Category Archives: book reviews

The Night Shift

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay is a fast-paced, adventurous murder mystery. There are a lot of characters in this novel. So many that I almost felt I like I needed to take notes to keep track of everyone!

With many interesting characters, and several plot twists to keep readers guessing, The Night Shift is highly entertaining. The novel follows multiple people, each on their own journey to discover the killer.

Who will be the one to solve the crime? Is there only one killer or does this new murder mean a new killer is in town? As our characters try to answer this question, we learn about who they are, and how they came to be involved. Each of our main characters is invested in finding the murderer, each for their own, very different, reasons.

At first, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this novel. In the first chapter, something about the writing style bothered me. I also generally don’t like books with so many characters, it’s so much work to keep them all straight in my head. However, I was soon hooked and needed to solve the murder myself. Any issues with the writing style and numerous characters were quickly forgotten, and I finished the book within a few days and as many sittings.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books for an advance copy. All opinions in this review are my own.

Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary, a book review

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir is a science fiction, saving-the-world-and-humanity, epic adventure. Ryland Grace is not your typical astronaut, he’s a junior high school science teacher!

This is the third book I’ve read from Weir. Like The Martian, this book is engaging, witty, and just overall fun to read. It’s full of science and has a very interesting plot. I won’t go into details about that, I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

After I read Artemis, I was very disappointed. I was hoping for another superbly entertaining science lesson, set in space. That’s not what Artemis is, and perhaps it’s my own fault for being disappointed by expecting it to be that.

However, for Project Hail Mary, Weir returns to the formula that made The Martian a success. That doesn’t mean it’s formulaic though! I found it very compelling, and while I did see some plot twists coming, that’s ok. It presents a view of humanity and life that I found inspiring.

Weir fills Project Hail Mary with interesting, flawed, dynamic characters, and it’s fun to see how they go about saving humanity. I think this would make a great movie, with Wil Wheaton as Ryland.

I will say I may never think of spiders in the same way again. Also, I wonder what life is out there in the Cosmos that we just haven’t discovered yet? Because clearly, we can’t be alone in this huge vastness of the universe all by ourselves, can we? Unless we really are just all plugged into the Matrix.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The Soul's Echo book cover

The Soul’s Echo

The Soul’s Echo by Jill Creech Bauer is a collection of 13 short stories Stories about memories, living, and what it means to have a soul. Like the collection’s title, the stories seem to be echos of each other, with similar or repeated themes. Overall, the concepts and ideas of the stories are above average to excellent; however, the execution is lacking.

Some of the stories are very simple and easy to read. Others are more complicated with many characters and shifting points of view. In short fiction, this makes it very hard for the reader to follow the story. Combined with the fact that some of the sequential stories in the collection seemed to be variations on a theme, it was sometimes confusing. There are two in particular, “The forgetting garden” and “Physocepahla Memoriae” which I found to be difficult when placed together in this way.

The author also uses the name Rainbow in many places; within a single story to a purposeful, well-executed effect. However, when it pops up in another story later, it’s unclear if the reader is supposed to draw a connection to the earlier uses or not.

Of all 13 stories, I enjoyed “the blue healers”, “shangri-la”, and “the soul’s echo” the most.

I received a free copy of The Soul’s Echo from Book Sirens in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Aristotle and Dante

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

This is another superb book I’ve read recently. It’s not often that I read so many books that I absolutely love, so I’m feeling very fortunate in this regard.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a modern coming-of-age story, centered around Mexican-American teenagers Aristotle and Dante. Our two main characters struggle with identity, fitting in, and learning the hard truths about life. On the surface, Ari and Dante couldn’t be more different; yet as these two lonely boys form a connection, they realize they have more in common than expected.

It’s always so hard to know how much of the plot I should discuss in my reviews; I hate giving away spoilers. Instead, let me talk about themes, hopefully without ruining any of the surprises of the plot. This novel is about love, kindness, anger, honesty, communication, self-acceptance, and so much more.

I had the pleasure of listening to this through Audible. As I may have said before, a good narrator can make or break an audiobook for me, and this is no exception. With Lin Manuel Miranda narrating, the story has a tender, heartbreaking quality to it.

With over 50 Audible books in my library waiting to be read/listened to, it will be a while before I can make time to listen to the second book in the series. However, it’s definitely on my list for next year! I look forward to following along with Ari and Dante as they mature into young men.

Rating: 5 out of 5.