3.5 stars. Totally predictable story, but I enjoyed the narration on the audiobook enough to continue with the series. I'll borrow fromthe library, th3.5 stars. Totally predictable story, but I enjoyed the narration on the audiobook enough to continue with the series. I'll borrow fromthe library, though, because I didn't like it enough to spend a lot of money on the whole series. This is the kind of audiobook you can have on in the background while you're cleaning or driving or cooking and it doesn't take too much focus to follow the story....more
On a mission to Mars, astronaut Mark Watney is injured in an accident. His crewmates, believing him to be dead, leave him alone on Mars when they evacOn a mission to Mars, astronaut Mark Watney is injured in an accident. His crewmates, believing him to be dead, leave him alone on Mars when they evacuate. What follows is the story of Mark's survival, NASA'a discovery via satellite photos that he's alive, and the rescue mission.
This isn't the kind of book I'd normally read. I'm not big on science, or sci-fi, or space travel. It's OK, but it's not my first choice of genre. But it's one of the best books I've read all year. Watney's survival depends upon his smarts - he's a botanist as well as an engineer, so he can fix stuff and build stuff and even grow food on Mars to prolong his life. It depends on some luck - there are, of course, accident after accident after mishap and somehow nothing gets truly FUBAR. And it depends on his spirit and good sense of humor, superbly delivered by R.C. Bray in the audiobook. I don't want to give the whole book away, but here are a couple of gems:
[NASA:] He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”
[WATNEY:] LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.
I broke two ribs during the MAV ascent. They were sore the whole time, but they really started screaming when (view spoiler)[Vogel pulled us into the airlock by the tether (hide spoiler)]. I didn’t want to distract the people who were saving my life, so I muted my mic and screamed like a little girl. It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.
But it's not all chuckles all the time. There is real drama here. While Mark Watney struggles to survive and NASA struggles to find a way to save him, the world watches. I kept imagining how I would feel if I were watching this play out for real on CNN. And while I don't think that it's realistic that there would be a daily Mark Watney Watch segment on CNN for 18 months (because humans have short attention spans and if nothing exciting happened for a few days, someone somewhere would get shot by a cop or pose naked on Paper Magazine and we'd forget about Watney for awhile), I did feel the excitement and the stress of wondering what would happen. I got a little choked up in the end.
I'll just leave you with this:
The cost for my survival must have been hundreds of millions of dollars. All to save one dorky botanist. Why bother? Well, okay. I know the answer to that. Part of it might be what I represent: progress, science, and the interplanetary future we’ve dreamed of for centuries. But really, they did it because every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it’s true. If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side. Pretty cool, eh?
What a fun, fun book. If you love video games and '80s pop culture, then this is the book for you, my friend. I recommend listening to it on audio, beWhat a fun, fun book. If you love video games and '80s pop culture, then this is the book for you, my friend. I recommend listening to it on audio, because it's read by Wil Wheaton, and he does an amazing job. It's also fun hearing him reference himself. ...more
I see what you did there, Tim Tharp, by writing a first-person POV wherein the protagonist's problems are obvious to everyone - including the reader -I see what you did there, Tim Tharp, by writing a first-person POV wherein the protagonist's problems are obvious to everyone - including the reader - but himself. It almost reads as a "what not to do" manual. But the book, the story, and the connection of the characters are just blah. Instead of rooting for the lovers to live happily ever after, I kept wishing Aimee would get some self respect and a personality of her own rather than becoming the female Sutter....more
In spring 1849, a band of Comanches raids a white family's house, killing the mother and daughter and kidnapping the two sons.
In August 1915, a familyIn spring 1849, a band of Comanches raids a white family's house, killing the mother and daughter and kidnapping the two sons.
In August 1915, a family of Mexican cattlemen is slaughtered by white men, leaving only one survivor, hidden in a closet.
In March 2012, a woman lies dying on the floor of her mansion, incredibly wealthy, but alone and unloved.
So begins this epic saga of a novel, spanning over one and a half centuries and five generations of violence, greed, hate, and love. It is as much a recounting of Texas' bloody history as it is the history of the McCulloughs and the Garcias. The Indians take from the whites, who take from the Mexicans, who take from the whites, who took from the Indians, who took from the Mexicans, who took from the Indians, who took from other Indians. Land and horses are bought with the blood of entire clans.
I was riveted to this story, especially to the section that takes place among the Comanches. Meyer certainly did his research. It isn't without its flaws: Eli and the Comanches use modern slang in one sentence and phrases like "aired my paunch" and "in a rutting mood" in the next; Jeannie's story is boring until the final chapters; Peter's story is repetitive. But these stories of three generations of McCulloughs (and how their lives intersect with the Garcias) were so brilliantly layered that the flaws seem minor. I loved how something hinted at in 1917 by Peter would be explained in the 1970s by Jeannie, or something explained by Eli in the 1860s would be referenced by one of his progeny many decades later.
I listened to this on audio, and there were four different narrators. Eli and Peter were portrayed beautifully. Kate Mulgrew bugs me and she played Jeannie, which might be part of the reason I was bored by her story. The fourth is a surprise I will not spoil here.
**spoiler alert** I'm finding that I can't write about how this book made me feel without talking about what happens in it. And I mean every major plo**spoiler alert** I'm finding that I can't write about how this book made me feel without talking about what happens in it. And I mean every major plot point, not just the ending. What makes this a four star book isn't that the prose is particularly good or that I learned anything profound about myself or the world in which I live. It's the story, and these two characters, and the things that happen to them, and to say what that means, I have to talk about spoilers. So I'm marking this whole review as a spoiler, and if you continue to read on - if you click that little link - then on your own head be it.
(view spoiler)[This book did not end the way I wanted it to. I really want to hate it for that, to be totally pissed off at it for manipulating me into rooting for these characters and then rip out my heart at the end. But I just keep thinking of a quote from The Silver Linings Playbook: "Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly."
And that is so true. Sometimes, life just plain sucks. Sometimes, you are rich and handsome and vibrant and happy and then you get hit by an asshole on a motorcycle and end up a quadriplegic. Sometimes, you get to live in a town with one of those beautiful English castles and then one night, you get a little drunk and a little high and before you know it, you're being gang raped by a bunch of frat boys in the middle of a maze. Sometimes, you can go on a fabulous dream vacation with the man you love and on the last night you get in a huge fight and it ruins the whole experience. Sometimes, the boy doesn't get the girl. And sometimes, the boy does get the girl, but he chooses death anyway.
I knew how it was going to end. I'd accidentally seen a spoiler in a Goodreader's review. I had not been warned repeatedly, as you have, that the review would have details about the ending. And yet, even though I knew what was going to happen, I couldn't help but hope I'd read it wrong. As Louisa kept hoping that she'd change Will's mind, that this would be the outing that turned it all around, I also kept hoping right alongside her.
I'm not going to make any judgments or statements on the ethics or moral question of euthanasia. I really don't think, as a reader, it matters whether you think it is right or wrong. What matters is the way these two characters are able to touch and change each other.
And, yes, the supporting cast are all cookie-cutter and cliche: The sibling who's always overshadowed the heroine; the beautiful ex-girlfriend; the boyfriend who is such a fitness fanatic that he really only serves to be the polar opposite of a paralyzed man; the daffy parents. And yes, some of it is just too precious and contrived, like the family of the disabled person being so fabulously wealthy that money is no object when considering his treatment or the efforts to give him the will to live. His money even makes for a nice, tidy little epilogue where the money he leaves to Lou magically solves all her problems, except for the one where the love of her life commits suicide in her arms. That part actually does piss me off a little, as I know some real-life families who have to struggle and figure out how to make ends meet while paying for the care of a disabled family member, and remodeling their houses to be wheelchair accessible, and buying a car with a chair lift, etc., and the insurance money doesn't even begin to cover it. But I suppose if this book had focused on those very real struggles, we would have been distracted from the will-they-or-won't-they drama of two people falling in love. These are the reasons this book is not five stars.
But the fact remains that I did not want to put this book down. I stayed up way too late last night reading, and after I made myself turn out the light I still lay in bed thinking about this story. Today at work, I had the Kindle app on my phone open so I could sneak in a paragraph whenever I could. And when I finished, I just sat for a while and cried. (hide spoiler)]...more
When I first started this, I thought Pat's voice reminded me a lot of Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I didn't really like much. ButWhen I first started this, I thought Pat's voice reminded me a lot of Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I didn't really like much. But the more I read on, the more I liked Pat. I found him charming and dear. I adored the ending, which bumped the book from three to four stars. I think I like this book even better now that I've seen how they bastardized it for the movie. Bradley Cooper did a great job, and I love me some Jennifer Lawrence, but I did not like the changes to the story. I'm so glad it didn't win Best Adapted Screenplay, because if it had, I would have felt pretty pissed on behalf of Matthew Quick, whose story is so much better than the one Hollywood made up....more
It's really difficult to review this book without giving anything away. I thought the alternating narrator device was extemely effective, especially iIt's really difficult to review this book without giving anything away. I thought the alternating narrator device was extemely effective, especially in part one, where Nick's narrative is in the present and Amy's is in the past. I thought it was a fascinating study of a sociopath. It gets four stars for keeping me guessing through the first part and because even though the "whodunnit" part ended up being who I thought it was, it was done in a way that completely took me by surprise. The missing star is because I thought the ending was a total cop-out, and because I thought the vulgarity of the sociopath's language was fake and forced. Okay, Flynn, we get it. This person is BAD because they say lots of bad words. I prefer calm, cool, and collected sociopaths....more
I've been searching in vain for something like The Hunger Games. This is as close as I have found. It's not quite as good, because it takes a really lI've been searching in vain for something like The Hunger Games. This is as close as I have found. It's not quite as good, because it takes a really long time for the action to start, but I liked it a lot better than the other YA dystopian books I've read recently. I am really looking forward to reading the next one....more
Do you think you have been wronged? Do you think your life has been hard? Are you hanging on to anger, hurt, resentment, pain? Believe me, what you haDo you think you have been wronged? Do you think your life has been hard? Are you hanging on to anger, hurt, resentment, pain? Believe me, what you have gone through is nothing compared to what this man has endured. And yet he was able to forgive his tormentors and let go of the pain and fear his experiences caused. In WWII after his plane crashed, Olympic miler Louis Zamperini and two crewmates floated on a raft in the Pacific for 47 days, subsisting on rainwater, raw bird meat, and albatross blood before being captured by the Japanese. Held as a POW for two years and three months, Zamperini experienced every kind of degradation imaginable. He was brutally beaten and humiliated, made to scoop feces with his bare hands and do pushups over a latrine well. He suffered unbelievable cruelty at the hands of the Japanese guards, specifically Mutushiro Wantanabe, aka The Bird. After the war ended, Louis drank away his nightmares and became a person he didn't recognize. At the insistence of his wife, Louis attended a Billy Graham crusade where his life was irrevocably changed. He was instantly delivered from his alcoholism and nightmares. Forgiveness replaced hate and Louis eventually traveled to Japan and forgave his tormentors in person. This is an absolutely extraordinary story of the miracle of salvation and the release of bondage that comes from experiencing the love of Christ, but it doesn't come across as preachy or holier than thou. The story focuses mainly on the experience of war and as a POW. This is a side of war you don't read about in the history books. The religiosity is handled very matter-of-factly as just another of Zamperini's experience. This is a must-read for all, regardless of religious belief. ...more
When I was a kid, I hated reading "Choose Your Own Adventure" novels. I couldn't stand not knowing what might have happened if I had chosen choice B iWhen I was a kid, I hated reading "Choose Your Own Adventure" novels. I couldn't stand not knowing what might have happened if I had chosen choice B instead of choice A - and then, once I turned to page 68 (where choosing choice A would take me) I found myself faced with another choice. The combinations of choices were too great for me to have found out every possible outcome, and so not knowing which choice to choose, I chose nothing at all and stopped reading the book.
Life is like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, except instead of Choice A or Choice B, we have an infinite number of possibilities ahead of us. And choosing nothing at all is not an option, because in life, choosing nothing and taking no action is in fact a choice not to change anything.
This book is about many things. It is about two couples. It is about faithfulness and betrayal and war and intrigue and art and poetry and bowler hats and a dog named Karenin. But the thing that stands out most to me: It is about choices.
The whole idea of the lightness of being is foreign to me. Kundera asserts that, as we only have one life to live and therefore do not know the weight of our choices without anything to compare the outcomes to, this removes the burden - the substance, the weight - of life and makes being unbearably light.
“Human life occurs only once, and the reason we cannot determine which of our decisions are good and which bad is that in a given situation we can make only one decision; we are not granted a second, third, or fourth life in which to compare various decisions.”
I am fascinated with this idea of lightness of being. I am at a time in my life where I am at a crossroads. I have some huge, life-changing decisions to make and at the same time circumstances call into question all of the choices I have made heretofore. This, however, does not make my existence feel light. It makes it feel unbearably heavy instead. Consider the language we use to describe times of great stress or uncertainty: My past, present, and future are all "weighing heavily on my mind," so to speak, and this seems a much more apt description for how I feel than a lightness of being. When things are all figured out and going well, we "feel a weight has been lifted" from us. How, then, can the uncertainty I face make me feel the lightness of being?
I wish I could skip ahead to page 68 of life to see what my decision will lead to if I choose Choice A. And then I would skip to page 75 to see what would happen if I chose Choice B. Instead, I have to take a giant leap of faith that no matter what I choose, no matter how things end up, I will be okay. And that is as heavy a burden as I can imagine....more
The easiest way to write what I thought about this book would be to quote from the book itself:
Over the years, people I've met have often asked me whaThe easiest way to write what I thought about this book would be to quote from the book itself:
Over the years, people I've met have often asked me what I'm working on, and I've usually replied that the main thing was a book about Dresden. I said that to Harrison Starr, the movie-maker, one time, and he raised his eyebrows and inquired, "Is it an anti-war book?" "Yes," I said. "I guess." "You know what I say to people when I hear they're writing anti-war books?" "No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?" "I say, 'Why don't you write an anti-glacier book instead?'" What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too. And even if wars didn't keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.
Having spent two of my formative years in North Carolina, I can tell you that racism and classism are still very much alive in the Deep South. FortunaHaving spent two of my formative years in North Carolina, I can tell you that racism and classism are still very much alive in the Deep South. Fortunately, we've come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.
But this book is about so much more than the way maids were treated in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. It's more than a story of how the Junior League president ruled the lives of pretty much everyone in town. Mostly, it is a story about doing something. Taking action. Trying to change the status quo. Recognizing that we aren't so different from one another. And when we embrace that, just at look what can happen. ...more
Cute fantasy about a man who chases a falling star and finds out it's a woman. He must protect her from those who would do her harm and take her backCute fantasy about a man who chases a falling star and finds out it's a woman. He must protect her from those who would do her harm and take her back to the girl he thinks he loves. I wish I would've seen the movie before I read the book, because picturing Robert DeNiro as the cross-dressing pirate would've made the book that much more enjoyable....more