You’ve Got a Book in You: Elizabeth Sims

Book style: Non-fiction

Beer style: None – I read this book off an on for over a year

There are probably a million and one books on how to write a novel, so figuring out which ones to read can be difficult. This one actually came as a gift from the hubs, which I found wonderful and sweet. He’s an analyst so he of course did a lot of research when purchasing some books for me. He told me that this was one of a few he’d bought for me that topped the list of books to read about writing.

I finally finished it in just over a year, but don’t take that as it wasn’t a good book. It was a very good book ( I have a ton of spots marked with a sticky note for further reference. Which is definitely what this book feels more like: a reference book to come back to later. And although it’s completely different than Stephen King’s On Writing, it brings a good perspective. On Writing was a mix between Mr. King’s past, how he became a writer, the challenges he faced, and his style of writing. You’ve Got a Book in You is more like a helpful guide and a friendly pep talk, but not in a “Do these steps and you’ll be on the NY Best Seller’s List” kind. Real advice, about writing because you love it, and putting in the effort needed to create some great work.

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She’s Come Undone: Wally Lamb

Book style: Coming-of-age drama

Book pairing: A tough ale

When I first volunteered at my local library when I was around 14, which would be in the mid to late 90’s, I put this book away often. It was published in 1992 and hit Oprah’s list in 1997, so naturally it got checked out a lot. I was always intrigued by this book because of the cover (which is how I pick out my wine and beers). For some reason though, I forgot about the book and never read it.

I happened upon this book at a Half Price Books so I decided to finally just buy the thing and read it. And even though I’d seen this book a hundred time, I didn’t really know what it was about.

This book revolves around Delores Price and her pretty shitty life. Granted, many of the things that made her life shitty was because of the choices she made, but some definitely were not. She was handed a lot of crap, and dealt with it the best way she could, but when your life leaves you angry and resentful, it’s hard to do a good job at dealing with all of it.

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Boomsday : Christopher Buckley

Wowee, I’ve been gone for a while, and longer from reviewing a book. I’ve read a few since the last one I reviewed, but I’ve been crazy busy with life matters. Since my last review, I sold my house, moved to another state, and started a new job, oh and bought another house, which we will be moving into in about 12 days, meaning I’m sure I’ll stumble again with a regular blog post.

So let’s get this ball rolling in the right direction again. I just finished reading Boomsday by Christopher Buckley, who is the author probably best known for Thank You For Smoking, the 2005 movie with Aaron Eckhart. Although I didn’t read that book, I assume it would have the same tone as Boomsday, because as I read the book, I recalled parts of the movie, mainly from the dialogue and the overall tone of the book.

This story follows Cassandra Devine, a 29-year old, who finds her world quickly changing directions when her dad decides to use her college tuition money plus the family mortgage as startup money for a business. This creates a permanent rupture in her and her father’s relationship and she takes his actions out on all baby boomers. She comes to the conclusion that the baby boomers are causing, and will cause, her generation enormous amounts of financial pain, and possible ruin, because they now live longer than they used to.

She enlists in the military with the idea of getting college paid for through public service. She goes into the Public Affairs career field, which leads her to a deployment to the Middle East, escorting distinguished visitors from the U.S. around the base. Her world again takes a turn when she meets Randy Jepperson, a young and defiant senator who disregards all protocols. She and Randy end up getting blown up and an IED. Both her and Jepperson survive, but she is booted out of the military and is left jobless in the hospital back in the U.S. She is approached soon after by Jepperson, who offers her a job in his office.

The shenanigans persue and her desire to push her agenda is let loose.

Overall I thought the book was entertaining. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a political satire fiction book, as I usually steer away from books with any hint of politics, but I enjoyed this. A lot of times I found myself chuckling thinking, ‘It’s funny because it’s true’. But sadly a lot of it is true. I could see the makers of House of Cards reading these books before writing the series.

Rating: 8/10

Gratitude: Oliver Sacks

This is a collection of four short stories, or reflections, that Mr. Sacks wrote during the last few years of his life. The book read like a reflection on what really stood out in his life and what was important during those last few months on the earth. The musings he wrote were entertaining, insightful and sometimes humorous. For example, Oliver was a scientist by trade and had a love of the elements, so each year for his birthday, he would reflect on the element number of his age. His last one, 82, was Lead.

He also took an uplifting approach to life after learning that his cancer had returned again in his 80s. He reflected on the good in his life, and the gratitude he felt for the years that he had lived.

Even though I had different expectations for this book, it was still a good read and a great reminder to focus on this important things in life, to not worry about all the little piddly things that happen, and to be grateful for the day to day occurrences in our lives.

I’d recommend this short read as a reminder to seek out gratitude always.

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life. On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

Rating: 7.5/10

 

Zer0es: Chuck Wendig

This was my first “hacker” book, although I feel like I should have started these a long time ago considering I work in IT security, and it was also my first book by Chuck Wendig. I’d heard of him and seen his books, but always forgot to look into them, getting distracted with loads of other books to add to my list (it’s probably a real thing – like biblio-ADHD or something). I actually found his blog, started reading it and loved his writing style, so I finally grabbed up his book and read it.

I would describe Chuck’s writing style in this book as quick paced and rough-edged, in a good way. I read it almost like a noir-style novel, where things are happening quickly, and you’re digging your way through the dirt to find out who’s behind the government conspiracy. Continue reading “Zer0es: Chuck Wendig”

Lay Down Your Weary Tune: W.B. Belcher

I listened to a lot of David Ramirez when reading this book. It just fit with how I felt the writer was portraying the mood of this book. Although there were some funny parts, where I found myself quietly laughing or smiling, there was an underlying tone of sad reminiscence, remorse, regret, and the chances we have in life that we miss.

Jack Wyeth is a college grad who has done practically nothing with his life. Nothing that makes him exceptionally proud. In his college years, the highlight of his time was meeting the famous Eli Page, when Mr. Page came to perform at the school. Continue reading “Lay Down Your Weary Tune: W.B. Belcher”

On Writing: Stephen King scares me, but in a good way

This book is about writing, but is much different than most of those, ‘How To Get Published in Five Steps or Less’ books.

This book is called, On Writing, a Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King. The book is structured as a memoir in the first half, and more about his writing process in the second half.  What I love about this book is his honesty and his reasons for writing – because it’s what he feels he was meant to do. Clear and simple. He feels it in his bones to write. He keeps his attitudes and opinions on his sleeve, like he does in many of his books and lets you know what’s what, even if you may feel slightly offended. I feel like he’d probably say something like, “Get over it. You chose to read this book.” Continue reading “On Writing: Stephen King scares me, but in a good way”

Dear Hearts, by Ericka Clay

Books are amazing. They are an avenue for adventure, imagination, thought, learning something new, and discovering something within yourself. I was presented the opportunity to read and review a book by up and coming author, Ericka Clay. To be honest, it wasn’t a book that I’d probably choose immediately on my own, but this is the great thing about books. If we step outside of our regular list of genres and try something different, you may discover a wonderful book you never would have known existed. Continue reading “Dear Hearts, by Ericka Clay”