Day: April 20, 2017

Review: Catching Fire

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Catching Fire
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins   My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every so often, I select a Young Adult book to read. After I read the Hunger Games, I had to finish the trilogy… I mean, how could you not, right?

Let’s back up a bit… I love challenges. I am totally in my element watching serial killers on TV shows. (Umm… I didn’t mean that in a sociopath-kinda way… I just mean the thrill of trying to guess who the killer is and who’s gonna go next is the fun part… make believe… not real… I’m honestly not a serial killer… wait wouldn’t a serial killer say that… oh, I’m screwed here.)

And my favorite book of all time is “And Then There Were None.” But the first thing I saw was “Battle Royale” years ago… what an amazing movie. It’s total cheesy fun, but I could watch it anytime… ok, I’m off topic. The point is… there is something about knocking people off one by one until you’re left with only 1 possible person… and the winner is… THAT is a fun book.

So I had to read The Hunger Games. But OMG, when book 2 came out and Peeta and Katniss where back in the contest, I think I died and went to… not exactly heaven, as that would be WEIRD.

She’d already been through so much. And I couldn’t take the stress of guessing which character would go and in what horrific way. My reaction was like:

OK… now that the hysterics and humor are done… I really, really liked this book. And if it wasn’t already done in the first edition, I would have given this a 5… but I wasn’t keen on the ending and so I had to go with a 4 for this one.

I am normally a fan of the bad boy/girl winning the hero’s or heroine’s heart, and as much as the movies may have tried to change my mind… Peeta seemed destined to be with Katniss in the books. And I was good with that. We all need someone to bake for us, right?

Losing Mags and Rue was awful. But the imagination in these books is incredible. And the push/pull in every direction… so good. This is is how I felt:

I recommend reading the series. It may totally be commercial young adult fiction, but if it gets you to read, it’s a good thing. And it’s full of moral lessons and a challenge to think critically about life.

All around… I think it’s a must read!

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.

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Review: Peter Pan

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Peter Pan
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie   My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before I get into the review… it took me forever to go through all the editions of Peter Pan listed on Goodreads. While I suppose it’s not too important to get the right version, I was shocked at how many there were, as well as that this was a longer series with multiple books. I guess I always knew that, but when I read it, it was just the Peter Pan book, which I believe was the third in the series. I could be wrong… nonetheless… wow… and it’s review time and let’s do some soaring…

There is so much I could say about this book. I could write a formal review. I could compare the story to the TV and film adaptions. I could cover the cartoons. BTW, the most interesting one for me was “Once Upon a Time’s” portrayal of Peter. So dark… LOVED IT. But that said, to me, it’s a children’s tale with a huge primary lesson: We never want to grow up, but we have to…

And that’s what I’ll focus on. This book must be read to children a few times over the years. I’d start first when they are about 4 or 5, and then show the cartoon versions. Let them absorb it and think about it. And then again when they are 7 or 8, helping them understand what it means to grow up. And then again when they are about 12 or 13… and make them do a book report on it, even outside of school. It’s a lesson that must be taught young.

Growing up is scary. But so is not growing up. There’s a fine balance between finding the time to be free and open, enjoying life and staying away from one’s fears. But you must also learn what is necessary to become a good, solid and functioning citizen of the society.

What I love about this story is the amount of interpretations you can absorb from the story, the characters, the setting and the action. Just when you think you’ve got them all down, another view point comes into play — and you have to re-think what the moral purpose of the book is about.

Or did Barrie intend it to just be a fun trip for kids… I’m not so sure we’ll ever know!

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.


View all my reviews

365 Challenge: Day 39 – Frustrated

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Frustrated:  feeling or expressing distress and annoyance, especially because of inability to change or achieve something

I usually take about 5 minutes to think of the characteristic or word I want to blog about each day. Today, it was an immediate word… no thinking… no reflecting… just appeared in my head. Then I thought… nah, I’m just exaggerating, I’m not really frustrated these days. But… I think I am.

Frustration occurs over so many things in our lives. Inability to meet our goals, delays, disappointment, worrying, etc. The form of frustration I feel today, and lately, is over response time when it comes to trying to move things forward. Though I’m not always perfect when it comes to responding, I am always timely on something important, especially when I know the recipient is expecting feedback or an update from me.

I have a few areas of frustration right now. One is my job search. For those that don’t know, or haven’t read any of the specifics on my sites, I left a corporate technology position last summer after working with the same family of companies for about 17 years. I needed a break, things were changing, and I thought it was time to look for something new and to focus on some writing. I fully expected to have a long period of time off, but along that path, I found people weren’t as responsive as I have always been.

When I was a hiring manager, I worked closely with our HR department to ensure all candidates got some level of a response. And once I interviewed you, you always got a follow-up, even when you didn’t get the job. Sometimes I wrote it, sometimes it was the generic HR response, sometimes HR called to explain why. Now that I’m on the other end, I expect the same treatment. Perhaps that’s too much, as we know I’ve said my expectations are often too high… remember that post… Ha!

But in all sincerity, this system is really in need of improvement. Hundreds of people thrust resumes and credentials… somehow a handful get picked out… even when you know people at the company, it just doesn’t feel optimal. And so I’m feeling quite frustrated that I want to get back to work, I have many skills, I have a lot of roles I can fill, but I can’t see to find that right angle or hook.

Part of it may be my fault as I’ve split my focus these days on writing and technology, so I’m half in and half out of both worlds. But there should be flexibility for that, right? So while I’m not necessary complaining here, I am just expressing frustration at an inability to make a situation easier — not just for me, but in general.

It’s not all that different from trying to get published. You dream up the idea. You write the book. You get good feedback. And then when you try to find the agent, sometimes you never even hear back. I totally understand that an agent may have 500 query letters to read each week, and that’s an impossible task.

I’m just saying what my frustrations are out loud, knowing I’m not trying to make a difference or even look for sympathy. I’m just expressing what I’m feeling today on this 39th day of the challenge. I’m sure by the end of the day, I’ll be back to “Both will happen… you’re not in a rush… enjoy your day and wait for the next step to occur naturally.” I’m a pretty even-tempered guy, so this is just a slight bump in the meter of my expressions this week.

I tend to get like this over a lot of things. I remember before I met my significant other… dating was a nightmare. It’s not all that different… you try try try… nothing comes along… you get frustrated… and then it happens. What is it people say? “Don’t watch the kettle while it’s boiling?” I think I just totally said that wrong, but I’m not going back to fix it. “Water doesn’t boil while you’re watching it?” LOL  Eh… hopefully you’re laughing at me over this.

All this said…somewhere in my next step, whatever it is, I hope I improve these things… perhaps find a way to create better opportunities or connections. But, in full 360 view, I do need to look at myself. Am I doing everything I can to be successful? Am I creating the right moments to help this along? Am I under the impression “It will happen because I am a good person.”

Yeah, but so are millions of other people. It’s not a matter of who is the luckiest or who works the hardest. Sometimes it’s just the right time and the right place. And so, frustrations will always creep about because you have an expectation. And unless you are absolutely perfect at controlling your feelings and emotions, or just the happiest person on the planet, you will feel disappointment. And I guess it’s about pushing yourself to keep on trucking along. And that’s what we need to do.

Hmmm… random rant today. Little organization around it. Just wrote without thinking or correcting any grammar or punctuation. Let’s go back and see how I did. :}

That looks about right! Not every post can be perfect. See I am learning… and not so frustrated anymore.

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.

Review: Edited Out: A Mysterious Detective Mystery

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Edited Out: A Mysterious Detective MysteryMy rating 3.5 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 round down. Now that I’m reviewing more ARCs, I find myself starting series in the middle, which is never a good idea… And though this was a good book, you should definitely read the first one before you take on book two. I’ll explain why later on in this review. Onward we go…

Why This Book
I belong to an advanced reader group on Facebook for cozy mystery books, where I entered a contest to win a copy of this one. I won the book, and I’d like to thank E.J. Copperman, Crooked Lane Publishers and the ladies who run the Facebook group for the opportunity. And as expected, my review is an honest response to the book. It was the last open ARC I had before jumping on to some NetGalley awards, so it’s good to feel caught up on at least one site.

Overview of Story
Rachel is a mystery writer living in NJ, and she has several books penned about a detective named Duffy Madison. She makes a decent living at writing, but her life is turned upside down when a man named Duffy Madison claims to be her character brought to real life. (Note, this all happened in the first book… we’re now on the second book…) In this one, Duffy’s research leads him to Damien Mosely who has been missing for 5 years. Despite her concerns, Rachel agrees to help Duffy investigate Damien who lived in Poughkeepsie, NY. During their investigation, they meet 4 or 5 people who are all telling some level of lies about who Damien was and what kind of relationship they previously had. No one believes he is dead, but then a body is discovered, and it matches Damien’s and Duffy’s description. After a few days of checking out all the leads, they are all starting to believe Duffy can’t be Damien, as Damien is definitely the dead body; however, Damien’s supposed wife turns up dead, throwing suspicion onto Duffy. Rachel and Ben, a friend who works in the DA’s office, dig even further and learn a few secrets that bring the murderer to the forefront. In the end, the case is solved, with a few mishaps and a few near-death experiences.

Approach & Style
1. “Edited Out” is book 2 in the series. Book 1 was “Written Off.” The entire premise in the series is that an author meets a man who claims he is the character in her books. Duffy has no memory before 5 years ago, when the first book was published, and he’s determined to prove that he’s not someone with memory loss. Meanwhile, the author, Rachel, is trying not to get close to him, as she thinks he might be a little crazy; however, she’s drawn to helping him figure out his identity, as she is struggling to write the character now that she’s seeing some of his characteristics come to life in front of her. What if she makes a mistake?

2. It’s a first-person narrative, told from Rachel’s perspective and point of view. It does not jump around, which is a good thing for some readers. It helps keep a little bit of suspense, especially given how important of a character Duffy Madison is to both the real book and the books Rachel writes within the book we are reading.

Strengths
1. This could have been tremendously confusing, but the writer does a good job at being very clear when we’re talking about Duffy the character and Duffy the real-life person, and rarely without it feeling repetitive. It’s a great concept – a character comes to life – if that’s what it turns out to be. Reminds be a little of Jasper Fforde‘s series with Thursday Next.

2. The writing is relaxed and easy, makes you laugh and crosses that line a little between the writer and the reader, but in a good way. A few times, I’m like:

Open Questions & Concerns
Though the mystery was good, it wasn’t superb. The book starts off in a place where it would have been really valuable to have read the first book previously. You’re left guessing how did Duffy meet Rachel, what kind of intros did they have, what was going on just before this all happened. But that was book 1 and you don’t know unless you read it. As a result, the mystery in this one isn’t like normal mysteries… Step 1, you have a character you get to know, Step 2, the character dies, Step 3, you search for the killer. Here, it’s… Step 1, let’s figure out who I am, Step 2, oh, I’m this guy possibly, Step 3, oh wait, he might be dead, Step 4, let’s figure out who killed him. So I’m left thinking…

“Yeah, I know if you investigate this murder, you might get some info on who you really are, but I don’t care about that murder… I just want to know if you really came to life from the book.”

BAM. And then the book ends with no further information on who the real life Duffy Madison is, other than he may have gone to school with the dead guy. Whaaaaat?

Final Thoughts
It’s a great concept. I like the story. I may go back to read book 1. But I’m not sure where the series will go at this point… will it be 10 books trying to figure out who the real life Duffy is, or did he really spring out of the book and this becomes a fantasy series. I might be able to go with it…

As I really enjoyed the author’s writing style, I’ll likely give some of his other series a chance. He has “The Haunted Guesthouse Mystery” series with 8 books and “Asperger’s Mystery” series with 4 books. I’d never heard of him or his books before, so I’m really glad I won this ARC.

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.

View all my reviews