Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

I don't really have much to say about Consider Phlebas. It's fun and the plot keeps moving forward. At the same time, the story is rather small for the length of the book, Yeah, there are sidequests that fill out time and give interesting peeks into the world, but the basic race to find the Mind is a lot of lead up to a bit of a letdown. The characters are morally grey, a bit of good and bad and a lot of violence. But don't get too attached to any of them. I guess I want a happy ending, even in my space operas, and this didn't provide one. I guess the Culture novels each pretty much work as stand alones. I'll probably read The Player of Games, #2, but I don't know that Banks will become a favorite author. ...
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Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

We play a lot of board games at our house. One that hits the table regularly is Terraforming Mars; it's probably my husband's favorite. The game is based on Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinsons, which I finally got around to reading after having it sit on my shelf for a couple of years. So I may be a bit biased, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Red Mars follows the first hundred people on Mars, the ones who begin the colonization/terraforming. The story follows several viewpoints and they are all incredibly strong, tough, smart people who got to Mars on a variety of skills and the ability to more or less hide their nuttiness. None of them are wholly likable, but they each have their own motivations and their own visions of what Mars can/should become. The book touches on a lot of themes. We have religious groups and social groups. We have the realities of living on a different planet,...
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Death’s End by Cixin Liu

Death’s End by Cixin Liu

Death's End is the conclusion to the fabulous Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy. The Trisolarans and Earth are basically at a stand-off, thanks to events in book #2. The "peace" is working well, but of course can't last. Enter Cheng Xin, our main character for this installment. She's a regular, intelligent woman who hops through time, thanks to hibernation, making bad decisions. Maybe that's harsh. She makes decision consistent with her character, but she was more or less put in charge of humanity's fate twice, which seems a little unlikely. it works within the plot, but the story works hard to get you there. Death's End is a tough book to talk about. On the one hand, it's amazing. The scale in time and space that the author is working with is enormous and he makes it believable without making it too easy. There's a lot of science here, I feel like it was explained well enough for me...
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A Racing Murder by Frances Evesham

A Racing Murder by Frances Evesham

This is the second of the Ham Hill mysteries and, while it works as a stand-alone, you will definitely get to know the characters better by reading them in order. Adam is a pub owner and retired police officer and Imogene owns the local hotel. They are the main investigators, although this time around they have the help of a couple of friends, Steph, a reporter, and Dan, a painter. All four are competent and intelligent and each adds their own skills. Belinda is the main suspect in the death, and her desperate mother asks for Adam's help. The local authorities deem the death an accident due to lack of evidence, but the local chief inspector asks Adam to continue looking into the case, not convinced it wasn't murder. It turns out there are actually plenty of suspects, although no one has a really good motive. There are the investors who own the horse that Belinda rode. There are the grooms and...
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Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

I almost didn't read Project Hail Mary. I enjoyed Weir's Artemis, but had no interest in The Martian, and a lot of reviewers commented that it was a return to the style of The Martian. But, I had a copy from NetGalley and I have a friend who will definitely be reading it, so . . . Turns out, I actually enjoyed it. It's smart and funny and accessible. There was a lot of science and some of it got a little boring, but I never felt like I was lost in the details. Alien microorganisms, astrophage, are consuming the sun’s energy, which will sooner rather than later make Earth colder and lead to another ice age. Ryland Grace, our narrator, is an 8th-grade teacher is a scientist who becomes involved in researching this phenomenon. He wakes up on the Hail Mary, part of a suicide mission to find a way to save Earth. The book shows two timelines, Ryland...
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Magical Midlife Dating by K.F. Breene

Magical Midlife Dating by K.F. Breene

I loved the first book in the series and picked up Magical Midlife Dating, #2, almost immediately following. Jessie has decided to stay in Ivy House and take up all the magic powers that includes. She's decided to settle into her new life and apparently dating is part of that. Granted, it makes for some funny moments, but I'm really not sure that's where her focus should be. And, really, we know who she should be dating. Learning new powers is not as easy as it sounds, and although I love Ivy's House's guardians, they are not always the best at helping. Jessie accidentally ends up summoning others for help, but she has no idea who will show up until they get there. These new folks, and another who shows up later in the book, are a good mix, some I liked, at least one was rather sleazy. Magical Midlife Dating had me smiling and laughing and rooting for Jessie. ...
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