Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Review #6

The Northeast was hit with a historical winter storm - over 30 inches of snow we received - so we are stuck inside.  So that means......lots of time to read.

I finished off another book during that down time called "Down and Out In The Magic Kingdom"

This was part of my 2015 Reading Challenge Category: A book by an author I haven't read before

This book was pretty strange.  It is another recommendation from my husband (and something we already had on our shelf).  I think I need to stop listening to his suggestions.

It was a quick read - I will give it that.  At just 200 pages, I was able to finish it up in a little more than a day of reading.  It is set far into the future - people actually live in Disney World.  The cast members that run the rides run the park, and there is a "war" that goes on among part of the different lands.  The rides that we all know and love are still there, but have been made a bit better with time.  But they try to keep the rides true to themselves.  The park still operates as a park, even though people actually live there full time.

That was the interesting part of the story.  IT would be cool to have the park be in existece in 2400 and the beloved rides still there.  But that is where the interesting part of this story stops.  There is strange language that is never explained to the reader (which Mat tells me is the beauty of the book.  "The characters know what it is, so they don't need to explain it"  yeah yeah).  Money is no longer a way you get things in life - it is social status, which is automatically uploaded to you through a chip that ever person has installed in their brain.  You never die - you just get a new body when the old one wears out (or you are accidentally killed).  You have to upload your memory continually into a database so that if you need a new body, you can pick up where you left off.

It was a neat enough idea, and I - knowing my husband well - can see why he liked this book.  He warned me it was strange, and it was.  But I read it, and now I can move on.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow. Lots of it

Yesterday we got hammered with a snow storm.  A blizzard.  We get at least one big storm a year here in Massachusetts, but this one made history.

Massachusetts is a little state, but weather can pack a punch on us up here.  The city of Boston got it bad, but the worst is the coast.  They have power outages, flooding, 2 feet of snow, and just a total mess.

We are a little north/west of Boston, and we were in a thick band of snow.  Our little area of the state got the most snow.  Aren't we lucky?  Yeah - I can feel the love.

In the end we got about 35 inches of snow in less than 24 hours.  Crazy.  It is so much snow that every time we went out to deal with it, we couldn't decide where to start.  The dogs sunk in and we couldn't even see them.  It was almost up to my waist in our back yard.  The snow drifts are 4-5 feet high.  Just crazy.

Luckily, we didn't lose our power.  It is a light and fluffy snow, so that made a big difference.  IT blew everywhere, though - just causing all kind of wind and snow drifts.  And the temperatures were very low - in the teens with wind chills in the minus numbers.


It took Mat the better part of the day to clear the driveway.  And it just kept snowing.  The kids went out in short burst - enjoying the depth of the snow.

I took a few pictures, so enjoy!

Trying to walk though the back yard:
 Sitting in the snow on the back porch

 The back porch - crazy.
 Mat getting ready to plow the driveway.  We had to dig a little path to get the tractor out first!
 The garage

 Trying to walk through the yard:

 Snow on the back porch just keeps getting higher:

 I stayed inside while these nutballs went out to play

 Snow was higher than our dogs

 Snow bunnies

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review #5

I am flying through these books!  We have had some bad weather - and I have hurt my shoulder - so I am stuck doing not much else right now.

This book review is for "Y The Last Man"

The category was Graphic Novel

Since I have never read a graphic novel in my life, this recommendation came from my husband.  He has quite a few in his library, so he thought this one would be good for me.

It was.....interesting.  Kudos for a book with pictures - really brought the story to life.  Personally, it would be nice to see more adult books like this.  Ha ha.

The story was about the last man on earth.  One day, all the males of not just humans, but of all species, just died.  At least that is what everyone thought.  Come to find out there was one man left and one male monkey.  The job of some of the women is to keep him alive.  And in the end - they succeed.

Since I am pretty sure that 95% of my readers of this blog will not be picking up this - or any other - graphic novel, I will leave the review at that.

It was an interesting enough story, but it does not make me want to read more like it.

2 1/2 stars.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review #4

Today I am going to review the book "All The Light We Cannot See"

This book was from my 2015 Reading Challenge category: A book set in a different country

This was a great book.  I had a hard time putting it down, and  - even though it was over 500 pages - I finished it in a few days.  Did I ignore a few house chores to read instead?  Yes.  Yes I did.

The story is about a young girl  - Marie-Laure - from about the age of 6-16 who is blind and living in France (first Paris and then Saint Malo) during WWII with her father.  The other major character in the book is a boy named Werner who is an orphan from Germany.  It covers his ages from about 6-18 as well.  Their paths never cross until the very end of the book.  They don't speak the same language, they have very different lives, but yet - they meet each other.

It was pretty powerful.

The story isn't a hard read, and will hold your interest.  Marie-Laure and her father must flee Paris when the war starts, and they end up in beautiful Saint Malo living with her great-uncle (who is an agoraphobic) and his house keeper.  Werner, on the other hand, is discovered to be a brilliant engineer from an early age (can fix about any radio he comes across) and is quickly admitted to a science academy for Hitler youth.  It covered the span of their young life, and then jumps in the end to the year 1974 and then to 2014.  I love a book that shows what happens to the characters when the "worst" is behind them and how it shaped their lives.

I wish I would have read this before we traveled to Paris this summer.  I could see some of the places they talked about, and I think I would have tried to include Saint Malo into our trip.

I give it 5 starts.  Good read - don't miss it!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

First Snow of 2015

It is January 24th, and we are getting our first snow here in northern Massachusetts.  Am I sad?  Heck no.  I could have gone the whole year without snow.  But I guess that is too much to ask.

We were supposed to get 1-3 inches, so we got like 6-8.  Way to go weatherman.  Accurate as always.

The kids were really excited to wake up to snow this morning, so after lunch, they got dressed and went out to play.  Mat plowed the driveway and they built snowmen, and spent the afternoon rolling around outside.

Now they are good and tired.  Amen.  Point for snow.

Enjoy the pictures:

Cainan playing in the snow:

 Finley in the snow

 Even the dogs had a good time.  They love the snow:

Arlington shoveling a ramp to sled:

 House in the snow
 Mat plowing the driveway:

 Scooby ate a lot of snow:
 And tried to catch even more in his mouth:
 Mat and Cainan built a snowman:
 Cainan said "I need to go in a get a carrot for his nose"
 See that little orange dot?  That is the baby carrot Cainan got for the nose:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review #3

I swear this will be the last one.......for a few days.

Today I am reviewing my 3rd book on my 2015 reading challenge - Redshirts.

This book was under my category: A book with a color in the title

It came recommended to me by my husband.  He has been trying to get me to read it for over a year.  But knowing the kind of books he usually reads, I kept putting him off.  As I was making my reading challenge book list, the man tried to put this book in every category I mentioned, so I caved and read it.

And I didn't hate it.  It was actually quite an enjoyable read.  And quick - as you can see.

For those of you who like shows such as Star Trek, or any show/movie where you see something happen to D rated characters (extras) and mumble to yourself "I saw that coming a mile away" - this book is for you.  It is a story of a group of people on a ship called the Intrepid where bad stuff happens to all the expendable characters, and the captains always come out of the battles either mildly hurt, or unscathed.  BUT - if you are traveling with them - you are doomed.  The people on the ship have learned to hide from these captains knowing that if they get picked to go on a mission with them - they will not be returning.

It is quite silly, and quite true when it comes to shows like Star Trek.  I was tortured watching that show on TV with Mat, and characters in the redshirts always bit it.  You would catch yourself saying, "oh look - there is a character in a redshirt.  He is done for".

I won't go much further with this book because it takes a fun spin that I think you should read for yourself.  If you are looking for something light and easy to read, give it a try.  You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review #2

I finished a book on our 2015 Reading Challenge book last night, so I wanted to review it for you.

The name of the book was "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov.  It was under my reading challenge category: Book that was originally written in a different language.

This was by far the most challenging book I have ever read.  Ever.  It was recommended to me by a friend and it is on the list of "100 books you should read before you die".

This book as a cult following - a serious one.  Bulgakov was a famous Russian writer but he died before his book ever got published.  He lived in the early 1900's and died in 1940, but with Russia at war  - and what he printed would have put him in jail for sure - it never saw the light of day until the 1960s.

I have never read a Russian novel before and this one was hard.  VERY hard.  Thank goodness it had a commentary section in the back of the book that broke out some of meanings of the Russian words.  That helps a great deal.  But it still took me over 2 weeks to read its 335 pages because I could only do one or two chapters a night before I needed to take a break.

If you are looking to challenge yourself this year - I suggest reading The Master and Margarita.  The premise of the book is.......all over the place.  Really - it is the story of how Satan visits Moscow and how he wreaks havoc on a group of writers who were atheist.  They don't believe in God or Satan, and this doesn't make Satan very happy.

The Master (whose real name we never learn) is a writer.  He doesn't actually enter the novel himself until about 1/3 of the way through the book.  Bulgakov died before the book went to print, and people speculate that he might have called it something else had he lived to see it printed.  The Master is writing a story about Pontius Pilate and his crucifixion of Yeshua - who the reader believes is Jesus.  But this is never told.  This manuscript of the Master is intertwined between the "present" story of these writers in Moscow and what happens to them if they cross Woland (who is Satan - but again, not really said).  Margarita is The Master's love of his life.  She is a beautiful woman who leaves her husband to be with the Master and encourage him to write his story of Pontius Pilate.

Is your head spinning yet?

The writer lived in a very tumultuous Russia.  The 1930s in the Soviet Union were very unsafe - especially when it came to writing.  There is a line in the back of the book that says "All of Bulgakov's literary energy and creative will were concentrated on proving something that his enviornment contradicted:  that manuscripts don't burn, that art outlasts the tyrants, that entropy doesn't triumph over the creative spirit."

I can't give you much more because this book goes is so many directions that it would be impossible to really give you a feel for it.  I do suggest you reading it.  I would give it 4 stars, and hope that someday to read it again to see what I missed and to better understand it.

**The picture above is the translation that is recommended.  Apparently this book has been translated several times  - sometimes very badly**