Running Lessons from My Dog!

mel and shoesAlthough my blog is based on “reading and running” I haven’t talked much about running here yet. So I thought I would dip my toe in the water of opening up the discussion about running… as it plays a big role in my life. It’s the activity that keeps me sane, connected, and feeling strong!

There was a point that I ran ALL. THE. TIME!!! I ran every race I could enter… pretty much it was quantity over quality. But as I craved some quality in my running life I realized that scaling back on the intensity that I ran was important, and it allowed me to enjoy the run, and so many other aspects of my life.

As many of you know already, I love to run with my dog, Mellie. But recently she hurt her leg, so our runs have been less frequent and I have really missed them. She’s the one who gets me up and out the door most days! I thought I’d share with you the top lessons that she has taught me about running.

  1. Patience is a virtue. Teaching Mellie to run was not an easy task. It’s not like one day we just put a leash on and we never stopped running. It took time and effort to get her to become the ultimate training partner that she has become.
  2. What you ate last night shouldn’t stop you from today’s run. I have seen my dog scarf down a pound of butter, and the next morning jump off her bed to go for a run with me. For her, all that matters is that she loves to run (and that day may require multiple bathroom breaks… see Lesson #4).
  3. Time is irrelevant. Whether we go out for 20 mins, or 120 mins, she still is wagging her tail, just loving life. The numbers don’t matter, just getting out the door to move is what is important.
  4. Bathroom breaks are almost always required. Mellie and I have both had babies… most days we need to take multiple bathrooms breaks. Some days more than others!
  5. A quick stretch before a run feels great. When she knows we are heading out for a run, the first thing she does is jump off her bed and does a quick downward dog. This made me think… how would I feel if I did the same thing. Turns out, pretty darn great!
  6. Hills are hard no matter who you are. Tall, short, muscular, lean, it don’t matter…. hills are hard, and I see this in her when she slows down as we approach a hill and tucks in right beside me as we start to climb it!
  7. Bragging rights are clapped back at. Whether I did a long run, a hard run, or workout, she doesn’t care. She still expects me to get up and get her out the day after. Whether I’ve run multiple marathons, or not, she doesn’t care… her sitting beside my running shoes is a way of clapping back at me the days I do not feel like running.
  8. Drinking water after a run is always a good idea. The first thing Mellie does when we get back is demolish her water bowl. She has motivated me to drink a little more myself.
  9. Everybody is a runner… it’s not a label. Imagine if you took your dog to the dog park and it just sat still… that doesn’t happen. Every dog is a runner… I’m not saying every human is a runner, I’m saying that every human can run, and being a “runner” is not how we identify dogs… so why do we feel the need to identify ourselves as a “runner”?? We run. Period!
  10. Run with a wild heart. Listening to your body, and running how it feels good is the best way to run. I watch my dog run and she is all over the place, noticing the squirrels, the bunnies, and sniffing everything. Imagine if we all just stopped to enjoy the run… that’d be pretty awesome, right?!?

Anywho, this is really a tribute to my wonderful dog and the lessons she’s taught me… she’s pretty great, even though some days she drives me crazy! I look forward to sharing more running stuff in the future, and hope you enjoy it.

 

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Since We Fell, by Dennis Lehane

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I picked up Since We Fell, by Dennis Lehane at my local library on a whim as I had seen it plastered all over Instagram. It was sitting on the shelf that is dedicated to “New Picks”, so I thought that it was a sign to pick it up and read it. It also fit in with my October reading theme… thrilling and suspenseful… check!!

Something that immediately enticed me about this book is that Dennis Lehane is a very successful author. You open up the beginning of the book to a page full of previous titles that were very popular. And several had been made into Hollywood Blockbusters like Gone, Baby, Gone, and Mystic River… which were movies that I really loved.

This book starts off by telling you that the main character, Rachel, shot her husband dead. This is a sure fire way to hook any reader! From here we work backwards to the beginning of Rachel’s story where we find out she is a former journalist who had mental breakdown on air. This breakdown lead to Rachel becoming a shut-in, who is scared of anything outside of her wonderful husband and apartment. Rachel begins to take her agoraphobia head on with treatment and begins to venture out of her apartment. On a rainy day she decides to meet a long time friend for a lunch date… when she thinks she sees her husband… who is supposed to be overseas! From here her marriage, and mental state starts to fall apart. She begins to be pulled into a downward spiral of betrayal, violence, and a psychological state that will have you guessing what is going to happen the whole time.

So… here are my thoughts on this book. Overall it was a fast paced, easy, and thrilling read. But in all honesty, it lacked depth. Like it had NO depth at all. I felt as if this book was written purely in hopes to get a movie deal, which seemed like a cop out to me. I think this could have been a really great story, but I just felt like I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. To me it seemed that they like they had no human emotions, and it was all surface level.

In saying this all this, I did love the premise of this book. Nothing is better than a psychological thriller that is done right… Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn is a prime example of this. And I literally finished this book within days because it was on the lighter, fast-paced side. So that’s a bonus! AND, I do think this would make a great movie, and will not be surprised when it comes out.

Lastly, one thing that I did like in this book was I found a great new song… Since We Fell In Love, by Lenny Welch. This is the song that the title of the book is inspired by, but also what keeps the two main characters song getting back together.

Have you read this book? I’d love to know what you think of it.

Until next time, happy reading!

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova

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Unbeknownst to me… this was the PERFECT read to welcome Fall and start off my Spooky October Reads . The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, is a great book in so many ways and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I first heard about this book on What Should I Read Next Podcast with Mel Joulwan, and she described this book very vaguely but I was so intrigued with her description of it that I actually phoned the local used bookstore to see if they had it and put it on hold for me. SO. GLAD. I. DID.

Here are some things you should know before you pick it up:

  • It flips back and forth between time periods.
  • It has some descriptive, scary moments.
  • There are letters sprinkled throughout.
  • It’s almost 700 pages long!

The Historian is the perfect blend of thriller, suspense, history, and some romance sprinkled in there as well. This book is first one to become number one on the New York Times Bestsellers list as a debut novel. It took her 10 years to research and produce this wonderful piece of literature. And the reason I think it was number one is that it speaks to many different types of genres, and it’s just a great story.

The plot blends the history and folklore of Vlad Țepeș and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula, and the story of a father/daughter relationship and how it is changed through finding a deep dark secret. This secret takes this father and daughter around Europe from monasteries, old libraries, and old family letters.

When you handle books all day long, every new one is a friend and a temptation.

Have you ever read a book that makes you think… Wow, this author must just love books! Well, that’s the feeling I had the whole time I read this novel. Her descriptions of libraries and even the feel of an old in book in your hands was just magical.

The other thing that this novel did an amazing job of was making me want to jump up off my couch and get on a plane to Eastern Europe. Kostova’s description of Budapest, Bulgaria, England, and Paris were enough to make you feel as if you were looking at this setting… which as someone who is very interested in that part of the world was absolutely captivating. I found myself looking up maps on the internet just to get a feel of the journey they were taking, and the exact landscape she was describing.

It was good to walk into a library again; it smelled like home.

I would not describe myself as a person who is interested in vampires and what not… but I sure do love a great story that is told around the legend of Dracula. And holy smokes, did I ever learn a lot!! For example, did you know that Dracula is actually based off a horrific historical figure?!? I sure didn’t, but now after reading this well researched novel I have learned so much about where Bram Stoker found his inspiration for the story of Dracula.

Ooops, I lied, one more thing that I loved about this story is the father/daughter relationship. We often read so many stories based on mother/child relationships that it was so interesting to read this story, and be reminded of the love a father has for his child. Elizabeth Kostova was actually inspired to write this book because her father told night time stories about Dracula. And I just thought this was just a tribute to the love that she holds for her father.

After I finished this novel I found a podcast episode that had Elizabeth Kostova being interviewed, and discussing her novel(s). A side note… this podcast do not contain spoilers! It was the Professional Book Nerds: Episode 93.

Anywho, that’s all for today! Happy reading!

Halloween Challenge

Hey friends, for October this year I decided that I was going to challenge myself with some “spooky” and “thrilling” books. This is definitely stretching my comfort reading zone, as I DO NOT read these types of books. My Dad reads stuff like this all the time, and to be frank, it scares the S*** out of me. I’m not saying that I am only reading these types of books, but I am going to try to read some and see why so many people enjoy this genre!

So here are some of the books I’ve been considering to read:

DraculaDracula, by Bram Stoker. This is the most obvious choice on my list… but I’ve never read it. If you haven’t read it, think Gothic atmosphere, vampires, love, and loneliness. From my understanding it follows a young English lawyer, who travels to Castle Dracula in Transylvania to finalize a real estate transaction with a nobleman named Count Dracula. Ekkk… I’m scared already!

 

It: A NovelIT, by Stephen King. Dad, if you reading this… I am finally going to take the plunge and read some Stephen King! This book is about seven adults who return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they had first stumbled on as teenagers…an evil without a name: It. It’s super long, but everyone raves about it! And immediately after I will be watching the movie.

 

 

The Graveyard BookThe Graveyard Book, by Neil GaimanI recently (as in today) listened to the WSIRN Podcast, and the guests were talking about this book. Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he’s the only living resident of a graveyard. He was raised from infancy by ghosts, werewolves, and other mystical, spooky, creatures… I’m intrigued!

 

Horns: A NovelHorns, by Joe Hill.  So, in case you don’t know, this is Stephen King’s son. He’s written several books, but I haven’t read any… even though my Dad thinks they are great, so I think it’s worth a shot! Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples. This sounds like the worst hangover ever!!

 

The Bell JarThe Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. This book seems like it’s a little closer to being in my wheel house. It is the story of Esther Greenwood who begins an internship at a popular women’s magazine, but her hopes for a career as a writer are dashed when she returns home to Massachusetts to discover she’s been rejected from a prestigious writing seminar. This is her story of a downward spiral.

 

The Shining

The Shining, by Stephen King. Here’s another one influenced by my Dad. It sounds super creepy as well… Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as winter arrives, the location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister.

 

The WitchesThe Witches, Roald Dahl. Okay… so if you were playing the game “Which one doesn’t belong?!” this would be the winner. But, I have always been a huge Roald Dahl fan, and this one is great. I actually re-read his books all the time, and when I re-read this one recently, I realized how actually scary it is. It’s a story about… witches! You guessed it.

Do you read scary or creepy books? If you could comment with your suggestions I would love to explore them. And hope you will take my October Spooky Reading Challenge with me!

Until next time, happy reading!

Once More With Feeling, by Meira Cook

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Hello bookish friends! The leaves are turning colours here now, and I cannot wait to dig into some fall reading. There are specific books I have been saving (that you will have to wait and see what they are) for this beautiful, cozy season.

I received Once More With Feeling, by Meira Cook from House of Anansi Press as an advanced reader copy. Coming in at 432 pages it is definitely on the longer sides of books, and written by a Canadian Author. When I saw that Cook was Canadian, I was pretty excited to dig into some new fiction. Cook begun writing poetry, and then transitioned into writing fiction, this being her third novel.

Once More With Feeling is set in a Canadian prairie city and in the first chapter you are introduced to a family; Max, Maggie, Sams, and Lazar Binder. Max, who after twenty years of marriage, is still in love with his wife, Maggie. While he is trying to plan a big surprise for her fortieth birthday, an unexpected event changes their family’s life, and the people of their city.

I have to be honest, this book took quite a bit of effort for me to get through. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it… just that it’s not my favourite type of read. It takes a large cast of characters that you are slowly introduced to, and you watch them deal with crises and hard situations. This story is also told over the course of a year, and each section of the book is broken into seasons. The format of this novel is set out so each chapter is told by a different person in this town. Yep… I know, I had a hard time keeping up to this too!!!

In the beginning I had no idea how all these people’s stories were connecting to the first chapter. I felt like it was all over the place, and I couldn’t relate to any of the characters. But as you dive deeper into this novel, and at the very end you see what Meira Cook was circling back to.

Things I really liked about this book:

  • It was set in Canada, and there were many Canadian cultural references.
  • The author made each character very human, and prone to error.
  • It was filled with humour, and one-liners.
  • Throughout one character’s chapters were these clever lists (which were hilarious).

I think if you were a reader who enjoys laughing out loud while you read, this would be a perfect book pick for you. The best comparison I have for this one would be that in tone I found it similar to The Corrections, by Jonathon Franzen. It is full of family drama, and difficult dynamics while trying to figure out how their lives have changed.

Anywho, you can click on any of the links on the book to purchase it now, as it was just newly released yesterday!

Up next I will be sharing my thoughts on The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. I’m really excited to chat about this one, so if it’s on your list and you are feeling up to it… read along with me. I have been also listening to some great podcasts on this book that I will be sharing with you as well.

Till next time, happy reading!!

Great Historical Fiction Books!

Hey there, bookish friends! I have a couple things to share with you today. First off, I did a guest post for my twin and buddy, Madeleine, over at Top Shelf Text. You should definitely go check it out… I’m sharing my favourite Podcasts and episodes on her fantastic blog. You should also make sure you have some time to go through her gorgeous site… your TBR list will just keep on growing!

I have been going through my “Read Books” lists and one genre I love is Historical Fiction.  I think the reason I love this genre so much is that when it’s done well, you learn so much about a time period, and almost feel like you are there. So I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite books in this genre. I would LOVE to hear about any books in this genre that stayed with you.


The Book Of Negroes: Written by Lawrence Hill, 2007 Edition, (1st Edition) Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd [Hardcover]
The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill. This is the story of Aminata Diallo who was abducted as a child from Africa, and enslaved in South Carolina. This story follows her as she is enslaved, falls in love, has children, and endures a life of hardship. She is an intelligent girl, who you see turn into a woman throughout this story. Because she is intelligent she was capable of working jobs in which she made quite an impact. This story is beautiful, heartbreaking, and delves into history in a big way.

Lilac Girls: A NovelLilac Girls, Martha Hall Kelly. I read this book this year, and it is topping my list of my favourite historical fiction books. It follows three women in different countries that are directly involved somehow in World War II. It’s an incredible story, that is actually based on true life characters. It’s a must read!

 

 

The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge Book 1)Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett. I read this book ages ago, and it still sticks with me. It’s a long book, but so worth the read. It’s all based around the building of a cathedral, and the generations of characters that takes to get it built. Throughout the story there is love stories, murder, betrayals, and so much more!

 

 

The Nightingale: A NovelThe Nightingale, Kristin Hannah. This book is based on WWII in the French countryside, and Paris. It is the story of two sisters who are very different, and also quite close. As the War looms closer to their home, it drastically changes the way they live, and eventually the paths of their lives. It’s a beautiful story, and also inspired by true events.

 

A Gentleman in Moscow: A NovelA Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles. Before I read this book Amor Towles first book, Rules of Civility, would have been here… but then I read this book, and I fell in LOVE with it. An Aristocrat, Count Rostov, is put under house arrest in 1922 under the Bolshevik tribunal in the Metropol Hotel for life. It’s a well-planned, gorgeous story, in which Towles tells the story of a beautiful life under strange circumstances. You also see how different the world changes from inside the Metropol Hotel.

The Paris WifeThe Paris Wife, Paula McLain. This is the story of Hadley Richardson, and her love story with Ernest Hemingway. It starts from the beginning when they were madly in love, working into the craziness that fame, and ego changed it. First off, it’s based mostly in Paris… that’s always a win for me. But it also features the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound, which feels like a window to the world of this amazing bunch of writers.

 

The Josephine B TrilogyThe Josephine B. Triology, Sandra Gulland. This is actually 3 books, but you can get the triology in one whole HUGE book (which I have). This is the story of the relationship between Josephine and Napoleon Bonaparte. It’s told through Josephine’s diary entries, and follows her life from a young, naive girl to a powerful, woman of influence. I love these books, and they definitely got me out a huge reading rut at one point.

 

The Birth HouseThe Birth House, Ami McKay. Based in Nova Scotia, you are thrown into a world prior to WWI in which the midwives were the only source of help to women in this area through birth, infertility, unwanted pregnancies, and unfulfilling sex lives. It also shows how the modernizing of medicine changed the course of their jobs, and how important the midwife’s role is.

 

Historical Fiction that is on my immediate To Be Read List:

  • Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
  • Circling the Sun, Paula McLain
  • The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
  • The German Girl, Armando Lucas Correa
  • The Revolution of Marina M., Janet Finch

Maud, & And Then There Were None

maud and agHey there, bookish friends! This post will be a little different as I am back from  travelling the East Coast of Canada… it was so great… but my to-do list is LONG to say the least. We stayed in PEI for a couple days, visited Anne of Green Gables, and spent lots of time on the water. But now it’s back to reality and  getting ready to head back to work after my maternity leave!!! Feeling scared to see how it goes, but… hopefully I can handle everything once I’m back. I feel like there is potential for me to either be hyper-organized, or it could be absolute chaos. In the meantime, this is my warning to you!

I specifically chose two of the books I read while we were away, because of where they were set. I thought reading books that were set in places that we were travelling to, would be a great way to further my experience. I was so right! I posted about the “Quebec” book I read, Glass Houses, by Louise Penny, but Maud is the next one I chose.

Maud, by Melanie Fishbane is a fictional account of L.M. Montgomery’s childhood and adolescent years. This is a Young Adult novel, and this isn’t typically a genre I read, but the beautiful cover and description sucked me in. On a whim I bought this book with no back story or reviews of it, and I am so happy to be adding it alongside my L.M. Montgomery collection.

When you open up the cover of this book you see a “Cast of Characters” and a description of each one of them. This, I love. It’s so interesting to read about these people who played roles in Maud’s life, but also know that they were real people whom of which inspired some of her writing. This book is a relatively easy read and is also quite dreamy like Anne of Green Gables.

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I think if you are a fan of L.M. Montgomery’s work, or even just a fan of Anne of Green Gables, this novel will resonate so deeply with you. The reader can tell that Melanie Fishbane is intrigued by Maud, and has a deep love for her. Melanie reveals at the end that she is a huge fan of L.M. Montgomery and seeing this work of fiction developed from her research, conversations, and travelling is remarkable. I found this book to have parallels to Anne, which made reading it even more so pleasant as you see possibly into why Maud felt so inspired to write.

One thing that is true throughout this book is that Maud was dedicated to her dreams, and had a love for the written word at an early age. Because this was not typically what women did during her generation made Maud all that more ballsy. I loved it!

She would write about girls who dreamed of words, art, music, and love-girls who were embraced by their communities and families, even if they were considered queer.

Up next, I choose my first Agatha Christie novel, And Then There Were None. Holy smokes!!! Why didn’t I read any of her work before?? I think that I hadn’t picked up any of her books prior to this is because I know that some schools have her books as required reading material.. and for some reason that just seemed like it would be a lot of work to read. I WAS SO WRONG. This book is fantastic.

agThis is a classic Who-Dun-It novel. In fact… I think Agatha Christie invented this genre! It’s just a brilliant piece of fiction, coming in at 204 pages it’s also a fast read.

The premise of this mystery novel is ten strangers are invited to an isolated island by a mysterious, millionaire host. It’s revealed shortly after their arrival that they all have a deep dark secret that is shared among the guests. From here, one by one, they die.

This book is a work of genius. It’s all built around a childhood riddle, which is called Ten Little Indians. This riddle ends up with each little Indian slowly dying… which in turn coincides with each of the ten strangers death. I am not the best person on figuring out “who did it?” in a murder mystery novel, but this one left me guessing the whole time and perplexed at the end. I actually wanted to read back to see what signs pointed to the murderer that I missed! One last thing, this book is funny… there were parts that I was actually reading out loud to my husband while we were driving.

Long story short, definitely pick up an Agatha Christie murder mystery book soon if you haven’t yet. I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. I have been slowly buying these from Vinnie’s Peterborough, for 50 cents, and so glad I have a little collection of these books to dive into.

Anywho, that’s all for today! Happy reading!