Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Busy Wednesday

Reading - Finished my audio book that I'd been listening to - The Lilac Bus by Maeve Binchy. The book is about all the people who take the "lilac bus" every weekend from Dublin to a small town of Rathdune. (Excuse my spelling as when you're listening to the audio book instead of reading, you don't get the spellings!) Each chapter was about a different character. It was a good book, but I like a little more info about the characters! To me, I need good character development to really love a book. With this one, I wanted more of each character. I know that she often has characters that recur in different stories, and maybe if I read more about these characters in another book, I'd be content. I know that has happened with other books of hers that I've read in the past. But it was interesting.

I've got a lot of reading to do in the next while. Quite a few books came in from the library recently: One Day,  Secret Daughter, After, The Social Animal, and Water for Elephants. All with a three week expiry. Water for Elephants is an audio book, so I'll listen to that on commutes and get that taken care of, but I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with the other ebooks! I hope I get them all read.

Running - Great hill workout tonight! Six hills. Total of 10k. Not bad for a Wednesday.

Resolutions - I picked up a bottle of Spanish wine a few days ago at Port of Wines. I got a bottle of Hoya de Cadenas which is a tempranillo cab sauv blend. I'm still not any better at picking out flavors. It's a nice dark red/purple. It smells fruity and sweet. It has a nice, full flavor, thick, long aftertaste. Maybe it tastes like cherrys? I like it. The first night I had a glass, I thought it was ok. Tonight, I am really enjoying it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interesting Food Issues...

I'm back at the office today, still not feeling great. I'm queasy and have a terrible headache, and my eyes are burning. But, I'm here. My office mate said she could test me for other food issues with this fancy test. We tried all the food I brought with me to eat today - oatmeal, half a PB&J sandwich, chicken and broccoli casserole, and the fruit in my fruit bowl.

It was an energy test, and it was surprisingly easy to see what might bother me... I'd hold up my arm, and she'd try to push it down. Then I'd hold the food in my other arm, and she'd try to push down my arm. Oatmeal is a big no-no - I couldn't hold my arm up while holding the oatmeal. I guess I knew that. I can't eat oatmeal raisin cookies or I get a stomach ache. The cooked oatmeal hadn't been bothering me, though, but I'm not about to chance it right now. The bananas are a bit troubling, but not too bad. I <3 bananas, I don't want them to hurt me! Pears are fine. My casserole is fine. Lara bars are fine. My PB&J is fine.

I'm going to become a weirdo at the salad bars from now on. "Here, push my arm while I try this veggie. Nope, can't eat that one. What about this?"

One other lesson learned today... If you reheat your tea in a Tim Horton's cup in the microwave for 40 seconds, it will start smoking and burn the cup....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Death by...... Carrots?

This is neither running, reading, or resolution related, but I felt I should share my new found knowledge as a public service announcement...

The last few weeks, I've been having a lot of stomach aches. I get to the point where I think it is the norovirus, and just wait for the hurling to begin. It doesn't progress to that. I get terrible stomach pains, to the point that I'm sweating and doubled over in pain, and then it goes away about five hours later. Yes, five. Sometimes longer.

After staying home sick from work on two days, two different weeks because of the pain the night before, I just assumed it was that nasty bug everyone had been talking about. Then it hit me Friday at work, just after I ate my soup at lunch. At this point, I knew it was likely something I was eating, but I couldn't trace it. I'd eaten stew for lunch that I made myself, and other bowls of the same batch of stew didn't bother me. I sat at my desk, in pain, all afternoon and finally, by 6:00, I felt ok. Must have been something in the stew... What did I do differently? Cilantro this time, more ginger. That's it. Maybe it was the cilantro?

I was talking to my mom on the weekend about this, since we tend to have sensitivities to the same foods. "No, I don't think anything in that soup would bother you," she said, "what else did you eat before the soup?" Well, just carrots... And I don't think those would bother me. I've been eating carrots my whole life with no issues. My mom said she doesn't eat raw carrots as they make her cough. Huh.I did also eat carrots last Tuesday, in the afternoon, and then my stomach ache started on my way home from work. I told my mom how I was really loving the organic carrots cut up as a snack. They were so tasty and crunchy! Up until recently, I didn't realize how good carrots could be. I was eating those little baby carrots, which really don't have much flavor. So I'd eat a couple, here and there. But I didn't really care that much for them. Once I started getting them in my veggie box, I realized how yummy they are.

So last night, I'm making today's lunch and I start peeling carrots. I cut up enough for two days worth of snacks at work (about six small organic carrots), and ate a couple pieces while I was cutting them. Nope, no pain. I knew it wasn't the carrots.

At work this morning, I was feeling a bit hungry, so I grabbed my carrots. I usually eat them in the afternoon, but skipped the grocery store this weekend and didn't have a morning snack and would get an afternoon snack while out at lunch. I munched away on the large container of carrots as I was working, and next thing I know, they were all gone. Ah, they're good for you. It's a good way to avoid snacking on junk, to eat veggies! About a half hour, forty-five minutes later, I heated up my soup for lunch. On the first spoonful, I started feeling those familiar pains starting again... But this is a different soup! This isn't that same stew with the cilantro! This is my old faithful (homemade by me) squash soup! It doesn't bother my stomach! 

I start thinking of common ingredients in the two soups. Onions. But, it can't be onions. I had onions in my meal last night with no issues... I know, I should have made the connection by now, but I didn't.... I headed out to Pete's to get some snacks and figured a walk would help my newly paining belly*. As I'm walking to Pete's in the lovely sunshine, I nearly stop dead in my tracks. "CARROTS!" I think to myself. It has to be the carrots. I ate a ton of carrots before my soup. I ate carrots last Friday before my soup. I ate carrots for an afternoon snack last Tuesday before running home. I don't recall eating carrots the weekend before, but maybe it was another veggie. I did have lots of celery and red peppers raw that night. Or maybe that one actually was a virus. 

I got back to the office, doubled over, but pleased with my discovery and asked my go-to office mate about pains from carrots. I always go to her when I have health questions as she does a lot of reading about holistic stuff, and organic stuff, and all that new-age good for you stuff. She said, "how many did you eat?" I told her, and she confirmed that raw veggies are hard to digest, and she would expect that six carrots would do it. I asked Dr. Google, and yes, this is a common issue. 

I headed home for the afternoon after sharing my knowledge with the other ladies at work. Turns out, they all knew that carrots could do that. Maybe I'm the only one who did not. But, just in case, I thought I'd share my new found knowledge with you. I'm hoping that I've spent my last afternoon curled up in the fetal position from the evil veggie known as carrots. Now to find another crunchy, yummy snack for the office that won't hurt me. 

*In case you want a description of the pain, I coined a phrase in university to describe it... It's the gremlin-in-the-microwave feeling. You know, from the gremlins movie where the gremlin is in the microwave, then he explodes. That's how it feels, like I'm in the microwave, just about to explode.)

Destination, Spain!

I was at dinner with my friend Saturday night, and we were looking at the wine list. "What country are you on now?" he asked. Good question. I had done 3-4 weeks in Argentina, and felt that I should move to a new country. I pondered having a glass of the one Argentinian Malbec on the menu, but I knew I would love it, so that seemed to be a bit of a cop out for my quest to try new wines.

My friend, who I'm pretty sure isn't much of a wine drinker, tried something new himself. He took my advice and went with an Australian wine. While I've learned a lot about wine in the past three months, I don't feel that I can advise others on what to drink. I know what I like, but I'm still not very good at describing why I like it.

There was a lot of Australian on the menu. I'm saving Australia for later since they have so much selection. I've had many Australian wines in the past. I'm thinking I'll drink more of them in the summer or fall. Until then, I wanted a smaller country. So, there was one Spanish wine on the menu, and I decided to try that.

I had a glass of the Osborne Tempranillo & Shiraz, from Tierra de Castille, Spain. I have no idea what Tempranillo is. Never heard of it. But I knew I liked Shiraz. The glass came and it was a nice rich color. It wasn't overly spicy on the nose. It was tasty, but a more mellow taste than some of the others that I seem to be loving lately. It was actually a really good match for drinking with my food, I think.

I'm excited to try some more of Spain these next few weeks. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Training Weeks 8&9

Week 8
Last week was decent. I ran a crappy tempo on Tuesday, which has its own blog post.

Then Wednesday was 8k with 5 hills. It was a great workout! I really like my Wednesday night hill repeats with Heart & Sole. Hills are so much better with a group.

Thursday, I ran to work so I could go out for dinner after work since it was Saint Patrick's Day. I ran 4k at a 6:30 pace.

Saturday was an extra rest day in preparation for the race.

Sunday was my race with Heart & Sole at the Moose Run, again with its own post.

So, 4 runs for 26k.

Week 9
This week was ok. I ran Tuesday, but didn't have any goal since I had raced Sunday. But, I got shin splints right from the start, again. It was painful. So, I walked a bit, but got the run done. Then Tuesday night, I was sick, and sick again Wednesday. So I missed hills. Sad.

Thursday, I ran and had a good run. I did 6k easy, and had a pace of 6:05 (6:32, 6:09, 5:55, 5:58, 5:50, 5:59). I like "easy" runs. I run them with no goals, and just run whatever I feel like that run.

Saturday was another easy run. I did 4k at a 6:22 pace. It was a crappy run. I didn't want to run, and didn't want to be out there at all, the WHOLE time. But, luckily, it was only 4k.

Sunday (today) was 14k. I was out later than expected last night, so I decided last minute to run with the Dartmouth group instead of my Halifax clinic group. It meant I could sleep in later, but still thought I'd have company for most of the run. Turns out, I ran most of it alone anyway. Oh well. It was a good push to get out in the morning. Average pace was 6:44 (6:18, 6:57, 6:32, 6:44, 6:26, 6:48, 7:38, 7:37, 6:46, 6:28, 6:46, 6:34, 6:20, 6:09). This was a bit fast for me for a long run. I'm tired today, which is a sign that I ran too fast. Or, maybe I needed more nutrition on the run. I had one gel at 8k.

Anyway, good week. 4 runs for 28k.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Secret of Everything

.... by Barbara O'Neal. This is the second book I've read of hers. I enjoyed the first one, and enjoyed this on even more.

This story is about Tessa. Tessa is a late thirties wild child. She's a tour guide on hiking tours, and has just been in a bad accident where one of her tour participants drowned. In the accident, Tessa was also hurt and went to stay with her hippie dad in California to recover.

Growing up, Tessa and her dad, Sam, traveled to renaissance fairs where he was a magician. She didn't have the typical life. Before they traveled, they were living on a commune in New Mexico. That's where Tessa's mom killed the leader of the commune and tried to drown herself and Tessa. Tessa survived, but pushed that all out of her memory until she nearly drown again. Then the memories started to come back.

Once she had healed enough to start getting antsy, she decided to head back to the commune town to scope out a new hiking tour possibility. Her dad did not want her to go. Of course, there were secrets he didn't want her to find out.

The story is really quite nice. It was similar to the other book of hers that I read in that the independent woman goes to a new town, falls for the single dad, even though she doesn't want to... But, the stories were also different enough that I didn't feel like I was re-reading the other book in a different setting.

If you're looking for chick lit, this is a good one. Just enough romance to be interesting, but with a good story and lots of other interesting characters.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

.... by Aimee Bender

This one came in on from the library for my kobo last week. I read it in a few days. I enjoyed it. The main character is a little girl, Rose. The story starts with her mom making her a lemon cake for her 9th birthday. Rose tastes the cake, and it tastes bad. But her whole family - mom, dad, older brother (Joseph)- all love the cake. Rose then realizes, it's not that the cake is bad, but it is sad.

As the book goes on, Rose's relationship with her family is looked at a bit more intensely. Her dad is distant, he seems cold and hard to reach. Their moments are when they watch a TV show together as she does her homework next to him on the couch while he works on his paperwork. Her mom, she discovers, is sad and was the reason the cake tasted sad. Rose seems to take on a bit of a mothering role to her mom. Her brother, well, he barely even seems to be present. Rose has a closer relationship with his best friend, George.

As Rose grows into a young woman, she learns to deal with her ability to taste the feelings of the person who made her food. She turns to vending machines and highly processed foods. The less interaction her food has had with a person, the better.

The book ends with Rose in her early twenties, and seems to come around to better relationships with her family members. She seems to understand them, and is able to open up to them a bit more than as a child. She learns to accept her special gift and try to make the best of it.

I liked the oddness of this story line, the way that all the characters interacted or didn't interact. It was an entertaining read.

First "race" of the year

I ran part of the Moose Run today. I'd heard of this race before, but this was my first time participating, thanks to the new Dartmouth running group, Heart & Sole. The full run is 25k, but what I didn't know is that they encourage a three person relay. It's a great race. Small, and it is free! Donations are appreciated.

There were about 30 of us running with the group. We all met at the moose for a group photo at 9:00 and met our teammates. I was running with one teammate, Elaine, who was running the last two legs of the race. By 10:00, we were out running.

You couldn't ask for a better day weather wise for a race in March. It was sunny, about -4 with a bit of a wind. But the wind wasn't too bad considering the race was along the water for a while. Actually, a lot of my leg of the race was sheltered from the wind.

My goal for this race was to run it at my goal pace for my upcoming 17k race - 5:55 minutes per kilometer. I started out a bit fast, but it felt manageable. Here are my splits:


Not too shabby. I think I did pay a little for going out too fast, but it was never unmanageable. I didn't take any walk breaks, and the hills in those three slower kilometers likely accounted for the slower time. I could feel the hills taking their toll in the last few kilometers. That 6:08 was pretty well all uphill. The last one was a nice downhill.

I wasn't sure exactly when my leg of the race would end. I knew Elaine would be waiting for me at the intersection of Cow Bay Road and Bissett. But, I didn't know the road, and thought it was at about 8.3k. Turns out it was 8.93, so I ran the last 0.07 to get an even number on my GPS.

Good run. I won a draw prize (I picked a wrench set). I saw an old friend, met new ones, and ended with a team party hosted by our fantastic Heart & Sole organizers. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yummy Bonarda

Not to give anything away with the title, but bonarda is yummy! What is bonarda, you ask? Funny, I asked that same question just yesterday....

I went to the NSLC at Scotia Square yesterday to browse. I thought I might move on from Argentina since I already know I love Argentinian malbecs. But, I couldn't decide which country to visit next. I thought about South Africa, but a friend said she doesn't like it, and I trust her opinion on wines. I was going to get a cab sauv from Argentina, but didn't feel like it since I also know I like those. Then I saw the Las Moras black label Bonarda 2008.

The bottle says deep fruit and nice floral aromas, deep purple colour with blue tones. It states that it has hints of blackberries, coffee, mint, violets and chocolate, and has a long lasting after taste. I pondered. Then the third helpful clerk came up and asked if I needed help. This time I said "what is bonarda, and is it good?" Then, he told me that it is a grape only bring grown in Argentina now, and is similar to a cab sauv, but with more of a white pepper taste. "But is it good?" "Yes." So I bought a bottle. I don't remember the price. $16-17, I think.

We had a great chat about the wine, and I wasn't disappointed. It tastes different. I'm still not good with placing the aromas and tastes that they say it has. It's definitely dark in color, and has a nice smell. I guess I can smell the floral aroma. I can feel the tannins when I take a sip. I can taste spice. I can't describe how it is different, might just be the spiciness of it. But I definitely like it.

I'm glad I tried something new!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cutting For Stone

... by Abraham Verghese.

Wow. This was a good book. I had the audiobook out from the library, and only started listening to it last week, after having it for two weeks. The library books have a three week time frame. So, when I started listening to it, I had only a week left. It's 24 hours long. After the first 2 parts (out of 19), it wouldn't recognize the file and I couldn't transfer it to my iPod. So, that made listening a little more difficult. If I could listen on my iPod, I could listen while on my way to work, on my lunch break, etc. But I had to listen to it on my laptop instead. Turns out that's not such a bad thing. It makes cooking, doing dishes, and yoga more interesting.

This story is about the life of Marion Stone. He was born a conjoined twin with his brother Shiva. His mom was a nun and his dad a surgeon. Nobody knew that his mom was pregnant, not even his dad. The story starts with his parents meeting, and follows to the tragic story of his (their) birth, and then all the way up until Marion is around 30.

I loved the story, I loved the characters. I don't want to say too much about this book as I don't want to give much away. The story was lovely.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Corset Diaries

... by Katie MacAlister

This was an easy read, definite chic lit. It's a book about a woman in the states who is roped into a reality TV show in England. It's right before the show starts, and the lead woman backed out. They needed a duchess, and Tessa's friend convinced her to take the role. The setting is an old Victorian home, with her as the duchess, and a very handsome man as the duke. The participants in the reality series had to act as if they were in the Victorian times during this month. No cell phones, no electricity, no modern medicine, etc.

Tessa, on her first meeting with her duke, has had too many drinks. She throws up on his shoes. The first day of filming, Tessa is introduced to a corset. Her second meeting with her duke was no less embarrassing with an episode of gas.

The character of Tessa is quite funny. She's a larger lady, and feels she just doesn't fit in. She tries to win over her servants, her new TV step daughter, her duke. But, as the only American in this British setting, she finds she's offending people just with her presence.

The book tends to drag a bit, but it was a really cute story. If you like chit lit, you may like this book. It has a lovely, happy ending. The characters were interesting. It was a good, mindless book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shinsplints Suck

The title of this post describes tonight's run. I aimed to do a 4k tempo, but I had decided that I'd take it easy if I wanted since I was recovering from a slight stomach bug. The first kilometer was right on pace at 5:55. And then, the shinsplints started. I walked up a steep hill and stretched at the top. I started running again and it hurt so bad that I was worried I'd do some damage if I kept running. Both shins, all along the front of the legs ached so bad. I walked, and it hurt to walk. I hobbled, really. I tried to run again, and couldn't. I ended up walking for about a mile. Finally, the pain subsided.

I took a chance and started to run again. I did manage to get in another 2k at tempo pace without any more  pain. I'm not sure what caused it today. Sometimes if I don't warm up enough, it'll start. Sometimes it is from over training. But yesterday was a rest day, so I don't think it was over training.

I have extremely tight calves at the best of times. I hadn't really stretched since last week. Lesson learned. Last week, I did yoga 3-4 days. I will start making that a priority again. Fingers crossed that it helps.

Malbec is Yummy

I skipped a weekend and didn't get a bottle of wine the weekend before this past one. I know, I know. But it's actually starting to feel like work to get wine every week, so I took a week off. This past week, I picked up a bottle on the way home from work.

Sticking with Argentina, I picked up another malbec. This time, I got the Trapiche Broquel 2008 which was around $17. It sat on my counter for about 5 days before I actually broke into it. Shocking. I just didn't feel like a glass last week. I can tell you that if I had a bottle here right now, I'd open it. But, that's this week.

When I realized that it was Saturday and I hadn't yet opened it, I realized that I needed help. I emailed my friend and invited her over to help me drink it. And drink it, we did. It was quite tasty. I can't really describe it other than saying that it was yummy. I know I like malbecs from Argentina. I should try a different type of wine from Argentina, and I may this weekend if I make it to a larger wine store with more choice. Or, I may just switch to a new country. We'll see.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

... by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

I got this one out from the e-library. It is narrated all through letters. I find it hard to get into books that are written through letters, and this proved true again with this book. The story is set in the 1940's and the main character is Juliet. She's a writer, and is interested in hearing more about this literary club with a funny name. She starts writing back and forth with the members of the club, and getting to know these interesting characters through their letters.

In this type of book, I find you really need to pay attention to details, such as the tiny line above each letter which tells who it is to and from. I don't pay attention to small details like this, and thus found it quite tricky to keep everyone straight.

But, the genuine characters started to show through quickly, despite being narrated in letters. There were some good relationships building between Juliet and a few of the Guernsey crew. I did not feel that the romantic relationship parts of the story were developed well at all. I had no real interest in any of those stories. When Juliet started dating Mark, you could tell that he didn't seem to be all that interesting to her since he really wasn't mentioned much at all. See, she was writing to her friend, Sophie, about her personal life. This is where you would gather most of her thoughts on the people in her life. Poor Sophie, she really didn't have much of a role in this book at all.

However, as much as I dislike this narration type, I really enjoyed the story. I liked Juliet very much, and started to really like the Guernsey characters of Isola, Kit, and whatever that guy's name was - Chauncey or something like that. (See? I can't even remember his name, and he's a main character, and I just finished reading this in the last hour!)

I was pleased to read that Juliet, at the old age of thirty-two, ended up finding love where she didn't expect. I like happy endings in stories, and I really liked this "happily ever after" ending. I do wonder what becomes of Sidney, her gay male friend who is hiding his sexuality, and poor Sophie who lives far away. There wasn't quite enough detail on these characters for me, but there was enough for me to have fond feelings and concern for their future. Maybe there will be a follow-up story...

Training, Weeks 5, 6, 7

I guess I got a bit behind in blogging about my running. Oops.

Week 5, I actually missed a few runs. I ran 4k tempos both Tuesday and Wednesday with an average pace of 5:51 & 5:53, same route. Then Thursday came, and it was only supposed to be a 3k run, and I was tired. So, I skipped it, went home and fell asleep at 7:00 on the couch, and went to bed at 8. I skipped the Saturday 3k as well. Sunday, I did a 10k long run with a new running group in my neighbourhood. It was a nice, slow average pace of 7:15.

Week 6 was tough. My Tuesday tempo run hurt right from the start. In the first kilometer, I had shin splints in my left leg and a cramp in my right quad. I walked after the first kilometer, and walked up a hill. It was supposed to be a 5k run, and I just called it quits at 4k. Average pace ended up being 6:21. The goal is always 5:55 on tempo runs. Then the next night, it was a 3k tempo, and I ran with my clinic. The leader wasn't there so we had someone else lead us. Their pace was not on, so it was a slower run, but it was fun. I ran back to my office after, so total of 3.7k at 6:09 average pace. Thursday was an easy 4k at 6:30 pace. I skipped Saturday again, and finished with a tough 10k slow run at 6:43 pace with the clinic.

A long run should be run at an easy pace. At the 10k distance, it's not a big issue, but when our long runs get longer, which they will soon, it is going to be a problem if I run them too fast. You should not be winded on a long run, and you should not be exhausted when you're done. The last few times that I've run with the clinic, I've been slightly winded and really tired after my run. My ego is having a hard time accepting that I should be running with the slower pace group on Sundays. The quicker runs are the perfect pace for me, but the Sunday runs are slightly too fast for me. The problem is that the slower group runs their slow runs a lot slower, at about a 7:30 pace. So, we'll see what I do in the future.

Week 7 was the switch from double tempo runs to tempo and hills! Yay! Luckily, the running group near me is also running hills on Wednesdays so I have two groups that I can run hills with if I want the company. Tuesday's 4k tempo this week was run at home, after work. That was a nice change. It was a good run with an average pace of 5:37!!! I was beat after the run, but it was good. Then Wednesday was 4 hill repeats. The hill was 550 metres long, and ended up with a total of 8k including warm up and cool down. Both Thursday and Saturday were easy runs with 5k at a 6:40 pace, and 3k at a 6:38 pace. Sunday was 10k again. Now, I ran this one with the group near home and ran most of it alone. My average pace was 6:39.

So, last week, 6:43 felt too fast, but yesterday I ran 6:39? I'm not sure what was up with that. The only thing I can think of is that I was not feeling great yesterday, so I didn't notice that the run was too fast, or that I was running alone and not talking, so didn't notice my breathing. I'm not sure. And since I'm home sick from work today, I must have been fighting something yesterday on the run as well. That's why I was not feeling great. You'd think that would have made the run even slower, not faster. Anyway. I can't figure it out.

Onto week 8.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept....

.... because I was so bored of this story!

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho is apparently the first book in a trilogy. I will not be reading the other two. It's not that it was a bad story. It was a nice story overall. But it was a bit of work for me to read it. I don't remember the characters' names. I just didn't care enough to learn them.

It is a story about a woman who runs into her first love. Then she takes off with him and they talk endlessly about religion and love, and dance around the subject of being in love. It reminded me of reading The Celestine Prophecies when I was in university, except there was a lot more interesting details in that book. Then again, I read that one when I was at a point in my life that I was open to the message that it was delivering. Not so much with this book.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Overload!!!!

I had put a bunch of ebooks on hold at the library, and was on the waiting lists. In the last four days, four of them have come in... And you cannot renew the ebooks. So, I have a lot of reading to do.... Turns out one is not a book, but an audiobook, so I can take that off my list.

Right now, waiting to read, I have The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, and The Corset Diaries.

If you need me in the next few weeks, I'll likely be reading.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Help

I stopped by the library again last week and browsed the "rapid read" section and borrowed The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The setting is Mississippi in the early 1960's in a very racially separated town. The white people were in one area, and the black people in another. There was a whites only library, grocery store, etc. This was recently after Rosa Parks had taken her stand on the bus, and things were slowly moving towards equality. However, in this story, there was no equality in this town.

There were three narrators in this story - Miss Skeeter, a white woman in her early 20s who was in with all the uppity ladies of the town; Aibileen, a black maid in her 40s who worked for one of Skeeter's friends; and Minny, a maid in her 30's who was not afraid to speak her mind, no matter who she was talking to, which also got her fired often.

Skeeter, an aspiring author, had come home from university and expected her childhood maid to be there and found out she was no longer employed and left town. This was crushing to her. She was trying to find out what happened to her, and started talking to Aibileen. Through her conversations with Aibileen, she discovered that something wasn't right, and she wanted to write about it.

The book goes through a lot incidents in all three ladies' lives that the reader really gets involved in. I, particularly, was really interested in the stories of Aibileen. I'm not sure if the author intended this, or if it was just the character with whom I identified.

I really enjoyed the book and was sad to get to the last page last night. I would like just another chapter to go into what happened to these three in the next five or so years. I think that speaks for itself.