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September 2012

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Half-Marathon Training: Day 1

September 30, 2012

Well, any illusions I had about this being ‘not too difficult’ have been shattered.

I really struggled with breathing, which I found odd as I do three sessions of Zumba a week and don’t struggle, of course running is something completely different though, so hopefully that will improve in time.

My Mom and Fiance did great and didn’t seem to struggle as much as me. Crazy to think that in three months time if we follow this programme, we’ll be able to run 13 miles.

We managed just over two miles today, which I don’t think was too bad at all.

I hope that in a months time I’ll look back at this and feel much better about running and how I’m doing.

Life

Just Signed Up For A Half Marathon.

September 29, 2012

I know right, what am I thinking?

My Mum received an email the other day from a charity we both support, Wings For Life, (they carry out research into spinal cord injuries) about the Silverstone Half Marathon in March and running on behalf of them.

We’ve never done any running before and thought it’d be a fun challenge, and it means we get to run around the Silverstone race circuit, how could I say no to that? We managed to rope my fiance in, who goes running, so he will be our trainer of sorts.

So training starts tomorrow, it also means I have to eat healthy food, yikes.

Anyone run a half marathon or marathon before? Any tips for me?

Book Reviews, Thriller

Rosie Reads: Olivier Nilsson-Julien – The Ice Cage

September 25, 2012

The Ice Cage follows a Londoner called Magnus who returns to Aland in Scandinavia, following his Fathers death. Despite it being 20 years since he last saw his Father, something strikes him as odd and wrong about his Father’s supposedly natural death.

The story is told from Magnus’ point of view, with the odd chapter written in italics, which is clearly being told from somebody else’s point of view. Half way through the book you come to realise that these are the actions and the thoughts of a killer. I really enjoyed that, it’s not something I’ve come across in a book yet so I found it really interesting and it makes you read on to find out whose thoughts these are.

Another brilliant thing about this book is that the way the author describes the island and the ice, combined with the locals who are clearly covering for someone. It makes it feel really claustrophobic and you can’t imagine that there could possibly be a positive ending to the story.

There’s not a dull moment in this book and you’re constantly trying to solve the murder in your head, which makes it very tricky to put down.

This book is currently free for the Kindle, MADNESS! I had always (and wrongly) assumed that free books wouldn’t be this good. I thought they’d be alright and a good stop gap between books, but The Ice Cage has proven me wrong. I’m really looking forward to the second instalment which comes out sometime next year.

I can’t recommend this book enough and seeing as it’s free, you’d be daft not to give it a go.

I give this book a 5/5.

Book Reviews, Books

Rosie Reads: Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird

September 23, 2012

After finishing In Too Deep last week, I decided to have a root around the house to see what I could find, and came across To Kill a Mockingbird.

To Kill A Mockingbird follows the childhood of Jean-Louise Finch, a.k.a Scout and her brother Jem as they are raised in Alabama by her father, Atticus.

The story covers racism and prejudice and how Scout views it and has to deal with it when her Father is appointed to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who has been accused of rape, something the rest of the town are less than happy about.

The first part of the book sets the scene and is on it’s own just a nice story about a girl and her brother growing up and being scared and curious of a neighbour known as ‘Boo Radley’, who they have never seen but is rumoured to be a murder amongst other things.

It follows their summers with their friend Dill, as they hatch plans to try and get Boo to come outside.

It’s the second part of the story where it really gets interesting as Atticus goes to court to defend Tom, who will be taken to ‘the chair’ if he’s found guilty.

Atticus tears the defence to shreds, and reading it, just like Jem, you can’t see how Tom could possibly be found guilty. Unfortunately the jury are too racist to see past the truth and Tom receives the ‘guilty verdict’. This really upsets Scout and Jem as in their innocence they can’t understand how people could be so prejudice, when the truth is plain to see.

I really enjoyed this book, the main characters were really well developed and so likeable, especially Atticus who is a fantastic role model, not only for his children but for the readers. He’s a moral compass, wise and despite how racist or prejudice other members of the town are made out to be, he still believes they are good people.

The last time I read a book with a moral behind it was back at school, and I think I’ve missed it. The important message to take away from this book is that you should see people for what they are, not what you hear about them.

Harper Lee manages to deal with prejudice and racism beautifully without being preachy at all and the story is truly touching. I can see why To Kill A Mockingbird is considered a classic, it’s one of those books that will stick with you long after you’ve put it down.

It’s crazy to think that Harper Lee almost destroyed this book, thank goodness she didn’t.

I give this book a 5/5.

What did you think of To Kill A Mockingbird?

Paris, Travel

Paris: Part 2 – Trip into Paris & Arc de Triomphe.

September 21, 2012

You can read Paris Part 1 here.

After two wonderful days in Disneyland, it was time to head into Paris, which meant a 40 minute train journey followed by a rather horrible trip on the Metro.

I don’t like underground travel systems, I find them impressive from an engineering point of view they really are pretty spectacular, but I really hated the Metro. It was hot, humid and the train so bumpy, it was like sticking a train on a trampoline. Me and my sister hated it, but it was worth it to get into Paris.

Our hotel wasn’t far from the Metro station (ugh, flashback to that awful band) which was rather handy as walking through the streets of Paris with suitcases in tow isn’t easy.

We were treated to wonderful views of the Eiffel Tower from our hotel, we knew it would be close but we didn’t realise how close, it was a mere three-four minute walk away.

We got to the hotel and showered and rested our feet as much as we could before we headed out into Paris for the evening. I’ve never experienced a city quite like Paris.

There are people absolutely everywhere, as you would expect in a city, but it still seems calm and peaceful. There were parks full of people but you didn’t feel uneasy as you would in the UK, though I suspect that might be something to do with armed Police Officers wandering around casually with a machine gun, that’d calm UK park-dwelling youths down.

We stood in the Champ de Mars admiring the Eiffel Tower and then it struck as a little odd that there was a park full of people just all sat down or wandering around looking at the Eiffel Tower. (And wow does it look great at night)

After admiring the Eiffel Tower, we strolled down to the Seine and came across a couple of bars and cafe’s at the side of the river, which made incredible crepes, we couldn’t say no! You know what they say, when in Rome Paris.

The next morning we stupidly decided that instead of having breakfast in the hotel, we’d go to try and find some while heading for the Arc de Triomphe. Now, I don’t know if there are no cafes in Paris that are open for breakfast or whether we missed them all, but we couldn’t find anywhere to eat and ended up going for breakfast in McDonald’s on the Champs Elysees.

McDonald’s in Paris are great, they have a McCafe, which serves all kinds of coffee, cakes and pastries, I wish we had these in the UK. It was basically an affordable Starbucks but even tastier.

After filling our faces on croissants (of course, what else?) we decided to scale the Arc de Triomphe, to which my sister said “What do I want to go and look at an arch for?”. *Facepalm*

Another wonderful thing about Paris is that if you’re under 24 you get into a lot of attractions for either free or a seriously reduced rate, the Arc de Triomphe just happens to be one of those attractions, which was a nice surprise for my purse.

The walk to the top was a scary, tight spiralling stairs are not my idea of fun, though I did think it was funny that there were benches at the top of the stairs so tired tourists could sit down and rest.

You don’t actually come out at the top of the Arc, you end up in a gift shop and a room with some information on how it was built and the history behind it, which was nice.

A trip up a few more steps took us out onto the top of the Arc and we were treated to brilliant views. It was a nice clear day and we could see as far as Sacre Coeur and of course, there was no missing the Eiffel Tower. On one side you could see historic Paris, but over the other side you could see a ‘modern Paris’ emerging, with new buildings that would look more at home in the business district of London.

Book Genres, Book Reviews, Dystopian, Young Adult

Suzanne Collins – Catching Fire – Book Review.

September 20, 2012

A week ago I posted my review of The Hunger Games, so it’s time for a review of Catching Fire.

Catching Fire follows the fallout of the ending of The Hunger Games, which ultimately sees Katniss, under the threat of her families death, Peeta and previous victors back in the arena for the ‘quarter quell’, which happens every 25 years.

I found the start of this book quite slow and I didn’t feel instantly hooked as I had with the Hunger Games.

Then there’s the Katniss, Peeta and Gale love triangle, which got somewhat annoying and I found myself shouting at the book on occasions. What I found more annoying was the lack of Gale in the book, she obviously likes Gale a lot and he’s at the very least a best friend to her, yet we don’t get to find out why and that frustrated me.

Another huge downside with this book is that there’s an awful lot of waffle and no action, we don’t see any real action towards the end. Suzanne Collins may have been able to get away with leaving action until the end if it were the first book in the series, but following on from an action packed book, this seemed a bit of a let down.

There wasn’t an awful lot about the other districts or the other characters who joined them in the area and at times I had trouble remember who was who during the final chapters when they were all back in the area. I found myself having to flick back through to book to figure out if they were on Katniss and Peeta’s side or not.

Though I really did enjoy President’s Snow, he came across as a really creepy and underhanded character and you could understand Katniss’ fear of him.

The last few chapters of the book were electrifying (pun intended) and made up for the lack of action throughout.

Not an awful book by any means, but certainly not on par with the Hunger Games.

I’d give Catching Fire a 3.9/5 but only because of the great ending.

Life

It’s Hard Being A Cat

September 20, 2012

Last night I came home to find my cat hiding in my washing basket. He’s always had an obsession with washing baskets since he was a kitten. He used to knock them over, climb into them and wait for the dog to walk past before swiping his paw at the dog and confusing the poor thing.

He also likes watching videos of birds on the iPad and gets quite confused when he can’t see them in the room and starts looking behind the iPad. I think that might be a bit mean really.

I’d love to be a cat for the day, they always look really comfortable, no matter what weird position they’re sleeping in.

What a random post.

Book Reviews

Kathryn Shay – In Too Deep – Book Review

September 17, 2012

While nosing through the book charts on my Kindle last night trying to find something to read, I decided to take a look at the free charts to see if there was anything interesting out.

I don’t know why I decided to download this really, I think I was just fed up of looking and wanted to read something.

The novella follows the Hidden Cove Fire Deparment and the relationship between Captain Gabe and one of his Officers Rachel after they get trapped in a building and admit their feelings to each other.

I found it a bit ridiculous and cliched to be honest. When Gabe and Rachel were telling each other how they felt, I couldn’t help but laugh, it just sounded so childish.

Secondly, why did they think no one would know where they were? They were firefights in a building with the rest of their team, I think the rest of the team might have figured out their Captain of all people was missing. Come on!

I thought Gabe’s character was a bit of a prat. As a Captain he wouldn’t risk compromising his position, it probably does happen in real life but it just seemed stupid to me.

One thing I will praise is that it’s clear Kathryn did her homework here and the dialogue between the fire men and women is realistic and I can imagine the problems they faced from the local journalist do happen.

That says something really that I found the dialogue more interesting than the main plot of the story now doesn’t it?

I read a couple of reviews that suggested the story was realistic, in what world I’m not sure.

It was an alright short read while I’m in between books, but I have no desire to read the other five in the set.

I’d give it a 1.5 out of 5.