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The Martian by Andy Weir

Having really enjoyed the movie I thought I'd try reading the original book; turns out the movie matches the book pretty closely although the book has Watney go through a couple of other disasters I'm pretty sure didn't make it into the movie (Watney accidentally turning the Hab into a giant hydrogen bomb, the Rover flipping over during his journey to the MAV), and there were a few details that were changed. But again, the bulk of the story is the same "smartass astronaut tries to survive on Mars while NASA tries their damnedest to save his life" storyline. Lots more detail on Watney's resource management. I think I actually enjoyed the movie a bit more but I did enjoy the book itself.

The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi

In this third volume of The Amulet series, the next stop on the crew's journey is the lost city of Cielis, said to once be home to a guardian council of Stonekeepers before the Elf King invaded. Cielis is said to be in the sky, so the crew expands as they charter an airship and hire a feline captain and his first mate. The characters must deal with the perils of storms and wyverns and an assassin hired by the Elf King with the ability to erase people's memories.

While I still don't trust Emily's stone, in this book it seems like it's more complicated than just a corrupting influence? No specific thing that I can say made me go "Hmmm" beyond the scene where it talks to Emily in her sleep, and the reveal that yeah, Emily lied when she said the stone is what keeps her from going home. Stones in general are confirmed to be sentient beings in their own right in this book, as Trellis reveals not only that he believes his father's stone killed and took over his father, but that his stone has also been guiding him.

And Trellis not only joins the squad but so does another elf, Luger! Who... I genuinely forget if he was just tagging along in the previous book or if he was the guy who outright turned into a giant monster when his stone corrupted him. Argh, I need to pay more attention. He's pretty cute in this book though and holy shit, the reveal about him and Trellis- continuing wtf over what exactly the Elf King- or more precisely, his stone- is up to, and why he and Gabilan are so eager to go around erasing people's memories. I feel like he's hiding a lot more than just the fact he's a corpse possessed by a magic rock.

(Also I was not sure how old Trellis was supposed to be, but some dialogue/characterization suggests he's a teenager instead of twenties, which was one of my guesses. It's slightly hard to discern because all the elf characters look so damn haggard- but yeah, having Trellis be basically a kid seems about right.) (Also the stuff revealed about the Elven Royal Family so far has raised MORE questions.)

Gabilan also seems pretty interesting- definitely seems like a villain but he's also pretty clearly distrustful of the stones and has his own agenda separate from the Elf King's. I'm currently under the impression that he has the somewhat lofty goal of overthrowing not only the Elf King, but the position of power of Stonekeepers in general- possibly for the good of the Stonekeepers themselves since he straight up warns Emily the stone has its own agenda.

Also much like Emily, I am distrustful of these council people.

Which reminds me: One thing I'll note about this series is that so far every volume has given the protagonists a different "home"/centered around a different location. Volume 1 had them running around a creepy forest, Volume 2 shifted the action to their mecha house, Volume 3 has them residing on an airship, and Volume 4 is apparently going to take place in a magic school in Cielis. I was sort of assuming Silas's mecha house would be their permanent/primary residence and means of location, but it looks like it may be out of the picture for a while.
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