What I’m Reading Now: Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 9.56.04 AMSome books are very subtle when it comes to theme; sly hints from the shadows at the message they carry, whereas some books take a more direct approach, that of a military commander screaming insults mere inches from your face; which is the case for Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay.

The message is loud and it is very real.

Kay delivers this within the world he created (pulling much from history) for his previous novels Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors, though placed some 25 years later.

Few authors can capture intrigues and cultural prejudices better than Kay, and he is doing it from ancient history! Kingdoms, religions, warriors, politicians and merchants are all caught within a web that Kay, acting as fate, weaves. I am half way through this book and it has already delivered tragedy, love, intrigue, battle and more. A thrilling read!

With Children of Earth and Sky Guy Gavriel Kay proves why he remains one of my favourite authors.

 

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Book Recommendation: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.11.59 AMSome books are a gift; some of which are simply re-gifted or lay forgotten on a shelf. Some such as Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are to be treasured, brought down several times a year to be marvelled at yet again. Gift this book. Give it to that girl you have always wanted to impress. Gift it to your arrogant friend who only shuts his opinionated mouth when captured by a good book. Send it to your Grandma to read while she bakes the next batch of cookies to send back to you. Present it to your friend who has ‘always wanted to read’. Gift it to yourself.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie manages to do what very few writers can, she changes how you view the world. With Half the Yellow Sun she not only opens your eyes, she challenges you to leave them that way.

In Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda gives voice to a violent world filled with seemingly undying hope captured within the love and conflict of her very real characters and their very poignant lives, made all the more real as this fiction was set within actual world events.

I hated war before this book; I hate it more now. Yet I am left with a deep satisfying love for the characters who allowed me to witness them as they struggled through this war. Nigeria was once just a name on a map for me, now I realize some of their struggle and can do my little part to ensure such evils are limited today, at least within myself.

Like I said, some books change the way you view the world.

What I’m Reading Now: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Sometimes someone knows you so well that they can mysteriously pick a book better suited to your taste than even you can manage. Which is the case with the person who gifted me Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I cannot thank you enough!

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.11.59 AMChimamanda transports the reader to Africa during the late 1960’s. He captures the voice and spirit of that time with prose that is unmatched and almost spellbinding. His characters and their voices are complete with the tiny nuances that make all of us uniquely human and alive. Only just over 100 pages in yet each time I pick up the book I feel like I am sitting across the table from new friends that somehow have the familiarity of old; whose company I not only cherish but whose very presence makes me a better and more whole person. Pure magic.

Thank you Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie! I cannot wait to finish this novel and check out your other work.

Other Novels by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
Americanah
We Should All Be Feminists 
Purple Hibiscus
The Thing Around Your Neck

 

Book Recommendation: Dancer’s Lament by Ian C. Esslemont

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 9.20.36 AMIan C. Esslemont has been one of my favourite authors since his debut novel Night of Knives and remains so with Dancer’s Lament. I could not put it down. In fact I dedicated an entire Monday (which I never do as I should have been writing and blogging) to the reading of this book. I do not regret it.

Two pages in and I was laughing. Ian C. Esslemont perfectly captures the characters we first met in the works of Steven Erikson. Dancer’s Lament is a thrill ride packed with humour and hard won lessons. It is everything fans of the Malazan Empire have come to love. I recommend it to both long time readers of the series as well as to new ones, as it stands alone as the first book in a trilogy.

Once you get started with this series you wish it never stops.

Next up Steven Erikson’s Fall of Light: Book Two of the Kharkanas Trilogy

Also by Ian C. Esslemont:
Night of Knives
Return of the Crimson Guard
Orb Sceptre Throne
Assail
Stonewielder
Blood and Bone

Book Recommendation – Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy by Mallika Chopra

I picked up Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy by Mallika Chopra after watching her give a speech on living with intent on a Ted Talks. Needless to say her words intrigued me.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 8.33.29 AMLiving with Intent follows Mallika as she journals her journey towards a life filled with purpose. It is both entertaining and educational. Mallika quotes many outstanding resources such as Eckhart Tolle and her father Deepak Chopra. She certainly has researched intent!

One of the more entertaining and I found real aspects of her book is her very real struggle to follow her intents. I enjoyed this as here was a person struggling with the day to day life, much as we all do, yet finding a way to do so with grace and purpose. She gives hope for all of us on the same or similar path.

All around I found this to be a warm book that gave me some tools (one meditation tool which I utilize almost daily) to help me with my intents. It is a great place for anyone who wished to make some real changes in their life to begin. I recommend this quick read.

Also by Mallika Chopra:

100 Promises to My Baby

100 Questions from my Child

Top 5 Fantasy Books

My list of my Top 5 Fantasy Books choice was easy to compile. I have walked around with a only slightly changing list of my top novelists so I merely had to recall that. Please note that is list does not go in any particular order rather each selection is meant to stand alone as one my favourites.

Steven Erikson’s Deadhouse Gates A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen Though this is book 2 of the series it like all of the books housed in this series can be read alone, as the size and depth of this world is beyond imagination. This is my favourite by far thus a full review is coming.

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 8.37.27 AMGuy Gavriel Kay’s A Song for Arbonne My Favourite by my favourite author. So good that I cried at parts. Heroism at its best. I’m going to reread this soon!

George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Game of Thrones Book 1 I hesitated to put this here as the HBO series makes it an obvious choice, yet the truth remains, this is an outstanding read and I cannot wait for him to release a new book; which may be forever and a day from now. Any fan of his written work knows that statement to be true.

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 8.40.00 AMJacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Chosen Sexy and heroic! Need I say more? Jacqueline Carey mixes court intrigue with religion, sensualness and battle. I could not put this book down. It is the second in the series but remains my favourite. A full review can be expected at a later date.

Ian C. Esslemont’s Return of the Crimson Guard A Novel of the Malazan Empire the second writer of the Malazan empire has been just as impressive as his counterpart. This is the book that really crowned his achievement. At times the two voices of this series seems as one. Which I guess makes sense since they created this world together.

 

Steven King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I am a big believer of researching anything that I am interested in doing; learn from the people that came before me. I did it for wrestling and body building, wine and wine service, personal finances and investing (the list goes on and one) and writing.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 8.44.50 AMOne such book that I found to be both an excellent read and informative was On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Steven King. I read this more years ago than I can remember but it has always stayed with me as I continue to write. I won’t attempt to paraphrase the many lessons that the modern day master shares, but I will share attempt it with the one thing that struck me and thus always whispers from the dark corners of my mind as I write.

Kill your babies.

Not sure if that is the correct wording after all these years but that is what I now hear. Rest assured it does not mean to actually kill your actual babies. Rather it refers to your writing babies and the need for rewriting. Mr. King states the case to ruthlessly slay those parts of you writing that you love the best because those are the parts that have the least authentic voice of your characters etc. Instead they are nothing more than your writer ego. So those parts should always be cut from your final product. Be unforgiving with yourself. Cut, cut, trim and cut.

Perhaps this has always stayed with me because I so do not enjoy doing it. I love my little word babies, but Steven King is the master and I am not so I do my best to listen.

For all writers and would be writers out there this is a book for you.

How I Got My Body Ready for Professional Wrestling: Making the Game Triple H’s Approach to a Better Body

I spent one full year training in a gym and another in the ring and gym before I made my professional wresting debut. That was a lot of hours spend trying to sculpt a respectable professional wrestler body from an oScreen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.18.19 AM.pngverweight, flabby muscled, alcoholic bod. I had a lot of guidance and coaching from guys I knew that were ripped, but I also hit the books (which is what I do when researching any new project).

Making the Game Triple H’s Approach to a Better Body was leant to me by a colleague who was a pretty big fan of my goals; who later went on to become a super fit martial artist – you’re looking good buddy! It turned out to be my favourite fitness book. Both because Triple H shares some personal stories, sort of a short autobiography and because his passion for weightlifting and muscle building is both infectious and inspiring.

It was in this book that I learned that is was okay that I felt like puking during or after a hard workout, that in fact it was good, that I should just puke and get back to the weights; which I did.

Wrestling fans should read this book. Anyone interested in body building should read this book. Hell, anyone should read this book, it’s a good read!

Actually I should reread this book! My body could use the inspiration.

What I’m Reading Now: The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell opens as slowly as the BBC series that can be found on the Canadian Netflix by the same name but as a fan of Bernard Cornwell’s other works and if the BBC series I knew that it had to get better.

It does.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 11.00.41 AMI am about a hundred pages into this, the first book of the Saxon series, which follows the life and struggles of the Saxon Uthred who oft times finds more in common with his Viking capturers and of the frail yet devious King Alfred of Wessex.

At this stage in the story Uthred is still a young man barely out of childhood and has only just now met King Alfred. Bernard Cornwell, an artist when it comes to multifaceted characters, already hints at the many layers of distrust, machinations and intrigue that these two characters will go through together. How he knows to capture this so early (this series goes on with another 10 or so books) is beyond me. I only know it as I have read ahead, which I allude to in my earlier recommendation What I’m Reading Next…

This is a short read of some 300 pages which I suspect I will be finished shortly. It is not Bernard Cornwell’s best work (at least at this stage of the novel) yet it does showcase his skill as a writer of historical fiction, of which there are few equal. I recommend The Last Kingdom without hesitation.

 

What I’m Reading Now: You’re Gonna Hurt Yourself, My Unbelievable Story of Failure in Professional Wrestling by Ben Nelson Creed

One of the many dreams I have fulfilled was to become a professional wrestler, albeit for a short period. Maybe this is because of the age I began wrestling (early 30’s) or maybe I just wasn’t cut out for the harsh treatment that wrestlers put their bodies through; either way the bone spurs that developed in my neck brought that dream to a close.

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 10.57.51 AMAlthough I flirt with the idea of returning to the ring I also understand that it is highly unlikely. Which is one reason I am loving You’re Gonna Hurt Yourself: My Unbelievable Story of Failure in Professional Wrestling by Ben Nelson Creed. I get to live all the glory that is professional wrestling through his memories!

I am not far into this book yet but I am highly entertained. Ben weaves the tale of his story coming up in professional wrestling with a dry wit which matches his character (Nelson Creed) in the ring. At times I cringe for his unapologetic descriptions of the many people whom he met and spent time with training and in the ring, but Nelson Creed is writing this book so it is how it should be.

This book tells the true story of wrestling, one that every fan of wrestling should read. There is so much more to professional wrestling than ‘Pyro’ and psychology, but you will have to get into a ring or read this book to find out what that is.