Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July Site Update

I have updated the main site for July, archiving twelve new reviews for the month.

I also started in on Phase II of the overhaul, cross-linking reviews to related themes and other titles of interest. The A and B reviews are done, plus the new reviews.

The Random Recommendations sidebar on this blog also got rotated. (I need to do that more often...)


Monday, July 23, 2018

In Search of Lost Dragons (Elian Black'Mor)

In Search of Lost Dragons
Elian Black'Mor, Carine-M, and Jezequel
Dynamite Entertainment
Fiction, YA Fantasy/Graphic Novel
**+ (Bad/Okay)

DESCRIPTION: After an unusual encounter, intrepid investigator Elian Black'Mor sets out in search of the world's vanishing dragons. Following a trail halfway around the globe, he finds himself walking in the footsteps of a forgotten civilization, one that calls him ever onward...

REVIEW: As a dragon-lover, I had high hopes for this graphic novel. Those hopes were quickly watered down, if not dashed altogether, by an excess of style and a dearth of coherent plot. The entire book is written in cramped cursive, often on less-than-pristine "paper" or other backgrounds, which made for very challenging reading - not helped by an unclear flow of sentences and paragraphs that often changed angles and sizes and only rarely connected to each other, visually or thematically, in any meaningful fashion. Maybe it would've been easier in physical print, but I was reading on my Nook tablet via Hoopla, and it took some serious contrast adjustment to begin to read some of the entries (and even then I'll admit I guessed at a few phrases, and gave up altogether on others.) Perhaps as a result, the plot seemed scarcely more substantial than that which flows through a dream, frequently interrupted by encounters that might or might not be all in the narrator's head. As for the dragons and other images, they are indeed imaginative, yet after a while there's a certain sameness to the style that detracted from the greater sense of wonder. Add that to my increasing disinterest in the alternate-history world and characters (such as they were) and frustration in trying to follow the journey, and I ended this one more disappointed than inspired, unable to even justify a flat Okay rating.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons (Dr. Ernest Drake) - My Review
Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time (James Gurney) - My Review
Dragon Girl: The Secret Valley (Jeff Weigel) - My Review

Binti (Nnedi Okorafor)

The Binti trilogy, Book 1
Nnedi Okorafor
Fiction, Sci-Fi
****+ (Good/Great)

DESCRIPTION: On a future Earth, sixteen-year-old Binti defies her family and her Himba tribe's traditions when she leaves home for Oomza University, on another planet. Her mathematical gifts and abilities as a harmonizer have earned her a rare scholarship from the interplanetary school, a chance to become much more than Earth or her family's astrolabe business can offer, and she knows she cannot turn her back on this opportunity even with what it will cost her. But the journey to Oomza is interrupted by the Meduse, jellyfishlike aliens known for wanton slaughter - and Binti alone may stand between them and the annihilation of the university.

REVIEW: I've heard nothing but good things about this trilogy and this author, so I figured I should give it a try. Happily, it lives up to the hype, with a strong, intriguing heroine in a far-future world where advanced science borders on being indistinguishable from magic (if I may paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke.) Binti's tribal origins and mathematical gifts mark her as unique even among humans, yet they ultimately empower her, giving her an original perspective that becomes key to the plot. The novella reads fast - I cleared it in under two hours, not counting interruptions - and wraps up enough to feel mostly complete on its own. I expect I'll grab the next book sooner rather than later.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Leopard's Daughter (Lee Killough) - My Review
Old Man's War (John Scalzi) - My Review
Otherland: City of Golden Shadow (Tad Williams) - My Review

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Serafina and the Black Cloak (Robert Beatty)

Serafina and the Black Cloak
The Serafina series, Book 1
Robert Beatty
Fiction, MG Fantasy/Historical Fiction/Horror
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: Serafina has always been a different sort of girl. With amber-gold eyes that see in the dark as well as the light, able to squeeze into the smallest corner and stalk the stealthiest mouse, she's been the Chief Rat Catcher at Biltmore Estate for years... all without the estate owners, the Vanderbilts, knowing she's even alive. She lives in the boiler room with her mechanic pa in secret, spending her nights prowling the empty house for rodent intruders - until the night she finds a very different sort of invader, a terrifying man in a malevolent black cloak that devours a young girl right before her eyes. She tells her pa, of course, but he doesn't believe her. The next night, when another child disappears, Serafina just knows it's the Man in the Black Cloak. She realizes it's up to her to catch the most dangerous rat she's ever stalked - or die trying.

REVIEW: I feel very torn about my review. Parts of this book - the opulence of the Gilded Age estate, the creepy villain, the overall horror atmosphere - I liked, and other parts I wanted to like... but it kept getting in its own way. Despite the love of her pa, Serafina's a lonely child who never knew her mother, or any friends; contemplation on both subjects kept intruding on scenes, even when she ostensibly had more urgent things to be thinking of. These musings and longings tended to circle aimlessly, repeating themselves in scene after scene, and when she does finally make a friend - Vanderbilt nephew Braeden, who is also different in his own way, and equally uneasy in human company - it only makes the tangents worse. I wouldn't have minded so much if her inner struggles didn't perpetually trample over otherwise tense and atmospheric moments, interrupting the flow for little to no reason. Then, a good chunk of the way through, a new angle is introduced out of the blue, a piece to the puzzle that feels forced in, then is completely dropped until the climax. The mystery of the Man in the Black Cloak seems a little too obvious early on, even if he remains a terrifying villain; in order to keep them guessing, both Serafina and Braeden experience bouts of stupidity unbecoming a protagonist - particularly Serafina, who does something so remarkably stupid about halfway through I almost dropped the book to a Bad rating on the spot. Despite the frequent tangents (and that incredibly boneheaded maneuver - seriously, I could not believe she could be that dumb, though I can't elaborate without risking spoilers), the story manages to build to a creepy, somewhat gory climax... then stumbles along to a wrap-up that doesn't feel natural, too grandiose in some respects while too oblivious to some complications in others.
In the end, I found just enough redeeming qualities in Beatty's imaginative ideas and ability to create atmosphere to justify an Okay rating, though I won't be reading the next volume in this series.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Griffin's Castle (Jenna Nimmo) - My Review
Shadowshaper (Daniel Jose Older) - My Review
The Screaming Staircase (Jonathan Stroud) - My Review

Friday, July 20, 2018

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo (Marlon Bundo and Jill Twiss)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo
Marlon Bundo and Jill Twiss, authors, illustrated by EG (Gerald Kelley) Keller
Chronicle Books
Fiction, CH Humor/Picture Book/Politics
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: Marlon Bundo may be a very important bunny, pet of the Vice President of the United States, but he's also a very lonely bunny... until he meets Wesley. They have so much fun together they never want to be apart. When they try to get married, the Stink Bug in charge tells them they can't, because boy bunnies are only supposed to marry girl bunnies. What's a very important bunny to do?

REVIEW: Another slow day at work, and this one - written as a direct parody of a picture book about the real Marlon Bundo by Vice President Pence, who has notoriously narrow views on equality - was at the top of the bin. As one might expect given the source, it has some pointed political commentary sprinkled throughout; the Stink Bug looks particularly familiar. It's also a timely message about tolerance, and how being different isn't a bad thing; all of Bundo's animal friends are different in their own ways. The illustrations are bright and fun, moreso than what I've seen of the original book. While the political angle will (as one might expect) date this book eventually, the story itself is enjoyable and empowering. We can only hope the stink bugs currently in charge are so easily dealt with...

You Might Also Enjoy:
This Is a Moose (Richard T. Morris) - My Review
A is for Activist (Innosanto Nagara) - My Review
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters (Barack Obama) - My Review

Monday, July 16, 2018

Scales and Scoundrels: Treasurehearts (Sebastian Girner)

Scales and Scoundrels Volume 2: Treasurehearts
The Scales and Scoundrels series, Issues 6 - 10
Sebastien Girner, illustrations by Galaad
Image Comics
Fiction, YA? Fantasy/Graphic Novel/Humor
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: In the depths of the dungeon known as the Dragon's Maw, adventurers Luvander, Prince Aki, Koro, and Dorma confront an ancient demon guarding a legendary treasure. Here, Luvander - a dragon cursed to wear a human form - finds answers she didn't expect about the nature of the Maw and her own kind. Leaving the Dragon's Maw and her companions, she sets out across the realm to discover who and what she truly is... and if she needs her scales and wings to claim a treasure worthy of a dragon princess.

REVIEW: After the first volume, I'd expected the series to follow Luvander and her human (and dwarven) companions in their adventures... but Aki, Koro, and Dorma take off after leaving the Maw, leaving Luvander on her own to confront her fellow dragons and explore the realm. Without them, the story starts to feel unbalanced and directionless. More is revealed about her world and the dragons, but I couldn't help hoping that Lu would pick up a new sidekick or two, someone to talk to in her adventures and to help her grow; clearly her time with with the mortals did her more good than all her lone wanderings beforehand. There's still a sense of fun and adventure, but it lacked the focus of the previous volume - and, to be honest, I'm not sure how long Luvander wandering about aimlessly on her own while having brief, episodic adventures will hold my interest for future installments.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Jim Henson's The Storyteller: Dragons (Daniel Bayliss et al.) - My Review
The Elvenbane (Mercedes Lackey) - My Review
Rat Queens Deluxe Edition Volume 1 (Kurtis J. Wiebe) - My Review

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Afar (Leila del Duca)

Leila del Duca, illustrations by Kit Seaton
Image Comics
Fiction, YA Fantasy/Graphic Novel
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: The girl Boetema and her younger brother, Inotu, struggle to survive in a drought-blasted future, moving from town to town with their artist mother and hack engineer father. After a fall from a tree, Boetema discovers she can astral project into other bodies on other planets in her sleep, experiencing a bizarre array of existences... journeys that carry real consequences, as her interference inadvertently puts one of her hosts and its loved ones in danger. Back home, her life is about to get more complicated, as her parents leave the pair alone for a few months while pursuing job leads as salt shepherds. Her brother runs afoul of a local thug, forcing the children into a dangerous desert crossing alone.

REVIEW: It looked like an interesting and original concept in a unique setting, and for the most part that's what Afar delivers. The artwork and design is very imaginative, almost hallucinatory at times, full of bright colors and unique worlds. Boetema and Inotu make for decent protagonists, occasionally a bit slow on the uptake but always with good hearts and determination behind their actions. At times, the jumps back and forth through worlds can be a bit confusing, and it takes a bit to sort out the Earth side of things - radically altered by an unspecified disaster several generations past - but overall the story moves nicely, even if a few elements felt incomplete by the conclusion. Part of me thinks it could use a sequel, while another would rather leave things as they are; from what I can determine so far, it's meant to be a standalone. Overall, despite a little wavering, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt with a Good rating, for overall originality and imagination.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Autumnlands, Volume 1: Tooth and Claw (Kurt Busiek) - My Review
King: The Graphic Novel (Joshua Hale Fialkov) - My Review
The Woods Volume 1: The Arrow (James Tynion IV) - My Review

Friday, July 13, 2018

Pines (Blake Crouch)

The Wayward Pines trilogy, Book 1
Blake Crouch
Thomas and Mercer
Fiction, Mystery/Sci-Fi/Thriller
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: Wayward Pines, Idaho - a nice place to visit, but you'll never leave...
After two colleagues disappeared in the small town, Secret Service agent Ethan Burke and his partner were on their way to investigate when a truck crashed into their car. Waking alone, memory scrambled, with no ID and no wallet, he soon realizes there's something very, very strange about Wayward Pines. On the surface, it looks like something out of an old TV show, with its almost car-free Main Street and neighborhoods of classic Victorian houses and friendly folks on every corner... but there are no TVs, no contact with the outside world, and he can't seem to get a straight answer on what happened to his partner or his personal effects, let alone what happened to the missing agents he was sent to locate. Just beneath the surface lies a dark secret, one that someone is going to extreme lengths to protect... one that may well kill Ethan if he digs too deep.

REVIEW: I figured I needed a change of pace, and I don't read a lot of thrillers, so this looked like a decent choice. (I'd also heard a few things about the series, so I was curious.) It starts quickly, building a nice sense of surreal danger in the less-than-idyllic small town. Ethan's past - time as a tortured POW in the Middle East and other personal demons - creates plausible reasons to question whether he is being paranoid or if the whole world really is out to get him. Hints and clues and terrifying incidents ratchet up the tension in a fast-paced plot loaded with creepiness, action, and more than a little gore, with nobody acting overtly stupid (as some authors stoop to in order to facilitate the story or obscure plot holes.) It builds up to a reveal that both explains everything (or at least enough to satisfy the reader) and sets up the next book in the trilogy; I was half-expecting the story to run head-first into a cliffhanger ending, obligating me to read further if I wanted to know what was going on and why. I enjoyed it more than I expected to, and might consider reading onward when I next need a quick-reading change of pace.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Meddling Kids (Edgar Cantero) - My Review
It (Stephen King) - My Review

Monday, July 9, 2018

Scales and Scoundrels: Into the Dragon's Maw (Sebastian Girner)

Scales and Scoundrels Volume 1: Into the Dragon's Maw
The Scales and Scoundrels series, Issues 1 - 5
Sebastian Girner, illustrations by Galaad
Image Comics
Fiction, YA? Fantasy/Graphic Novel/Humor
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: A penniless treasure hunter with a shadowy (and not-quite-human) past, Luvander sets her sights on a legendary dungeon: Dened Lewen, the Dragon's Maw, a place so deep and ancient even the gods are said to be blind to its secret depths. Along the way, she runs into Prince Aki on a royal rite of passage, his loyal and mistrustful bodyguard Koro, and dwarven guide Dorma, who has her own reasons for traveling to the Maw. Driven as much by the promise of treasure as the need to escape a deadly bounty hunter hot on her heels, the ever-reckless Lu plunges headlong - literally - into an adventure straight out of myth and legend, one she can only hope ends in the rumored chamber of untold riches. Or at least a good hot meal...

REVIEW: As promised by the title and cover blurb, this fantasy comic pokes fun at dungeon-crawler games and genre conventions without fully sacrificing its internal story arc or characters. The conflicting personalities each bring something to the table, with nobody being deadweight and everyone - even the stoic Koro - having a significant flaw. The Dragon's Maw is a strange, sometimes terrifying place, brought to life in lively artwork whose simplicity nevertheless conveys a sense of the underlying wonder. I enjoyed it, and will keep an eye peeled for Volume 2 on Hoopla.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Goblin Quest (Jim C. Hines) - My Review
The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (Diana Wynne Jones) - My Review
Princeless: Save Yourself (Jeremy Whitley) - My Review

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Frederick Douglass)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
Frederick Douglass
Open Road Media
Nonfiction, Autobiography
****+ (Good/Great)

DESCRIPTION: Written in 1845, this is a true account of slavery by Frederick Douglass, a half-black man born into bondage on American soil who would go on to become one of the great voices of his generation in the cause of abolition.

REVIEW: This is one of those books I know I should have read as an American, but hadn't gotten around to yet. The preface made me wary; written by a supporter of Douglass, its over-the-top rallying cry hinted at a sledgehammer-subtle writing style, as did a follow-up letter. Fortunately, when Douglass himself takes up the story, his writing is much cleaner and more relatable, almost modern in comparison with its lack of excess or flowery tangents - a simple style that magnifies the stark horrors of his life.
This is an unflinching look at a dark chapter of American history, when a patchwork of state laws allowed some to own other humans, and others to freely capture and sell escaped slaves back to their masters despite slavery ostensibly being illegal within their borders. Frederick Douglass was a slave in northern territories, which were generally considered "good" places to be enslaved compared to the South; this narrative lays bare the rank hypocrisy of ever referring to slavery or slaveholders as "good" in any context. The institution beat down the slave and corrupted the slaveholder, rendering both poorer and meaner in spirit, a process involving both physical and psychological bindings. He himself watched a formerly good woman with no slave-owning history degenerate into a nasty, spiteful wielder of the whip when presented with the opportunity... and saw how religious "salvation" almost invariably led to a worsening of the lot of the saved man's slaves, with whippings bookended by Bible quotes justifying the brutality. (Indeed, in an appendix, Douglass addresses directly how too many American churches had twisted their faith backwards, upside down, and inside out to accommodate the horrific practice until it scarcely resembled its roots or the teachings of the man for whom the church had been named - a warped religion that continues to plague the nation by offering Biblical justification for all manner of evils.)
Taken all together, it's both a frank condemnation of the institution of slavery and a remarkably relevant look at how wrongs do not become right just because they are legal or condoned by religious leaders, not to mention how humans persist in dehumanizing other humans - dehumanizing themselves in the process.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Walk the Earth a Stranger (Rae Carlson) - My Review
The Black Count (Tom Reiss) - My Review

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Nemesis Games (James S. A. Corey)

Nemesis Games
The Expanse series, Book 5
James S. A. Corey
Fiction, Sci-Fi
****+ (Good/Great)

DESCRIPTION: After years of service and some exceptionally trying times beyond the ring gates, the Rocinante has returned to Tycho Station for a much-needed overhaul and repair... and her crew uses the time to tie up some loose ends from their old lives. The death of one of Amos's few Earthbound friends sends him back to Baltimore, Alex heads to Mars for closure with his ex-wife, and a dark voice from Naomi's past draws her back into a world she'd almost killed herself to escape in the hardcore fringes of the OPA. If Captain Jim Holden thought he'd be bored, though, he's soon mistaken, as he's drawn into a mystery: something seems to be happening to colony ships passing through the ring gates, even as missing vessels reappear in suspicious active service throughout the system. A new force is about to make itself known with a devastating attack - and, wherever they find themselves, the crew of the Rocinante are once more up to their necks in the thick of the danger.

REVIEW: I admit the extra half-star may be subjective, moreso than my usual review; I started reading this after the finale of the TV show to ease post-season withdrawal symptoms, and it scratched that itch in a most satisfactory manner. Even disregarding that, though, this one feels like it picks up faster than the last book or two in the series, in no small part because it keeps its focus on the core crew and isn't spending time building new characters in new corners of the system. (Not that I minded that necessarily, but there's something to be said for familiar faces.) The Rocinante's crew have all grown older and, in their own ways, wiser through their adventures, even as they grew together as an impromptu family. Those bonds come to the forefront as they make their separate ways toward the same destination, albeit unknowingly. Even apart, they can look to each other for strength and guidance and a sense of purpose in a way they wouldn't have even a book or two ago. Side characters from previous books come back into play, while new players enter the field and the political landscape (er, starscape) shifts dramatically, even catastrophically, in response. The story moves quickly, as I've come to expect from the series, with plenty of action balanced by some nice introspection. Enjoyable, and it makes me eager to read the next book - which is already waiting on the shelf. (I have a few other titles I have to clear first, though... the To Be Read pile's too deep to let one series monopolize my attention. Plus it's going to be a while before Season 4 hits Amazon and Book 8 hits the bookshelves, so I have to pace myself.)

You Might Also Enjoy:
Leviathan Wakes (James S. A. Corey) - My Review
Arabella of Mars (David D. Levine) - My Review
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Dennis E. Taylor) - My Review

Monday, July 2, 2018

Windsworn (Derek Alan Siddoway)

The Gryphon Riders trilogy, Book 1
Derek Alan Siddoway
Fiction, YA Fantasy
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: For seventeen years, blacksmith's apprentice Evelyn has lived with her foster father Soot in the city shadowed by the Gyr, great mountainous stronghold of Rhylance's legendary Windsworn gryphon riders. She never thought she'd be among them, until a series of events leads to a stolen red gryphon egg hatching in her hands. Against all odds, the hatchling has bonded with her. Torn from her family and friends, Eva must now live among the other recruits in the Gyr while struggling to manage her unruly gryphon chick. Worse, red gryphons are a once-in-a-generation rarity, marking their riders for greatness - a daunting prospect when the mere thought of flight makes her head spin and stomach heave, and when she's come to training five years late. As much as she longs to return to the forges, though, Eva soon finds herself caught up in unusual events stalking the halls of the Windsworn stronghold, events unexpectedly tied to her own lost family and the very future of the Gyr and the kingdom of Rhylance itself.

REVIEW: If the description seems somewhat familiar from other young adult (or middle-grade) fantasies, it's no coincidence. Windsworn draws clear inspiration from such popular franchises as Harry Potter, Eragon, and others, with gryphons swapped in for the dragons who usually fill the bonded-fantasy-animal-companion role. Eva and her friends (and enemies) fall into readily recognizable roles, only occasionally stretching their wings to become more rounded, though Eva's a relatable heroine for all that. She is no prodigy by any means, struggling to catch up on her training, master her acrophobia, and deal with a gryphon hatchling who, despite genre convention, does not instantly become a perfect companion and friend to his "chosen" human. Eva's failures and frustrations make most of her victories (when she finally achieves them) well earned. I say "most" because, at the climax, there's some backsliding on her intelligence at a key point, a reliance on an external deus ex machina that robs her of some agency in what should've been her great triumph. (Other elements of that climax are also, unfortunately, telegraphed early on once you recognize the literary influences behind Windsworn, robbing the revelation of some of its power if you've read enough.) This, plus the final (long-delayed) revelation about her family, almost cost the book a half-star in the ratings, but ultimately I gave it the benefit of the doubt, on the theory that the target audience may be less critical or jaded than I am. What can I say - I'm in a forgiving mood tonight. That, and I like gryphons enough to encourage their appearance... plus there's some indication that things become more original as the trilogy progresses. (I'm not yet certain whether I'll pursue it or not, but there is promise.)

You Might Also Enjoy:
Dragonsdale (Salamanda Drake) - My Review
The Black Gryphon (Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon) - My Review
Eragon (Christopher Paolini) - My Review

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Vacation Guide to the Solar System (Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich)

Vacation Guide to the Solar System: Science for the Savvy Space Traveler!
Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich
Penguin Books
Nonfiction, Science
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: With the dawning of the Space Age, humanity has expanded its horizons... and its vacation options. For those bored with the offerings of our home planet, whole new worlds - literally - are available for your entertainment. Explore the lava tubes of the Moon. Sail the skies of Neptune or Venus. Witness the spectacular sunsets of Mars. Visit the rings of Saturn for a destination wedding you and your guests won't soon forget. The Intergalactic Travel Bureau offers highlights and travel tips for the Moon and other planets in the solar system, as well as dwarf planet Pluto and its Kuiper Belt companions.

REVIEW: Using the space tourism gimmick, the authors present space facts and figures in a format palatable for the average armchair stargazer like myself, albeit with some factual blurring around the edges to allow for hypothetical advances in technology (such as underground hotels to survive Mercury's mercurial temperature changes and floating cities for gas giant planets) that would make such trips viable. Naturally, the planets need little enhancement to boggle the mind and dazzle the imagination, even as actual conditions indicate just how difficult mere survival, let alone vacationing, would be beyond Earth's atmosphere. Features and conditions are compared to Earth standards to give us layfolk a sense of scale... not that it's truly possible to fully envision the system's many weird and wondrous phenomena, the extremes in atmospheres and temperature swings and geology, using our uniquely habitable planet as a measuring rod. The odd touch of humor lightens the mood and contributes to the casual presentation, as do vintage-style travel posters of the solar system's highlights (interspersed with actual photographs from various space agencies.) Published in June 2017, the information is pretty up to date, including named features on Pluto and other recent discoveries and developments.
If I'd read this in paperback, I think it would've merited a solid Good rating. Unfortunately, I read it as an eBook through Overdrive... and there are issues with the formatting that directly interfered with my enjoyment. I had to keep re-orienting my tablet, trying to get dark text not to overlap dark sections of photographs - an endeavor that did not always succeed, and grew frustrating, as each turn or adjustment interrupted my reading. Changing font sizes and other display options had no effect, so I lost out on a few stretches of what looked like fascinating information due to my inability to read black on black. Since I read it as an eBook, I must rate it as an eBook, and therefore had to shave a half-star for this annoyance.
Otherwise, aside from occasionally getting a little too clever for its own good, I recommend this one to anyone interested in the solar system's many marvels.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Beyond: Our Future in Space (Chris Impey) - My Review
The Daily Show Presents Earth (The Book) (Jon Stewart et al., editors) - My Review
The Martian (Andy Weir) - My Review