This is a fun, intense, suspenseful and well-told, Hard-SF book from a debut author.
For a first book, and a self-published one (Note: I read the later...moreThis is a fun, intense, suspenseful and well-told, Hard-SF book from a debut author.
For a first book, and a self-published one (Note: I read the later, brand name publishers version--not Weir's original eBook), this is very well-crafted. I genuinely liked the protagonist. I enjoyed Weir's flair for Whedony dialog and general irreverence (seriously, AGENTS OF SHIELD producers, you should hire this guy to write for your show!).
I enjoyed the amount of scientific detail (I do have to quibble with the EVA suits he had his astronauts use on Mars. Weir describes them as only slightly less bulky than the suits they have to wear in space, but in the last year of so, NASA has introduced the very tight-fitting EVA suits that Astronauts will wear on Mars--I know, quibble).
I feel the book could have used one more good edit, just to tighten it up a bit. I also think it needed more women. I don't know how, I'm not his editor. But for me, I've learned to watch movies with an eye toward if they pass the Bechdel test, and it bothers me when a book doesn't. True, the book has only one primary character, the titular Martian, but it has a supporting cast that includes: NASA people; China Space Agency; a few family members, and the the other five members of the Mars expedition crew. Surely in 300 pages, two women working, say... working for NASA could have had a conversation about rescuing the trapped astronaut and brought the plan to their boss? I know NASA was once male dominated place, but half the population are women. Heck, half of this years' new astronauts were women! Slightly more women than men attend college (even for engineering). Women read books. Just saying. Honestly, it's why I reduced it by one star. It's set in like 2020, it might as well reflect it, yes?
My nitpicks aside, it's a very capable and fun first book. Keep you eyes on Andy Weir, the SF world will hear more from him. (less)
This book is a lot of fun. A Facebook friend just reminded me about it and I'm really glad she did. This has a special place in my heart. On our secon...moreThis book is a lot of fun. A Facebook friend just reminded me about it and I'm really glad she did. This has a special place in my heart. On our second date, the woman who would become my wife (also, eventually, my ex) gave me her copy of BotDS to read. After I read it, I knew our sensibilities and interests were in synch. It was a lot harder in the pre-high speed internet days, to ferret out fellow Geeks.
BotDS is a really fun, charming and witty "Whodunit" by Sharyn McCrumb. It combines a serious murder mystery with the scariest world of all -- fandom.
James Owen Mega is just an ordinary guy, a professor of electrical engineering at Virginia Tech. What very few people realize is that he is also Jay Omega, one-time SF author -- and that's exactly how Jay wants it. His novel was a serious, hard SF story, but by the time the second-rate publishing house got through with it, it was saddled with a Frank Frazetta-esque cover and the title Bimbos of the Death Sun. Though he attempts to bury his shame, his girlfriend books him as a guest at Rubicon, a local SF convention. There, they meet the troublesome Appin Dungannon, author of a Conan-like series of novels and owner of an incredibly short fuse and colossal ego. Some time between the costume contest and the celebrity D&D game, however, Dungannon is murdered, and Jay and his girlfriend, Marion, do a little investigating of their own.(less)
I've never read anything from Ms. Evanovich, I only picked this up because of her co-author, Lee Goldberg.
This reminds me of a novelization of a TV se...moreI've never read anything from Ms. Evanovich, I only picked this up because of her co-author, Lee Goldberg.
This reminds me of a novelization of a TV series. Or a series pilot in book form. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Using that analogy: The Heist is, White Collar meets Leverage meets Moonlighting meets Remington Steele. I can easily see an O'Hare and Fox series as a Summer series on USA, and I'd watch it. It was a fun read, and as USA's current motto goes: "Characters Welcome". Three and a half stars, but it kept me entertained and made me smile, so I'll round up to four.(less)
A fun short story set before the adventures in Hounded and The Iron Druid Chronicles pentalogy. It was nice visiting a less harried Atticus O'Sullivan...moreA fun short story set before the adventures in Hounded and The Iron Druid Chronicles pentalogy. It was nice visiting a less harried Atticus O'Sullivan and Oberon, his faithful Irish Wolfhound. It was also a pleasant treat to briefly go back to Tempe, AZ and Third Eye Books and Herbs. I had missed it. (less)
In Discount Armageddon (Three and a half stars rounded to four), the first book in the InCryptid series, the best of Seanan McGuire's talents are on d...moreIn Discount Armageddon (Three and a half stars rounded to four), the first book in the InCryptid series, the best of Seanan McGuire's talents are on display -- Great world-building, smart empowered female protagonist written with a witty and engaging voice touched by snark. In the second book, it's some of the worst bits of her talents on display -- Disorganized plot, monotone writing, ad nauseam repetition of jokes and background details, indulgent dialogue and way too much internal monologuing.
I really enjoy this series. It's a breath of fresh air from her others. Verity Price is not a broken toy. She's bright, happy, mostly well adjusted and comes from a large extended family who give her unconditional love and support. There are also the Aeslin mice, who alone are worth the price of admission. I LOVE those little guys.
I speed read. I learned in the first book to skip the chapter headers. I'm sure others do as well. Suddenly, at about the third quarter mark, for four chapters, the narrative voice switches from Verity to that of her adoptive cuckoo cousin, Sarah. I didn't even notice the switch in "voices" until I read Verity being discussed in the third person! Sarah's voice remained static and sounded identical to Verity. At a moment when most books should be building up the action to its conclusion, those four chapters froze me. They didn't do or mean anything. They even lead to the most annoying bit of hand waving I've ever done with a McGuire/Grant book. Really, "Uncle" Mike the professional cryptozoologist with 20+ years of experience doesn't understand how telepathy works? Really!?
This feels like a placeholder book. A seventh or eighth book in a series, not the second. Nothing really happens. The big bads are talked up quite a bit but they never live up to it. There is a consequence for a secondary character, but apparently not to Verity or anyone else. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but it just isn't what I expect from her books -- especially not from the nearly note perfect first book. That said -- A bad McGuire/Grant book is still better than 90% of the stuff being churned out. ALL HAIL THE AUTHOR WHO VERY RARELY DISAPPOINTS! (less)
Hilarious and frightening. Extremely prescient, especially after the Reagan and Bush II years, and the frightening possibility of a Romney presidency....moreHilarious and frightening. Extremely prescient, especially after the Reagan and Bush II years, and the frightening possibility of a Romney presidency. Even with the Obama administration's continuation of and further erosion of some core civil liberties -- erosions that began under Bush, opens the possibility to future presidents (D or R or I) being able to more easily bypass constitutional limitations.(less)
I recommend the audiobook. In it, Mr. Thurston wonderfully performs his book. Really that's sound advice for most books like this one. Jon Stewart, St...moreI recommend the audiobook. In it, Mr. Thurston wonderfully performs his book. Really that's sound advice for most books like this one. Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Bill Cosby, the late great George Carlin -- listen to them perform their books!
Baratunde Thurston co-founded the black political blog, Jack and Jill Politics and served as Director of Digital for The Onion before launching the comedy/technology startup Cultivated Wit. Then-candidate Barack Obama called him "someone I need to know." Baratunde travels the world speaking and advising and performs standup regularly in NYC. He resides in Brooklyn, lives on Twitter and has over 30 years experience being black.
Baratunde is funny, smart, insightful, political, socially active, sarcastic and nerdy. All things I like in people. Besides chapters on his life he offers practical advice on everything from "How to Be the Black Friend" to "How to Be the (Next) Black President" to "How to Celebrate Black History Month." At different points in the audiobook, he talks to an assembled "Black Panel" of three black women; three black men; and one white man. It's great to actually hear their voices and laughter. Be sure to listen to the Afterword, which features 10 - 15 minute interviews with each person.
How to Be Black. Get it, listen to it (or read it) and enjoy (and think), but mostly enjoy. (less)
Cowboys Otto “Big Red” Amlingmeyer and his brother Gustav “Old Red” are back and they're tired. Tired of saddle sores and long trail rides. Old Red in...moreCowboys Otto “Big Red” Amlingmeyer and his brother Gustav “Old Red” are back and they're tired. Tired of saddle sores and long trail rides. Old Red insists they sign on to protect the luxurious new Pacific Express, despite a generations-old Amlingmeyer family distrust of the farm-stealin', cattle-killin', money-grubbin' railroads. Old Red knows that little brother, Big Red wants to take a stab at professional ‘detectifying’ just like his hero, Sherlock Holmes so they quickly find themselves hired on as guards for the railroad. Soon, the boys find themselves trapped on a train, summiting the Sierras en route to San Francisco with a gang of outlaws, a baggage car filled with secrets, and a vicious killer hidden somewhere amongst the passengers.