Out of the Dust…

 
 
Our family completed yet another Newbery Medal Award Winner in Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust.      

I have updated my rankings accordingly.  Like I have mentioned several times before, the following list does not include the works that did not happen to make the list of award winners (but that we still enjoyed together) such as the seven books included in The Chronicles of NarniaHatchet (an honor recipient), and The Hobbit.
 
Here is the list to date (along with my respective reviews): 
  1. The One and Only Ivan (2013)
  2. The Giver (1994) 
  3. The Tale of Despereax (2004)
  4. Bridge to Terabithia (1978) 
  5. Dead End in Norvelt (2012)
  6. Out of the Dust (1998)
  7. Bud, Not Buddy (2000)
  8. Kira-Kira (2005)
  9. Shiloh (1992)
  10. Flora & Ulysses (2014)
  11. A Year Down Yonder (2001)
  12. Crispin: The Cross of Lead (2003)
  13. A Single Shard (2002) 
  14. When You Reach Me (2010)
  15. Holes (1999)
  16. A Wrinkle in Time (1963)
  17. The Higher Power of Lucky (2007)
  18. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! (2008)
  19. The Graveyard Book (2009)
  20. Moon Over Manifest (2011)
  21. Criss Cross (2006)
Very interesting read.  The format, alone, was unique.  Written in free-verse poetry.  I was concerned that my children would either lack interest or understanding.  I could not have been more wrong.  The speed of the reading and the depth of the description kept their attention at nearly it’s fullest capacity.  My only word of caution is that this story has to be one of the saddest that we have read.  The Dust Bowl was a dark time.  The author does an amazing job of placing the reader in the story . . . at sometimes a little too good of job. 
 
My favorite quote was when the author writes, “The way I see it, hard times aren’t only about money, or drought, or dust. hard times are about losing spirit, and hope, and what happens when dreams dry up.” 
 
As far as our next selection, we will tackle The View from Saturday.  Have you read it?  If so, do you care to share your experience? 
Out of the Dust…

Dumb and Dumber To…

Every year my father (and more often than not, my brother) see a movie during the holiday season.  Click here to read more about the origin of our movie tradition.  

This year, the day after Thanksgiving fell on my father’s birthday.  So Troy and I asked that he select the movie – no questions asked.  To our dismay . . . he wanted to see Dumb and Dumber To.  Seriously.  And to be honest, it was not all that bad.  There were a couple of scenes that I could have done without (comedies have gotten dirtier in the past two decades).   But overall, the movie really did have the right people at the right time.  It paid honor to the original.  There were a few laugh-out loud moments.  Sort of like seeing a few old friends.  Not like it used to be . . . but good to be back together.  Not necessarily theater-worthy.  But not a disappointment.
        
As of this year, here is the record of what we have watched together…

  • Dumb and Dumber To (2014):  All three of us liked it (my father’s choice)
  • Grudge Match (2013):  Both my father and myself liked it (unanimous choice)
  • Skyfall (2012):  Both my father and myself liked it while my brother loved it (my father’s choice)
  • War Horse (2011): Both my father and myself loved it (my choice)
  • Unstoppable (2010): All three of us liked it (my choice)
  • Avatar (2009): Both my father and myself liked it (my father’s choice)
  • James Bond and the Quantum of Solace (2008): Both my father and myself liked it (my choice)
  • The Great Debaters (2007): My father and myself loved it and my brother liked it (my choice)
  • Deck the Halls (2006): My father loved it and my brother and myself HATED it (my father’s choice)
  • King Kong (2005): My father liked it, my brother loved it, and I hated it (my choice)
  • Christmas with the Kranks (2004): My father loved it and I liked it (my father’s choice)
  • Return of the King (2003): My father and stepmother liked it and I loved it (my choice)
  • Santa Clause 2 (2002): My father loved it, my brother liked it, and I disliked it (my father’s choice)
  • Ali (2001): My father loved it and my brother and myself liked it (my father’s choice)
What movies do you remember going to during the Thanksgiving or Christmas season?
Dumb and Dumber To…

One Shot…

I had the time, during the Thanksgiving weekend, to finish the ninth book in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series.  This book happens to be the basis for the first Jack Reacher movie (released two years ago – and the original reason that I picked up the series to begin with).   
 
After reading the book following having watched the movie (which is never recommended), here are a couple of my observations…
  • The Jack Reacher movie is a fun ride.  An entertaining flick in its own right.  But make no mistake, Tom Cruise is no Jack Reacher.  
  • I am surprised that the producers selected this movie to be the original movie.  Not only is it way out of order but it was one of my least favorite of all of the books.  
That being said, here is where I rank each installment thus far…

  1. Tripwire (#3):  Vietnam and Wall-Street 
  2. Killing Floor (#1):  Currency and Counterfeiting 
  3. Enemy (#8): Cold War and Cover-Ups
  4. Without Fail (#6):  Secret Service and National Politics
  5. Persuader (#7):  Drug Smuggling and Kidnapping 
  6. Echo Burning (#5):  Immigration and Domestic Violence 
  7. One Shot (#9): Assassinations and Soviet Prisons
  8. Running Blind (#4):  Sexual Harassment and Serial Killers 
  9. Die Trying (#2):  Extremists and Militias  
I plan to continue this series during the Christmas and New Year break by reading The Hard Way. 
One Shot…

Persuader…

 

I had the time, during a recent vacation, to finish the seventh book in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series.  This book has quite the unique twist.  The author uses a flashback to bring  great depth to the story.  There is unfinished business.  A layered narrative of sorts.  He also brings back the first-person narrative that made the first book so enjoyable.  
 
The Persuader truly reveals a lot more of Reacher than most of the previous works.  For example, the book closes with a quote that really typifies Jack Reacher.  He says of himself, “I don’t care about the little guy. I just hate the big guy. I hate big smug people who think they can get away with things.”  Isn’t this what really makes Reacher so original.  Can he really be called a hero? 
 
That being said, here is where I rank each installment thus far…

  1. Tripwire (#3):  Vietnam and Wall-Street 
  2. Killing Floor (#1):  Currency and Counterfeiting 
  3. Enemy (#8): Cold War and Cover-Ups
  4. Without Fail (#6):  Secret Service and National Politics
  5. Persuader (#7):  Drug Smuggling and Kidnapping 
  6. Echo Burning (#5):  Immigration and Domestic Violence 
  7. Running Blind (#4):  Sexual Harassment and Serial Killers 
  8. Die Trying (#2):  Extremists and Militias  
I plan to continue this series during the Winter holidays by finally reaching the book that was the basis for the first movie
Persuader…

Campfire Christmas…

My thoughts on Christmas music are well documented.  And so is my family’s nearly decade-long tradition of bringing home new albums on the day that we decorate our tree (which does not happen until at least the day after Thanksgiving – I know, I hold several strong opinions).  So here are the collections that we have purchased in years past…  

This year’s installment will go down as one of my all-time favorite.  An Irish Christmas, after all!
Like I mentioned in previous posts, I also purchase singles throughout the month in order to supplement the collection.  We now have well over 400 songs (that is 24 hours worth of Holiday cheer).  Not bad for a guy who dislikes the genre altogether.
Any personal favorites that you have on your list that we should consider adding to ours?
Campfire Christmas…