The Martian

The Martian
by Andy Weir

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. 

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. 

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

NOTE: The second book review of the week is a re-share and covers one of my favorite fiction stories! The Martian belongs on the Space theme week as it provides a snapshot of our potential future. It also celebrates the drive for scientific research and the yearn for adventure that propelled the US’ intial space flights. I adore this book. Enjoy!

I admit that I can be a ‘book snob’ because I tend to steer clear of books that become instant hits. You know which books I mean. The novels that, all of a sudden, everyone is talking about. Usually these books just don’t live up to the hype and this is why I avoided reading The Martian for so long.

It was quite stupid because I knew it was my type of book the instant I read the back cover. And yet, I still hesitated! Then I saw the movie trailer and realized that I was just being stubborn. Space exploration and astronomy are favorite subjects of both my dad and my husband (and me!) I’ve watched every documentary and I needed to read The Martian. I purchased my copy the next day and I couldn’t put it down.

The Martian tells the survival story of Mark Watney, a Mars astronaut that is accidentally left behind when his mission is aborted. It is Andy Weir’s debut novel and my favorite novel of the year! I loved the journalistic writing style and the  plot flowed smoothly, keeping me consistently engaged. was great. I enjoy how Weir mixes Watney’s storyline with that of the scientists on Earth, his crew, and the backstory of the equipment. I even enjoyed the science and had no problem understanding the application.

Many might consider the technical and straight-forward writing style too dull but I loved it. I’m a blunt, literal person so I t worked for me. The secondary characters are cookie cutter and underdeveloped but the only one that really annoyed me was Annie, the PR rep. I’m pretty sure Weir can’t stand media people from his descriptions of her. I also doubt Weir will be able to write any other novels in this style with the same level of success. I don’t see him as a one hit wonder but I do hope to continues to grow as a writer and expands his character development skills.

So many reviewers have complained that the book is trying too hard to be funny. I personally loved the corny humor of the novel. Watney’s goofy attempts to lighten the mood kept me reading and for those who wanted to see someone struggling to deal with the trauma of being left on Mars? You got it! Humor is one way many people deal with a bad situation (we all have been to a funeral where one person won’t stop laughing). Read a YA romance novel or modern women’s lit story if you need 300-400 pages of angst and tension. The humor is obviously Watney’s way of coping with the boredom and stress of being stuck alone for over a year. Go back and read the parts where our plucky astronaut is actually dealing with a life or death situation. You’ll realize that he’s not making jokes in the heat of the moment. They come afterwards. Plus, the journal is what Watney wants other people to know. He mentions that MANY times, so it may be a window in to his personality and experience but it’s edited. Sheesh!

I definitely recommend The Martian but I also understand that it might not be the book for everyone. Let me know if you have any questions or please share all the things you love about this story! I can’t wait until October 2nd because I NEED to see this movie!

Lindsay

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Fairest

Now for the review of the Lunar Chronicles prequel, Fairest! I will not be rereading Fairest this month. It’s my least favorite of the series but I still recommend reading it at least once! Enjoy the review and have a great Saturday!

History and Mystery

Fairest

by Marissa Meyer

 Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Fairest is the story of the evil Queen Levana, and the prequel story for Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicle series.  For those not familiar with the series it contains three full length…

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Cress

Sorry it took all week to get you this review! I am currently rereading Cress and, once again, caught up in the race to save Emperor Kia from Queen Levana. Happy a great Friday fellow readers!

History and Mystery

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Cress is the third installment of…

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Scarlet

Last week I announced that February would be the month of YA Science Fiction. I will be revisiting all novels in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and today we have my review of the second book in the series, Scarlet! Enjoy and let me know what you think of the series!

History and Mystery

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Readers…

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Cinder

Last week I announced that February would be the month of YA Science Fiction. I will be revisiting all novels in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and today we have my review of the book that started it all, Cinder! Enjoy and let me know what you think of the series!

History and Mystery

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I re-read Cinder this weekend as I have decided to read Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles Series this month.

Cinder, which is set five years after the events in the short story Glitches, relates the tale of Lihn Cinder, a young…

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The Martian

The Martian

by Andy Weir

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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

I admit that I can be a ‘book snob’ because I tend to steer clear of books that become instant hits. You know which books I mean. The novels that, all of a sudden, everyone is talking about. Usually these books just don’t live up to the hype and this is why I avoided reading The Martian for so long.

It was quite stupid because I knew it was my type of book the instant I read the back cover. And yet, I still hesitated! Then I saw the movie trailer and realized that I was just being stubborn. Space exploration and astronomy are favorite subjects of both my dad and my husband (and me!) I’ve watched every documentary and I needed to read The Martian. I purchased my copy the next day and I couldn’t put it down.

The Martian tells the survival story of Mark Watney, a Mars astronaut that is accidentally left behind when his mission is aborted. It is Andy Weir’s debut novel and my favorite novel of the year! I loved the journalistic writing style and the  plot flowed smoothly, keeping me consistently engaged. was great. I enjoy how Weir mixes Watney’s storyline with that of the scientists on Earth, his crew, and the backstory of the equipment. I even enjoyed the science and had no problem understanding the application.

Many might consider the technical and straight-forward writing style too dull but I loved it. I’m a blunt, literal person so I t worked for me. The secondary characters are cookie cutter and underdeveloped but the only one that really annoyed me was Annie, the PR rep. I’m pretty sure Weir can’t stand media people from his descriptions of her. I also doubt Weir will be able to write any other novels in this style with the same level of success. I don’t see him as a one hit wonder but I do hope to continues to grow as a writer and expands his character development skills.

So many reviewers have complained that the book is trying too hard to be funny. I personally loved the corny humor of the novel. Watney’s goofy attempts to lighten the mood kept me reading and for those who wanted to see someone struggling to deal with the trauma of being left on Mars? You got it! Humor is one way many people deal with a bad situation (we all have been to a funeral where one person won’t stop laughing). Read a YA romance novel or modern women’s lit story if you need 300-400 pages of angst and tension. The humor is obviously Watney’s way of coping with the boredom and stress of being stuck alone for over a year. Go back and read the parts where our plucky astronaut is actually dealing with a life or death situation. You’ll realize that he’s not making jokes in the heat of the moment. They come afterwards. Plus, the journal is what Watney wants other people to know. He mentions that MANY times, so it may be a window in to his personality and experience but it’s edited. Sheesh!

I definitely recommend The Martian but I also understand that it might not be the book for everyone. Let me know if you have any questions or please share all the things you love about this story! I can’t wait until October 2nd because I NEED to see this movie!

Lindsay

The Cage

The Cage

by Megan Shepard

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The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

I REALLY wanted to read a young adult science fiction novel that was not dystopian or centered on an angsty love story. Yeah, I know. I can hear your laughs from here because such novels just don’t exist! Right?

Wrong! These books are out there and I now have a nice list from Facebook friends that I am eager to check out. Surprisingly, Goodreads recommended The Cage and I couldn’t say no to the premise. I mean, come on! A human zoo! Who could say no to that?!

I’m not going to provide a summary because the above synopsis does a pretty thorough job, so lets jump straight in to the review. I loved it! I couldn’t put The Cage down because, like Cora, I needed to know what was going on! My favorite character was Cassian, the alien Caretaker in charge of Cora’s habitat. I love how earnest he is to learn about human nature and I enjoyed the relationship that develops between him and Cora. Many readers have stated distaste at the alien/captive relationship because it just seemed weird. I had no problem with it because 1. it wasn’t a surprise as it is obviously stated in the book blurb (I have no earthly idea why they were shocked and disgusted. *eyeroll*) and 2. the connection between Cora and Cassian was far more tangible than the supposed relationship between her and Lucky.

Shepard is a master at world building. I was immersed in the habitats, tasting the odd food, and slowly going nuts as the same song blared repeatedly from the jukebox. Shepard also perfectly displays the effects of captivity on the human mind. Yes, the human teenagers are erratic. Yes, the insta-love/lust between them seems unrealistic. Yes, Cora’s almost psychotic drive to escape can be overwhelming. But, they are all realistic mental responses to imprisonment and experimentation. I can definitely see myself reacting in a similar fashion to Cora because there is no way I would be a willing test subject. A number of reviewers remarked on the annoyance of the character interactions, but I thought it was one of the more impressive aspects of the story construction. Annoying, but also shockingly realistic in my opinion.

Unfortunately, Cassian was the only fully developed character in The Cage, which was disappointing. Shepard created a vivid background for the captives but that depth did not encompass the six captives. I was hoping to have sympathy and compassion for each of them but they read two dimensional despite Shepard including chapters from each captive’s perspective. Even Cora was less developed than I hoped. She was all over the place and two plots points left me irritated with her.1. Her response to Lucky coming clean about their shared history contradicts what we learn about said history later in the story. I actually yelled ‘WHAT!?’ at my Nook. 2. Her dependency on her necklace was irksome as she wouldn’t have been allowed to wear in juvie and therefore would not have developed such a dependency on it. These two points decreased my connection with Cora and left me easily annoyed by her actions. I would have been more on her side if these two details were handled differently.

Dont let that deter you from The Cage. I stayed up late because I NEEDED to know how it ended and I was so darn wound up upon finishing that I had a difficult time falling asleep. I was left wanting, needing, to know more about Cassian and the Kindred and the fate of the captives. I will definitely be reading book two when it comes out next year! I wish I could provide more information on the story/plot but no spoilers! Read it and let me know what you think!

Lindsay

I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four

by Pittacus Lore

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In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now. The Nine had to separate and go into hiding.

The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.

I AM NUMBER FOUR is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth.

I know today is May 1st but I’m still treating it like April because it is Friday and it’s tough to start something new on Fridays. April was all about finishing up those half read books on my night stand and I Am Number Four is the last of that pile.  I remember when it came out in 2010 because so many people loved the story. I have finally caught up and I’m sad to say that I was less than impressed.

Let me start the review by stating I enjoy the ideas behind I Am Number Four.  I mean teenage aliens that are pretty much superheroes is just screaming for its own tv show! I’d watch it! I loved so many of the secondary characters including Henri, Bernie Kosar, and Sam. I was even excited about Six and her mysterious backstory. I liked the storyline so much that I wouldn’t mind reading the rest of the series to learn more but that’s not going to happen.

I was not a fan of the symplistic writing style. It was short, choppy, emotionless, and telling. There wasn’t a single ‘showing’ passage. It was down right boring. It was like listening to someone drone on in monotone for hours. The story is a mashup of science fiction, fantasy, and young adult tropes that just don’t work because of the writing style. Don’t believe me? Read the final battle scene in the woods and tell me what you think. I also felt that the story would have been much better without Sarah. Her relationship with Four was sooooooo annoying and pointless. The emotionless writing made their relationship, well, emotionless and I didn’t feel anything for them when I turned that last page.

I Am Number Four was just frustrating.  I decided to give the movie a chance figuring that it couldn’t be worse than the book, and well, the movie was better. I never say this but I wish I had just watched the movie instead of trudging on through the book.

I love the underlying plot but wish I Am Number Four had stronger writing styles and better editing. Are you a fan of the Lorien Legacies books? I’d love to hear what you like about them.

Lindsay

Fairest

Fairest

by Marissa Meyer

 Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Fairest is the story of the evil Queen Levana, and the prequel story for Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicle series.  For those not familiar with the series it contains three full length novels (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress), two short stories (Glitches, The Queen’s Army) and now a short novel with Fairest.  The final novel, Winter, is scheduled to come out the Fall of 2015.  The Lunar Chronicles is a science fiction re-telling of the classic fairytales Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White.

I received Fairest as a birthday gift and initially began reading it in February.  You may be surprised it took me so long to finish the novel considering how much I love the other books in the series, but I just couldn’t get into the story.  This has nothing to do with Meyer’s writing and story development.  Her writing is good and the story moves well.  It has everything to do with Levana as a character.  I just don’t like her because I have never been fond of the Evil Queen despite her many reincarnations over the last ten years.  Charlize Theron’s portrayal is by far my favorite, though I was less than impressed by the Snow White and the Huntsman film.

Anyways, a story about the Evil Lunar Queen wasn’t going to be my favorite of the series, but I still wanted to read it.  It should have been half the length, a novella instead of novel, because we spend far too much time delving in to the frantic, and often childish thoughts of Levant, resulting in her seeming more whiny instead of powerful and terrifying.  I loved the glimpse into her psyche; how lost and confused she was, how desperate in her love, and how much she hated herself.  I just wish the power of the final scene with the mirror resounded through the entire story.

I still recommend it to fans of the series.  Fairest adds depth to the Queen, and provides a wonderful view on the early lives of some well known characters from the other stories.  We get to see Cinder and Winter as children and even a few hints of Dr. Erland’s life on the moon.  Plus, its always fun to learn a character’s backstory and Levana’s is interesting…

Have you ready Fairest?  What is your favorite story in the Lunar Chronicles?

Lindsay

Wanderlust

Wanderlust

by Ann Aguirre

Wanderlust (Sirantha Jax, #2)

Sirantha Jax doesn’t take chances… she jumps at them…

Sirantha Jax is a “Jumper,” a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. Jax has worked for the Farwan Corporation her entire career. But now the word’s out that the Corp deliberately crashed a passenger ship, and their stranglehold on intergalactic commerce has crumbled—which means that Jax is out of a job.

She’s also broke, due to being declared dead a little prematurely. So when the government asks her to head up a vital diplomatic mission, Jax takes it. Her mandate: journey to the planet Ithiss-Tor and convince them to join the Conglomerate.

But Jax’s payday is light years away. First, she’ll have to contend with Syndicate criminals, a stormy relationship with her pilot, man-eating aliens, and her own grimspace-weakened body. She’ll be lucky just to make it to Ithiss-Tor alive…

My novel for NaNoWriMo is science fiction so I have been reading the genre for ‘research’ :D.  Wanderlust is the second book in Aguirre’s Jax series.  The first is Grimspace so definitely feel free to check my review before diving head first in to this one.  Wanderlust picks up where the last left off.  Jax is still her crazy, unpredictable self, but she is now broke and agrees to act as an ambassador to help bring some sort of order to a galaxy that is quickly descending in to chaos.

This book was tough to read because it kept me on the edge of my seat.  I’ll just let you know that it takes the entire novel to get to Jax’s final destination where she is to act as an ambassador.  In the mean time she must deal with genetic refugees, man eating aliens, a massive clan war, traitorous family members, and being kidnaped.  All while coming to terms with her relationship with March.  And, once again, Aguirre provides readers with realistic relationships between people crammed in a space ship for an extended period of time.

Wanderlust left me feeling happy, anxious, sad, and down right pissed at the characters.  I kept talking to the book while reading:  ‘man up Jax!’ or ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME MARCH!?’  Oh the frustration!  But what more could you want from a genre piece?!  It hit every emotion and still kept me from putting it down.

Yes some of the personalities are exaggerated.  Yes you may think ‘SERIOUSLY!?’ as something else happens to our favorite cracked jumper.  But Wanderlust will take you on an awesome action packed trip across the stars!  Let me know what you think of the Jax series.

Lindsay