So Magpie’s Gonna Run a 5k… Again.

running again

So I know I said in my June goals post that fitness was on the docket, but that I wasn’t going to follow any set plan or anything.

Well, turns out I’m a liar.

I’ve started a Couch to 5k program.

Whoops.

Well, at least it’s a good whoops.

I’m using the C25K – 5K Running Trainer app from the Google Play store. I used it before about two years ago (maybe three?) to decent success, and I liked how the app functions. It’s easy to use, tracks your progress, gives you the option of sharing either with social media or with a C25K community (I don’t do either), it doesn’t tank my battery, and it’s compatible with a bunch of music apps so that I can listen to my Spotify playlists while it gives me the prompts. Basically it’s simple and fits my needs perfectly.

C25k

I don’t know why I did such a 180° on the no-plan thing. Something just came over me and I was suddenly motivated and determined to run again. Not that I’m complaining… I did well enough of that Friday when I got back to my apartment after finishing the first run and just had to lay on the floor for a while to catch my breath because of how ridiculously out of shape I am. I think I may have even texted my friend Kathleen to tell her to tell my family I love them if I don’t make it.

I’m apparently a bit of a drama queen.

I’m about a week into the plan now. I decided to repeat the first day’s program Monday so that I could get myself on a M-W-F schedule for each week of the program, and hopefully be done 8 weeks from now. This plan may not last, since last time I did this, I found myself needing to repeat a few days here and there before I felt like I could move onto the next week’s run without passing out. Running is not something that comes naturally to me, and it really does take me a while to get back in shape enough to do it.

But I’m gonna work on it! I’ll check in here with my progress from time to time – hopefully it’ll help keep me accountable!

running flatlay

Are you a runner? If so, any tips to send my way? Or are you working on any fitness goals of your own?

*This is not a sponsored post, and I am not affiliated with the C25K app in any way other than using it*

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Book Review-Throne of Glass

I’ll be honest, I started out not really feeling this book.

I picked it up on a whim after one too many times seeing it in the bookstore and reading one too many internet reviews just raving about how good it was, but I wasn’t super excited about it. The description on the back cover of the main character, Celaena, sounded just a bit too… ugh. As described in the blurb, she sounded just a bit too much like some of the cringy Mary Sues that had dominated my middle school attempts at writing fantasy. Always blonde, always perfect, always a super-duper badass warrior and super tough, but still absolutely drop-dead gorgeous in a dress so that there could be that one scene where the romantic interest saw her “as a woman” for the first time… You know the formula. I think every young girl who dreams of writing fantasy writes some iteration of that character at some point (maybe not always blonde, but mine were). And I don’t know… it just seemed uncomfortably similar to me. I smelled Mary Sue all over her from the description.

TOG flatlay full

So I was a little skeptical.

And as I started it, it seemed like I might have been right. I found it very hard to get into at first. It wasn’t super attention grabbing, and I found it very easy to put down. Ultimately it took me almost a week to get through only the first third of the book because I’d read like 5 pages at a time before getting bored. Some of that could just be that I had a lot of other stuff going on that week and was distracted (I did, and I was), but some of it was the writing too. Apparently Maas started the book when she was in high school, and even with all the editing for publication the writing at the start still feels kind of… young. It’s not bad. Just young. I’m not sure how else to describe it.

But it’s not a problem that lasts. By the time I was about half-way through, the problem had remedied itself, and even if it hadn’t, the plot had grown so interesting that I’d still be hooked anyway. I sped through the rest of the book in a few hours while I was chaperoning a trip to a lake, and then was so committed to the story and the characters that I actually begged Jim to stop at the bookstore after work and bring the second book to me that night, since I couldn’t leave to go get it myself until the next day. I finished book two by the next morning.

TOG review open

So it ended up being pretty riveting.

And my concerns with Celaena being a Mary Sue? Totally unfounded. In fact, Celaena starts out as downright unlikable. She is sometimes annoying, vain, self-absorbed, rude, and above all immature. BUT, she is all those things in ways that work for such a young character. She’s immature in ways that seem age appropriate, and it makes her feel very real. Because didn’t we all have moments of vanity, rudeness, and self-absorption at the age of 18? Goodness knows I did. In the end her abrasiveness and sometimes questionable decision making/prioritizing helps remind us as readers that despite her extraordinary skills and talents – the very things that had me worried she’d fall into Mary Sue territory – she is also extraordinarily young for what she’s seen, experienced, and accomplished.

She also develops well as a character over the course of the book – but not so much that it feels unrealistic. Nobody grows up completely overnight, and everyone remains flawed. And the same is true for Celaena. Honestly, once I finished, the only real big complaint I have left is that the romance/love triangle thing is a little overwrought. But you know what? Overdone and overbearing though it may be, it was entertaining. And isn’t that what matters?

So ultimately, I really enjoyed this book. It wasn’t a “perfect” read, but what book is? It was fun, it was exciting, and it was entertaining. I can’t wait to read more.

TOG review angle

In summary: Not a perfect read, but it was entertaining, exciting, and left me hooked and excited for the next book in the series.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Would Recommend To: Anyone who has patience for the flaws of youth (or enjoys an occasionally unlikable protagonist), and likes fantasy.

Have you read Throne of Glass? If so, what did you think?

#ReadWomenMonth 2017

book stack

So a few days ago I stumbled across the greatest idea on Twitter – Stasia of Stasia Likes Cakes has designated June as Read Women Month, complete with corresponding instagram challenge. And I am totally all about this.

Read Women's Month Banner

One of my big goals for June is to just read. A lot. I’ve spent the last few months kind of falling back in love with fiction, and it’s reminded me how much I miss reading for fun. When I was a kid I used to go through like, three books a week every week. And then somewhere along the way as I switched to History all my reading became work-related. Which is still fun… but not quite the same kind of fun. I found myself not really reading for shits and giggles in my free time anymore. I still read a TON, but it’s rare that I just sit down and enjoy a book, from start to finish, without feeling compelled to take notes and to break out my trusty highlighter and underlining pen, or jumping from chapter to chapter, book to book, essentially turning it into research project instead of just reading (which is why I don’t log a lot of that stuff in my Goodreads account).

And so this June I’ve decided to take a bit of a break, and just read. Read fiction, read for fun, and leave the underlining pencil at home (as much as I can bring myself to, anyway). And what better way to do that than to spend some time making some conscious decisions to highlight and celebrate female writers?

So here’s the plan. I’m currently in the middle of a pretty dense book looking at the decision to attack Pearl Harbor from the Japanese side by a female historian (Japan 1941 by Eri Hotta). I’m gonna finish that up, and count it as my first book of the month before moving on to focus on fiction. Once that’s done I’ll be finishing up the Throne of Glass series (reviews are pending!) and then we’ll see where the wind takes us from there!

Read Women Month my pic

I don’t think I’ve ever consciously thought about the authors of the books I read in terms of gender, and so making the conscious decision to read only female authors for the month is going to be an interesting exercise in awareness for me.

Are you participating in #ReadWomenMonth? What’s on your TBR list?

*Banner from Stasia Likes Cakes Clicking image should take you back to the original post.*

May Wrap-up and June Goals

Move more

Well, hot damned. It’s June.

Already.

I find myself saying that a lot these days. “Already!?” “It’s summer already!?” “It’s [insert month] already!?” And the busier I am from day to day, the more I seem to be saying it.

And May was a VERY busy month. It always is. From wrapping up and ending the semester, grading final papers and exams, getting final grades in, and working graduations not just at my own institution, but at a couple others in the region as a musician… Then add in all the holidays and anniversaries – Mother’s Day, a major family member’s “cancer free” milestone anniversary, my birthday, trying to shop for Jim’s birthday in a couple weeks, Memorial Day…

…and just woof.

So yea, May flew by.

But the question is, was I able to meet my goals for May?

The answer is actually, “Yes!” Well, mostly anyway. I was able to get all my Disney photos up on instagram as of last week. I was in general far more active on Twitter this month (go follow me both places!). I stuck to my spending fast on take-out until my birthday week (although Jim did buy me Thai once – so it really was just a SPENDING fast, and not a total ban on take-out). And I did some work on learning to use my camera a bit better – although it’s uhhhh slow going.

So the only goal I didn’t hit was the “Post every Tuesday and Thursday” one. But I feel like overall, May was a month of pretty significant progress!

Yessssss. Positive progress.

So what’s next? What’s the plan for June?

Well I want to continue all of these goals and take the next step with some of them.

1) I want to continue the take-out spending ban as best I can, and start taking meal planning a little more seriously. I made some major strides in terms of changing eating habits over the course of May, and I want to keep up that progress. Granted, some of those strides I have to attribute more to the weather than my own self-discipline – we’ve had an above average number of absolutely blisteringly hot days for May, and nobody wants to stuff their face when it’s humid and stifling out. But hey, progress is progress.

2) Continue to be more active on my instagram and Twitter accounts, and try to spend some time actively building a following. I’m going to try to keep posting regularly on instagram, and try to reach out a bit more on twitter – maybe drop into some twitter chats over the course of the month.

3) I want to increase my post count, and try to get some surplus posts written. I’m hoping that over the next few months I can settle into a steady blogging schedule, and also create enough content to have on standby that I won’t have to have any little lull once all four jobs kick back in in September.

4) I want to read a little every single day.

5) I also want to either complete a workout, or go for a walk every day. Some of this is self-care (the walks), and some of it is vanity – pure and simple. (I’ve got a trip to the beach coming up, and precious little time to fit back into my bathing suit in any way that’s not downright obscene. I’d like to avoid having to purchase a new one, if at all possible.) I’m not dictating what kind of workout, or any sort of schedule for the walks – I think I’ll take it as the spirit moves me, whether it be Pinterest workouts, or some sort of actual plan like a Couch to 5k. We’ll see how it goes.

What are your goals for June?