Monday, October 26, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir

Staying Alive woo, woo, woo, woo - staying aliiiiiive! (Sci-Fi)


The Martian by Andy Weir.  An astronaut is stuck on Mars after the rest of the crew made an emergency departure, leaving Mark Watney behind, whom they assumed was dead.  Now Mark, a mechanical engineer with a Master’s in botany is alone on an unforgiving and desolate planet trying to plan how he’ll stay alive four years until the next mission is due to land.

Mark has to take all the leftover objects from the mission and produce life:  water, soil, food—a daunting undertaking. It’s kind of like I feel in the mornings when I dump out my makeup bag and give myself the pep talk, “Okay, let’s make this work.”—only on a much more dire, life-or-death level. 
What I really liked is that this super smart man relays his thoughts and calculations in a language a dummy like me could kind of grasp—or at least tolerate for the most part.  His laid-back style makes him approachable.  He even has a sense of humor. He’s more human than those geniuses who stiffly spew out scientific data that whizz over my head in a nebulous atmosphere.  On some basic levels I could relate to this man—maybe it was really all the 70's shows I can relate to. 
It was interesting to see the workings of his analytical mind—to see how he takes huge, seemingly insurmountable problems, divides them into smaller chunks and chips away at one solution at a time.  It brings to mind a favorite saying of my sister and her husband—“How do you eat an elephant?—One bite at a time.”

Sci-fi is not a genre I normally read. My niece recommended it. But this faced-paced, action-packed book had me from line one:  “I’m pretty much f******.”


The book was made into a movie and is out in theaters right now starring Matt Damon. My husband, who also read the book, and I went and saw it and really liked it.  There are some tiny changes but not enough to ruin it.


My book club elected to read The Martian and it received thumbs-up all around.  While a couple people mentioned that the math seemed to bog the book down at first, they quickly learned to glaze over it like they did in math class, and then it was smooth sailing! One member said it was the best book we've read! 

This book met a several of my 2015 Book Challenges: Read a suspense/thriller; read a book your significant other has read; read a book out of your comfort zone; read a book with only two words in the title; buy a book from your local bookstore; and read a book that has or will become a movie.


Happy Reading,



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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Liebster Award

Ich Liebe the Liebster Award! (Fun Stuff)

In July Marianne from Let’s Read blog nominated me for the Liebster Award, an award given to smaller blogs.  I was extremely honored, especially coming from Marianne, whose book review blog I just love.  My beautiful mother passed away at the time Marianne nominated me, and although I already had posts scheduled in advanced, I wasn’t in the mood to do much, even the simple rules of the award below…until now. 

Rules for the award:

1.    Thank the amazing blogger who nominated you.  (check)
2.    Answer the 11 questions the nominator provided (answer on your blog.) (check, see below)
3.    Nominate 11 other bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
4.    Post 11 different questions for your nominees to answer on their blogs. (check, see below)
5.    Contact your nominees to let them know that you've nominated them.  (check)

Unfortunately, I really got hung up on #3 (Nominate 11 other bloggers who have less than 200 followers.)  I have three big problems with that. 

 1.    I don’t follow all that many blogs.  (I just don't have that much time.)
2.    Some blogs have already been nominated. My favorite is Let’s Read, and she’s obviously already been nominated, since she passed one of her eleven torches on to me.  Marianne is amazing!  She speaks (and reads!) numerous languages and writes book reviews in English. Her site is clean and organized without many distracting extra links or ads.  I also like the type of books she reviews. 

3.    Some of the blogs I do follow seem to have much more than 200 followers. (Like in which a couple who travel around in their RV and sailboat post about the many places they visit.  You should see their photos of Nova Scotia!  Sign me up.  I’m ready to go!) Even the three blogs I nominated are likely to have more than 200 followers. I'm not sure how to tell.
So, I’m bucking the system.  I have decided to go forward with my Liebster Award by nominating my three qualifying blogs (see below).  Then as I gather more blogs along the way, I can add them later.

But first, here are my answers to Marianne’s questions.

1.    Who, what, and/or where does your blogging inspiration come from?

My blogging inspiration comes right from the books I read.  They inspire me to tell others all about the awesome treasures I find in the pages of books.

2.    What do you like about blogging?

I like being able to share books that I’m excited about, hoping that someone out there will see it and maybe pick up the book and enjoy it as much as I did.

3.    What was the most meaningful book you ever read? 

Tough one, but I would have to say “Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank.

4.    Who is your favorite author?

Another tough question. I don’t particularly like to read the same author over and over again (even if they are awesome), but there are a few I keep coming back to.  Mark Twain is one of them—Love his wit!

5.  What is your favourite quote?

It’s too long and convoluted for me to memorize or even write down here, but it’s a paragraph from Mark Twain’s “Those Extraordinary Twins” in which he describes this nonsensical hilarious medical procedure twisted with words that just has me laughing out loud each time I read it. It begins with “I concede that great care is going to be necessary here; otherwise exudation of the esophagus is nearly sure to ensue, and this will be followed by the ossification and extradition of the maxillaries superioris, which must decompose the granular surfaces…..” It goes on and on.

6.    What is your favourite time of year? 

Definitely summer time: bike rides, walks to coffee shops, reading in the back yard, enjoying the garden, feeling the sun on my face—what could be better?

7.    If you had to teach a subject at school, what subjects do you think you would be most equipped to teach? 

I’m not equipped to teach anything, ha.  But if I had to, I'd create my own course - Organizing 101.

8.    What is the best thing about you?

I think the best thing about me is my deep love of my family.  In the end, nothing matters more.

9.    If you could only wear one colour for the rest of your life what would it be? 

I used to love green, probably because it represents my love of gardening most, but lately I seem to be drawn mostly to bright refreshing blues.

10.    What was the last movie you watched, was it a good one? 

We don’t go to the movie theater as much as we used to, but recently we went and saw “San Andreas,” an action-packed, unrealistic, but oh-so exciting movie about the major earthquake that we’ve been told would happen along the San Andreas fault in California since I was a kid in Vegas.  Rumor was that we would have waterfront property one day.

11.    What did you want to be when you were a child?

I was (and am) still lost at what I want to be when I grow up. I always had a love of gardening, but never knew how to translate that into a career. 

And My Blog Nominations Are….. (In Alpha Order):

1.    The Chocolate Lady’s Book Reviews Davida Chazan's Blog for mostly book reviews and literary musings (and maybe some chocolate).

2.    Monica’s Bookish Life  A research librarian, book blogger, anglophile, and world traveler, living in the beautiful Chesapeake Bay area.

   3.    Packabook
       Packabook categorizes fiction  into the countries in which the books are set, and then explores how well each novel relates to its location. Also includes some memoires, travelogues, biographies and histories for those who prefer non-fiction and there is even a range of guide books to help you on your way.

 My Eleven Questions for the New Nominees: (some of them I have talked about in my own posts. Click to read my answers.)

11. If you had to choose, would you rather visit Paris or Venice?

As Marianne mentioned in her blog, she’s not sure where the award originated, but she did find a link to the original idea with some twists.  The Liebster Award –General Info and Rules.

Thanks again, to Marianne and everyone who reads my blog. 

Happy reading,


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman

Happily Homeless (Travel)

Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman is a memoir about an educated, well-to-do woman who began traveling in 1985 when her marriage was falling apart.  But the book is not about finding herself as it is about finding and connecting with people around the world.  Rita gave up everything and relies on the royalties of her children’s books to take her to places like Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Israel, Galapagos Islands, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Thailand.  These aren’t zip-lining, kayaking, hang gliding, sight-seeing vacations.  They are enriching emersions into different cultures, learning to live among the local communities for months and sometimes years.  Rita is one of those rare “You go, girl!” women who truly lives life by her rules, the main one being to travel where wind or whim blows her. I don’t know why but while I was reading her book, I imagined Kathy Bates playing her character. She is an amazing adventurous, interesting, bold woman.

Good book.  Inspiring.

If you want to be further inspired by her travels, check out Female Nomad and Friends:  Breaking Bread Around the World.  A book with 41 authors telling stories of “connecting across cultures.”  It includes 33 international recipes.   I’ll have to check it out myself.

This book met a several of my 2015 Book Challenges: Read a memoir; read a travel book; read a book set in a foreign country.

Happy Reading,


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