Go Ask Alice…About the Queen

When pleased, I beat like a drum. When sad, I break like glass. Once stolen, I can never be taken back. What am I?

In a blog post a few days ago I wrote that I was listening to Heartless by Marissa Meyer.  Although I was not enjoying the storyline at that moment, things took a rapid and f6c56d2219b28eb6bdd7b6640ee6bf62surprising change when I turned the pages to chapter 45 and the book came to a heartless climax.

Without revealing too much, here’s the scoop.  Cath has won the affection of the bumbling King of Hearts, but she is in love with Jest the court joker.  Jest is a babe and a scoundrel — certainly not a suitable match for a potential Queen of Hearts, according to her parents.

As it always goes with fractured fairy tales, fate has other plans for the star-crossed lovers.  Cath’s heart is viciously and irrevocably broken, leaving her with one life-changing option.  Off with his head.

In this prequel to Alice in Wonderland, Marissa Meyer shares the story of the notorious bad girl of the Kingdom — the Queen of Hearts.


Heartless: A Heart Once Stolen Can Never be Given Back


This morning, I completed 13.1 miles and submitted my finish time in fulfillment of the requirements for the virtual Christmas in July Half Marathon.  My race shirt and my flashing Christmas tree finishers’ medal should arrive within a few weeks.

I started early this morning so I could return home in time to watch the Wimbledon Men’s Championship match (go, Roger!).  There was a chill in the pre-dawn air, the sky was blue, and a slight breeze was coming out of the north.  This morning’s listening selection was Heartless by Marissa Meyer.  Less creative and captivating than The Lunar Chronicles, Meyer’s take on four traditional fairy tales, I am barely enjoying Heartless.  I’ve read reviews that say the ending “left a bad taste,” Ten more chapters to go — I will let you know how it turns out.

Back to races and challenges and other tales of self-shellacking.  In a surprising turn of events I went to visit a chiropractor to ease an acute numbness in my left hand, but the 18584855treatment has done much more than help my hand.  Dr. Troy has turned out to be a godsend — physically and mentally.  He “gets” the reason behind the miles I put in and the weight training.  Best of all — he has a plan to help me improve my performance.

What’s next on the race schedule?  My first, and probably last, ultramarathon with two more marathons on the schedule in the fall.  2018 will start with my one and done Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World.

What’s next on the reading list to get me through the miles?  Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger and Once and For All by Sarah Dessen.

32 of 51 books completed in my Goodreads Challenge for 2017
49.5 of 6,800 miles completed on the American Discovery Trail
83 of 100 lifetime half marathons completed



A Little Romance with Nicola Yoon

Last year, I read a debut young adult novel by American author Nicola Yoon.  I selected to read Everything, Everything because it was a New York Times Best Seller, it appeared on the YALSA 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults list, and it had an attractive 18692431dust jacket.  Isn’t that how everyone selects books to read?

Seventeen-year-old Madeline suffers from severe combined immunodeficiency and is confined to the sterile environment of her home.  When a new family moves into the house next door, Madeline befriends the son and the two begin communicating online.  Both teens have complicated family relationships.  As circumstances draw Madeline and Olly closer, both teens take chances that lead to surprising revelations.

Everything, Everything was the best of the best I read in 2016.  It had romance, it had intrigue, and it was loaded with teen rebellion.  Well done, Nicole Yoon.

28763485Onward to 2017 and Yoon’s second young adult novel, The Sun is Also A Star.  Natasha believes in science and facts, not love at first sight.  Enter Daniel, the good son and dreamer who believes that everything happens for one reason only—fate.

The novel takes place over the course of one day in New York City, with two teens that have nothing in common, share the hushed details of their lives and fall in love.

In a story told in alternating points of view, The Sun is Also a Star transported me to a “what if” time in my teen years.  A time when passion defied reason and illogical love felt nothing less than logical.

The Art of Discovery & Adventure

While poking around the new book shelves at the Library, I found a title that was as timely as it was fascinating.

Explorers’ Sketchbooks by Huw Lewis-Jones and Kari Herbert details photographic examples of the journals created by explorers throughout history.  I was intrigued by the personal nature of some of the entries — words that described discoveries the explorers themselves encountered.   Some of the familiar names that popped off the pages were Roald Amundsen, John James Audubon, Charles Darwin, Thor Heyerdahl, and so many others.

One of my personal favorites in the book was the journal of Edmund Hillary, the New Ze32784264aland explorer, who with Tenzing Norgay, became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. On May 29, 1953, on a page with the heading, “The Summit,” Hillary wrote that he peeped out their tent and “indulged in the sensations of gazing over the world from our lofty perch.”

I like to journal and sketch.  Throughout the years I have sporadically maintained a personal diary.  I have created scrapbooks with magazine clippings that were embellished with drawings from my own hand.  I have detailed trips in marble-covered theme books.

More recently, I have returned to journaling and sketching and have plans to chronicle future adventures.  Explorers’ Sketchbooks was a beautiful book about the art of discovery.  I look forward to following the example of my fellow explorers.


Summer Reading from the List-aholic


It’s time for summer reading — even for Bill Gates.  On his Gates Notes blog, Gates offers the 5 Summer Reads on his list.  There are two on the list that I have on my “must read” list — Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and A Full Life by Jimmy Carter.

One of my favorite lists is the Young Adult Library Association’s annual publication of the Teen Top Ten.   It’s a teen choice list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite titles. The teens have never failed to disappoint me with their choices.

From the BookBub Facebook page comes Your Ultimate Beach Reading List for the Fourth of July.  I am currently reading The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand and read If Not For You by Debbie Macomber in April.  All the titles are light, entertaining, and great books to read while lounging by the pool or on the beach.

Also by the Young Adult Library Association comes a list of the 2017 Great Graphic Novels for Teens.  One title on the list I personally recommend is March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell.  The title won the 2016 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

If you have younglings in the house, keep them turning pages with the Ultimate Summer Reading List for 3 to 5-Year-olds.  Two notables on the list worth singling out are We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio and Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman.  The list is by Read Brightly, a 2017 Webby-nominated site.

What can we change in a single generation?  That is the theme of the 2017 UC Berkeley Summer Reading List for New Students.  This year’s list is quite eclectic and includes Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording and one of my personal favorites, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

From the New York Times comes Books to Breeze Through This Summer.  Although I have heard of all the titles on the list, I have not read any of them.  I am looking forward to diving into this list!

More lists to come.  In the meantime, enjoy reading this summer.




Space and Spaghetti…

In July 1969, my parents loaded the family into the Ford Galaxy and made the drive from New Jersey to Florida to watch the Apollo 11 launch at Cape Kennedy.  I was probably the one most excited about the trip and the launch-viewing opportunity.  And as I look back on the event, it was one of the most pivotal and cherished memories from my youth.

We were a “space race” family who kept up with the launches by television and through the newspapers.  Being well-informed about NASA was necessary as it was the topic of many family dinner conversations.  Space and spaghetti — it was a winning combination.

Each year a wave of nostalgia hits me when the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing approaches.  When that annual tsunami of emotion arrives, I turn to books about the space race so I can re-live that moment in history and keep the memories 586472alive.

One of my favorites is The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe.  Published in 1979, the book is about America’s space race, the politics that surrounded the goal to beat the Russians, and the people who put their personal lives on the line to achieve that goal.  It is historic as it is biographic  — a true celebration of the American spirit.

In 2013, Lily Koppel wrote The Astronaut Wives Club, a non-fiction title about the women behind the Mercury Seven astronauts.  It is an ironic story about the women who were portrayed as perfect wives by NASA and journalists, but in reality had less than idyllic lives.  The 2015 television series that was loosely based on the book received mixed reviews — and rightly so.

One of the best titles in recent years is Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.  Most everyone has seen the highly acclaimed film adaptation — but the book IS better.  The title tells the story of the women who used their mathematical talents in the early days of the space race to act as human computers for NASA.  The women were “hidden” because they were African American and working in a segregated workplace.  We’ve come a long way.

On my reading list for this month is Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger.  It may be time to cook some spaghetti and start the dinner conversation!





Failure to act always brings consequences…

During yesterday’s 5K race, I was able to enjoy a few more chapters in Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn. To be honest, I dislike this particular Expanded Universe character such that the storyline incited me to move along the course at a quicker pace.  End result — I came in first in my age group.

Star Wars: Thrawn takes place after Revenge of the Sith and before Rogue OneThe novel chronicles the rescue of the exiled Chiss leader by Imperial soldiers and his subsequent, and very swift rise to power.  With his pragmatic approach to warfare, Thrawn relies onthrawn his intellect and his skill with military strategy to defend the Empire.  Although he proves to be a valuable asset, his seductive and turncoat personality strikes the anger of his superiors.

One of my favorite aspects of the Star Wars storyline is the depth and breadth of the characters and how the franchise creatively introduces them and brings them to life. When we watch the feature films we learn about the Star Wars Universe, enjoy the adventures of the ever-growing number of characters, and how they interact to support the story.  But it is through the Expanded Universe — the books, comic books, graphic novels, video games, and other media — that we gain an intimate knowledge of each character’s background and personal quest.

As I get ready to head out today for double-digit training miles in prep for my next race, I hope to finish the final chapters of Star Wars: Thrawn and consider something I read a few days ago about the question that plagues every Star Wars fan.  The secret to Snoke’s true identity is right before our eyes.

Is Supreme Leader Snoke actually Thrawn?