Book Review: Retrograde

Retrograde
By Peter Cawdron

My Edition:
ARC Paperback, 243 pages
2017, HMH Books
ISBN: 9781328834553

Liz is a scientist living in the U.S. module of an international station on Mars when the group gets the shocking news that several nuclear bombs have been dropped on various major cities around the world. With limited information being sent to the station and no support from Earth, rumors begin to spread and distrust rises between the different modules. Allegiances are put to the test and Liz struggles to keep members of each module from shutting out everyone else. When supplies start disappearing and systems breaking down, everyone in the station must band together to figure out what is happening before their lives are put in peril.

I have mixed feelings about this book and find it hard to talk about.

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Book Review: Sea of Rust

Originally posted on Geek Girl Authority

Sea of Rust
By C. Robert Cargill

My Edition:
Hardcover, 365 pages
2017, Harper Voyager
ISBN: 9780062405838

The last humans have been wiped from the face of Earth and now only robots remain. During the war that eradicated mankind, several mainframes banded together with the consciousness of other robots to create their own armies with shared intelligence. These mainframes are known as OWIs – One World Intelligence – and now they run the world. Freebots are scarce, constantly hunted by OWIs and destroyed if they choose not to upload themselves. Brittle roams the Sea of Rust, scavenging parts from bots on the verge of madness and trying to avoid the notice of the OWIs, but a run in with another scavenger will change everything.

I think we all know I was beyond excited to receive a copy of this book, because what could a robot who loves to read love more than reading about robots?! (Say that five times fast.) I was nervous that I was hyping myself up for this, but the book didn’t disappoint.

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Book Review: The Punch Escrow

Originally posted on Geek Girl Authority

The Punch Escrow
By Tal M. Klein

My Edition:
Paperback, 356 pages
2017, Inkshares
ISBN: 9781942645580

Joel works as a salter – he teaches and tricks AI models to seem more human – and his wife works for International Transport on a top secret project related to teleportation. Her long hours and inability to speak to him about her job have put their marriage on rocky ground and it isn’t helped by Joel’s smart-ass sense of humor. But the two decide to go on a second honeymoon to reconnect. En route to meet his wife, Joel finds himself duplicated due to a teleportation error and is sucked into the battle between the organization that controls teleportation all across the globe and the members of a religious cult who seek to destroy it.

If you’re looking for a sci-fi novel about teleportation with a heavy dose of smartassery from the protagonist and a few deep questions to ask yourself about the future of our technology and the possibilities of teleportation, then I highly recommend this book.

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Judging A Book By Its Cover: Gemina

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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Book Review: Gemina

Gemina
By Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

My Edition:
Hardcover, 659 pages
2016, Knopf
ISBN: 9780553499155

Gemina’s plot overlaps some of Illuminae, but now we’re introduced to the residents of the Jump Station Heimdall and the difficulties they face as the Hypatia makes its way towards them, still fleeing BiTech Industries. Hanna is the station captain’s daughter and her dealings with Nik have been primarily to score dust for her and her friends. But BiTech Industries isn’t finished with their recent attack on Kerenza and now they’ve arrived at Heimdall to finish the cleanup and Hanna and Nik must team up to try to save their home and everyone in it.

I won’t say much about the plot here, as this book is relatively newer and I’m likely not the last person on Earth to have read Gemina (or Gemima as I keep writing and saying aloud), as I was with Illuminae.

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Book Review: Illuminae

Illuminae
By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

My Edition:
Hardcover, 599 pages
2015, Knopf
ISBN: 9780553499117

When Kady and Ezra’s home planet is brutally attacked by a competitor in the mining industry, they are lucky to escape the planet alive when a nearby group of military ships responds to their distress call. The small fleet of three ships houses the refugees and they’re fleeing for their lives as one of the enemy ships pursues them. Any useful refugees are quickly conscripted as they try to outrun the enemy, but after a tragic incident, it becomes clear that all is not well among their fleet. Kady, expert hacker, works to find out the truth as Ezra trains to become a fighter pilot. The secrets they uncover are more deadly than the enemy ship that’s hot on their trail.

Ok, my blurb is shit, but there’s a lot going down in this book and it’s hard to sum up without spoiling anything – though why I even tried to sum up Illuminae is beyond me because even if you haven’t read this, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of it and at least have some idea what it’s about. I should have just said, crazy shit goes down in space and is revealed to readers through found documents.

I bought this book a while ago, primarily because it’s sci-fi and the design was too cool to pass up. I was a little wary of the YA aspect, because, let’s face it, more often than not I’m disappointed or downright pissed off by much of the YA I read. I’m not trying to trash the genre and I always keep my eye out for YA reads that I think I’ll enjoy, but it’s not my favorite group. Anyway, this book is rad looking – you might recall I did a judging post on it a while back. I’ve wanted to read it for quite some time, but without the recent read-a-thon I participated in, I’m honestly not sure when I would have made time for this book.

I’m so glad I did though! This was a fast-paced story and despite the seemingly impersonal, or perhaps, less detailed aspect of government documents, conversation transcripts, journal entries and IM conversations, I was fully immersed in this book and was easily able to picture action scenes in my head. I feel I have a good idea of who Kady and Ezra are and what they stand for and I was hooked from page one.

I also liked that there was no love triangle! Kady and Ezra have a pre-established relationship, so there was no love at first sight, soulmate, which boy should I choose crap that usually has me wanting to throw a book out the window.

There’s even some crazy, overly-poetic artificial intelligence in this book – I love sci-fi where there’s the question of whether the crew controls the ship, or the other way around, and Illuminae delivered.

There are several twists in this book and once or twice I found myself talking out loud about what happened. I did have my suspicions about the ending, that proved correct, but that didn’t lessen the excitement for me.

Overall the format flowed like a regular novel for me and I am hoping to read the next book early next year! For the first time in quite a while, I can say I highly recommend a YA novel and I’m so pleased!

You can visit Jay and Amie’s websites.

Book Review: The Martian

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The Martian
By Andy Weir

My Edition:
Paperback, 387 pages
2014 (or 2011?), Broadway Books
ISBN: 9780553418026

I received this book for free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mark Watney is accidentally abandoned on Mars during an emergency evacuation and thought to be dead for weeks. But Mark survived and is scratching out a living as the lone man on Mars based on his ingenuity and remaining resources. But can he survive long enough for those back on Earth to try to put together a rescue mission – will that mission even be possible?

What I like:
This is another book where I just want to say “Oh  my gourd, go read it!” and just let you experience everything for yourself. I was hooked from page one and instantly appreciated Mark’s wit and sarcasm. I present you with the opening sentences:

“I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. Fucked.”

Well, that got my attention!

Mark makes this book – considering more than half of it is his personal log of his new life trying to survive on Mars, this is an important part. I instantly liked him as a character and while he’s a smartass, he’s also very smart. He’s primarily a botanist, and his skills actually help him to survive. He’s crafty with his resources and I don’t want to give away much, but I’ll say that he bounces back well from any mishaps. That’s another great part – Mark is not some super genius who flawlessly carves out his life on Mars. He miscalculates, he makes stupid mistakes and he gets knocked down. There’s a lot of science and math in this book and I’ll be honest, I have no damn clue if it’s accurate, and I don’t care. It felt accurate and that was enough for me. Surprisingly enough, while I didn’t understand most of Mark’s calculations, I didn’t feel bored or lost while he was working through them – it genuinely felt like a man keeping a log of just how he planned to try to survive on Mars for as long as he possibly could. Those of you who are actually knowledgeable about spacemath and sciencejunk might actually enjoy this book even more.

Part way through, we’re given insight into the lives of people back on Earth, as well as Mark’s other crew members. At first, I thought it might disrupt the journal-like flow of Mark’s logs, but it actually added essential detail to the story and there wasn’t a single page in this book I didn’t enjoy.

Here are a few more quotes that made me chuckle:

“I used a sophisticated method to remove sections of plastic (hammer), then carefully removed the solid foam insulation (hammer again).”

“Now that NASA can talk to me, they won’t shut the hell up.”

What I didn’t like:
Hmmm…uh……let’s see…..

Oh! I know. I have the paperback edition, and they designed the cover to have a shorter edge, so you can see the page beneath it, which they also made to be the same color as the cover background. So, why do that? It’s ugly and I don’t think it lends to the design.

Yep…that’s it.

~

Seriously, if you’re at all interested in a realistic sci-fi read (meaning no aliens and space fights, etc) then check out this book. I had a hard time putting this down and I enjoyed waffling back and forth between how I thought the book ended. Mark is an excellent main character who kept me laughing, despite what I consider to be a harrowing experience. I also hear (according to IMDB) they’re making this into a movie and if it’s done right I think it will be fantastic.

Book Review: Reach for Infinity

Reach for Infinity
Edited by Jonathan Strahan

My edition:
E-book, 352 pages (in paperback)
2014, Solaris
ISBN: 9781781082034
Publication date: May 27, 2014

3/5 stars

Let me start off by saying I received a free copy of the e-book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This book contains 14 short stories regarding humanity in space, reaching farther than the Earth and moon, struggling to create new communities and dealing with new technology.

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