread Pirates. Even though she has vowed to never love anyone again, she is coerced into marrying the odious Prince Humperdink. After their pending nuptials are announced to the country, she is kidnapped by a group of three men, who have been hired to start a war between Florin and the neighboring country of Guilder by murdering her. However, their dastardly plans are foiled when the man in the black mask catches up to them and manages to rescue Princess Buttercup from their clutches. When the identity of this mysterious individual is revealed Buttercup is forced to make a decision between true love or the prince and the consequences that soon follow after her decision.

The Princess Bride is definitely a modern classic that has withstood the decades since it was published back in 1973. For many who read it, they are probably already familiar with the story because the movie based on the novel. However, they are also in for a shock when they discover that almost 50 pages is used to describe how William Goldman came to abridge the “original” novel and why he felt that it was necessary to do so. I did like the sentimentalism behind it, but it still seems to take up far too much time that could have been dedicated to more details about the epic love story between Buttercup and Westley. This framing narrative is interesting, however it can also easily bore readers before they actually get to the story that they want.

The actual plot of the novel is pretty good and it is easy to see how Goldman satirizes the typical fairy tale and turns it on its head. Fans of the movie will be delighted that the plot is very close to that of the novel and that a lot of their favorite quotes (e.g. “Life is pain, and anyone that says otherwise is selling something.”) were in the novel which makes it a lot easier to picture the characters and even hear their voices, which brings the story even more to life. I also liked the “original” author’s parenthetical explanations like “this was before Paris” it made it even more humorous because some of his explanations made absolutely no sense. Goldman’s interjections for the most part were entertaining, especially when he comments on things that Morgenstern chose to include in the novel, however there were a couple of sections where they seemed unnecessary.

Even though I really did enjoy the book, I found Buttercup to be even more insufferable than in the movie, and I honestly don’t understand how Westley can stand her when he returns. And then there is Westley, he is swoon-worthy, but he also does certain things that are misogynistic, for instance when he slaps Buttercup before he reveals himself to her. But I think that is the point of his character is to show that no one is perfect, even the hero of the story. Then there is Fezzik and Inigo, they are just as they appear in the movie and definitely add some humor to the story. Also, how great is that Inigo finally gets justice for the unjust murder of his father at the hands of the evil Count Rugen. And I think Vizzini should be acknowledged for his attempt at trying to be an evil mastermind who starts wars, however he is just too pompous for his own good and that is why he ends up dying udner the clutches of iocane powder.

I could go on about The Princess Bride but it is definitely a fairy tale that turns all other fairy-tales on their heads. It has love, action, pirates, etc. It has a little something for everyone, even horrible death scenes where someone has the life sucked out of them from a weird suction machine, if that is something you are into. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L.C.

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.


Ready Player One  is set in 2045 where the world is bleak place to live in for several serious reasons such as sea level rise, fossil fuel shortage, etc. However, a beacon of hope to most of earth’s inhabitants is the OASIS, a virtual reality universe that provides escape from the harsh realities of the world. When the founder of the OASIS, James Halliday, dies, he leaves behind the instructions for the hunt for an Easter egg that will give the winner ownership over the OASIS. But in order to get to the Egg, there are three keys that need to be found and three gates that need to be passed by the participants. For several years no one is able to find the keys until a teenage boy by the name of Wade Watts discovers the first key and then it is a race to Easter egg, especially since he is also up against a competitive corporation that seeks to gain control of the OASIS.

Ready Player One is a fun novel, especially for those who are interested in gaming and 1980s pop culture references. However, readers will also notice the warnings about using escapism, such as a virtual reality program like the OASIS, to live life instead of spending time in the real world.

In many ways Ready Player One is a love letter to geek culture, but it is still enjoyable for others. However, those who are not familiar with most of the ’80s culture referenced in this book will sometimes find themselves lost. The plot itself was decent, although there were times were the author chooses to dump information on readers on certain details that aren’t important to know, and there are other aspects of this futuristic world he has created that are left unexplained to readers. There are also a couple scenes in the novel that seem to be just thrown in for the sake of explaining how certain things work that, again, have no impact on the plot.

There are also a few passages that are uncomfortable to read just because of the subject matter, however, it should also be noted that the novel is told from the point-of-view from an 18-year-old young man and in the first person, so it could very well be realistic of the kinds of things that they think about. Also, the main character, Wade Watts, is extremely flawed and there are many things that he does that either cringey or just plain jerky, but yet isn’t that how most humans are? The side characters are also interesting, and I wish we could have found out more about them besides from what Wade learns about them over the course of the novel.

It was also interesting to see that the villain of the story was the head of a major corporation that seeks to destroy the OASIS that most of the characters know and love. It provided some interesting food for thought, especially when looking at history and how the “little people” have had to fight against corporations for various reasons, such as workman’s compensation, safer working spaces, etc. and it still continues to be an issue in the present day. Even though IOI is a fictional corporation, it is interesting see similarities to situations have occurred throughout history. It also shows how morally corrupt that some corporations can be in order to get what they want, even if it means silencing people.

I recommend listening to the audiobook read by Wil Wheaton, who does a really good job. My only complaint is that he sounds older than 18, but he was still entertaining to listen to. Overall, while I did enjoy reading Ready Player One it also had a few things that bugged me, but nevertheless it is still worth reading, especially for those who are interesting in watching the movie that recently came out! 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.


I had heard that The Complete Persepolis  was a good graphic novel for those who are interested in finding out more about life in the Middle East during the Islamic Revolution. It has also been a frequently challenged book for supposedly being politically, socially and racially offensive. This intrigued me even more because it is an own voices graphic novels that is depicting recounting real experiences that the other went through.

The Complete Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel that depicts author Marjane Satrapi’s life from adolescence to early twenties. It is a collection of comic strips that tell the story of her life in Iran at the beginning of the Islamic Revolution in the early 1980s and the affect it had on her and her family, especially as it started to get more oppressive and other Middle Eastern took advantage of this unrest by declaring war on Iran. It also shows her parents struggling with the decision to send her away to Europe to get an education that is better than what she would get in her home country. The second part of this graphic novel depicts Marjane’s life in France as a teenager and how she had to fight against prejudice, discover love, as well as the drug culture that was readily available to her. It also shows her eventual return to Iran and how different it is, and even how it is more oppressive than what she is used to, especially towards women.

Persepolis was an interesting read. The art style is beautiful, as well as most of the story, however there are few things that I personally, and others, might find a bit of put off, for instance when Marjane talks to God and he talks back to her, some might find this blasphemous, however this was probably used to show her innocent faith before she becomes jaded due to the events that are happening around her. Another concern that some readers will have is the depiction of drug use during the latter part of the graphic novel, again it might be uncomfortable, but it is used to show how the author tried to occupy her time with various things, especially when she was away from her family during her time in Europe.

However, despite those two concerns, it is a beautiful graphic novel that is heartbreaking to read from beginning to end, especially when readers are introduced to various friends an family members that ended up killed either in war or for the ideologies that went against the Islamic Revolution regime. It will also make readers thankful for the freedoms that we have in the Western world, compared those who do live in countries where it is very limited what women can do. One part that was very interesting was the section where the author is in an art class at university and they have to draw models, but yet the model is covered from head to toe so that they cannot make out the shape of her body. It was also interesting to see how various relationships between men and women were (are) frowned upon and that how the fundamentalist Muslims harshly treat those who are “in sin.”

One major theme that many readers will appreciate is the author’s depiction of the discrepicies between men and women, and how men tended to have more freedom, but women were constantly seen as temptresses, even for small things such as having their hair exposed or even wearing pants with wide legs! It’s mind-boggling and I can’t imagine even begin to imagine the difficulties of living in such a society.

Another major theme is woven throughout Persepolis is the importance of family and how much her parents love Marjane, even when she disappoints them or makes decisions that puts her life in danger. The also try to encourage freedom within their own home, but yet they also stress the importance of following the rules of society when outside the home. It was also interesting to see them make the hard decision to send her away to school in Europe so that she could receive a better, and more freeing, education than she would in Tehran.

The Complete Persepolis should be definite read for those who are interested in finding out more about the Islamic Revolution. I also recommend it for fans of Khaleed Hoseini (author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns) who has also written several books set during the Islamic Revolution of the 1980s and 1990s. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on My Oxford Year by Julie Whelan.


I chose My Oxford Year because it has been getting a lot of buzz in the BookTube and Bookstagram community, and it sounded interesting. Also, who hasn’t dreamed about having the opportunity to study at Oxford University?

Ella Durran is an American graduate student who wins the Rhodes scholarship and gets to live out her dream of studying at Oxford University for a year. As she arrives in England, she also finds out that she has been asked to help with the campaign of a presidential candidate, and that she will possibly have a job when she arrives back in the U.S.

Also on her first day in Oxford she has a run-in with a man who almost knocks her down with his car, and later that same day spills sauce on her shirt and is not apologetic for his actions. Ella never wants to see him again, until she gets to her first class and discovers that he is her professor – Jamie Davenport. What starts as a relationship of animosity, soon turns into something more and sparks start to fly. They come to care for each other, even though they know that Ella will be leaving at the end of the year, however she uncovers a secret about Jamie that could possible change both of their lives forever.

My Oxford Year  has a good meet cute between the main couple that in some ways points to the obvious relationship that happens between the two of them. Although some readers will find it frustrating that they would not admit their feelings for one another until later on in their relationship.

However, the main characters of the novel will be a selling point to most readers, especially Jamie Davenport who is, at best, a swoon-worthy character that most people dream of. He is also aggravting, especially when he forces Ella to share the story of her dad’s death, forcing her to be vulnerable, but yet he turns around and asks her for a month off from their pseudo-relationship, allowing her to think the worst of him. It was also enjoyable to see Ella grow as a character and eventually come to the realization at the end that what she wants for the future, is very different from what she had originally planned, and that a life of politics was not her dream. My one complaint of her character is that she does not treat her mother well, in fact she comes across as an awful daughter. Whelan tries to make us sympathetic towards her reactionary responses to her mother, but that still doesn’t make them right. Another relationship that will interest readers is the one between Jamie and William, who also seem at odds with each other, and the eventual discovery as to why their relationship is strained. It is definitely worth the wait to find out what happened.

There are also many side characters who are charming and add some elements of humor to the story that is needed and appreciated at just the right moments. However, Tom and Maggie’s relationship was frustrating, but it is a small blip in an otherwise decent narrative.

My Oxford Year has a good story that most readers will enjoy, however some readers will find the ending to be too poetic, vague and abrupt. They will be left with questions as to what happens to the main characters after the ending and they will be frustrated when those answers are not answered. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Redemption

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on Redemption by Karen Kingsbury.



The Redemption series won “Christian Retailing”’s 2005 Retailer’s Choice Award for Best Series! When Kari Baxter Jacobs finds out that her husband is involved in an adulterous relationship and wants a divorce, she decides she will love him and remain faithful to her marriage at all costs. This book shows how God can redeem seemingly hopeless relationships, and it illustrates one of Gary Smalley’s key messages: Love is a decision. “Redemption” is the first book in the five-book Redemption series that Gary and Karen will write about the Baxter family—their fears and desires, their strengths and weaknesses, their losses and victories. Each book will explore key relationship themes as well as the larger theme of redemption, both in characters’ spiritual lives and in their relationships. Each book includes study questions for individual and small-group use as well as a “teaser” chapter of the next book in the series

My Thoughts: 

This is probably my 4th or 5th reread of this book. I also forgot how weighty these books can be, but I still love this series. This book deals with the widely discussed topic adultery and divorce in Christian circles.

I liked how the authors showed Kari as someone who is willing to fight for her marriage, even though her husband, Tim, refused to – they could have really easily just had her concede to the divorce and run to the arms of her old flame.

Even though it deals with some serious topics, it was still an enjoyable read. I also liked all the different perspectives from Kari, Tim, Angela (the other woman), Pastor Mark Atterbury, Ryan, John and Elizabeth Baxter, ass well as a couple of others – it gave the story more depth and dimension.

It was great to revisit these beloved characters especially with the T.V. show coming out later this year based on the series. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: All the Ever Afters

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller


All the Ever Afters follows Agnes who is born into poverty and is forced to go work as a laundry girl at Aviceford Manor. She faces cruelty from other servants and discovers that the lord of the manor is a drunkard who is seemingly out of touch with the running of his estate. Several years later she has an opportunity to become a servant at Ellis Abbey, where she starts to feel like she might finally have a chance to escape her destiny. However, the horrible Abbess Elfilda scoffs at her plans to become a nun, and Agnes finds solace in the abbess’s ward, Fernan. Through a cruel twist of fate she is forced to leave the abbey, and eventually ends up back at Aviceford Manor to be a nurse maid to Sir Emont’s daughter, Elfilda (nicknamed Ella). However, she soon rises above her place as servant and marries her lord and becomes Ella’s stepmother.

There are several reasons why I chose this book, one of the main ones being that the cover is gorgeous! It definitely drew me in and made me want to find out more about this book. Then there is the subtitle, “the untold story of Cinderella’s stepmother”, that also piqued my interest, especially since I haven’t read anything that tells her side of the story. I was curious to see how the author tried to “redeem” the stepmother as not the villain that she has been known as for several hundred years and if it is even possible to have a Cinderella story if the stepmother isn’t evil.

All the Ever Afters ended up being somewhat different from what I had been expecting, I honestly expected it to be an origin of the wicked stepmother but she is still evil. However, this book provides a new take on the wicked stepmother that I had not seen before. The story starts out with the stepmother being asked if the rumors and gossip are true about her and her daughters in regards to how Cinderella came to be married to the prince (the traditional story of Cinderella is presented as mere court gossip that is spread around). Once hearing some of the ridiculous statements that are being said about her, she sets out to write her own story from the beginning to the “present day.”

The stepmother’s name is Agnes and she is a kind and strong woman who stands for what is just, even it means that others view her as harsh. Everything she does is result of the cruelty she faced as a young girl, and even that of Fernan her lover. She also discovers that the world is no place for a widow, however she does get a chance to gain employment back at Aviceford Manor.

Agnes also strives to make a living for herself by learning how to brew ale and reopening the alehouse that she lives in. Even when she goes back to Aviceford Manor, though she is a nursemaid, she proves that she has a mind for business and becomes a confidant of Sir Emont. I also loved watching her relationship with Ella, she truly loves her stepdaughter, even though she does resort to seemingly “harsh” punishments when she acts out of line, however she only does so to make sure that her stepdaughter does not grow up to be a spoiled brat.

This brings me to another aspect of the story that I liked. Ella is presented as a young woman who is given everything she wants by her father, whereas her stepmother tries to stop him from doing so because she knows that it can lead to selfishness. Instead of the virtuous Cinderella that everyone knows, we meet a girl who is unsure of herself, and is sheltered and spoiled.

Then there are the two stepsisters, traditionally they have been known as ugly because of their character, however Danielle Teller paints them as kind girls who are physically ugly due to their father being a foreigner and both of them suffering through either a burn or chicken pox, which left them scarred.

I do wish more attention had been paid to the prince and that we had learned more about him besides the fact that he was considered to be a rake. However, since the story is told from Agnes’s point of view it makes sense that we do not gain more insight into his true character.

As far as pacing goes, I felt like it started out slow, but then it started to pick up and I found that I had a hard time putting it down. I think that is a good read for anyone who wants a different story of Cinderella, especially from the point of view of the character that has been painted as evil for as long as the original tale has existed. However, if you are looking for a wicked stepmother who is justified in her villainous deeds, this is not the book for you. Instead it paints a picture of woman who does have faults, but she is also a good woman whose actions are sometimes misunderstood.

I do feel like the story of Cinderella and the prince meeting was rushed and I felt like more could have been written on their initial meeting and his pursuit of finding the woman he loves. However, I also see why Teller chose to not include this in her novel because it would detract from the stepmother’s story. I also liked the ending, however I do wish the stepsisters, Charlotte and Matilda had happier endings, but I guess it is enough that they lived a peaceful life after leaving Cinderella’s court.

Another aspect of the novel that I appreciated was the attention to different parts of the medieval kingdom, especially to how manors were run. The world is painted as being both whimsical, but also cruel to those who are not fortunate enough to rise above poverty. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

September Wrap-up

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to my September Wrap-up. Here are the books I read this month:

1. All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller 


An interesting take on Cinderella’s stepmother. Longer review coming soon. 4/5 Stars.

2. Take Two by Karen Kingsbury 


An interesting installment in the series. There were a couple of things that bugged me in it. 3/5 Stars.

3. Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber 


Debbie Macomber doesn’t disappoint in her latest offering. I loved reading about this small town by the ocean which provides healing to several characters. Longer review to come. 3/5 Stars.

4. A Heart Full of Hope by Robin Jones Gunn


Always good to reread this series. Another good installment in this series. 3.5/5 Stars

5.My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan 


A novel that partially fulfills many people’s dream, however there was some content that bugged me. 3/5 Stars.

6. The Complete Persepolis by Marjari Sartarpi 


An interesting graphic novel that depicts life in Iran when the Islamic Revolution breaks out. Beautifully told, although there were a few things that didn’t settle well with me. 4/5 Stars.

7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 


Reread this for a class, listened to the audiobook. Review coming soon. 3.5/5Stars.

8.  The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton


An interesting read written during the Cold War when bio-weapons were more of a concern. Longer review coming soon. 3/5 Stars.

9. Take Three by Karen Kingsbury 


A good installment in the series that deals with some tough subjects like abortion. 3.75/5 Stars.

10. The Princess Bride by William Goldman


Another reread this month. I love The Princess Bride and I will have a longer review up soon. 4/5 Stars.

11. The Readers’ Advisory Handbook edited by Jessica E. Moyer and Kaite Mediatore Stover 


Read for a class, very insightful on how to provide good Reader’s Advisory to people.

12. A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell


I don’t really read thrillers but decided to read this after watching the trailer. Wasn’t good as I was expecting. 2.5/5 Stars.

13. True Friends by Robin Jones Gunn


Another good installment in the Christy Miller series. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.