Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy feet and lala legs

Feet, Don't Fail Me Now: The Rogue's Guide to Running the Marathon
by Ben K

Funny-ish and full of useful information. If I could only sustain the speed of my younger days, I'd try his training schedules. But, I fear, I'd be disappointed really quickly.

He structures the book around four races that you're going to do--a 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon. In a year. Sounds silly, no? But it's been done--and he's going to tell you how.

So each chapter starts off with a few weeks of training schedules--how many days to run, how much time to run and walk, how to balance the times spent running and walking. Later in the book he has to switch from time to distance as distance becomes more critical.  Then each chapter goes off on a topic of interest.  They're widely divergent but always important.  There is talk of what to eat, of working your core, of Kenyan runners, of networking with other runners, and of motivation--always, motivation.  At the end of each chapter is a list of inspiring music for the run, and often, interviews with the artists who recommended it. Some are runners--Willie Nelson, really?--but many are not. Fun stuff.

The reason I can't try his schedules is that when he says, "Run for six minutes," all I can muster is a fast jog.  He even says "jog" from time to time, but I honestly think he's expecting people to start off doing eight-minute miles.  The only way I could effectively use his schedules is to substitute my 'jog' for his 'walk' and then run like heck when he says to. But maybe I could...and maybe I will. Since I'm not yearning to run the marathon in a year, maybe I could stretch out his schedule a bit....

Wow--that right there tells you how inspiring this book is. It's actually making me want to try it out.  I guess that means, highly recommended.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Not so bad celeb memoir

Loretta Lynn
by Loretta Lynn, George Vecsey

Her voice, her true voice, shows on every page. This is her as she wanted to show herself, and she doesn't gloss over the bad times or embellish the good deeds--I don't think.  We all hide a little evildoing in our histories, so I won't insist on a biographer to come along and dig the dirt.  But she, as big and goodhearted as her 110-pound body will support, gets to tell her own story her way.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

(If you're not already a Loretta Lynn fan, you probably don't need to read this. But I enjoyed it.)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

just a little more YA to go and I'll quit with it again

What Can't Wait

Now this is a real YA realistic fiction.  It's not "the evil teacher" or "the school bully" who's preventing Marissa from realizing her dreams--it's a loving family and her own sense of responsibility. Her family is pressuring her to skimp on school (and especially calculus for her AP college credit) so she can put in extra hours at Kroger, cook dinner, or babysit for her sister.  What's the point of college anyway?  And even if she gets into the engineering program at UT, how can her mother let her go so far away?

There's boys in there too--she's a teenager, after all.  And about as stupid as a highly intelligent high school senior can be...maybe. We hope not. We'll see.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another YA but better things to come

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces
by Isabel Quintero

Remarkably long and honest tale of teenager coming of age.  Her Dad is a meth addict; her mother works too many hours and isn't exactly tactful about Gaby's food issues, but she has her instincts in place when they need to be.  Gaby learns to cope with the conflicting demands of family and school  by pouring out her soul in poetry, and I enjoyed that a lot.  Recommended, especially for a conflicted teen who wants a friend who's going through the same kind of messed up stuff she is.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Quick and forgetful

Close to famous
by Joan Bauer

Very solid YA cozy by the author of Hope Was Here.   I liked it, and in general, I like her stuff. It doesn't have that mysterious spark that makes me want to read more, but it served its purpose well--to give me light and cheer on an evening when I feel blue.

She maybe could have sneaked in a little more detail on Foster's struggles, or dug some depth into any one of the other characters.  The actress would have been an interesting character to explore.  Maybe I shut up and quit criticizing kid lit--let the people of the right age do it--but still, shouldn't I get an opinion?  There's a whole lot of it I do like.

Still, maybe I should find some grownup books to read for comfort food...but it's hard. Grownup books seem to think they have to rip your heart out, like My Year Of Meats or All The Light You Cannot See.  How to find a "light" grownup book?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The garden has returned!

The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau

Beautifully written, neither too much nor too little. This is the war story of Felix Sparks and the 45th infantry division--The Thunderbirds--during World War II and a little after.  The author included a bit of Sparks life after the war so we wouldn't be left hanging, and I really appreciated that.

From the disastrous beach landing on Sicily, to the blind hand-to-hand combat of the Vosges forest, to the liberation of Nuremberg,  Sparks was in the thick of the bloodiest battles of the whole bloody war. Near the end, he ended up at Dachau in time to stop some of his men from enraged execution of SS troops left behind when the real killers departed.  In my book that makes him a true war hero--not one who kills, but one who prevents killing.  Killing seems to be the real reason for war. We says it's for territory or control or even to enforce peace, but somehow it all comes down to killing the people who disagree with you.  There are better ways to enforce peace...if only we can seek them.

Anyway, this is one of the best histories I've ever read.  Right up there with A Bridge Too Far or some of Catton's Civil War novels.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Not for me, I'm afraid

On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, #2)
by Louise Rennison

Okay, this was a mistake for me. I refuse to say anything bad about this book because I'm way out of its target audience and therefore I don't get to have an opinion. All I can venture to say is this--I didn't think it was as funny as the first one.

If you are in the target audience--say, 10 to 14 years old--you'll probably find this hilarious and rush to get the next one.