Fierce: How Competing for Myself Changed Everything by Aly Raisman

As you can see, I didn’t come close to my reading goal last year. But I’m back at it again, hoping to get through the pile of books I’ve accumulated in the last couple of years. More time reading is one of my New Year’s resolutions.

35565694I’ve loved gymnastics as long as I can remember. Shannon Miller was my first favorite gymnast. Then Carly Patterson. Then Shawn Johnson. Then Aly Raisman.

I first remember seeing Aly Raisman at the 2012 National Championships. All the commentators were talking about Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas. I kept yelling at the TV – “What about Aly? She’s really good.” Same thing at the Olympic Trials. And when Aly got the second all-around spot over Jordyn at the 2012 Olympics, no one seemed to care that Aly was better; it was all about how Jordyn had been two-per-countried (which is rightfully a dumb thing that should be gotten rid of). All this to say, Aly’s my girl and I think she’s amazing.

When she announced she was going to write a book a year after the 2016 Games, I was psyched to read it. She’s the one that everyone counted out, but depended on when it mattered. The workhorse. I wanted to hear what it felt like to be in that position. Then she revealed she was one of Larry Nassar’s victims, and my heart broke for her. The book isn’t about that, but she is very clear that what happened was awful, it could happen to anyone, and it needs to be stopped.

Her treatment by USA Gymnastics was appalling in many instances (listen to the GymCastic review for most of them!) and I’m happy to see that she’s not be cowed to be quiet. But there are times when she tells stories that are so demeaning or ridiculous, but you can tell she doesn’t get that it was wrong – just that’s how it was, which breaks my heart.

The book is definitely aimed at young gymnasts who want to read about their hero, so it’s not a challenging read, but it’s still interesting. I can’t wait to see what Aly does next!

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It’s a Vet’s Life by Cathy Woodman

11842742It took me forever to finish this book, and I think I’m done with the series. As I felt with the last book I read in this series, I’m just not feeling it.

Maz and Alex are still plodding along in Talyton St. George and decide to get married. But Alex’s father, Old Fox-Gifford, is making mistakes at work and not doing well, which throws a wrench in things. You go through about 60% of the book with Maz complaining about wedding planning and their new vet, but nothing bad happens. Then something bad DOES happen and it’s resolved in like 20 pages and everything is rosy again.

The country life is not for me, it seems. Take me back to London!

A Few of the Girls by Maeve Binchy

27434560Maeve Binchy is one of my favorite authors of all time, and I was devastated by her passing in 2012. However, I’m forever grateful to her husband and publishers for continuing to publish her work after her death.

It’s bittersweet to read each of these stories, designed to stand on their own, knowing that she could have easily built another charming novel around each of them. Perhaps that’s why it took me so long to finish this collection of short stories; I would get so caught up in each other, and it would be jarring to leave that universe and start in a new one after only 5-10 pages.

My favorite pieces were the ones where the heroine (almost all of the stories have female protagonists) doesn’t realize how awful she is; we really are all the heroes of our own lives. Some of the “lessons” learned were a little heavy handed, and some of the stories haven’t aged as well as others. But each of the 36 stories was a fun peek into Ms. Binchy’s creative universe, and I’m sorry she’s not still here to play in it.

No Starbucks for a Year

It’s November again, which means it’s Jenniversary time! Every year, I make resolutions for the coming month and/or year. These have been hit and miss for the past couple of years, so this year, I’m trying to create achievable goals that will still challenge me.

For this year’s #Jenniversary Challenge, I’ve chosen three month-long goals and one year-long goal.

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Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

30841109Over Thanksgiving last year, I went on a book buying spree with my family, picking up a few new releases, including this one. I was excited to read it in advance of the PBS airing of the ITV mini series. I’ve previously enjoyed books by this author and I knew that she was also the showrunner/head writer for the mini series. I gave it to my mom to read before I left and she enjoyed it as well, so I was ready to love it.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t very much. Perhaps it was because I saw a bit of The Young Victoria on cable as I started reading it, so this felt like a retread. Or it was just too slow going in the beginning. Once Victoria stopped behaving like a spoiled child, it was much easier to read. I mean, I get that she’s the Queen and like 17 when this all happens to her, but there was a little too much stamping her feet and having a crush on Melbourne for me. Or maybe it was Melbourne indulging her instead of being the adult that I couldn’t take.

In any case, it wasn’t until about halfway through the book that I actually felt interested and/captivated. I’m also quite curious why the mini series appears to go way past the events of the book, if they were written at the same time. Regardless, I’m happy to finally catch up on the mini series and check this book off my list.