Thursday, January 01, 2015

Todd's Top Books of 2014

Just like my music tastes, my book reads list goes from awesome to embarrassing in no time... haha.  But some pretty awesome books below that will probably hit one of the genres you like to read.  No particular order, just my "5 star" list from 2014.  You'll find a lot of these are also movies.  It just happened to work out like that.  I always read the book before seeing the movie.  If you've read any of these, I would love to hear your feedback.  Be sure to follow me on my Goodreads profile.

Lock In - John Scalzi

  • This was my favorite read this year.  Anything apocalyptic/new global virus/etc. themed book typically rates at the top of my lists... "Lock In" combines a new viral disease that locks people into their brains... and robots... and a murder mystery!  You can't go wrong here. A must read, even if you're not really into sci-fi.  After reading this, go and read this prequel novella from the author that gives more in-depth background on the virus.

The Martian - Andy Weir

I read this over the holidays.  My last book of the year.  Amazing!  It's a cross between Apollo 13 and Cast Away, set on Mars.  As I was reading, I was thinking, this book has to be made into a movie... so after, I googled movie rights for this.  Sure enough, it's going to be on the Big Screen November 25th starring Matt Damon and a laundry list of 'A List' movie stars.... it's gonna be big.... trust me.  This book gets a little on the geeky side from time to time, but it ties into the story line nicely.

The Monument's Men - Robert M. Edsel

A real life treasure hunt!  The biggest one in history.  You'll be surprised how many of the world's art masterpieces you will recognize that otherwise would have been destroyed by the Nazi's.  As with all books that are turned into movies, a lot of good stuff gets left out and changed.  The movie was good, but the book is so much richer with stories from the WWII servicemen charged with saving the world's art masterpieces.   You couldn't make some of these stories up.  Great background stories on "The Monuments Men" too.  A must for the history buff.

Twelve Years As A Slave - Solomon Northup

Some books you wish you could just unread.  This is my oldest book to ever read, written in 1853.  A true story told by Soloman Northup, a free black man that was kidnapped and sold into slavery.   During the 12 years, Northup tells, in very graphic detail, the torture and cruelty of being a slave.    But this book is also about hope and the human spirit.  Just a warning, this book is much more graphic and detailed than the movie.  I encourage you to read it though.  It's simply incredible.

Wild: from Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed

Life do-over.  Cheryl Strayed did that as she hiked 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.  Her mother died, her marriage was over, and had nothing to lose.  This is a great self-discovery story packed with humor, reflecting solitude, and other incredible moments along her journey.  Just saw the movie tonight.  It follows pretty close to the book!

Old Man's War - John Scalzi

After "Lock In," I went on a search for Scalzi's other books.  This was recommended to me by a friend.  It did not disappoint.   John Perry turns 75... and joins the army!  If you read sci-fi, you have probably read this masterpiece.  It's a must read if you like space travel, clones, aliens, and spaceships.  You won't believe what happens when Perry joins the army... there a little bit of love story weaved in there too.   Go read now!

Safe Haven - Nicholas Sparks

This is part of the program where you're probably saying to yourself, "really?"  Todd just went from sci-fi to chick-lit??  Yes I did... I'm sure you'd find the same type of train wreck in my music playlists.  Ha!  Who doesn't like a good love story?  Ok, so this was on my wife's bookshelf, and the ratings on goodreads were really high.  So I gave it a shot, and loved it.   The movie, however, sucked... just because it was so way off from the book.

The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

This has been on my list for a really long time.  Considered one of Hemingway's best novels.  Sometimes I have a hard time with the 'masterpieces' of literature.  I love books, but hard for me to get artsy with it.  This book was brilliant!  Loved the writing style, which I now know has been copied by a lot of the books I've read.   Love the time period (The 20's,) loved the characters, and love the rolling story.  Go read this classic.

If you're into finding great books, I love using Goodreads... it's like a social media app for readers that tracks your reads and offers great discussion.  I also follow BuzzFeed Books.  Lots of great book lists, and other fun articles.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Zombie Mania!

If you told me... not even a few months ago, that I'd be into Zombie books and TV shows, I'd call you a crazy zombie cow.

I'd say that I eased into it:  The whole Zombie thing... you know, The Undead.  From my previous post, I found that I really enjoy apocalyptic stories.  As it turns out, there are books, TV shows, movies, even U.S. government websites about a Zombie Apocalypse.

There is an upcoming movie starring Brad Pitt called World War Z based on the book by Max Brooks.  The trailer for the movie looked great, and a friend recommended the book, so I checked it out.   Turns out I really liked the world ending with Zombies taking over.  Ha!  The book is pretty good... The trailer looks really amazing!

Then a few friends said I should be watching The Walking Dead on AMC. Yep, I was hooked instantly!  Thankfully for Netflix, I was able to get caught up on the two seasons... until I found out there were three seasons!  However, Season 3 isn't on Netflix or DVD yet... Debating on spending the $42 to watch it on iTunes...

Not sure why I'm digging Zombies so much now... It's not like it's a new thing.  Crazy zombie stories have been around forever... Now I'm ready to go to one of those Zombie Conventions!!  Oh!... and if you happen to have the hook up where I can be a 'walker' extra on The Walking Dead, let me know!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Dog Stars: Book Review

As you read in my previous post, I have started reading books like a crazy wild man.  While I don't have a firm grasp of the English language, I'd love to share my thoughts on books I read and hopefully encourage you to check it out (or stay away)  Would love to get your feedback on these reviews and your thoughts on the book if you have read it too!  Enjoy!

The (real) end of the world isn't always the topic of choice around the coffee table or something you really think about...the what if's... The Dog Stars goes there and visits the aftermath of the near end of the world.  I say near, because this is the story of what happens after the human population destroyed, except for the relative few that made it out alive.

The Dog Stars is anything but a bleak story about an apocolypse, very believable in what could happen if catastrophic superflu ever happened... old gas, solar power, fighting and killing for the world's remaining food and supplies. The story follows Hig and his search for life, adventure and even love.

I found myself ripping through this book, with obstacles that arise, the deep characters Hig meets, Hig's dog and co-pilot, and the struggles of being isolated from everything you used to know.  A very positive experience given the nature of what's going on where the survivors are driven back into the stone ages.

The Dog Stars gets 5 stars and I hear it's going to be turned into a movie... which I could easily see.

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 = One Epic Ride!

2012... The year the world was supposed to end... I rode this year, like it was my last.  2013's got some big shoes to fill... I'm ready for the task!

It was a year of personal change for me... maybe it was turning 35, or just the experiences that found me and changed me.  Maybe I just wanted to do something different.

I started 2012 at 202 lbs... the heaviest I've ever weighed...  I started feeling run down, slower.  I had enough.   I made a major change in my diet.  Stopped eating fast food, fried food, soft drinks, and cut down on sweets... It wasn't so hard to make the changes... Now, I don't even miss it, don't want it, and prefer my fruits and veggies over Big Macs and salty french fries.  The result: dropped down to the lowest I've weighed since high school:  175.  (178 after Christmas, haha)

Started reading books.  Now I can't quit and prefer reading over watching TV and video games.  I've read more books in the past 6 months than my entire life.  I've got a lot of catching up to do.  Reading nearly a book a week.  My favorites this year:  The Dog Stars, Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and books about WWII.  Follow me on GoodReads

Got to visit New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Celebrated 10 years married to my wife.  As in all relationships, there are the ups and downs, but she has made everything worth it along the way.  Plus, get to see my three kids grow and learn new stuff everyday.

Rebuilt a car... my 1979 MGB.  It runs ok, still lots of work to go.  I can at least drive it to work.

Discovered myself... a new self.

So what's next?  2013's gonna have to get busy to catch up to '12.
  • I lost 25+ pounds because of diet, however didn't do any exercise.  So I'm going to step it up a notch and sweat a little.
  • Learn to play guitar.  This one has been one of those to-do's that I never get to... 
  • Write more.  Not a book, (yet) but back to this blog.  I enjoy writing, but just haven't made it a priority.
  • Try to knock off one more item of my bucket list.
Happy New Year to you!  Make it your mission to do something different in 2013...You have 365 new days ...go for it!!

Monday, September 17, 2012


It's fun to dig through old emails... I ran across this today.  A memo I sent to my staff when I changed the name of the station back in 2007.  Enjoy!

Mike, Laura, and Nikki,  (the on air staff)
Hope you had a great weekend!  Tomorrow, we'll be back in action and
dropping "Country 105.5 is now 1055 The Wolf" and going straight into
using only "1055 The Wolf!".

Honestly, I was expecting a fair amount of emails saying "What the
heck?,"  But it seems only a few of our really passionate listeners
are despondent to the change.  Not to worry, like most who do not
accept change graciously at first, do eventually come around.  Because
we will still be super serving our listeners to their expectations the
same way we did as Country 105.5.

It's important to stay focused on what you do best, and that's being a
great performer on the radio.  Don't let the politics of the radio
station, a small handful of listener emails, or a name change bog you

Here's some perspective...The name, Country 105.5, as popular as the
physical radio station is, is a very generic name for the product we
serve.  We've known this for years and was a very easy attacking point
if we were to have direct competition, (which we will soon.)  We don't
want to be the walmart cola, when we can be Coca-Cola.   I can't tell
you how many times at the drive-thru getting a burger and asking for a
coke and the guy on the other end asking "what kind of coke?"   When
we go make a copy, we're making the copy on a Zerox machine even
though it may be on a Ricoh.  Or even better, when the noun Zerox
becomes a verb.  How many times have you "googled" something.  The
Wolf is about creating a country music brand here in FWB and achieving
those same concepts as Coke, Xerox, Google...

The brand "The Wolf" will be known for country music, being patriotic,
being a part of the community....  Everything that the Country 105.5
brand was will be what The Wolf will stand for now.  It's important
that we continue to be these things to our listeners and tell our
listeners that too!

When you get on the air Monday, work your magic like always.  Be proud
of 105-5 The Wolf as you were with Country 105.5.  Bottom line is we
will continue to achieve great success because of you, your
personality, and your hard work, not because we changed our name.

See you in the morning!

Todd Nixon, 
105-5 The Wolf
Ft. Walton Beach, FL

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