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There's a Hole in my Bucket: A Journey of Two Brothers

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An inspirational, life-affirming memoir from the great-grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien. Having grown up on their great-grandfather’s stories, Royd Tolkien and his brother, Mike, have always enjoyed adventures. So when Mike is diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, the brothers decide to use the time they have left to tick off as much as possible from Mike’s bucket list, from remo An inspirational, life-affirming memoir from the great-grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien. Having grown up on their great-grandfather’s stories, Royd Tolkien and his brother, Mike, have always enjoyed adventures. So when Mike is diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, the brothers decide to use the time they have left to tick off as much as possible from Mike’s bucket list, from remote camping in Norway to travelling through Royd’s beloved New Zealand. Yet, when Royd loses Mike, he discovers his brother had been writing another kind of bucket list: fifty things he wanted Royd to do after his death. His first task? Mike wants his mild-mannered brother to trip up on his way to the lectern to deliver his eulogy. What follows is a set of emotionally charged tests that will push Royd firmly out of his comfort zone. This is the story of Royd’s journey to accomplish a challenging, humorous, and often heart-breaking list of unknown tasks that chart the brothers’ lives from childhood to adulthood. But above all, it is a story of the sibling bond, of grief—and of treasuring every moment.


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An inspirational, life-affirming memoir from the great-grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien. Having grown up on their great-grandfather’s stories, Royd Tolkien and his brother, Mike, have always enjoyed adventures. So when Mike is diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, the brothers decide to use the time they have left to tick off as much as possible from Mike’s bucket list, from remo An inspirational, life-affirming memoir from the great-grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien. Having grown up on their great-grandfather’s stories, Royd Tolkien and his brother, Mike, have always enjoyed adventures. So when Mike is diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, the brothers decide to use the time they have left to tick off as much as possible from Mike’s bucket list, from remote camping in Norway to travelling through Royd’s beloved New Zealand. Yet, when Royd loses Mike, he discovers his brother had been writing another kind of bucket list: fifty things he wanted Royd to do after his death. His first task? Mike wants his mild-mannered brother to trip up on his way to the lectern to deliver his eulogy. What follows is a set of emotionally charged tests that will push Royd firmly out of his comfort zone. This is the story of Royd’s journey to accomplish a challenging, humorous, and often heart-breaking list of unknown tasks that chart the brothers’ lives from childhood to adulthood. But above all, it is a story of the sibling bond, of grief—and of treasuring every moment.

30 review for There's a Hole in my Bucket: A Journey of Two Brothers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Verity Brown

    Let's just pop off to New Zealand.... It's hard to know what to say about this book. On the one hand, it's a compelling memoir of a person whose younger brother died of MND (ALS, for us Americans). On the other hand, it's a disturbingly naive record of a life of privilege. The description of the brothers' childhood suggests that they are very ordinary people, and certainly not wealthy. But ordinary people typically can't afford the kind of adventure trips that were common in the lives of these b Let's just pop off to New Zealand.... It's hard to know what to say about this book. On the one hand, it's a compelling memoir of a person whose younger brother died of MND (ALS, for us Americans). On the other hand, it's a disturbingly naive record of a life of privilege. The description of the brothers' childhood suggests that they are very ordinary people, and certainly not wealthy. But ordinary people typically can't afford the kind of adventure trips that were common in the lives of these brothers, even before the bucket list became a funded documentary. And ordinary people typically can't afford to take months off from work to provide constant care to a dying brother. With barely any assistance from the British government (I thought the UK had a wonderful welfare and health care system, but you wouldn't know it from this book). Another thing that bothered me was that--while it's obvious that the putative author is trying to avoid airing family laundry, and I can respect that--the absence of the mothers of these two brothers' sons is absolutely glaring. One almost gets the impression that the boys leaped straight from their fathers' heads into their nappies. I said "putative" in that last paragraph for a reason: the person who appears to have actually written the book was the oft-derided cameraman. Yeah, I get why it was too hard for Royd Tolkien write this story himself. But a first-person memoir? A story that, with every word, claims to be the author's voice...but isn't? But the thing that bothered me almost as much as the ghostwriting is the fact that Royd Tolkien is using the Tolkien name for publicity. I get WHY he's doing it: to draw attention to this horrible disease (although he doesn't go into any detail about research for a cure, which would logically be the point of drawing attention to it). But given that the book gives the impression that trading on the Tolkien name is something he's been doing for decades...it just left a bad taste in my mouth. The depressing thing is that I genuinely feel bad for him, and for everyone else Mike left behind. Whenever I was able to sink into the story and forget that it wasn't actually written by the narrator, it was very moving. But then I'd remember....

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linda Galella

    Early on in this achingly beautiful story, Royd Tolkien proclaims, “I love hugs.” That bold, emotional statement is indicative of his open hearted storytelling in the pages of “There’s a Hole in My Bucket”. Royd weaves multiple timelines together while telling the story of his brother’s valiant battle with Motor Neuron Disease, (ALS). He takes a detour from life to become Mike’s primary caregiver and this is their story. Beginning with a terrifying bungee jump, Royd starts the story by sharing one Early on in this achingly beautiful story, Royd Tolkien proclaims, “I love hugs.” That bold, emotional statement is indicative of his open hearted storytelling in the pages of “There’s a Hole in My Bucket”. Royd weaves multiple timelines together while telling the story of his brother’s valiant battle with Motor Neuron Disease, (ALS). He takes a detour from life to become Mike’s primary caregiver and this is their story. Beginning with a terrifying bungee jump, Royd starts the story by sharing one of the 50 bucket list adventures left for him in Mike’s “will”. It’s thrilling and a grown up, Kiwi version of Huck & Tom. The antics of these brothers will bring laughs and smiles far more than tears. Chapters are short, there’s 45 of them, like scenes in a movie. That makes sense since the not-so-ghost writer, Drew, is from that industry. He was a cameraman assigned to Royd. The three of them became good friends and he’s instrumental to telling this story and accomplishing the bucket list. We get to know Mike and Royd as young boys, teens and as young men while the story unfolds around the discovery of Mike’s illness and their daily battle to manage the healthcare system and still live a full, rich life. Parts of this story are tough to read. Anyone who has had the privilege of going thru hospice with a loved one will recognize honesty on the pages. There’s far more joy and humor than pain and sadness and the overall spirit of this offering is uplifting. There’s a few mentions of these brothers being the great grandsons of J. R. R. Tolkien and some “Lord of the Ring” movie notes but that’s definitely not a major factor this book. “There’s a Hole in My Bucket” is about the relationship between these two brothers; how they loved and cared for each in life and in death. It’s inspiring & sad, heartwarming & heartbreaking but above all, it’s about love; unconditional, messy, painful, rewarding and glorious love between two brothers📚

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aidan

    I always feel bad rating anyone’s life story below a 5. It isn’t a reflection on their life, but the writing. I loved reading about the beautiful bond and relationship between the author and his brother. It was clear how much love there was between them. I also chuckled out loud at some of the parts when he shared his inner dialogue before an extreme adventure. My issue came with the writing. It felt a little scattered and really amateurish. I know he isn’t a professional writer, but he did have I always feel bad rating anyone’s life story below a 5. It isn’t a reflection on their life, but the writing. I loved reading about the beautiful bond and relationship between the author and his brother. It was clear how much love there was between them. I also chuckled out loud at some of the parts when he shared his inner dialogue before an extreme adventure. My issue came with the writing. It felt a little scattered and really amateurish. I know he isn’t a professional writer, but he did have one working with him so I thought maybe there’d be more imagery and beauty in the words. It fell flat and like a high schooler wrote it. It was difficult to get through a lot of it solely due to the writing. It also really wasn’t that clear about timeline because it was jumping around so much or would suddenly just say “and now we’re in this new city”. Rated 2.5 rounded up, mostly just for their beautiful relationship. Can’t wait to see the documentary, which I’m sure I’ll love more.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” -Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien Imagine this: a beloved family member has died after a devastating illness. You are overcome with grief, yet you must somehow make your way to the front of the room to deliver the eulogy. Then it happens – you fall flat on your face. After a few moments, someone helps you to your feet, and after you somehow regain your composure, you stand at the podium. You look out a “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” -Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien Imagine this: a beloved family member has died after a devastating illness. You are overcome with grief, yet you must somehow make your way to the front of the room to deliver the eulogy. Then it happens – you fall flat on your face. After a few moments, someone helps you to your feet, and after you somehow regain your composure, you stand at the podium. You look out at the concerned, grieving faces of family and friends. You hold up a placard that reads, TRIP OVER. This is the very first task that Royd Tolkien was directed to undertake (no pun intended) by his younger brother Mike, who had recently passed away just shy of his 40th birthday in 2015. Two years earlier, Mike was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, or ALS, as it is called in the U.S. There's a Hole in my Bucket: A Journey of Two Brothers is Royd’s account of his adventures, mainly in New Zealand, of living as Mike would have wished had he been alive and healthy. But the story really begins in Wales, where the brothers and their older sister were born and raised. Royd describes himself as the kind of fellow who’d probably be happy just drinking tea. Mike, on the other hand, was an adventurer who would try just about anything – hence, the feats he challenges his brother to accomplish in his memory, 50 of them! They include things like dressing up like Gandalf on a plane and telling fellow passengers, “You shall not pass!” and many thrill/fear-inducing ones like bungee jumping and the like. Some reflect Mike’s sweet, very gregarious side that earned him many friends; one such challenge required Royd to perform random acts of kindness. How does one do that when it is mandated? It’s not easy. Oh, yes, I should tell you that Royd and Mike are great-great grandsons of author J.R.R. Tolkien. As Royd partakes of each task over a period of six months, his emotions are all over the place, quite understandably. He misses his brother terribly. He recalls many of the things they did together, things his brother said to him, how he teased him, smirked at him, dared him to try new things. As he went to locations his brother had never gone, he just knew that Mike would have loved them. He shed many tears, laughed, renewed friendships, and made new ones. All of this was filmed by a man named Drew ¬¬Cullingham, and the two became good friends, especially since Drew also had to do many of the tasks in order to film Royd. This is much more than an adventure story, of course. It is also a recounting of, and reflection on Mike’s life and death. Royd recalls the onset of the disease and how it progressed. In the final months, he, his dad and sister, and Mike’s girlfriend and son were all desperately caring for him as he grew weaker and weaker. Through it all, he maintained his humor and spirit, even though he could barely move or communicate. “But unless you’re faced with it, you don’t imagine yourself having to care for your brother, or any loved one. You don’t consider what it involves. You can’t train for it. You can’t prepare yourself. But when it happens, you step up. Because it’s important. Because that’s what you do.” The brothers had a very close relationship, and during Mike’s illness, their bond grew even closer. That intimacy rubbed off, as the entire family came to appreciate one another and value the time they had with one another. It is painful to read about Mike’s “Lou Gehrig’s” disease, the decline of this vibrant, life-loving human being. It’s painful to read about the grief of his brother and loved ones. But there is also so much joy and laughter in this book that it is a journey well worth taking. I found a link that summarizes Royd’s project; it includes a few pictures from his bucket list: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti... In his afterword, Royd Tolkien writes, “The wind is silent and so we reflect, the earth turns, yet we are still, our bodies may weaken but our minds can find solace. Just be mindful and enjoy the moment. We are energy, we are love, we are one.” This book was a tremendous find on Amazon's First Reads! 5 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lara DeFeo Anderson

    I really wanted to like this book but by the time I was less than halfway through I was bored. Really really bored.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shelly L

    Grieving of the rich and famous. That’s how I wanted to write this off. And as one too many jackass-inspired stunts were dreaded, detailed, and dispatched, I nearly succeeded. But the author is a digital immigrant like me. He’ll say adorably 50-something things like, “I mean, I feel like my hands are weaker now than they were. I’m pretty sure I’ve got arthritis in my thumbs from excessive Candy Crush playing.” Right?! His childhood memories made me smile, especially told in that a lovely British Grieving of the rich and famous. That’s how I wanted to write this off. And as one too many jackass-inspired stunts were dreaded, detailed, and dispatched, I nearly succeeded. But the author is a digital immigrant like me. He’ll say adorably 50-something things like, “I mean, I feel like my hands are weaker now than they were. I’m pretty sure I’ve got arthritis in my thumbs from excessive Candy Crush playing.” Right?! His childhood memories made me smile, especially told in that a lovely British manner he has. And despite boyish prankery, he’s possessed of a heart that has faced profound loss. So. Guess I’m a fool for a man who knows how to care for people. So, yeah, didn’t love it. But I don’t mind having read it. And I still refuse to watch reality TV … except in the most selective of cases. Ok? Ok.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Engaging with this book was a slow and often dreaded task. In a way as I look back I think of the similarity to the disease. Royd's journey to fulfill his brother's bucket list describes so many places and opportunities to try new things. So if you are willing to challenge yourself, both physically and emotionally, read this loving and heartfelt story of love between brothers. Engaging with this book was a slow and often dreaded task. In a way as I look back I think of the similarity to the disease. Royd's journey to fulfill his brother's bucket list describes so many places and opportunities to try new things. So if you are willing to challenge yourself, both physically and emotionally, read this loving and heartfelt story of love between brothers.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I LOVED this book! This well-written account of two brothers' journey through the heartbreak of motor neurone disease (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease to us Yanks) was by turns hilarious and poignant. Mike's bucket list for Royd to complete (which started with Royd being forced to trip prior to delivering the eulogy at Mike's memorial service, and got funnier from there) was extraordinarily well thought out, and made the story compelling; I couldn't wait to find out what was next on the list! Althou I LOVED this book! This well-written account of two brothers' journey through the heartbreak of motor neurone disease (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease to us Yanks) was by turns hilarious and poignant. Mike's bucket list for Royd to complete (which started with Royd being forced to trip prior to delivering the eulogy at Mike's memorial service, and got funnier from there) was extraordinarily well thought out, and made the story compelling; I couldn't wait to find out what was next on the list! Although many famous people are featured throughout (when Royd is tasked with becoming an Orc--full costume and makeup--and doing an audition, he ends up in front of "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson!), there was no sense of name-dropping because of the self-deprecating tone of the narrative. I can't wait to watch the documentary!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Doris Wood

    Can I give this book a hundred star rating? This is the best book that I have read. in a long time.This summer I have been very disappointed in the books that I have read. . This book makes up for all of the disappointment. Thank you Royd for allowing us to meet you and Mike. There is so much depth in this book. In the middle of this all consuming tragedy and sadness, we see the goodness and joy. Blessings for you, your family, and all who loved Mike and Royd. Thank you again for writing such a w Can I give this book a hundred star rating? This is the best book that I have read. in a long time.This summer I have been very disappointed in the books that I have read. . This book makes up for all of the disappointment. Thank you Royd for allowing us to meet you and Mike. There is so much depth in this book. In the middle of this all consuming tragedy and sadness, we see the goodness and joy. Blessings for you, your family, and all who loved Mike and Royd. Thank you again for writing such a wonderful book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I think there will be people who otherwise enjoy the book but cringe at the foul language. The bucket list of tasks and all of the travel involved took time to complete. Reading about it in one stretch makes all of the jumping from high places seem repetitive after a while. Complaints aside, I'm glad I read it. I think there will be people who otherwise enjoy the book but cringe at the foul language. The bucket list of tasks and all of the travel involved took time to complete. Reading about it in one stretch makes all of the jumping from high places seem repetitive after a while. Complaints aside, I'm glad I read it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Richard Propes

    There are a lot of possible reasons why I loved Royd Tolkien's "There's a Hole in my Bucket: A Journey of Two Brothers," a life-affirming memoir from a great-grandson of the iconic J.R.R. Tolkien. There's the fact that I'm only a little over a week past the death of my mother, whose prolonged health issues were a journey I'd never recommend and yet time for which I shall always be grateful. There's also, perhaps, the deaths of both my own younger brother in this past year after a year-long journ There are a lot of possible reasons why I loved Royd Tolkien's "There's a Hole in my Bucket: A Journey of Two Brothers," a life-affirming memoir from a great-grandson of the iconic J.R.R. Tolkien. There's the fact that I'm only a little over a week past the death of my mother, whose prolonged health issues were a journey I'd never recommend and yet time for which I shall always be grateful. There's also, perhaps, the deaths of both my own younger brother in this past year after a year-long journey with pancreatic cancer. It could be my own health challenges as a paraplegic/double amputee with spina bifida who very nearly passed, yet again, in late 2019. Truthfully? It's simply because Tolkien is an exceptional writer and "There's a Hole in my Bucket" is easily one of my favorite books of 2021. In "There's a Hole in my Bucket," Tolkien has crafted a heartfelt and humorous, heartbreaking and raw journey through some of life's more painful experiences. In this case, it's the journey that he experiences with his younger brother Mike before and after a diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, here in the U.S.) left Mike with a life expectancy of 1-2 years and not much time to accomplish a life's worth of bucket list items. Royd Tolkien sets out with his brother to accomplish those bucket list items, though eventually the disease would make travel impossible and Royd, along with several other family members, would become a caregiver to Mike as he fought to wring every possible moment out of life that he possibly could. Motor Neurone Disease is, of course, a terminal illness and "There's a Hole in my Bucket" is at its most amazing as we experience the bond between these two brothers and we experience the transformation of a not so warm and fuzzy family that was transformed by this brief yet life-changing journey. Then, there's what happens next. The main thrust of "There's a Hole in my Bucket" is that unknown to Royd Mike had left behind a bucket list of 50 items he wanted Royd to experience. It's a journey, if you will, and one that was set from the beginning to be well documented as Mike does everything he can to ensure his legacy lives on through Royd. The journey that unfolds in "There's a Hole in my Bucket" is a remarkable one. Tolkien, who had brief appearances in at least a couple of Peter Jackson's films and who has always had a strong tie to the Tolkien name, has written a book that made me laugh, made me cry, made me feel all warm and fuzzy, and inspired me even as I embark on my own grief journey due to recent losses. There's a simple, straightforward honesty here that's transparent and vulnerable and simply wonderful. Yes, occasionally, the language gets a little raw but if you've ever seen someone living with ALS you'll understand where it all comes from and you'll know it's completely justified. Royd Tolkien simply oozes love here - love for Mike, love for his son Story, love for Mike's son Edan, and love for many others. He even bonded greatly with Drew, his collaborator here and the cameraman throughout the adventure who, I laughed with familiarity, even has a child named Indiana. Yet another way I bonded with this book. Tolkien has an almost miraculous ability to weave together despair and gratitude. He vividly shares his frustrations with healthcare systems that fail, then care, then fail again, then care again. There are people we fall in love with here, for example a physiotherapist named Claire who goes above and beyond again and again, and as a paraplegic myself I also marveled at Mike's wife who stayed with him and present through to the every end. In case you're wondering, I've started to cry twice just writing this review as I remember Tolkien's words, stories, and experiences. We all need a Royd Tolkien. "There's a Hole in my Bucket: A Journey of Two Brothers" is practically everything I want from a reading experience. Tolkien challenged my heart and my mind and immersed me in a world simultaneously heartbreaking and exhilarating. In this year when I've struggled to really truly connect with most books, Tolkien grabbed me and never let me go. If there's a theme in "There's a Hole in my Bucket" it would likely be a reminder to truly treasure every moment and, indeed, I treasured every moment of Royd Tolkien's remarkable "There's a Hole in my Bucket: A Journey of Two Brothers."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Scott J Pearson

    At first glance, two things stand out about this book. First, the featured two brothers are great-grandsons of the famous JRR Tolkien, who wrote The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although this fact will attract much attention, it is fairly tangential to the unfolding of this tale. The author Royd’s journey takes him on the movie set of The Lord of the Rings, and some characters play small roles in this tale. The book is set mainly in New Zealand, home of the movies’ filming. However, most of the bo At first glance, two things stand out about this book. First, the featured two brothers are great-grandsons of the famous JRR Tolkien, who wrote The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although this fact will attract much attention, it is fairly tangential to the unfolding of this tale. The author Royd’s journey takes him on the movie set of The Lord of the Rings, and some characters play small roles in this tale. The book is set mainly in New Zealand, home of the movies’ filming. However, most of the book focuses on the love of two brothers. For the themes congruence, it does not matter whether they were Tolkiens or Smiths. Second, for a thematic premise, one brother Mike dies of ALS (or in the British medical system, called Motor Neuron Disease, or MND). This is a progressive and fatal medical condition commonly known in the United States as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after the 1920s Yankees baseball great. Mike leaves behind a “bucket list” of fifty items for his brother Royd to complete, almost all in New Zealand. Royd, a movie producer by trade, raised money to produce a documentary that tells the story of how he completed the list. He also writes this narrative with short, easy-to-read chapters. The bucket list consists of items like driving a race car, bungee jumping, singing a song in front of a large audience, and asking strangers to dance with him. Each story has an interesting twist to it, and Royd conveys this well. Clearly, he holds his brother Mike in high regard and in deep love. The resulting creative venture of this book illustrates just how dynamic that relationship was. It’s hard to criticize a work based on such a pure love and whose theme is living life to the fullest regardless of limitations. However, this story is probably better suited for the documentary than a book. Royd does not possess the story-telling strengths of his great-grandfather. (I did find a few British words sprinkled throughout the book and enjoyed the challenge of looking them up. The elder Tolkien would likely be proud!) The stories are not terrible; rather, they seem more adapted to a screen. This book appears to be a secondary thought rather than a primary vision of the project. After finishing this book, I would like to see the documentary. Again, Royd produces movies for a living, and the documentary seems much more natural of an endeavor for him. The audience for this book is targeted yet still broad. Themes of brotherly love and a romantic ideal of manhood permeate every page. Adventure-seeking males will like this book. Those who travel to New Zealand might also find much to explore here, both in life and in the country. The nation comes out quite well in this book with adventures overflowing from each chapter. Medically inclined readers will also benefit from reading an up-close account of the debilitation of ALS. This condition deserves continued focus due to the lack of effective treatments. Even readers interested in the human psyche will find deeper understanding in Royd’s complicated grief and how practices can facilitate healing. Overall, Royd’s take – and Mike’s take – on life is something most humans can learn from. I’m glad these loving brothers shared it with us readers.

  13. 4 out of 5

    JT

    Honestly, this isn't great writing. The flow of storytelling is broken somehow, but in a way that works, as it reflects the broken heart of a grieving brother. Unfortunately, sometimes, the book only seems like a companion to the documentary that was supposed to be released in 2020, before Covid hijacked film production and distribution, and that a full story can only be absorbed by watching and reading simultaneously. And also, who the heck writes a 50 item bucket list for their brother to compl Honestly, this isn't great writing. The flow of storytelling is broken somehow, but in a way that works, as it reflects the broken heart of a grieving brother. Unfortunately, sometimes, the book only seems like a companion to the documentary that was supposed to be released in 2020, before Covid hijacked film production and distribution, and that a full story can only be absorbed by watching and reading simultaneously. And also, who the heck writes a 50 item bucket list for their brother to complete after their death, that has to be done on the other side of the world? I guess it worked out for them, since their family connection to the Lord of the Rings and Royd's connections to Peter Jackson and the industry helped to finance the trip of a lifetime. But beyond all that, the book is just a healing journey, a step in a brother's grieving process, and a fulfillment of all the things the dying brothers couldn't do because of his illness. It has a lot of heart and I found it hard to read it without weeping and laughing too. Maybe not a really a 5 star book, but good enough.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    😥😊 Such a heartwarming and heartbreaking tale of two extremely close brothers and their bucket lists. Before and after one has passed on from MND. The tales of childhood and adulthood brought tears of joy and tears of sorrow. For them and for myself. Symuch an inspiration Mike was and still is as he lives on through his family and especially his Brother Royd. I am so glad I read this book as it brings so many memories of my own Dad who suffered from this horrible incurable disease.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Beautiful story of brothers When faced with the end, we often make a bucket list but when you can't do the bucket list you make one for your brother. In this memoir Royd Tolkein sets out to finish a bucket list his brother, Mike, crafts for him. This book made you laugh and made you cry. It's a great story and probably even more enjoyable for those who love J. R. R. Tolkein and New Zealand. I'm now off to see if I can find the documentary. Beautiful story of brothers When faced with the end, we often make a bucket list but when you can't do the bucket list you make one for your brother. In this memoir Royd Tolkein sets out to finish a bucket list his brother, Mike, crafts for him. This book made you laugh and made you cry. It's a great story and probably even more enjoyable for those who love J. R. R. Tolkein and New Zealand. I'm now off to see if I can find the documentary.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mary Vogelsong

    Royd and his brother Mike Tolkien have made a living capitalizing off of their great grandfather's LOTR books. Royd continues to do that in this book, as well as writing about Mike's death from motor neuron disease (what we in the US call ALS). This shameless self-promoter writes about a documentary he filmed of silly bucket-list tasks (pretend to trip and fall walking to the podium at my memorial service) his brother left for him to do. Royd and his brother Mike Tolkien have made a living capitalizing off of their great grandfather's LOTR books. Royd continues to do that in this book, as well as writing about Mike's death from motor neuron disease (what we in the US call ALS). This shameless self-promoter writes about a documentary he filmed of silly bucket-list tasks (pretend to trip and fall walking to the podium at my memorial service) his brother left for him to do.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anne Jones

    Laughed and cried! I lost my closest sister in 2012 but was not really able to grieve her loss because my mother passed away seven weeks later and one week after her funeral my husband of 36 years did not wake up on our son’s wedding day. This adventure helped me grieve my sister‘s loss just a little bit.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Did Not Finish. I was intrigued by the concept of this book. It could’ve been so interesting. It could’ve been thought-provoking, heartfelt, and beautiful, filled with rich descriptions and details. It was not any of those things. I love the writing of JRR Tolkien, an absolute genius. This was miles apart and generations separated from that genius, both figuratively and literally. What a disappointment.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book shines when Royd shares information about his brother Mike and the family's emotional experience with ALS. Otherwise, the chronology is out of order and confusing. This book shines when Royd shares information about his brother Mike and the family's emotional experience with ALS. Otherwise, the chronology is out of order and confusing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Swanbender2001

    This was oftentimes a hard one to read but at other times so touching and life affirming for those of us who share the time of life-endings with people. I was so glad I had the chance to read this.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Guerard-Cugini

    I enjoyed the fact that these brothers had a wonderful relationship. However, I found the book overly sentimental. Also I kept wondering why Mike felt the need to make this crazy bucket list, and why Royd felt the need to disrupt his life to fulfill his brother's ridiculous wishes. They must have been quite privileged to be able to afford to do all these things. In addition, the writing was amateurish. I gave it three stars because I really got a good sense of what ALS is all about and its devas I enjoyed the fact that these brothers had a wonderful relationship. However, I found the book overly sentimental. Also I kept wondering why Mike felt the need to make this crazy bucket list, and why Royd felt the need to disrupt his life to fulfill his brother's ridiculous wishes. They must have been quite privileged to be able to afford to do all these things. In addition, the writing was amateurish. I gave it three stars because I really got a good sense of what ALS is all about and its devastating effect on the body.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barry Jenkins

    Not your grandfather!! Your grandfather Tolkien was an amazing creative author. Sadly you did not inherit that talent. Also sad that you found it necessary to use profanity do very often. There was certainly not a need for that. I don't recall ever reading a single word of profanity in your grandfather's many novels. I didn't finish your book for that reason... I only read about 15% and gave up on you. Not your grandfather!! Your grandfather Tolkien was an amazing creative author. Sadly you did not inherit that talent. Also sad that you found it necessary to use profanity do very often. There was certainly not a need for that. I don't recall ever reading a single word of profanity in your grandfather's many novels. I didn't finish your book for that reason... I only read about 15% and gave up on you.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Actually couldn't finish. The notion of an incomplete "bucket list" handed down as a legacy from a brother who died too soon is interesting, but I am less interested in the individual athletic adventures inspired thereby. Maybe a reader who might actually be tempted by skydiving or snowboarding would find it fascinating. Actually couldn't finish. The notion of an incomplete "bucket list" handed down as a legacy from a brother who died too soon is interesting, but I am less interested in the individual athletic adventures inspired thereby. Maybe a reader who might actually be tempted by skydiving or snowboarding would find it fascinating.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    This was a very good book about the bond between siblings and it continues after death.When one brother is dying he asks his older brother to finish everything he has on his bucket list that he wasn't able to get done.His brother does it even though there is some dangerous things too. This is about the bond between between siblings and it continues after death.When one brother comes down with a terminal illness he asks his older brother to finish everything he wanted to do on his bucket list.His This was a very good book about the bond between siblings and it continues after death.When one brother is dying he asks his older brother to finish everything he has on his bucket list that he wasn't able to get done.His brother does it even though there is some dangerous things too. This is about the bond between between siblings and it continues after death.When one brother comes down with a terminal illness he asks his older brother to finish everything he wanted to do on his bucket list.His brother agrees to do it even though there are dangerous things to do.This was very touching and a good read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anne Gardepe

    I selected this book from Amazon Prime First Reads and I am very glad I did. I will rate it a 4 and perhaps the reasons will be clear as I continue. The Welsh Tolkien brothers, Royd and Mike, great-grandsons of J.R.R. Tolkien, were about as close as any brothers can be. Both enjoy the outdoors and high adventure activities. (Some I would call high-risk!) Although he is 5 years younger than Royd, Mike competes with his older brother, even tries to best him in everything---and often succeeds. This I selected this book from Amazon Prime First Reads and I am very glad I did. I will rate it a 4 and perhaps the reasons will be clear as I continue. The Welsh Tolkien brothers, Royd and Mike, great-grandsons of J.R.R. Tolkien, were about as close as any brothers can be. Both enjoy the outdoors and high adventure activities. (Some I would call high-risk!) Although he is 5 years younger than Royd, Mike competes with his older brother, even tries to best him in everything---and often succeeds. This competitive part of their relationship reminded me of what my husband has said about his 4-years-younger brother, who often excelled beyond his older brother's achievements. In his memoir, Royd describes the bond with his brother and how it is tested by Mike's diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease (called ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease in the U.S.) Royd takes on a large part of Mike's care as the disease progresses rapidly. When Mike passes away he has left behind a "bucket list" of 50 tasks for Royd to perform. Some are silly and embarrassing but others are downright frightening. Royd describes these challenges so well----at times suspenseful, nerve-wracking and quite often, humorous. Many passages are poignant as he relates what the particular bucket list item meant to his brother and to himself. I would recommend this book, especially to male readers and those who have a working knowledge of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was not familiar with the works of Tolkien and I believe I would have enjoyed it even more if I had been. I have never been to New Zealand either, and much of the action takes place there. I'd love to see that place but would definitely not aspire to the activities Royd undertook! There's a Hole in My Bucket was both entertaining and touching. The love between these brother was almost palpable.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lucy-Bookworm

    When Mike was dying of Motor Neurone Disease, he left behind a “bucket list” for his brother to complete after he’d gone – With the bucket list encompassing everything from a terrifying bungee/zipwire experience to painting pictures, there are some that he knew Royd would find amusing (or terrifying!), some that would have an interesting twist and some that would bring back memories of times shared. The book basically tells Royd’s story of how he completed that bucket list & what he learnt along When Mike was dying of Motor Neurone Disease, he left behind a “bucket list” for his brother to complete after he’d gone – With the bucket list encompassing everything from a terrifying bungee/zipwire experience to painting pictures, there are some that he knew Royd would find amusing (or terrifying!), some that would have an interesting twist and some that would bring back memories of times shared. The book basically tells Royd’s story of how he completed that bucket list & what he learnt along the way, interspersed with memories of their childhood & dealing with Mike’s illness. As the great-grandsons of the famous JRR Tolkien, who wrote The Lord of the Rings trilogy, there is a definite sense of privilege when his travels take him onto the film set of The Lord of the Rings. Whilst I cannot fault the fact that Royd is using his famous name to gain publicity around Motor Neurone Disease, there is a side to this that I disliked. Overall, both Royd & his ghostwriter/cameraman Drew are good storytellers, but they are not great wordsmiths. This is an entertaining book that will have you chuckling and cringing at various times - parts dealing with Mike’s illness are honest and a bit tough to read but the positive, funny & uplifting moments far outweigh those. As a film-maker, it is inevitable that Royd’s journey would be well documented and Royd raised money to produce a documentary that tells the story of how he completed the list – indeed I feel that the story is better suited to a film than a book, and the writing style is more suited to this. I look forward to seeing this in due course. I am sure the book will appeal to adventure seekers as well as those who will like the Tolkein name. This was my Amazon Prime First Reads book for July

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    I have conflicting feelings about this book. For one thing, I lost my sister to cancer when she was 45 and I was 38, so I identify with the great gaping wound that is left in the aftermath. On the other hand, there was no way I would have been able to afford gallivanting off to the nearest beach, much less to somewhere at the other end of the world. But yet I still enjoyed reading Royd's exploits (and googling them to see what he was talking about!). And also, as a soon to be published author who I have conflicting feelings about this book. For one thing, I lost my sister to cancer when she was 45 and I was 38, so I identify with the great gaping wound that is left in the aftermath. On the other hand, there was no way I would have been able to afford gallivanting off to the nearest beach, much less to somewhere at the other end of the world. But yet I still enjoyed reading Royd's exploits (and googling them to see what he was talking about!). And also, as a soon to be published author who struggled for years to get to where I am, I stopped dead at this line and laughed out loud: "Before I came out here there was already interest from a couple of publishers in my story, in Mike's story. So I got myself a literary agent." LOLOLOLOL. This has got to the biggest hurdle in new or unknown writer's life. And he is able to coalesce is experience in the to seven little words. Sigh. However, he did redeem himself in the next paragraph with this: "My agent had told me that whatever I did, whatever I wrote, I should always be asking myself why. Why am I writing this . . . So I wrote "WHY" on a Post-it Note and stuck it on the table next to my shiny new writing gibbons . . . I didn't write anything else that day." Then he goes on to say how a couple of months went by and the sun began to fade the word on the note as it remained the only thing he had written. Now THIS I can relate to! But all in all, I enjoyed the story. I loved how he alternated the story of Mike's illness with the bucket list. I LOVED that he included the actual list at the end of the book. And since I wouldn't have done nearly half the things he did, I did like reading about them from the comfort of my sofa.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Soozee

    Royd Tolkien is a great grandson of JR Tolkien (of Hobbit fame), something he makes much of in the book. The book revolves around the death of his much loved younger brother Mike from motor neurone disease, and the challenges he set for Royd to do after his death. The book feels quite self-indulgent, and is not particularly well written. The idea behind it was to publicise and raise money for research into motor neurone disease, and to memorialise Mike, but I feel it was also cathartic for Royd t Royd Tolkien is a great grandson of JR Tolkien (of Hobbit fame), something he makes much of in the book. The book revolves around the death of his much loved younger brother Mike from motor neurone disease, and the challenges he set for Royd to do after his death. The book feels quite self-indulgent, and is not particularly well written. The idea behind it was to publicise and raise money for research into motor neurone disease, and to memorialise Mike, but I feel it was also cathartic for Royd to be able to come to terms with his brother's loss. He intended to use his experiences to make a film for the same purpose. The reader does learn about motor neurone disease and the shocking path of the disease, and it is mildly entertaining to read about the challenges and how he tackled them. However, I had a problem with the writing style which was quite colloquial and bounced around the timelines, including snippets of Mike's life as well as how Royd tackled the bucket list. Throughout it all we feel his deep love for his brother, but that isn't really enough to satisfy the reader that they are enjoying reading this book. Clearly Royd has some sort of private income, as he can afford trips to New Zealand and to undertake all the adventures Mike had planned for him. He also shamelessly uses his famous name to gain advantage and achieve what he wants to do. Overall it was mildly entertaining, but would have benefited from some serious editing. I wouldn't particularly recommend it to friends and certainly won't be looking out for the film. Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Suzette

    Three themes detail the emotional tale of two brothers, and the inevitable loss of one due to MND. A bucket list, designed by one brother to be completed by the other, provides adventure, travel and a reflection on how and whether extreme physical and/or emotional experiences shape our lives. The story of Mike, and his journey with MND (or ALS) is the hardest but most necessary part of the book. Throughout he remained the heroic figure his brother set out to capture, whose sense of loss reverber Three themes detail the emotional tale of two brothers, and the inevitable loss of one due to MND. A bucket list, designed by one brother to be completed by the other, provides adventure, travel and a reflection on how and whether extreme physical and/or emotional experiences shape our lives. The story of Mike, and his journey with MND (or ALS) is the hardest but most necessary part of the book. Throughout he remained the heroic figure his brother set out to capture, whose sense of loss reverberates deeply even over the light-hearted bits. It is not an easy topic to read about, and the natural tendency is to wish that you don’t have to know. But there is a sense of honesty and clarity that reminds you of the love and sacrifice that surrounds experiences that no one would wish upon their greatest enemy. Imagining the pain and suffering of all the parties involved puts your own life into perspective. The third theme that surfaces is a claim to fame due to the Tolkien name, and everything that entails. This is the part that felt a bit incongruous, especially considering that the book was written by the (apparently multi-talented) accompanying cameraman and not the Tolkien heir himself. That being said, the style of the book felt authentic and it definitely succeeds in raising awareness around this disease. It is a heartbreaking story, but one that will stick with you a lot longer than the memory of an ice-bucket challenge.

  30. 5 out of 5

    C A Gentle

    I got this book free from Amazon's first reads and found it honest, straightforward, extremely moving and very funny in parts. The book is about the author's brother developing motor neuron disease and the family's journey in dealing with it, caring for him and ultimately the grief from both his death and from their loss of time. Royd is not a professional writer and it shows, but his writing comes over as simply an honest, no holds barred story of the love he and his family have in how they dea I got this book free from Amazon's first reads and found it honest, straightforward, extremely moving and very funny in parts. The book is about the author's brother developing motor neuron disease and the family's journey in dealing with it, caring for him and ultimately the grief from both his death and from their loss of time. Royd is not a professional writer and it shows, but his writing comes over as simply an honest, no holds barred story of the love he and his family have in how they deal with his brother's diagnosis, death and grief. Interestingly, when I saw the JRR Tolkien exhibition in Oxford a few years ago I was really struck by what a fantastic father and family man he was. Royd, his great grandson definitely follows in that tradition. It was lovely reading about the author's relationship with his son and with the rest of his family. Mike, the brother, had left a bucket list for Royd to carry out after his death. It was heart breaking and heart warming to read about the items on the list - some completely crazy. The book is built around the bucket list, interspersed with tales of their childhood, teenage and adult exploits, along with the events leading up Mike's diagnosis and death, and how Royd is trying to rebuild his life and move on. Well worth reading.

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