Taking one giant leap outside my reading comfort zone, I just finished The Martian (£3.66 Audiobook £3.99) by Andy Wier.
Unlucky Mark Watney: His crew left him for dead on Mars when forced to leave during a dust storm.
Lucky Mark Watney: He wasn’t dead.
Unlucky Mark Watney: He has no way to communicate with Earth and too few supplies to survive until the next crew arrives.
Lucky Mark Watney: He’s a resourceful guy.
Unlucky Mark Watney: Mars is an unforgiving planet.
Lucky Mark Watney: His dogged determination is up to the job of overcoming the adversity.
Entertaining and surprisingly light-hearted, Weir has made a sci-fi novel everyone can enjoy. At times the techy explanations were boring, but I pretended it was 7th-grade science class and tuned it out until it was over.
One negative was occasional strong curse words. Apparently being stranded on Mars is frustrating and these words happen.
I recommend The Martian for teen and adults, especially if you want to step outside your usual reading material.
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: he thinks and feels in nearly human ways. He has educated himself by watching extensive television, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo realizes that racing is a metaphor: that by applying the techniques a driver would apply on the race track, one can successfully navigate the ordeals and travails one encounters in life.
Enzo relates the story of his human family, sharing their tragedies and triumphs. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations as a dog, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family.
Buy this unique novel today for £1.49 today.
Click here to purchase The Art of Racing in the Rain
My review of this book:
It has to be a dog. No offense to cat lovers, but if a pet is going to tell Denny Swift’s story, only a dog could do it. The Art of Racing in the Rain (£1.49) by Garth Stein is a novel told in the dog’s voice.
Enzo starts the story with “Gestures are all I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature.” Throughout the book I visualized his expressions and actions as he tells us about the interloper Eve, Baby Zoe, watching television, the Evil Twins and the ride of his life in the Aston Martin DB5.
Enzo became my personal friend with all the latest on the Swift family. He told their story, not as a gossip, but with his own unique insight. He loved them for who they were, not for what they should have been.
At the beginning Enzo explains that he is old and ready to go on. Much of the story was predictable. I knew what was going to happen to Eve and the situation with Annika was telegraphed from the get-go. But that didn’t diminish the book for me as I wanted to know how Enzo would tell it.
Mr. Stien’s style drew me into the story, almost making me feel as a member of the extended family. I knew enough to form attachments and to dislike the evil people. It was well-paced but there were parts I didn’t understand, such as the zebra incident. Enzo’s explanation late in the story was helpful, but it was still odd.
If you have a dog who is considered a member of the family, this book may scare you if you give much thought to the story your dog could write. My husband and I are pet-free and feel safe – unless the walls start talking.
He’s a geek – socially inept, funny when he doesn’t mean to be, and a literal guy. He’s also charming and endearing. He’s the unlikely hero in The Rosie Project.
Professor Don Tillman knows his academic subject (Asperger’s syndrome), schedules his life down to the minute (ninety-four minutes to clean the bathroom which he had to reschedule resulting in an 8-day period of compromised bathroom hygiene), and is totally clueless about women (the apricot ice cream experiment). In an inspired moment he decides to find a wife through questionnaires and interviews.
Rosie is a student who tends bar on the side. She not a wife applicant, but when Rosie visits Professor Tillman’s office, his life lessons begin. The process is hilarious, frustrating and heartwarming.
Told in first person by Professor Tillman, the story is a bit ribald in places. Written by Austrailian Graeme Simsion, the humor is droll and the characters are quirky. This romantic comedy from the man’s point of view is highly recommended. Buy it today for only £3.18.
Click here to purchase The Rosie Project
I came across The Tell-Tale Con by Aimee Gilchrist while sampling possible books for my book club/buddy read. Before I’d even finished sampling Con, I hit “one-click buy.”
The main character, Talia, was already so much fun and in enough trouble, I had to find out what happened next! The book didn’t disappoint either. It’s billed as young adult, but it’s written without the usual triple love interests and angst over school cliques.
Talia has more important things on her mind–earning enough money to keep her mother out of jail, solving a murder mystery and staying alive. Highly recommended for those looking for humorous, fun mysteries, young adult or not. Buy the book today for only 77p.
Reviewer: Maria Schneider is an avid reader, reviewer and the author of Moon Shadow Series.
2013 was a great year for Christian fiction. Here are the top stories from those I read this year.
Larkspur Cove is the first in Lisa Wingate’s series set in Moses Lake, Texas. Single mom Andrea Henderson is taking refuge in her parents’ lake house to rebuild her life. Her 14-year-old son gets in trouble on the lake. Let’s just say a Texas game warden makes for a charming hero, with a touching story about the town recluse addeded in for fun. All this for just £1.03.
The Shadow on the Quilt is actually the second in this quilt-themed series set in historic Nebraska. Juliana Suttons’s story captivated me as she came to terms with the loss of her husband – who died in a fire at a brothel. It’s selling for £6.29 right now.
Amanda Cabot is a profilic writer who either has great novels or rather dull ones. Summer of Promise is definitely a hit, set at Fort Laramie. I picked it up when it was free. It is now priced at £1.03 – still a great price.
Texas Boardinghouse Brides: Three great books for only £1.13! We featured this trilogy awhile back and several of you picked it up. This is a fun twist on the mail-order bride story, with several women responding to one advertisement, so a contest is held. The first two (The Anonymous Bride and Second Chance Brides) are excellent. Book Three (Finally A Bride) is all right.
Smokey, the very loud purring cat, tells her story with charm, wit and patriotism. When she learns the BBC will interview her, she says, “I was purring for England.” She may belong to England but she purrs her way to the hearts of the world.After being returned to an animal shelter a heart breaking number of times, Smokey finds her purrfect family. And loudly purrs her way to a Guinness World Record while promoting spaying and neutering to save lives. Smokey’s book begins with introductions by the RSPCA, Larry “The Downing Street Cat”, and the Guinness World Record Editor — who shares the history of Guinness World Records’ creation. I don’t want to include spoilers so I’ll just say Guiness World Records began, as great stories often do, in a pub.
I recommend Smokey to anyone who loves the story of a heroine triumphing over adversity by a special attribute.
Smokey The Very Loud Purring Cat is available for the Kindle for £3.42.
Mary Matthews is the author of Emeralds, Diamonds, and Amethysts (£1.30), a roaring Twenties crime novel.
I just read this book and am delighted to tell you it is being offered for £1.99 on the Kindle.
If you believe in fairy tales, or just enjoy the magic of romance, you’ll love Melanie Dickerson’s newest book The Merchant’s Daughter.
This Christian fiction is loosely based on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. Like her first novel, The Healer’s Apprentice (£1.99) inspired by Sleeping Beauty, this story is set in medieval Europe, this time in England.
Anabel is the daughter of a merchant, but after his death her family does not fulfill its obligation to work in the lord’s fields. She is forced to become an indentured servant for three years at the home of Lord Ranulf le Wyse. Rumors swirl about the irritable Lord le Wyse, who lost an eye and the use of his hand when he was mauled by a wolf. Anabel longs to join a nunnery, so she can read the Bible and escape marriage to Bailiff Tom, which her brother is trying to force upon her.
When Lord le Wyse protects her against the bailiff’s advances, a fragile friendship grows between them and Anabel believes he may not be the beast the servant girls whisper that he is.
This is an enchanting story with engaging characters, although at times I was frustrated with Anabel’s indecision. This is actually Christian fiction for young adults, so it reads quickly and the romance is tender, yet I thoroughly enjoyed it. A very interesting part of the story explored the challenges for people who didn’t have access to the Bible and priests who did not preach the word.
The Merchant’s Daughter is SuperCheap at just £1.99 on Kindle.
Today is Remembrance Day, a day to remember the men and women who have served in the military around the world. The two ladies who run this website are proud of their father, an American veteran. Please allow us to tell you about him.
Dad began his military service in February 1942. He was assigned to the Army Air Corps based in Kunming, China, as a mechanic on B-24 aircrafts. The China-Burma-India Theatre fought the Japanese who were attacking China. The only way to deliver supplies to the troops fighting in China and north of the Himalayan Mountains was to fly over the Hump, a perilous journey on any day. The planes that carried the supplies were the B-24 airplanes my dad serviced. He returned to the United States in October 1945.
Last week my father and 62 other WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veterans participated in an Honor Flight – a non-profit organization whose mission is to take every able veteran to Washington, DC, to see the national monuments which honor their service. Just a few weeks shy of his 92nd birthday, my father took his first commercial flight ever, spent a whirlwind day with comrades and volunteers touring the capital city, and returned to a 200-member motorcycle escort and a thousand well-wishers. The top picture is Dad at 22; the lower picture nearly 70 years later.
Only my father could get me to read military fiction. As Remembrance Day was approaching, I began searching the Kindle Store for a book about where my dad had served. Last Known Position is just the book. Written by William L. Heath, the book was published in 1949. Mr. Heath received the Distinguished Flying Cross for service in the CBI Theatre and flying the Hump.
The book is short. The story is powerful. Four young men, the flight crew of a B-24, must deliver fuel to troops stationed north of the Hump. Each of them could be someone you
know – a nephew, a neighbor, the young man working in a store you frequent, your son. They have been thrown into a war and, even though they don’t understand all the implications of the world struggle, they know their responsibilities and perform them well. Each has a method of escaping the present to cope with the stress of war.
The story requires detail of the plane and the flying process. This is all woven into the story and doesn’t read like a technical manual. The story is suspenseful and I whispered a prayer for these young men, hopeful all would end well yet fearful that it wouldn’t.
Dad read the book on his Kindle. He said it is factual and that he knew the places in the book. I strongly recommend this book this Remembrance Day. You will meet four young men who fought to preserve freedom in the world and you will remember that freedom isn’t free. God bless every man and women who has served to protect the world.
Book description: The planes these men flew were called tankers – B-24’s with the guns and turrets removed and four large containers of gas in the bomb bays instead of bombs. They flew these planes with a minimum crew of pilot, copilot, radio operator, and engineer; and they went out on their missions unescorted and defenseless, crossing the dangerous mountain terrain day and night in all forms of weather, most of it bad.
It was not as bad a war as some men fought, but there were times when it was bad enough. And since the real adversary was the weather through which these men flew, their most gallant campaigns aloft were reduced to lonely, private struggles for survival. The book is available today for £2.14.
A weekend of travelling gave me the opportunity to finish The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer. A classic British whodunit set in the 1930s or so, the arrogant Sir Arthur Billington-Smith and his weak, timid wife Fay host a weekend house party, attended by an eclectic group including Fay’s sister Dinah; a social-climbing couple; Sir Billington-Smith’s dim-witted son and his self-centered starlet fiancé; and a guest with the last name of Guest who just happens to be in love with Fay.
Everyone has a motive to murder Sir Arthur. Ms. Heyer sets the stage such that any one of the houseguests could have been the guilty party. An inspector from Scotland Yard comes to investigate the murder by working through the clues, most notably the unfinished clue found on Sir Arthur’s desk, written in his own hand.
While entertaining, this isn’t a nail-biter, suspenseful mystery. According to Wikipedia, Ms. Heyer’s husband often provided basic outlines for the plots of her thrillers. She developed the story from there and this one proved that nothing uncovers the deepest buried secrets like a murder. The English aristocracy is not exempt from familial dysfunction, either.
I read the book over several weeks. The many characters were identified by their first names in some places and their formal name in others and I struggled to remember who was who. With so many characters, Ms. Heyer did not develop any of them deeply. To be honest, I didn’t like most of the crowd – which worked out nicely as I wouldn’t have minded if any of them had been the murderer. The book is selling today for £5.49.
Click here to purchase The Unfinished Clue
Easton Hearts: The Complete Series by Anna Murray is the bundle of her three historical suspenseful romances – Unbroken Hearts, Untamed Hearts and Undaunted Hearts. The author identifies the series as telling the unique tale of how Cal and Roy Easton built a family amidst the hardships of post-Civil War Montana.
Unbroken Hearts introduces the Easton brothers, two men ranching in the lawless west. Roy rescues orphaned Sarah and her younger sister Emily from an unsavory situation and takes the two home. While caring for the disabled mother of the Easton brothers, a romance blooms between Sarah and Cal, all the while they fight off violent men intending to take the ranch from the Eastons. I was a bit put-off by the violence at the beginning of the book. The action soon finds its footing and continues through to the happily-ever-after.
Untamed Hearts is Roy’s story, now an outcast and rootless in the Montana Territory. He meets Margaret, an Eastern woman who needs his help finding her brother. She’s not entirely honest with Roy and he must save the day more than once. The mystery is a unique twist that I was not expecting in a Western romance. The tension between Roy and Margaret is the best developed of the series.
Undaunted Hearts is a shorter novel of a grown-up Emily and Luke, a man searching for his brother in the wild west. The story seemed a bit rushed, but still included suspenseful action. Two distant (and a bit odd) relatives are introduced late in the book. Perhaps they will have their own stories in upcoming releases.
The action keeps you reading, the formatting is excellent, and the plots are more than the usual Western romance fare. I purchased the books individually as they were released. You can purchase all three books in one e-book file today for only £4.17 – that’s like getting one free over the individual price.
Easton Hearts: The Complete Series