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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog PROJECT HAIL MARY by Andy Weir (@andyweirauthor) Hopeful, fun, full of scientific titbits, and the best sidekick ever #RandomHouseUK #sci-fi

Hi all:

I bring you a book by a writer who has become very well known, thanks to his sci-fi novels and to the film adaptations.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir 

A lone astronaut must save the earth from disaster in this “propulsive” (Entertainment Weekly) new science-based thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Martian.

“An epic story of redemption, discovery and cool speculative sci-fi.”—USA Today

“If you loved The Martian, you’ll go crazy for Weir’s latest.”—The Washington Post

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

An irresistible interstellar adventure as only Andy Weir could deliver, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian—while taking us to places it never dreamed of going. 

https://www.amazon.com/Project-Hail-Mary-Andy-Weir-ebook/dp/B08FHBV4ZX/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Project-Hail-Mary-bestselling-Martian-ebook/dp/B08FFJS3YW/

https://www.amazon.es/Project-Hail-Mary-Novel-English-ebook/dp/B08FHBV4ZX/

Author Andy Weir

About the author:

 ANDY WEIR built a two-decade career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, The Martian, allowed him to live out his dream of writing full-time.

He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of such subjects as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail.

He lives in California.

https://www.amazon.com/Andy-Weir/e/B00G0WYW92/

My review:

I am grateful to NetGalley and to Penguin-Random House UK (Cornerstone Digital) for providing me an ARC copy of this novel which I freely chose to review.

I have read and enjoyed the two novels Andy Weir has published before, and I am a fan of his first, The Martian, which I’ve recommended to many people I thought would enjoy it (especially those with a scientific and curious mind, and who don’t mind a first-person narrative from somebody with a goofy sense of humour and full of references to pop culture).

And I loved this book as well. It shares many of the characteristics of The Martian: a geeky protagonist (this time a biologist who after some disappointments with the reception of his research left academia to become a science teacher), who ends up isolated and trying to survive in a strange environment, although this time what is at stake goes beyond his own life, as he discovers that he is on a mission vital for the survival of planet Earth. There is a lot of emphasis on science, and we get to share in Grace’s experiments, theories, and discoveries, and as this is also a first-person narration, we get to experience his hopes and disappointments first-hand. The protagonist also has quite a sharp sense of humour and does not spend a lot of time moping around, despite (or perhaps because of) his peculiar circumstances. He does have the odd moment when he becomes overwhelmed by his feelings or his nostalgia, but he is pretty stoic the majority of the time, and most of his deep thinking is dedicated to solving problems, rather than to thinking about himself or his personal life, which we don’t know a lot about.

There are also things that are quite different. He has been in a coma for over four years, and he is suffering from amnesia when the novel starts, and that means he is a prime example of the unreliable narrator. He cannot even remember his name, and his theories and assumptions are not limited to his experiments, but cover also his previous life and the circumstances that brought him to the mission. The contemporary narration is interrupted at times by flashes of memory, and we get to know him and discover things about him at the same rate as he does, so he becomes progressively less unreliable, but that means there are surprises that are kept from all of us until the very end (or close enough). As I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, I won’t go into a lot of detail about the plot, but I think most people will get a clear idea about it from the description. I can say, though, that Grace develops and grows throughout the novel and as tends to be the case with first-person narratives, he has been changed by the experience.

Grace is the main protagonist, but as the novel progresses and his memory returns, we get to meet a few other people, mostly those involved in the Project Hail Mary (Hail Mary is the name of the spaceship), evidently from Grace’s point of view. Due to the scale of the threat to humanity, the whole world has come together, and therefore the experts and the crew involved in the project are a truly international bunch, from Chinese astronauts to Russian experts with a sense of humour, and even an Australian businessman/conman. I quite liked Stratt, the woman in charge of the whole enterprise, a Dutch polyglot, who is a force to be reckoned with and who proves to be a superb judge of character, and although we don’t get to share so much time with the others, they are all interesting and help add more context and texture to the novel. My favourite, though, must be Rocky and the relationship that develops between the two, but I can’t tell you more about that. (I love Rocky! He rocks!) The themes of cooperation and teamwork, selfishness and selflessness, morality and the greater good (how far would you go to save the planet and would individual sacrifice be justified?), cultural prejudices and assumptions, communication and acceptance of alternative and different lifestyles, the nature of life in the universe… are among those that inform much of what happens in the novel, but this is not a heavy-handed and didactic text trying to hammer any “deep messages” into the readers’ minds. It is a novel full of adventures (even if many of those are scientific in nature), as optimistic in its outlook as its protagonist, and one that is bound to make most readers smile.

The rhythm of the book flows and ebbs, as things move slowly at times and at others very quickly (we hear a lot about relativity, and this applies to the way time passes for the characters as well). I have mentioned the science speak, and I suspect it might put some people off, but although I’m not a big expert on the topics touched upon in the novel, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the experiments and the scientific basis for them, and even when I couldn’t follow every single detail, that did not hamper my understanding of the story or my enjoyment of the adventures, because the overall plot was always clear enough. The language itself, apart from the science concepts, is pretty casual and the wit and sense of humour of the character make it quite a fun read. (It is also fairly mild, so I can’t imagine a lot of people would find it offensive in the least, but I know this is a subjective thing.) As usual, I advise people thinking about buying the book to check a sample of the writing to see if they think they would enjoy it.

Here I leave you a few examples from very early in the novel, when the character is still trying to work out who he is:

“Holy moly”? Is that my go-to expression of surprise? I mean, it’s okay, I guess. I would have expected something a little less 1950s. What kind of weirdo am I?

******

 What the fudge is going on?!

Fudge? Seriously? Maybe I have young kids. Or I’m deeply religious.

******

I like kids. Huh. Just a feeling. But I like them. They’re cool. They’re fun to hang out with.

So I’m a single man in my thirties, who lives alone in a small apartment, I don’t have any kids, but I like kids a lot. I don’t like where this is going…

A teacher! I’m a schoolteacher! I remember it now!

Oh, thank God. I’m a teacher.

I have talked about the overall optimism of the novel, and although I don’t want to reveal the specifics, I can say that I loved the ending. Some readers might have expected something different, but I think most people will appreciate it as much as I did.

So, unless you are extremely put off by science, can’t stand spaceships and/or survival stories, and want to avoid anything that speculates of future disasters, I’d recommend you this novel. It is fun, it is hopeful, it has a sense of humour, it has some delightful and touching moments and some sad and hair-raising ones as well, it is full of scientific titbits, and it is a feel-good novel. Oh, and there is Rocky. You must all meet Rocky.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and always keep smiling! Stay safe!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog UK2 (PROJECT RENOVA BOOK 3) by Terry Tyler (@TerryTyler4) #Bookreview The perfect way to end the series. A must read for #dystopia genre lovers and those who love great characters.

Hi all:

Today I bring you the third book in a series I’ve been eagerly following. It’s the end, sort of…

Review of UK2 (Project Renova Book 3) by Terry Tyler
UK2 (Project Renova Book 3) by Terry Tyler

UK2 (Project Renova Book 3) by Terry Tyler

‘Two decades of social media had prepared them well for UK2.’

The pace steps up in this final installment of the Project Renova trilogy, as the survivors’ way of life comes under threat.

Two years after the viral outbreak, representatives from UK Central arrive at Lindisfarne to tell the islanders about the shiny new city being created down south.  UK2 governor Verlander’s plan is simple: all independent communities are to be dissolved, their inhabitants to reside in approved colonies.  Alas, those who relocate soon suspect that the promises of a bright tomorrow are nothing but smoke and mirrors, as great opportunities turn into broken dreams, and dangerous journeys provide the only hope of freedom.

Meanwhile, far away in the southern hemisphere, a new terror is gathering momentum…

‘I walked through that grey afternoon, past fields that nobody had tended for nearly three years, past broken down, rusty old vehicles, buildings with smashed windows.  I was walking alone at the end of the world, but I was a happy man.  I was free, at last.’

Although this concludes the Project Renova trilogy, a fourth book will be published in early autumn 2018; it is set in the future and features the descendents of Lottie and co. Patient Zero, a collection of short stories related to the series, is also currently available.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/UK2-Project-Renova-Book-3-ebook/dp/B07C9H3XNP/

https://www.amazon.com/UK2-Project-Renova-Book-3-ebook/dp/B07C9H3XNP/

Author Terry Tyler
Author Terry Tyler

About the author:

Terry Tyler is the author of seventeen books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘UK2’, the third book in her new post-apocalyptic series. She is proud to be self-published, is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Terry is a Walking Dead addict and loves history, winter, South Park and Netflix. She lives in the north east of England with her husband; she is still trying to learn Geordie.

You can check Terry’s blog where she shares her very sharp book reviews, here.

My review:

I was offered an ARC copy of this novel and freely chose to review it.

I have read and reviewed the two previous books in the Project Renova series (check the reviews for book 1, here, and book 2, here), by Terry Tyler, had read great reviews about the third book in the series, and was eager to catch up with the characters after what had happened in the previous two books. I will try not to spoil any of the surprises in the novel, but I want to advise anybody thinking about reading this book that they are written as a series and they should be read in the right order (first Tipping Point, then Lindisfarne, and UK2 third), as the story and the characters’ arcs grow as it goes along, and it is the best way to fully enjoy the story. There is also a compilation of short stories about some of the characters called Patient Zero (I have that one on my list but haven’t managed to get to it yet), but it is possible to follow the story without having read that one, although I’m sure you’ll feel curious enough to grab that one as well when you’ve finished the three main books.

I thoroughly enjoyed UK2. The novel is divided into three parts, and big events (and big secrets) are discovered in each. Readers who have been following the series will have been eagerly waiting for some of the things that happen in part 1, but in this novel, the action is divided between what is happening in Lindisfarne and what takes place at UK Central (the planned new capital of the UK post-virus). The brains behind UK Central are trying to gather as much of the population together as possible and that means some of the characters choose to move, and readers are given the chance to see how they are affected by their new circumstances. Their fates seem very different, to begin with, but, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that things are not as they seem.

This book is told from a large number of points of view. Many of the characters are given a voice, and here most of them tell the story in first-person, therefore allowing us to see them as they really are, rather than as the personas they try to portray to others. Some of them come out of it very badly (yes, Dex, I’m talking about you) but in other cases, we see characters who grow and develop in front of our eyes. This might come at a cost, but we get the sense that it is well worth it. There are brief interludes written in the third person, some about characters we know whose circumstances change, and others from an omniscient narrator, giving us an insight into what is going on in the world at large and helps create even more tension and anticipation.

The characters remain consistent throughout the series, and there are clear developmental arcs for them. Vicky fluctuates but after some more bad news manages to bounce back, Lottie remains one of my favourite characters and gets some new allies, and there are some surprises, like Flora, who slowly but surely comes into her own. I also enjoyed getting to know more about Doyle, who is another one of the characters who grow through the series, from being quite self-centered and doing anything for a quiet life, to developing a backbone and taking risks.

The quality of the writing is excellent, as usual in this author’s work. There is a good balance between fast-paced action and slower and more reflective moments, but there are gruesome and cruel scenes and sad events that take place as well, as should be the case in the genre. It’s impossible not to think about current politics and wonder what would happen if something like this took place. Let’s say that it feels scarily realistic at times and the novel is great at exploring how human beings can react when faced with extreme situations, with some becoming a better version of themselves, and others… not so much. But, this book is far from all doom and gloom and I loved the ending, and I think most readers will do as well. (Yes, I could not help but cheer at some point!) My only regret was that I had to part with the characters that have become friends by now, but I was reassured by the author’s promise to publish another novel set in the far future with some catch-up to the previous characters. And perhaps one intriguing short-story…

Even if you’ve read the other two novels some time ago, you don’t need to worry because the author has included a link at the very beginning of the novel that allows readers to read a brief summary and catch-up on the action so far.

A great follow-up and closing (sort-of) to the Renova Project series, and one that shouldn’t be missed by anybody who’s been following it. A great ending, a beginning of sorts and a reflection on what extreme conditions can do to the human spirit. Unmissable.

Thanks to the author for the book (and for the mention!), thanks to Rosie Amber and her team, where I first met Terry Tyler and her great reviews, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and keep smiling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
New books

#Newbooks. ‘The Dolan Girls’ by S.R. Mallery (@SarahMallery1) and ‘Ludwika’ by Christoph Fischer (@CFFBooks). Strong women in fiction and history.

Hi all:

As you know Fridays is time to share new books and/or authors. Today, both of the authors who are visiting with new books have graced my blog before, and I’m pleased to say I’ve read some of their books (next Tuesday I’ll be sharing a review for one of Sarah Mallery’s novels) and they more than deserve to be featured here. They are fairly different, but I wanted to give you a chance to catch up with both before the holiday season.

First:’The Dolan Girls by S. R. Mallery

The Dolan Girls, by S. R. Mallery
The Dolan Girls, by S. R. Mallery

Set in Nebraska during the 1800s, whorehouse madams, ladies of the night, a schoolmarm, a Pinkerton detective, a Shakespeare-quoting old coot, brutal outlaws, and a horse-wrangler fill out the cast of characters. Add to the mix are colorful descriptions of an 1856 land rush, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, Annie Oakley, bank/train robberies, small town local politics, and of course, romance. Two, in fact!

Links

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018Y063XA/
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B018Y063XA/

And a couple of reviews (both 5 stars):
S.R. Mallery has done it again and in her usual style, she has done it well. I love historical fiction (and the books of S.R. Mallery) because I learn from them and they echo truth. The Dolan Girls is a story about three strong, resilient and very different women and their difficult and ardulous journey through life in the old West. Set in Nebraska after the California Gold Rush, the Dolan Girls is brimming with realism, history, vivid description and amazing characters designed and developed so well I wanted to know more about them.. If you’re a fan of the old west, strong women and enjoy a great read, this book is for you. Recommend highly!

 

Though I am not normally a reader of historical fiction, I do enjoy movies about the Old West. Films like ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales,’ ‘Unforgiven’ and ‘True Grit’ (the Coen Brothers’ version, not the original). There’s something very appealing about these desperate, iconic characters struggling to survive in a desolate setting, with the promise of Progress—usually in the form of a new railroad—looming somewhere on the horizon. When I read THE DOLAN GIRLS, I found many of the things I love—strong women, villains cut from the cloth of a harsh adherence to tradition, and some other pretty colorful characters, both real and fictional.

THE DOLAN GIRLS is western fiction as you’ve never read it. S.R. Mallery’s words thunder off the page like a cattle stampede. And her sharply written characters demonstrate that truly it was WOMEN who tamed the American West.

Don’t forget to check the author page in Amazon and follow her for news about her books.

http://www.amazon.com/S.-R.-Mallery/e/B00CIUW3W8/

And now,  Christoph Fischer, who has visited my blog a few times, has a new book out (just out on the 14th of December). The book goes back to history, one of his favourite subjects, and the story behind the writing of the book is fascinating too.

Ludwika by Christoph Fischer
Ludwika by Christoph Fischer

Ludwika: A Polish Woman’s Struggle To Survive In Nazi Germany by Christoph Fischer

It’s World War II and Ludwika Gierz, a young Polish woman, is forced to leave her family and go to Nazi Germany to work for an SS officer. There, she must walk a tightrope, learning to live as a second-class citizen in a world where one wrong word could spell disaster and every day could be her last. Based on real events, this is a story of hope amid despair, of love amid loss . . . ultimately, it’s one woman’s story of survival.
Editorial Review:

“This is the best kind of fiction—it’s based on the real life. Ludwika’s story highlights the magnitude of human suffering caused by WWII, transcending multiple generations and many nations.

WWII left no one unscarred, and Ludwika’s life illustrates this tragic fact. But she also reminds us how bright the human spirit can shine when darkness falls in that unrelenting way it does during wartime.

This book was a rollercoaster ride of action and emotion, skilfully told by Mr. Fischer, who brought something fresh and new to a topic about which thousands of stories have already been told.”

Links:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B018UTHX7A/

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018UTHX7A/

Paper:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1519539118/

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1519539118/

Don’t forget to check his author page in Amazon, and follow for news of his books:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ/

I share a couple of the posts Christoph has written about the book in his own blog, that include excerpts. There are others, so don’t be shy and wander around a bit.

https://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/ludwika-a-polish-womans-struggle-to-survive-in-nazi-germany-is-available-for-pre-order/

https://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/displaced-polish-people-after-ww2-and-a-first-excerpt-from-ludwika-a-polish-womans-struggle-to-survive-in-nazi-germany/

And a couple of five star reviews:

Ludwika: A Polish Woman’s Struggle To Survive In Nazi Germany by Christoph Fischer starts with an introduction to the story’s protagonist, Ludwika Gierz, a 4 foot-ten inches, 22 year-old, beautiful Polish woman with piercing blue eyes. Children like her because of her friendly disposition. She has a 5 year-old daughter Irena from a non-marital relationship she had years ago, after which the father of the child left town. The well-written prose starts with undertones interjected on the horizon and we know there will be danger: the German invasion and fleeing of the townspeople, including Ludwika’s father, who disappeared with the retreat of troops; and the fact that Ludwika’s looks, her beauty, was once an asset but now is a liability as it attracts brutish German soldiers. It is a time of war with Hitler’s regime moving in and taking over, which establishes the story’s tension and conflict. In her town in Poland, Ludwika works her farm with her younger sister and mother. Siblings are mentioned, including her brother Franz who drowned in a river 2 years earlier, the memory still raw and painful. The story is off to a good start as we care about the protagonist and sense the danger that’s been alluded to. The story progresses and Ludwika encounters a Nazi soldier on the road who becomes attracted to her and protective of her, granting her rights others do not have. As Jews are being hauled off and the elderly assassinated, Ludwika is learning German from the translator that her “Nazi friend” has enlisted to help him. There’s now enough conflict in the story to propel it forward in this horrific time in history where madness prevailed. Without retelling this page turner suffice it to say that it goes deep and does not hold back as the plot moves through Ludwika’s drive to survive, and all the emotional turmoil, good and bad, that goes along with it. I’ve read several other books by this author and have to say that next to The Luck of the Weissensteiner’s this is my favorite.

And a brief one but it says it all:

Great to see Christoph Fischer, author of The Three Nations trilogy, back with another classic world war 2 story. This is probably his tightest, best work yet. It’s intense and cinematic. Fans of world war two dramas will eat this one up. Well done!

Thanks so much to S. R. Mallery and Christoph Fischer for their books, thanks to you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

 

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