Pinterest Interests: Snowshoeing

This is bit of a cheat since I found this Pin after I started snowshoeing, but it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want. Winking smile 

snowshoeing

The blog post Snowshoeing for Runners 101 is great even if you aren’t a runner. As you can see from the chart in the post, you don’t even have to go that fast to get a better workout than running. I do not run outdoors in the winter. It’s just too dangerous: ice, unplowed sidewalks, cars together are a bad combo. I will run on the treadmill but it sucks!

Snowshoeing is a great alternative. I get to spend time with my family and get in a workout. We bought our own snowshoes after borrowing from friends. They aren’t super fancy, and were around $60 a pair. We aren’t trekking up mountains so they do fine. I did invest in a good pair of boots and snow pants though.

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If you don’t have friends with snowshoes, maybe try the nearest ski hill. Our local ski hill rents snowshoes and has trails just for that activity. They also have special moonlight trail nights, which we’ve never been able to do. Mostly we just kick around our neighbourhood or drive to the nearest park for a walk. It is a lot of fun!

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Then when you get home you can make yourself a Gingerbread Kahlua Latte!

I realize it’s March now and in most places the snowshoeing season is over, but maybe it will get you thinking about it for next winter.

Week Long Bloggiesta Wrap Up!

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I didn’t get as much done as I wanted during Bloggiesta but most of the important stuff is done. I’ve marked a few Mini-Challenges for later, since I’ll have more time mid-April for blogging. I spent most of my blogging time visiting Trish’s Day in the Life participants posts (still trying to do that). Such good posts! Go check them out. I’m going to do it properly next time.

I took part in several Twitter chats, the most interesting was the one on reviews. Wow. So many people don’t write their own synopsises. Either they felt that the ones written by publishers were superior or, as one person said, thought writing one felt like plagiarism. I…don’t know what to make of that. I do write my own, though I try to keep them brief. The whole chat on reviewing was eye opening. I’m considering a change in how I do them. I have to brain storm. I’ll give a thought while I shampoo my hair.

Here’s how my to-do list fared:

  • Back up my blog.
  • Update my Review Page.
  • Write some posts. (working on it)
  • Think about what I’m going to do with the blog once my job ends soon.
  • Create some kind of blogging schedule and stick to it. (um….)
  • Clean out my email (again). *
  • Attend a Twitter party.

Added:

  • Pin backlog of reviews to Pinterest.

*I took myself off so many newsletters and mailing lists this time. Really, why do I need daily Twitter updates? And Goodreads, you too! I hope this cuts down on a lot of unnecessary emails. 


In other news, I’m listening to As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley. Flavia is in Canada and I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would.

I’m trying out contact lenses for the first time ever and it is more challenging than expected.

I finally saw Frozen and liked it quite a bit! I can see why kids are obsessed with it.

I keep forgetting Easter is next week. Argh! I need to plan our dinner and make sure the Easter Bunny will bring enough treats. I really want to try the Crab Cake recipe from The Mystery Writers Cookbook on Friday.

That’s it for now. Back to working on my future blog posts.

A Day In the Life of Chrisbookarama

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When Trish announced her idea of Day in the Life for bloggers, I was intrigued but cautious. Does anyone want to read about my daily schedule? Get up, go to work, come home, talk/argue with my kid, go to gym, eat, and sleep. Repeat. Then I read about this interesting photography project by Jason Travis called Persona in Portraits and Pictures of Their Essential Everyday Items on PetaPixel and was inspired.

The project began back in November 2007 when Travis decided to get to know his friends better. He wanted his camera to capture not just what people see when they look at his friends, but what they don’t — the things carried around constantly but normally tucked away from view.

What a fantastic way to get to know people better!

I’m going to tweak Trish’s idea and the photographer’s (check out more photos on his blog) to make my Day in the Life all about my Essential Everyday Items. Here’s something I realized: I have way fewer essential items than I thought I had. These are the possessions that I use on a daily basis during the winter and on a work day. I carry some in my purse, have them on my desk, or use them when at home.

Essential Items

Also these, but I wasn’t putting them on my kitchen table.

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So, what do you think my day is like from these photos? What do these items say about me?

Take My Advice…Bloggiesta Style

If you’re new to my blog, possibly because you’ve come here from Bloggiesta, let me tell you a bit about Chrisbookarama. This has been my blog for over 8 years now. I’ve seen a lot of changes in book blogging over the years. Bloggers have come and gone. Some gave up blogging, and others have created a job from this thing we do. There’ve been blogging trends and fads, controversies galore. Somehow I’m still here, maybe not as consistently as in the past, but here nevertheless.

Here’s my advice:

*There’s nothing wrong with being a smaller blog. There are going to be more popular blogs than yours. Maybe you’ll be a big time blogger or maybe no matter how much branding, advertising, networking, or selling yourself your blog is going to have a smaller audience. And that’s okay. There is something freeing about having a small audience. There is less pressure to do it all.

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*Keep in mind, you don’t have to be on every publisher’s list, you don’t have to read every new release, you don’t have to do author interviews, you don’t have to post everyday. IF YOU DON”T WANT TO! If that’s what you want, and makes you happy, sure go for it, but don’t feel like you have to do that because that’s what makes a successful blogger.

*There are plenty of blog posts out there about being successful in the blogosphere: when to post, what to post, etc. Keeping up with all of that can make a person bonkers. For most book bloggers, blogging is a hobby. A hobby should be fun! Something you like doing. Have fun!

*And finally, don’t sign up for everything, and don’t say yes to every book review request you get. It seems like a good idea at the time, but trust me, you can get overwhelmed.

Now take a break and relax.

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Tales From Another Mother Runner by Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell: Review

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I’ve read the previous Mother Runner books: Run Like a Mother, and Train Like a Mother. I also enjoy the Another Mother Runner podcast. I’m a runner, but not one who knows all the lingo. I still don’t know what a spilt is, but I’m learning. I’m slowly getting there. Slow is my natural state when it coms to running. Still, I like hearing and reading about other people’s experiences with running.

phoebe running

Tales From Another Mother Runner is a collection of essays from women who run. Many of the stories shared are from women who are lifelong athletes, or women who now run marathons (yes, plural). Some have suffered from terrible injuries and setbacks, but get back into running eventually, sometimes using the sport as a type of therapy.

It took me a long time to read Tales From Another Mother Runner. I would only read a couple at a time because they all sort of blended together after a while. Their reasons for running and their experiences are fairly similar. They’re all pretty dedicated to running like demons and run a lot of marathons. I had a hard time relating to many of the stories since I am not a competitive racer. How do I fit in? I mean, when one of the women begins her story about how she has a hard time owning the title Runner is training for an Ironman, what hope is there for me who finds 5 km a couple of times a week tough? If that person isn’t a runner, then who is?  It’s disheartening for a casual runner to read that, even though I know that’s just her personal obstacle. Maybe she suffers from Imposter Syndrome.

Then there is the essay from the woman living with MS. She runs when she is able. She gives voice to my own fears as I get older: What if someday I can’t run? This was probably the most motivating essay. If I can, then I should. Maybe I am slow, but I am getting out there.

The book is broken up into themes: Ownership, Perspective, Support, Joy, Strength, Ambition, and Persistence. In between, there are quotes about particular topics from regular runners, like TMI, What a Runner Looks Like, etc. These are my favorite parts of the book. I could have read a whole book of these.

This is a mixed review, and since I’m not much of an essay reader anyway it’s hard for me to give an opinion. Like any collection of essays, there will be favorites and duds. If you’re a runner and like essays, then you’ll probably enjoy Tales From a Another Mother Runner.

This was an ARC I received via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Kobo Chat: Some Scribd Thoughts

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What’s new on your Kobo or other ebook device? First, let’s take a look at the electronic reading I’ve been up to lately. I’ll talk about what I’ve finished, what I’ve downloaded (bought or borrowed), and how that’s working out for me. Grab a coffee and let’s chat!

Finished

I just finished Tales From Another Mother Runner by Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell that I found on Netgalley months ago, as well as, The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse by Alan Bradley from the library.

New to the Kobo

  • Bought. I thought this Kobo Daily Deal sounded intriguing: The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant.
  • Netgalley title. I was just approved for Within by Keith Deininger. Looks like a spooky one.

 

Let’s Talk

I’ve been considering trying out Scribd. It’s sort of like Netflix or Spotify but for books. A monthly subscription of $10 CDN gets you access to thousands of books, including comics and audiobooks. I love my library but they don’t always have everything I want to read. I asked around and people on Twitter seem to love it.

What about you readers? Have you tried Scribd? Are you a member? Happy?

Lazy Sunday Thoughts: Intimidating Books and Bloggiesta

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Hi all! Happy Sunday to you all! Tomorrow is Bloggiesta time! This Bloggiesta is a week long event, instead of the usual weekend. I’m not sure how much I’m going to be able to accomplish but I’m participating just the same.

Here’s my to-do list:

  • Back up my blog.
  • Update my Review Page.
  • Write some posts.
  • Think about what I’m going to do with the blog once my job ends soon.
  • Create some kind of blogging schedule and stick to it.
  • Clean out my email (again).
  • Attend a Twitter party.

I hope I can squeeze in some mini-challenges in there as well.


I just listened to the latest Reading the End podcast all about books that scare them. Whisky and Gin Jenny discussed what books intimidate them, and what ones were unexpectedly not intimidating. Probably the books I thought were going to be intimidating but weren’t were Lolita and the first Margaret Atwood books I read. I thought they’d be much heavier. The ladies will be reading Confessions by Kanae Minato next and I think I have to read it too. It’s a revenge themed book. Revenge is my catnip. Revenge!!!!!!!!

Trish is hosting A Day In the Life Blogger Event on March 27. I’m approaching it a little differently so stay tuned for that. Join in if you can!

That’s about it for me! How was your reading week?

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum (audiobook): Review

Hausfrau

Anna is an American who lives in Switzerland with her Swiss banker husband and her three beautiful children. She should be happy, but she is not. She lives a joyless existence and only gets pleasure from having meaningless affairs. After nine years living in Switzerland, she still hasn’t fit in. She has no friends, doesn’t speak the language, and has no life outside her home. She’s distant from her husband and children. When her therapist suggests Anna take German lessons, she starts an affair with one of her classmates on the first day. She just can’t stop herself from heading down an inevitable path of self-destruction.

I had an awful time with Anna right from the start. I wondered if I was going to be able to stop being frustrated with her long enough to get through the first few chapters. Somehow I did. Anna is a terrible character. She’s a liar, and cheat. Yet I didn’t hate her. She’s aware that what she is doing is wrong. She doesn’t even appear to enjoy her affairs. Anna acts as if what’s she’s doing is beyond her control, that what is happening is happening to her, not by her. This is one of the most frustrating parts of the book. I just wanted her to say no for once. Just say no!

The blurb I read for Hausfrau compared her to both Anna Karenina and Emma from Madame Bovary. I agree, but also don’t. There are similarities, but there are some major differences. Those characters inhabit a world where women have almost no choices. They are repressed by their societies. Anna’s repression is self-inflicted. She chooses not to engage with the world.

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I related to Anna more than I cared to admit. It wasn’t so long ago that I was a hausfrau myself. It can be lonely and isolating. You can feel underappreciated and neglected at times. I also have difficulties making friends (Anna has no trouble making male friends though). However, I am- Anna is- responsible for my own happiness. I went back to work, joined a gym, got some hobbies. I didn’t go the route Anna did. She could have told her husband that she was unhappy. She could have told her therapist what was really going on. She could have learned the language when she first moved there. She could…she could…she could.

But then, and I said, “But then” a lot while reading this, she had to deal with cultural differences, her aloof husband and his disappointment in her inability to fit in. She had no family or close friends there. How would I have handled the situation? I also would have become depressed. I’m sure Anna was depressed, but how she manages her depression just makes everything worse. Some people have alcohol, some have food, Anna has sex.

I have conflicting feelings about Hausfrau. It was very well written. It gets right into Anna’s head and her motivations, even though those motivations for her behaviour are confusing. It made Anna, who has the personality of a rock, an interesting character. I wasn’t totally into the plot. I knew where it was going right from the beginning. It isn’t an uplifting book and the sexytimes are blah. I wasn’t totally blown away by it.

About the Audio: Mozhan Marno is the narrator. She’s excellent at creating the variety of accents in the book.

Thanks to Random House Audio for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

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Lazy Sunday Thoughts Are Too Old

Twitter, everyday lately:

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Me logging onto to Twitter:

too old

I can’t even with the Twitter.

Anyway…

We’re having a snow storm today. I am so done with this winter. I just bought spring clothes and I want to wear them. My lucky friends are all heading down south. The bastards. On the bright side, I have an excuse to do nothing and read ALL DAY! Woot!

As for reading, I finally finished Tales From Another Mother. I had been reading it for a couple of months. I would only read a couple of stories at a time, so it took forever. Also, The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse by Alan Bradley, which I didn’t realize was a short story. In the mail this week, I received my Book Depository order of Ring by Koji Suzuki- creepy! Continuing on the creepy theme…I got this review copy of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. The crab cakes look promising. I might be making those soon.

mystery cookbook

On the personal front, I worked 13 days straight and wrote a test this week. I haven’t written a test in decades so that was fun. My first Birchbox sample box came in the mail. I was surprised because I didn’t know it was coming so soon. I tried everything in the box, but I think the Cynthia Rowley lip stain is my favorite.

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That’s it for me! How was your week?

In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim: Review

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In this fictionalized journal, a young British woman returns to her house in the Swiss Alps after five years away, and a world war, to recharge. Besides her home’s Swiss caretaker and his wife, she is completely alone with her thoughts, until the arrival of two older British women. The narrator feels that it is her duty to offer her compatriots a roof over their heads for as long as the pair stays in Switzerland. It turns out to be longer than she expected.

The narrator’s family (she doesn’t give names) left their house shortly after the start of World War I expecting to be ”Back for Christmas!” She suffered loss, including the death of loved ones, though she never goes into detail. For the first few chapters she wanders around looking at flowers, mountains, and grieving. It never gets too angsty or maudlin. She is an Englishwoman after all. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON!

Just as she’s getting a bit bored, two ladies appear on the scene. They too are looking to recover from the war. The narrator throws herself into making them comfortable. Mrs Barnes (Kitty) and Mrs Jewks (Dolly) are widows 50 and 40 respectively. Our hostess wants them all to be bosom pals but Mrs Barnes steers all conversation away from anything unpleasant…including Germans. Dolly might be open to confidences but her sister never lets her out of sight. Dolly has a twinkle in her eye, and a girlish nature, which Kitty tries to damp down. It’s not proper in her mind.

Meanwhile, the hostess is feeling oppressed. All this polite conversation and stifling routine is making her nuts.

Mrs Barnes and I are always doing things we don’t want to do because we suppose it is what is going to make the other one happy. The tyranny of unselfishness! I can hardly breathe.

She looks forward to paying her bills because it gets her away from Mrs Barnes.

Then *EXCITEMENT* a Man arrives. Her 60 year old uncle- a bishop. And I thought, “Oh good! Maybe he’ll marry Mrs Barnes and release us all from her tyranny.” But that’s not what happens.

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So, yeah, disappointing ending and I have a list a mile long why IT SHOULD NEVER HAD ENDED LIKE THAT. But I’m not Elizabeth von Arnim and feminism didn’t happen yet, so what do I know?! Up until that point, I really enjoyed In the Mountains. It’s funny and sweet. I loved What’s Her Name and the Antoines (the Swiss Help). Dolly was great. I would have put Mrs Barnes in a very polite well. With the uncle.

You can read In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim for free!

Lazy Sunday Thoughts Are Springing

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Yes, we still have snow. Today is a gorgeous day though. So sunny, everything is melting. Spring is on the way!

If last weekend was about relaxing, this weekend is the polar opposite. Plus, we all lose an hour. I hate Spring Ahead. Blah!

Good news: I finished an audiobook. Hausfrau. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’ll start a review later today. It gave me a lot of feelings.

I bought An Age of License by Lucy Knisley. I love her travel memoirs so I’m looking forward to reading this one.

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Here’s a link for your Sunday reading. Sweet or creepy? I’m thinking this girl could rule a crow army if she wanted. If weird bird behaviour isn’t your thing, here’s a story of an unusual bookmobile instead. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and happy International Women’s Day, womens!

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (audiobook): Review

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I’ve never read anything by Kazuo Ishiguro, though I did see Never Let Me Go (so sad) and have The Remains of the Day on my bookshelf. Those two stories appear to be very different from each other and each different from The Buried Giant. The Buried Giant is a sort of fairy tale. There are ogres, dragons, knights, and magic. This is not an average fairy tale. There is a thread of realism throughout the book and it asks, does forgiveness require us to forget?

The story begins with Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple of Britons, who leave their home to reunite with their son living in another village. They are also on a quest to find out what is causing a mist of forgetfulness that spreads across the country. The mist makes people forget events that happened years, months, even days before. Axl and Beatrice fear that their most cherished memories of their married life and of their son are lost to them forever.

Along the way, they meet both a Saxon warrior, and Gawain, the last of King Arthur’s knights. These men are on separate missions to kill the dragon Querig, who is at the center of the mist problem. Axl and Beatrice are anxious to be reunited with their son, but lifting the spell is a more pressing need.

A spell that makes people forget their grudges doesn’t seem like a bad idea. For years, the Saxons and Britons have lived together in peace, but signs of a violent past are everywhere around them. They live as neighbours, but eye each other with suspicion. What will the lifting of the mist reveal? On a personal level, Axl and Beatrice are the most loving of couples. Although they are gentle with each other, there are niggling doubts as to whether their marriage was always a happy one. Not all memories are good memories. Is it possible their feelings of devotion will change once they remember old hurts?

In an interview with The New York Times, Kazuo Ishiguro tells how he wanted to explore how societies get beyond the atrocities committed by them and to them during times of war. A forgetting spell seems an ideal solution, but it can’t last. Can human beings really forgive without forgetting? When I see the terrible things happening in the world today, I wonder if it’s possible. Reading The Buried Giant, I came away feeling an overwhelming sadness with humanity. Letting go of grudges is one of the most challenging parts of being human, individually and as a society. While at least one of the characters wants revenge for past wrongs, Axl and Beatrice want the love they feel for each other to last forever, but wonder if it can withstand close scrutiny.

I loved Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing, even though it made me blue. The tenderness of Axl and Beatrice for each other was one of the things I enjoyed the most. Sometimes I was confused, as the characters are confused themselves. I didn’t always know what was real and what was imagined. The Arthurian tale is getting mixed reviews, and it is a strange story, but I think he did well and accomplished what he set out to do. I wasn’t disappointed and if this is the worst that he can do, then I expect to be blown away by his best.

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About the Audio: David Horovitch narrates The Buried Giant. I felt like I was being told an old timey story by an ancient knight. He really made the experience of listening to this 12 hour book more enjoyable.

Thanks to Random House Audio for the review copy. All opinions are my own.