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review 2018-11-30 19:24
You're Going to Mars by Rob Dircks
You're Going to Mars - Rob Dircks

This book was a pure joy to listen to. I enjoyed every minute of it. Paper Forest was the perfect character to lead me through this near future scifi tale. She’s blessed with caring family & friends even as she grows up in one of the poorest areas, working in a giant landfill. She and her sisters (Rock and Scissors, and yes, they are triplets) each have different talents and Paper’s is her fascination with rockets and Mars. This causes several model rocket mishaps, much to Duggie’s amusement (Paper’s best friend). Everyone in the Fill watches the game show You’re Going To Mars, the entertainment child of trillionaire Zach Larson.

Then a magical thing happens. People have conspired to get Paper on that show because they believe in her, love her, and want a champion of the Fill. The Gitanos, a ruthless family that owns and runs the Fills around the world, have near-slavery multi-generational contracts with the inhabitants of the Fills. The horrible living and working conditions are unknown to outsiders.

There is so much well placed humor in this story. Sometimes it’s used to lighten a moment, sometimes just to give some snark, and then sometimes to make a serious point. Paper is great with her snark. It’s just the right amount and I never got tired of hearing her thoughts on everything.

The other contestants on the show were fun too. Aurora stands out because of all her sass but also because she’s both needy and distrusting all at the same time. She’s one of those celebrity stars known for her music and not her math or engineering skills. The real astronauts that have been training for years for this Mars trip aren’t too thrilled about taking along some bratty contestant winner, whoever that turns out to be. Astronaut Dan Daniels sure isn’t happy and he lets everyone know it.

The suspense winds up and one contestant after another is dropped from the competition. I loved that it wasn’t a bad thing for everyone (in fact someone wins a pet store! Ha! What a consolation prize!). There’s also more humor as the would be astronauts learn about astronaut life, like all those close living arrangements…. when you are doing everything. I mean everything!

Paper has some scary moments but I love how Jane does her best again and again to keep Paper in the game. The Gitanos are just one hurdle. There are others that don’t want a private organization successfully setting down on Mars. Perhaps there is something there we don’t expect after all.

This story gave me one fist-bump moment after another. I was verbally cheering Paper on at times, much to the amusement of people around me. You go Paper! The ending has a few sad moments and some great want to the hug everyone moments. Honestly, this has been one my favorite books for the year. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Khristine Hvam did an amazing job. She is Paper Forest. I also applaud her ability to make all three sisters sound closely related but to also give each a distinct voice, mostly through attitude. Her male voices are spot on too. She had the perfect older male voice for Zach Larson. Her sass for Aurora was just as I pictured it. The recording quality was top notch. Excellent all around. 5/5 stars.

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review 2018-11-17 10:03
Sexual Mores: "Podkayne of Mars" by Robert A. Heinlein
Podkayne of Mars - Robert A. Heinlein



(Original Review, 1980-08-06)



I was not a Heinlein fan before. I've probably read most of his work, but there are only 3 of his books I've kept to enjoy reading again. I've kept more than 3 of a LOT of other authors, such as Leinster, McCaffrey, Dickson, James White, and even Philip E. High. Nor did I "cut my teeth" on RAH, so I've no sentimental associations or long-standing loyalties. To me, he's just another SF-writer, though more competent than most.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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review 2018-10-24 02:04
Review: Life on Mars
Life on Mars - Jennifer Brown

I was looking for a story to read my youngest when I stumbled upon Life on Mars. I'm not much for juvenile lit; I am selective. I have the same overall expectations for juvenile stories as I do for adult literature. Too often, I'm disappointed, as most children's stories are plot heavy, and I tire from stories that depend on plot. Life on Mars sounded promising, and to its credit, it served up a tale that focused as much on character development as it did moving the story forward. But there were some surprises, good and bad.

The good is that this story does not shy away from being real. In the beginning, it's easy to imagine how things will work out for young Arcturus (Arty), a child who has clearly never experienced much adversity. Up against a move that will forever “ruin his life,” Arty is in a position and a genre where you know that even if events don't go as he hopes, they'll work out for the best. And it feels like this is going to be the story for quite some time, but then Jennifer Brown throws the story into an unexpected direction. She piles the burden on. These are the kind of variations that can help a children's story rise above the rest.

Also wonderful are the characters themselves. Yes, they're a bit dimensionally thin, but they're well crafted. Aside from Cash, not much is really revealed about any of the characters. Vega obsesses over her boyfriend, who eats and speaks in monosyllables. Cassi has let her new love of cheerleading overshadow her appreciation for astronomy. Priya is the cute Indian girl next door. And Tripp trips. But they’re wonderful characters for a middle-grade novel with dialogue that matches each.

What didn't work so well throughout Life on Mars, something else I hadn’t expected, was the saccharine laden details of the story. In an attempt to make every pun possible about space, the novel dips too often into little witticisms that are lost on small children, and not all that funny to those who understand. The fact that this family names all their offspring after stars is cloying. Are we really to believe that every sibling and every cousin for at least three generations is on board with this space obsession? Highly unlikely. Also grating was all the childish talk of zombies and all that. If they’re kidding around, sure, it works. But I got the impression that Arty was genuinely scared, especially when he was without his friends, so for all his thoughts about brain-eaters, I was annoyed. Children’s books do not have to be so juvenile.

Okay, I admit it. I’m an old fart. So what? I still liked the novel. I just wish it hadn't been quite so... childish, at times. For being childish, however, this is a children's book with some maturity.

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url 2018-09-21 08:52
The Man Booker Prize announces 2018 shortlist
The Mars Room - Rachel Kushner
The Overstory - Richard Powers
Milkman - Anna Burns
Washington Black: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018: Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018 - Esi Edugyan
Everything Under - Daisy Johnson
The Long Take - Robin Robertson

The List is out. Booked added. 

Author (country/territory)    Title (imprint)

Anna Burns (UK)                Milkman (Faber & Faber)

Esi Edugyan (Canada)       Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)

Daisy Johnson (UK)           Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)

Rachel Kushner (USA)      The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)

Richard Powers (USA)      The Overstory (William Heinemann)

Robin Robertson (UK)       The Long Take (Picador)

 

 

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review 2018-09-10 04:12
Before Mars by Emma Newman
Before Mars - Emma Newman

Series: Planetfall #3

 

This is the third book in the loosely connected series that started off with Planetfall. Here Anna Kubrin, an artist and geologist sent to Mars, discovers a series of unsettling incongruities that makes her think that either there's some sort of conspiracy going on or she's losing her mind. Things like a foot print found where supposedly no one's ever been, things packed strangely, and a fake wedding ring. It also starts to seem like the base AI is doctoring data.

 

This book was pretty intense, and I quite enjoyed it, although I guess I'm a little disappointed that all the clues were so well laid out that I could more or less guess what had happened (my original theory was mostly right).

 

I'm definitely looking forward to the fourth book, which looks to ratchet things up yet another notch. Oh, and another cool aspect of the book is how Newman explored post partum depression and a non-stereotypical mother who struggles with motherhood.

 

I'm counting this for the "New Release" square for Halloween Bingo because it was release in April 2018.

 

 

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