Book Review: The Martian

The MartianI finished The Martian by Andy Weir this weekend and I have to say, damn, that’s a good book! I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. The main character, Mark Watney was charming, intelligent, witty, and a bit vulgar. But, hey, he’s the only human on Mars and facing almost certain death, so, if he wants to cuss a bit, I’m good with it.

The story is hardcore science fiction. There was talk of titration, creating water from hydrogen and oxygen, and lots of mathematical calculations. As a person with a background in physics, chemistry, and mathematics, I loved the science in the book because it had a level of authenticity that you just don’t see in many mainstream stories. Heck, I am half wanting to check the news to see how Mark’s rescue progress is coming

However, it was not over the top on the science. Mark’s character had enough levity and humor in the face of such a daunting tasks that you really wanted to see him succeed. And the technical details were often explained so that you would understand what was happening even if you did not have a chemistry degree.

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Book Review: The Dog In The Dark by Barb & J.C. Hendee

I want to start by saying I really enjoyed the start of the Noble Dead Series. Dhampir was something new that I had not expected when I first read it and that invested me strongly in the characters.

The Dog In The Dark, is the second book in the third series.  I should mention that the whole “series” so far is broken into three groups:

  • The first part of the series consists of 6 books which focused primarily on Magiere (a Dhampir), Leesil (a half-elf assassin), and Chap (a fay born into the form of a wolf).
  • The second part of the series consists of 3 books, which focused primarily on Wynn (a young sage), Chane (a vampire), and Shade (a daughter of Chap).
  • The third part of the series is about getting the group back together, splitting them up again, and hopefully resolving the story in the yet to be released third book in the “third series”.

The Dog In The Dark is named for Brot’ân, an elf and master assassin who had shown up in several of the earlier books.  This book focuses on slowly eliciting information from him as well as explaining what Magiere, Leesil, and Chap were doing while we were busy with Wynn in the second series.  Unfortunately, this exchange of information is done mostly through the use of flashbacks.  While many questions were answered, others were added, the trouble was it was hard for me to stay engaged through the story and ended up reading another book while I was reading this one.  There are a few action scenes scattered about, some in the flashbacks, some in current time.  However, a few of the setups for those events seemed a little forced.

I really wanted to enjoy the book.  I became fond of Magiere and Leesil in Dhampir and will finish off the series (I have invested a lot of time in it), but was disappointed not to see more growth in their characters.  Some of the issues they were dealing with earlier on, like short tempers and hypersensitivity to issues should have been overcome by this point in the story.  I am a firm believer in the growth of characters over the course of a story arch.  When I don’t see that happening, I start to lose some of my appreciation for the characters and the series.  This to me was the hardest part of reading the story.

As a writer myself, I can understand why Barb and J.C. decided to use the flashbacks; already at a projected 12 books in the series, to actually tell the details of the events in this book as they had in the prior books would have extended the series even more.  However, it did make it a slower read than the prior books.

I would not recommend the book to someone just entering into the series.  It really is only there for people already invested in the tale.  My hope is that book 3 in series 3 will wrap things up.  However, it will require getting all the players back together and there are a number of them to move around.  I would like to give it 2 stars out of 5, but my initial fondness for the series makes me give it a 3.

Book Review: Sporting Chance by Elizabeth Moon

Sporting Chance is the second book in the Serrano Legacy series.  It continues the story that started in Hunting Party, with Captain Heris Serrano and Lady Cecelia returning to the capital with the Prince.

The story is set in motion by Lady Cecelia, who is something of a rebel in the aristocracy, when she exposes some of her observations about the Prince and the events that took place in Hunting Party to the King.  The events unfold, showing Lady Cecelia’s stubborn streak, as well as Captain Serrano’s ability to predict and plan for potential problems.  However, despite the Captain’s expectation of trouble, Captain Heris is unable to avoid it and is placed at odds with much of the aristocracy.

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