Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February 2012 Book List

3. Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo by Betty White

I'm a sucker for animal stories and a sucker for zoos - and so is Betty White! She learned to love zoos at a young age, as she visited them often with her parents. In 1974, she became a trustee for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, a nonprofit support group for the Los Angeles Zoo. Her love for animals shines through as she shares her up-close and personal visits with the zookeepers and their charges. She also shares tidbits of animal trivia here and there, in between the dozens of beautiful color photos of her animal friends.

This book was a pleasant surprise - and a nice, easy read.

4. Zumba by Beto Perez

I first heard about Zumba about 5 years ago, so I was surprised to find out it's been around since the early '90s. I saw a group of fit ladies performing a routine for the grand opening of a fitness center. Watching them, I hated Zumba. They moved too fast and looked too good doing it,and it made me feel extremely uncoordinated and slow. However, I fell in love with Zumba the first time I tried it - last September, in a fitness class for ladies at my church. And I found out I'm a little more coordinated and quick on my feet than I thought!

In my effort to continue with Zumba at home, I searched the library holdings and found this book, complete with an instructional DVD.

Beto Perez goes into interesting detail about his childhood and adolescence, leading up to his creation of Zumba. His descriptions of how Zumba affects the mind and body are spot-on, too. I remember thinking, "That's so true!" about many of the things he said about the workout and its benefits.

The next section of the book highlights the basic dance moves of Zumba: the merengue, the salsa, the cumbia, and the reggaeton. Not only are there descriptions of the moves, but there are photographs of each step to show readers what to do. The steps are also demonstrated on the DVD, slowly, one-at-a-time, then building up. I didn't know any of those dances at the beginning, but now I can do them at the mention of their names. Wow! Also included in the dance section are basic exercises that can be incorporated into the routines, as well as how to put the moves to whatever music you like. It doesn't have to be Latin music, though that does help!

Finally there's the diet portion of the book. Perez provides three different Zumba diet plans for targeting different areas. One is a jump-start weight loss plan; the others target the abs and the thighs. I'm not fond of diets at all. I read through it, but it's not something I want to focus on.

Sprinkled throughout the book are testimonials by people who started out overweight and feeling hopeless. They started exercising with Zumba, lost weight, improved their self-esteem, etc., and many of them went on to become certified Zumba instructors. Very impressive! In fact, it actually got me wondering if that's something I might like to do...

Whether you're a seasoned Zumba fan or someone who's just curious about what it is, I'd recommend reading this book. Be open to trying the different steps. Do it alone or with a good friend - or with a whole group! Don't be worried about how you look. Just enjoy the music and the movement and get yourself into better shape. And enjoy this:

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

5. A Place Called Wiregrass by Michael Morris

After 30 years of marriage to an abusive husband, Erma Lee Jacobs calls it quits. She leaves the pain and hatefulness of Cross City, LA, behind and, with her teenage granddaughter Cher in tow, settles in Wiregrass, AL. She's just hoping to get away from her past and get by in a place no one knows her. What she finds is love and acceptance and, finally, peace.

A Place Called Wiregrass is a good attempt at a first novel by Michael Morris. Most of the characters are a little two-dimensional, but Erma Lee and her new employer/companion Mrs. Claudia Tyler are more developed. All is not as it seems when their seemingly opposing worlds of redneck-meets-high-society come together. I enjoyed the confidante/mother-daughter relationship that grew between them, especially given the history of Erma Lee's own mother.

There were a few interesting plot twists, but most of them were formulaic. I can't go into detail without spoiling the story... Regardless, it's a good read. It's not gripping or fast; I wasn't brought to tears any during the two weeks it took me to read it. But it's pleasant - and a nice change from what seems to be the current trend of Christian fiction to lean toward Amish- and Quaker-influenced stories. (Yes, I do judge books by their covers sometimes...)

Reading this book also helped fulfill one of my goals for this year: to read some things from my own bookshelf. A secret pal from many years ago gave me this book, along with several others. I moved it, still unread, from the shelf to a stack last fall when I had to clear shelf space for the boys' school books. Now that I've read it, it's time to pass it along to someone else. If you're local (Dallas area) or family and would like it, let me know.

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