Posted by: Kelly | October 7, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian

The Martian – by Andy Weir


“Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”


“I’m pretty much fucked.” *


(Page 98)  “Three sols later, Lewis Valley opened into a wide plain.  So, again, I was left without references and relied on Phobos to guide me. There’s probably symbolism there.  Phobos is the god of fear, and I’m letting it be my guide.  Not a good sign.”


I can safely say this takes the spot as my favorite book of the year so far.  What a thrilling, exciting, believable story!  Okay…maybe if I had more science knowledge I might find more flaws with it, but for me it was a rollicking good time.  Gripping from the get-go, things amped up even more once the story reached the point where those on Earth knew about the situation.

While I enjoy some sci-fi, it’s not my usual genre of choice.  If you don’t read much science fiction (or any at all), don’t let that stop you from considering this book.  Sure, it’s set in the future, it’s “science-y”, and the majority of it takes place on another planet, but at its core it’s just a tale of survival, perseverance, ingenuity, and ultimately the goodness of mankind to rally around those in need.

I loved the writing and especially the wry, dark sense of humor of the main character.  In fact, there were many “memorable moments” I could have chosen from, but didn’t want to create any spoilers.  And for the same reason, I won’t comment any further on the plot.  If I had to pick one negative thing to say about the book, it might be that it ended just a little more abruptly than I would have liked it to.

As a bonus, the softcover edition I read included a map of Mars (accurate, I believe) showing the areas from the story, a reader’s guide, and some material regarding the author.  In addition, I looked up the actors from the just released movie version so I could picture them while reading – a film I’ll definitely have to see!

This is my last selection for the R.I.P. Challenge.

*  Apologies to anyone bothered by the profanity.  Go back and read the synopsis for the book, then take into account the opening line is right when the lead character realizes he’s been left behind.  I’m not sure any of us can predict what words might escape our lips.

Posted by: Kelly | October 5, 2015

Ponderings #23

This is a pondering that may bore my male readers unless they have daughters or sisters… or long hair of their own!

I saw something the other day that had me pondering the different ways we refer to different hairstyles.   I don’t know if it’s a regional thing, cultural, or what.   I’m going to describe a hairstyle and tell you what I call it.  Then I want you to leave a comment letting me know if you call it the same thing or something different.  Silly, I know… but I’m really curious.

  1. Hair pulled back by one elastic band = “a ponytail”
  2. Hair pulled back in one braid = “a plait” or “a braid”
  3. Hair parted down the back and held by two bands = “dog ears”
  4. Hair parted down the back and put in two braids = “pig tails”

On a different note… I had long hair as a little girl (often wearing a ponytail).  Beginning in college, I alternately wore it either shoulder length or short, keeping in mind my mother always told me a woman reaches an age where she shouldn’t have long hair anymore.  Two years ago my hairdresser died unexpectedly, at a time I was in a super short phase.  I’ve not had a haircut since then (gasp!) and it’s now longer than it’s been since I was in high school.  Mother is probably rolling in her grave!

Posted by: Kelly | October 2, 2015

Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life


Still Life – by Louise Penny


“A picturesque village just north of the U.S. border. A place where neighbors greet each other, where visitors feel right at home, and where the truth hides behind closed doors…

Enter the world of Three Pines-and discover why Louise Penny is the blockbuster #1 New York Times bestselling author who has enthralled millions of readers.

Jane Neal-well-loved in her community-does not appear to be a woman anyone would want to harm, let alone murder. But when she turns up dead, with an arrow wound to her chest, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache can’t help but think that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless hunter. Now it’s up to Gamache to find a killer who’s on the loose. . .and on his trail.

When it comes to murder, you have to see the forest for the trees.”


“Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday.”


(Page  89)  “Crime was deeply human, Gamache knew.  The cause and the effect.  And the only way he knew to catch a criminal was to connect with the human beings involved.  Chatting in a café was the most pleasant, and disarming, way to do it.”


A fun change of pace as our book club selection for the October meeting.  In many ways, this murder mystery reminds me of another series I love:  the Commissario Brunetti novels by Donna Leon.  Both are well written, highly descriptive, and have an endearing lead character.  And while this is the first I’ve read by Louise Penny, it had the ability to “push some buttons” for me as Leon’s books often do.  If anything, I’ve learned that I can still enjoy an author’s books, even if I think that person might irk or irritate me in real life.  (the same goes for actors and musicians)  This particular novel made clear the author’s opinion of hunting (or killing animals in general, including mice) and, while I rarely ever hunt anymore, I don’t oppose the practice for a number of reasons.  But that’s a (controversial?) topic for anther time.

The setting for this series is a small, fictional town in southern Quebec…a part of the world I know nothing about.  Much in the same manner as the characters in the Leon books discriminate against southern Italians and eastern Europeans, this novel made frequent comments about the French vs. English worlds that coexist in the area.  Prejudice is everywhere and comes in many forms and fashions! (though to follow the news in general, you might think it was only black vs. white)

By the time I turned the final page, I was hooked and knew I would have to read the rest of her books.  Fortunately there are only about a dozen more and I’ve already put the second on my wish list.  While many of this genre have a bumbling or unlikable superior officer (as in Leon’s novels or the Jury series by Martha Grimes), this book gave us “Agent Nichols”, a young woman who was new to the force and on her first case.  She’s a totally irritating character I hoped would disappear after this installment, but I learned at our meeting she does play a part in a few of the subsequent books.

Since the murder weapon in this story was an arrow, I took my compound bow and some arrows (with target tips and hunting tips) for “show & tell”.  We also had the usual fantastic spread of food and fun conversation and discussion.  Can I say it again?  I love my book club!

Not only was this a selection for our book club, it counts towards my R.I.P. Challenge.







Posted by: Kelly | September 30, 2015

Random September Photos





Posted by: Kelly | September 28, 2015

In a stew

With the exception of chilled soups, like gazpacho, many folks think stew and soup are wintertime food.  Personally, I enjoy a good soup or stew any time of the year.  Now that the temperatures are cooling down (for some of you… we’re still pretty warm), I’ll share some I’ve run across in my new WFPBD adventure.  I could easily see adding chicken to the first two for those who want it, or better yet, some pork stew meat to the second.

This first one is a White Bean & Cabbage Stew and can be prepared in a crockpot as easily as on the stovetop.  I’ve always made it in the slow-cooker.

White bean & cabbage stew

The second is a Moroccan Bean Stew with Sweet Potatoes.  I was lacking a couple of the spices the first time I made it and it still tasted wonderful.

Morrocan Bean Stew

It didn’t take long to make this Red Lentil Dal thanks to soaking the lentils for about an hour before cooking.

Red Lentil Dal

I have no doubt these dishes will become regulars in my repertoire of recipes.

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