Sunday, August 11, 2019

After the Flood by Kassandra Montag

Myra is a young mother searching for her daughter in a dystopian future.  A six -year flood has resulted in her home in Nebraska being flooded out.  Pregnant Myra, her young daughter Row, and her husband, Jacob planned to sail away on a boat that her grandfather is building in the attic of their flooded home.  Then one day, Jacob leaves on a motorboat with young Row without Myra.  Myra and her grandfather set sail with Myra giving birth to her daughter Pearl along the way.  Life reverts to basic survival and Myra has one goal in mind, to find Row.  Seven years later with her grandfather dead, Myra finally gets a glimmer of hope that Row is yet alive.  Will Myra put Pearl’s life at stake in order to find Row?

I read After the Flood as a “book set in the future” for my summer library reading challenge.  I am a fan of dystopian novels and movies.  After the Flood is told in the first person from Myra’s point of view.  Myra is a strong character and a great heroine for this novel.  I loved her perseverance and her ability to cope with trying situations.  What I loved the most about her was her fierce motherly love and her imperfections.  She doubted herself and had her trying moments, but overall, she did what she thought was best.  It had great moments of action as well.  I would love to see this as a movie.

I am a water resources engineer so I did have some problems with some of the explanation of the flooding.  Climate change will cause our coastal areas to end up under water, but the earth will not crack open and spew out water to flood the entire planet.  These were phrased as rumors that Myra had heard so I was able to forgive it and move on.  I had to not think about it too much.

Favorite Quotes:

“Children think we make them, but we don’t.  They exist somewhere else, before us, before time.  They come into the world and make us.  They make us by breaking us first.”

“I don’t know how to talk to Pearl about what lay beneath us. Farms that fed the nation.  Small houses built on quiet residential streets for the post-World War II baby boom.  Moments of history between walls.  The whole story of how we moved through time, marking the earth with our needs.”

“I know I sound idealistic.  But you have to risk idealism to have hope.”

“Maybe we all were born with trust and then lost it.  Maybe we all had to find it again before we left.”

Overall, After the Flood is an intriguing dystopian novel interwoven with the story of a mother’s love.  I greatly enjoyed it.

Book Source:  Advance Reader’s Edition for Review from William Morrow.  Thank-you!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Martian by Andy Weir

Mark Watney is part of the Ares 3 crew on Mars when a dust storm causes havoc with their mission.  With the winds threatening to blow over their ride back, the crew evacuates the planet.  Unfortunately, Mark is blown away and injured in the attempt.  His crew leaves him thinking he is dead.  Mark awakens to discover himself injured and alone on Mars.  He doesn’t have enough food to last until the next manned mission to Mars and he has no way to communicate with NASA.  Can he survive?

 I loved this book.  It’s real science, science fiction.  I love that Mark had a great sense of humor and would work through all of his problems.  He may despair, but then he would do the math and work on how to solve the problem.  As things kept going wrong and Mark worked to survive, it made a great adventure story.  The story also showed NASA and the crew’s point of view as well.  Mark does like to swear a lot - you have been warned if you are not a fan of profanity.

 As an engineer and a fan of science fiction, I really really enjoyed this novel. I liked that Andy Weir had a section in the back to talk about how he put the novel together basically because of his obsession with space and going to mars.  He worked through what could go wrong and realized it could be a great novel.  I love that he actually put together a software program for the projection of the ship.   His details made the novel a step above pretty much all other sci fi I read.

I read The Martian as a “book set in space” for my summer library reading challenge, but I had it on my nightstand “to read” pile after The Martian placed last year’s PBS Great American Read.  I would love to read more novels like this one.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  I have read Artemis by Andy Weir.  It was good, but not excellent as The Martian is.   The version I read had a reader’s guide and book club questions in it.  I need to fit this into one of my book clubs!

I watched the movie this past weekend with my family.  The kids were warned there would be swearing and a scary part at the beginning (ages 8 to 13).  They were entranced by the movie and really into Mark Watney’s journey.  My 13-year old son Kile is obsessed with NASA and the new mission to Mars that is being worked on.  He really enjoyed the movie and I am going to pass the book on to him.

Favorite Quotes:

 “But there’s a difference between knowing it and really experiencing it.”

“I mostly ignore them.  I don’t want to come off as arrogant here, but I’m the best botanist on this planet.”  - This made me laugh out loud!

“Love of science is universal across all cultures.”

“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.”

Overall, The Martian is an excellent adventure novel with a great sense of humor.  I loved how it is actual “science” science fiction and all of the geeky details. A fast-paced survival story, The Martian is the best true science fiction that I’ve read in years.  Are there any other books out there that truly go through the science the way that The Martian does?

Book Source:  I think I bought this book for my husband for a present years ago and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it.

Stuart Little by E.B. White

Title: Stuart Little
Author: E.B. White
Read by:  Julie Harris
Publisher: Listening Library
Length: Approximately 1 hour and 57 minutes
Source: The Kewaunee Public Library.  Thank-you!

Stuart Little is a small mouse that is born to a human family (don’t think about it too much) in New York City.  He lives in his family with his parents, normal size human brother George, and their cat Snowbell.  Stuart’s parents use dollhouse items and craft other items for Stuart to have a somewhat normal life.  Stuart has a lot of adventures that could only happen to a small mouse with human characteristics.

One day he befriends Margalo, a beautiful bird.  She lives with them and rescues Stuart when he is accidentally thrown away with the trash.  As an environmental engineer, I really liked this part.  The kids were horrified that back in the “old days” New York would put their trash on a barge and dump it into the ocean.  Stuart is sure it is the end for him until his friend Margalo appears.

Stuart has other adventures such as winning a sailboat race in central part, and finding a car that he uses to drive around.  The story ends when Stuart is searching for Margalo.  He also finds a girl his size who is a human and not a mouse.  Why was Stuart born a mouse?  I still wonder.

The entire family enjoyed this story, although we were all surprised by the very abrupt ending.  I had to Google it after it ended to make sure we hadn’t missed a CD or something as it didn’t seem at all like the story had ended.

Julie Harris was a perfect audiobook narrator who brought life to the story and gave voice to the different characters.  We all enjoyed listening to her.

We listened to this audiobook as a part of our local library’s Family Reading Challenge this summer.  We ended up being lucky winners for the challenge and won four tickets to the Packer Family Night last weekend.  Unfortunately, we are a family of five and the tickets were for four so Ben and the boys had a “guys night” out with their friend Zach while Penelope and I watched a movie.

Overall, Stuart Little is a great adventure tale and a wonderful audiobook to listen to as a family.  Be forewarned that it has an abrupt ending.  I would rate this third out of E.B. White’s books with Charlotte’s Web number one and The Trumpet of the Swan at number two.