Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oink: My Life with Mini-Pigs by Matt Whyman

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Paris Hilton carries one around like a Chihuahua, while Posh and Becks own a pair. The minipig, for reasons unknown, has become the latest celebrity accessory, but what's it really like to invite little livestock into the living room?Matt Whyman, a successful novelist, enjoys a quiet writer's life in the English countryside . . . until his career wife, Emma, discovers the existence of a pig said to fit inside a handbag. She believes not one but two would be a perfect addition to the already diverse Whyman clan, which includes one wolf-like dog, a freaked-out feline, and their wild bunch of ex-battery chickens, as well as four challenging children. In reality, nobody could anticipate the trials and misadventures two riotous, raucous little piglets could bring. From turning Whyman's office into a literal pigsty and stealing his spot on the family sofa to trashing his neighbour's garden while drunk on fermented apples, Butch and Roxi swiftly establish themselves as "animals of mass distraction."Funny, touching and endlessly entertaining, Oink charts the battle of hearts, snouts, and minds between a family man and two minipigs. Will Butch and Roxi ever settle down, or could their growing presence put the squeeze on Whyman in ways he never thought possible?

My thoughts:
Every time I looked through the available memoirs on the library audio book catalogue this one intrigued me  I enjoyed reading about Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World and Puppy Dairies: Raising a Dog Named Scout, so why not mini-pigs?  I did not find his book quite as engrossing as the others, but somehow I just couldn't stop listening, so I guess I like it more than I thought!

Whyman is a work at home author.  He and his wife have four children, a dog, a cat and some chickens, but his wife has fallen in love with the idea of mini-pigs and they end up owning a pair.  Whyman gets a home all read for them outside only to find that his family intends to have he pigs live in he house. The pigs make tons of noise whenever he gets a phone call, use the area behind the TV as their potty, chew up buttons on he remote and wires and steal Whyman's seat on the couch.  While the pigs, who eventually get a home outside, cause quite a few headaches, it turns out that they complete the family.  I can't see ever wanting to own them myself, but I am sure their cuteness has gotten the quite a few owners.  I was surprised about how many embarrassing events the author was willing to document in his book.  I think anyone contemplating owning a new pet should read an account of what ownership was like for someone else.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451618280
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 9/20/2011
  • Pages: 336

Meet the Author

Matt Whyman is the critically acclaimed author of three novels for adults and young adults, including the acclaimed critics’ choice Boy Kills Man. He lives in West Sussex, England. Visit him at MattWhyman.blogspot.com.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

I didn't get too many books read this week, although I did manage to look through and read a lot of magazines!  My finished books are all audio books.

Finished this week:
Oink!  My Life with Mini-Pigs by Matt Wyhman
Safe Haven by Nicolas Sparks
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers

Still reading:
Her Amish Man  by Emily Bates
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
Marathon by Hal Higdon
My Extraordinary Ordinary Life by Sissy Spacak
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a Runner Needs to Know--And Then Some by Mark Remy and the Editors of Runner's World

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Every sport has rules. Running is no exception. If you’re curious, just visit the Web site of USA Track & Field, the sport’s governing body, where you’ll find detailed dictates on everything from disqualification to bib-number placement to the caliber of the starter’s pistol.
But what about the everyday rules of running? The unspoken ones that pertain to the lingo, behavior, and etiquette that every seasoned runner seems to know and every newbie needs to learn? Veteran runner Mark Remy and the editors of Runner’s World magazine provide answers to these very questions and many more in The Runner’s Rule Book.
Inside you’ll find:
Rule 1.18
Farmer’s Blow \ fär-m?rz blo \ n: a process by which one clears a nostril of mucus by pinching shut the opposing nostril and exhaling forcefully
[syn: Snot Rocket]
Rule 2.32
Because being outkicked by Elmo is too much to bear.
Rule 3.1
They aren’t sneakers, or tennis shoes, or kicks, or trainers (sorry, Brits). They are running shoes. So call them that.
…and many, many more. With 100+ rules that cover the basics of running, racing, track etiquette, and apparel and gear, including hilarious running commentary on running culture, The Runner’s Rule Book will be the reference guide you’ll turn to again and again for answers to your burning running questions.

My thoughts:
I picked this up because I was curious about what the rules might be, have I been inadvertently breaking any rules because I didn't know they existed?  I live very close to the Rodale Institute where the editors at Runner's World work so when they talked about different routes they take I can picture some of the streets and such.  So how am I doing and what rules do I break?  I do sometimes throw my running clothes in the dryer, not the sports bras, but the pants and shirts.  I guess I am making them not last as long, but in doing laundry for six people, two of whom run, I don't always remember to pull things out before they go through the dryer.  I've never broken this one, but I don't know that I wouldn't, apparently you should not wear the t-shirt for a race in the actual race, it should only be worn afterwards.  I understand not wearing a shirt for a race you've never done, but if you are doing the race right then I wouldn't see a problem with wearing the shirt and often see many people doing so.  I've never run in Philadelphia, but where I run isn't that far away and I have never heard the Rocky theme song at any race I have done including the St. Luke's Half Marathon in Allentown in April which had a band at every mile marker.  This was a nice, fast read, which elicited some smiles and a couple of laughs, pointed out some common sense like not running three runners abreast on a road for safety and courtesy.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605295800
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Pages: 176

Meet the Author

Mark Remy lives, runs, and writes in eastern Pennsylvania, where he is the executive editor of RunnersWorld.com. He has run 15 marathons, including 5 Bostons, with a personal best time of 2:46. (Note: He ran that 2:46 in 1999; see Rule 1.51, page 54.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Saturday Snapshot- Fish Hatchery

While my older two were at camp last week I took my younger two to a local fish hatchery to feed the fish.

When you throw in handfuls of fish food the fish all rush at once and splash around with their tails.

The fish are trout that will be released into local streams and lakes for fishing.  They range in size from small babies to very large older fish.

All the fish are now covered by nets are there have been problems with Blue Heron coming and eating the fish right from the hatchery.  Sometimes you can see them in the trees or along the edges, but we didn't see any today.

Because they are easier to see, my kids like to look for the yellow fish rather than the darker colored one and try to throw the food to just those fish.  Not that it works as once the food is in the water any fish might eat it.

One of our last stops is always the wishing well to make a wish or two until the next time we come to visit.

Wicked Business (Lizzy and Diesel Series #2) by Janet Evanovich

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Janet Evanovich, mega-bestselling author of the beloved Stephanie Plum series, is back and better than ever. Her novels, hailed by GQ as “among the great joys of contemporary crime fiction,” deliver rollicking adventure with crackling wit and hilarious mayhem. And, now, one of the hottest writers today returns with dynamic duo Lizzy and Diesel to prove that when hunting down bad guys, the real fun is in the chase.

When Harvard University English professor and dyed-in-the-wool romantic Gilbert Reedy is mysteriously murdered and thrown off his fourth-floor balcony, Lizzy and Diesel take up his twenty-year quest for the Luxuria Stone, an ancient relic believed by some to be infused with the power of lust. Following clues contained in a cryptic nineteenth-century book of sonnets, Lizzy and Diesel tear through Boston catacombs, government buildings, and multimillion-dollar residences, leaving a trail of robbed graves, public disturbances, and spontaneous seduction.

Janet Evanovich does it again and gives us another exciting un-put-down-able read that is striking a chord with readers everywhere!

My thoughts:
This is the second book for Lizzy and Diesel.  Prior to this Diesel made an appears in four between the numbers books in the Stephanie Plum series.  I love the setting in Massachusetts and Lizzy's job at a bakery.  The idea of being around all those good smells every day sounds so enticing!  Diesel has some special abilities, among them the ability to unlock things magically and Lizzy is able to feel items imbued with magic.  Diesel's cousin Wulf is working against them with his minion Hatchett who has the same power.  There are seven stones that need to be found and they are on the case of the Luxuira stone that either imbues love or lust.  Carl the monkey is busy tagging along and making a mess with his food.

Lizzy's friends, Glo who thinks she may be a witch and has been playing around with an old spell book she brought with which she thinks she has enchanted a broom, and Clara, the bakery owner who once had special powers passed down by her ancestors but which she lost form her support network.  I liked the mystery and the clues they had to unlock to find their way to the stone, it reminded me of a much less tense DaVinci Code, with words appearing only to those who believe in love or those who are truly innocent.  Finding shadows and numbers and old quotes.  Lizzy and Diesel are unable to act on their attraction for each other because if they do one of them may lose his or her powers, so there is sexual tension between them and Lizzy seems to be a bit attracted to Wulf as well, although they would have the same power problem between them.

It was weird not having a Stephanie Plum book come out but this one.  I know the release dates were just flip flopped, but June is usually Plum time.  I wonder how many beach goers out there are missing their usual dose of their favorite bounty hunter or if this one was satisfying enough for them.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345527776
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/19/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 330
  • Series:Lizzy and Diesel Series , #2

Meet the Author

Janet  Evanovich
Wicked Business
Wicked Business

Thursday, July 26, 2012

V for Vengeance (Kinsey Millhone Series #22) by Sue Grafton

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

A spiderweb of dangerous relationships lies at the heart of V is for Vengeance, Sue Grafton's daring new Kinsey Millhone novel.
A woman with a murky past who kills herself-or was it murder? A spoiled kid awash in gambling debt who thinks he can beat the system. A lovely woman whose life is about to splinter into a thousand fragments. A professional shoplifting ring working for the Mob, racking up millions from stolen goods. A wandering husband, rich and ruthless. A dirty cop so entrenched on the force he is immune to exposure. A sinister gangster, conscienceless and brutal. A lonely widower mourning the death of his lover, desperate for answers, which may be worse than the pain of his loss. A private detective, Kinsey Millhone, whose thirty-eighth-birthday gift is a punch in the face that leaves her with two black eyes and a busted nose.
And an elegant and powerful businessman whose dealings are definitely outside the law: the magus at the center of the web.
V: Victim. Violence. Vengeance.

My thoughts:
It has been years since I read a Kinsey Milhone book.  It reminds me of the first audio books I listened to fifteen years ago.  I used to borrow books on cassette tape from the public library and listen to them when I went to visit my husband on weekends while he was still in college and I had graduated and was working as a substitute teacher.  I started with Kinsey Milhone and the first few books of Stephen King's The Green Mile.  Think how far audio books have come from then with Cd's or downloadable audio files.

I am pretty sure I missed some books in the series, but I don't think it makes all that much of a difference in being able to enjoy and follow the story.  If you need to know something from a past book it is referred to so even if you had not read the book it wouldn't matter.  The story focuses on four different people and at first it is not evident how they all fit together, though you know they all will at some point.  Eventually they are all together until you get to the last one who I had forgotten about and had thought was just tied to all of it due to the mob connections until his involvement became more clear. 

Kinsey witnesses a pair of women shoplifting in a department store and then later is hired by the fiancee of the woman arrested to find out why she would kill herself after being released.  During the course of her investigation Kinsey manages to become at odds with the man who hired her, stumble into some mob dealings and into an operation in place by the local police department.  As usual she is threatened by one or more people and finds herself in harms way. 

This was a fast moving story and I found myself listening past when I might have stopped because I got caught up in the suspense of it.  Perfect summer reading or listening!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399157868
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/14/2011
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 526
  • Series:Kinsey Millhone Series , #22

Meet the Author

Sue  Grafton
New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton is published in 28 countries and 26 languages—including Estonian, Bulgarian, and Indonesian. Books in her alphabet series, begun in 1982, are international bestsellers with readership in the millions. And like Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Robert Parker, and John D. MacDonald—the best of her breed—Sue Grafton has earned new respect for the mystery form. Her readers appreciate her buoyant style, her eye for detail, her deft hand with character, her acute social observances, and her abundant storytelling talents.
Sue divides her time between Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky, where she was born and raised. She has three children and two grandchildren. Grafton has been married to Steve Humphrey for more than twenty years. She loves cats, gardens, and good cuisine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.
My thoughts:
The Rave movie theater by us does free movies for kids during the summer for a ten week period.  This year one of the free movies is Inkheart.  When I saw the audio book at the library I decided it would fit well with our regular "rule" that you need to read a book before seeing the movie.  This was a rather long audio book and took us a few weeks to listen to in the car.  I saw the movie years ago and have to say that I think they must have made quite a few changes from the page to the screen, but maybe my memory is faulty.  It will be interesting to watch it again having read the book to see how it kept true to the author and how it was changed. 

I had no idea that the book was translated into English from German.  Sometimes translated stories can seem less descriptive to me, but this one retained its descriptiveness and does not seem to have suffered from being translated.

Vanessa Redgrave was the narrator for this book and, while I usually enjoy her acting, I did not like how she voiced some of the characters.  Lately I have been more critical of audio book readers as I have been listening to so many of them.  The reader can really make or break a book depending on how he or she reads it and the tone that is used for each character.

Meggie's father Mo can make characters and things come out of books when he reads aloud.  Nine years ago he was reading a book when three men came out of it and his wife and two cats disappeared into it.  Since then he has done his best not to read aloud.  Whenever someone or something comes out, someone or something from this world has to go into the book to take the vacated place.  Meggie thinks her mother ran away to find adventure and has been happy with Mo and their books.  She travels with him when he goes to repair old books until one day someone new shows up, Dustfinger who came out of the book Inkheart.  He wants desperately to be read back into the book and does whatever he can to make it so that Mo, or Silvertongue as he calls him, has to read the book out loud.  What follows is a story of kidnapping, mystery, suspense and intrigue.  I wondered at time if it might be too dark for my children, but they did fine with it.  We'll have to see how it holds up for them when we see the movie next month.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439709101
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 560
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Cornelia Funke
CORNELIA FUNKE is Germany's bestselling children's author after J. K. Rowling and R. L. Stine. In the fall of 2002, she made her brilliant debut in the English-language market with the release of The Thief Lord, the fantastical New York Times bestseller which Kirkus called "One spellbinding story." Ms. Funke lives in Hamburg, Germany with her family.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...
In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
Her husband is two centuries away, she is related to her lover's mortal enemy, and her neighbors think she's a witch. In this unforgettable novel of time travel, Diana Gabaldon fuses wry, modern sensibility with the drama, passion, and violence of eighteenth century as she tells the story of one daring woman and the man who loves her.

My thoughts:
I'm not sure if I like the way the book was summarized above.  I first discovered this book about ten years ago and I fell in love with it.  It has remained one of my favorites for years, but it has been quite a while since I reread it.  The way the overview it it sounds like a romance book, when it is really something else all together.  Claire and Jaime aren't just lovers, they are married.  Nothing inappropriate happens and they do not become lovers until after they make their vows before a priest.  One of my frustrations with this series has nothing really to do with the books themselves, I hate that since it doesn't fit well into one category it just gets shuttled off as being part of the romance genre.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading romances too, but that is not where I feel this book belongs.

Before I started blogging I didn't feel quite so much of the need to finish books quickly.  I know it should matter so much now, but I feel like I need to be reading and finishing books if I want to have reviews to post and I felt myself getting frustrated at how the length of this one makes it tough to be a quick read.

I love Jamie and Claire together and plan to continue to reread the series, maybe one a month until I get through them all.  I feel like she has something with Jamie that she did not have with Frank.  They have a glue and a commitment that are not so common in society now.  Also, who wouldn't love the idea of someone bigger and stronger making  a vow to protect you with his body!  Marriage vows have changed a bit since the 1700's!

What I had a tough time with this time was the part with Jamie and Black Jack Randall.  I knew it was there, but I had forgotten how long it went on for and how disturbing it was.  Even a few days later, those scenes keep haunting me.  Obviously it was well written, but I need to read something else soon that will erase it for me as that is not the part of the book I care to dwell on.

I mentioned in my It's Monday, What are you reading? post that I did not enjoy the book as much this time through and I have been trying to put my finger on why.  Part of it was the feeling that it was taking me too long, part of it was being busy and not having as much reading time as I would have liked and those things made it hard for me to really get into the story as much as I have on other readings of the book.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440212560
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1992
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 896

Meet the Author

Diana  Gabaldon
Diana Gabaldon is the New York Times bestselling author of Lord John and the Private Matter and the wildly popular Outlander novels. She won a 2006 Quill Award for her most recent Outlander novel, A Breath of Snow and Ashes.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

This week I finished a number of in progress book and four audio books.  I have to admit two were pretty close to done when I started the week and one audio book was very short.  I am still finding audio as one of the best ways to get reading in and I have a feeling it going to be that way for quite some time to come, but reading is good however it happens!

Finished this week:
Inkheart by Corneila Funke (audio)
1st to Die by James Paterson (audio)
Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich
The Bipplo Seed and other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss (audio)
Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich
V is for Vengence by Sue Grafton (audio)
The Runner's Rule Book by Mark Remy

Still reading:
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
Marathon by Hal Higdon

1st to Die by James Patterson (Women's Murder Club Series #1)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

1st to Die is a dazzlingly powerful new thriller by master suspense novelist, James Patterson, the #1 bestselling author of Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider.
Four women-four friends-share a determination to stop a killer who has been stalking newlyweds in San Francisco. Each one holds a piece of the puzzle: Lindsay Boxer is a homicide inspector in the San Francisco Police Department, Claire Washburn is a medical examiner, Jill Bernhardt is an assistant D.A., and Cindy Thomas just started working the crime desk of the San Francisco Chronicle.
But the usual procedures aren't bringing them any closer to stopping the killings. So these women form a Women's Murder Club to collaborate outside the box and pursue the case by sidestepping their bosses and giving one another a hand.
The four women develop intense bonds as they pursue a killer whose crimes have stunned an entire city. Working together, they track down the most terrifying and unexpected killer they have ever encountered-before a shocking conclusion in which everything they knew turns out to be devastatingly wrong. Full of the breathtaking drama and unforgettable emotions for which James Patterson is famous, 1st to Die is the start of a blazingly fast-paced and sensationally entertaining new series of crime thrillers.

My thoughts:
I had a copy of this book, but finally donated it as it didn't seem like I was ever going to get around to reading it.  Last week I listened to the audio book from the library while running and doing housework and I enjoyed it.  I liked this group of women who supported each other and were there for each other both professionally and privately.  They were all driven to succeed in their careers, but also valued their attachments to each other.

It starts with a prologue where Lindsey is considering killing herself, then jumps into the case and the events that brought her to that point.  Someone is killing couples on their wedding night or on their honeymoons and is taking their rings, nothing else is missing.  Lindsey is a detective, who taps into her friend Claire, the medical examiner, for clues to the killer.  They meet Cindy, a journalist who is in the right, or wrong pace, at the right time and then the DA joins their group.  Brainstorming together over lunch or drinks and putting the evidence together, they come up with suspects and likely candidates for the murderer.  The suspense in the book was good for keeping me going during my long run last week!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446610032
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/28/2002
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 488

Friday, July 20, 2012

Saturday Snapshot-Kutztown Folk Festival

Every year since we relocated to Pennsylvania we have gone to the Kutztown Folk Festival.  It is held at the end of June and beginning of July for a week and it is always hot!  We enjoy going to see the puppet show.

During the show animals "sneeze" on you and water gets sprayed out and bubbles come out of the ceiling of the tent.  Here they are trying to catch some of the bubbles.

There are things to try like this machine that you crank to remove corn from a cob.

Each child got a chance to turn the crank and try their hand at it.

The people who work at the festival are all friendly and helpful.

Instead of rides and games there are things like hay mazes, make your own beeswax candles (which we did the past two years but skipped this year.  The children dip their candle in a pot and then walk around a rectangle repeatedly until it is thick enough to be done), bands and dancing, sheep shearing and quilt displays and demonstrations.

This was the first time we got to see the reenactment of the last hanging of a woman for killing her child in PA.

There is also an old time laundry station where the children can turn cranks,

swirl with a plunger,

and squeeze out an item in a press before hanging them on a clothes line.

All in all we had a good, though very hot, day and tried some new foods.  This is hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books.

Run!: 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss by Dean Karnazes

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

In his follow-up to the best-selling Ultra-Marathon Man, world-renowned ultra marathoner Dean Karnazes chronicles his unbelievable exploits and explorations in gripping detail; Karnazes runs for days on end without rest, across some of the most exotic and inhospitable places on earth, including the Australian Outback, Antarctica, and the back alleys of New Jersey.
From the downright hilarious to the truly profound, the stories in Run! provide readers with the ultimate escape and offer a rare glimpse into the mindset and motivation of an extreme athlete, one who has, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Not only pushed the envelope but blasted it to bits.”
Karnazes addresses pain and perseverance, and he also charts the emotional as he pushes to the edges of human achievement. The tales of the friendships he’s cultivated on his many adventures around the world warm the heart, and are sure to captivate and inspire readers whether they run great distances, modest distances, or not at all.
The hardcover edition was met with the enthusiastic support of Karnazes’s devoted fan base, and word-of-mouth excitement as well as media coverage from LIVE! with Regis and Kelly brought the book to the attention of scores of new readers. Karnazes’s colorful tales of his extreme running adventures are as entertaining as they are innately human, giving the book potential as a perennial paperback favorite.

My thoughts:
Until recently I don't know how aware I was of ultrarunning, I knew about marathons but I am not sure I was aware people ran even longer races.  Reading about the dedication and training runners go through to run races of 50 miles or more I wonder if I have that in me, but I am suspecting I do not.  I've seen Dean's picture in running magazines, espcially for Road ID ads, but I didn't know about him specifically until I picked this book up at the library.

I liked how Dean tells of not only his successes, but also of his failures to complete races and times he ended up in need of medical care due to some of these races, specifically Badwater which happens during the summer in Death Valley.  Dean had to attempt his one more than once to finish it.  To me this shows that even the best trained athletes are not infallible and that a setback or disappointment is just that, you don;t have to quit a sport or an endeavor just because it didn't work out the first time.

One of the feats Dean attempts is to break the Guinness Book World Record for miles run on a treadmill in a 48 hour period.  He did this for the Live!  With Regis and Kelly show and was on air or online for the 48 hour attempt with a representative nearby to authenticate his performance.  The record holder is a non athlete who goes around breaking records from the book.  After reading about his training and the times he has won the coveted Silver Belt Buckle for completing endurance events in under 24 hours I doubt that the record holder was truthful in the number they submitted.

An analogy that stuck with me is that we are all in cages with the doors open, it is our fear that keeps us from attempting our dreams.  The only thing holding us back is ourselves!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605292793
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Pages: 272

Meet the Author

Dean Karnazes was named by Time magazine as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World. A New York Times bestselling author, he has written for Runner’s World and Men’s Health. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Running on Empty: An Ultramarathoner's Story of Love, Loss, and a Record-Setting Run Across America by Marshall Ulrich

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

A fascinating glimpse into the mind of an ultramarathon runner and the inspirational saga of his run across America.
The ultimate endurance athlete, Marshall Ulrich has run more than one hundred foot races averaging over one hundred miles each, completed twelve expedition-length adventure races, and ascended the seven summits— including Mount Everest. Yet his run from California to New York—the equivalent of running two marathons and a 10k every day for nearly two months straight—proved to be his most challenging effort yet. In Running on Empty he shares the gritty backstory of his run and the excruciating punishments he endured on the road. Ulrich also reaches back nearly thirty years to when the death of his first wife drove him to run from his pain.
Ulrich’s memoir imbues an incredible read with a universal message for athletes and nonathletes alike: face the toughest challenges, overcome debilitating setbacks, and find deep fulfillment in something greater than achievement.

My thoughts:
I cannot see myself ever becoming someone who runs ultramarthons, I am a still feeling intimidated by the marathon I have coming up in October.  My longest run to date is 18 miles, but it is so interesting to find out what runners are thinking about and what drives them to go such long distances.  After reading about this cross country journey I am unsure how he managed to stick with it through it with injury and pain and the stress of running 40 to 70 miles a day!

Marshall started running when his first wife and first love was diagnosed with cancer as a way to bring down his blood pressure since the doctor thought the rise in levels was stress related.  He discovered he enjoyed it and was good at it, so he kept going for longer distances until he ended up doing ultramarathons.  His running and the time he spent training and racing affected his relationships with subsequent wives and his three children.  Marriage two and three ended in divorce.  His current wife Heather came along to support him in his run across the country.  His children came out a different points of the route to lend their support as well, but for the most part he was alone running  for the majority of each day.

Once Marshall started his journey there was an illustration of a runner on the bottom of each page and 53 dots representing each of the days.  The chapter headings told you what days he was on at that point and the runner moved in correspondence to which days were on the page, making its way from left to right as the book progressed.  I loved that idea!  Elevation was also noted and the line for the journey went up and down according to his general elevation for that day.

Marshall did something very few of us would even consider, and even less actually complete, and decided to share in his own words what the journey was like and what it meant to him.  There were highs and lows and a friendship that disintegrated, but it also sounds like he had a lot of time to work through issues from his life and was able to come out at a better place mentally than where he started.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583334904
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

Marshall Ulrich
Marshall Ulrich is an extreme-endurance athlete, ultrarunner, mountaineer, and adventure racer. His career has earned him wins, records, and firsts on some of the toughest courses in the world and has taken him to the top of the highest mountains. He lives in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Naked by David Sedaris

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

In Naked, David Sedaris's message alternately rendered in Fakespeare, Italian, Spanish, and pidgin Greek is the same: pay attention to me.
Whether he's taking to the road with a thieving quadriplegic, sorting out the fancy from the extra-fancy in a bleak fruit-packing factory, or celebrating Christmas in the company of a recently paroled prostitute, this collection of memoirs creates a wickedly incisive portrait of an all-too-familiar world. It takes Sedaris from his humiliating bout with obsessive behavior in A Plague of Tics to the title story, where he is finally forced to face his naked self in the mirrored sunglasses of a lunatic. At this soulful and moving moment, he picks potato chip crumbs from his pubic hair and wonders what it all means.
This remarkable journey into his own life follows a path of self-effacement and a lifelong search for identity, leaving him both under suspicion and overdressed.

My thoughts:
I enjoyed this one much more than Sedaris's earlier two books.  It was a lot more like Me Talk Pretty One Day than Barrel Fever.  My audio book all ran together, since as soon as one book ended the next one started, so I kind of lost track of which segments went with which book.  I did find the part about going to a nudist colony for a brief time funny and entertaining.  A man goes to the restroom and comes back with a ring on his butt and white paper left behind.  A woman is able to sit in the sauna naked but has a hard time using the correct anatomic terms for private body parts and he finds people tend to stay around the colony to avoid having to get dressed to go somewhere else.  Having Sedaris and his sister Amy doing the reading lent it an edge it might not have had with a different narrator.  I had somewhat sworn him off after my first reading, seven years ago, of Me Talk Pretty One Day.  I felt it was an uneven book, with the the second half being markedly better than the first, but now I am interested in seeing what some of his more recent books are like.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316777735
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
  • Publication date: 6/1/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Home Front by Kristin Hannah (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

In her bestselling novels Kristin Hannah has plumbed the depths of friendship, the loyalty of sisters, and the secrets mothers keep. Now, in her most emotionally powerful story yet, she explores the intimate landscape of a troubled marriage with this provocative and timely portrait of a husband and wife, in love and at war.

All marriages have a breaking point. All families have wounds. All wars have a cost. . . .
Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life---children, careers, bills, chores---even as their twelve-year marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm’s way and leaves defense attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a solider she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have foreseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own---for everything that matters to his family.

At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family, Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honor, and ultimately, hope.

My thoughts:
This is the first Kristin Hannah book I have read.  I've seen ads in magazines and read reviews on blogs and in print, but somehow have never picked up one of her books before.  This is the book I listened to last week on my iPod and I enjoyed it.  Many times when we think about soldiers going off to war, what comes to mind is the picture of a male soldier, but that is not always the case.  Jolene and Michael have come to a point in their marriage where they are not really connecting with each other anymore.  Michael has been having trouble dealing with his father's death and has been burying himself in his work and blaming Jolene for his own dissatisfaction with life.  Jolene has been trying hard to stay positive after a very unhappy childhood of her own.  Then she gets the news that she is being deployed to Iraq.  As a helicopter pilot in the Army Reserves she knew this was a possibility, but having to leave her children behind is something that tears her apart.  At a time when she could use all the support she can get, she does not feel that she has it from her husband and put on a front about how things aren't that bad.

Hannah did a very thorough job with her research for this book.  At the end of the audio book was an interview between the narrator and the author and she states how she was surprised by how little she really knew about what being deployed was like, what being a military family is like and how much so many of us do not know about the men and women that risk their lives to defend the country.  A big part of this book for me was seeing how Jolene's deployment affected not just her, but her children and her husband.  How her second family in the guard stepped up when she needed them and the lack of understanding of how being deployed affects solider mentally even after they come home.  As a backdrop to Jolene and her family, Michael is defending a soldier who came back from Iraq and sought help from the VA, but didn't get it and ended up in jail for killing his wife.  Working with this soldier and the psychiatrist who works with him on the case opens his eyes to what his wife is not telling him about her deployment.

People weather all sorts of ups and down in life and in marriages, in relationships and on their own, but what makes us who we are is the relationships we have with ourselves, our families, our friends and our community, with the community being as large or as small as you make it.  How are we treating soldiers who come back from overseas, are they being offered the help they need to transition back into their lives here, is the government doing all it can for these people and do the rest of us even notice the scarifies they are making?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312577209
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2012
  • Pages: 400

Meet the Author

Kristin Hannah
Kristin Hannah is the New York Times bestselling author of novels including Night Road, Firefly Lane, True Colors and Winter Garden. She was born in Southern California and moved to Western Washington when she was eight. A former lawyer, Hannah started writing when she was pregnant and on bed rest for five months. Writing soon became an obsession, and she has been at it ever since. She is the mother of one son and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

Well, I have run out of scheduled posts.  I still have books to review, but I was managing to get myself ahead each week so I had some wiggle room for days I got busy.  Hopefully I will get some time to catch up on some more reviews soon.

Finished this week:
Home Front by Kristin Hannah (audio)
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (reread)

Still reading:
Inkheart by Corneila Funke
1st to Die by James Paterson
Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich

Surprisingly, my reread of Outlander took me much longer than I thought it would.  I know it is a dense novel, with small print, but I just didn't enjoy it quite as much this time through.  I am not sure exactly how many times I've read it since discovering it ten years ago, but this was my least enjoyable time.  I still like the story, but I don't think I was in the right mood for it.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

A recent transplant to Paris, humorist David Sedaris, bestselling author of "Naked", presents a collection of his strongest work yet, including the title story about his hilarious attempt to learn French. A number one national bestseller now in paperback.

Table of Contents

One Go Carolina.....3
Giant Dreams, Midget Abilities.....16
Genetic Engineering.....32
Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist.....39
You Can't Kill the Rooster.....60
The Youth in Asia.....69
The Learning Curve.....83
Big Boy.....97
The Great Leap Forward.....100
Today's Special.....120
City of Angels.....125
A Shiner Like a Diamond.....132
See You Again Yesterday.....153
Me Talk Pretty One Day.....166
Jesus Shaves.....174
The Tapeworm Is In.....181
Make That a Double.....187
Remembering My Childhood on the Continent of Africa..... 192
The City of Light in the Dark.....205
I Pledge Allegiance to the Bag.....211
Picka Pocketoni.....219
I Almost Saw This Girl Get Killed.....228
Smart Guy.....239
The Late Show.....248
I'll Eat What He's Wearing.....265

My thoughts:
I read this book six or seven years ago for a book club.  I put it off until a couple days before we were meeting and had to read it all at once with a deadline looming.  My thoughts at the time were that I hated the first half and thought the second half was really funny.  I wondered how it would have been if I hadn't felt the rush to finish it before meeting to discuss it.  This book was part of the audio set I borrowed from the library last week and I enjoyed it much more this time.  I feel like Sedaris's books got better as he got older.  I didn't enjoy the first two in the set as much, but this one and Naked had me laughing out loud to parts.  I especially liked how he portrayed learning another language and how his French class was going.  Making fun of how he and his classmates were messing up sentence structures and verbs, how he would buy two of things at the market because when you have more than one of something you didn't need to know if the item was male or female.  How he and classmates tried to describe to a student who did not celebrate Easter what the holiday was about.  The giant bell that leaves treats or the bunny who leaves chocolate and Jesus who was dead who was then not dead and with someones father.  This one was so much more enjoyable than the first two! 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316776967
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
  • Publication date: 6/5/2001
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288

Friday, July 13, 2012

Saturday Snapshot- Old Fashioned 4th of July

We've lived here for seven years and every year I heard people talking about going to the Duck Race, but I wasn't sure what that meant.  Last year at the weekly Farmer's Market I bought a ticket.  The ticket has the number of your duck on it and also gets you a hot dog and soda or drink after the race over at the pool at the park.  Quite a few ducks are winners.  The first three get the big prizes, but in all I think 40 of the 600 ducks get some sort of prize, many just the $5 back that you paid for the ticket.

This year we had two ducks, number 236 and 275.  We were excited because the first duck to go by had a bow tie like 275 and had a three digit number ending in 75.  It ended up being duck 175, but it built a good deal of anticipation that we might be the big winner!

Everyone gathers by the creek to watch the ducks float by.  Many get stuck in the rocks or by the banks, but no one is supposed to touch them or the water to keep things fair.

The sun made it hard to get a good picture, but the little yellow dots are the ducks as they went by us.

It takes longer than you might think for 600 ducks to make their way down the creek!

Also part of the day is a small walking parade, old fashioned games like sack races and free water ice.

There were no winners for the games, it was just fun.  We did not win the duck race this year.  Last year we got our $5 back which we turned around and used to buy more hot dogs and drinks at the pool.  It is nice to see how much fun kids and adults can have without employing any special technology!

This is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (audio) by Douglas Adams

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

How shall we begin?
This is the story of a book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy—not an Earth book, never published on Earth and, until the terrible catastrophe occurred, never seen or even heard of by any Earthman. Nevertheless, a wholly remarkable book.
This is the story of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a number-one best seller in England, a weekly radio series with millions of fanatic listeners, and soon to be a television spectacle on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
This is the story of Arthur Dent, who, seconds before Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, is plucked off the planet by his friend, Ford Prefect, who has been posing as an out-of-work actor for the last fifteen years but is really a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Together they begin a journey through the galaxy aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with the words don’t panic written on the front. (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”)
In their travels they meet:
•Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch President of the Galaxy
•Trillian—Zaphod’s girl friend, formerly Tricia McMillan, whom Arthur once tried to pick up at a cocktail party
•Marvin—a paranoid android, a brilliant but chronically depressed robot
•Veet Voojagig—former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years
To find the answers to these burning questions: Why are we born? Why do we die? And why do we spend so much time in between wearing digital watches? read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But remember . . . don’t panic, and don’t forget to bring a towel.
The story of a British earthling plucked from his planet, and his subsequent adventures elsewhere in the universe.

My thoughts:
Years ago I saw this movie and I have heard the book talked about a lot, but until a week or so ago, I had never actually read the book.  I listened to this audio book while running and cleaning, my current way to make sure I get some reading time in.  Our library does not have the other books in the series so I will have to see if I feel strongly enough about this one to read more, right now I am fine with just having read the one.

I do not have strong feelings about this book one way or the other. I didn't dislike it or love it.  It was entertaining but I got frustrated with it at times and maybe that is the point.  So much of what we do each day we do because we think we have to and so many things require copious paperwork, but why do we do it?  Just like Arthur Dent trying to save his house from being demolished for a road that is no longer even necessary, we are busy spending time on all the wrong things and missing out on really living. 

I do want to see the movie again and I am sure eventually I will read more books in the series.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345391803
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1995
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 216

Meet the Author

Douglas Adams is the author of five books in the Hitchhiker's Trilogy including The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe and Everything; So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish; and Mostly Harmless.