Wednesday Workout Stats: March 25-29

Usually, these posts are entitled “Writing and Workout Stats,” but there’s been a severe lack of writing on my part. I don’t think I’ve written anything creative in about a month, which is sad because I’m about 30-50 pages away from wrapping up my latest story project. One thing that does not help what-so-ever is that my place of employment has gone to summer hours. Which means that I’m at the office from 7:30-5:30 mon-thurs, not getting home until 6pm at the earliest, making dinner, working out, posting a blog, and then having a little me time before going to bed at 10pm just to get up and go at it again at 5:30am. My writing has unfortunately suffered. Now that I have my weekends back, though, I hope to get at least a little bit done each week.

Anyhoo, below are my workout stats for the past few days!

May 25, 2013

  • MS (Muscle Strengthening): 30 minutes
  • Cardio: 35 minutes
  • Misc: Mowed the lawn

May 26, 2013

  • MS: 40 mins
  • Cardio: 0 minutes
  • Misc: Gardened and hours of semi-strenuous housework

May 27, 2013

  • MS: 30 mins
  • Cardio: 20 mins

May 28, 2013

  • MS: 0 minutes
  • Cardio: 15 minutes

May 29, 2013

  • MS: 30 mins
  • Cardio: 15 minutes

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The Casual Vacancy: A Review

J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy is a bit of modern day literature—though not necessarily a classic. The tone and over-all feel of the story is down-trodden. It very much reminds me of the American Naturalism (and a bit of Realism) movement, where almost everything is depressing and dog-eat-dog. At the end though, there is a teeny tiny glimmer of hope that shows the reader that not all may be lost, breaking out of the “everyone gets syphilis and dies” motif.

The characters in this book, though, are extraordinarily rich, which is quite an accomplishment seeing how the story is told from about 10+ different points of view. Each person has their own unique voice, mannerisms, and insecurities. And man, do they have insecurities. Nobody is happy. No one is really all that likeable, which makes them a bit difficult to identify with. The teenagers are beyond angsty. Each have their own deep-seated emotional problems. And the adults aren’t doing much better. They have miserable marriages, abusive spouses, or just plain mental illness. Drug-use, rape, self-mutilation, and general debauchery abound.

The Casual Vacancy is the story of a small village, Pagford, which is thrown into an uproar when Barry Fairbrother drops dead in a parking lot from an aneurysm. Fairbrother was a member of the local council, and the book revolves around the political intrigue of this small town and the slight power shift that Fairbrother’s death could potentially cause. A small, out-side area of the village is what’s at stake. The Fields is the welfare ghetto. It houses the more unwanted members of society—the drug-addicts, the unfortunate single-mothers, and low-lifes. Half of the council wants to cede the Fields to the neighboring  town of Yarvil, and the other half want to try to help those who live there. The seat opened by Fairbrother’s death offers a potential resolution to this split.  Also at stake is the fate of a methadone clinic. The story is told through the eyes of several characters (too many to really detail in this short review). The reader picks up bits and pieces of the over-all story from each chapter, and finally can start putting more of it together about half-way through the book.

Though well-written and richly characterized, The Casual Vacancy lacks a gripping, centralized story. It’s more about the characters, but when all is said and done, hardly anything is resolved, and the reader is left with more questions than necessary. When I finished, I actually verbalized “That’s it?” The characters are the story, so the characters should have been the main focus of the end, and very few of them get any real solid ending.

3/5 Stars

Photo from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
Photo from:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
Credit: Carlo Allegri/REUTERS

Five Fast Facts

  1. I am a descendant of the infamous Jesse James (he’s one of my 6x-great-grandfathers–the western bank-robber, not the motorcycle guy who cut off his pinky).
  2. I loathe the works of T.S. Eliot
  3. During my childhood, we had a pet squirrel, skunk, and white-tailed deer. (The deer was released into the wild once he was old enough. We raised him after poachers killed his mother in the off-season.)
  4. I can balance on the tips of my big toes.
  5. I love the cheesy little hidden object games that you can download for free from places like iWin games or BigFish.

Hounded (Iron Druid Chronicles #1): A Review

houndedHounded is the first book in the Iron Druid Chronicles written by Kevin Hearne. It’s full of action, magic, and humor, all packed together to make for one entertaining story for any lover of urban fantasy.

Atticus O’Sullivan is a 2000+-year-old Druid, the last of his kind, who now roams the vast lands of Tempe, Arizona thinking that the Tuatha Dé Danann and Fae cannot locate him there. He hides in plain sight, operating an occult bookstore. One reason he’s hiding? The Celtic God of Love, Aenghus Óg, is pissed at him for taking the sword Fragarach. The backstory is quite interesting and  unfolds throughout the telling of the story. Aenghus Óg eventually finds Atticus and begins his quest to recover the sword.

Atticus is joined by several unusual friends, his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon, being the most awesome. Atticus has taught Oberon how to communicate with him and the hound becomes the source of many, many laughs throughout the book (and from what I’ve witnessed so far, throughout the series). The druid is also accompanied by a werewolf and vampire (both lawyers, of course), a body-snatching witch, and the Morrigan (Celtic Goddess of War and chooser of death).

The history and background of this story are rich. Hearne utilizes many religions and philosophies in the writing of this story, and he does it very well. Each God or Goddess is explained enough so those who aren’t familiar with the Celtic religion know what’s going on, and not too much that those who already know the background would get easily bored.

I listened to the audiobook version of this book as read by Luke Daniels. And Daniels does an excellent job! His voices and accents bring the characters to life and add new dimensions to the story. Each character has their own voice and vocal mannerisms. The eight hours it takes to get through the book fly by and it’s hard to press “stop.”

The Iron Druid Chronicles were recommended to me because of my love for Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and I can definitely see the similarities; however, with its rich mythos, Hounded stands on its own and is an entirely different entity. I look forward to the rest of the series!

5/5 Stars

Vacation Pics

I’m horrible about actually remembering to take pictures while I’m on vacation, so the images I usually get are sporadic. This trip to Panama City Beach, FL was no exception. I did get some nice pics of our hike at T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park and a few from Zoo World intermixed with random pictures of the beach. I did finish the first audiobook for the first book in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series (Hounded), and am half way through the second (Hexed). The review is forth coming. I only made it about halfway through The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling, but should be done and posting my review soon. Until then, enjoy my Florida memories!

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Vacation

I will be on vacation starting very early Monday morning and I won’t be back in front of my computer until Friday evening. Updates may come, as I will have my laptop, but if they do, they will be sporadic, and most likely pictures of my trip. I will be taking multiple books to read and will be listening to Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book One by Kevin Hearne on the trip to and from.

So until next time, TOODLES!

Quote

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”―William Faulkner