The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Robinson Crusoe in space. Set a few years into the future, when the U.S. is sending manned missions to Mars. Mark is a likeable character, and I found his ingenuity and inventiveness kept me interested – for about half of the book. Then it just got too predictable as it went from one event that should have killed him to another. It was very heavy on the science, which didn’t go over too well with my women’s bookclub. On the whole, it’s a decent story, and an uplifting one as nations work together to bring Mark home, and his story captures hearts the world over. The movie left out a lot, which is probably a good thing. It got very repetitive stretched out into a full-length novel.

Book description: After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark Watney finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

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After Dark

After Dark (Harmony #1)After Dark by Jayne Castle
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I was intrigued by the idea of a whole series of interconnected stories – past, present, and future – by this author (under various pseudonyms). There are so many different series, with some books numbered in more than one series, so it was a little arbitrary where to actually start, but I really was intrigued by the idea of pet “dust bunnies”, so this was it. Set in the future, about 200 years after humanity had crossed through some kind of planetary curtain and then were unable to return, cut off from Earth. The planet is called Harmony. The human colonists have apparently been developing the ability to resonate with amber and use it to focus psychic energy. The planet was once inhabited by a race of aliens who left behind the ruins of their culture protected by illusion traps and eerie energy manifestations (ghosts.) I enjoyed the world building, although some of the terminology was confusing at first. Lydia is a tangler – someone who can psychically untangle and defuse the illusion traps. Emmett is a ghost hunter – someone who can either summon or dissipate ghosts. And dust bunnies! sort of a cross between a predatory rabbit and a spider (not literally, but they do have six legs and 4 eyes…) All of that was interesting. A solid 4 stars for the sci fi/paranormal aspect. The relationship between Lydia and Emmett, as they learn to trust each other while solving a mystery, was okay plot-wise. It kept me guessing “who done it.” So something between 3 and 4 stars for plot. And if you like romance, there is that, too, but I have to say the two explicit sex scenes really didn’t add to the plot for me and could just as well have been left out. I’d call this more of a mystery than a suspense/thriller. And there was sexual tension, but nothing I would call a romance, so 2 stars for the romance aspect. I may read more in the series, but it isn’t compelling. Hopefully the sequel will develop the romance and back story a bit more. I will be reading the prequel short story “Bridal Jitters” since it is included in this edition of After Dark (titled Harmony.)

Book Description: Life is tough these days for Lydia Smith, licensed para-archaeologist. Seriously stressed-out from a nasty incident in an alien tomb, she is obliged to work part-time in Shrimpton’s House of Ancient Horrors, a very low-budget museum. She has a plan to get her career back on track, but it isn’t going well. Stuff keeps happening. Take the dead body that she discovered in one of the sarcophagus exhibits. Who needed that? Finding out that her new client, Emmett London, is one of the most dangerous men in the city isn’t helping matters either. And that’s just today’s list of setbacks. Here in the shadows of the Dead City of Old Cadence, things don’t really heat up until After Dark.

Series info (Harmony: Ghost Hunters):
.5 Bridal Jitters
01 After Dark
02 After Glow
03 Ghost Hunter
04 Silver Master
05 Dark Light
06 Obsidian Prey