Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Goals - New Motivation

Michelle & I were talking the other day. I know this could go anywhere right! This time we got talking about the River Bank Run. This may will be our 3rd annual RBR and we are definitely doing the 10K again. Sadly neither of us are ready to attempt anything more, but we did get reminiscing about how last year we both ran two miles straight with out walking for the first time. This inspired us to do 4 miles this year with out stopping!! So there it is, this year's goal. Also to run more than just the one race together, which should be pretty fun. Well as you can imagine I realized that if I was going to run 4 miles with out stopping I better start training....
You know how I love that. But I'm easing back into it because it's been a long time, and to be honest I'm not crazy about my knees killing me all the time. So last night was my 3rd run since my motivation has returned to me and it went pretty well. I'm proud to say that I ran 3K which is 1.8 miles with out stopping and I had a few descent splits.

Distance: 4K
Time: 25:13
Best Kilometer: 3rd; 5:54
Worst Kilometer: 1st; 6:47
Weather: 45-ish degrees, chilly & grey 
# This Wk: 1st
Song I Finished To: I Am The Doctor
Stand Out Though: Stopping at that traffic light really screwed up my calf muscles.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

You know when you carry around a book and wonder what people are thinking when they see you with it? Well with this one I didn't have to wonder. I was frequently stopped by people saying, "Oh that book is SO good!" or "My friend read that and told me to read it because it's amazing." Those that weren't familiar with it stopped me with questions on what it was about. The cover itself is enough to make one curious.

The problem with people asking me what it's about is, that's a very hard question to answer. I have found that most quality fantasy books are difficult to explain briefly and most people well versed in fantasy will understand what you mean when you say just that.

First thing of note, this is a YA book which I did not know until I went to look for it in the bookstore. The main character is Jacob, a 15yr old boy that through a series of sad & confusing events discovers he is "peculiar" and what that means. He finds a time look where Miss Peregrine is guarding a number of other peculiar children and the plot thickens! While reading what stood out to me the most was how cleverly the author wove the pictures into the plot. Some of these pictures area actually quite famous but have little explanation. The world Ransom Riggs has established is both fantastical yet believable. As the reader you want to believe that these time loops exist within our own world. For me the only draw back to this book was that I did not feel invested in the characters. I found how he took the people from the picture & made them characters interesting but I did not really care what happened to them. At times that made it hard for me to finish, and I am not sure that I will read the other books in the series but I am really grateful that I read this one. I would also probably recommend it to someone that enjoys YA books but is apprehensive about reading fantasy. I feel like the realistic connection to the real world makes it more relate-able for those that have difficulty following when an author builds a world from scratch.

3 Quick Book Reviews

I am pretty far behind on my book reviews so you're going to get several brief reviews of the last few months of books that I have read.

Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night by Shakespeare is one of those books that's been on my list for a long time. I really enjoy seeing & reading Shakespeare, and this is one of my favorites but sadly this is the first time I've actually read it. I was pleased that I enjoyed reading it just as much as I have enjoyed seeing it performed & adaptations of it. Twelfth Night is of course the comedy where Viola is confused for her twin brother Sebastian & he for her. I actually found some of the awkward comedy in this play to be funnier in written form because it doesn't rely on an actors ability and your own imagination can fill in the gaps. Conversely having seen it prior to reading it I was anticipating the identity reveals of Viola & Sebastian which made me wish that I had read this one first. I found that on the page those reveals lacked some of the "umf" given to them by the actors & directors working on the show. For me at least, knowing ahead of time threw off the pacing. Scenes dragged leading up to it and then the reveal itself wasn't as satisfying. I am confident I would not have felt that way if I did not already know what was coming.

Sword of Summer

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan follows a similar formula to his other books where in teenage children find out that they are parented by various deities. This is book one of a new series that deals with the Norse Gods, and when I was younger the Norse Gods were always high on my list of favorites. Yes I was that weird kid that read mythology books, so Riordan has made the child inside me quite happy!
Reading his books as an adult I find it is very important to remember that the target audience is approximately 10 years old. That being said they are entertaining adventure books. Very easy to get lost in. This one lived up to my expectations & excitement about the Norse. All the usual suspects are there including fan favorites Thore & Loki ;). Magnus is a good hero, very likable & easy to root for. I found his imagery of Valhalla to be unexpected and very fun. There is also an unexpected connection to his Olympians books which I thought was fun and hope is foreshadowing of future stories. The plot was fairly predictable but as I said earlier I am not the target audience here. When I finished I was definitely looking forward to reading the next one.

How the Irish Saved Civilization

Anyone that follows my Goodreads account and not just my reviews here will know that I read about 1 nonfiction book a year. This was the one I started in January! Woot for finishing! It's dry, but it's designed to be informational like a text book rather than sensational like a novel. Regardless I found parts of it so funny that I laughed out loud.
I have been interested in Irish history for some time and the title of this book was the thing that caught my attention. The premise is that Ireland did not suffer the "Dark Ages" like the rest of Europe and was there for able to preserve writing, art & other cultural practices that were lost. I found his take on religion in Ireland as well as notable Irish figures (St. Patrick for one) to be very interested and broader than what one normally hears in a history/religion lecture. A very interesting read for those that are interested in the topic.