Sunday, August 4, 2013

Book Spotlight: Losing Mars (Saving Mars, Book 3) by Cidney Swanson

Salut, Beardies!

There are two great pieces of news in Metro Detroit today—one, by the time you read this, the library’s 2013 Summer Reading Program will be history and my life will be back to what passes for normal. I love Summer Reading, but I look forward to the end of it the way schoolchildren anticipate summer vacation! The other great piece of news is that our dear friend, Cidney Swanson, has written a new book! Mars Burning, Book Four of the Saving Mars Series, will be published on August 5. To celebrate, we’ll be Spotlighting that book on the day it releases. First, though, here’s a long overdue Spotlight on Book 3, Losing Mars.

The Premise:
After a long and unauthorized solo interplanetary flight, Jessamyn Jaarda has returned to Earth and reunited with two of her lost crew members and her would-be love interest, Pavel. Now that Jess is a wanted fugitive on two planets, she and her friends are hiding out in Yucca, an off-the-grid community of dissenters secreted away in the desert. As the Marsians attempt to settle into the desert community, Ethan is still trying to complete the assignment he was given by Mars Colonial. Jess is determined to find her remaining lost crewmate and return to Mars, but having stolen and crashed Mars Colonial’s last great raiding ship means she’s no longer welcome there—and having made an enemy of the Terran Chancellor, she finds new danger at every turn.

Gems for Writers:
World-Building. Perhaps you’re tired of hearing about it, but here at The Bearded Scribe, world-building is our bread and butter. And when it comes to picking gems from Cidney Swanson’s books, I’ll start with this one every time. After the spectacular world-building of the first two books, I honestly thought the world was complete, but Cidney proved me entirely wrong. In this volume, she further explores both the concept of re-bodying and the Terran political structure (and corruption within that structure). Irregularities and organized crime are exposed through such unusual means as placing characters in various medical facilities. This series is proof positive that when it comes to world-building, no detail is too small to include.

Heroine as Art Form. Although I am a huge fan of Cidney Swanson’s characterization as a whole, for this particular Spotlight I want to focus on the leading lady, Jessamyn. Jess is the kind of character with whom I want to be best friends, reminiscent of Eoin Colfer’s Holly Short or Kristin Cashore’s Katsa. Every time I remember that Jess is fictional, my heart breaks a little. Her particular character arc is spectacular; she matures with every book while maintaining just the right amount of spitfire to be a wholly likeable heroine.

Slightly Steamy. One of my pet peeves as a reader is romances—or worse, love triangles—that get squished into a story and proceed to take over. Thankfully, Cidney Swanson stays well away from this trap! The romance between Jess and Pavel is realistically drawn, evolving gradually from the first book. While each character acknowledges their feelings for the other, the romance never overshadows the main plot, and there isn’t the slightest hint of the dreaded love triangle. A slightly steamy scene near the end hints at the future development of the romantic plotline, but the pacing is so perfect that further development feels perfectly natural, rather than forced.


Losing Mars is yet another compulsively readable entry in the Saving Mars Series. I never get tired of returning to the world of Jess and Pavel, and I can’t wait to see where Cidney takes this series next! Tune in tomorrow for Book Four, Mars Burning!

Until then, Keep Calm and Scribe On!

***Losing Mars (2013) by Cidney Swanson is published by and copyright Williams Press. It is available in stores, online (see above), and from your local public library.

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