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The Lost Entwife has commented on (176) products.

The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian

The Lost Entwife, December 19, 2014

I picked up a copy of Andy Weir's The Martian when it was released because, frankly, I absolutely adore survival stories. I blame my love of them totally on Swiss Family Robinson and The Myserious Island. I also have a major fascination with space (and the ocean) - basically anything that represents places that have been left completely unexplored and have the potential for so much.

However, once I'd purchased The Martian, I found myself diving into required reading for my first semester of graduate school so, alas, it had to be put on the back burner. My father read it, and laughed out loud several times - also, he took the time to update me on the spectacularly hilarious, crass opening line. It's a doozy, folks. But it's perfect because it sets the story up remarkably well.

Mark Watney is the perfect character for a story like this. He's filled with humor and just the right blend of sarcasm and hope. The book, similarly, was also filled with a perfect blend of science, implausible plausibility (oxymoron? it works though), and outright funny moments. It deals with everything from human waste, immature behavior that comes as a result of massive responsibility, and a message of hope for the working together of the humans of the world. What I also loved was that the book dealt SOLELY with the survival aspect. There was no extended story about everything that happens after, it revolves completely around the obstacles Watney faces and how it all works out in the end.

I very much recommend this book for science lovers, adventure lovers, and people who just enjoy a good laugh at some pretty crude jokes. My dad and I both loved it and I enjoyed chatting with him about it once I'd finished.
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Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor and Park

The Lost Entwife, December 17, 2014

Have you ever put off reading a book because you know that there is no way it can be as perfect as it is, unread, in your head? That's been the case for me with Eleanor and Park. I've read Rowell before (Attachments) and I've purchased Fangirl, and I want to read it, but first I knew I needed to pick up E&P. So, as I sit here coming off of a brutal first semester of graduate school and many, many books read that have challenged me, I knew I needed to pick something up that would make me laugh, a bit. Make me cry, a bit. And, basically, remind me of what it's like to live life and be young, a bit.

I definitely got that with Eleanor and Park. This is what I loved the most about this book - although Eleanor does not fit the mold of most female YA protagonists, there's not a big deal made over that, really. Rowell is realistic. Eleanor, at one point, realizes she's not that "nice" girl that you bring home to your parents. She's Eleanor. And the best part of that realization is when Park affirms that's what he sees in her - that she's not something that is the same old same old, she's something different.

The same goes for Park. I loved seeing him break out and grow throughout the year (and man, 1986 - what a great year for a book to be set - I was 10 years old in 1986 and loved life). I loved seeing his family dynamics change, the love (and lust) his parents had for each other, the stereotypes they also had to break through and the growth they had. You know what else I loved? Having parents up front and center in a young adult book. And not just any parents, a wide variety of the sort - from absent fathers, to brutal step-fathers, to worn-down mothers, to functional marriages with their own problems and, hey, even grandparents. I loved seeing the mean guys actually step up and show humanity in instances, and seeing family step in to protect and care for one of their own.

Basically, Eleanor and Park reminded me of life. Messy, full of big moments and not-so-big moments, that can break your heart or fill it so full you don't even know how to breathe. I wish I had been given this book as a teenager (and that it had existed to be given to me). And I love, love, love Rowell for choosing Omaha to set it in - a place that was home to me in 1986. Now, I can't wait to crack open Fangirl.
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Reuben and Rachel : Or, Tales of Old Times
Reuben and Rachel : Or, Tales of Old Times

The Lost Entwife, September 7, 2014

If you are anything like me, Susanna Rowson is not a name you've stumbled across at any point in your life. I've read a lot of books, but I tend, generally, to avoid early American novelists because, well, the puritan thing really gets to me. However, now I'm in a class that has me studying four of those novelists and Rowson was first up on the list. I got a taste of her in reading CHARLOTTE TEMPLE, but REUBEN AND RACHEL really took that taste and made it into a full-fledged meal, including dessert. If you are at all interested in exploring this author, let this review serve as a guideline to help you through the book.

First, have a pen and paper handy. No, make that a pencil and paper, because you will be erasing things. This is important because, ultimately, REUBEN AND RACHEL is a multi-generational saga that will expand on a family tree way too intricate for you to keep track of in your head. And, to make matters worse, the story will begin somewhere in the middle of that family tree, trace itself back through a series of letters, and then continue forward in a way that reminded me of a full-speed locomotive.

Now that you are prepared, let's talk about the two volumes of this story. The first volume is mostly historical. There's not a lot of action, there is some, but it's nothing compared to the second. Mostly, you need to remember that Rowson was playing with a very important historical figure here (Christopher Columbus) and teasing out his relationship with Ferdinand and Isabella. This leads into a very convoluted story that explores the exploitation of people in Peru, the glorification of Columbus into a sort of Christ-like figure, and finally, the worship of Isabella as she reappears in the names of various women in Columbus's genealogy throughout the book.

That said, once you get through the letters and move onto the the actual saga, things get interested. Provided you keep track of where you are (again, the pencil and paper help for notes - get used to pinging and ponging back and forth across the Atlantic), the story moves at a good pace. Just don't expect the title characters to show up for a while.

On page 194, just a mere page away from the start of Volume 2, REUBEN AND RACHEL make their appearance. It's incredible what you've gone through at this point. There's incest, murder, various deaths due to other natural reasons, chains, arrests, rape, accusations... the list goes on and on. So it was a relief to finally get to the title characters, as you can imagine. Little did I know.

Volume 2 flies by, folks. Seriously, hang on to your seat and keep that pencil and paper handy because all sorts of men will fly in and out of Rachel's life. If you get invested into stories like I do, you will find yourself gasping out loud and angry and righteously incensed at the mistreatment of Reuben and Rachel from the various people in their lives but that is what Rowson wants! Remember that! There are even moments when she interjects her own voice to bring you around to her way of thinking.

This is a book that spawns hours of conversation in a classroom so keep that in mind when you pick it up. Choose it for a book club or read it in partnership with a friend so you can have someone to discuss it with. I promise, REUBEN AND RACHEL will hold your interest just as much as any modern thriller would. Just give yourself time to invest yourself in it.
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Naked and Marooned: One Man. One Island. by Ed Stafford
Naked and Marooned: One Man. One Island.

The Lost Entwife, September 7, 2014

It's only natural that since I am fascinated by survival stories in fiction that I should also look to some crazy real-life stories. That's exactly what caught my eye when I saw Ed Stafford's book. NAKED AND MAROONED is a heck of a title and a little bit of marketing genius. Who could pass something like that up? Then, upon further reading, I noticed that he spent his time in the South Pacific and, given my recent time spent in the Pacific, I had to know what it was like.

I've never been a survivalist. I cringe away from bugs, scream at snakes and rats, and would not be able to spend the night outside even if you promised me a really, really big paycheck at the end of it all. Knowing this, I opened up Stafford's story fully aware that there would be parts of his story that would have me gagging at the thought of it all and I was not mistaken. Stafford does not hesitate to talk about the most minute detail of his experience - from the shape and texture of his "poos" to the day in and day out eating of raw snails. Yes. Raw snails. Gag.

Still, it was what I was expecting from a survival book and, I'm sad to say, that the first few weeks were the most interesting because he was actually exploring and learning his new surroundings. Where the book faltered and eventually died off for me was when he got into the building mode. From shelters to traps to rafts, I just could not picture what he was doing and, I think unless one was very "build-mode" oriented, not many people would be able to see it well either. I got lost in descriptions of "Y" shaped poles and something about hibiscus something-or-other and it just wasn't all that interesting. There were moments when Stafford would say something out loud or look at the camera and joke or reveal a bit of the turmoil he was going through, but the majority of those pages focused so much on the building that there wasn't much of anything else happening.

I don't know if my expectations were just unrealistic, but I never once felt as if he was really exploring this to the full. He was there with cameras, antibiotics, a phone, and a beacon and just 8 sea miles away there was help. So yes, he was naked and marooned and I have no doubt that it was the hardest experience of his life, but it never actually was something he had to be fearful of - because help was just a phone call away.

So overall, NAKED AND MAROONED came off as just an experimental journey, something to see if he could do it but with a catch in the contract to help him if he couldn't. Maybe I should look to my survival stories in fiction because there is no real guarantee there that the character will actually survive. That sounds extremely thoughtless and uncaring of me, but there's enough of the bloodthirsty adventurer still inside, under all that wishy-washy, scaredy-cat-ness, to wish that this story had been just a little more dangerous.
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The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg
The Hidden Child

The Lost Entwife, September 6, 2014

I don't read a lot of crime books. I was burned out on them years ago, but there are a few authors that make the cut for me and Camilla Lackberg is one of them. I've been following her Fjallbacka series since the first book was released and I'm always excited to see a new release pop up in my notices. THE HIDDEN CHILD did not disappoint. It solidly landed among some of my favorites of Lackberg's books and I was reminded, once again, of just how intensely absorbing this genre of book can be when it's written well.

In THE HIDDEN CHILD, Lackberg explores the relationship of two brothers, each with a vastly different view of WW2 due to each of their circumstances (age, etc). She takes her readers through the story by revealing other bits and pieces of what the war was like in Sweden; how it affected families and lives and the dynamic of life - especially as relating to the border of Norway. But more than just a history lesson, Lackberg immerses us in the story through Ericka, a crime writer/new mother who just happens to be married to a detective Patrik Hedstrom. So in addition to the story of a crime unfolding, the story takes on a more personal, human feel as the couple tries to navigate their lives and who fits what where and learns that, well, life can be messy.

I really enjoyed THE HIDDEN CHILD. I read it in a single afternoon/evening and not once thought about putting it down to do something different - including dinner. I snacked and laughed and gasped as various aspects of the story were revealed to me and I think fondly of that day as a day that I just had a really good time. I don't think there really is higher praise that I could give a book, so I'm going to leave it at that.
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