Review: Captive Desire

As I am currently under the weather, this review is going to be much shorter than I’d like, but release day is coming up and so I want this to be out in the world.

I LOOOVED Toxic Desire, the first book in the Planet of Desire series by Robin Lovett. It was one of those books that had a lot of buzz among the people I follow on Twitter and I decided to check it out on a whim one day, especially since at that time I was still trying to complete my Popsugar 2018 challenge (I’ve given up on that, y’all.) and it filled the requirement for set on another planet.

Book one covers all of the world-building, and book two picks up almost immediate where book one leaves off – Assura, one of General Nemona’s fellow rebels, was thought for dead but has been spotted, delirious with fever from the desidre, the condition of nearly lethal horniness caused by the toxins emitted from the planet’s atmosphere. Gahnin is one of the Ssedez generals, under the command of book one’s hero, Oten, and before Oten and Nemona leave the horny planet on a hardware errands to repair the rebel ship that crashed in book one, he is tasked with caring for Assura, making sure she is taken care of and well. Continue reading

Review: The Martian

the-martian-coverThere are so many things about this book that make it unlikely that I would have read and enjoyed it, it seems strange that I would have happened upon a recommendation that intrigued me so much that I opted to actually read it. First, it’s about space. Space is not only a topic that I don’t seek out, but I actively avoid it. I frequently lament that we should forget about space and focus on the planet that we have. Second, it’s about being stuck in space, which is something that brings up feelings of anxiety in me. And third, it’s heavy in the science, which normally would make me fall asleep while reading. Despite all of these things that I normally don’t like and try to avoid, this was a really fantastic book.

Part of the appeal of this book is the humorous way that the protagonist shapes the beginning of the narrative. I think the lack of context in the beginning (it starts off with a series of log entries by Mark Watney, the astronaut stranded on Mars, and later fills in third person omniscient narrative) is actually a selling point to non-technical readers. The book doesn’t waste time filling in the blanks and gets straight to the problem of the book. We don’t even really get what went wrong with the mission that left Watney stranded until about midway through the book. It keeps the pace brisk, yet with enough hand-holding to keep the interest of a lay reader.

The book follows a formulaic narrative that could maybe get a little tiresome if it wasn’t for the humorous asides and everyman perspective we get from Watney. Something goes wrong, Watney panics. He comes up with a risky yet plausible plan. It mostly works, although a few things fail. He complains about 70s pop culture. Something else breaks, and we begin again. This general idea repeats about 4-5 times throughout the book, but somehow it isn’t as noticeable until you begin to describe the plot to someone else.

I have mixed feelings about the ending, but not because it wasn’t what I hoped for. Perhaps because it was incredibly predictable with no last minute twists, it didn’t have as much of an impact. It’s not a book that really sticks in your mind or that delivers a big punch. This isn’t a bad thing, per se, but it doesn’t have a WOW factor.

One thing that this book does incredibly well is have a diverse group of characters who have believable motivations and personalities. There was an overwhelming amount of white guys, but that is unfortunately pretty reflective of space exploration in general. Watney’s main contact at NASA is someone of Indian heritage named┬áVenkat Kapoor, there are several Asians both on NASA’s team and in China (duh), where some of the story takes place. Apparently the character of Mindy Park is Korean, which I couldn’t tell from reading, but that’s also pretty cool. There’s also a German crewmember on the Ares 3 mission.

I’m planning to see the movie and maybe get some more context and visual help on some of the more sciencey things, and see how it compares to the picture in my head of the story. For a book like this, I felt like maybe what I was imagining was pretty far off the mark since I don’t have any love for space, and therefore, very little context over what elements of the story of purely fiction or what is science.

This book fulfills no requirements for the challenge.

Review: Captain Marvel: Higher Further Faster More

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I don’t know when I became the type of person that is interested in superhero comics but here we are. I heard about this graphic novel from the Worst Bestsellers podcast (which you should definitely check out if you enjoy hearing snarky reviews about badly written books) end of year special, and the idea that Captain Marvel had a bad tempered cat that no one could stand so she had to take him into space with her – I was sold. That is only a very small part of the story arc in the 6 issues that are collected in this trade, but it is still one of my favorite parts.

Some prior knowledge of the Marvel Universe is necessary to understand certain parts. Since Parker is very much into superheroes, I had enough passing knowledge to make it through although there were some parts that I was thinking I could use some more context. For example, I knew that Rhodey Rhodes is a friend of Iron Man’s, but I didn’t know he was also the Iron Patriot. There was also an old woman at the beginning of the story who I didn’t know anything about, other than that she is an old woman. Captain Marvel meets up with the Guardians of the Galaxy shortly after going to space, and and I knew enough about them so that it wasn’t horribly confusing. (I did have to clarify a few things – “So, Groot just says ‘I am Groot’ all the time? Is that his thing?”) I also had no context for Star Lord and J’Son’s animosity toward each other, other than they are father and son and don’t agree on nebulous “things”.

But to the story. Captain Marvel finds an alien girl trapped in some kind of device that she initially thinks is some kind of nuclear weapon. She volunteers herself to go into space because she needs some “alone time”. On her way to return the girl to her home planet, she encounters some bad guys who inexplicably fire first and ask questions later. She is aided by the Guardians, who come on her ship to help fix it. Rocket Raccoon freaks out when seeing her cat and starts shooting his weapon at it, saying that it is a Flerken, which apparently is not good and lays eggs. After getting Rocket to stand down, they have exposition time about alien girl and her home planet which is apparently poisoned. Alien girl overhears and goes berserk, wanting to kill Star Lord after she learns that he is J’Son’s son. Once they get that misunderstanding sorted out (as Star Lord and J’Son are clearly not friends), Captain Marvel takes alien girl (who’s name is Tic) back home.

She is not greeted with open arms, as these people (which appear to be many different alien races) are sick and tired of the run around they are getting with the council or whatever the governing body is. They have sick people and so they don’t want to evacuate and leave them behind, they have no air force with which to defend themselves, and the space pirates that attacked Captain Marvel earlier are preventing supplies from reaching them. They are in dire straits. Captain Marvel assembles a rag tag team and they go off to figure out what goods there are that the pirates are preventing them from having. It turns out that the poisoned planet (Torfa, I think) has a giant vibranium mine and the off-gassing from the expedient removal of it is making everyone sick!

I really enjoyed this story arc and I am very interested in where it continues to go, especially since I think Chewie will figure prominently in the next trade. (Spoiler alert: Rocket was right.) It’s nice to see some kick butt ladies for a change. Captain Marvel’s team was mostly female, which was neat (3-2 ratio). This makes me pretty excited about the movie they are making about this character, and I can’t wait to see more.

5 stars.

This book fulfills the read in one day requirement for the challenge.