The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky. A Review. Book 19 out of 52

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”

Living the life that I have, perhaps the reason that “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky has evaded me is its realism. There is something about knowing someone’s life, or at least seeing it come alive on paper, that causes us to account our own. I mean, that is what good books SHOULD do, right? Make you think. Put you in the time and place and see how your life, your experience, your heart, would conflict or commiserate with the protagonists. Perhaps it is just me. Maybe I hold many authors to a higher standard. I am okay with that. The question is, are you?

This book, this story, is like looking through a lens at life as I was coming to age. God, that makes me sound old. But it is true. The world that I grew up in is a fading memory, severed from the one we are in now. But this book captured it. It took me back. Recalling my memories of friends, people I knew. Reviewing this book without spoilers is difficult. So my recommendation is that you read it.

4.5 out of 5 for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky. Do not let the lack of a perfect five fool you, this one is near the top of the list of the ones that I have read this year for my reading challenge. I am not sure why I had not read this before, but I am glad that I did now.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Steven King. A Review. Book 18 out of 52

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

I had no idea how much I needed to read this book. “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Steven King is a tale of tales. I tried to go into this book with an open mind, fearing that it was going to be a writers guide. Afraid of what that would bring out of me. But this is so much more. King is a master of this craft, and it is utterly refreshing to see what has driven him as an author. Yes, even the rougher times.

Transparently, King walks through the struggles, missteps, and flaws in an attempt to show perseverance. Along the way imparting knowledge about drive, application, and voice. In a very real, and very raw way, this book put even more pressure on me to write.

Oh, the crazy journey of my reading challenge. Self-improvement, introspection, igniting passion, correcting vision, and so much more. It seems that this is another book that you should have on your shelves. Who knows in what ways it will inspire you?

I am giving “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Steven King a sold 4 out of 5 stars.

The Bone Clocks by David C. Mitchell. A Review. Book 17 out of 52

“One moment you’re carrying this loveable little tyke on your shoulders, the next she’s off, and you realize what you suspected all along: However much you love them, your own children are only ever on loan.”

Ok, so the quote does not jive with the story. But, that does not detract from the quote. “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell has a weird way about it. A story about the inner drive to keep moving forward, even in a parallel dystopian world on the brink of absolution. The protagonist is littered through the various stories, the various times, in a way that makes it a little slower of a read. Not due to its complexity, that stands alone by itself. More in the way that Mitchell uses literary devices to make you think. To make you say “What. Just. Happened.” driving you to read the last few pages over again.

It is hard to express that this recursive reading is not out of frustration (which is what I usually experience due to poor writing). But there are countless, and very wicked, moments were the dialog goes from highly complex diatribes to practical common sense, in one line. Between this, and the overall story as you follow the protagonist in her world, all around good read.

4 out of 5 stars for “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell. Would recommend for a good autumn read, more than spring.

The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling by Henry Fielding. A Review. Book 16 out of 52

“No one hath seen beauty in its highest lusture who hath never seen it in distress.”

Filled with a menagerie of characters “The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling” by Henry Fielding is an amazing novel. Not just for the time in which it was written, but even today. Part way through this book, or a collection of books as it were, I did something that I do not do and looked up some critiques. There was one that stood out to me, that I did not fully realize until I had almost finished. I feel that Samuel Coleridge put it better than any could when he stated that “Tom Jones” has one of the “three most perfect plots ever planned.”

Picking up such a hefty tome is daunting. It is a little easy to get lost in its seemingly massively detached story arcs. But as you endure, reading on, you see that the first sentiment, that of ‘exploring human nature’ is an understatement. I would not recommend trying to read this book (okay, it is a collection, I mean, there are 18 books) in a week as I did. Would be better to savor it.

All together I would give “Tom Jones” by Henry Fielding 4 out of 5 stars. Just give yourself some time to read it properly, and let the story come together amazingly.

Jesus Land: A Memoir by Julia Scheeres. A Review. Book 15 out of 52

“Life may not be fair, but when you have someone to believe in, life can be managed, and sometimes, even miraculous.”

Right out of the gate, this book shook me. I was barely into reading it when I mentioned a fair amount of dislike for the path the story was going to the person that suggested it to me. She encouraged me to keep reading. So I did. Boy am I thankful. ‘Jesus Land: A Memoir’ by Julia Scheeres is NOT the book that you think it is. It is a wild ride from start to finish. Some parts brought on disgust and worry. While others brought on laughter, tears, and eye-opening realizations.

There were parts of this book that made me worry about the plans that we have for our family. Those parts were the reasons I wanted to put the book down. But many other parts made me see how lucky we are. The journey this book takes you on is complicated but easy to fall in love with as you read through it all.

I will also say that the most important part is after the book is over. READ THE EPILOGUE. Though all that this book brought to me, the epilogue had me crying in bed in the middle of the night. The book, in and of itself, is truly incredible. But the epilogue makes the whole thing beautiful.

I am giving ‘Jesus Land: A Memoir’ by Julia Scheeres a coveted 5 out of 5. Trust me, buy it, read it, do not stop when you think you should, and you will see why it gets a solid five from me.

Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie. A Review. Book 14 out of 52

“They have been in prison so long that, if the prison door stands open, they would no longer notice!”

One of the things that I have enjoyed with the Agatha Christie novels that I have read is her propensity to make the solution a surprise, but entirely logical. I have a deep love for crime novels, but I will forgo my diatribe regarding the “who-done-it” to avoid spoilers. I will say that it is a little disappointing that Christie took as long just setting up the crime. Making you see the reasons the victim met their end is essential, but this was a bit drawn out. Instead, following the journey that this reading challenge has taken me on, I want to dissect the underlying theme.

Sometimes we live in a prison, constructed by others, only to realize it when it is too far-gone to escape. We often grow content, even proud, in our assumption that we know what life is all about. As children, life is a game. There are magic and mystery, for most of us, that enthrall our minds. But, what if that was taken away as well? Instead of it falling by the wayside as we grow, it was stricken away from us like a prize unearned. I, for one, do what I can to ensure the world is filled with magic and mystery for my kids. I want them to explore its vast trappings fully. Trust me; I KNOW that this book was not written to make you think of such things. But, that is not how my mind works.

I am giving 3.5 out of 5 stars to “Appointment With Death” by Agatha Christie. Not the worst I have read, not by a long shot. But far from the best Christe novel that I have read to date.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. A Review. Book 13 out of 52

“If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the hights you are no doubt capable of”

I love when stories have the same effect as peeling back an onion layer by layer. Be it through a thrilling crime novel, or through the eyes of discovery. Done right, it is a brilliant device in literature. In The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, brilliant is an understatement. Though it took a little to get into, to figure out what was going on, this was a joy to read. But only in the sense of one lacking introspection. Be it Ishiguro’s intent or not, taking what the protagonist is working through, and applying it to my life is what I do.

This book leaves me asking questions about potential, perception, and drive. All of this, in every aspect, is a good thing. Perhaps it is only adding to the foundation of what this year is turning into for me. This journey, my 2018 Reading Challenge, has had a sudden impact surrounding self-discovery. This book is yet another fantastic catalyst in the process. While being a delight to read, it may leave you questioning quite a bit about what you think you know.

4.5 out of 5 is what I give “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro. Add it to your shelves, give yourself a couple of quiet nights, and enjoy the ride.

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.