Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rock and a Heart Place, by Ken Mansfield and Marshall Terrill

It's a familiar story: talented musicians passionately hone their craft, get discovered, make it big, and destroy their lives with the lure of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  Sometimes the cycle ends with tragedy, but in some cases God steps in and lives are turned around.  Those are the stories rock veteran Ken Mansfield tells, with coauthor Marshall Terrill, in Rock and a Heart Place: A Rock 'n' Roller-coaster Ride from Rebellion to Sweet Salvation.

I love to read about lives that are changed by an encounter with Jesus.  Some of Mansfield's subjects hit bottom dramatically after hitting heights of accomplishment in the music industry, living the stereotypical rock and roll lifestyle before being hit with their desperate need of a savior.  As pleased as I am to see lives changed, I have a hard time sympathizing with some of these characters.  I don't get the draw of the drug-addicted, self-destructive lifestyle some of them lived.  I'm not judging; we all have our own sins and temptations.  As Mansfield tells their stories, it almost seems like he believes they were following an inevitable arc.

One interesting exception is perhaps the least likely: Rudy Sarzo.  Despite his playing with Ozzy Ozbourne, one of the most notorious, villainized rockers, singled out by Christian critics as the epitome of what is evil about rock music, Sarzo's lifestyle seems to have consistently demonstrated clean living, family stability, and living for God.  I have hard time wrapping my mind around playing one's instrument for the glory of God when the front man of your band is Ozzy, but that's Sarzo's attitude.  Again, I'm not judging.  Christians in every field can work "as unto the Lord" whether their bosses are heathens or Christians.

The bulk of Rock and a Heart place is music industry history and back story.  If you're a fan of any of the artists profiled, you will enjoy their stories of how they got into the industry, who they've played with, and what hits they had.  In most cases, their conversion stories get short shrift, without much detail or spiritual, theological reflection.  Also, Mansfield, a musician and music industry executive, injects himself too frequently into their stories.  With some of them, he had professional interactions, but with most of them he just talked about how he could relate to their story and then he would tell some of his own story.

Even though Rock and Heart Place is a bit short on inspiration and long on rock and roll history and anecdotes, I was encouraged by some of their stories and inspired to seek out some of their music.  God was seeking them out amid their music, money and fame.  In the same way, he seeks each of us out, wherever we are.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Path of the Assassin, by Brad Thor

After saving the president, who had been kidnapped by the Lions of Lucerne, Brad Thor's hero Scot Harvath has a little free time.  Before he reports back to the White House for Secret Service duty, he does a bit of freelance terrorist hunting in The Path of the Assassin.  From the streets of Macau, to an airplane hijacking in Cairo, Harvath keeps crossing paths with an assassin with mysterious eyes.  And somehow the assassin is tied to a terrorist group that seems to be made up of Israelis seeking revenge for Muslim acts of terrorism.

But nothing is as simple as it seems, and sometimes Harvath is the only one who sees through it all.  Path of the Assassin solidifies Harvath's role as terrorist hunter extraordinaire.  He teams up with a beautiful, brilliant PR executive, who showed her mettle by fighting back against the hijackers in Cairo.  She and Harvath team up with the CIA to hunt the assassin with the memorable eyes, but of course the CIA cuts them off, and they have to continue on their own.

Path of the Assassin has everything you'd expect in Thor's Scot Harvath novels, and moves Harvath's story along.  But it seemed to be a step down from The Lions of Lucerne.  It's just too much, a little too easy for Harvath.  Also, as I mentioned in my review of The Lions of Lucerne, the abridged audio version is too abridged.  I'm done with Thor's abridgements.  But I do like Harvath; I'm not done with him.  Next up: State of the Union.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bristly Hair and I Don't Care! by Nadia Budde

"It isn't fair, I have to say, that I was born with hair this way."

So begins Nadia Budde's book Bristly Hair and I Don't Care! How many people have thought this very same thought?  Countless millions, I would guess, based on the proliferation of hair-care products. Straighteners, curlers, colors, clippers, extensions, the list goes on and on.  In Budde's book, it's not just hair.  Everyone wishes his or her appearance were a little different.  Neck, too thick.  Legs, too long (or short).  Eyes, wrong color.  Everything, wrong shape, size or color.  "Parts they don't like, they want to be better. . . ."

Budde's message is perfect for kids who are coming into awareness of their own image, an age that seems to come earlier and earlier.  Society's ideals of beauty change continually, but one thing remains the same: the ideal is unrealistic for the vast majority of us who will never fit the prescribed mold.  Uncle Nook brings his tidbit of wisdom to the group, reminding them, and us, that "Each of you is quite a sight, but the way you are is the way that's right!"

Budde's goofy drawings and clever rhymes are a pleasure to look at and read, and will delight young readers at story time.  I wonder if she might write a second book emphasizing the importance of good grooming and taking care of your body.  After all, certain elements of our appearance are completely in our own control.  But that's another topic for another day. . . .

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, April 24, 2015

The ABLES, by Jeremy Scott

Special ed kids, unite!  Who says disabled kids can't be superheroes, too?  Jeremy Scott's first novel, The Ables, puts a twist on the standard superhero story by featuring disabled kids with superpowers.  Phillip Sallinger gets the surprise of his life when his father tells him that his family all possess superpowers, and that the reason they moved from New York City to their new home is that the town is full of people with superpowers (and their "support staff").  His new school is a school for kids with superpowers.

The catch is that Phillip is blind.  On his first day, he is directed to the special ed room.  His classmates are other blind kids, a kid in a wheelchair, a kid with Down syndrome, and other kids with disabilities.  But they all possess superpowers as well.  Phillip and his friends team up to try to prove that kids with disabilities can be heroes, too.

I love the message of inclusion in The Ables.  Phillip doesn't consider himself disabled: "I could not believe that I was in a special education classroom. . . . I was blind, not disabled.  There's a difference!"  He leads his friends in an effort to have their group from the special ed classroom admitted to a school-wide competition.  He convinces his friends that "We can do anything these other kids can do."  His friend Sterling argues before the school board that "there is only one reason that we are not allowed to participate, and it's the fact that we're disabled. . . . Discrimination on the sole basis of a disability is not only illegal, it's illogical, immoral, and unfair!"

The story follows some familiar story lines: discovering and developing their new powers, the mysterious villain who terrorizes the town, the heroes' having to choose the side of good or evil, the family dynamics of people with superpowers, the tension between people with and without superpowers.  There are shades of Sky High, The Incredibles, Percy Jackson, and probably plenty of other stories here, but The Ables is plenty fresh and original.

Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes and abilities.  The Ables especially reminds us not to write off those who don't initially seem to have much to contribute.  That disabled person in your life has a hero inside.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jack of Spades, by Joyce Carol Oates

The work of prolific, award-winning novelist Joyce Carol Oates spans a wide spectrum of controversial topics.  Her new novel, Jack of Spades: A Tale of Suspense takes a lighter approach than some of her other work.  Andrew J. Rush, a successful, best-selling mystery novelist, has a secret.  He has been called "the gentleman's Stephen King" but, unbeknownst to his fans or even to his family, he writes noirish pulp fiction under the pseudonym Jack of Spades.

When a local crank takes Rush to court for supposedly stealing her work and publishing it as his own, Rush's Jack of Spades alter-ego leads him down a path of obsession and uncharacteristic behavior.  Oates gives some insight into the life of a writer, the things that inspire and bother him, and the way his fame and success puts pressure on him.  I can't help but wonder how much of Rush's story is autobiographical, as Oates herself has published under a couple of pseudonyms.  Are the pseudonymous works a reflection of the writer's true character, a whimsical side entertainment, or an important complement to his well-known books?

Oates builds the tension of Jack of Spades as Rush lets his obsession with his literary accuser take over his thoughts.  She includes some humorous nods to Stephen King and other mystery/horror writers, and ends up turning the story into a plot with a resolution worthy of Edgar Allan Poe.  It's a bit dark.  OK, plenty dark, but in a dark comedy sort of way.  I think King and Poe would approve.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Blind Spots, by Collin Hansen

Thimgs are rarely as simple as three clean categories, but Collin Hansen has identified three types of Christians who reflect three characteristics of Jesus: courageous, compassionate, and commissioned.  In Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church, Hansen points out ways in which one kind of Christian can have blinds spots, causing them to miss things that other kinds of Christians see.

Many Christians share Hansen's experience: "Because I'd understood my experience as normative for everyone, I couldn't see how God blessed other Christians with different stories and strengths."  Courageous Christians are sometimes "single-issue Christians," with a passionate interest in a particular social cause.  They become dangerous when they become "only-issue Christians."  They might become intolerant, demanding that "you fall in line behind their agenda."  Their courage in the face of evil and sin is admirable and Christlike, until they forget that "courage is not measured by how many people you can offend."

Compassionate Christians want to give, but may emphasize giving at the expense of the gospel itself.  They have to recognize that our "compassion won't always be appreciated or even received by a world that rejects the source of our compassion."  No matter how much we give, do, or love, many still "reject us and the gospel Jesus preached."  The third characteristic, commissioned, sets evangelicals apart: "Belief that the Great Commission still applies to us today separates evangelicals from churches that have sued for peace with our pluralistic age."  But even commissioned churches have a tendency to be homogenous, even elitist.

Each of the three kinds of Christians or churches easily develops blind spots to their own weaknesses as well as to the strengths of the other groups.  Hansen calls for us to look to one another's strengths and seek unity in Christ.  As we abide in Christ, he will develop our character to reflect his own.  We can recall his lengthy prayer, as he was awaiting his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying for unity in the church.  Our goal should be "the kind of biblical fulness that . . . expects opposition from the world and seeks unity among believers for the sake of the world."

I think most Christians will see themselves in the three categories Hansen describes.  We need someone like Hansen to point out our blind spots from time to time, and prayerfully seek a more balanced Christian walk.  As we become more Christlike, we can become courageous, compassionate, and commissioned Christians and churches.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Kind-Hearted Monster, by Max Velhuijs

A fire-breathing dragon shows up at a village halfway to nowhere and the villagers--befriend it?  Of course, if it's The Kind-Hearted Monster!  Max Velhuijs's monster doesn't want to be attacked, and doesn't want to be a soldier, and he certainly doesn't want to sit in a cage while people stare at him.  But he finds a way to fit in and be appreciated in this little village.

Velhuijs tells two stories in The Kind-Hearted Monster.  The first introduces the monster to the village. In the second, word of the kind-hearted monster reaches a band of thieves, who decided to steal him and sell him.  Not to be too much of a spoiler, but you should know that it doesn't work out too well for the thieves.
The pictures are cute and colorful.  The text is simple but clever.  The cover says, "Two classic stories."   Time will tell if this book becomes a classic, but it has a classic storybook flavor that will appeal to kids and the grown-ups who read books to them.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Natural Born Heroes, by Christopher McDougall

Christopher McDougall's last book, Born to Run, had a huge impact on the running world.  Barefoot runners and Vibram Five Fingers existed before Born to Run, but he almost single-handedly sparked an explosion of interest in barefoot running that permanently marked running and the running shoe industry.  So expectations were high for Natural Born Heroes.

The vast majority of Natural Born Heroes tells the story of the Cretan resistance during the German occupation of that Greek island during WW2.  Cretan pride, a bit of outside help from the British, and the unique culture and geographic features of Crete shaped the outcome of the war.  According to some German military officials, the amount of manpower and resources the Germans had to put into controlling Crete played a significant role in their losing momentum and eventually the war.

The swashbuckling adventure story of the Cretan resistance, especially the events surrounding their capture of a German general, make for a great read.  I would love to see this story on film!  Surely there's a fantastic movie in there, with the colorful characters, close calls, and, of course, seeing the evil Nazis foiled by the "simple" townspeople and shepherds.

Woven through this story, McDougall tells another story, about the Cretan's diet and legendary endurance, dating back to the age of Greek myths.  He extols their diet and lifestyle, drawing in pankatrion, parkour, the Mediterranean diet, foraging, low-carbs, slow burns, natural movement, and other ideas.  All of that seemed like a tease.  He offers a few practical steps and specific food recommendations, enough to make me want to learn more.  But it was almost not enough to justify the presence of the health/exercise element of the book.  I felt like this would be a better book if it was just the story of the resistance.

McDougall tells great stories.  Even though the jumping from WW2, to his own exploration of Crete, to exercise, martial arts, and food made me think he might have ADD, I did enjoy it.  I don't know that he will revolutionize anything with Natural Born Heroes, but he did pique my interest in some of the methods and diet that he discussed.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I Was a Child, by Bruce Eric Kaplan

Bruce Eric Kaplan may not be a familiar name to you, but you may have seen his simple, ironic cartoons, signed BEK, in The New Yorker and elsewhere.  Kaplan has written another book, a nostalgic look at his childhood.  Kaplan is only 5 years older than me, but for some reason I Was a Child: A Memoir seems more like something from my parents' generation.  It's amusing, on the droll side, and quite random.  There are occasional glimpses of wise reflection, but don't worry, he quickly moves on to random unrelated tidbits.
His work, in general, is marked by a stark simplicity, but I Was a Child takes it to an extreme.  If the effect he was working for is sketches hastily jotted on the back of his bus ticket or something, he achieved that.  If the overall effect of the book is meant to feel like it was randomly narrated on a tape deck while he was getting ready for bed, he achieved that.

The unfinished, first-draft quality of I Was a Child adds to its relatability.  Don't expect great wisdom and heavy historical import from this memoir.  What you can expect is to get to know Kaplan and his quirky family.  He may even remind you of your own family in one way or another.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Marvelous, by Travis Thrasher

Brandon's summer is a bummer, but it brightens up when he meets the new girl in town, Marvel.  His buddy wrecked his truck and his Dad beats on him from time to time.  Brandon has steady work mowing lawns and working at the record store.  He has steady friends, with whom he hangs out and on whom he can rely.  Marvel makes him a little unsteady, offering friendship but not the romance Brandon seeks.

Travis Thrasher's novel Marvelous follows Brandon through a summer of falling in love with the mysterious Marvel, hearing about some mysterious murders that take place too close to home, and dealing with a father who drinks too much and shows little restraint in dealing with Brandon.

Marvel started out with such promise, as Thrasher captures Brandon's teenage perspective and builds tension in the community, Brandon's family, and the mystery of Marvel.  But we get build up with no resolution.  I know there's a second book out there.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I think even a book in a series should have some stand-alone resolution.  There's a difference between a cliff-hanger ending and leaving the story completely open-ended in the middle of the telling.  Loose ends are one thing, but Thrasher leaves pretty much all the ends loose.

Thrasher is a skilled writer.  Marvelous is full of likable characters and a strong teenage world.  In the background is Marvel's faith and Brandon's struggling with his own faith.  Even with all the positive elements, the quality of the writing and the engaging style, Marvelous left me with a sour taste in my mouth because of the lack of resolution.  Consider yourself warned: if you start reading Marvelous and like it, go ahead and buy the sequel.  Otherwise you'll be sadly disappointed.  (Full disclosure: I haven't read the sequel.  I don't know that I will.  I don't know that Thrasher made me care enough to find out how it all comes together.  Or if it does.)

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Noah Chases the Wind, by Michelle Worthington, illustrated by Joseph Cowman

Noah knew he was different.  He could see things that others couldn't. . . . 

Children with sensory integration disorder (SID) can't always express and communicate the different ways they see and feel and hear and smell their surroundings.  In Noah Chases the Wind, little Noah is curious about the weather and how it effects him.  He reads and reads, and one day decides to follow the wind to see where it goes.

Michelle Worthington, with the assistance of Joseph Cowman's fanciful illustrations, gives some insight into Noah's mind, as he explores the real and imagined world around him.  Worthington doesn't focus is specifically on kids with SID.  Clearly they, and kids on the autism spectrum, have very specific responses to sensory stimulation, but Noah Chases the Wind speaks to children everywhere who are curious and whimsical.

I enjoyed seeing a glimpse of Noah's view of the world.  Cowman's illustration perfectly bring to life Worthington's text.  This book is a delight.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Beyond: Our Future in Space, by Chris Impey

If you have a taste for space and a desire to fly beyond the moon, Chris Impey will whet your appetite and leave you wishing for the future to hurry up and get here.  Impey, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, lays out the current state of space exploration and speculates about our possible futures in Beyond: Our Future in Space.

Generations ago, mankind began spreading out from the cradle of civilization in Africa.  Tribes migrated to the unknown, covering distances that took them decades or centuries to travel.  In a similar way, we are poised to explore worlds beyond our own.  Impey is realistic about the timing: it ain't happening anytime soon.  But he's also optimistic about the drive and the technology to get started.

The Space Shuttle program demonstrated the weakness of a bloated government bureaucracy looking to space.  The Shuttle "launch rate ended up ten times lower than originally planned and the cost per launch twenty times higher," not to mention two of the five shuttles blowing up.  Impey compares the early, government and military dominance of the space program to the early days of the Internet.  "The government and military have deep enough pockets to develop technology with no eye on profit or return on investment.  Once the field has been prepared and tilled, the private sector can scatter seed and see what grows best."  The moon landings and the Space Shuttle program tilled the field.  Now private companies are moving us forward to space.

Impey covers a lot of ground (and space!) in Beyond.  He's not shy about discussing the logistical, practical limitations we live under now that seem to make interplanetary travel and colonization a pipe dream, but he writes, "We have the technology and the means to live and work in space, gain a permanent toehold off-Earth, and explore the Solar System and beyond.  No laws of physics stand in our way."  He envisions a near future of a commercial space industry, of colonies on the Moon and Mars within 30 years, asteroid mining in 50 years, and, in a century, a generation of people who are born in space and live out their lives off Earth.

Impey's vision is a great combination of science and speculation, of dreaming and reporting.  I hope the children of today can catch his vision and reach heights never reached.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung

The cultural shift in attitudes toward homosexuality has been staggering in my lifetime.  We've transitioned from "don't ask, don't tell," to "accept and embrace gay people, or else you're a lousy bigot."  In the course of one presidential administration, we've seen a shift from "Of course marriage is only between a man and a woman," to "If you don't endorse and embrace gay marriage, you're a lousy bigot!"

The church is stuck in the middle.  More and more churches and church leaders are endorsing, even practicing, a homosexual lifestyle.  If a Christian has decided to come out of the closet, he or she won't have to look far to find a church where homosexuals are not only embraced but where homosexual activity is approved.  The question is, is there any biblical justification for condoning homosexual acts?  In What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?, Kevin DeYoung cogently and definitively answers that question: No.

DeYoung, a pastor in the Reformed Church in America, unapologetically defends a traditional view of marriage between one man and one woman while presenting a biblical view of "homosexual practice" as "sinful because it violates the divine design in creation."  Surveying scriptures that address homosexuality and marriage, DeYoung points out that "no positive argument for homosexuality can be made from the Bible, only an argument that texts don't mean what they seem to mean."  Following Paul, he affirms that "homosexual activity is not a blessing to be celebrated and solemnized but a sin to be repented of, forsaken, and forgiven."

This message comes through loud and clear, not only from DeYoung, but from the defenders of homosexual behavior from whom he quotes: a Christian defense of homosexual behavior relies on a rejection of the historical Christian stance as well as scripture itself.  Supporters of same-sex marriage and defenders of homosexual activity openly reject scripture on the topic of sexuality.  DeYoung concisely meets the objections to the biblical, historical position point by point.

Perhaps most importantly, DeYoung makes his arguments not from a position of condemnation but of grace.  He points out that the Bible does treat sexual sin with more severity than other sins, but also points out the biblical condemnation of other sins.  Besides, all sin separates us from God and calls for repentance.  I appreciate DeYoung's making the case against homosexuality.  This book is a great resource for Christians who feel as if they are being swept up in a cultural flood, surrounded by pro-homosexual propaganda.  Stop feeling like a bigot for calling homosexual activity a sin.  It is, and should be treated as such, with conviction, repentance, and grace.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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Monday, April 6, 2015

On the Clock, by Barry Wilner and Ken Rappoport

What 2014 springtime sporting event got higher ratings than the NBA and NHL playoff games?  The NFL draft!  What is the appeal of a room full of men in suits, talking heads, and no game action?  Barry Wilner and Ken Rappoport break it down in On the Clock: The History of the NFL Draft.  From the first draft in 1936 up to the multimedia reality show that it is today, Wilner and Rappoport cover historical highlights (and lowlights), introduce the analysts who have become the stars of the draft, discuss the role of ESPN and the NFL Network in raising interest in the draft, and look at players who have been bargains or busts in the draft through the years.

On the Clock is a treasure trove of NFL trivia and history.  Football fans in their 40s or younger may not remember the days before the NFL was the corporate machine that it is today.  The competing leagues, the ad hoc line-ups, and the relatively small amounts of money involved made for a very different football landscape.  The evolution of the draft played a large role in making the NFL what it is today.

In terms of readability, On the Clock isn't great literature.  There was a sense of it being cobbled together, with random pieces of narrative, interesting tidbits, and anecdotes.  It almost had the feel of one of those "bathroom reader" books.  Maybe that's not a bad thing, but it's not what I expected.  So this may not be the expansive story of the NFL Draft, but it's a great resource that football fans will love. 

Thanks to NetGalley for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Six Million Dollar Man, Season 6, by James Kuhoric

I grew up watching the Six Million Dollar Man on TV.  When we played in the yard, I would pretend to be Steve Austin, meaning I would be super strong and move in slow motion.  I thought I might enjoy a little retro-fun with these Six Million Dollar Man comics.  I wasn't wrong.

The iconic TV show lasted 5 seasons, thus James Kuhoric has written a comic, The Six Million Dollar Man: Season 6, in which he updates Steve Austin while keeping in character with the original series.  The plot is much more intense than the shows I remember.  But I watched this when I was 7, so how would I know?  The one thing I remember for sure is the cool sound effect when the bionics go into action!  I like the way that was illustrated here.

The story was pretty wild and far-fetched.  But why not?  It's good fun, definitely a treat for fans of the classic TV show.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Bonita Avenue, by Peter Buwalda

I don't really know what to say about Peter Buwalda's Bonita Avenue.  Actually, yes I do.  I didn't like it.  I know it's a matter of taste, and I can see that some people might like this book.  There are some strong literary qualities.  Some of the descriptive passages and dialogue are well-done.

So why didn't I like it?  I didn't care for the characters.  Give me at least some reason to feel sympathetic and be interested in their fates.  The story was jumbled.  Jumping around the timeline can be effective, potentially powerful way to unfold the events of a story.  In Bonita Avenue, it didn't work for me.  Same goes for the shifting points of view.  And by the time the shifting timelines sorted out the tragic, climactic chain of events, it was so anti-climactic that I was just ready for it to be done.  What should have been gruesome, then emotionally powerful, was just tiresome.

So there you go.  A few thoughts.  Maybe I'm wrong.  I just didn't like it.  There is so much great fiction out there, do yourself a favor and find something else to read. 

Thanks to Blogging for Books for the complimentary review copy!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Trailhead, by Lisa Jhung

In my opinion, if you like running, you'll really love trail running.  Trail running has all of the good elements of running, plus lots more.  Lisa Jhung brings the world of trail running to the masses in Trailhead: The Dirt on All Things Trail Running.  I don't know if there's a "Trail Running for Dummies" book, but Jhung's book could fit that bill.  She anticipates all the questions a trail running newbie or wannabe might have and breaks it down.  So it's not really a book for trail runners; if you've read a book or two about trail running, or done some trail running, and run in some trail races, this book is probably not for you.  This is a book for the runner who pounds the pavement, has worn out the local 5K and half marathon circuit, and is look to try something different.  (And for the trail runner who wants to convince his road running buddies to join him on the trail.)
Why trail running?  Lots of reasons!
Some of the sections seemed a little unbalanced.  Clothes for trail running?  Not that different than for road running.  And a big part of it was really "tips for people who don't spend that much time outside."  Plants and animals.  Preparing for different kinds of weather.  That sort of thing.  All in all, though, this is a worthwhile introduction.  Jhung is a contributing editor for Runner's World and her tone reflects that.  Good humor, practical information, and a deep enthusiasm for going for a run!  Now, let's hit the trail!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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