Sunday, July 23, 2017

Apocryphal Tales of the Mad Mullah –by J. W. Durham

Fiction / Fables  
134 pages
5 Stars

This is a delightful little book. Little being the operative word. It is 4" by 7" and filled with short (about 3-5 pages) fables as told by the Mad Mullah. My only quibble with the book is it was self-published and seems unavailable from anyone other than the author, or one 3d party seller who wants an exorbitant amount of money for it. As much as I enjoyed the book, I would not recommend anyone spend $36.00 for it.

Each fable ends with a short epigram that ties everything together nicely. Although these fables are told by/about the Mad Mullah, this is not a book by/about Islam. It is a book by/about living with your neighbor in peace and harmony.

I parsed these stories out, one or two a night, and used them as my last reading of the night. A truly lovely way to end my day and close my eyes.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Martian --by Andy Weir

Fiction / Science Fiction  
385 pages / 9030 KB
5 Stars

If I could give this book more stars, I would! While I agree, this book is not for everyone, it is for everyone who loves science fiction. I am not a scientist, but my understanding is that the science is good, except for a couple of small places where Weir had to move the story forward. I'm not a scientist, I didn't notice them;-)

By now, most of you know the story, botanist Marc Watney is left on Mars. His crewmates think he's dead—his bio stuff is registering zero. Obviously, he's not dead, he's alive, and he has to figure out how to survive until (possible) rescue. (OK, he's rescued.)

I actually had to stop reading a couple of times to give my old heart a chance to settle down to a normal beat. Yes, I got that involved in the story. In fact, I may never eat a potato again. Never my favorite veggie, it is pretty much now at the all time low end of edibles. Just thinking about them kinda makes my tummy tumble. I can't imagine having nothing else to eat for as long as Watney had to survive on them. Blech. He didn't even have hot sauce!

I have read, or tried to read, a few other books through the years that are about living/colonizing/surviving on Mars. Most of them I couldn't get through. The authors either knew less science than I did, or they were just downright boring, or I didn't like any of the characters. Marc Watney, however, was great fun. He's a smart-alec wise-cracking guy, who is able to find humor in just about any situation. It's what keeps him sane. And helps keep the interest going in the book. In fact, his sense of humor was one of the reasons he was chosen for the mission.

If you like 'hard' science fiction, read this book. It's wonderful. Just don't pick it up until you have time to read. It's really not one to read a chapter or two of before turning out the light at night. You will lie awake worrying. I suggest you take the book, get up in the morning, make a pot of coffee (and count your blessings you have it), send the kids somewhere outside, lock the door, and then read. And drink your coffee. The kids can bother the neighbors.

Incidentally, after finishing the book, I was watching the news. I finished the book on the 48th anniversary of the first Moon Landing! 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels-A Love Story --by Ree Drummond

Nonfiction / Autobiography  

357 pages / 1291 KB
5 Stars

I don't remember when I've so thoroughly enjoyed a book! I chuckled aloud in most chapters, and out-loud laughed in many of them.

Ree had spent 7 years getting her education and living in the big city of Las Angeles. When her boyfriend of 4 of those years got a job in San Francisco, he just assumed she would come, too. She went back home to her wee town in Oklahoma to spend some time before heading off to Chicago for a career in the Windy City. And then she met, as she calls him, Marlboro Man, and all bets were off.

Marlboro Man was a cattle rancher. He wore cowboy boots. She wore black spikey heels. He wore Wranglers; she wore Anne Klein's. He kept ranching hours. She didn't. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, not much!

If I read this story as romantic fiction, I'd have a very hard time suspending my disbelief. But, then, I so seldom read romantic fiction.... This is a delightful story, made the more so because it is true. And how wonderful to read that there is still this kind of love out there, and people find it, and live it, and then share it with those of us who may not have found our Marlboro Man. ;-)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Great Reckoning (Chief Inspector Gamache #12) –by Louise Penny

Fiction / Mystery  

400 pages / 2643KB
5 Stars

Although it isn't necessary to read this series in order, I truly think if you begin the adventure with Still Life (#1) you will have a great base for the rest of the books. I know I was grateful I read Still Life first. I read the rest out of order, as I could find them, and appreciated the foundation from Still Life.

I don't think I'm giving anything away, when I state that Chief Inspector Gamache, Retired, has taken on a new job and continues his crusade against corruption in the Surete. We are still treated to life and times in Three Pines, but it is more in the background as supporting rather than major.

It has been delightful reading these books, and watching Ms. Penny grow as an author and a novelist. My biggest complaint is I can read them faster than she can write them and get them published! Her stories are marvelous with no gratuitous violence or sex. Her characters are well developed, and have wonderful depth, and I love watching them interact with each other. Oh, and Rosa, the duck with a quack impediment.

I truly wish she would publish a book of Ruth Zardo's poetry!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Silk Parachute --by John McPhee

Nonfiction / Essays  

237 pages / 432 KB
5 Stars

This is a delightful collection of essays by John McPhee. A real treat. I have several of his books, and this is a great addition to my library. McPhee writes on a myriad of topics—from childhood (his) to the rules of La Crosse. He picks topics I've never considered that I needed to know anything about—and you know what? I did need to know about them!

If you enjoy great writing, read John McPhee. Get hooked on his stuff. Believe me, it's a good addiction. Many of his essays are long, book length, single topic (Oranges is one), this is a compilation of shorter ones. I've yet to be disappointed in reading McPhee.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

After the Fire --by J. A. Jance

Prose / Poetry  

85 pages
3 Stars

I must be honest, I did not care so much for the poetry, though it did come across as both heartfelt and honest. But I truly enjoyed the prose introductions to each poem. Those gave an interesting insight into this prolific writer's life.

If you are a fan of J. A. Jance, I think you will enjoy the insights this book gives us.