2018 Book of the Year, In My Opinion

As I do practically every year, I read dozens of books. I usually read three books at any one given time from different genres that inform, inspire, motivate or purely for entertainment. The books I read typically are new authors or first editions of the established authors, but not necessarily. Sometimes, I do not become aware of a book that urges me to read it until perhaps years after its’ first publishing date.

The best book I read in 2018 was first published in 2010 and copyrighted again in 2016. What attracted me to this book was the book’s title and premise as it related to one of my three words to live by in 2018, the word, frugality.

After selling our tiny cottage in the lower peninsula of northwest Michigan, I realized (not for the first time because my husband is good at reminding me) that I am a pack rat. Everything is a memory to me, especially when the item reminds in some way of my children. I also tend to hang on to things I think I can reuse or re-purpose without ever finding the use or purpose. The cleaning out and moving experience with our cottage inspired me to the idea of minimalism. After unburdening of myself of so many things at the cottage, I found myself freer and lighter in mind, body, and spirit that I felt motivated to declutter our primary home in southeastern Michigan.

The Joy of Less Cover

After researching books on frugality and minimalism and reading many book reviews on the topics, my research led me to the book, “The Joy of Less – A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simply” by Francine Jay, Miss Minimalist. The book’s first copyright was in 2010 published by Anja Press, and then again in 2016 published by the First Chronicle Books LLC, San Francisco, CA.

The Joy of Less

The book discusses the philosophy of the minimalist lifestyle and achieving that lifestyle through the author’s STREAMLINE method – the effective techniques for achieving and maintaining a decluttered home. But this book is much more than then the book’s premise I just described. The author’s non-judgmental approach to thought-provoking questions to root out the reasons for the reader’s materialism and clutter was inspiring and motivating. I felt her kindness through her phrasing and ability to guide me through the process of “useful stuff, beautiful stuff, and emotional stuff,” as well as, her compartmentalizing action steps into “trash, treasure, and transfer.”

Life Lessons

From the author’s bio on the inside back cover, Francine Jay appears to be a very young woman, however, her book, The Joy of Less revealed to me that she is an old soul. Not only did she share a different way of looking at the material things I have collected but helped me understand why I have something in the first place, why I have held on to it, and helped me to decide whether keeping an item would enhance my life.

In Francine Jay’s words, “decide which objects enhance our lives and put only those things back into our space.”

But the lesson Francine Jay taught me best was written just before those words, words that would change the way I think not only with material objects, but how I must think in mind, body and spirit.

“Decluttering is infinitely easier when you think of it as deciding what to keep, rather than deciding what to throw away.”

That one sentence blew me away.

The minimalist lifestyle

Although I was devouring the book, The Joy of Less, I put the book down for a few days to take in what I just read. I went back and read my blog post, Three Words to Live by, and I realized I had not entirely lived those words in 2018. And that is why I must choose this book, The Joy of Less – Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simply for my personal choice for the book of the year in 2018.

“… sacred space not a storage space.”

I love this phrase from the author, Francine Jay. That concept must not only apply to my physical living space, but be applied to my mind, body and spirit space as well.

Applying minimalism to the mind, body and spirit

What am I storing?

Why am I storing it?

Is what I am storing enhancing my life?

What and who do I choose to keep in my life?

The author continued to endear herself to my heart not only in reading the rest of her book, but including the wonderful words from the Haiku poet, Basho who wrote after his house burned down that he had a better view of the moon.

A better view of the moon

As I reflect on my three words to live by in 2018 and moving forward into 2019, I have a better view of the moon after reading Francine Jay’s book, The Joy of Less. As she reminds the reader that this is a book to be kept out on the coffee table or desk as a reference guide. Achieving a minimalist lifestyle is an ongoing process even after the initial decluttering, and I would add, even in mind, body, and spirit. I think I found my new therapist in Francine Jay.

Hoot Rating

On a hoot scale of 1 to 5, The Joy of Less by author and Miss Minimalist, Francine Jay receives an enthusiastic 5 Hoots from The Blogging Owl!

Read more about author, Francine Jay and the minimalism on her website at http://www.missminimalist.com and on follow her on Twitter at @MissMinimalist.

1 to 5 Hoot Scale

Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot by email: Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com. I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl and Instagram.

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved

Review: The Drifter by Nick Petrie

The DrifterI like to scan the bargain priced books at my local bookseller. Not because I am cheap (only when I have exceeded my monthly book budget), but I typically find good first novels. I found this gem, The Drifter by Nick Petrie, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, New York.

I loved the characters in Nick Petrie’s debut novel, especially Peter Ash, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The author gives the reader an opportunity to learn not only how coming home from war can impact a veteran’s daily life but finding their mission at home.

This thriller debut novel is about Peter Ash’s personal investigation to get to the truth about the suicide of a friend from the Marines. It is a riveting story with complex characters filling the reader with a range of emotions to get to the truth.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Petrie’s writing style and character development. The author’s storytelling is not overwrought nor is it simple. I am always in awe of the bravery of men and women who have served in the war including the grit of their families left behind as evidence in this novel. Readers of Mr. Petrie’s first novel, The Drifter will enjoy this crime fiction on all fronts.

The Drifter is the first in a series of Peter Ash novels. I am not a book series kind of reader; however, Nick Petrie has released the second novel, Burning Bright and third book, Light It Up with the fourth book, Tear It Down to be released in January 2019. Although I am a little shame-faced to know I am behind the times with this new crime fiction author, I may just be persuaded to add Mr. Petrie’s latest Peter Ash entries to my reading list.

The moral of this book review

Don’t walk past the bargain priced book aisle!

Hoot Rating

Genre:
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Military
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Crime > Murder
Literature & Fiction > Literary

On a scale of 1 to 5 HOOTS, The Drifter by Nick Petrie earns a 4 hoot rating.

4 hoot rating

Happy Reading!

New web photo - Sheri

Any Book Recommendations?

Hoot at me by email: Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com. I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl.

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved

Review: The Hellfire Club by Jake Tapper

I like watching Jake Tapper as anchor of State of the Union on CNN. He is also CNN’s chief Washington correspondent and the anchor of The Lead Jake Tapper. Not only is he a respected reporter, he is also the author of four books, including the New York Times bestseller The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.

The Hellfire ClubTo be honest, I have not read his previous four books, but I like Jake Tapper. I think he is an honest reporter and a capable anchor, so I was interested in reading his debut political thriller, The Hellfire Club published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc., New York, New York.

The book, The Hellfire Club is set in the 1950’s about a secret society and a freshman Congressman by the name of Charlie Marder. Charlie Marder is a World War II veteran and academic that clearly seem in over his head or perhaps just naïve unlike his father’s connections who helped him attain his unlikely seat in Congress.

Charlie’s wife, Margaret pregnant with their first child. She is not your average 1950’s housewife, but a zoologist who is studying the wild ponies on Susquehannock (in reality, the island name is actually Assateague) Island in Maryland. Little does Charlie and Margaret know that both of their worlds will collide as this political secret society has their own ways of getting things done in Washington.

A Slow Start

Firstly, when I read a book, any book, I do not flip through it nor do I read any portion of the book before I begin reading the first page through to the last page. (I’ll explain in just a moment.)

Jake Tapper’s debut thriller starts out slow, so slow that in this reader’s opinion, the reader doesn’t begin to feel the tension mount until about two-thirds of the way into the book. But I must confess I took issue with Mr. Tapper’s liberties with history. In fact, I have a bone to pick beginning on page 124:

“They stopped at the crosswalk of Independence Avenue, where the driver of a red convertible Mustang honked at them.”

Do you see the transgression in that sentence?

The automobile, the Mustang did not make its’ debut until April 17, 1964. The story was set in the 1950s. Do you know why that bugs me so much?

I grew up in Michigan. I live right outside of Detroit, The Motor City. My father worked for a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company and we only had Ford cars and trucks in our driveway growing up on the farm. Another reason this faux pas annoys me is that I have always wanted a Mustang convertible, 1964 model painted Ford blue. (Are the readers in Maryland a little miffed about Assateague Island miscue?)

Another point I took issue with was the name of an industrial company that Charlie Marder did not want to receive federal funds because of the company’s rubber seal failed in the gas masks by soldiers in France particularly one young private named Rodriguez.

The name the author gave that company was Goodstone. Obviously, a name merged from two real tire companies named Goodyear and Firestone. A little cheesy in this reader’s opinion.

Okay, I know this all sounds silly but these examples annoyed me for a good portion of reading the book. It interrupted the pleasure of reading what could be a good story.

A Fast Finish

I finally got over those two issues along with some other historical facts and timeline liberties about two-thirds of the way through the book when the story really began to build tension and suspense. Although as a mother and without giving anything away regarding the ending, I once again had to extend my belief of a pregnant woman sloshing through the deep water alongside galloping horses.

Sources

Jake Tapper comes clean at the end of the book in his epilogue of sorts in which he states, “To state the obvious, The Hellfire Club is a work of fiction.” While I knew that the book was a work of fiction, I was still miffed about the liberties he took in creating his novel. It is in this Sources section that he goes chapter by chapter outlining such liberties.

Okay, now I feel better, at least he is going to confess to the reader how he really does know the Mustang made its debut in 1964. Wrong!! But he does share with the reader the other historical liberties and sources he used in creating his political thriller including the ponies of Assateague Island.

I forgive you, Jake Tapper. I do think this is a good debut novel and perhaps it would not have seemed too slow of a beginning or too fast of an ending had I not been so incensed about the Mustang convertible.

Hoot Rating

Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Thrillers, Historical

On a scale of 1 to 5 HOOTS, The Hellfire Club by Jake Tapper earns a 3 and 1/2 hoot rating.

1 to 5 Hoot Scale 3 one half hoots

Happy Reading!

New web photo - Sheri

The Blogging Owl

Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot here at Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com. I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter@TheBloggingOwl.

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved