A Review of Effortless Savings

Effortless SavingsTitle: Effortless Savings
Author: Richard Syrop, founder of EffortlessSavings.com
Publisher: White Willow Press (2014)

Mr. Syrop was kind enough to reach out to me with details of this book and a request that I review it after a thorough read. Like I told him, I have been turning down nearly all requests lately, because of my busy schedule and lack of reading time. But his pitch intrigued me. And I said yes.

Effortless Savings is an imminently practical catalog of suggestions on how to save money without sacrificing comfort. Like Syrop writes in his introduction, his goal is to help readers save lots of money without sacrificing any of the things we enjoy.
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Kindred Authors

It is my experience that some authors write as if only to you, that their words speak directly into you in a way that other writers have never done. I don’t mean that their content speaks to you, because even the worst of writers can find a topic that resonates with a reader. I mean that specific writers have a way of touching your soul.

It may be that the author has a worldview or set of beliefs so similar to yours that you find yourself nodding in agreement with every new paragraph, but more often I find that it is the perspective of the author to which I find myself drawn. I appreciate the way in which certain authors teach me to see the world, the way in which they speak of even the most commonplace of items or experiences. I like the way they bring fresh eyes to a subject.
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Simplify Life

In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.
– Henry David Thoreau (h/t zenhabits)

Why Am I Not Reading?

The words swirl about on the page, drifting to the left and to the right. The pages — along with my will — demand that the words remain fixed in place, but they rebel against order, meandering about even as I attempt to discern their meaning. Their chaos reflects that within me, a distracted fever-pitch that won’t allow me to focus, won’t allow me to read.

This past year has been one marked by very little reading and very little quiet. This has been a year focused upon my new job. That job is a great blessing, and I enjoy my work; but the stress and long hours have had consequences that have affected the rest of my life. I am thankful that my marriage hasn’t been harmed by it, and I continue to make my wife a top priority. But my time spent reading has dramatically decreased.
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A Review of Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange LandTitle: Stranger in a Strange Land
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Publisher: Ace (1987)
My Rating: 2/5

I found a used copy of Stranger in a Strange Land at my job, and I was intrigued by the marketing tagline on the cover: “The most famous science fiction novel ever written.” While I’d certainly quibble with the designation, the line worked. I picked the book up and gave it a read.

The first three-quarters of the book were fascinating. I far preferred Heinlein’s ability to play with novel ideas to his ability to develop characters. I’ll take two main ideas away from this book: First, the concept of “grokking,” or knowing something or someone fully, beyond the surface familiarity to which we are accustomed. Second, the idea that laughter is a human response to pain or discomfort, that we laugh at those things which make us uncomfortable.

Both those ideas were intriguing, and the capacity for painting ideas in a new light is one of my favorite aspects of the science fiction genre. Heinlein excels at that.

This book, however, began to lose me in the final section, and I made the ultimate decision to put it down before reaching the conclusion. Without giving away too much, I’ll say that the book spiraled into a sex-saturated, pseudo-spiritual missive, and Heinlein lost my interest. Other reviewers have written that this book is a product of the 1960s, subtly attacking established institutions and preaching a religion of love, but the writing began to drift too far from its beginning and it lost me.

A Review of The Day The World Retreated

The Day The World RetreatedTitle: The Day the World Retreated
Author: Jim Armstrong

Thank you to Jim Armstrong for sending me a digital copy of The Day the World Retreated in exchange for an honest review. His book was a unique, intriguing novel set a few years into the future, with just a hint of science fiction tossed in.

For about three-fourths of this book, I wasn’t sure what to make of the story. I was interested to see how the author pulled together several different characters who seemingly weren’t related. Additionally, I couldn’t understand how the plot was going to bring together story arcs from several different decades. Yet, around the 75% mark on my Kindle, it all began to make sense, and I couldn’t wait to reach the story’s conclusion.
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A Review of The Lost Medallion

The Lost MedallionTitle: The Lost Medallion
Authors: Bill Muir and Alex Kendrick
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group (2013)

The Lost Medallion is a delightful kids’ tale that follows young Billy Stone in an adventure through time.

Billy’s father is an archaeologist that has sunk most of his career into finding this lost medallion that once protected their island from harm. When Billy attempts to find the medallion without his dad’s help, he and his best friend Allie are magically sent back in time.
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Someone Very Special

Allie’s temper flared. “You know what? I do know this–you’re a jerk!”

“No, I’m not,” said Huko. “What’s a ‘jerk’?”

Faleaka, who had stopped to watch, chuckled softly.

“You honestly believe that you’re better than us!” Allie accused.

“I am!” Huko insisted, as if this were the most obvious thing in the world. “I am a king.”

“That’s just a title,” Allie shot back. “What’s under that skin of yours?”

“Someone very special.”

“You don’t believe that,” said Allie. “Because if you did, you would treat everyone else like they were special too!” she said, brushing past Huko, utterly disgusted by his arrogance.

Huko stared after her. No commoner had ever dared to speak to him that way before. But still, he couldn’t help wondering, Could she be right?

– From The Lost Medallion by Bill Muir and Alex Kendrick

A Review of Holy is the Day

Holy is the DayTitle: Holy is the Day
Author: Carolyn Weber
Publisher: InterVarsity Press

This is Carolyn Weber’s second book, coming after one of my favorites, Surprised by Oxford. That book was the story of her conversion, while Holy is the Day moves on to the beauties and tragedies of a life with Christ.

Through this book’s pages, Carolyn walks the reader through her own life, as she goes through childbirth, health scares, and career changes. Through it all, Holy is the Day presents a picture of life as a beautiful struggle, in which the Holy Spirit continually nudges us to remember that every day, every minute, and every second are beautiful and, even, holy.
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Irreverence

Irreverence begins in not paying attention. And yet, I think, it can also stem from counting too often and too closely. The eternal cannot be insisted into a measurement.

– Carolyn Weber in Holy is the Day