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.

Finding strength in the moment

I stood there and watched, my heart barely beating in my chest. Her little legs stepping up onto the box. Amazed with her graceful, surefootedness, not showing a sign of the weight she was bearing. The once vibrant, now muted from use, frock covered most of her little body. Heavy with the lead inside, but undeterred by the little body under it. She silently listened to the instructions.

“Place your hands here”

“Move you head here”

“Bite down like it is a cookie”

She complied with them all. From my vantage, standing in the doorway, I could see the wild inside of her being quelled. Self-restraint. Such a strange thing to see in a five year old. But then again, she has been full of surprises since the moment she was born.

In a flurry the staff exited the room. Stoically she stood there. Her hands exactly where she was told to leave them. Frozen in that moment. The small room looked so much bigger then it was just a second ago. Just outside the threshold my body remained still and imposing. But my heart, it was in that room with her.

“I am right here, you are doing so good, I am so proud of you my little one.”

I spoke to her in my calm, metered tone. She smiled, just a little as to not hold her position. But that smile, it was for me. She knew that I could see it. Then, a moment later there was a whirring sound. The device began to move slowly around her head. Then there was… the cry.

“Daddy! No!”

I could hear the fear, and it tore through me. My heart lurched as it began to beat again. Adrenaline flushing through my veins with a fiery burn. The attendants shut off the panoramic x-ray machine and I rushed to her. She jumped into my arms, the added weight of the lead vest being only an afterthought. The smile gone from her face she held me tightly, I could feel the tears soaking though my shirt, into my soul.

She tried to be brave.

For her entire life my daughter, Zoey, has been showing the world how strong and brave she is. She has not had a choice in the matter. But being so little, and having a machine move around her head was too much. Heck, even I hate those things. But, it is also in this moment that she showed be what she does best.

Finding strength in the moment

While the x-rays did not happen the way that the doctors had hoped, something amazing happened in that room. My daughter fought all that was in her, casting aside every reasonable fear. She stood on that box, and she listened. In that moment, she dug deep and found her own strength. Perhaps she knew that it was in her, perhaps she did not.

In addition to this, she has, yet again, helped me find strength as well. It is a daunting task, this role as a parent. Further complicated by things such as Craniosynostosis, it is a real struggle some days. The worry and fears that I have about what the future will be like for her is, well, there have been many sleepless nights.

It is an odd thing to be in a position that my daughter is showing me that I can be stronger than I think. But it is reassuring that she is going to do so well in life, digging deep, and finding strength in each moment.

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.

    A dad’s thoughts on what happened yesterday.

    It is not just a gun issue.

    It is not just a mental health issue.

    It is not just a faith issue.

    It is not just an immigration, rights, society, freedom, security, constitutional issue.

    It is not a love, hate, indifference, compassion, community, education issue.

    It is not just a family issue.

    It is all of these, and scores more. We’ve reached a state in our society that would newsbreaks of children being killed it becomes a headline and not a moment of sorrow . More and more frequently parents are having to worry about what’s going to happen with their child when they send them away from their home.

    As a dad, when I watch the news, I am terrified about the world that my children are growing up in. It is my job to raise them, it is my job to protect them. It is my job to teach them what is right. It is my job just show them love, compassion, understanding, and safety.

    As a dad, it is time that I voice the fact that all dads out there, in fact all parents, need to own this.

    As a dad, I need to do better. Not just for my children and their future. Look for yours as well.

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

    Something is Stirring

    Perhaps it is because I had to experience the awesomeness of #dad2summit through the lens of my cellphone instead of through my eyes.

    Then again, there was so much to unpack from “Crash the Chatterbox” which I just finished reading for my 2018 reading challenge.

    It could be stemming from preparing to add #4 to our brood in a few months.

    Or that our oldest, and only daughter, is turning six years old even sooner than that.

    But something is stirring. Something deep. Its rawness is sharp and its weight is heavy.

    It all stems from this quote from Steven Furtick in the aforementioned book “Crash the Chatterbox”:

    “Every second you spend wishing God would take away a struggle is a forfeited opportunity to overcome”

    But, what is the struggle that I am talking about? Better, which one from the endless list of shortcomings or pain points does this have to do with? I could marinate on these two questions. Dear readers, you know me. I could launch into a winding torrent of a diatribe as I dabble with it all. But, this time. I am not. The answer is too clear for me to use that tactic this time.

    Fatherhood

    The way that I see it, I started down this road on a mission. I wanted to ask the questions, and find the answers about what makes a great dad. Then, all of a sudden, the picture perfect dream of fatherhood was upended. Shattered as I spent my daughters first few days in the NICU. Listening to monitors, researching Craniosynostosis, and getting involved in lengthy and weighted conversations about what my daughter’s future may look like. These things drown out the pictures and images that I had already formed. Hiding the voice that I had harbored for so long.

    Somehow I missed something. I have been saying it all along and I never applied it. I let my daughter’s condition define me as a dad. NEVER, EVER have I let it define her. But it is who I am. I know more than most doctors and pediatricians about her condition, and the countless variants. I can speak for days about what the surgeries are like, what we have been through, and how amazing my daughter is. Time and time again I have said how thankful that I am to be found worthy of being called “daddy” to such an amazing little girl. But I let my focus of fatherhood be consumed by her condition.

    It is becoming more and more clear that I need to enact a change. I feel like I know what the next few steps are. Nervous and excited I have already started working on them.

    I have more to say on this, but I am actively putting things together to make it all make sense. Stay tuned over the coming days for something awesome.

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

    Son: By Lois Lowry. A Review. Book 4-52

    After making great headway on the books I wanted to read this year, life became life. However, I finished “Son” on time. Having had a weekend to digest all that this tome entailed, and wanting to keep the momentum moving, here is my review.

    Gut wrenching heartache. Having the ability to read all four books of the quartet, back to back, has been astounding. “Son”, by far, the longest, takes some of the craziest turns out of the four book in “The Giver” quartet. I had heard from many that this book was highly favored in the series. Though I found the book to be amazing, I also found it harder to follow.

    There is such a departure from the rhythm. Trust me, I stay that knowing that based on what all is covered by “Son” that this departure was needed. Regardless, there were times that I had to re-read multiple chapters, listen to the audio again and again, all in an effort to make sure that the leaps the story was taken were intended.

    Still, it was a fantastic book. Not my favored in the series, least favored to be frank. But still a very good book. The arc that the protagonist takes is a wild and crazy ride. I found myself wanting to dive into the story and be there, to place my hand on their shoulder, out of comfort and guidance. Times that I was internally screaming for joy, and others that I was wracked with sorrow.

    But there is one thing that just irks me. One thing that I have had to read, re-read, and listen to multiple times. The conclusion. Things, all things, come together. The climax has been built, laid out, sullied, and then displayed for all. My heart was racing, pages were turning. Each word was being read with a sniper like accuracy. Then, in a flash, it was over. The end. Perhaps it is the quick ending of the entire saga why this is my least favorite book out of the four.

    Three and a half out of five stars is all that I can give. Pales in comparison to the books that preceded it, but still worthy of reading by all. I may come back and read it again later, just to see how my mind has changed.

    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.

    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