The Queen's Cat and Arial the Astronaut tare the best of this batch of Kindle freebies. Maria's Comet is a bit too fictional when it would have made a nice non-fiction children's book. The Fluffy Toy has cuteness and that's about it.
I finished this book earlier this year, and I've thought about it quite a lot. I must confess it did take me a long time to finish it, maybe a couple of months, but I wouldn't say that was a bad thing – it was more the kind of book you pick up once in a while, read a chapter, and put down satisfied.
Chris Hadfield, the well-known Canadian astronaut, has had an amazing life to read about. I'm a bit biased –I love space stuff– but I think most people would enjoy reading the crazy training astronauts have to go through and the unbelievable routine of life in space. From his beginning as a pilot to how he became an internet sensation in space, Chris Hadfield narrates his journey of hard work and big dreaming.
Some of the reviews I've read complain that he is too proud or has "too big an ego", but I don't really agree with this view. Yeah, the guy describes how he won awards, did great, and got important jobs – but it's true! It must be pretty hard to sound humble when you've got to narrate all your big achievements, and this is a man who has many.
Still, I won't go around saying it's perfect. As you can see, I rated it three and a half stars. As much as I enjoy reading on how people brush their teeth in space, or the life-like simulations of space travel at NASA, there's a lot of the book spent on giving life advice. And it may be a bit too much.
I don't know how to fully explain it, but many times I just felt the advice was not relatable. I just didn't feel like it could apply to me. Or, on the other hand, it felt like some random quote you read on Pinterest – a bit cheesy or overused. I'm not trying to say Chris Hadfield is not a genius or that I didn't learn anything from his book, not at all, but sometimes his constant advice or metaphors made the reading slow down.
Still, pretty awesome book! I always enjoy reading about space, and NASA must be one of the coolest organizations ever.
TITLE: The Last Astronaut
AUTHOR: David Wellington
"Mission Commander Sally Jansen is Earth’s last astronaut–and last hope–in this gripping near-future thriller where a mission to make first contact becomes a terrifying struggle for survival in the depths of space.
Sally Jansen was NASA’s leading astronaut, until a mission to Mars ended in disaster. Haunted by her failure, she lives in quiet anonymity, convinced her days in space are over.
A large alien object has entered the solar system on a straight course toward Earth. It has made no attempt to communicate and is ignoring all incoming transmissions.
Out of time and out of options, NASA turns to Jansen. For all the dangers of the mission, it’s the shot at redemption she always longed for.
But as the object slowly begins to reveal its secrets, one thing becomes horribly clear: the future of humanity lies in Jansen’s hands."
An action-packed, adventure novel of alien first contact, as well as human social dynamics in space and under stress. The beginning starts off slowly, but the pace picks up. Some of the characters I loved, others I felt needed to be shoved out the nearest airlock. The alien was very alien and also (in the end), not so very strange. The ending was poignant.
The one thing I wasn't particularly thrilled about was the format of the book. The imaginary author is writing an in-world book about events after they have happened. This author has interspersed the main story with little side commentaries/thoughts/confessions from various characters who where talking to NASA at the time. These little interludes tend to interrupt the flow of the story. I didn't have much luck with the audiobook, but the text version was much better. I think this is why the audiobook didn't work for me. It's easy to separate interludes from the main narrative since they are in italics. In the audiobook they tend to run into the main narrative and cause confusion. The narrator also didn't separate characters very well - they all sounded the same, despite attempts at different male/female voices.
A fun, entertaining reading experience.
THE LAST ASTRONAUT took all my thoughts about "First Contact", (I'm a Trekkie), and turned them on their heads.
This book deserves a better review than I have time available to give right now, so I must keep it brief. This was science fiction with a bit of humor and a big bunch of tension. It was fast-paced, with well drawn, deep and fascinating characters. I especially loved Sally Jansen. This woman was one of the bravest characters I've ever read about it. She wasn't perfect and everyone knew it, which is what I think made her so special to me.
I'm a bit of a space nerd, so all the science was fun and interesting to me. The situation into which these astronauts were placed was such a tough one the odds were heavy on their failure. Being that this year is the 50th anniversary of our landing on the moon, my respect has risen for all those who ever took that chance in real life, whether or not they made it. They are all winners to me, the real men and women, and those in this book.
All I can say is that I'm so glad I'm friends with readers who read and appreciated this book. If it were not for all of their rave reviews, I'm sure THE LAST ASTRONAUT would have passed under my radar. Thanks to all of you guys, you know who you are.
My highest recommendation!
*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*
Thomas Major hat die Nase von den Menschen gestrichen voll, da passt es ihm ganz gut, dass er die Chance bekommt, mit einem One-Way-Ticket auf den Mars zu fliegen. Auf dem Weg dorthin ruft der Astronaut bei seiner Ex-Frau an. Die Nummer ist mittlerweile allerdings neu vergeben und so lernt er Miss Gladys kennen. Die ältere Dame kämpft mit den Problemen der Altersdemenz, doch ihre Enkel Ellie und James haben noch weitaus größere Sorgen. Während ihr Vater eine Haftstrafe im Gefängnis verbüßt, droht der Verlust ihres Zuhauses. Der Astronaut arbeitet an einen Plan um der Familie Ormerod aus ihrer Notsituation heraus zu helfen.
David M. Barnett hat in seinem ersten Roman “Miss Gladys und ihr Astronaut” eine Geschichte erschaffen, die zum mitfiebern und träumen einlädt. Das in den Farben schwarz und violett bzw. magenta gehaltene Buchcover zeigt eine altmodische Teetasse in der ein Astronaut ein Fähnchen hisst. In meinen Augen passt die Abbildung sehr gut zum Roman, da die Story voller Fantasie steckt und von eine guten Portion Kuriosität gekrönt wird.
Beeindruckt haben mich die facettenreichen Charaktere, die der Autor mit feinen Pinselstrichen gezeichnet und zum Leben erweckt hat. Da wäre z. B. der mürrische und misanthropisch gesinnte Einsiedler Thomas Major, der seinem Leben und vor allen Dingen der Menschheit entfliehen möchte. Mit seiner Reise zum Mars ist er auf gutem Weg den Menschen endgültig den Rücken zu kehren, lediglich seine geliebte Musik begleitet ihn. Im Gegensatz dazu stehen die Ormerods, bei ihnen wird Zusammenhalt und Familie groß geschrieben.
Durch einen Zufall gerät Thomas Major auf dem Weg zum Mars mit der über 70-jährigen Miss Gladys in Kontakt, die sich verlaufen hat und auf deren Gedächtnis einfach kein Verlass mehr ist. Durch die Hilfe des Astronauten findet Gladys jedoch den Weg nach Hause, in dem sie bereits ihre fünfzehnjährige Enkelin Ellie und ihr jüngerer Bruder James erwarten. Die Familie steckt in einer schwierigen Situation, denn die beiden Kinder haben nur noch Gladys, die sich aufgrund ihrer schlimmer werdenden Altersdemenz nicht mehr richtig um sie kümmern kann. Somit übernimmt Ellie neben der Schule einige Jobs um die Familie über Wasser zu halten. Doch schon bald drohen Ellies Schultern unter der zentnerschweren Last der Verantwortung für ihren kleineren Bruder und Gladys nachzugeben.
Obwohl die Grundstimmung des Romans durch die einschneidenden Probleme der Familie Ormerod niedergedrückt wird, schafft es David M. Barnett das Ganze durch eine Prise schwarzen Humor und eine Messerspitze Sarkasmus aufzulockern. Das Ergebnis ist ein fabelhafter Roman über Menschlichkeit, Freundschaft und familiärer Zusammenhalt.
Ein unterhaltsamer Roman mit der perfekten Mischung aus Humor und Tiefsinn.