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review 2018-06-24 18:58
One Way
One Way - S.J. Morden

[I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.]

An enjoyable read—it has elements that reminded me of both “The Martian” (which I loved) and of investigation novels in general—, although I found myself able to predict the twists (the deal comes to mind, but it’s not the only one), so the mystery part wasn’t 100% a mystery for me.

I enjoyed the preparation parts: how Frank gets “recruited”; his training; meeting the other convicts/astronauts (as well as the crushing realisation that he wasn’t going to be “a real astronaut”, just a prisoner sent to Mars and not necessarily considered as a human being). I tend to enjoy the hard science/technical details in such novels, so I was glad that some was included here, and that it made sense. Then there’s the Mars ordeal itself, of course, with this little group of ragtags and misfits having to face unexpected shortages and various problems before their base can even start being built. I expected a story where things go wrong, where the planet itself will kill you at the first opportunity, and I wasn’t disappointed in that regard. Also, the XO company had been cutting corners, and it shows; and it makes more sense, in a twisted way, the further you keep reading.

The main character, Frank, was likeable enough. He’s a murdered, but he “only” killed once, to save his son, and his reasons were more born from despair than from any twisted desire to kill for the sake of killing. At times, I found him perhaps a little “passive”, in that I thought he’d get to wonder about the deaths of his fellow inmates sooner than he did; on the other hand, he’s an older man who’s spent several years in jail and learnt to keep out of trouble there, so it also made sense that he’d want to keep out of trouble on Mars, too, by putting on blindfolds and focusing on his building and maintenance jobs. I believe his lack of curiosity was more an instinct of self-preservation, an ingrained desire to keep his head low in order to survive, rather than get interested in things that could put him in danger much sooner.

I was less satisfied by the rest of the cast, though, mostly because we don’t get to know them very well. They were defined more by what had sent them to jail (the cyber criminal, the ex-Neo Nazi, the doctor who euthanised her patients, etc.), than by what made them as human beings. As a result, I didn’t feel invested in them, and when they started dropping, I founder myself not really caring; they were plot devices, rather than characters. I don’t approve of padding a novel just to sell more paper, but in this case, I’d have gladly taken some 100 extra pages to get to know the whole crew better.

Conclusion: 3/3.5 stars. Not a novel I loved, but I still enjoyed it, and would still recommend it to readers who don’t mind a bit of jargon, and are interested in the struggle on Mars as well as in the murder mystery aspect.

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text 2018-06-24 14:35
I Am No One You Know - 1% (and ebook thoughts)
I am No One You Know - Joyce Carol Oates

Starting over. I started this book back in January and never got past the first couple of pages. Not because the story was terrible, but because reading in the ebook format feels like trying to make myself like brussels sprouts. Keep trying different recipes, I tell myself. You just haven't found the right one yet, and think of the benefits if you can like them!

 

Anyway, I've finally decided that I really can't keep 3 books (1 audio, 1 bound, 1 ebook) going at once, and my rationale for trying to do it is invalid. After all, whenever I expect to have time to read when I'm away from home (waiting at doc office, DMV, etc.), I pack a real book, and when I don't expect it, I read my Twitter timeline or news articles on my phone instead. 

 

So from now on, I'll read only 2 at a time - 1 audio, 1 bound *or* ebook. That should help me get whittle down my TBR mountain a little better, and relieve the sense of guilt over books started and left hanging. 

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text 2018-06-24 14:19
A Land More Kind Than Home - 25%
A Land More Kind Than Home (Audio) - Wiley Cash,Mark Bramhall,Lorna Raver

It's hard to be patient with the nonlinear storytelling, because it feels like wasted energy trying to figure out which parts have already happened vs. what's the current story and whose story this is. But the voices are interesting and the audio performances are very good so far. 

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review 2018-06-24 07:32
Book Towns
Book Towns - Alex Johnson

Book Towns collects, as the name would suggest, Book Towns from all over the world. It was an interesting little book for those of us who breathe books, so to speak. I couldn't help but be attracted to them and have added several (in Belgium and The Netherlands) that I would like to visit this summer. Others I would like to visit in the future.

Every town is featured with a story, and several pictures as well as some information. While in general this was really nice, it felt like some of the Book Towns didn't have enough information to really fill the pages. Also, it became repetitive a bit, as most book towns were generated from a Marketing/Tourism point of view and the story was often the same. Also also, it was sad to read that quite a few of them were way past their heyday.

Still a nice read for book lovers.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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text 2018-06-23 21:43
Reading progress update: I've read 119 out of 194 pages.
Homicide Sanitarium - Fredric Brown

So far so good with the short story collection by Fredric Brown gifted to me by Tigus.

 

I'll admit I was a little nervous about it because I'm not always a fan of the more hardboiled style of detective story, which is what it sounded like. And I always prefer liking books that are recommended to me although I don't always.

 

But this is good! I'm not sure how I'd characterize them so far, but "off-beat" (as it's put on the back cover) works. So far I've had a story where the main character is adamant that he's killed his wife and not auditioning for a part in a play, a ghoulish and I'm pretty sure impossible story in a morgue (but it's still good), a story about a detective going undercover in a sanitarium (I guessed the solution to this one but that didn't detract from my enjoyment), and a feel-good story about a guy whose telescope is used as part of a burglary.

 

There's also just enough humour to keep things interesting and flowing smoothly.

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