Saturday, November 27, 2010

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

"We must see all scars as beauty.  A scar doesn't form on the dying.  A scar means, I survived."
~Little Bee

The back of the book reads:

We don't want to tell you what happens in this book.
It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it.
Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this:
This is the story of two women.  Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face.  Two years later, they meed again - and the story starts there...
Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it.  When you do, please don't tell them what happens.  The magic is in how the story unfolds.

So....What do you say about that?
I admit that I didn't like the book when I started it.  But my sister-in-law was adamant that I read the book because she loved it.  I would have put the book down if she wouldn't have been so insistent and the fact that I can't not finish a book once I've started it.  My ONE fatal flaw I suppose...

But then I absolutely needed to know how the story was going to end.  And I read 2/3 of the book in one day.

So.  Should you read it?  YES.  Will you like it? Maybe.  It will leave you thinking for sure.  Last night I would have told you no, I didn't like it.  But after sleeping on it, I think I'm changing my mind.

So what's the story?  It's the story of a person who throws one washed up starfish back into the ocean.  Does that make a difference in the world?  It does to THAT starfish.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

I'm thinking about trying to catch a deer with my bare hands.


You don't think I can do it?

You really should have more faith in me than that. 

I just finished reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.  It really and truly has got me thinking about trying to out run a deer.  Do you think it was really possible back in the hunter and gatherer days?   If a deer can't sweat and run at the same time...and it would get overheated in just over 6 miles.....

I can totally run 6 miles...

Okay.  Maybe I will work on my strategy a little bit more first.  But it's got me thinking.  Just like I've been thinking lately that if I could be any fictional character ever I'd be Ayla from the Earth's Children Series.  I'd like to rock the tone, gorgeous, hunter/gatherer body AND know all she knows about medicinal herbs.

But that's another story.  And this story is about Born to Run.  Born to Run is a mix of history about the Taruamara running tribes, good running advice, and stories about some of the more famous ultra runners from the US.

Before reading this book I didn't really know anything about ultra running.  I guess I thought you run marathons and that's it.  I ended up changing my bookmark half way through to a piece of paper just so I could jot down things I wanted to google later.  Like Jenn Shelton.  If I can't be Ayla in another life then I would like to be just like Jenn Shelton someday.
Anyone who is any kind of recreational runner would enjoy this book I think.  The following is my favorite part.  Which will someday find it's way onto an index card and be thumb tacked to the wall in front of my treadmill right next to the list of the 1996 Churchill County Cross Country race times.  That Katrina Flanders....she was fast.  And I aim to catch her someday.

Caballo's Lesson #2: Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast.

You start with easy, because if that's all you get, that's not so bad.
Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don't give a shit how high the hill is or how far you've got to go.
When you've practiced that so long you forget you're practicing, you work on making it smooth.  You won't have to worry about the last one - you get those three, and you'll be fast.

Monday, November 22, 2010

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is a trilogy consisting of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.  They have been on my TO READ list for a while now, but I kept putting them off.   I had heard they were chalk full of controversy and on the Church's banned book list.  I'm not sure why I cared about it being on the boycott list by the Church, they don't approve of Harry Potter either and I didn't care.  I really kind of feel like a book is a book is a book and at the end of the day I have to be responsible for my own beliefs where ever I acquired them. And besides, I'm not the kind of person who believes something just because some one told me to.

As I was reading I made a mental list of all the possible reasons the books would have been on the do not read list.  Here's what I came up with:

Fallen Angels
An Angel who poses as the authority (God)
a plot to kill God
Alternate, Parallel Universes to ours
Talking animals
Portraying the institution as corrupt and inherently evil
Passages to other worlds in the air
Souls existing outside people as daemons
Original sin appearing as dust that gathers around people

Maybe if you are good at the whole drawing implied references out of fiction you would have taken more offense to the storyline.  But I think I already established that English wasn't my strongest subject.  The story at face value was really good.  Good as in I liked it like I liked Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia or the Percy Jackson books.

What I learned from wikipedia is that the trilogy was written to be somewhat a retelling and an inversion of John Milton's Paradise Lost.  (crickets chirping)  Which means I guess maybe I should add that to my TO READ list as well now.

In the Golden Compass, we meet Lyra and discover what the Authority has plans to do by way of severing children from their deamons.  Severing this bond releases a large amount of energy that can be used to open up doors into other worlds.  Lyra also finds the golden compass (the elithiometer) and learns how to read it.  It is a truth telling device that will answer any question you ask of it if you know how to use it properly.  We also learn that there is a prophecy about Lyra.  That she is meant to do something great but she must not know about it ahead of time.

Its not until the Subtle Knife that we learn that there are a large number of parallel universes to ours and it is possible to use the Subtle Knife to cut a door from any world into another.  The Subtle Knife is a continuation of Lyra's mission and the book where we are introduced to Will.  He will also have a significant role in Lyra carrying out the prophecy.

In the final book we learn what exactly the prophecy about Lyra is and see it be fulfilled.

My Favorite Characters:
Lorek Byrnison  is an armoured bear.  He has been tricked out of his rightful role as king of the bears and Lyra helps him to regain it.  Afterward, he is instrumental in Lyra fulfilling the prophecy.

Lee Scoresby is an aeronaut from Texas.  I loved him because he is good hearted deep down but extremely blunt (as in has no people skills), if it doesn't directly help him out then he's not for it.  He loves Lyra like a daughter and would protect her with his life.  There is also something about strong-willed Texans.  I liked Lee Scoresby just as much as I liked Richard from Texas in Eat, Pray, Love.

Serafina Pekkala is a witch that is all at once old and young, and extremely knowledgeable.  I saw her as a mother figure to Lyra.  Serafina in the beginning is the only one who knows the prophecy about Lyra.

Marisa Coulter, turns out to be Lyra's mother.  She wishes to destroy Dust and thus Original Sin.  Mrs. Coulter seems to switch sides regularly and the whole time I was left wondering if she was truly good or evil at the core.  

Now, I am off to find Paradise Lost at the library.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Friday Night Knitting Club

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

Is knitting making a comeback in the younger generations??  Some would argue yes.  There are two or three of the 20-30 age range who go to the library knitting meetings regularly.

The Friday Night Knitting Club offers a glimpse into the everyday life of single parent, Georgia Walker, and her daughter Dokota.  Georgia runs a knitting shop in New York City.  What started as a costumer here and there staying late after shop hours to discuss knitting projects or life in general evolved into a weekly gathering of a handful of funny, caring, you-are-gonna-love women who come to depend on each other for more than knitting and purling advice.

I really liked the novel.  Even if you aren't a knitter if you like Chick Lit I predict you will enjoy The Friday Night Knitting Club.  One word of advice though:  It has a interesting twist very late in the story, so don't go reading the back of the sequel (like I did) before you are done with the first.  I was sad I ruined the ending for myself.

What I learned to make at my very own Saturday-Afternoon-Knitting-Club...

Monday, November 15, 2010


Umm...did anyone else just realize it's the middle of November already.

How did that happen???

It's been busy over here at the homestead.  Let's see, since I posted last, Halloween happened, an unfortunate dog-tried-to-eat-one-of-the-chickens incident happened, voting happened, a baby shower happened, 15 jars of jalapeno jelly and 12 jars of stewed tomatoes happened, another baby shower happened.

Here are some of the highlights:

Me and Andrea at the Halloween party

A Butterfly and The Cowboy

Baby showers are for girls...and sometimes cowboys

Hopefully the next few weeks will slow down and there will be a lot of fires in the fireplace, movies on the TV, and sweet things in the oven.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

You CAN teach and old dog new tricks

So I'm reading this book right now (I'm sure you're going to hear about it at some point), it's titled Born to Run.  It's is speckled with tales about some of the greatest ultra-runners in the world.

(SIDEBAR: Ultra-runners make marathoners look like beginners)

It's got the wheels spinning in my head right now.

This year has mostly been made up of 3, 4, or 5 mile treks around the neighborhood.  But last week my running buddy asked if I wanted to try 8.

Ummm....sure.  I think.

We started off and she kept pace with me to keep me motivated.  A few miles in, Trina stops me and says "Let me show you a different form".

No arms at 90 degree angles, no long strides, no heel-to-toe strike.  It felt strange at first.  But then I noticed my heart rate was lower, my breathing was slower, and a smile had crept back onto my face.

At the end of 8 miles I felt amazing and could have turned around and run the route again.

I've been running with the same form I learned in 7th grade up until now.  I never knew what I was missing!

Now, if someone could just teach my dog that chickens are friends not food, THAT would be awesome!!


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