Time Traveler’s Wife: By Audry Niffenegger. A Review. Book 11 of 52

My 2018 Reading Challenge is coming along nicely. Having just finished Feist’s The Magician, I dove head first into this book, and fell for about a week.

So I may have been guilty of falling asleep during this movie. Not because it was bad, I am sure that it was because I was tired. However, I do not think that even watching the movie would have prepared me for this book. “Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audry Niffenegger threw me for a loop.  There is no single quote that could do justice to how I feel about this book. It is complex, there is time, love, loss, and more love, more time. I both read and listened to the audio book. Having two characters speak the parts of the protagonist’s was delightful.

One of the most mind blurring parts did have a quote that resonates with me today. As a father, watching my children grow up, it pulled on the heart strings a little.

“Think for a minute, darling: in fairy tales it’s always the children who have the fine adventures. The mothers stay at home and waif for the children to fly in the window”.

Okay, those of you that have read it know what that is about. It is a smaller part of the entire story. But I honestly believe that there is little that I can say about this book without giving something away about it. It is amazing, wonderful and the ending.  Well, it hit me right in the gut. But so worth it. Every page, every line. Sold 4.5 out of 5. Even if you have watched the movie, read this book.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

The Magician: Master: By Raymond Feist. A Review. Book 10 of 52

See, I have been writing, and reading, and stuff. Sigh. But I know, no time for excuses. On wards and upwards for my next review for my 2018 reading challenge.

So, I have already spoken about the first part of this book. You can read that here. But, now, let’s dive into The Magician: Master by Raymond Feist. Another good book as a standalone, but I purposely waited to write this review until I had read both. Then I waited a few more weeks. Because of time. For as great as this book may be by itself, this pales in comparison to the power that reading them both, back to back, contain.

The conflict is real and palpable. Shockingly distant from other novels of the same feel. Consumed by the authors ability to keep the story, making every sentence count. So much that I, yet again, lost sight of the love story. But, there it was, time and time again. Not in an annoying way. It helped tell the story. There was not a lost section, or something that was there just to fill space.

I am usually one that likes to leave with a simple quote, something that gives insight into what I think of the book. But for this one, it is a longer one. A few sentences that I had to read over and over again. Before I do that, I give this book, by itself a 3.5 as well. But together with Apprentice I can do no less than a 4. If you have the time, read these books.

“There are many ways to love someone. Sometimes we want to love so much we’re not too choosy about who we love. Other times we make love such a pure and noble thing no poor human can ever meet our vision. But for the most part, love is a recognition, an opportunity to say, ‘There is something about you I cherish.’ It doesn’t entail marriage, or even physical love. There’s love of parents, love of city or nation, love of life, and love of people. All different, all love”

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

The Magician: Apprentice: By Raymond Feist. A Review. Book 9 of 52

Ok, ok….. I know that I am WAY behind on these. I have been reading, but been busy getting ready for our fourth child to join us in a couple months. Anyway, here is my next entry for the 2018 Reading Challenge.

Magic, sci-fi and war all wrapped around a love story. No, I am not talking about The Princess Bride (though an amazing book that you all should read). I am, in fact, talking about “The Magician: Apprentice” by Raymond Feist. I was warned that this book was a long one, originally published as one, split into two. But it was an amazing read. I have found in my time that there are books that are long, and horrible reads. So much fluff or dry events. This book is not the case.

I did not even really see the folding in of the love story until it was already there. It was amazing.

“Some love comes like the wind off the sea, while others grow slowly from the seeds of friendship and kindness”.

But, for as good as this book is, it is lacking without the second part, Master. As a stand-alone I would say 3.5 out of 5. Worth the read.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

The Alienist: By Caleb Carr. A Review. Book 8 of 52

“The defenders of decent society and the disciples of degeneracy are often the same people”

Such an apropos quote for the season we find ourselves in. Nonetheless, The Alienist by Caleb Carr is what I envision happens when Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes meets Poe’s… well anything by Edgar Allen Poe really. This may not be a good thing for all of you. I did find myself losing a little patience with the story. But, it was still a good read. I think that if one has the time and space to read it, they may enjoy it.

It is significantly difficult to provide some substantive review, while remaining spoiler free, on a mystery novel. Especially one of this ilk. I do feel that Carr did an amazing job of putting me, the reader, into turn of the (20th) century New York. Bordering on the overly descriptive (trust me, I am as shocked as the rest of you that those words just came from me) the narrative puts you in the moment. I just wish that it had been a little more like the aforementioned Sherlock Holmes, pulling no punches, and yielding no major clues until it should be nearly over.

But the story, the story was amazing. Enrapturing even.  Worth the read just for that in and of itself.

I am giving this book three out of five. stars Though there may be many that love it more, I am happy with that. Onto the next book in my 2018 Reading Challenge.

The Goal: By Eliyahu Goldratt. A Review. Book 7 of 52

I love it when books get their point across by way of story. What could have been a droll business case study of the effects that were worked through, and the results, was instead a magical story. I found myself living in the moments, working through the problems, and applying the solutions to the things that I do every day. In fact, there is already a few key points from this book on my whiteboard in my office.

This story does an excellent job of placing you in the story. You find yourself learning so much about manufacturing, and then seeing the little ways that you can apply the thought process that the main character is working through, in your life. I do not work at a plant. But, there are countless processes that function underneath me. One HUGE takeaway that I have, and am applying immediately is the following:

“Putting it precisely, activating a resource and utilizing a resource are not synonymous.”

In other terms, if you work for or with me, and you are reading this review, you need to read this book. There are many things that I will be rolling out in the near future. Very near.

All in all, 4 out of five stars. “The Goal” by Eliyahu Goldratt deserves a place on your shelf if you have interest in changing how things work in you life. You might be surprised in all the ways you can apply the solutions. Book seven is finished! This 2018 Reading Challenge has been… interesting.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Gathering Blue: By Lois Lowry. A Review. Book 2-52

Sorry for the delay. Between snowstorms and putting together the announcement for the next addition to our family, life has been full. If you missed the announcement, you can find it here. Please check it out, it took far too long for me to put together. However, I am happy with it nonetheless.

Without further ado, my less than 300 word spoiler free review of “Gathering Blue” by Lois Lowry.

On the heels of finishing “The Giver” I dove into “Gathering Blue”. I was begging for continuation, closure, and solace. It was quickly made apparent that I was not going to get these things. But, what I did find was something amazing. Perhaps it was because I had just finished “The Giver” that I was able to immerse myself into the setting so quickly. It is also, most likely, the case that I yet again saw the protagonist as one of my children, my daughter. It was not until the last few chapters that ALL of it started to come together.

When it started to collide, I found myself reading at a breakneck pace. Pages conquered in minuets, if not seconds. Flipping backwards to see if I read something right, honing in on what was happening. My heart was racing, and there were tears in my eyes as I got to the end. A quite from early on resounded loud and true as I put the book down, sighing in some closure and relief. “Take pride in your pain; you are stronger than those who have none” is a mantra to keep close to your heart.

With the same tenacity, as I finished “Gathering Blue” I started “Messenger”. With many of the same hopes carrying over from “The Giver” as before. Seeking more, seeking closure, seeking the rest of the story.

I would give this book a strong 5 out of 5. When I started reading it, the rating was hovering around a 3. But, upon completion it has rocketed to my 2nd or 3rd favorite book of all time. Worth the read as a standalone, but I think better after reading “The Giver”. Looking to pick up a copy, use my link here: “Gathering Blue”. This is not an affiliate link.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

The Giver: By Lois Lowry. A Review. Book 1-52

I am not sure what my apprehension was behind not reading this series. Until I was challenged by a friend on Facebook for my self-imposed 52 book reading slurry, I just cast it aside. Perhaps it has something to do with the “Left Behind” series that started just two years later, which I have read, and do not like. I recall there being a love for this book, accolades showered like shooting stars from the mouths of every reader. Much like that of “Left Behind”. However, I was challenged to read this book, in fact the quartet. Having finished it (in two days) here is my (spoiler free) review.

“The Giver” starts off slow, rhythmic and lulling. Not painstakingly slow like other books I have read. Almost enjoyable. Perhaps it was, in part, due to the winter season that the pace was restful. However, Lowry is a skilled writer. Well adept in the art of building a climax. Even better in letting the climax drive the story, pulling at all of your emotions. There is subtle imagery that is used. Without trying too hard you find yourself looking through the eyes of the protagonist, even if you do not want to.

There is a very particular point that the metronomic pace is shattered. Perhaps the moment that I wish I was warned about before reading at work. Thankful for a door that I could close, and an undisturbed few moments to collect my thoughts. Combined with my projections of one of my own sons onto one of the characters, I found my heart racing more often than not. I felt pulled to read the last half of the book as fast as I could. To reach the end and find out the conclusion.

“I was yearning to languish in its azure pools filled to the brim with potential and hope.”

When I did reach the end, I found that I was yearning to languish in its azure pools filled to the brim with potential and hope. But, it was not to be. There is closure, but I was left wanting more, so much more. I screamed, not in my head, not in my heart, I screamed “THAT CANNOT BE THE END”! I fought the urge to research. To take to task and find out what happened after the final words of the book. Oh how that sentence has haunted me. “But perhaps it was only an echo”.

All in all, I will give this book a 4.9 out of 5. It has risen to my top ten. If you have not read it, do yourself a favor and do so. Right now. Seriously. Go and buy it. Head to a library and check it out. Just read it. Trust me.

In full transparency, I am on the second day of my second week. But I am almost done with my third book.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Reading is challenging during the winter storm

As I awoke yesterday to a fresh, white, blanket of snow, I knew what I was going to hear. “The Richmond offices are closed due to inclement weather” the voice echoed on the other end of the call. A flurry of texts ensued as I alerted my staff of this event. Wondrous thoughts of sitting by the fire and finishing my second book, perhaps starting my third, of my 2018 Reading Challenge lulled me back to sleep.

Boy, did I sleep. I finally had a chance to get some rest. For the past few months I have been running at full speed, tilting all the windmills in my path. Perhaps it was the cold weather, the radiant views as the sun streaked across through the barren trees, but I relaxed. I rested. I woke up late. The kids were going outside to enjoy their snow day. Though, truth be told, snow days do not exist as a homeschooling family. Be that as it may, they were filled with excitement to run outside and dive into the snow that caused a day off. All one and a half inches of it.

Having spent a better portion of my life in regions that truly understand snow, it was a little laughable. But, to have some time to relax, time with family, is always a blessing. We quickly made plans to clean, organize, and de-clutter. These are never ending tasks when you have three children ages five and under. I assure you that the hurricane that is them trying to ‘help’ clean is far worse than the snow that kept me home. But we did these things just the same.

I watched them bounce up and down as we talked about snow, and smile chocolatey smiles as they had their hot coco. I handled the negotiations as to why I felt we would not be watching any more Christmas movies, even “Christmas Train” (or Polar Express as some of us call it), just because of the snow. They tried. It was adorable. But, it was an amazing day.

Near the end of it I realized that I had lost the opportunity to read as I had intended. It was the end of the day, the kids were going to sleep, and I was just relishing in the relaxation that I received from this unexpected day. In the quiet of the night, while I soothed my youngest back to sleep (for the millionth time) I read a little. Happy, and content with my progress, I logged in at 50% complete on my second book. Slowly, still reflecting back to the cool weather, and the day off, I lulled myself back to sleep in preparation for the day to come.

I hope to have a post on my thoughts on the first book, “The Giver”, sometime this weekend. Stay warm out there, and remember to take time to enjoy the unexpected gifts that are a snow day.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Let the reading begin!

In true form, I have begun the task that I set fourth for myself. For those that missed it, HERE I set a challenge to read a book a week. One day in, I am about 3/4 of the way done with “The Giver”. Now, I will not be saying anything about this book now. For that, you will have to wait until next week when I post my synopsis on our blog. I have also created a wishlist for the books that I am going to be reading this year. As I purchase books, they will be removed. The books are loaded in reverse order of the order that I will be reading them. If you feel like helping, please do. If you want to read along, that is a starting place for you as well.

Anyway, back to indulging myself in the finer things in life.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Wishlist link (For those on other social media than our blog): http://a.co/0vBuT7E

In the coming year…

I know, you are most likely all TIRED of reading resolution after resolution. However, I wanted to document a challenge that I gave myself. See, not so long ago, in a land that seems far, far, away, I was an avid reader. How avid? It was a common occurrence for me to be working through three books, at once, all in a week or so. Yeah, that avid. I miss it. I miss reading. I miss what it does to my mind, and my way of thinking.

So, the other day, I reached out on Facebook. I asked for 52 books that I have not read, first come first serve. All to get back into it. One book a week. That is my goal. Well, my friends responded rapidly. So, here is the list (below). These are the books, and the order that I will be reading them in, starting in just a few hours. Additionally, I will be posting a SHORT synopsis (300 words or less, directly correlated to the length and complexity of the topic(s) covered in the book) the week after reading it. I will most likely give each book a 1-10 rating and include a link to the book for any that are interested.

I ask that you help keep me accountable on this. If you are not seeing a post on Monday or Tuesday, call me out on it. I miss reading, and I want my kids to see me entrenched with it as they are reaching their formative years of reading. 2017 was a wild ride, and I know that 2018 is going to be crazy. But, let’s all make the best of it. New year, new slate, new book… not just an empty page. May 2018 be amazing for all of you. If you are looking for me, my nose will be in a book.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind always.

 

Book Title Author Start Finish
1 The Giver Lois Lowry 1/1/2018 1/6/2018
2 Gathering Blue Lois Lowry 1/7/2018 1/13/2018
3 Messenger Lois Lowry 1/14/2018 1/20/2018
4 Son Lois Lowry 1/21/2018 1/27/2018
5 Crash the Chatterbox Steven Furtick 1/28/2018 2/3/2018
6 I Will Carry You Angie and Todd Smith 2/4/2018 2/10/2018
7 The Goal Eliyahu Goldratt 2/11/2018 2/17/2018
8 The Alienist Caleb Carr 2/18/2018 2/24/2018
9 The Magician: Apprentice Raymond Fiest 2/25/2018 3/3/2018
10 The Magician: Master Raymond Fiest 3/4/2018 3/10/2018
11 Time Traveler’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger 3/11/2018 3/17/2018
12 The Art of Learning Josh Waitzkin 3/18/2018 3/24/2018
13 The Remains of the Day Kazup Ishiguro 3/25/2018 3/31/2018
14 Appointment with Death Agatha Christie 4/1/2018 4/7/2018
15 Jesus Land Julia Scheeres 4/8/2018 4/14/2018
16 The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling Henry Fielding 4/15/2018 4/21/2018
17 The Bone Clocks David C. Mitchell 4/22/2018 4/28/2018
18 On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Steven King 4/29/2018 5/5/2018
19 The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chobosky 5/6/2018 5/12/2018
20 The Sin of White Supremacy Jeannine Hill 5/13/2018 5/19/2018
21 The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingslover 5/20/2018 5/26/2018
22 A New Kind of Christian Brian McLaren 5/27/2018 6/2/2018
23 The Last Arrow Erwin McGinnis 6/3/2018 6/9/2018
24 Ghost Soldiers Hampton Sides 6/10/2018 6/16/2018
25 The Color of Magic Terry Prachett 6/17/2018 6/23/2018
26 House of Leaves Mark Z. Danielewski 6/24/2018 6/30/2018
27 Argall: The True Story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith William T. Vollmann 7/1/2018 7/7/2018
28 The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman 7/8/2018 7/14/2018
29 Dragon Teeth Michael Chriton 7/15/2018 7/21/2018
30 Cat’s Cradle Kurt Vonnegut 7/22/2018 7/28/2018
31 Contagious Jonah Berger 7/29/2018 8/4/2018
32 Cryptonimicon Neal Stephenson 8/5/2018 8/11/2018
33 Outlive Your Life Max Lucado 8/12/2018 8/18/2018
34 Storm Front Jim Butcher 8/19/2018 8/25/2018
35 1632 Eric Flint 8/26/2018 9/1/2018
36 Inverted World Christopher Priest 9/2/2018 9/8/2018
37 The Magicians Lev Grossman 9/9/2018 9/15/2018
38 Astrophysics for People in a Hurry Neil deGrasse Tyson 9/16/2018 9/22/2018
39 Some Buried Caesar Rex Stout 9/23/2018 9/29/2018
40 Invisible Cities Italo Calvino 9/30/2018 10/6/2018
41 Jennifer Government Max Berry 10/7/2018 10/13/2018
42 Liberty Defined Ron Paul 10/14/2018 10/20/2018
43 The Heart Goes Last Margaret Atwood 10/21/2018 10/27/2018
44 The Circus of the Earth and the Air Brooke Stevens 10/28/2018 11/3/2018
45 The Three Body Problem Cixin Liu 11/4/2018 11/10/2018
46 Boneshaker Cherie Priest 11/11/2018 11/17/2018
47 Leave it to Jeeves PG Wodehouse 11/18/2018 11/24/2018
48 Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea Guy Delisle 11/25/2018 12/1/2018
49 The Stupidest Angel Christopher Moore 12/2/2018 12/8/2018
50 At the Mountains of Madness HP Lovecraft 12/9/2018 12/15/2018
51 Unholy Night Seth Grahame-Smith 12/16/2018 12/22/2018
52 Prodigal Summer Barbara Kingslover 12/23/2018 12/29/2018