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text 2018-03-15 17:31
Just came through library waitlist
Year One: Chronicles of the One, Book 1 - Nora Roberts

I've been wanting to read this one.  Nora Roberts is hit or miss with me (sometimes too formulaic or predictable) but I have really enjoyed some of her more fantasy/legend based books. Even my least favorite of her books made for an enjoyable read because well-written; just sometimes disappointingly predictable.

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review 2018-03-04 23:07
Workmanlike writing, fascinating life.
Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly

I have found Scott Kelly a lot more engaging in interviews than he was in this book, which could get a little plodding at times, but I still enjoyed it for the most part. It's certainly the most detailed and emotionally-open description of the long-duration missions on the International Space Station. (Alternating chapters were about his childhood, military career, and other NASA missions both as a space shuttle pilot and on the ISS.)


Unlike Mike Massimino, I would never describe Kelly as the happiest man in space. Even though he talked a lot about what he liked about his work and why, a lot of the book focused on the difficulty, deprivation, and tedium that comes with spending months and months away from life on earth, often with just two other people. NASA deliberately ran that man through the wringer to see what happened, and it doesn't seem to have been an entirely enjoyable experience, either physically or psychologically. The crap this man willingly put himself through through to further the science behind space exploration is flat out heroic.


I'm making it sound like this book was a drag, and it wasn't entirely. It was on a certain level good to read a book that wasn't 100% WOW SPACE! Kelly was more willing to criticise NASA and Roscosmos when he felt like they're letting the astronauts and cosmonauts down, which was a nice change, and felt more honest. He did seem to have liked his work, (most of) his co-workers, and being in space on a general level (when the toilet and the CO2 scrubbers were both working). He also seemed to be naturally a little more of an Eeyore than either Hadfield or Massimino, I think part of that being his military background, and part of it being a general outlook on life.


I would totally recommend this if you're looking for what's going on with the space program in the past few years, but if you're looking for something more fun, and frankly better written, I'd point to Massimino or Hadfield.

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text 2018-02-27 19:21
Why Mucca's always worrying about library books
On the Shores of Darkness, There Is Light: A Novel - Cordelia Strube
Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly
Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace - Masha Gessen
The Clothesline Swing - Ahmad Danny Ramadan
Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada's First Female Infantry Officer - Sandra Perron
The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden
Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin
White Houses - Amy Bloom
The Boat People - Sharon Bala

Currently checked out:

On the Shores of Darkness, There Is Light: A Novel - Cordelia Strube  (DUE 12 March)


*Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly  (DUE 12 March)


Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace - Masha Gessen  (DUE 12 March)


*The Clothesline Swing - Ahmad Danny Ramadan  (DUE 23 March)


*Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada's First Female Infantry Officer - Sandra Perron  (DUE 23 March)


*The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden  (DUE 3 April)


On active hold:

Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin (1 of 2 in holds)

*White Houses - Amy Bloom  (6 of 8 in holds)

*The Boat People - Sharon Bala  (18 of 178 in holds)


*Newish books that likely can't be renewed.


I froze and deleted a bunch of holds, and am not ordering anything else until I get this situation down to something less panic inducing. I'm not completely sure how this happened. I think a lot of things ticked out of hold at once, causing a pile up.

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review 2018-02-22 16:22
The Forever Year (The Hearts of Men Book 1) - Lou Aronica

The Forever Year (The Hearts of Men book 1) by Lou Aronica
Have read other works by the author and have enjoyed the books.
This one starts out with Mickey Sienna and he's 83 and his wife has been gone 4 years now and he's not himself. He ends up starting a fire in the kitchen and the neighbors rescue him while calling the fire department.
The grown children learn of it and they get together and decide it's time he goes into assisted living or a nursing home.
The youngest, Jessie, single says he will take him to live with him and the others sign off on it all together. Jessie is a writer who does feature stories and he has a girl Marina who is a schoolteacher.
Love how the father opens up about Gina-his first love because he nor any of the other siblings know anything about this. He confides in Marina and she does meet Mickey and they get along great.
Love the story inside the story and especially the care Jessie gives to his father while he's alive. Tragic at the end but also eye opening to understand what the father was trying to tell his son about his own life and how he wanted him to NOT walk in the same steps he had taken.
Excerpts from the authors other works are included at the end.
Received this review copy from the author and this is my honest opinion.

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review 2018-02-19 05:15
The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later–the night before New Year's Eve–the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma. This powerful book is Didion's attempt to make sense of the "weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."





In the year 2003, Joan Didion and husband, novelist John Gregory Dunne, receive word that their daughter, Quintana, has been rushed to the ICU (on Christmas Day, no less). Quitana had been battling a severe case of pneumonia when her condition had suddenly turned septic. Just a few days later, December 30th, Dunne and Didion are settling into their dinner meal when Dunne suffers a massive, fatal coronary right at the dinner table. 


By October 2004, Joan Didion decides to start journaling some of her thoughts since experiencing all this pain and loss, this journal being the seed that would eventually become this book, The Year Of Magical Thinking. Here, Didion thinks on moments over the course of her forty year marriage to Dunne. Moments where she now, in retrospect, believes there were warning signs of the grief that was to come. As far back as 1987, she recalls, Dunne had expressed fears of premature death. By 2003, what would end up being the year of his death, Dunne had developed a long history of heart trouble, even having a pacemaker installed. Numerous times that year he had said he felt sure he was dying, but Didion admits she dismissed these moments as him just having momentary bouts of depression. 


Like most people trying to cope with the sudden loss of a loved one, Didion struggles to navigate through feelings of guilt, that sense that you could have done something more to save them. She even toys with the idea that she can still reverse the outcome of the events. But hey, don't judge. It's wild what grief can do to an otherwise seemingly sane mind. 


Didion also shares her feelings on being a mother having to witness her child suffering in illness and feeling helpless to fix it. While Didion's passages regarding her husband read strangely distanced in tone to me, it was these moments where she talks on Quintana that touched me much more. How awful that must have been for her to witness her daughter pull through brutal pneumonia and septic shock only to improve a bit before suffering a hematoma, pretty much putting the poor girl's health struggle back at square one! 


This book didn't land quite as perfectly for me as it did for a lot of other readers. That could be, in part at least, to the fact that I often don't do well with books -- either fiction or non -- that are written in a stream of consciousness style. As I mentioned earlier with some of the passages that speak on Didion's husband, the writing, at times, had a distanced feel to me. I acknowledge that grief can often bring on a certain sense of numbness and detachment from the world, but from time to time, this just read a little too arm's length to me, alternately reminding me of either a police report snapshot of events or perhaps a college paper being written on the theme of melancholy. 


But that's not to say I got nothing from this book. There were definitely passages that resonated with me, maybe moreso in that I read this the same year I lost my mother. That said, I am a little confused as to where the "magical thinking" comes in? Well written, no doubt, but it struck me as just a general sort of grief memoir rather than the life-changing work so many have touted it to be. 







* Author Joan Didion has worked as a writer for both VOGUE and LIFE magazines


* There are a few spoilers for other books to be aware of in this book: namely her husband's novels DUTCH SHEA, JR. and NOTHING LOST, but also the play ALCESTIS and the film ROBIN & MARIAN starring Audrey Hepburn and Sean Connery.

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