HYM and HUR, a short story by Phillip Frey

About the Book:
In this fantasy-comedy Hym and Hur are a young couple who never age and have been in love for more than a century. They also possess an array of magical abilities, two of which are either to play pranks on humankind or to perform good deeds. Enacting both at the same time is now what gets them into trouble, especially since it’s the character of Death they must deal with to bring their plans to fruition.

The prank Hym and Hur have come up with must first be agreed upon by Death, who happens to be a rambunctious, difficult character. Once agreed upon, the prank is set in motion. But then Hym and Hur soon discover that Death had tricked them into a contract with dire consequences for all of us.

During their attempt to break the contract, Hym and Hur try to save the relationship of an earthbound couple, knowing they are truly meant for each other. A good deed that will bring Hym and Hur even more trouble.

My Thoughts
I read this story a few months ago, at the request of the author, so this review is based on my recollections of the experience. I do remember having a mixed reaction to it. The story has an echo of Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series, with the idea of characterizing amorphous concepts such as Death as individuals doing a job.

As I recall, the reader has to puzzle out the exact nature of who or what the main characters are, but whether that was because the short story format didn’t allow much time for explanations or simply done to make them appear more intriguing, I don’t know. Either way, I would have preferred more in the way of setting the scene.

The prank that they play is cleverly done, and the overall story was enjoyable. I would be open to reading more stories about these characters that would develop their personalities more.

peopleSo my last review was almost 5 months ago. I can hardly believe it has been so long, yet here we are already halfway through May and with only 5 weeks to go in the school year.

Speaking of school, this book has been especially timely for me as my son’s classroom teacher is one of the most crazy-making people I have ever met. Although I haven’t been totally successful in implementing the advice from this book, I will say that it has helped me get a better handle on myself as I navigated through the situation.

People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them the Keys by Mike Bechtle is a Revell title, published in October 2012. If the title alone doesn’t draw you in, here’s another gem I have shared with several people since reading this book:

Someone said that if you took all the crazy people in your life and laid them end to end . . . it would be best to just leave them there.

Bechtle’s approach to dealing with crazy-making people boils down to a few simple steps. First, try to influence change in the situation; next, focus on how you can adjust your own attitude by accepting the reality of the situation; and finally, decide if the situation is so unhealthy that you need to walk away from it. The book has 23 chapters, broken down into 5 parts:

  1. Stuck in a Crazy World
  2. Changing Someone Else
  3. Changing Yourself
  4. Changing Your Environment
  5. Putting It into Practice

Of course, all of these things are easier said than done, which is why this is a book worth reading all the way through. With a blend of humor and truth, Bechtle helps us look at people more realistically and compassionately, as well as challenging us to look at our own part in each relationship. He also discusses what makes a healthy relationship and how to evaluate them.

Ultimately, People Can’t Drive You Crazy is a book about how to experience freedom in your life, even when you have to interact with and relate to other human beings who are just as flawed as you are. Ironically, freedom comes not from trying to control everyone around us, but from realizing that we actually can’t control them and that we must instead focus on how we respond to them. I think he sets up the dilemma best in this section from chapter 4:

If we’re going to avoid becoming victim of other people’s craziness, it’s critical to operate from a dual perspective: hope and realism. Without hope, maintaining the relationship seems futile. Without realism, we set ourselves up for the probability of disappointment. Without balancing the two views, we lose our ability to make choices that are healthy.

Now I just need a book about what to do when I am the person making other people crazy!

Thank you to Revell for providing a review copy of this book. No other consideration was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

The Reunion {A Book Review}

by Trish on January 20, 2013

in Books, Reviews

So, I haven’t really been blogging much lately, for a variety of reasons. I had taken a break from reviewing at 5 Minutes for Books over the holidays and found that, even once the new year started, I didn’t feel free to continue with that endeavor. But I do have a few books that had been sent to me from one publisher or another, and I would like to share my thoughts on them as I have the time.

imagesOne of these titles was The Reunion. Written by Dan Walsh and published by Revell, it is the story of Aaron Miller, a Vietnam vet living in obscurity as a trailer park handyman in Florida. Aaron has long been estranged from his family, having fallen victim to addiction and homelessness after his return from the war. God got a hold of his life, however, so all is not lost. He spends his time ministering to those God puts in his path and living out the gentle faith that has grown out of his pain and suffering.

Aaron’s biggest regret is losing touch with his two children, Steve and Karen. All he has left is an old picture of them, but he’s sure that, even if he knew where they were, they wouldn’t want to hear from him again. Of course, we know that God always desires reconciliation and forgiveness, and this book gives us a beautiful picture of how that can happen. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I won’t go further with my description of the story. But I will say that we do get to meet Steve and Karen, along with a number of other fascinating characters, in the course of the book.

Beyond the story itself, The Reunion is a well-crafted book with a satisfying mix of emotional depth, mild adventure, a touch of mystery and even a bit of romance! The author’s ability to switch between the various characters’ voices is superb; I had no trouble keeping track of who was the focus and feeling immersed in their lives.

Reading, as I do, so many novels written by women, I am appreciative of the men who are able to bring their perspectives to the world of fiction in a way that resonates with me. Although Walsh definitely has his own voice, his writing put me somewhat in mind of Robert Whitlow and Ray Blackston. I whole-heartedly recommend this book and am myself looking forward to reading some of his previous novels as well.

Thank you to Revell for providing a review copy of this book. No other consideration was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

What's On Your Nightstand

I’m posting this a day early since tomorrow is Christmas Day (and my birthday). I hope all of you who celebrate the birth of the Savior will be blessed with a wonderful holiday.

Just fiction this month, and primarily for escape value, but here’s what I’ve finished since my last nightstand post:

On my nightstand right now, besides a few random reads from the library, is House Rules by Jodi Picoult. I have heard mixed reviews about both the quality of the writing and the content itself, so might have passed on it myself. However, a friend and I are starting a book club centered on titles that have central characters or themes with autism/Aspergers, and she picked this book as our first selection. It should make for an interesting discussion, at least!

So, what are you currently reading?

To read more posts or join in yourself, visit What’s On Your Nightstand? at 5 Minutes for Books.

Fall Into Reading 2012 Update

by Trish on December 22, 2012 · 4 comments

in Books

Wow, where did the fall go? Between getting to know a new team at my son’s school and having a class of six new trainees at work, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. As you read this, my mom has arrived for a week-long visit, so the holidays will be quite full for us this year as well!

The end of fall also means it is time to update you on my progress with the Fall Into Reading challenge hosted by Katrina over at Callapidder Days.

Here’s my original list, marked up with my progress:

Committed to review by the end of October (and after that, I’m taking a break from it for the rest of the year):
Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bishop – READ AND REVIEWED
The Lost Prince by Selden Edwards – DID NOT READ. I DIDN’T REALIZE IT WAS A SEQUEL UNTIL I STARTED READING IT AND THAT KIND OF PUT ME OFF.
Life With Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger & Suzanne Woods Fisher – READ AND REVIEWED
Stardust by Neil Gaiman – DID NOT READ. THE BOOK NEVER ARRIVED AND I HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO CHECKING IT OUT OF THE LIBRARY YET.
What the Zhang Boys Know by Clifford Garstang – READ AND REVIEWED
You Don’t Know Me by Susan May Warren = READ AND REVIEWED

Non-Fiction that has been sitting on my bookshelf (most of them for a very long time!):
Blazing My Trail by Rachel B. Cohen-Rottenberg – STILL SITTING ON BOOKSHELF
From Anxiety to Meltdown by Deborah Lipsky – STILL SITTING ON BOOKSHELF
Asperger’s on the Job by Rudy Simone – READ AND REVIEWED
Pretending to Be Normal by Liane Holliday Willey – STILL SITTING ON BOOKSHELF
How We Love Our Kids by Milan & Kay Yerkovich – STILL SITTING ON BOOKSHELF
Beautiful One, edited by Shae Cooke – STILL SITTING ON BOOKSHELF

***Yeah, I know this is pathetic. I have a very bad track record with non-fiction. I honestly think I will enjoy all of these books, but when I reach for a book at the end of the day, it almost always ends up being fiction. Oh well!

Fiction from my TBR list (dependent on what I can find at the library):
Downfall by Terri Blackstock – READ
River’s Song by Melody Carlson- READ
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen – READ
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – JUST GOT FROM LIBRARY HOLD AND PLAN TO READ BY END OF YEAR
The Red House by Mark Haddon – DNF
Loving by Karen Kingsbury – READ
Insurgent by Veronica Roth – READ
Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos – READ
The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch – READ
The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon – STILL NEED TO GET FROM LIBRARY
The Other Family by Joanna Trollope – READ
The Choice by Robert Whitlow – READ

So, 14 read out of 24 – at least it’s more than half, right? I did read more books than this over the course of the fall, but I managed to stay pretty focused on the list most of the time.

How about you? What have you been reading this fall? And what do you plan to curl up with over the winter?