Review | Tales from the Open Road (We’re the Russos)

Tales From the Open Road: The Adventures and Misadventures of RV Living (We're the Russos Book 2)
We’re The Russos Book 2

First, a disclaimer, Joe, and Kait sent me a Kindle version of the book. They didn’t ask me to review it here and my review is my own. Tales From the Open Raod: The Adventures of RV Living is Joe Russo’s second book. The first book Take Risks: One Couple’s Journey to Quit Their Jobs and Hit the Open Road was book one. I’ve already reviewed that book here in 2018 and you can read the review by clicking on the link above.

I’m a big fan of the Russos. I’ve been a subscriber to their YouTube channel since before Joe’s first book. As you can guess from the titles of the books, they are a couple from Los Angeles that quit their jobs, bought an RV and started traveling the US. This, however, as Joe explains in the most recent book was not early retirement.

I recommend reading the books in order as the first book does a good job of covering the period when they decided to make this leap. This second book goes into how. It covers the trials and tribulations of driving and finding parking for a large RV. And it also begins the story of them looking for a smaller RV. While there is a path forward mentioned in the book, we don’t actually find out in the book what happens next, but for all the YouTube followers of the Russo’s we already know how that story ends.

Joe’s writing flows well and while simple really works for me. It’s a fun read and I really liked getting to know more of the details as a YouTube follower I didn’t see all the behind the scenes information that Joe shares in the book. My only complaint is that I wish there was more in the book. More details and more of the class B journey. That said I think it takes tremendous bravery to share your story in a book and even more to share it on a medium like YouTube where the Internet trolls will offer unsolicited feedback on everything that makes it into a video.

Regardless of what the Russo’s do next, I look forward to following their journey on YouTube and in print!

Book Review | In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It

In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It
In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham

I really like Lauren Graham. She was wonderful Gilmore Girls, which is where I first saw her. I thought she was a very talented actress. Later I learned that she had also authored some books. I’m a fan of her book, Someday, Someday, Maybe and also enjoyed Talking as Fast as I Can.

Both of these were good books. This book left me dissatisfied. It’s not that the advice in this very short, 52 page book is not good, it just that I don’t think it needed to be a book and I don’t know what the reasoning for publishing it was other than maybe that Graham was getting a lot of press at the time since Gilmore Girls had come back on Netflix for four episodes.

Below is the book blurb…

In this expansion of the 2017 commencement speech she gave at her hometown Langley High, Lauren Graham, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, reflects on growing up, pursuing your dreams, and living in the here and now. “Whatever path you choose, whatever career you decide to go after, the important thing is that you keep finding joy in what you’re doing, especially when the joy isn’t finding you.” In her hilarious, relatable voice, Graham reminds us to be curious and compassionate, no matter where life takes us or what we’ve yet to achieve. Grounded and inspiring—and illustrated throughout with drawings by Graham herself—here is a comforting road map to a happy life.

Thats just it, they could have just done a blog post or youtube the speech, it didn’t need to be expanded. Anyway, I still like Graham her writing and acting, I just don’t see a need for this book to exist. Save your time and read her other better works, or binge on the Gilmore Girls. I graciously gave this book 3 stars.

Book Review |The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian

The Midnight Watch
The Midnight Watch

I thought The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian by David Dyer, was going to be a history book but instead, it turned out to be historical fiction. While real people are used some of it is the authors best guess at what happened. I would assume he has also embellished.

Like many, I have always been fascinated by the sinking of the Titanic. When I learned that there was a boat that was very close to her but never came to her assistance, I had to read and find out what happened. This novel follows a fictional writer for a real newspaper. The newspaper that did follow and publish stories about the Titanic at the time. The fictional reporter is out after the truth and follows around Lord and Stone, the captain and first mate of the Californian, the boat that was just miles from the Titanic saw its distress rockets and choice to do nothing. Why???

The Titanic Inquiry: Crew of the SS Californian

That is exactly what Dyer tries to answer with this novel. A great way of approaching this question is with historical fiction. I’ve never really been a fan of this genre because I like the facts of things and this genre interweaves fact and fictional storytelling so closely, that is is hard to tell them apart and you can’t trust what you have read as truth, even if some of it is.

Having said this, I think for this book the genre works in Dyer’s favor. For those interested in the story behind the story, I think they will enjoy the book. For my part, I would have been just as happy with a non-fiction book that presented the facts and the author gave us his best guess as to what actually happened. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review | The Journey That Saved Curious George Young Readers Edition: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey

The Journey That Saved Curious George
The Journey That Saved Curious George

Okay for kids or adults this story follows the two creators of Curious George as they fled Europe like some many others during WWII. Well written with great illustrations.

This was a gift for my children from a family member. I saw it in the house and before it disappeared into one of the kid’s rooms, never to be found again, short of moving to another house, I grabbed it and finished it quickly. I think the shortness of this book also attracted me since I was in the middle of the summer reading program at my local library. This short book would help me get another book on the list and another entry into the contests they were running.

This was a fun read and I would recommend it for kids that are mature enough for the story. Nothing really scary here but it will lead to difficult questions about the Nazis and WWII. The Journey That Saved Curious George earned 4 stars from me.

Book Review | The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga: 8 Weeks to Strength, Awareness, and Flexibility

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga: 8 Weeks to Strength, Awareness, and Flexibility
The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga: 8 Weeks to Strength, Awareness, and Flexibility

I grabbed this at my local library after seeing it from the corner of my eye.  I’ve been doing yoga since last year at least twice a week.  It has really helped with some chronic pains in my back and other places that I thought were just older age setting in.  But after regular yoga these pains are gone for good.  I feel a bunch better after a quick 30 minute session and complete rejuvenated after a good 60 minute session.

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Yoga is an excellent primer. Covers everything in depth. The best part is at the end where the authors have included an 8-week guide including sequences to get you going. This is a great place to start your yoga practice and will answer many of your questions.

This is a book to buy and keep as a reference if you have an interest in yoga.  It earned 5 stars from me.

Book Review | It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy

It's Your Ship
It’s Your Ship

It’s Your Ship was recommended to me from a former Vice President of my department at work.  I finally found a copy available at my local library.  It just happened to be a downloaded version of the audio book that I listened to.  This was a wonderful book to listen to because the author himself reads the book to you.  I really enjoy it when this is done, because you really feel like you are getting the story as it was intended to be told.

Captain Abrashoff tells a wonderful story of his growth as a leader through the Navy with many great examples.  I was able to take much of this book and apply it to my team and department.  The work he has put into this book and the audio really shows through.  It was a great way to spend my commute for a few days.  I looked forward to my time listening to this book.

If you are a novice leader or experienced leader I believe there is something from this book that you can take from it.  I gave this book my highest rating of 5 out of 5 stars.  It is defiantly worth your time.  Grab the audio version if you can.

Book Review | From the Age of Discovery to a World at War

From the Age of Discovery to a World at War
From the Age of Discovery to a World at War

This is one of the few books from last year that I read as a hardcover book. From the Age of Discovery to a World at War by William J. Bennett was sent to me by the publisher because I am the host of a history podcast. Or I was… long story. It took me about 6 months to finish this 573 page book.

It is not a dry history book. Bennett writes with feeling and imparts excitement about the events of our great nations history. But its not your high school history book. Bennett knows there are black eyes in our Nations history and they are in display in this book too. Nothing like a Howard Zinn book, but its still there in a way.

Bennett is very patriotic and that also comes across in the writing. The book is an excellent overview of American History. A little slow in spots and if you are a history buff then not much will be new to you, but I was surprised a few times at the detail he got into certain events. Especially when he had so much to cover. I don’t believe anything was left out or missed in the tome. There two other volumes as well that get us into modern history: From a World of War to the Triumph of Freedom and From the Collapse of Communism to the Rise of Radical Islam. Really well-done overview of American history right up into WWI. This first in the series earned 4 out of 5 stars from me.

Book Review | Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

I listened to the audio format of Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time in March of this year.  It has been some time since I listened to this book but I still remember, how enlightening it was to learn about Scrum.  My work has been using this for some time now.  Not my department specifically, but the IT departments that we interface with utilize it as well as JIRA.

I like to read business books mixed in with reading for enjoyment whenever I can find a good business book to slip into my to be read list.  Which is not hard for me since I have just over 700 books on the Want to Read list on goodreads.

Jeff Sutherland the author of the book is the co-creator of Scrum, so who better to explain how it works and not just that but why Scrum was created in the first place.  You not only get a great understanding of Scrum, but in this book you also get a behind the scenes history of its development.

If you are looking for something to get you acquainted with SCRUM this is where to start.

War and Peace | App Recommendation

Serial Reader App
Serial Reader App

I’ve started to use this app called serial reader to help me tackle the very large War and Peace.  So far it is helping a lot.  It has broken up the tome into 235 segments.  Each segment is about 10 to 15 minutes in reading time.  If I can stick with it, I will be done with the book in less than a year at this rate.  I’m currently around 62 segments read.  That means that I am about 27% complete with the tome.

This new way of attacking the book seems to be working for me and I’m looking forward to checking it off my list and moving onto the next large tome.

Review: The Red Pony

The Red Pony
The Red Pony

I read The Red Pony by John Steinbeck as part of a summer reading program.  It was a great quick read. Always a good story to be had with Steinbeck. And this one has four! I’m looking forward to find out what happens to Jody when he grows up and if he and Black Demon are as good buddies and he thought.

Steinbeck has long been one of my favorite writers.  In my opinion you can not go wrong choosing to read one of his books.