Month: April 2017

April 2017: Monthly Wrap Up

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April has been quite a busy month for this blogger, who’s been posting on the Interwebs for 8 months so far. While a bit nervous to put so much of myself out there for all to see, it’s been refreshing and powerful in many ways. Big changes since last month, which have surprised and delighted me.

Key Metrics in April

  • 83 Posts (average of 2.5 per day)
    • 30 – 365 Challenge
    • 43 – Book Reviews
    • 4 – TV & Film Reviews
    • 5 – General Blog
    • 1 – Trips & Visits

Note: This is 30% increase since last month, given a full month of the 365 Challenge has now occurred, plus the new topics for TV/Film Reviews and Trips/Visits.

  • Book Reviews
    • 8 – Books read in April
    • 35 – Reviews written from prior years

Note: This went down by about 25 % due to other commitments getting in the way.  I’ll get back on track for May.

  • Site Metrics (NEW)
    • 2375 – Views
    • 655 – Visitors
    • 76 – Followers
    • 1009 – Likes
    • 321 – Comments

Note: This has tripled since last month due to more people reading the blog, responding to book reviews and participating in the 365 Challenges.

*** April has officially been the blog’s best and most popular month! ***

What did I read in April 2017?  Let’s dive into the reading specifics…

In the month of April, I only read 8 books. Unfortunately, I was partially in a reading slump during the last week, and I had family visiting for 5 days in the early part of the month; as a result, I only had about two and a half weeks to read.

I began participating in the NetGalley ARC program and was awarded 13 books, of which 6 of these were! I’m half way to my first NetGalley badge!

Books included:

 The White Feather Murders
liked it
3- stars to Rachel McMillan’s The White Feather Murders, her third historical cozy in the “Herringford and Watts” mystery series. This book was a tough one for me to review as I had a hard time staying focused, but I did like the story-l…
Abigale Hall
liked it
3 stars to Lauren A. Forry’s Abigale Hall, a mystery and suspense novel I received via NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you to both for this opportunity, a…
The Distant Hours
really liked it

4 out of 5 stars to Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours, a beautifully written and compelling story of sisters, mothers and daughters across two different time periods set in London and rural England.Why This Book?

 

Jeopardy in July
really liked it

4 out of 5 stars to Barbara Venkataraman’s Jeopardy in July, the fifth book in her Jamie Quinn mystery series. I’m starting to love this series! It’s simple, direct and easy-to-read, but it makes for such a fun experience.Why T…

After She's Gone
liked it
3+ out of 5 stars to Maggie James’s novel, After She’s Gone, a new thriller and suspense novel released on March 16, 2017. I was tempted to give it a 4, but since it’s the first read by this author and left a few open concerns, I’m settl…
Nick and Jake: An Epistolary Novel
liked it
3 out of 5 stars to Jonathan Richards’s book, Nick and Jake: An Epistolary Novel, published in 2012. I’m not ashamed to admit it, but I had to look up the word “epistolary,” as I had no clue what it meant. Usually I’m good at determining…
Edited Out
liked it
3 out of 5 stars to E.J. Copperman’s novel Edited Out: A Mysterious Detective Mystery, the second in Jeff Cohen’s (author’s real name) “Mysterious Detective Mystery” series of books. It was really a 3.4999999 and I had to unfortunately r…


Favorite Book

  • The Distant Hours

Least Favorite Book

  • The White Feather Murders

365 Challenge – Daily Characteristics

  • Curious (20)
  • English (21)
  • Lister (22)
  • Short (23)
  • Wistful (24)
  • Obsessed (25)
  • Poetic (26)
  • Warm-blooded (27)
  • Scottish (28)
  • Pensive (29)
  • Sensitive (30)
  • Impartial (31)
  • Defensive (32)
  • Strong (33)
  • Judgmental (34)
  • Genealogist (35)
  • Thankful (36)
  • Goofy (37)
  • Passive (38)
  • Frustrated (39)
  • Spiritual (40)
  • Rich (41)
  • A to Z Favorites (42)
  • Mentor (43)
  • Ornery (44)
  • Neighborly (45)
  • Simple (46)
  • Healthy (47)
  • Generous (48)
  • A to Z LEAST Favorites (49)

365 Challenge Surprise

  • Thinking of the A to Z List… I needed something to take the place of my ethnic characteristics, and this took the place. I’ve got 3 great ones (very interactive) for May planned.

Overall Thoughts

  1. April was incredible. I never expected to have so much fun with the 365 Challenge.
  2. I need to focus on trips and vacations. Hope my memory is good for everything I’ve done in the past.
  3. I enjoy doing the TV/Film Reviews, but those take the longest to research the awards, star biographies, etc.
  4. I may limit myself to 3 GIFs per post, simply so the substance is not diminished in favor of humor. Plus, I need to keep each one to under 30 minutes for now, and eventually down to 20 minutes per post.
  5. Thank you for reading and commenting. I am really enjoying this.

Your Feedback

  1. I’ve added polls and ratings.  So far, here’s what you’ve said:
    1. Ratings
      1. 13 posts or pages received 5 of 5 stars
      2. 3 posts or pages received 4 of 5 start
      3. 5 comments got a thumbs up
    2. Polls
      1. Book Review Feedback
        1. 7 – Stellar and top of their game
        2. 2 – Very good but always room for improvement
      2. 365 Challenge Comparison
        1. 4 – Similar to Me
        2. 3 – In the middle
      3. Book Reviews Inclusions
        1. 9 – Comments on writing & style
        2. 8 – Comments on plot & character
        3. 6 – Comments on setting & descriptions
        4. 5 – Ratings
        5. 3 – Similar book recommendations
        6. 2 – Other
        7. 1 – Graphics & humor
  2. Please continue to provide feedback. And remember, I can’t tell who provided which ratings or poll responses: it’s all anonymous.
  3. Feel free to share any other feedback about what you’d like to see or not see.

May 2017 – Heads Up

  • Goals
    • 10 new books read
    • 40 reviews written for previously read books
    • 4 tags for reading
    • 4 Film & TV reviews
    • 4 Visits & Trips
    • 4 General Blogs
    • 31 “365+ Challenges
  • Completion of Genre / Author / Books / Series menu items and links
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365 Challenge: Day 49 – A to Z Least Favorites

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A to Z Favorites: A list of 26 things that I hate, one for each letter, a challenge posed to any readers who would like to participate

ATOZfavorite

As a follow-up to last week’s favorite things from A to Z, this week we’re focusing on our LEAST favorite things, continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) of sorts that provides more in depth knowledge about me.

Oh, But I love both!

Rules

  1. Pick something that starts with that letter and add it to your own list. Don’t think about it… just come up with a couple ideas in under five seconds and choose the best of the bunch.
  2. It can be a thing or place, but not a named person. We don’t want anyone to feel left out!
  3. This week it’s your LEAST favorite things… but next week will be something else. Add in any extra comments if you need to explain.
  4. Nominate 5 people at the bottom of your post that you want to re-post with their 26 items. Pick at random – no favorites!
  5. It’s a fun game, but if you are nominated and DO NOT want to participate, you don’t have to. Just ignore it! Totally OK.
  6. You may not have been nominated, but you can totally participate by following these rules.
  7. Post it as a reply on the person’s blog where you found it. Also post it on your own blog as a new post.
  8. Should we use a tag so we can see all the responses? Suggestions…
  9. This may not go anywhere if there is no participation other than me. And that’s OK. The 365 Daily Challenge was about me to start, so I cannot expect or force anyone else.
  10. Have fun and get to know your online friends. Tell us when you post your 26 items.  Thanks!

My A to Z LEAST Favorite Things

A – Arguments

B – Bedbugs (never had them, but friends have… not pretty!)

C – Cancer (too many loved ones have died)

D – Death

E – Eggplant (tastes like dirt)

F – Fake plants (I abhor them… won’t let them into my home… only real ones)

G – Grinding my teeth (can’t seem to stop myself lately)

H – Heat (just when it’s too hot in the summer)

I – Illness (who likes being sick?)

J – Jellyfish (they sting)

K – Killers

L – Loudness

M – Mushrooms (taste worse than dirt)

N – Nonsense (when people do stupid things on purpose, I get annoyed!)

O – Octopus (tastes like rubber)

P – Pretenders (just be real people)

Q – Quid Pro Quo (that saying annoys me, just a fancy way of saying “can you do me a favor?”)

R – Reality TV show (those people drive me crazy)

S – Stealing (it’s not very nice, is it?)

T – Tickled (I absolutely can’t stand being tickled… feel so unprotected)

U – U-Turns (I much prefer using a traffic circle… easier)

V – Vandalism

W – Wasps

X – Xerox (this was a hard one… I like the company, but I hate when people say “I’ll make a xerox.”  Just say “I’ll make a copy.”)

Y – Yelling

Z – Zilch (ugh… the word sounds awful. Just say “zero.”)

People You Are Tagging

  1. cindy knoke
  2. susandyer1962
  3. BrizzleLass
  4. Patricia
  5. alwaystrustinbooks

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.

365 Challenge: Day 48 – Generous

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Generous: showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected; showing kindness toward others; larger or more plentiful than is usual

Everyone is generous at some point in his or her life; however, we are also stingy from time to time. It’s often a matter of what’s being asked of us, our level of available resources and our mind-set. I’m no exception, but I will say outright that I am not as generous as I should be and want to be. And it’s something I need to work on.

For the purpose of today’s post, rather the cover examples of how I’ve been or not been generous, I’d like to discuss why it is people often struggle with being generous. It comes down to a few key things — in my opinion:

  1. Fear: It is easy to be afraid to do something. Perhaps you feel you don’t have enough money or time to share, so you hold back rather than lend or donate. Or maybe when you’ve been too generous with someone in the past, they’ve taken advantage of the situation. (No judgment here; each person should determine what is best for for him or herself, or how to handle relationships with others).
  2. Laziness: Often, we want to be more generous, but don’t make this a priority because we forget to think about it. (Again, no judgment; we are all aware of our own selfless level of thinking about things outside our own realm).
  3. Unknowing: I’ve found people are unsure of how to be more generous or knowledgeable about the ways they can actually follow through on it. (Double again, no judgment; we’re not always shown or taught the way to find these options on our own).
  4. Exhaustion: At the end of the day, we’re so busy focusing on the things we NEED to do, we forget the things that we SHOULD do. That said, there is an argument for saying being generous is a NEED and not just a SHOULD. (Yup, you guessed it about judgment… sometimes we just have no energy left, I get it).

I’m sure there are other reasons, and perhaps they don’t fall into 1 of these 4 categories in the most appropriate way, but that’s where I’ve gotten to in my head on this topic. Let’s look at ways to improve how we are doing in these areas:

  • Fear
    • Determine why you are afraid and either confront it, remove the roadblock or ignore it and move forward. Don’t stall or freeze by doing nothing.
    • If it’s fear of being taken advantage, find ways to limit the impact back on you. Or choose to be generous with others and not with that person if for some reason (s)he always takes advantage of it.
    • If it’s fear of doing something on your own, i.e. volunteering somewhere, find a buddy and go with someone else the first time.

  • Laziness
    • Make a note, send yourself an email or leave a reminder on your calendar to find 15 minutes a week where you do something for someone else — not just yourself.
    • Associate something you love to do with a method for being generous. If you have a secret ice cream fetish and go every Tuesday night, tack on 15 minutes to (1) buy a cone for someone else (if you can afford it), (2) clean up some garbage in a park on the way to the ice cream store, (3) donate books to a shelter for someone to have the ability to read.
    • Find something you love to do and figure out how to share it with someone else who doesn’t have access to it as easily as you do.

  • Unknowing
    • Ask your friends, colleagues or acquaintances.
    • Look it up on the internet.  You obviously have access if you’re reading this post (not meant sarcastically!). Find something local that would work for you.
    • Drive or walk around your neighborhood and see what is already there — or what’s missing. See how you can be of help.
    • Think about your relationships… is someone is need of a friend a little more often? Could you buy someone lunch once a week if you know they are struggling financially to support him or herself?

  • Exhaustion
    • Schedule it. Block out 30 minutes a week, an hour a month, whatever works for you. Make it part of the routine, not something you do if you have free time.
    • Start small. Increase as you can. Don’t take on too much at first.
    • Save coins you don’t use until it adds up enough to buy a cup of coffee, a meal or a coat for someone else.
    • Take a break from the things you don’t need to do every minute… don’t clean for 3 hours one day, only use 2 hours and save that last 1 hour for someone else who needs your help. Your house won’t fall apart. Another person can pitch in that last hour.

Here’s the deal (yikes, I’m sounding direct in this post when I really mean to just think aloud)… I have done maybe 10% of the things I just suggested. I’m not as generous as I should be. And just sitting here typing this kinda cements it for me. It’s time I became a bit of a better person. So my commitment to YOU — I will take on 2 new things (from what I’ve listed here) in the month of May. And I’ll report back to you (hold me accountable please) to review it. The good, the bad and the ugly.

With all that said, do you know of any other reasons besides these four (4) items that contribute to our lack of generosity with others?  I’m flat out ignoring the fact that some people just don’t care to help others or be considerate. So reject that one!

Whether it’s giving more time, spending more money or being more open-minded, what stops you from being more generous? Or… tells us how you are a generous person and offer some suggestions on how we can be even better. Thanks!

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

 

Blog: Upcoming Site Changes

Aside Posted on Updated on

It’s been another successful month of blogging, and as we come to a close on April, a few key things to share:

  1. I’ve changed some of the colors and the fonts on the blog. If it doesn’t look appealing, let me know.
  2. I’ve added a new menu item called “Genre, Author & Series,” where you can see a list of all the reviews I have completed. Note: Since this is in progress as of 4/28/17, you can look at Cozy Mystery Fiction / Braun, Lilian Jackson as a future example of what this will have available.
    1. It will be sorted by genre, then author.
    2. When you click on the genre, it will provide a brief description of the genre and key authors and information about it.
    3. When you click on the author page, it will list any of the author’s book I’ve read or am planning to read in the near future — organized by series, as well as noting books (s)he’s written in other genres.
    4. You can click on the name of the book if it has a link. If it doesn’t, it means I haven’t yet read the book or written the review. I’ll include target dates whenever possible for you to check back.
  3. I’ve changed the Blog menu item to include Tags. On a weekly basis, I will add a book tag and highlight books I have read or want to read, as well as tag my online friends to participate in the challenges.
  4. The 365 Daily Challenge is getting exciting and more fun. I’m almost done with 2 months and learning a lot about me and about you! I’m open to suggestions, but posts are now linked back and forth so you can check all the history if you’re new to the site.

My target to have all the content updated and all ~500 book reviews updated from Goodreads on “ThisIsMyTruth” is June, 2017; however, there will be a lot of progress each week. I hope you’ll check it out and provide any feedback you think is helpful. I’m very open to hearing the good and the bad!

changes

Thank you to everyone who has participated by commenting, liking, taking the poll or providing ratings. I’m having a tremendous amount of fun, trying to create a fun world for all of us.

-jjciv

Review: Angels & Demons

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Angels & Demons Review
4+ out of 5 stars to Dan Brown‘s Angels & Demons, the first book in his “Robert Langdon” thriller series. When I saw the movie trailer for The Da Vinci Code, I was hooked and immediately bought the book so I could read it first. When I got home, I realized it was not the first in the series…

I refused to read it… and then I went to the store and got the first one, Angels & Demons, so I could read them in order. And while it’s not really necessary, I always follow the order (unless I have an ARC with a due date on a newer book and no time to get to the whole series). So I started Angels & Demons, and I was was simply blown away.

Not everyone loves Dan Brown, and people aren’t always kind, but man… I LOVE HIS BOOKS! And I’m not afraid to say it… so if you don’t like them… don’t be hating on this review because I will

On a more serious note, the climax with each of the murders, the deep connections to so many Catholic rituals and ceremonies, the brilliance of the chase… it just left me unable to stop reading it. It’s exactly the kind of book I like to read:

1. Has some connection to me — I’m Catholic and knew most of the stuff they were talking about

2. I love reading about murder — since I won’t do it in real life, I have to get my thrills somehow

3. Secrets are the best thing in the world — I have so many about others, but I never let anyone have one about me

4. Classic battle of good versus evil — This is my life. Should I be good or bad today? Ugh… Sophie’s catch #22…

5. It’s non-stop thought-provoking messages and themes — How much control and time do we really have right now?

Oh, that’s the spot baby!

And with that said… if you want a real review with details about the story, go find someone else’s! Today was all about just being excited to think about the book again. Now that said, I thought Da Vinci Code was a slight bit better, hence the 4 here.

Ciao! I’ve got some branding to do…

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: As The World Turns: The Complete Family Scrapbook

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As The World Turns: The Complete Family Scrapbook
As The World Turns: The Complete Family Scrapbook by Julie Poll

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review
Next to Guiding Light, As The World Turns (ATWT) was my favorite soap opera in the 90’s and early 2000’s. I stopped watching ATWT around 2007, as I couldn’t keep up with 4 of them… and focused only on GL.

But ATWT was a great show, and when Julie Poll published this scrapbook, I had to have it! It chronicled so much of the past in the 1950s thru the 1980s when I wasn’t really alive to watch it. I read a lot in magazines and on the internet, but having a whole book dedicated to it was amazing.

If you’re a fan of the show, it’s a great way to stay connected, and even learn new things. If you’re not, but you love family drama and genealogy, it’s also a cool way to study as much as possible. And then maybe you can watch old episodes on Youtube.

It can easily be read all in one setting — lots of great pictures. But you can also read section by section over a few weeks or months, stretching out the fun.

And I would love to try a telenovela after all this!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: Double Shot

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Double ShotReview
Diane Mott Davidson‘s “Gold Bear Culinary Mystery” series were one of the original cozy series I started reading, and once I started, I ran through the first ten as quickly as I could. By then, I was caught up and had to wait for the successive ones to be released. Double Shot, her 12th book in the series, was the first one I had to wait for… and I was restless. My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goldy and her antics, and friends, were a nice release from the reality going on around me at the time. And when her ex-husband, Dr. John Richard Korman, showed up, we all knew there’d be trouble. From the beginning of the series, Marla and Goldy talked up so many bad things about him, I was certain he’d be killed in the future only to cast suspicion on one of them… and the payoff happens in this book.

The doctor is first being stalked, then found dead. The police, even though Goldy’s new husband, is one of them, can’t help but find her behavior a little shady. Even Marla wondered what Goldy had been up to. And the whole time, Goldy’s trying to protect her son Arch from the bad side of his father. As expected, she handles it well and even Arch is grateful for her support during his father’s murder.

After a dozen books hearing about the louse, it was good to see it taken care of. Yes, I know… I shouldn’t condone murder. But it was in a book… where fantasies are healthy, my friends. Even Jessica Fletcher agrees with me in the books she writes — and that I’ve read!

Series fans must read this one purely to see the comeuppance. But it would not be a good one to start the series with, as history is important.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews