23 September 2016

Book Reviews: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks and an Emmanuelle de Maupassant Short Story

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Here are my reviews as they appear on Goodreads.

BirdsongBirdsong by Sebastian Faulks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was swept up in this book from the moment I started it. I didn’t know that much about it but a trusted source recommended it. I jumped in with both feet and got lost in it. It’s sensual and romantic, then heartbreakingly depressing as the story moves from a love affair in a French town to the battlefields of World War I. The writing pulls you along and you struggle with the hero every step of the way.

Stephen Wraysford is the hero but he’s a bit of an anti-hero. He’s young and passionate. He’s weird and quiet. He loses his passion throughout the war but works hard to do his job, and job that would be difficult for most people to fathom performing unless they were there themselves. The author writes with such emotion and leads you to believe that he really was there on the battlefields and in the trenches. The dramatic tension is amped up by anyone who knows World War I history. The reader who knows which battles are coming up will be struck with a particular horror, knowing the ending before the characters do.

I had a problem with the end of the book that keeps me from giving it five stars. And I really wanted to give it five stars. Not the ending itself; I’m satisfied with how the plot tied itself up. But the last couple of paragraphs. The point-of-view changed to a character that I don’t feel deserved it.

For me, this was a summer read for lazy afternoons in the hot sun, but it’s definitely worth reading anytime. Love, war, and history, it will appeal to many.

Because BeardsBecause Beards by Kacey Shea
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of Emmanuelle de Maupassant's story in this anthology. Ms. de Maupassant story, "Highland Pursuits," is delightful. She injects so much personality into her characters and settings and I love her combination of erotica with playful humor. I love reading how much her characters enjoy each others' company. And the story, of course, has some very steamy, satisfying moments.

I fully plan to buy the book and read the entire anthology when it comes out because it features some of my favorite erotica authors.

View all my reviews

19 September 2016

Nineteen Miles

Today I ran nineteen miles. (I ran and am writing this on Sunday, but posting it Monday. I'm too tired to think into the future and change the tenses to match when this will be published and read.) It's my longest run to date. It was a lot harder than my seventeen-mile run two weeks ago. When I left early in the morning I was thinking a full marathon will be difficult but I can definitely get it done. By the time I hit mile eighteen I began to question that. I couldn't tell if I was hitting the wall or if I was simply hungry or thirsty. I cursed myself for choosing a route that had an uphill for miles fifteen through seventeen. When I checked my stats later, though, mile fifteen was one of my fastest; I don't know what came over me. I have a twenty-mile run in two weeks. I guess I'll see what happens when I keep ploughing on for one more mile.

The Marine Corps monument (pictured), also known as the Iwo Jima monument, is eleven and a half miles from our house. This is the second long run that I've passed it. It's the finish line for the marathon. It's an inspiration. I like stopping for a moment when I get to it to have my snack and contemplate what others have done and why I'm out doing this.

I've mentioned before that I'm raising money for Soldier On, an organization that provides services for homeless veterans. I need your help, guys. I'm six weeks out from my marathon and I'm going to start annoying everyone to donate. Click here to do so. Thinking about helping this great organization has been helping me through the tough miles. Thank you so much for helping me.

16 September 2016

Back-to-School Edition

Ahem.

We moved to the Washington, D.C., area. We are still surrounded by boxes but the place looks a little more put together every day as each box goes out. Mike started his job. Muffin has started school. I've started two volunteer jobs and a part-time job.

I'm still marathon training, slowly but surely. I have to run nineteen miles this weekend, my longest run ever. I ran seventeen miles two weeks ago and I have no reason to believe I can't complete a marathon in, what, seven weeks? Six weeks? I'm measuring my time by days between long runs right now. Nineteen miles, ten miles, twenty miles, ten miles, etc., for the next few weekends. It looks like the heat has broken, so that's something. There were many miserable miles run this summer by me and others and I'm ready for some cooler weather. You can still contribute to my fundraising for Soldier On, if you'd like. Click here.

Muffin has been in public school in Virginia for all of two weeks and we are dealing with a kind of culture shock. I feel like we have to be on top of everything to keep politics, gender stereotypes, and helicopter parenting at bay. I feel like we are definitely the weird parents with the weird kid because I don't care that Muffin pokes around in the dirt at the bus stop (other parents don't let their kids play before school) but I'm concerned about political parties handing out leaflets on school grounds. (I posted about my encounter with that on Facebook -- in the near future I'll modify it for posting here.)

I've got an idea for NaNoWriMo this year, too. I'm researching and planning right now. More to come on that later, as the event grows closer. It starts two days after my marathon. I'm a sucker for long, slow, arduous tasks, apparently.

And that's about it for now. How are you doing?

Chapter Six: The Shoemaker: A Tale of Two Cities with Women

For background on the project and to see all the chapters at once, go to the tag A Tale of Two Cities Project . Chapter Six: The Shoemak...