Bite-Sized Book Reviews: GULP and PICNIC IN PROVENCE

BooksKristina PinoComment

Gulp by Mary Roach

Gulp is an exploration of the journey foods make, starting with sniffing and tasting and on through eventual dumpage. Some of it is pretty gross! But it's all very fascinating and Roach approaches all these topics with her usual wit and impressive thoroughness. Of course, she also goes into cultural taboos: how they affect scientific research and even the way we eat. I don't recommend snacking while reading this book, but I do recommend snatching it up if you're in the mood for some real science-based investigations, warts and all. If you've never read any Roach previously, though, I highly recommend getting started with Packing For Mars, which is all about space exploration and astronauts.

Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard

In this memoir, Bard talks about her life in France with her husband, their decision to move to the countryside, her pregnancy (and the subsequent birth of their son), and all their other experiences leading up to their eventual decision to open an ice cream shop. Her descriptions of the village life, the way the French rear children and approach food, and how she reconciled her American, Jewish identity with her life in France through traditions old and new are all major themes in this memoir. She also includes excellent recipes in between chapters, many of which I intend to make for myself or for family and friends. I enjoyed the way she approached her stories with humor, and now I'm looking forward to reading her other book, Lunch in Paris, which was published four years before Picnic.

Friday Things: 11/22 - Wizarding Tourism, DIY Sorcerer Mickey Ears, and Some Science

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Another Saturday Edition~ well, it's better than Monday. Tomorrow, Sunday, there's a potato festival at my village, so I'll probably be updating Instagram and/or Twitter with pictures and stuff.]

On Disney (and theirs):

New Cinderella Trailer!

Neat little tutorial on making your own sorcerer Mickey ears.

I am Groot in 15 different languages is glorious.

Finally, here's a look at some more Inside Out teasers. Yes - plural.

On Science:

If you're interested in some tidbits about brains and stuff, read about languages that are "lost" in infancy.

Women's and men's bodies are affected by space flight in different ways - here's a look at that.

On Movies:

Do you like secrets and/or Princess Bride? This list is for you.

New Peanuts Trailer!

Stuff I Wrote:

At Book Riot: Wizarding Tourism: Harry Potter Experiences Around the World.

At PANELS: Comics Fetish: Volume 8 (weekly dose of awesome comics merch)

I vlogged! Here's what I'm reading this week.


Wonderful: An Open Letter to Men Who Still Don't Understand Street Harassment.

A pal of mine wrote this article about late night food spots in Miami - I've only been to one of those spots, myself, so I'm looking forward to trying the rest.

[have a great weekend! Monday is a public holiday, so lunch posts will resume Tuesday!]

Friday Things: 06/16 - design-a-baby

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[Another Monday edition... ahh!]

On Books:

Very cute dragon hair clip accessories for the Daenerys in your life.

First Second previews yet another upcoming graphic novel I'm dying to read, In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang.

Game of Thrones Dragon Sculptures

Lovely little dragon sculptures available from ThinkGeek (click through the image for the listing)

On Disney:

Nice little image gallery of fab Disney-themed wedding cakes.

Nick Pitera's one-man tribute to Aladdin (the Broadway musical) is fantastic. Must-watch if you're a fan of Aladdin at all!)

Shameless Self-Promotion (stuff I wrote/published here and there):

11 Author Quotations to Help Reluctant Readers Find Their Way (on BookRiot)

How to be Awesome at a Convention (on Quirk Books)

(snack video) Mr. Croissant Donut in Japan (on Japanator)


Awesome lunch bag drawings by a cool dad.

" infant delivered last week in California is believed to be the first healthy human born in the USA 'with his entire genetic makeup deciphered in advance.'" (say whaaaa?)

[See ya next time!]

Audiobook Review: THE MARTIAN

BooksKristina PinoComment
"Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.
It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission 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 get 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. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"
Listen to a bestseller for $7.49 at!

This book had been on my radar since around when it was released in February of this year because it had some great buzz going for it. Then the audiobook edition was nominated for an Audie Award and I just had to listen to the whole thing after I heard the sample.

R.C. Bray was a perfect choice as the narrator. The overall tone of Watney's log entries can get pretty sarcastic despite the desperate circumstances, and Bray conveyed that tone brilliantly. He also demonstrated some fantastic range, really bringing out the drama in Watney's story as it came up, and distinguishing the voices of the side characters well.

The events in this story are strung together with humor and wit - I never thought I'd be laughing so often in moments of suspense - and I think that getting Watney's perspective in the form of log entries (like books that read like diaries) made it even more suspenseful. Of course, the log entries alternate with Earth-based narrative, which only really served to increase the level of suspense even more.

The last big thing I should mention is I listened to this book after having read Commander Chris Hadfield's

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth (discussed in Book Club). Having learned about life outside Earth and the science involved as a result of my experiences reading his book, watching his videos, and all that good stuff, I feel that I appreciated the credibility of this book more than I would have otherwise. It's clear that the author did his research and wrote a story about things that can't happen (yet) in the context of current technology.

I can't recommend this book for kids, but I think teens and adults alike would love this, even if they aren't big science fiction readers. Granted, some younger readers may not get some references to older sitcoms mentioned in the story, but it wouldn't make a difference in their overall enjoyment. I think it's really just there to date its readers (ahh!).

If you're subscribed to Audible, check it out there (read: join by using my banner earlier in this post), or buy it in print at your preferred bookshop.

The Martian

The Martian

Buy The Martian by Andy Weir in Hardcover for the low price of 15.36.

Friday Things: 10/26 - Saturday morning Jim Cummings, milky pinups, and Earthsick jellyfish

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Whoops, looks like I completely missed last week's link dump! I wasn't feeling too productive after my trip to Disney, alas. I had a blast, by the way~

This week we had a near-tyhpoon to deal with, but it totally missed us in the end. There was also a pretty solid quake off the coast this morning, about a 6.8, and nothing serious. What was weird about it was how it lasted a long time. Earthquakes are usually just momentary rumbles, but this one went on and on and on. Very strange! But we're all good, here.

My intro is a little bit long today, and I've got plenty of links to share since I missed this last week, so you'll have to click the jump if you're viewing from the front page. If not, then look right below!]

Literary links:

Awesome literary tees for the book geek.

DarkHorse is selling Game of Thrones lunchboxes! (GoT | Iron Throne)

New web series: Geek's Guide to Dating. Very cute.

I reviewed an awesome comic published by Perfect Square (a VIZ Media imprint) titled Hello Kitty: Here We Go! It's the first in a new series of Hello Kitty comics, and the second one, Hello Kitty: Delicious! is already announced and dated.



On YouTube: 

Cool cover of Jai Ho by Peter Hollens and Alaa Wardi.

Some sweet make-up tutorials, including a bunch of Disney characters.

Mickey Mouse can talk to guests now - so cool. 

Jim Cummings delights with his voice work as Pooh Bear while reading some of Darth Vader's lines from Star Wars. Darkwing Duck makes a cameo.

I vlogged! I'm not sure how regular they'll be, but I'd like to try to at least post something on my YouTube channel once a week, so whenever I don't have a review or some concentrated topic, I'll just chat about what I'm doing or what might be happening in Japan at the time. The first vlog was a bit about the last typhoon, my hair cut, and other things. This week's vlog is about eReaders



On Photography:

Very cool photography: "Milky Pinups." Way more effective ways to get some people to drink milk than the Got Milk? mustache shots, I think.

Last week's update on my photo blog was Japan's cherry blossoms. This week's was about my visit to a cat cafe.


We're seeing now that jellyfish born in space are having an awful time back on Earth. It doesn't bode well for babies born in space.

Henry Selick is working on a live action fairy tale movie!

Awesome food art one mom makes for her daughters. I love this~



Friday Things: 09/14 - more Potter, science, and outrage

LinksKristina PinoComment

[Yeah, yeah... I know it's Saturday... so as usual, I'll make it up to ya with extra links! Bonus time-wasting clickety-clicks!]

On Disney: 

Where's My Water? 2 [Free] is out! I didn't know it was coming until it appeared in the App Store. I haven't played it yet, but I'll write something up here once I've had some time with it.

I haven't played DuckTales: Remastered yet, but though it has generally garnered praise everywhere I look, Ben Kuchera at PAR Report had less than stellar, but important things to say about it.

Jack Skellington and Sally have debut at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! Though Sally looks quite lovely, that Jack costume leaves much to be desired. I've seen way better fan-made costumes.

Disney villains - sugar skull style!

On Books and Comics:

One of the most exciting bits of news I've read in a while - J.K. Rowling is screenwriting a new spinoff series taking place in the world of Harry Potter starting with stuff from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It isn't quite what I wrote about over at Quirk re: spinoffs, but I'll take it. Heck, it might even be better than what I had envisioned. 

In news that should surprise no one: Study shows that kiddos who read for pleasure perform "significantly" better at school.

"30 Books Every Woman Should Read by 30". I have read precisely two books out of this list, though a few others here have been on my radar.

In case you've missed it, some folks spoke up about the Harley Quinn try-out page, what the intention/context was, and some non-apologies from DC Comics

"Four Unique Ways to Show Off Your Love of Books" by Jamie Can at QuirkBooks.




"Voyager Has Left the Solar System!"

Tired of boring oval- or round-shaped watermelons? Not impressed by cube-shaped ones? Well, now someone has figured out how to make them heart-shaped




I have mixed feelings about Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call. It appears awesome, the new modes seem like they'll be rad, and I like the addition of songs from a wider variety of FF games, but I don't know if a whole new game is a better idea than just adding DLC to the regular version. That and, if it isn't exported, I won't be able to play it at all since I lack a Japanese 3DS. We'll know more about it next week after folks at TGS have had a chance to get hands-on with this.

Great article on Book Riot re: Hayao Miyazaki and his courageous decision to retire.

Breaking Bad spinoff taking place before the events of Walter White's story, Better Call Saul, is a thing that's happening. I haven't gotten to the point in the series to really be acquainted with this character, but spinoffs can be cool.

Chuck Wendig re: Internet and outrage.

[Have a great rest of the weekend! I've got Monday off, so there won't be a school lunch post that day. Yay, three-day weekend!]



Friday Things: 01/11

LinksKristina PinoComment

[First link dump of the new year  - yay! Finally, right? I hope everyone had a great holiday~

If you're curious, I've been reading! I'll write soon about The Fault In Our Stars by John Green and I've got, as always, a huge pile of books that I want to read next. I'm currently reading Lemony Snicket's Unauthorized Autobiography, but I'm not sure I'll write about it!]

On Books:

Today Jo Pincushion is on the front of Quirk Books with an article titled 10 Excellent Reasons to Date a Bookworm. I must say, they are indeed excellent reasons and I feel like I do resemble all of these (if I do say so myself!). ::fans self, glamorously::

Comics Alliance talks with Reginald Hudlin about Django Unchained's adaptation into comics, and there's even mention of Kill Bill making the transition, too.

Book Riot's Peter Damien writes up an opinion post on Grumpy Old White Dudes and why they need to lay off all the folks that read the trendy books, explaining they create a hostile, bullying environment instead of a nurturing one. Really though, this applies to a lot of things and not just books. It's equally true of  comics nerds, gamers, and any group in which snooty people turn up their noses at anyone who dares to enjoy something they don't like.

Why yes, I would like a charm bracelet just like this with all the Harry Potter books as charms. Or just any books that are awesome in general. Or how about just any set of nondescript books so I could pretend they're all my favorites. (via Geek Crafts)

On Music:

David Bowie. New song. Enough said!

There's this guy, Peter Hollens, who sung Misty Mountains a Capella (The Hobbit), and then he teamed up with violinist Jun Sung Ahn and made something extra awesome. I can't keep count of how many times I've listened to this in the past few days.

On Photography:

Ronan Goldman has strange dreams every now and then. He decided that he wants to visually interpret them through photography and started this project called Surrealistic Pillow. The images are absolutely stunning. (via PetaPixel)

I'm a huge advocate of mobile photography, and it makes me happy to see a photographer spotlit for his work using just an iPhone. There's a great video here in which photographer Kevin Russ talks about his experiences traveling with just his iPhone to record the memories and how he deals with the limited dynamic range of its camera.

Now this is how you do a baby shoot. You make it fairy tale style. Wendi Riggens has loads of patience and creativity, clearly. (via Neatorama)





Thanks to SCIENCE, we now have a more concrete idea as to why our hands and feet get all pruny when we're wet.

Disney's upcoming live-action Cinderella movie isn't canned, per se, but they are seeking a new director because Mark Romanek's was too dark for them. I'm slightly disappointed to learn that, so I guess we'll see what happens from here out.

Need nerdy cocktails for your next party? Of course you do. Have 13 of them.

[I think that one's good for this week. Enjoy the time-wasting!]