Waiting on Wednesday: April 13

I’m participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

arabella-of-marsArabella of Mars by David D. Levine

Series: Unknown

Publication Date: July 12

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Ever since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, they proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.

Now, one century later, a plantation in the flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby. A tomboy who shares her father’s deft hand with complex automatons. Being raised on the Martian frontier by her Martian nanny, Arabella is more a wild child than a proper young lady. Something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

Arabella soon finds herself trying to navigate an alien world until a dramatic change in her family’s circumstances forces her to defy all conventions in order to return to Mars in order to save both her brother and the plantation. To do this, Arabella must pass as a boy on the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company with a mysterious Indian captain who is intrigued by her knack with automatons. Arabella must weather the naval war between Britain and France, learning how to sail, and a mutinous crew if she hopes to save her brother from certain death.


Why I want this book

  • First of all, the name reminds me of one of my favorite Heinlein books–Podkayne of Mars. I don’t know that the two books have anything in common, but I like the name!
  • This has a steampunk vibe and is an alternate history. Sounds good!
  • I love the cover.

What about you? Is there some book you are waiting impatiently for?

The Martian by Andy Weir

the-martian-by-Andy-WeirThe Martian by Andy Weir
Narrated by R.C. Bray
Series: None
Genre: Science Fiction
Setting: Mars, Space between Earth and Mars & Earth
Published by Crown, 2014
Audible book, purchased
314 pages
10 hours, 53 minutessci-fi-month-2015
Grade: A
Narrator grade: A
Synopsis: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he 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 isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Initial impressions

  • Very exciting! Well written and engaging. It’s one of my favorite books of the year.


  • Such a good story. There’s excitement, suspense and heroism.
  • So many people have weighed in about this book and have written reviews I don’t think I have anything new to say. However, I want to talk about how much I liked the book.
  • Mark Watney keeps a journal which is what an astronaut and scientist would do. He wants to leave a record behind to let others know what he did in case he doesn’t survive. He’s often profane and irreverent and his personality comes through. At one point when he thinks he might survive after-all he thinks he should be more careful about what he writes!
  • The narrator is excellent. Mr. Bray is very matter-of-fact which I think is the Mark would act.
  • I haven’t seen the movie, but the entire book I could picture Matt Damon in this role as I listened to the narration!
  • I’m impressed by Mark’s ingenuity. I know astronauts are chosen and trained as problem-solvers and that’s illustrated in this book. It would be easy to give up and he never did.
  • He figures out how long his food will last, how many calories he needs plus oxygen and water needs and looks at those stats without flinching. He looks at risks and decides what he can manage to do. Even though he is clear-sighted he still makes mistakes.
  • The book reads like a nonfiction book. I’ve heard that the solutions to problems that Mark Watney comes up with are things that would work. That’s amazing!
  • I like the science in this book though I’m not a scientist and don’t understand all the science, but I think Mr. Weir does a good job mixing the science with the personalities of characters and humanity of the book.
  • I like all the problem-solving in the book–plus the obsession by news organizations and the public when they find out Mark is alive. That seems very realistic. I found myself thinking about the millions of dollars spent plus risking the lives of other people to save one person, but that also seems like something we would do, if possible.
  • I thought it was also realistic that not everyone at NASA is on-board with decisions made. And many of the things Mark does are very risky and sometimes don’t go as planned.
  • I think listening to this story made it more realistic and enjoyable. For me this is the perfect audiobook.


  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I’m looking forward to more books in the future by Andy Weir.
  • I think I especially loved this book, because one of my daughters wanted to be an astronaut and wanted to go to Mars. She was even on a team of kids in third grade who won a competition to make a space suit to go to Mars. They made the spacesuit and created a video to show and explain it They won all the local and regional contests as well as the national contest. The prize was a trip to Space Camp in Alabama. (She isn’t an astronaut today, but she is a plant pathologist–so if she went to Mars she’d be able to diagnose plant diseases there!)


  • Seiun Award for Best Novel (2015)
  • John W. Campbell Memorial Award Nominee for Best Novel (2015)
  • ALA Alex Award (2015)
  • Japanese Booksellers Award Nominee for Translated Fiction (2015)
  • Green Mountain Book Award Nominee (2016)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Andy Weir was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog
  • Sci-Fi Month–hosted by Rinn @ Rinn Reads and Lisa @ Over the Effing Rainbow

TBR Review: “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Lady Astronaut of Mars

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars”
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: None
Genre: Science Fiction
Published by Tor
E-book, free
31 pages
Grade: A
Synopsis: A Finalist for the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. Thirty years ago, Elma York led the expedition that paved the way to life on Mars. For years she’s been longing to go back up there, to once more explore the stars. But there are few opportunities for an aging astronaut, even the famous Lady Astronaut of Mars. When her chance finally comes, it may be too late. Elma must decide whether to stay with her sickening husband in what will surely be the final years of his life, or to have her final adventure and plunge deeper into the well of space.

Time was when I couldn’t walk anywhere on Mars without being recognized as the Lady Astronaut. Now, thirty years after the First Expedition, I was just another old lady, whose small stature showed my origin on Earth.


  • Won the 2014 Hugo for Best Novelette (not a term I’d heard before!) For the Hugo Award the novelette category is given to a science fiction or fantasy story between 7,500 – 17,500 words.
  • I love the cover!
  • The author packs a lot into a story of only 31 pages. This makes me want to read more short fiction!
  • This was an emotional read for me . . . maybe because my husband and I have been married 33 years and I can imagine this scenario.
  • I like how honest Elma and Nathaniel are. The story is told from Elma’s POV so we get more of her internal thoughts. And some of those thoughts she’s ashamed to have.
  • To me this was a perfect story . . . not too long and not too short. It told all it needed to in these few words.
  • For me this is the best kind of love story.
  • I like the addition of Dorothy into the story. The story’s opening paragraph:

Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer’s wife. She met me, she went on to say, when I was working next door to their farm under the shadow of the rocket gantry for the First Mars Expedition.


  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I read this book for Wendy’s January TBR Challenge (Short Shorts).
  • I don’t usually read short fiction and I’ve had this book for a while so was glad for the impetus from the TBR Challenge to read this.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown


Red Rising
by Pierce Brown
Narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds
Series: Red Rising Trilogy #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Published by Del Rey, 2014
E-book, purchased
416 pages
16 hours, 12 minutes
Grade: A-
Narrator grade: A
Synopsis: The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free. That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

She kisses my cheek. ‘Then you must live for more.”


Funny thing, watching gods realize they’ve been mortal all along.


  • Excellent book. It went places I wasn’t expecting.
  • Excellent narrator. I really enjoyed the audio version of this book.
  • An amazing debut book.
  • The world building is excellent. We don’t find out all the whys and wherefores, but that makes me want to come back for more.
  • There are three distinct parts of the book. Darrow and his life as a Red, his transition, his life as an elite Gold student.
  • This would have made my top ten books of 2014, but I hadn’t finished it when I wrote that post.
  • At the beginning of the book it seems the personal loss Darrow suffers and the lie told to the Reds are the worst things which could happen in this story. It seems it will be the focus of the book and it is in the background during the book, but there is so much more to this book.
  • I like the whole culture built around the Reds and the life they lead. They’re a proud people glad to make sacrifices for the human race–except their sacrifice is all a lie.
  • Everything Darrow does is done for Eo. Even as he moves forward with a completely new life he keeps his name, he keeps the one thing to remind him of Eo, he keeps his memories of her.
  • The battles and strategies between the houses as well as the interference by the adults are fascinating reading.
  • The whole time at the school is so bizarre, brutal and corrupt.
  • At times it’s hard to keep reading the book–I found it very intense and sad in places.
  • By the end of this book Darrow has grown and changed. He’s discovers not all Golds are the same; he makes mistakes, but learns from them; he will do many things to achieve his ends.
  • This book was a Goodreads Choice 2014 Winner (Debut Author).


  • None.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • Golden Son, the second book in the series, published on January 13. I’ve seen reviews which show people enjoyed the second book as much or more than the first book.
  • I’ve seen many comparisons to The Hunger Games, but I find more Lord of the Flies in it. Nathan @ Fantasy Review Barn makes the connection to both books, but I found more Lord of the Flies.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge–this is the last book of the year–the 102nd!
  • 2014 Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • 2014 New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • COYER Winter Reading Challenge–hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading