This last couple of weeks I’ve read some great and some not so great books. Here they are.
Now sci-fi isn’t my usual fare, especially where there is more emphasis on the science than the fiction, but The Martian has been getting so much buzz lately that I decided to check it out. Within a few minutes of listening I was hooked by Watney’s situation; abandoned on Mars, has to use his ingenuity to survive in an inhospitable environment until rescue can come. Written as it is in a first-person journalistic style this is a perfect book for the audiobook medium, and R.C. Bray did a wonderful job of bringing Mark to life. Mark is a very witty and engaging protagonist and it is very easy to root for him. Weir did a fantastic job of explaining the various challenges Mark encounters and his solutions in a way that was easily comprehensible to someone like me who is not science minded. The story of Mark’s plight and his attempts to secure his rescue was very appealing on a human level.
I gave The Martian five stars out of five.
I picked up Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death some while ago when it was the Audible deal of the day. It caught my eye because it was narrated by Penelope Keith, a favourite actress of mine.
Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death is the first in a series of mystery novels about a retired London PR executive who moves to the English Cotswolds and solves crimes. I must admit it’s not my favourite mystery series. As a protagonist, Agatha is distinctly unappealing. She is the kind of woman who thinks nothing of using a disabled parking space because it’s convenient, or in this case, presenting a store bought quiche in a competition as her own baking. Her interactions with those around her are generally abrasive and self-centred. I suspect that later on in the series she may become more likeable, but for this book, she wasn’t the pleasantest person to spend time with. The mystery was fun. I’m generally useless at predicting whodunnit, so I can’t say how clever it was.
What I did very much enjoy was the narration. Growing up the UK, Ms Keith was a staple of comedy TV – The Good Life and To the Manor Born. Check them out if you’ve not seen them. She has over 45 years’ experience in television, theatre and radio, and it shows in her witty and competent handling of the narration.
I gave Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death three stars out of five, but the narration merits five stars.
The Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge is the last in Ian Doescher’s retelling of Star Wars in Shakespearean language. These are very clever, but my enjoyment of them reflects my enjoyment of the source material. I did not enjoy the prequel trilogy nearly as much, and so I’ve not enjoyed the adaptation to the same extent. The original trilogy is deliberately based on the Monomyth which gives it an epic feel, perfectly suiting it to a Shakespearean adaptation. The prequel trilogy seems more based on special effects which doesn’t pass so well in a Shakespearean setting.
Also, when R2 started channeling Elsa from Frozen saying he should let it go and that the heat never bothered him anyway, I found that a little too distracting. Your mileage may vary.
I gave The Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge three and a half stars out of four.
I very much enjoyed Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen, so I was keen to pick up the novella Queen Song set in the same world. I found it very disappointing. It had none of the great worldbuilding of the main novel and, to be perfectly honest, I found the book just depressing. I am still very much looking forward to Glass Sword, book two in the series.
I gave Queen Song three stars out of five.
That’s all for this week folks. See you next time. Happy reading!