Showing posts with label peter bronski. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peter bronski. Show all posts

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Review: At the Mercy of the Mountains by Peter Bronski

Title: At the Mercy of the Mountains: True Stories of Survival and Tragedy in New York's Adirondacks
Author: Peter Bronski
Publisher: Lyons Press
Publication Date: February 26, 2008
Source: personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads

In the tradition of  Eiger Dreams, In the Zone: Epic Survival Stories from the Mountaineering World,  and  Not Without Peril,  comes a new book that examines the thrills and perils of outdoor adventure in the “East’s greatest wilderness,” the Adirondacks.

My Review:

Fun fact: before I was a mom, I climbed MOUNTAINS!
At the summit of Algonquin Peak (second highest in the Adirondacks), September 2006
Yes indeed.  I grew up in Connecticut, which does not have much mountainous terrain to speak of, but after college I moved to New York, and my now-husband introduced me to hiking.  I quickly grew to love it, and before long, the two of us had our sights set on becoming Adirondack 46ers--people who have climbed all 46 of the Adirondack mountains higher than 4,000 feet.  Currently, I am only a 15er (having kids slowed us quite a bit--not my idea of a good time to bring a baby and a preschooler up a trail-less peak), but the other 31 will most definitely be reached one day.

It's easy to fall in love with the Adirondacks.  The landscape is gorgeous--there is nothing like getting to a summit and being treated to a view like this:
View from Cascade Mountain, 2005
It's peaceful.  The air smells cleaner.  It is a true escape from the distractions of every day life.  Not to mention the feeling of accomplishment when you are standing on top of a FRIGGIN' MOUNTAIN.

However, despite my many forays into the Adirondack wilderness, I admit that as a beginning hiker, I took my safety and preparedness for granted.  My husband and I only ever hiked on clear, beautiful summer/fall days, with little risk of a sudden storm...and never in the winter.  (You can also become a Winter 46er if you hike them all in that season!)  My husband always had a ton of what I thought of as "extra" gear with him...water filter, camp stove, head lamp, etc.  Meanwhile, I had water, snacks, my hiking poles, maybe some extra clothes, and that was it.  What else could we possibly need?

Bronski's At the Mercy of the Mountains convinced me that, not only was I extremely naive, but we need ALL THE THINGS the next time we hike.  He has compiled some of the most notorious and dramatic search-and-rescue stories from the Adirondacks, dating from the earliest hikers to the present.  Avalanches, freak snowstorms, and flash floods, while not daily occurrences, are a part of the reality of the Adirondacks.  When you add in an ill-prepared hiker/skiier/canoeist, without extra provisions or proper backcountry navigation skills, disaster could easily strike.

I enjoyed Bronski's collection of misadventures because he does not present them in a fearmongering or alarmist way.  In fact, that would go quite counter to his motives--Bronski loves the Adirondacks himself, and hopes that others will share in that admiration.  But loving the wilderness also means understanding and respecting it.  He brings forth these unfortunate stories to help other outdoorsmen/women gain an understanding of how to proceed into the woods with the right equipment and know-how.  Plus, the book highlights the hard work of Adirondack forest rangers and search-and-rescue volunteers, which is fascinating in itself.

Any reader interested in true-life outdoor adventure stories (Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer comes to mind) will dig this book, though it will, admittedly, appeal the most to lovers of the Adirondacks specifically.  ADK hikers will recognize many of the peaks and landmarks that are described, which adds a nice sense of familiarity while reading.  However, Bronski does a great job illustrating the setting, so readers who have never visited the Adirondacks will also get a lot of enjoyment out of the experience.

So, who wants to buy me a new hiking pack for Christmas?

Any other outdoor enthusiasts out there?  Do you have any backcountry mishaps to share?  Go ahead, don't be shy...maybe we can learn from you, too! :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

It's Monday, peeps!

So what are you reading?

This weekend was another busy one around these parts, as we did a day trip on Saturday to visit the in-laws, and then yesterday was full of errands...although I did get to use a little tax return money to start my summer vacation shopping.  YES!  T-minus 3 months until a fantastical week of beach time.  Must load up the Kindle too...

In other news, Small Fry has started to refer to our cars as the "beep-beeps".  WHICH IS SO ADORABLE.  Love that kid.  He does something new every day.

Anyway, what am I reading?

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Sage Singer befriends an old man who's particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone's favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret - he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage's grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.

What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who's committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren't the party who was wronged? And most of all - if Sage even considers his request - is it murder, or justice?  (Goodreads link)

The newest Picoult release that I picked up at her kickoff event last month.  I AM HOOKED.  The story is complex and mysterious and dramatic and full of awesome.  I'll admit, when I saw she was tackling the Holocaust, I was a little skeptical...there are SO many fiction novels that take on that topic, I wasn't sure how she was going to approach it from an original angle.  But those concerns quickly went out the window.  I hope the ending gives a big pay-off to match the rest of the novel.  Review coming later this week!

How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

Huw Morgan, about to leave home forever, reminisces about the golden days of his youth, when South Wales still prospered and coal dust had not yet blackened the valley. Llewellyn's characters fight, love, laugh, and cry, creating an indelible portrait of a people.  (Goodreads link)

As I mentioned last week, I decided to use this as my book for Wales in the Around The World In 12 Books Challenge.   I just started it this weekend...not bad so far.  A slower pace than the Picoult book for sure, but I'm impressed with the breadth of characters and how quickly I'm coming to be attached to Huw.  This is a long one though, so we'll see how I fare!

Also, I'm still listening to the audiobook of The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht.  It continues to be fantastic.  Can't wait to review soon!

What's on tap next?
Probably At the Mercy of the Mountains by Peter Bronski (for this month's Keyword Challenge), and/or Evil Water by Inger Wolf--I have a review copy and it sounds pretty thrilling.  Have you read either of these two?  Any recommendations?

Have a great reading week!

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's Monday, and here's what I'm reading...

Happy Monday, readers!  This weekend was a little nutty, as Small Fry was sick (Friday/Saturday), I had to work (Saturday), and the husband and I went to a wedding (Sunday).  I need a weekend from my weekend!

Because of all the crazy, I didn't get a ton of reading in...but here's what I'm reading now:

I'll Take What She Has by Samantha Wilde

Nora and Annie have been best friends since kindergarten. Nora, a shy English teacher at a quaint New England boarding school, longs to have a baby. Annie, an outspoken stay-at-home mother of two, longs for one day of peace and quiet (not to mention more money and some free time). Despite their very different lives, nothing can come between them—until Cynthia Cypress arrives on campus.
Cynthia has it all: brains, beauty, impeccable style, and a gorgeous husband (who happens to be Nora’s ex). When Cynthia eagerly befriends Nora, Annie’s oldest friendship is tested. Now, each woman must wrestle the green-eyed demon of envy and, in the process, confront imperfect, mixed-up family histories they don’t want to repeat .  Amid the hilarious and harried straits of friendship, marriage, and parenthood, the women may discover that the greenest grass is right beneath their feet. (Goodreads link)

MOMMY FICTION!!  Oh mah gah, if there is a subgenre of women's fiction that I love most, it is certainly mommy fiction.  I'm about 2/3 done with this one, and it's both funny and poignant.  Can't wait to share my review with you later this week.

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
(Did you know if you Google "tiger's wife" in images...this is not what comes up.)
In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel. (Goodreads link)

This is my current audiobook.  It came highly recommended, and so far I am most definitely intrigued. I still have 6.5 discs to go, but I am loving the writing style (lyrical and almost ethereal at times).  Having much better luck with this than the last few audios I've tried...

What's on tap next?
Probably either How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (for the Around The World In 12 Books Challenge--Wales!) or At the Mercy of the Mountains by Peter Bronski (for this month's Keyword Challenge).  Have you read either of these two?  Any recommendations?

Have a great reading week!
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