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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Melanie's Week in Review - September 21, 2014


Melanie's Week in Review - September 21, 2014

Before I launch into what I read this week I thought I would say Happy Birthday to my Mom. She is 84 today. While she is now visually impaired so can't read this post (or know that I am writing it) I thought that she would still appreciate knowing that whoever reads this could be thinking happy thoughts for her. So everyone......1.........2.........3......think happy birthday thoughts for Christine!

So enough of my maternal self promotion. What did I read?

Melanie's Week in Review - September 21, 2014
This week wasn't as productive as the two previous but boy, did I read a couple of great books. I started the week with The Martian by Andy Weir. Is there something better than waxing lyrical? If there is then that is what I am going to do. I LOVED THIS BOOK! Love with a capital 'L'. Andy Weir managed to couple botany with science fiction and crazy funny dialogue with excellent results. Remember, I like watching science fiction better than reading it but The Martian broke that mold for me.

Imagine if you will....Mark Watney - engineer/botanist has been stranded on Mars with only 30 days worth of supplies and no way to communicate with Earth. His crew mates think he is dead and no one is coming back for 4 years. Mark has to use every bit of his enormous brain, ingenuity and a healthy dose of luck in order to survive and try to find a way home. Can he do it? You will have to read it to find out.

I couldn't have been more surprised by The Martian. I saw that it got quite a few stars on Goodreads and Amazon but I didn't think I would enjoy it as much as I did. I was LOL'ing on public transport, I was biting my nails at what would happen next and staying up WAY past my bedtime to read just one more chapter. Drop whatever you are doing (well after you read the rest of this post) and go buy this book and read it. You may also read a DAC interview with Andy about The Martian and writing here.

Melanie's Week in Review - September 21, 2014
Next on my TBR was Into Darkness by J.T Geissinger. This is the final book of the Night Prowler series and will be released in mid October by Montlake Romance. I will be writing a full review of this book so I don't want to say too much other than its a cracker of a final book. There is still time for you to catch up by reading the other 5 books before this released so get going. I have reviewed three of the other books at The Qwillery so if you want to find out what I have thought of the series so far check them out here, here, and here.

Melanie's Week in Review - September 21, 2014
The final book I have been able to read this week was Shadowlark (Skylark Trilogy 2) by Meagan Spooner. I really enjoyed Skylark (book 1) of this dystopian young adult trilogy. I have been waiting for the price of the second book to drop since it was released and have to admit I had forgotten about it. I was checking my Amazon recommendations and up it popped. In book 2, Lark continues her journey to find her brother after leaving the Iron Wood. After a near death experience or two she finds herself in the city of Lethe where Renewables are hunted and enslaved just as she had been. Lark inadvertently joins a group of rebels who are fighting against the evil ruler, Prometheus. Lark learns more about herself, more than she ever wanted to, throughout this novel and it's only a matter of time before she comes face to face with her greatest fear - herself.

I don't know what it is about subsequent books in young adult or youth fiction series but I find I don't like them as much as the first . For example, I didn't enjoy World After (book 2 of the Penryn and the End of Days series) by Susan Ee (or book 3) or Taste of Darkness (book 2 of the Healer series) by Maria V. Snyder. The characters I loved from the first books turned either all whiny or all soppy over some guy/angel. This is exactly what happened in Shadowlark. I actually got quite sniffy at the end of book 1 but I could hardly wait to get to the end of this one. Book 3 - Lark Ascending is out soon but I am not convinced I want to continue. I think I will wait and see what the price is before I make that decision.

That is it for me for this week. I hope you have a good week ahead and until next week Happy Reading.


Interview with Andy Weir, author of The Martian - February 14, 2014


Please welcome Andy Weir to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Martian was published on February 11, 2014 by Crown.



Interview with Andy Weir, author of The Martian - February 14, 2014




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Andy:  I’ve been writing as far back as I can remember. I think my first story was a Henry Huggins fanfic when I was seven. It lacked depth. I started writing in earnest when I was a teen-ager and on in to my college years. I came in to some money in my late twenties and used it to take a few years off work and make a go of being a full-time novelist. I couldn’t break in to the industry and went back to computer programming. It wasn’t until now (age 41) that I managed to write something people actually liked enough to print.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Andy:  Mostly, I’m a pantser. I have a general idea for what will happen in a story, but I don’t really know how things will pan out until I write them. And if the story organically flows away from my original plan, I’ll let it.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Writing a book instead of a screenplay. Really I want to get directly to dialogue and actions. I hate setting the scene, describing what something looks like, and pretty much all exposition. When I’m coming up with a story, I tend to “see” it like a movie, so I I’m impatient to write the interesting parts.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Andy:  Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov are my heroes. I grew up reading my dad’s classic sci-fi collection. It defined what sci-fi really is for me.



TQ:   Describe The Martian in 140 characters or less.

Andy:  An astronaut is stranded on Mars after his crew evacuated, believing him dead. He has to survive with only the equipment he has on hand.



TQ:  Tell us something about The Martian that is not in the book description.

Andy:  Every piece of technology shown in the book is real, and exists today. Though it takes place in the future, so I increased the efficiency of some technologies appropriately.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Martian?

Andy:  I was imagining a manned Mars mission, putting it together in my mind. Naturally, you have to account for failure scenarios and have plans for what the crew could do. I realized those failure scenarios made for a pretty interesting story.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Martian?

Andy:  Tons. Everything in the book is as scientifically accurate as I could make it. I had to research physics, chemistry, electronics, and orbital dynamics, just to name a few. Not to mention the history of manned spaceflight and NASA procedures.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Andy:  My favorite character and the easiest to write was Mark Watney, the protagonist. The book is mostly log entries which means I got to write him in the first person. He’s very snarky and sarcastic. It was really fun to write him. The hardest to write was Teddy Saunders, the director of NASA. He’s a very mature man who makes rational decisions with as little emotion as possible. It’s a lot easier to write a character who flies off the handle than one who quietly acts mature all the time.



TQ:  Give us one of your favorite lines from The Martian.

Andy:  The first sentence of the book: “I’m pretty much fu**ed.”



TQ:  Why did you choose to write Science Fiction? Do you want to write in any other genres?

Andy:  I have a strong science background and a great love of the space program, So I know the material pretty well. I would like to write fantasy someday, I guess. I have a serial about a mermaid that I occasionally post updates to on my site, and I enjoy working on that as a break for my more serious sci-fi stuff.



TQ:  What's next?

Andy:  I have another hard sci-fi story in mind. Similar in style and theme to The Martian. I’ve seen that readers really liked the humor in The Martian, so it will continue in that general trend.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Andy:  Sure thing.




The Martian

The Martian
Crown, February 11, 2014
Hardcover and eBook,  384 pages

Interview with Andy Weir, author of The Martian - February 14, 2014
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 and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and 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—and 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?




About Andy

Interview with Andy Weir, author of The Martian - February 14, 2014
Photo © Andy Weir
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.

The Martian Website  ~  Facebook

Website


2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh and The Martian by Andy Weir



2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh and The Martian by Andy Weir



The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured authors for the 2014 Debut Author Challenge.



Adam Sternbergh

Shovel Ready
Crown, January 14, 2014
Hardcover and eBook, 256 pages

2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh and The Martian by Andy Weir
The futuristic hardboiled noir that Lauren Beukes calls “sharp as a paper-cut” about a garbage man turned kill-for-hire.

Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self.

Now he’s a hitman.

In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to “tap in” to a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. His new job is not that different from his old one: waste disposal is waste disposal. He doesn’t ask questions, he works quickly, and he’s handy with a box cutter. But when his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, his unadorned life is upended: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has a sordid agenda far beyond a simple kill. Spademan must navigate between these two worlds—the wasteland reality and the slick fantasy—to finish his job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground.

Adam Sternbergh has written a dynamite debut: gritty, violent, funny, riveting, tender, and brilliant.



Andy Weir

The Martian
Crown, February 11, 2014
Hardcover and eBook,  384 pages

2014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh and The Martian by Andy Weir
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 and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and 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—and 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?


Melanie's Week in Review - September 21, 2014Interview with Andy Weir, author of The Martian - February 14, 20142014 Debut Author Challenge Update - Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh and The Martian by Andy Weir

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