Ten novels to help people get in the mood for the August 21st Eclipse. Continue reading
Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Wier
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Synopsis: Mark Watney was part of an early mission to Mars, but what had been the opportunity of a life time quickly becomes a disaster. Believing Watney died in a Martian sandstorm, the crew has left Watney behind. The next Mars mission isn’t scheduled to arrive for another four years and Watney’s supplies were designed to last 31 days. With no way to contact NASA, Watney must find a way to defy the odds and survive.
Review: It’s next to impossible to write a good book where the main character is alone almost the whole time, but somehow Andy Weir has managed to pull it off.
This book is extremely well researched. As someone who has done a significant amount of research on Mars for the purpose of writing my first (never to be published) novel which was set on the red planet this is something I really appreciated. One of my issues with Red Rising was that it was clear little to no research had been done on the planet itself despite the fact that the entire book was set there. (Note that I still really enjoyed Red Rising overall in spite of this and gave it four stars.)
Our narrator, Mark Watney, has very strong voice. This allows him to carry the story on his own without it falling apart due to the lack of character interaction. The sections told in third person by members of NASA also add side characters to the story.
The pacing in this book is good. Just when one disaster ended another that somehow seemed even more desperate than the last began. In spite of this, I somehow did not feel as strong an urge to keep flipping pages and keep reading whenever possible as I do with some books. This brings me to my next point.
The reason this loses half a star is due to the fact that I didn’t feel enough emotional attachment to what was going on. I can’t say exactly why this is as the stakes were high at pretty much every moment. It might have something to do with the fact that we never seemed to get to hear much about Mark’s backstory, or at least it seemed that way to me. We heard a little bit about his college life and he mentioned his parents, but beyond that we never got to hear about someone outside of the crew who personally knew and cared about Mark. I think giving someone from Mark’s personal life a little page time or revealing more about his past may have made me care more.
What readers should know: This book is intended for adults. The language would be enough to make it rated R if they kept all of it in the movie, but due in part to the low amount of character interaction the language is just about the only thing that could be potentially deemed inappropriate.
Rating: This is a very realistic depiction of a Mission to Mars. Even though it wasn’t always as gripping as I would have liked it was still a great read and one that I highly recommend to readers who are even the slightest bit interested in Mars or space exploration.
August was a great reading month. I read nine books: one adult sci-fi, three adult fantasy, and five young adult fantasy. I also started revisions on one of my writing projects.
From now on I’m going to be splitting my monthly wrap-ups into three sections: reading, writing, and blogging.
Short Synopsis: Astronaut is stranded on Mars.
Thoughts: A very realistic, well researched portrayal. Though I really liked it, the book didn’t always grip me as much as I would like. Review to come.
Short Synopsis: A princess is forced into a marriage to the mysterious “God-King” in an attempt to prevent war between too nations. While this princess settles in to life in the foreign palace her sister tries desperately to free her.
Thoughts: Once again Brandon Sanderson’s world building proves extraordinary. The plot is captivating and unpredictable, the breath and color based magic system is well thought out and unlike any I’ve read before. For my full thoughts see my review.
Short Synopsis: Elantris was once the city of the gods. Now it is a city of the living dead.
Thoughts: I can really tell this is the first novel Brandon Sanderson published. His prose were really clunky and this is the only Sanderson novel where I’ve skimmed sections. Still an overall enjoyable read though, it’s interesting to see how much Sanderson has improved over the years.
Short Synopsis: Kell is one of the only people left who can travel between parallel worlds. Kell uses his ability to illegally smuggle objects between worlds. One day an object Kell smuggles turns out to be especially dangerous and it’s up to Kell to dispose of it before it’s too late.
Thoughts: I haven’t read a lot of books about parallel worlds, but when done right it’s a topic I find intriguing. There were times when I felt this story felt a little predictable and the characters not as developed as I would like, but it was an excellent read overall. Review to come.
Short Synopsis: A princess struggles to free herself from expectations of her. Book two in the Heart of Betrayal series.
Thoughts: I’m surprised how much I liked this one as I had mixed feelings about the first, but there were certain aspects I really liked. Review to come.
Short Synopsis: A thousand years ago one nation became seven and the world was shattered during a terrible disaster. Now Han, an ex-thief, and Raisa, the princess heir, must learn from the past in hopes of a better future. The entire Seven Realms series.
Thoughts: The pacing at the beginning was a bit slow, but once I got into these I just couldn’t seem to put them down. I read the last three over what was primarily a two day period of time. The world building is some of the best I’ve read in YA (in a lot of YA it tends to be lacking), and the characters were so much fun. I’m surprised this series isn’t more popular. Can’t wait for the spin-off series Shattered Realms.
What I wrote last month: In August I started revisions on my high fantasy work in progress. It’s working title is A Rose Like Death, and it was my project for NaNoWriMo last November. Most of what I’ve been doing so far is rearranging the files of chapters and scenes into an order I think would better fit the story. (I use Scrivener.)
My main focus right now is big picture edits and making everything flow. I’m also doing a lot of rewriting to change my main character, Yuliana’s, voice because the narration feels too distant at the moment. Feedback from everyone who has read the first chapter has been very positive overall with most issues involving grammatical and sentence construction errors that I don’t intend to fix until far later. Everyone seemed to have a much better grasp of the world building and character dynamics than I expected by the end of chapter one, and each person who read it had a different theory about the direction the plot would take. Only one really got anywhere near to the truth.
What I plan to write next month: I plan to continue with what will become the second draft of A Rose Like Death. Now that summer is over progress is going to slow and the goal is to have it finished by October 31 so I can start a new project for NaNoWriMo in November, but I’m not sure if that is realistic yet.
I know I’m behind on my tags. It might take me a while to get them posted, but I haven’t forgotten about them. I’ve been tagged for the quote a day challenge and my blog has been given the Liebaster Award, but have yet to post about them. I’m planning to combine the quote a day challenge into one day instead of three because I post once a week and like to keep it consistent.
Read or write anything interesting in August? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Of the seven challenges I completed four. They were:
- Challenge 1: Read a book with blue on the cover
- Challenge 3: Read someone else’s favorite book
- Challenge 4: Read the last book you acquired
- Challenge 6: Read a book you really want to read
For those challenges I read The Martian and Warbreaker:
I know I was going to try to read Warbreaker without letting go of it by just carrying my phone everywhere and complete the challenge of not putting a book down by reading Warbreaker as an ebook. The problem is that unlike with a physical book you don’t need to hold it open so I ended up reading the book without touching it and didn’t realize until later what I had done.
I read The Martian during the first two days of the event and Warbreaker during the fourth and fifth. After finishing Warbreaker I tried to start reading Paper Towns, but it just didn’t hold my interest and I ended up spending the next two days rereading portions of Words of Radiance to try and find all the Warbreaker references I heard were in the book.
The Martian was 369 pages long and Warbreaker was 688 pages long which adds to a total of 1057 pages. The portions of Words of Radiance I read were out of order so there is no way to add it to my page count, but as Words of Radiance is over 1000 pages I probably read at least 25 trying to find what I was looking for.
If you participated how much did you read? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.