Audio Book Reviewletts: ‘The Martian’ and ‘The Thousand Dollar Tan Line’

by Kim on June 18, 2014 · 18 comments

Since June is Audio Book Month, I want to share quick reviews of two audio books that I thought were a ton of fun: The Martian by Andy Weir and Veronica Mars and the Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham.

The Martian by Andy Weir (read by R.C. Bray)

the martian by andy weirSix days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old “”human error”” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit – he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”

The Martian is a heck of a fun book. Mark Watney is the perfect main character and narrator — sarcastic, thoughtful, smart and almost dementedly optimistic in the face of certain death. The book is a little slow to start (Watney spends a long time working out the math of growing potatoes on Mars), but once the plot picks up it never seems to stop. Every time I thought that Mark was finally in the clear, or that I knew how the story was going to proceed, Weir would throw in a twist that blew up the story yet made total sense. I think I held my breath for the last hour of this book… it was great. This one is highly recommended.

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham (read by Kristin Bell)

veronica mars the thousand dollar tan lineTen years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

I’ve been a fan of snarky girl detective Veronica Mars ever since my sister introduced me to the television series. Jenny and I were both sad when the show was abruptly cancelled and enthusiastic backers of the Kickstarter that brought Veronica to the big screen. I tell you that as a way of noting that I am, basically, the perfect audience for The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, which jumps off right where the movie left off.  I loved this book so, so much. Having Veronica (Kristin Bell) narrate was an absolute treat. Loved the mystery which, in typical Veronica Mars fashion, didn’t go where I expected, and, fittingly, was more adult that some of the mysteries Veronica previously tackled. It was just so much fun.

While authors Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham did a good job of dropping the kinds of hints you need to remember who particular characters are and how they fit into Veronica’s world, if you aren’t familiar with either the show or the movie, I don’t think this book will be for you. But if you enjoyed either and are eager to spend more time with Veronica, the book is a fun next step and, because of Bell’s narration, worth grabbing on audio if you have that option.

Disclosure: I bought both of these titles through my subscription to Audible. 

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne June 18, 2014 at 7:01 am

Eleanor and I also loved the Veronica Mars book. As you note, we were also the perfect audience for it. I was pleasantly surprised, though–I thought the writing was pretty good.

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Kim June 21, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Yes, the writing was quite good. And I thought the mystery was great too — I didn’t see the ending coming.

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bermudaonion (Kathy) June 18, 2014 at 8:25 am

A friend of mine lent me The Martian in print so I’ll probably experience it that way.

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Kim June 21, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Don’t let the chapters on potato farming deter you — it picks up!

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Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader June 18, 2014 at 10:12 am

It’s official: I have to read The Martian.

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Jennine G. June 18, 2014 at 11:22 am

I’ve got to read The Martian…sounds like his sarcasm is great comic relief.

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Jenny @ Reading the End June 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Aaaaaaa, but Kim, I want more Veronica Mars MOVIES or even better a Veronica Mars NETFLIX SERIES. I cannot be satisfied with a mere book!

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Kim June 21, 2014 at 5:40 pm

This is true. A book pales in comparison to the Netflix series you’ve dreamed up. But it’s better than nothing :)

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Andi (Estella's Revenge) June 18, 2014 at 5:01 pm

The potato wrangling at the beginning of The Martian almost did me in, but I’m happy to say that I endured and enjoyed it a lot. Once the voices of NASA kicked in, I was good to go.

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Kim June 21, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Yes, that’s the point where the book went from good to great for me too.

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Sandy June 19, 2014 at 5:18 am

I absolutely loved The Martian, but would urge anyone out there reading this to LISTEN TO THE AUDIO. So well-narrated! And did you know that it has been optioned for a movie, starring Matt Damon?

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Kim June 21, 2014 at 5:47 pm

I vaguely recall seeing that online. Damon’s going to play Watney? That’s… maybe good?

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Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf June 20, 2014 at 1:21 am

I’m glad that the audiobook of The Martian was a hit!! :)

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Sheila (Book Journey) June 20, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I loved The Martian – what a great narrator!

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Katie @ Doing Dewey June 21, 2014 at 7:48 pm

I really liked Veronica Mars so I love the idea of listening to an audiobook Bell narrated! I’m glad to hear it was good :)

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Jennifer June 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm

I was a naysayer to all things audiobooks for a long time. Now I can’t get enough. Since it’s summertime, I find myself taking long walks with the dog and listening to audiobooks. Both of these sound like perfect additions to my collection!

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