Wednesday, 6 October 2021

#CBR13 Book 40: "Rule of Wolves" by Leigh Bardugo

Page count: 598 pages
Audio book length: 17 hrs 44 mins
Rating: 4.5 stars

CBR13 Bingo: Fauna (dragon, wolf, falcon and fox on the cover)

In this second part of the King of Scars duology, the stakes are ridiculously high, pretty much as soon as we start off. The book starts pretty much immediately after the end of King of Scars, and if you're not caught up with all the books in the Grishaverse so far, this review will probably spoil things for you. Continue at your own risk.

Nikolai Lantsov has made some peace with the monster inside him, but one of his worst enemies just came back from the dead, the Shu empress wants him dead and is willing to sacrifice her own sister to ensure this goal, the Fjerdans are ready to declare war on him, and the woman he loves seems more out of reach than ever.

Zoya is mightily sick of war, and casualties, and losing loved ones to pointless conflicts. She will nevertheless fight until her last dying breath to defend Ravka, the Grisha, and her king. A king who will have to make a successful and strategic marriage alliance to help strengthen Ravka in the conflicts they are facing, both internal and external. She's also tormented by the return of someone she believed was dead and gone, and it's not helping her keep calm and rational, as appropriate for a general facing war on multiple fronts.

Nina is still wearing another woman's face and working with the daughter of her enemy to spy on the Fjerdans. She's trying to persuade the Fjerdan people that the Grisha are not the dangerous threats that the Witch-hunters paint them to be, and find out as many state secrets as possible to aid her king and general in the rapidly-approaching war. She's not at all happy when it seems like the best way to discover more of Fjerda's invasion plans involves her loyal friend Hanne Brum's prolonged flirtation with and possible betrothal to the spoiled and unstable Fjerdan crown prince. 

I'm trying not to reveal too much of the plot here, and these books really have a lot going on. I love Nikolai, Zoya, Nina, and the rest of the numerous cast of these books so much and should probably go back and give the Shadow and Bone trilogy another chance. Now that I know where the story ends up going, I may have more patience for the setup and Bardugo learning her writing craft, which she is now excellent at. There is so much happening in this duology, and if it ever makes it to the screen (who knows how much money Netflix is willing to fork out for YA fantasy?) it's going to make for spectacular entertainment. 

This book had me in parts laughing, crying, biting my nails (both figuratively and literally), and quietly sighing with relief. There are cameos from several of the gang from the Six of Crows duology, as well as more time spent with series favourites from Ravka. I've always been incredibly impressed with Bardugo's world-building, and now that the focus isn't on Alina and Mal (I just could not with those two drips) I pretty much adore everyone I'm reading about, while thoroughly loathing the villains.

Lauren Fortgang, who seems to be Bardugo's audiobook narrator of choice, continues to do an excellent job here, and while the audiobook is long, I kept finding new excuses to listen, even when I was at home. I don't know whether Bardugo has plans to continue writing in her wonderful Grishaverse, the ending of this book could suggest that, maybe, if we're lucky, there are more adventures to come at some point in the future. 

Judging a book by its cover: While the cover for King of Scars was all golden, this one is all silver. The beautiful woodcut effect is continued here, with the big tree in the centre of the cover probably being one of the trees holy to the Fjerdans (the metaphorical wolves of the title). There's also a number of carved animals, all representing various characters or nations in the story, very cleverly done. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

#CBR13 Book 39: "Paper Girls, vol 1" by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang

Page count: 144 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

CBR13 Bingo: Gateway

It's just after Halloween 1988, and four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls have a very unusual night, full of surprises, peril, and unexpected occurrences.

I went into Paper Girls knowing literally nothing about it except that it was written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang, both artists whose work I've liked in the past. Did I know it was set in the late 1980s? Nope. Did I know the protagonists were pre-teens? Big old no. Had I given the title or contents much thought? No, again. I'd just heard a lot of people say it was good, and when the first volume was on offer at my local nerd emporium (where I get pretty much all of my comics, dead tree fantasy and/or sci-fi books, Funko Pops, pop culture-inspired tat and tabletop wargaming paraphernalia for the husband), I picked it up and decided to read it this summer.

I have a turbulent relationship with the creative works of Brian K. Vaughan. I read and mostly enjoyed a lot of his Y: the Last Man, until he made some choices, especially regarding the fate of one of my favourite characters in the final volume that I still have not forgiven him for. He also wrote that absolutely rubbish lions of Baghdad zoo comic, which I literally threw across the room in exasperation. However, he then earned a LOT of forgiveness for Saga, although the jury is out on how much trouble he's in at the moment since the title is STILL on hiatus and my charitable thoughts towards him could go either way, depending on how the series continues (those of you who have read Saga, vol 9 know what I'm referring to). So I was a bit wary about picking up a new title from him.

I've enjoyed Cliff Chiang's art in both Brian Azzarello's run on Wonder Woman and in Ms. Marvel. He still does good work here. 

Volume 1 collects the first six issues of Paper Girls, which I read in an afternoon in mid-July (yes, that is how far behind on reviews I am right now - go corona brain crossed with depression! No initiative at all here). I enjoyed what I read, but was also massively confused, as I honestly had no preconceptions about what I'd be reading, but I certainly hadn't expected a sort of Stranger Things crossed with The X-Files. There is a lot of set-up in these six issues, much of it very muddled, and while I'm sure it will all become more clear once I read more (because I was hooked enough that I will pick up at least the following two volumes to give it a chance), as of now, I didn't really think I could rate this any higher than I have. I thought it fit well into the Gateway square, as it was my gateway into this new comics universe. 

Judging a book by its cover: See, I don't think the girls on this cover look 12! One of them is smoking, for heaven's sake! Yes, yes, I know a whole bunch of individuals started smoking early in the olden days, but I still wasn't expecting this foursome of tough-looking young ladies to be as young as they are. So possibly Cliff Chiang's cover art could have been more clear? Possibly I just needed to do the bare minimum of research about the comic before picking it up? Anyways, I blame this cover for being surprised at how young our protagonists are. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

Sunday, 3 October 2021

#CBR13 Book 38: "Heartstopper, vol 4" by Alice Oseman

Page count: 353 pages
Rating: 4 stars

CBR13 Bingo: Reader's Choice (replaces Landscape)

Charlie and Nick are getting crazier and crazier about each other, they still haven't actually declared their feelings fully for one another. That's one hurdle that can be monumental in any relationship, let alone between already insecure teens. While Nick's Mum is incredibly supportive, he still hasn't come out to his Dad, who is going to be visiting soon, and based on his brother, he's not sure how his father is going to react. 

Then there's the rather more worrying realisation that Nick has come to - he's pretty sure that Nick is suffering from disordered eating to a degree where he won't be able to handle it by himself. Their relationship is still new and fresh enough that that's not a conversation that's fun to have. 

While Heartstopper volumes 1-3 are mostly incredibly comforting and uplifting reading, Oseman doesn't shy away from more serious topics, and by now, in volume 4, she's fully established the various romantic and more platonic relationships and can delve into some darker territory. Coming out to a distant parent and having to deal with an eating disorder definitely qualify as darker. Not that I needed to worry, the topics are covered with the same deft touch and sensitivity that Oseman showed in her first three volumes. I continue to love this graphic novel series, and will be buying new volumes as long as Oseman chooses to write them. 

As well as the continuing romantic adventures and struggles of Nick and Charlie, the comic is full of their friends and family members, as established in the first three books. At the end of this volume, there is also a little bonus comic showing glimpses of the romance of the two male teachers who found each other on the Paris trip in volume 3. 

Judging a book by its cover: It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that this is a romance comic, based on the image on the cover. For unwary readers, the LGBTQ+ topic may be surprising, but I doubt many people start with volume 4 of something and are therefore very aware of what they're getting.

Crossposted by Cannonball Read

#CBR13 Book 37: "How to Find a Princess" by Alyssa Cole

Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 3 stars

Official book description:
Makeda Hicks has lost her job and her girlfriend in one fell swoop. The last thing she’s in the mood for is to rehash the story of her grandmother’s infamous summer fling with a runaway prince from Ibarania, or the investigator from the World Federation of Monarchies tasked with searching for Ibarania’s missing heir.

Yet when Beznaria Chetchevaliere crashes into her life, the sleek and sexy investigator exudes exactly the kind of chaos that organized and efficient Makeda finds irresistible, even if Bez is determined to drag her into a world of royal duty Makeda wants nothing to do with.

When a threat to her grandmother’s livelihood pushes Makeda to agree to return to Ibarania, Bez takes her on a transatlantic adventure with a crew of lovable weirdos, a fake marriage, and one-bed hijinks on the high seas. When they finally make it to Ibarania, they realize there’s more at stake than just cash and crown, and Makeda must learn what it means to fight for what she desires and not what she feels bound to by duty.

Alyssa Cole's contemporary romances keep being lauded on romance review sites I frequent, and I keep reading her books, waiting to be as impressed as others seem to be. We first met Beznaria "Bez" Chetchevaliere in a cameo in the first book in this series, How to Catch a Queen. Turns out I possibly prefer her in smaller doses, she's a bit much as a protagonist in her own book. I can see why Makeda is rather taken aback by her. 

Frequently one of my complaints of Cole's contemporary romances is that the heroines are way more impressive than the heroes and I just don't think they've found a person who's good enough for them. In this story, where we have two heroines, I'm still not entirely sold on them as a couple. I think I liked them fine as individuals and people interacting, but kept waiting for the romance to work for me - which it never really did.

Additionally, there is the whole missing "long lost heir" storyline that played out in an albeit surprising manner, certainly not at all the way I was expecting it to, but that once again felt a bit too outlandish to me. The things I liked best about this book were Makeda's grandmother, said grandmother's mean old cat and the dude we are introduced to who is yet another royal (SO many of them out there in Cole's romance world) out and about in a secret identity. He seemed interesting, so I guess I'll probably pick up the next book in this series as well. With the exception of her historical romances, Ms. Cole is now very much a "pick up on sale" or whenever I can find one available at the library. There's always enough entertainment value in each book that I don't entirely regret spending the time reading them, though. Not exactly the strongest recommendation, but there we are. 

Judging a book by its cover: As always, Ms. Cole has really beautiful covers, featuring beautiful people in interesting outfits. I still think the model who portrays Bez should have been more muscular (her arms are basically matchsticks, which feels very wrong) and her shoulders should have been wider, but otherwise, I guess it's fine. It's always nice to see two ladies in a clinch cover instead of the standard hetero couple. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

#CBR13 Book 36: "Teach Me" by Olivia Dade

Page count: 276 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

CBR13 Bingo: Rec'd (by Emmalita, Narfna and FaintingViolet)

Official book description:

Their lesson plans didn't include love. But that's about to change...

When Martin Krause arrives at Rose Owens's high school, she's determined to remain chilly with her new colleague. Unfriendly? Maybe. Understandable? Yes, since a loathsome administrator gave Rose's beloved world history classes to Martin, knowing it would hurt her.

But keeping her distance from a man as warm and kind as Martin will prove challenging, even for a stubborn, guarded ice queen. Especially when she begins to see him for what he truly is: a man who's never been taught his own value. Martin could use a good teacher--and luckily, Rose is the best.

Rose has her own lessons--about trust, about vulnerability, about her past--to learn. And over the course of a single school year, the two of them will find out just how hot it can get when an ice queen melts. 

Olivia Dade has been on my TBR list for literally years and I even got an ARC of this book back in 2019, before it was first published. The original cover for the book was not the appealing and beautiful one it has now. Hence I forgot about it and my Netgalley completion stats got that little bit worse. Since then, I've seen Dade's books raved about on a number of romance review sites, as well as on our own Cannonball Read. I kept promising myself that I would pick up one of her books, any day now. The lovely MsWas even gifted me Spoiler Alert. So when I was going to choose a book for the "Rec'd" category on this year's CBR Bingo, I was pretty sure it had to be one of Olivia Dade's, and my guilty conscience about never having reviewed my NetGalley ARC reared its head - so Teach Me became the obvious choice. That it's a book about teachers certainly didn't hurt either.

It will come as no surprise to any of the many who have read Dade's books that of course, I loved this. It feels like so much of this year has been one long reading slump, with the occasional exception that lights up my life and where I finish the book in 24-48 hours. Teach Me was absolutely one of those books. I loved both Rose and Martin and while the American school system is rather different from ours (in Norwegian schools, you have exactly the same classes in secondary school no matter what your thoughts on higher education, while you apply for high schools based on your general interest and future plans - either vocational or prep for higher education). School management here prefer one teacher to follow their classes for the three years they go to secondary school, if at all possible (which is why I currently have only classes in tenth grade, all kids I've taught for three years and know really well). So what happens to Rose would be very unlikely to happen to me. 

Nor would I have to spend lots of my money on extra classroom resources for the pupils (one more hooray for socialism, making sure the schools provide pretty much everything the teachers and kids need during the school year - sometimes our text books are a bit outdated, but I've never had to buy my own school supplies). Nevertheless, teachers who really care about their students and want what is best for them are the same sort of people no matter where in the world you go, and Rose and Martin are obviously dedicated and hard-working teachers, who just need to work through the awkwardness of the unpleasant school administrator who decided to try to sabotage Rose, so they can fully appreciate their mutual attraction and move towards their HEA.

I love that Rose's ex-parents-in-law basically refused to cut ties with her after her divorce, and were fully aware both why the marriage didn't work out and the flaws of their own son. Rose is clearly a treasure, her ex was clearly a losing proposition, and I'm glad she didn't have to lose her lovely and supportive in-laws in the divorce. Martin's daughter was also a lovely supporting character, as were several of the other staff at school. 

Now that I've finally taken the plunge, so to speak, and let myself really experience Ms. Dade's writing, I'm obviously going to seek out everything else she's written. Thankfully I have amassed quite a lot of her books in various e-book sales, so I should be able to catch up with the rest of the Marysburg stories and then the Spoiler Alert books (since the new one is out in October) before the end of the year. 

Judging a book by its cover: When I got the ARC from Netgalley, the cover art for Teach Me was very much not the sophisticated and lovely cover created by Leni Kauffman (who it seems does ALL of Dade's cover art now - excellent decision). There's been a lot of debate about the current trend of cartoony covers for both romance and chick-lit recently, but I think we can all agree that based on the rather "I mocked this up on photo-shop in about an hour" cover of the ARC I got, it's not that surprising that I never got round to reading the book. I know now that I shouldn't have judged the book, but I did, and I'm very happy that Olivia Dade now has gorgeous and inviting book covers that hopefully make her sell tons more books. She deserves it. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

#CBR13 Book 35: "Any Way the Wind Blows" by Rainbow Rowell

Page count: 579 pages
Audio book length: 15 hrs 3 mins
Rating: 5 stars

CBR Bingo: People 

Spoiler warning! This is book 3 in a trilogy, which wraps up a number of very important threads left dangling after the previous book. So after the brief plot summary, there WILL be spoilers in the review. If you are new to the wonderful world of Simon Snow (and Baz, and Penny and Agatha), the place to start is Carry On

This book starts pretty much immediately after our fearsome foursome (and Shepard)'s return from America to England. Simon, still in emotional turmoil after losing his magic and feeling like a burden to his friends, is given unexpected and very surprising news by Agatha's father, Doctor Wellbelove. He decides he wants to have his big dragon wings and tail surgically removed, and move out of his and Penelope's shared flat. He's done with the world of magic, which sadly also means being done with the love of his life, Baz.

Penelope would be devastated that her best friend is moving out and demanding his own space, but she's also distracted by her promise to help their new friend, non-magical Shepard, break free of his curse. However, when she tries to ask her mother for help, Professor Bunce (now headmaster of Watford) is appalled that Penny not only would reveal magical secrets to a "normal", but that she's brought him home to her family. Professor Bunce tries to wipe Shepard's memory (something he's thankfully immune to) and Penny is forced to realise that for once, it's up to her alone to solve the challenge, without help from either Simon or Baz.

Baz has to bail his aunt Fiona out of prison for having broken in at Watford and returns to his family in Oxford to find that his stepmother has left and his father is at his wit's end. His aunt Fiona claims that Daphne (his stepmother) has started following one of the NEW Chosen Ones, which piques Baz' curiosity. Of course, he's sidetracked from investigating when he returns to London to discover a note from Simon saying "he's sorry". After everything Baz and Simon have survived together, a break-up is not something Baz is going to accept without a fight.

Agatha's parents are glad to have her back from America, but as she hasn't actually told them anything of what happened to her there, they don't allow her a lot of time to wallow, giving her a job in her father's doctor's office instead. Rather intimidated by her father's intern, Agatha can't really say no when the forceful young woman insists she come along to Watford to care for the goats, who are scattered all over since Ebb Petty's tragic death over a year ago. Agatha is surprised to learn that apparently, the goats are essential to Watford's magical survival and while she was terrified of going back to the school where she experienced so many unpleasant things, taking care of goats is something she's good at. 

From this point on, there be spoilers. You have been warned!

When first reading Wayward Son, I was surprised to discover that it was, in fact, a bridging book, the second book in a completely unexpected trilogy. Considering how much I loved Carry On, the prospect of a THIRD book about my beloved characters was a very pleasant surprise. Of course, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a number of other factors, it took Ms. Rowell some time to finish this last installment, but thankfully, for me at least, it was more than worth the wait.

While a whole load of plot threads were left dangling after the second book, which was by far the most difficult read of the three, as it explores PTSD, depression, grief and allows Rowell to explore what in the world the chosen ones do after the great confrontation/battle/conclusion they were destined for is over, and they're still alive. How do you continue to live your life and get a job and just stay alive, not to mention manage a romantic relationship after you believed yourself most likely to be dead before graduation?

In this book, a lot of thinking, angsting and road trip adventures have led Baz, Simon, Penny and Agatha back to England, where their pasts still affect them, try as they might to move on. Having had Penny and Simon and then Baz and Simon together for most of the first book, while the three of them were nearly inseparable in the second, Rowell now chooses to explore what happens to the hero's best friend, the plucky sidekick, when she's not at the hero's side. Penelope is on her own for much of this book, discovering that she can't really rely on her parents' help and with Baz and Simon being far too busy figuring out their relationship drama. The good news is, Penny is more than capable to manage things on her own. Frightfully so. The revelation that possibly some of the scrapes that she and Simon ended up with during their years at Watford being just as likely to have been initiated by her and her intense need to take over and control any situation was a nice touch. Penelope Bunce is a fearsome witch and she proves it to both herself and those around her in spades in this book. It's no wonder Shepard is completely head over heels for her. Considering how many ill-advised deals he keeps making with supernatural creatures, he really needs someone like her in his corner. 

My greatest worry when going into this book was obviously what was going to happen with Baz and Simon, who have gone through so much and love each other so desperately, but are completely hopeless about dealing with their emotions due to all their previous trauma. It was very encouraging to see Baz finally stand up for himself and realise that much as he adores Simon, he's not going to allow himself to be taken for granted, ignored, or simply left behind. A proper relationship requires work, and the work needs to be done by both parties involved. 

Simon finally gets the chance to have some independence, and while he initially believes that what he wants is to sever all ties to the magical community, it quickly becomes obvious that while he may no longer have the ability to do magic, he's entirely hopeless on his own. He slowly accepts that he's worthy of being loved and that he wants to prove that to himself and Baz. Both Simon and Baz seem to think that the other one is much better off without the other, and it's only when Simon actually tries to break it off, that they figure out what a terrible idea that actually is. So much of Simon's life has been defined by him being different from everyone else, not really belonging properly anywhere or with anyone. By the end of this book, it's thankfully clear to him that he not only has a loving and loyal boyfriend, a fierce BFF, but an extended family who are overjoyed to finally get to know him. 

I know Agatha is a character that Rowell always found challenging to write, but her point of view is so important in these books. Agatha never wanted to be the girlfriend of the Chosen One. She certainly didn't want to get kidnapped or face near-death experiences on a regular basis, just because of her connection to Simon Snow. Having tried to completely sever her ties to magic in the previous book, she seems to be more grateful to have the option to use magic in self-defense, but she's still looking for her place in the world, and it's obviously not with Simon, Baz, and Penny. Her growing friendship with Niamh and newfound affinity with the magical goats of Watford wasn't at all where I was expecting her character arc to go, but it worked out beautifully, and Agatha finding her peace at the end of the book was one of the most satisfying things I got out of it, to my own surprise. 

I tried to temper my expectations for this book, but it was still one of my most anticipated releases of 2021 and I'm not going to lie about how much I wanted and needed it to have a satisfying ending for my beloved characters. Your mileage may vary, but I was very happy with this book, and by the time of writing this review, have already read it twice (first devouring the e-book in less than 24 hours, then a more leisurely re-read by listening to the audio book). I understand why Ms. Rowell may consider herself done with these characters and this universe now, but will always hope for more stories about them at some point in the future. 

Judging a book by its cover: I chose this book for the "people" category of Bingo since it features Baz and Simon in yet another exciting action pose. Simon still has his big dragon wings and tail and Baz, freed from having to wear school uniforms, still dresses sharply as ever. I love the cover art by Simon Wada so much that I had to buy a new paperback edition of Carry On so it matched the rest of my books. 
 
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.  

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

#CBR13 Book 34: "Jeg hater å trene (I hate to exercise)" by Brita Zackari

Page count: 160 pages
Rating: 4 stars

It's frankly embarrassing how out of shape I am. At the time back in 2017 when I managed to get pregnant (thanks, modern science, IVF, and years of costly hormone treatments), I was pretty much walking an hour a day, swimming regularly, and occasionally going to various dance-based exercise classes at my local gym. 

Once the embryo that eventually became my son decided to implant and stick around, I got easily tired and out of breath fairly quickly (according to a colleague, this is how she figured out she was expecting her second child - she was suddenly out of breath walking up a hill that normally gave her no difficulties) and by the middle of my second trimester, my over-eager pelvic region made it impossible for me to walk without the aid of crutches for much of the rest of my pregnancy, which ended in a c-section where they removed my by then nearly ten-pound baby (he was by FAR the biggest infant in the maternity ward for the full five days we stayed in hospital), and I lost about 3 litres of blood due to complications (you really don't want to lose that much - even with the extra amount your body's produced to support the pregnancy). 

By the time my son was a toddler and I had more time to myself to possibly think about getting into shape again, Covid-19 arrived in Europe and by mid-March 2020, Norway went into a lockdown unlike anything we'd seen in modern times, not even during the German occupation during World War II. Which led to far too much time spent indoors, learning to make sourdough (I find it's far too faffy for my liking) and baking a LOT. So much baking. That needed to be eaten. No going out at all, for weeks on end. No trips abroad. Just binge-watching, remote schooling, cooking, baking, and eating. By the time the Norwegian government announced that they were opening up society a bit more, and expected students and teachers to go back to school, I had my first real (and extremely unpleasant) panic attack, leading to me being off work part-time for the rest of the school year. The school year of 2020-2021, which was difficult for everyone due to continued Covid-19 measures, was extra challenging for me, as I had a second minor breakdown, and had to spend much of the school year on part-time sick leave while working on reclaiming my mental health.

I know a lot of people go on about how exercise gives you healthy endorphins and it's a great thing to do while battling depression. It's not something I have ever found able to prioritise. By spring of this year, I was however pretty sick of how out of shape and sluggish I had become and based on some positive reviews, I picked up this book from the library, hoping to inspire myself to do SOMETHING to start getting back into shape. 

Brita Zackari is a Swedish ex-model, TV presenter, and the writer of this book - about how she absolutely and utterly hates exercising, how she first started dieting before she was ten, and how diets are the absolute worst thing you can do to your body, but the patriarchy and modern society pretty much brainwash us into thinking we need to be thinner and fitter and that diets are a way to achieve that. As she says in the book, female bodies very rarely get to just exist, without any preconceptions or expectations. The only time she felt exempt from this in her adult life was when she herself was pregnant, and she found it incredibly liberating. Her book is all about learning to love the way you are, no matter what size or age, and to focus on growing strong because while fat-shaming is a terrible thing, women should still aim to be strong and fit in whatever shape they are.

She includes helpful pictures and diagrams of very simple exercises that you can do in your own home if you so choose, or at the gym if that takes your fancy. One of the exercises is literally 15 reps of lie down on your back on the floor. Get up again as fast as you can. She also includes a six-week fitness plan, where week one is literally pack a gym bag if you do have a gym membership and think seriously about going sometime the week after. Also, do one single burpee. That's it, for the whole week. Some of the exercises, she suggests doing with a box of wine, if you don't want to go out and purchase an expensive kettlebell. Which is simple enough that really anyone can do it, and you don't really get to say that she sets unattainable goals.

The whole book is informative, self-deprecating, and very funny. It motivated me to sign up with the student gym again, mainly to get access to a pool whenever I want it (turns out you can totally join as a non-student, you just pay a higher monthly fee - which isn't really that much of a problem once you're no longer an impoverished student, but an honest to goodness adult with a steady income). Since mid-June, I've been swimming twice a week, and I feel a lot better about it. I've also started building my strength a bit, which is very necessary, as my three-and-a-half-year-old is large, energetic, and likes being thrown into the air and carried a lot. 

Judging a book by its cover: The book is full of mostly black-and-white photos of the author herself illustrating the various exercises and moves. While she may be a media personality, she appears very down to earth and I like that she's not made up to the nines, wearing spaceage fabrics or what have you, but just looks tired and sweaty, wearing an old tank top and some shorts.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read