Giveaway Winner of The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis

cover imageThe Bloggiversary Giveaway has ended and the lucky winner is Laura P. Thank you for all of the entries!

If you didn’t win, you’ll need to find some other way to get your hands on this novel The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis. (I’m talking to you, Care!)

I was lucky enough to read The Orphans of Race Point early when I got an advance copy to review for Library Journal, and have been evangelizing for ever since.

“a Dickensian story….Its themes of passionate treachery and abiding love play out in sometimes heartbreaking ways. Recommend to readers wondering what to read after The Goldfinch.” — Library Journal (starred review)

Patry Francis is also the author of an earlier novel, The Liar’s Diary, which is a little hard to find now, but well worth searching out. She lives in Massachusetts and I recently saw her again at the Speed Dating with Mass. Authors event at a library conference. We had lunch together afterwards! I’ve been a fan of hers since The Liar’s Diary came out (2007) and can’t wait for her next book, which she’s working on now.

Weekend Cooking: Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog by Grant Petersen @WorkmanPub #weekendcooking

cover imageEat Bacon, Don’t Jog is a catchy title for a book about diet and exercise by Grant Petersen, who also wrote an exercise book called Just Ride. The author is a bicyclist who ate a heart-healthy diet and worked out religiously for 30 years but noticed in his forties that he was starting to gain weight.

I noticed this in my 40s, too, although on a lesser scale. (I’m not athletic.) I took half-hour walks regularly and ate moderately for 20 years, which had always been enough, until it wasn’t. It was that dreaded middle-aged spread I kept noticing on other people! And it was going to take work to get rid of it.

29. How to Get a Figure Like a Potato
Just eat them. And if you’re going to eat potatoes, what the hell, go the extra inch and eat French fries because there’s just not that much difference. On a bad-for-you scale, one’s a 98, the other’s a 109. And on a “good-for-you” scale, one’s a minus 20, the other minus 25. So really, take your pick.

Eat Bacon

The combination of lowering carbs and improving your exercise habits laid out in plain and simple terms in Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog  works really well if you can keep it up, but it requires a drastic, permanent overhaul of your regular diet. Which I personally am not prepared to do. But this was the book that finally got me to give up my habitual half-cup of orange juice in the morning. (My husband and daughters have been telling me for while now that it’s no better than sugar water…But it has calcium added! And vitamin D!)

Actually, I have already changed my eating habits somewhat during the past two-and-a-half years of living with a low-carb eater. I reach for nuts as a snack now instead of crackers or a granola bar. I rarely eat pasta. We used to eat corn on the cob and potato salad all summer long. Not anymore! :(

36. Eight Foods to Avoid at all Costs
GRAINS: Whole grains, refined grains, any grains. No bread, no pasta, no cereal, and no hidden grains. Grains make you fat by jacking up your blood sugar and insulin, preventing fat burning, and promoting fat storage. Nix them all forever.

Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog could be a great motivator for someone who needs to bring down blood sugar and wants to store less body fat for those lean times that never arrive. But grains – even whole grains (my favorite!) – top the author’s list of foods to avoid at all costs. The list also includes fruit juice and corn. So I’m not ready to go whole hog on the low-carb thing, because although I can give up fruit juice, I can’t give up snacking on popcorn. Or eating grains. And I’ll probably still have French fries once in a while, too. But Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog had me convinced that I should go whole hog, so if you’re considering a low-carb diet, this could persuade you to try it.

Don’t Jog

The “don’t jog” section of the book is also laid out in easy-to-read, very short bursts with catchy headings.

“If your workout requires special clothing, it’s the wrong kind of workout.”

The  “Don’t Jog” part of the title is based on the counter-intuitive idea that the body derives more benefit from short, intense bursts of exercise than from prolonged, less-intense forms of exercise, such as jogging. According to the author, the benefits of jogging long distances don’t outweigh the drawbacks; shorter, more intense forms of exercise do more to offset the toll a sedentary lifestyle takes on your body and frees you up to enjoy active hobbies (such as jogging or bike riding) for the sheer pleasure of them (without worrying about whether you’re getting your workout in.)

Jogging’s reputation for being healthy doesn’t jibe with reality. Do it if it’s the way you like to wind down or relax, but don’t do it for your physical health.

So, you can stop feeling guilty if you don’t like to jog, but you still need to exercise and add activity to your day – however old you are!

Other Sections

There are a few Atkins-style low-carb recipes in the back that sound very easy but – heavy on meat,  cream, and blue cheese – might not sound appealing until you have “recalibrated your taste buds” (Section 102). The section includes recipes for snacks to have in between your meals of grilled meat and salads, and there recipes for a few desserts and main course meals (e.g. “Fantastic Fake Pancakes”, “Fantastic Fake Quiche”, and “Real Ratatouille”).

The Exercise Basics section of the book would be very helpful to someone looking for quick and inexpensive ways to get started or improve on an exercise regimen.

To sum up,  reading Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog got me to say “yes” when my husband asked me if I wanted to go on his morning walk with him today, so if you’re looking for a kick-in-the-pants type of book to help you (and a spouse?) get in better shape, this might be the one for you.

cheese and ham omelette with side of guacamole and a strawberry for garnish
Today’s breakfast: Ham and cheese omelette with a side of guacamole. No toast. No orange juice! And definitely no strawberry muffin (my favorite).

Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog
Petersen, Grant
Workman, 2014
240 pp.
$13.95 (US)

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the public library.

Weekend Cooking buttonThis post is part of Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click on the image for more Weekend Cooking posts.

Trauma in the Family: Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers

cover imageJust selected as a 2015 Massachusetts Book Award Must-Read title, Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers portrays a marriage – already a little unsteady  – and a family rocked by traumatic brain injury and its aftermath. It really puts a reader through the wringer.

In Accidents of Marriage, a professional couple – husband Ben is a public defender and wife Maddy is a social worker – and their teenage daughter Emma and two younger children are all usually stressed out with getting to where they all need to be on time, and getting ready for the next day. Ben gets angry a lot, letting off steam, and everyone is on edge much of the time. But that’s before the accident, when life could still be considered to be normal.

Chapters from Ben’s, Maddy’s, and Emma’s perspectives show different facets of the story, as the author turns it around and around for us to see all the moments we are unaware of except in hindsight, all the “if only”s.

Reading about the unraveling of a family can be painful, especially when the situations and dialogue are as realistic as in Accidents of Marriage, but I was drawn in by the story. Although it’s sad to watch the wreck of a family, even a fictional one.

The idea of Massachusetts Must Read titles is that they foster discussion; Accidents of Marriage would definitely make a great book club title. Readers could talk about the roots of problems like those Ben and Maddy faced in their marriage; about the process of recovering one’s “self” after a brain injury; about different forms of abuse; about the children in a situation like this; caregiving after an accident; and about the people in Ben and Maddy’s extended family.

Put Accidents of Marriage on your list when you’re looking for a book along the lines of Still Alice, Alice Bliss, or Anne Tyler’s latest, A Spool of Blue Thread, that is as much about the inner lives of family members struggling through grief and loss than about what happens to them and what they do.

Suggestions from a Massachusetts Librarian


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