Review: Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

farmer in the sky by robert heinleinFarmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

Series: Heinlein’s Juveniles #4

Genre: Science Fiction

Setting: Ganymede

Source: Audiobook, purchased (6 hours, 34 minutes)

Narrator: Nick Podehl

Publishing Date: 1950

174 pages

Synopsis: Bill Lermer, a resourceful matter-of-fact teenager of the 21st century, tells what happens when his family decide to leave Earth and try scientific farming on Ganymede, one of the moons of Jupiter. 
After a two-month flight through space, including collision with a meteorite, only danger and hardship await the new colonists. But even a hair-raising adventure in the cave of The Other People cannot persuade Bill to return Earthside.

My thoughts

Farmer in the Sky won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1951. I can see why. It’s entertaining and doesn’t read like an antique book! It also reminded me of The Martian by Andy Weir. (I’m sure other people have made that comparison!) I think it’s my favorite so far of the Heinlein Juveniles I’ve read recently. In the last couple of years I’ve read five of the twelve books Heinlein specifically wrote for young people. I also read most of them when I was a teenager, but that was many years ago! I’m really enjoying revisiting them.

Farmer in the Sky

Bill, his dad George and his stepmother and stepsister decide to emigrate to Ganymede because Earth is overcrowded with rationing and limited choices. However, they aren’t quite ready for what they find when they get to Ganymede. It’s a lot more primitive than they thought it would be. Life on Ganymede isn’t always easy, but the family works together to succeed. Bill becomes a farmer and George works in town as an engineer so they can afford to get the farm started. It’s hard work, but they have a goal and are willing to work for it. It’s a rough life and they have their tragedies, but also their triumphs.

I’m fascinated at the details Heinlein added to this book about how the terraforming worked and how the settlers manage to live (or not live) on Ganymede. And I like the other familiar touches the author uses. Bill was an Eagle Scout on Earth and he discovers there are scout troops on Ganymede. He joins a troop and learns all sorts of helpful tips about living and surviving on a planet earthlings didn’t evolve on. He also meets other farmers and learns how to farm . . . what a hard job farming is, but also the satisfaction of hard work. He learns about self-sufficiency, but also how to accept help when he needs it and give help to his neighbors when they need it.

Audiobook

I listened to the audiobook and really like Nick Podehl’s narration. He does a good job with the different voices. He has a strong voice which is especially good with the male voices. And he’s easy to understand–always a plus!

Bottom Line

This is an excellent book for young teens, but also a great book for adults–particularly if you like classic science fiction.

My Rating: B+

Narrator Rating: B+

Awards

Hugo Award for Best Novel (1951)

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read a science fiction classic

Thoughts about books I’ve read–Jan 2018

I’m trying something a little different for some of my reviews this year. I’ve only done a few stand-alone reviews so far this year so I’m going to do a post about the books I read each month, I will list all the books I read (in this case January 2018) and write a few sentences about each one and give a link to the review if I’ve already reviewed the book. I really want to get my reviews under control.

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

Series: Peter Grant #5.5

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Novella

Source: Ebook, purchased

129 pages

My Rating: B+

Reviewed: April 19

Bottom Line: A quick read, but a satisfying story. Great for Peter Grant fans.

;The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine ArdenThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Series: Winternight Trilogy #1

Genre: Historical Fantasy, FairyTale Retelling

Source: Audiobook, library (11 hours, 48 minutes)

Narrator: Kathleen Gati

346 Pages

My thoughts

I listened to the audiobook and loved the narrator. She does a really good job with this historical fantasy. I think this is a good book to listen to since it’s a fairy tale retelling and I think fairy tales are great to read aloud. It reminded me of when my mother would read fairy tales to me when I was a child–especially ones like “East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon.”

The story kept me guessing about how it would end especially since fairy tales told by Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm do not always end well for the main characters. The setting is in a fantasy medieval Russia–very exotic. This has so many fairy tale images–a stepmother and stepsisters, a nanny who tells the old stories of magic and spirits and how the smart people honor these spirits. Vasilisa loves the old stories and follows her nanny’s teachings which puts her in opposition to her stepmother. A wonderful story with memorable characters . . . a true tribute to fairy tales.

My Rating: A

Narrator Rating: A

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna RaybournA Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

Series: Veronica Speedwell #2

Genre: Historical Mystery

Source: Ebook, library

338 Pages

My thoughts

I read the first book in the series when it came out. I’ve read a number of Deanna Raybourn books through the years and enjoyed them. I liked the first book in the series more than this one–maybe the setting seemed newer to me in the first book. However, that may have more to do with me and my mood when I read this one. I do like the main characters–Veronica Speedwell and Stoker. (The books remind me a little of Jayne Ann Krentz’s books when she writes books set in the 1800s using the pseudonym Amanda Quick.)

This is quick, fun, light reading. However, I’m not sure I’ll read the next book  since this didn’t holding my interest as much as the first book.

My Rating: B-

Evan Help Us by Rhys BowenEvan Help Us by Rhys Bowen

Series: Constable Evans #2

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Source: Audiobook, purchased (6 hours, 52 minutes)

Narrated by Roger Clark

223 Pages

My thoughts

This is a series Rhys Bowen wrote before her Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series. I love the setting in Wales and Evan Evans is a very fun character. (He reminds me of Hamish in the Hamish MacBeth series by M.C Beaton.)

I like the cover of this book since the story is about someone in the village finding ruins. The villagers immediately begin thinking the ruins must be a castle and that it will put the village on the map. They even think about renaming their village! Then the person who found the ruins is murdered. Does his murder have something to do with the discovery of the ruins?

I listened to the first book in the series last December and I really like this series. In my genealogy research it looks like some of my ancestors came from Wales to the United States in the 1700s. I have someone in my family tree named “Ellis Ellis!” So that makes me love the Welsh setting even more! I also like how Ms. Bowen shows that the villagers don’t like incomers–especially from England. If the villagers are speaking English they quickly switch to Welsh! It’s these little touches which make me like this series.

My Rating: B

Narrator Rating: B

Summon the Keeper by Tanya HuffSummon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

Series: Keeper Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

366 pages

My Rating: B-

Reviewed: April 17

Bottom Line: This was fun, but a little too cute. Not my favorite Tanya Huff book.

A Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel AaronA Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel Aaron

Series: Heartstrikers #4

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Source: Ebook, Kindle Unlimited

525 Pages

My thoughts

One of my favorite series and now there’s only one more book before the series ends. That makes me sad since I love the characters and feel the world building is excellent. However, I’m glad when an author decides a series is finished and ends it so they can move on to other stories they want to tell.

A Dragon of a Different Color really moved the story along and I can see an ending in sight! It seems things just keep getting worse and worse for Julian and the Heartstrikers. Lots of things he thought he knew and understood are in doubt–including who he can trust. Julius has gone through so much, lost so much and in this book there is more to come.

The arrival of the dragons of China is very dramatic and it doesn’t look good for the Heartstrikers. It’s hard for Julius to show much interest in what’s happening, but he has to continue to step up. And, of course, all is not as it seems. If you haven’t read the books before this one you really need to read them before you read this one. And I do recommend you read this series especially if you like fantasy, urban fantasy, good world building, dragons and good story telling!

My Rating: B+

Starman Jones by Robert A Heinlein

Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein

Series: None

Genre: Science Fiction

Source: Audiobook, purchased

272 pages

My Rating: A-

Reviewed: March 30

Bottom Line: One of Heinlein’s Juvenile series and a good science fiction adventure story.

………………………….

Does this format I’m trying out work for you to show my mini reviews as well as links to my reviews.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Review: The Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein

The Star Beast by Robert A. HeinleinThe Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein

Series: None

Genre: Science Fiction (one of Heinlein’s Juveniles)

Setting: Earth

Source: Audiobook, Library (8 hours, 50 minutes)

Narrator: Paul Michael Garcia

Publishing Date: 1954

253 pages

Synopsis:A compelling coming-of-age adventure from legendary SF master and multiple New York Times bestseller Robert A. Heinlein

Lummox has been the pet of the Stuart family for generations. With eight legs, a thick hide, and increasingly large size, Lummox is nobody’s idea of man’s best friend. Nevertheless, John Stuart XI, descendant of the starman who originally brought Lummox back to Earth, loves him. But when Lummox eats a neighbor’s car and begins to grow again, the feds decide that enough is enough. John isn’t about to let the authorities take his pet away, and with his best friend, Betty, he determines to save Lummox–even if he must forever leave the life he’s always known. 

My thoughts

I think I read this book years ago when I was a teenager, but don’t remember too much about it since that was a few years ago! I’m slowly rereading some of the early science fiction and fantasy that I read and Heinlein’s books are some of my favorites.

Heinlein’s juvenile series books are just so much fun to read. The young protagonists are heroic and adventurous. They usually have to learn to think for themselves and do what they know is right even when adults don’t always do that–a classic coming-of-age story. His young people may have to deal with a lot of problems, but they have a strong moral compass and know right from wrong. That makes these young adult books different from many written today that sometimes have more moral ambiguity in them. I also think theseThe Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein books work for adults because there are nuances that kids might not notice, but adults will.

I like this retro version of the cover which I think accurately shows the flavor of the story. Lummox is a friendly beast who sometimes finds loopholes in John’s directions and orders!

This story takes place on Earth, but with a creature brought back by an ancestor of John Stuart XI (the main character–along with the Lummox–of this story). I like that it’s his friend Betty who is the shrewd character in the story. She understands the political ramifications and the public relations value of Lummox as well as the value of powerful friends. There are stereotypes in the story–the dumb government officials who overreact and are overzealous, John’s mother who has decided what John should do with his life and doesn’t listen to anyone else’s opinions.

Anyway, I enjoyed this a lot. Lots of adventure, a good story and interesting characters. I listened to the audiobook and thought Paul Michael Garcia did a great job narrating. It definitely increased my enjoyment of the book. I especially liked his voice for Lummox.

My Rating: B+

Narrator Rating: B+

Have you read any books by this author?

Review: Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein

Starman Jones by Robert A HeinleinStarman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein

Series: None

Genre: Science Fiction (one of Heinlein’s Juveniles)

Source: Audiobook, purchased

Narrated by Paul Michael Garcia

Published by Blackstone Audiobooks, 2008, (original publication date: 1953)

252 pages; 8 hours, 29 minutes

Synopsis: The stars were closed to Max Jones. To get into space you either needed connections, a membership in the Guild, or a whole lot more money than Max, the son of a widowed, poor mother, was every going to have. What Max does have going for him are his uncle’s prized astrogation manuals—book on star navigation that Max literally commits to memory word for word, equation for equation. When Max’s mother decides to remarry a bullying oaf, Max takes to the road, only to discover that his uncle Chet’s manuals, and Max’s near complete memorization of them, is a ticket to the stars. But serving on a spaceship is no easy task. Duty is everything, and a mistake can mean you and all aboard are lost forever. Max loves every minute of his new life, and he steadily grows in the trust of his superior officers, and seems to be on course for a command track position. But then disaster strikes, and it’s going to take every trick Max ever learned from his tough life and his uncle’s manuals to save himself and the ship from a doom beyond extinction itself.

My thoughts

Starman Jones is part of the Heinlein Juveniles series. Heinlein wrote twelve novels between 1947 and 1958 which were published as the juvenile series.  These books are all standalone books. The first book was Rocket Ship Galileo and the last was Have Space Suit — Will Travel. I guess these would be considered young adult books today though in many ways they’re simpler more straightforward stories than many young adult books written today. I read these (and many of Heinlein’s adult novels) as a teenager. I loved the adventure in these books as well as so many of the characters. It’s been years since I read most of these books, but I think the main characters were all boys. That didn’t bother me when I was reading them. I don’t think I thought about it! I still related to the main characters and wanted to have those adventures. Heinlein wrote about characters who were intelligent, hardworking and honest and showed that was the way to get ahead in the world. I took that to heart and still believe that today. However, I am also really happy there are more books written with female main characters and more female authors.

This was a good science fiction adventure story. Max Jones is a teenager who always wanted to be an astrogator and since his uncle was an astrogator and talked of naming Max as his heir Max hopes he did that before he died. Many occupations–including astrogation–are hereditary and managed by guilds and since Max doesn’t come from an important family and doesn’t have any money he won’t have a chance to become an astrogator if he wasn’t named an heir by his uncle.

Max runs away from home after his stepmother remarries soon after Max’s father dies. Max does manage to get himself onto a passenger spaceship (but with forged documents). Even though his job is taking care of the animals on the ship–cleaning their cages–he’s ecstatic that he’s in space. During the course of the book Max manages to come to the attention of the spaceship’s captain and other officers and is given a chance to learn about the running of the ship. However, he not only has the deception that got him onto the ship, but a number of other disasters await him and the ship.

Jones is a smart, but naive young man at the beginning of this story. He learns a lot and grows up a lot by the end of the book. The book didn’t end quite as I thought it would. It’s always nice when a book surprises me. I thought this ending was good and wished that Heinlein had written more books about Max!

I read and reviewed Have Spaceship – Will Travel a couple of years ago, but of the two I like Starman Jones better. I own a number of the other Juvenile Series books so I may try to read them this year.

My Rating: A-

Narrator Rating: A

Have you read any of Robert Heinlein’s books?

Reading Challenges

2018 Swords & Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read a book whose cover has stars in it or whose title has any variation of the word star in it.

Favorite book quotes

uniquely-portable-magicTop Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted at the Broke and the Bookish blog. Each week a different topic is introduced and it is fun to see what everyone writes each week. This week is a rewind week meaning I pick a past topic to write about.

I love quotes and haven’t collected my favorite book quotes here before so that’s what I have this week! I also love the way quotes are often paired with illustrations so I’ve included some of those.

The quote to the left by Stephen King is one I love.

fangirl-quoteAnd the quote at the right from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is from a book I haven’t read yet, but have in my TBR pile. I hope to read it this spring!

The following quotes aren’t necessarily my most favorite book quotes. There are too many for that…LOL. These are some I like quite a bit and in no particular order!

Quotes

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

“Classic’ – a book which people praise and don’t read.”
― Mark Twain

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice robert-frost

“We read to know we are not alone.”
― C. S. Lewis

The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
― Neil Gaiman, Coraline

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

“No woman really wants a man to carry her off; she only wants him to want to do it.”
― Elizabeth Peters (said by character Amelia Peabody)

dr-seuss

Some quotes I like because of the book or the author they are from (Pride and Prejudice and Elizabeth Peters, for example). Other quotes I like because of what they say to me. Still others I think are funny (the Heinlein quote and Mark Twain). A few I memorized in school (the Shakespeare quote) and still remember them.

The quote to the right…because I love Dr. Seuss and love reading his books and others to children!

What about you? Do you like quotes? Do you have favorites?