Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings Playbook book coverI finally got around to reading The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. I had seen the movie a long time ago when it first came out in 2012 and put the book on my TBR. Now, roughly eight years later, I have gotten around to reading it. The book is a quick read at 289 well-spaced pages, and I read it over the span of a few days while fitting in homework, family holidays, and video game time.

All of these may make me sound like I am in high school or college, but I am well beyond those years (except the homework is for another degree so technically I am in college again I guess). I kind of wish I had read this book in high school because it probably would have helped me since I dealt with major mental health issues back then, primarily depression. This book came out in 2008 when I would have been a junior in high school. I really wish I read it when it came out, but you can’t change the past.

Perhaps I am drawn to this story because of my past, or because this book, like all good books, has a human element that captures you when you are reading it. The story is about a man in his early to mid-thirties who is recently taken out of, not technically released, from a mental health facility. His only goal is to get back together with his wife, and we as readers go along for his journey through therapy, family struggles, Eagles football, and his new friendship with a woman who is also struggling with her own mental issues after the death of her husband. I promise the story is not all down in the dumps. It is rather upbeat and hopeful despite all the conflict, mental and otherwise. It is called the “silver linings” playbook after all.

I first saw the movie and I have to say that I think I like the movie a little better than the book. Blasphemy, you say, but hear me out. The book is still good which is why I am recommending it. I like the movie because it does have a stellar cast with Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert de Niro. The movie adaptation did change a few things from the book but I think they were good changes that made the story stronger, but I also think they were changes needed for the different medium. The book is told in first person so we see everything through Pat’s eyes, the main character. We get to read his thoughts and how he sees everything and why he reacts the way he does. You don’t get thoughts in movies very well even with voice overs. There is also a lot more family dynamic in the book, which I appreciated because it really expounded on Pat’s issues and showed how many “normal” people also have issues related to mental health even if they aren’t diagnosed or treated. The different perspective caused by the medium of film made some of the changes necessary though they kept the overall story the same, but I liked the changes.

I am recommending this book for a few reasons. It is a good story. It is a great look into mental illness and how it impacts peoples lives. It is a bit inspiring because Pat is always looking for his silver lining through the all the turmoil and he is really working on himself, and I think we all need to take time to work on ourselves sometimes. I hate to say many people probably don’t know how to work on themselves, which is another reason I liked the book. It gives a perspective on how to do so.

I am very glad I finally got around to reading this one. As I tell my wife, I am going to read all of my books eventually, it is just going to take time (while I accumulate even more books (sorry dear, I love you)).

If you have ever struggled with mental issues, or knows someone who has, or are interested in the subject, or simply want to give this book a shot because it is a good book, or liked the movie and are interested in the book, then I encourage you to read it.

Happy Reading.

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

Always Look on the Bright Side of LifeAlways Look On The Bright Side Of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle was an interesting insight for me since I grew up on the tail end of Monty Python’s popularity. This isn’t a Monty Python book, but it is an autobiography of Eric Idle, who was a key member and creator of Monty Python so of course it is a subject covered throughout a majority of the chapters. I knew very little about Eric Idle prior to listening to this book (as read by Eric Idle himself which makes it all the better), and I am glad that I am now a little more (or less) cultured.

Eric Idle had a seemingly fantastic life with many ups and downs and screw-ups and successes, but overall I think he would agree that he has had a great life overall. One of the most surprising bits I learned from this book was Eric’s friendship with George Harrison of The Beatles. I never knew that the movie Life of Brian was financed entirely by George because he wanted to see the movie and no one was willing to produce the movie made.

This book was released in 2018 and covers many events of the past several years up to its release. Eric knew so many people in Hollywood who have unfortunately passed away recently including Robin Williams and Carrie Fisher who were two icons I dearly admired. He seemed to know everybody, and everybody knew him.

I think the Python I knew most about prior to this book was John Cleese and that was only because I had seen him in many movies and shows and knew more about his career than the other Pythons. I like John and Eric’s portrayal of him made me like him all the more. Of course, I like Eric all the more as well.

I’m glad I read this book. It has been so long since I have seen a Monty Python movie that I don’t remember much at all about them, and I have never seen their show. I intend to mend these lapses, though I have reservations about how well they will stand the test of time. I’m sure some if not many will, but we will see.

Should the shows and movies not quite tickle my fancy, I at least enjoyed this book which provides a great insight into the group that influenced much of the world. More specifically, it is a look inside the life of the man who made most of it possible.

Happy Reading.

The Neil Gaiman Reader

Neil GaimanI am doing something I thought I would never do. Today, I am recommending a book I have not yet read. This sounds counter-intuitive and perhaps a bit wrong, but I actually have several reasons to recommend it. The book is The Neil Gaiman Reader by, as you may guess, Neil Gaiman.

I’ve read a decent amount of Neil Gaiman’s work and this book is a collection of 52 stories. A handful are excerpts from a few of his books. I have read several of his books and a few collections of short stories, so technically I have read a good amount of what is in this book from previous collections.

The four excerpts are from Stardust, American Gods, Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I have read all but Neverwhere and Anansi Boys and they are both on my list of books to read (both books are on my shelf and just a few of many that I have yet to get to).

This book was released just recently, which is one reason I have yet to read it, but it is an excellent volume that is great for anyone who has never read Neil’s work and wants to try it out. It is also an essential for any diehard Gaiman fans.

Since this book is ideal for those who have never read him before, I figured it was okay for me to recommend it for that reason. Of course, those who are already fans don’t need any recommendations of his work from me. They already know what they like. I know what works of his I like, having read several already, and I know which ones I want to check out next when I get to them. In fact, I’ve been considering reading Coraline soon as I haven’t read it yet and it is that time of year for spooky reads. It is also a shorter work that fits into my currently busy schedule.

So, if you have ever been interested in trying Neil Gaiman’s work, perhaps this is the prime opportunity for you to do so. You can always check your local library if you don’t want to make a purchase, or you can perhaps borrow a copy from that friend who has been bugging you to try anything by Neil Gaiman.

Happy Reading.

Every Tool’s A Hammer

Every Tool's A HammerEvery Tool’s A Hammer: Life Is What You Make It by Adam Savage is a biographically centered love letter to making. More generally, creating. Though he focuses mainly on crafting things like movie props, cosplay armor, and mechanisms used in commercials or movies, much of what he discusses can be applied to any craft. To put it simply, seeing his enthusiasm for making will inspire you to create whatever it is you may be waiting to make.

This book came out just last year (2019) and my interest primarily comes from the fact that I watched Adam on Mythbusters when I was growing up. By growing up, I mean while I was in high school. I loved the show because they were testing a lot of movie myths and pretty much confirming or denying the plausibility of what we thought we knew or were led to believe. I’ve always loved movies and around that time I was really into the sciences and wanted to know more about how things worked. The show was fun, nerdy, entertaining, and informative. Everything I was looking for and now I really want to go back and rewatch some episodes.

I listened to the audiobook as read by Adam Savage himself. It is mixture of autobiography and craft similar to Stephen King’s book On Writing except about building instead of writing. It was interesting to get more information about Adam as well as several behind-the-scenes stories about his time on Mythbusters or working on Star Wars while working at Industrial Light & Magic. We get to see how his career developed and evolved and we get to learn about how seemingly wondrous things were made simply out of passion and basic materials.

This book is not only about making or building, it is also about Adam’s journey to self-understanding. Through his years, he learned vital lessons about the craft but also about his own behavior and preferences when working on his craft and with his team or colleagues. He discusses his failures and successes. One early failure proved a vital lesson to him that I think everyone needs to be reminded of from time to time; it is okay to ask for help. On the other end, he delves into things he learned from mentors that helped him influence and manage his own team.

This is, of course, also a book that is great for anyone interested in making their own stuff. Be it a replica of a favorite movie prop or designing a cosplay outfit. He talks about different key components to any maker’s space and use of tools or materials. You can definitely learn a lot, as I did, about making. I have always toyed with the idea of making props for myself but have never followed through. I’m sure I will eventually because that desire is always there.

Again, Adam’s story and information is a great resource for all makers, but also for all creators. His passion is inspirational. His stories are reminders that you don’t necessarily need to know what you are doing to begin a project. Everyone has their own methods, and sometimes knowing your method can make it easier to plan the project to fit your needs. Never lose your spark of creativity. If you can, try to make sure you always have fun along the way.

Happy Reading.

The Inheritance Games

The Inheritance Games


The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is officially out in the world and it is riveting. There is so much I’d love to say, but I keep these recommendations spoiler-free so I’ll just let the official blurb give you a taste of what to expect.

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.
Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

When I first started reading, I couldn’t help but compare this book to the movie Knives Out, which I greatly enjoyed, because they have some similarities: the wealthy grandfather who passes away, a will reading, a great cast of suspicious characters who are all family.

But from there it diverges into it’s own, well-constructed world that is the Hawthorne family (and they definitely live in their own world of wealth and mind games). The pacing of this book is excellent. Short chapters and just enough revelations paired with new mysteries make this book an absolute page-turner.

My only gripe (which isn’t really a gripe) is that there are too many mysteries to be contained in this one novel. Or rather, the overarching mystery is too big. That’s right, there will be a sequel and I would be surprised if there is only one. Don’t worry though, you won’t feel cheated in any way. The “game” just extends into a new phase though I’m sure you will be like me and want the sequel right away. Alas, we must wait and let Jennifer Lynn Barnes work her magic for us.

Huge thank you to TheWriteReads for letting me join this blog tour. I can’t imagine a better way of finding new books than following them and the many bloggers promoting great books. Of course, I also need to thank Jennifer Lynn Barnes for writing such a compelling book.

Happy Reading.