Sand in My Bra ~ Non-fiction Review

book10This book caught me with its catchy title and the promise of funny tales of mishaps women experienced while traveling, so I overlooked the pink cover and bought it. After all, I love to travel, and having no plans to do so soon, I might as well live vicariously. And what better than a few stories of roaming gone awry to make me better appreciate my couch, right?

This wasn’t the hilarious escapade I had hoped it would be. Only a handful of the stories made me laugh out loud (which is not very hard to do). I appreciate what they were trying to do here, and if I saw a sequel, I’d give it a chance. Cute, if a little kitschy, and probably only half as amusing to a male reader. Three stars. (Four if they let me ride the fish thing on the cover.)

The Lower Falls ~ An Enchanting Stop Along the Swift River

lowerswift7lowerswift16The Lower Falls recreation site on the Swift River is one of the most popular stops along the Kancamagus lowerswift12Highway. Located in Albany, New Hampshire, everywhere you look there lowerswift15is a postcard lowerswift13worthy view of sparkling water spilling over granite rocks, collecting
at the bottom into a pool that is packed with swimmers during the lowerswift9summer months.  It’s a great place to stop for a picnic, complete with picnic tables and charcoal grills. The parking lot is on the right, about seven miles in from the Conway end of the Kanc, and is definitely worth the drive!lowerswift14    lowerswift4

A (Covered) Bridge to Nowhere

bridge1Covered bridges, like lighthouses, are one of those things that seem to have a strange kind of rustic charm that lures people in. bridge4There must be a fascination about them, really, to cause such a fuss. Since bridge3moving to New England I’ve seen maps with their locations, organized tours, books, calendars, bridge6coffee cups, sweatshirts-you name it and I’ve seen a covered bridge on it. There’s even one on a back road in the town I live in, a single laned covered bridge that draws tourists into traffic jams like bees to honey. Apparently, in the scheme of things to see in New England, they’re a pretty big deal.

bridge5So imagine my surprise when we wandered upon one out in the middle of nowhere while taking a sideroad to a hiking trail off the Kancamagus Highway. It was the first nippy day of fall, and instead of hiding inside under a blanket next to the pellet stove, we went for a hike to explore new places. And this hidden treasure was our reward 🙂

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult ~ Fiction Review

book9I picked up this book not knowing anything about it but the author. I had no idea about the plot or the significance of 19 minutes. I was pleased to find myself immersed in a controversial subject ripped from the headlines – something that Picoult does well.

Jodi Picoult is a storyteller. I love the way she writes, the way she puts herself (and the reader) in the shoes of such a wide array of characters. I especially love it when she pushes you into the uncomfortable position of considering circumstances from a point of view you’d rather not experience.

The good news, besides really enjoying this book, is that I finally made it through a Jodi Picoult book without crying! The bad news is that once I finish one of her books and pick up something written by another author, it tends to pale in comparison because Picoult has mastered the trifecta of fiction writing – the plot, pacing, and emotion always work together to create a dynamic vehicle that drives the reader to race through the book, unable to put it down.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn ~ Fiction Review

book8I really liked the premise for this book. I thought the idea was fresh and exciting. The characters were well developed and as damaged as you’d expect, this being a book written by Gillian Flynn. The novel was rife with her characteristic psychological mayhem. The pacing was perfect. All in all, it was well done.

But sometimes, I’m hard to please. I was left feeling slightly disappointed. I didn’t love the ending. It didn’t leave me breathless, which is in large part my fault. I couldn’t help but to compare it to Gone Girl, which isn’t fair. After readjusting my expectations back to reality, this was really quite a good book and one I would recommend. 4.5 to 5 stars.

Skeet in September

skeetUsually, if I’m shooting something, it’s with my camera. It’s the only tool I hunt with. My sport of choice. But this Saturday, I tried something new.

See that little disc in the air? It’s not an alien spaceship. It’s a clay pigeon, also known as a skeet. It’s sole purpose it for you to shoot it.

skeet1So, why skeet shooting? It was something new. I’ve fired guns before. I’ve even shot a shotgun before (many years ago and with very poor results). One thing I’ve never done is aim at a moving target.

I have no desire to shoot an animal. And while the bear growling in my yard earlier this year made me really nervous, I’d hate to even think about hurting it (although I think I’d hate to be hurt by the bear a bit more). I also had that skeet2whole incident to overcome from the last time I fired a shotgun and learned to fly. So I went on an adventure and I tried something new. Besides the ache in my shoulder the next day, I even kind of liked it. I’d definitely do it again.

For $25 you can sign up for a course at the L.L. Bean Flagship store in Freeport, Maine (other L.L. Beans locations offer classes, too) and learn the basics of shotguns and how to fire them at moving targets. There are actually a broad range of classes offered, from kayaking to paddle boarding,  fly fishing to archery, and much more.I’d love to sign up for more classes in the future, learn more skills and have more adventures.

The Polar Caves of Rumney, NH

cave3Summer is lingering in New England, and while we actually had time for an adventure over the beautiful Labor Day weekend, the last thing I wanted to do on a sweltering hot day was hike thousands of feet closer to the sun. Every body of water in the state was bound to be packed, so what could we do to enjoy some exercise outside without the fear of heat stroke? How about exploring some caves?

cave2So we drove to Rumney, NH, site of Polar Caves Park, and went exploring. The park features a gift shop, a small animal area, a Maple Sugar House with a museum, some short nature trails, mining areas for kids, and caves that stay under 60 degrees during the hottest part of the day.

cave8The caves are granite, not limestone, so there are no stalagmites or stalactites. They were carved into the side of a cliff by glaciers about 50,000 years ago, and the park has built decking throughout to make passage safer and easier. It’s not true spelunking, but it is fun.

cave7As you make your way through the park you will climb, descend, crawl, squeeze, squat and hunch your way through nine rocky hollows with names like Fat Man’s Misery, The Needle’s Eye, and The Lemon Squeeze. Each cave comes with its own challenges. And its own smells.

cave6I really enjoyed our time there. It was occasionally claustrophobic, dark, and tight, but I’m proud to say that we successfully made our way through all the caves. I would recommend the trip to other adults who enjoy this kind of thing and have the stamina and flexibility to contort their way through the caves. My husband is 6’2″ and made his way through the park without injury. Polar Caves Park can be a fun day and a great memory.

cave4BUT, I have to add a couple of thoughts (opinions entirely my own) about taking your kids to the park. Obviously this is the type of place where kids can have a blast, but please consider the limitations of each child in your party.

cave1

I saw three toddlers take hard falls, one resulting in a split lip. I saw a fourth toddler whose parents determined that the scary rash that had suddenly appeared down the back of her legs was actually scrape marks. There were also several kids crying hysterically because they were terrified by the idea of going into a small, dark space, but their parents kept trying to force them to go – alone – because the adults were either unable or unwilling to go with them. So please, if you’re bringing kids, be the parent that puts in the forethought to make sure that everyone you bring should be there and has a safe and fun time.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn ~ Fiction Review

book7Sharp Objects, the first novel written by famed Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn ~ it took me a while to get into this book. I didn’t really identify with any of the characters (which, after reading the book I’ve decided is probably a good thing). I actually didn’t even like any of the characters. What I did like was the depth Flynn created in her psychologically flawed characters.

In a way, the book seemed like a collection of character studies of mental illness. Was it Gone Girl? No. Did I enjoy reading it? Yes. Would you like it? If you’re looking for a dark, edgy book,  you just might.

I love reading debut novels, which this was. I also love being able to see an author’s talent and storytelling skills develop. Gone Girl didn’t just happen. Reading Flynn’s prior works, the bones and muscles and ligaments that underlie the flesh of Gone Girl, reveal a lot about her method and progression as a writer. As a writer myself, I find it fascinating and would definitely recommend this book.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty ~ Fiction Review

book6Only a few pages into this book I thought, Wow, what fun. Very campy. It’s like one of those cute, cozy cat mysteries. Then I looked at the quote from Stephen King on the cover and thought, Stephen King likes cozy cat mysteries, hee, hee, hee. 

Maybe he does, but this is not one of those cozy little books where the cat helps the old lady solve the mystery. Far from it. Moriarty is like a magician. An awesome Australian magician. Somewhere along the way, things get real. Only  you’re still having fun, so you don’t really notice until suddenly you’re novel deep in serious subject matter.

I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it, but I have to disagree with Mr. King. I didn’t find the book scary at all. The only thing that’s scary  is the willingness and ease with which women will blame themselves and shoulder burdens, but as a woman, I already knew that. The horrors in this book were those of everyday reality, artfully told. Five stars.