Day: April 24, 2017

Review: The White Bone

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The White Bone
The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

1 out of 5 stars to Barbara Gowdy‘s novel, The White Bone, a story about a family of elephants wandering around the safari. Yes, that’s right, I’ve given out a 1 star rating… of ~500 books I’ve read, only (5) five have gotten this poor of a rating, and this unfortunately, is one of them. I usually try to find something redeemable, but this one will be tough. And I mean no harm to the author, as her writing style was fine… it just was such a poor read.

I suspect this was a brilliant idea gone far off track. To start, it’s about a group of elephants wandering around the safari in Africa, focusing on young Mud. Everything from vicious attacks by lions to childbirth to starvation to fear, find their way into this book. And on the outskirts, it sounds like a wonderful story full of heartache, emotion and that quintessential journey.

But somehow, other than a few spots where you get a bit sad, it feels half completed. When you’re supposed to feel bad for finding a dead family member, remember that the book is seeing this thru the eyes of an elephant. The reaction feels like “oh, dead. let’s move on.” Do elephants not have feelings? I guess not. Now I feel silly for not knowing that.

I couldn’t decide whether this was a half satire, half sad look at the unfortunate problems animals face. But just when it started going down either of those paths, it was a complete reversal and I thought I was starting a new book. Same characters. But as though I suddenly functioned with a lot less brain power. And I don’t have that much to give, Barbara… and now I want it back.

I rarely skim pages in a book. If I find myself skimming more than 3 or 4 pages, I put it down and pick it up a few days later, hoping it was just my mind at the time. No… that wasn’t the problem.

I had a month to read this book, and I seriously couldn’t focus. I read the whole thing, but there were times where I re-read the same page ten times to see if I could get anything out of it worth discussing. And I did. I learned that you can mess words up on a page and create something equal to scrambled eggs when all you wanted was a beautiful, sweet and delicious custard. Oh, how I love desserts. I’d rather talk about them than this book anymore. Ugh.

And to be honest, I’m still confused as to what the white bone is or was… and what the heck it had to do with the whole story. Metaphor? No. Theme? Nah. A weapon to stab my eyes so I’m finished with the read.

I’ll take… maybe 20%… of the fault and blame for not fully engaging, as it just felt like a bad book and I couldn’t get interested. It was someone else’s pick.

And let me tell you what this book club meeting was like… first of all… we took turns having it either at quiet restaurant, or someone’s house. People often liked coming to my place because I cooked and had lots of food options — and wine… and then we all stayed and hung out afterwards so no one had to drink and drive. For this book club, it was at my house… and I couldn’t even talk about the book. Every time I started, someone shoved food in my mouth or poured me more wine. They didn’t want to listen to me go off on it… BUT!!! No one else liked it either, so it was just that I was so vocal, it was ridiculous.

But the other 80%… don’t ask me what happened. I think it was a misprint. Something accidentally got thru and the publisher said “let’s see if anyone notices… they may just be so interested in the elephants that they will still love it.”

I could have been riding the stampede thru the safari on this one and still have fallen asleep. OK, I’ve put you through enough pain.

Don’t read it. Please do not. And if you do, smack yourself for me. Twice, at least.

Ms. Gowdy: Please don’t take offense to my review. I’m sure your other books are good, as you have published quite a bit. I’d like to buy you dinner and understand how this entire thing came to fruition. And then find out your secret to getting this into people’s hands.

Off to find a lion… the only saving grace… elephants have a really good memory, so hopefully they are suffering as much as I did having to be part of this. Only fair.

P.S. I love elephants.

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.

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Review: Cutting for Stone

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Cutting for Stone
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

My rating is 3.5 of 5 stars to Abraham Verghese‘s novel, Cutting for Stone, which was a book club selection about 7 years ago. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like the book, as I expected it to be quite sad. And back then, I wasn’t interested in reading sad or emotional books; however, this one was quite good and I waffled between a 3 and a 4. I settled on a 3 only because I felt it was a little too formal / stiff for the type of book it felt like it should have been — still above average to me, as far as books go.

The basics: Twin brothers born in Ethiopia, Africa. The mother dies during childbirth and the father will need to raise them, but fate intervenes and they are separated. The book chronicles the separate life of the two boys and the connections between them. It’s about the differences between America and Africa, love and fear, focus and desire. There are many surprises in the book, all leading you to root for certain things to happen in each of the relationships throughout the story.

I had never heard of the author before, and this is the only read I’ve tackled by him, so far. But he’s got several other books and short stories. For me, it was a little too focused on the medical side of their personalities / careers / activities. Not in a bad way, just enough that it didn’t burst at its seams as a superstar book. I also felt like it was a little light in the action at some points, but it certainly makes up for it in some major ways in the last third.

If you are interested in other cultures, different ways of doing things and what happens to twins when they aren’t always near one another… it’s a great read. I’d suggest reading a lot of reviews to decide if it’s for you… as it’s different than most books of its genres or sub-genre.

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: Crunch Time

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Crunch Time
Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Diane Mott Davidson‘s “Goldy Bear Culinary” mystery series is one of my early favorites, and I’m sad that the author isn’t writing anymore. There were about 20 books in total, but this review is for #16, Crunch Time. This was the second or third cozy mystery series I took on, and only the second where I’ve been able to finish reading all books. (LJB’s “Cat Who” series is the other one).

In this book, the crime action comes right to Goldy’s home, which makes for even more fun. Friends are staying with Goldy after their house burns down, and Goldy knows they are keeping secrets. She pushes her way in and tries to figure out how to help them, keep her business running and ensure her own home and family aren’t impacted. But of course, Goldy falls prey to the culprit at one point, too.

I enjoy this series because she is such a real character. And the supporting cast feel like people you’d love to be around. Humor, sarcasm, love… Goldy’s husband and son are very real people.

As far as books in the series, this one falls somewhere in the middle. Not the best, not the worst. The recipes seem fairly easy to follow, if you like that sort of thing.

Some folks thought this was a bit long. I can see why, but it’s still a fast read.

It’s a fun series to read, but you probably only need to read a few throughout to get the gist… unless you can commit to all ~20. Then by all means…

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.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“OMG — Not another book review on Harry Potter.” *or* “OMG — I LOVE HARRY POTTER”

I bet you just said something along those lines… Me too. But I have to do this for two reasons: (1) It’s Harry Potter and (2) I committed to writing a real review for every book I’ve read and I’m only on 202 of 454. Slap me please. But when I’m done, not quite yet.

However, to save us both… I won’t do a review on this whole book. You can read every other review for that! I’ll just say the top 5 reasons why I loved this particular book:

1. Harry Potter went dark! Not the book… the character… this was the first time for me where I really stood back and said “He’s growing up. He’s realizing not everything around him should be believed without a hint of doubt.” When he protected Sirius in the Shrieking Shack, it all changed for me.

2. Dementors are awesome. I love the concept of stealing someone’s soul through sucking their physical body off its bones.

3. Transfiguration is a focus point, and I love seeing people turn into animals. It’s like our core is bursting to show itself.

4. Remus was my favorite Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. He was someone I’d want to hang out with… you know, and be a werewolf and all.

5. History is revealed in many family connections and secrets. And since that’s my favorite thing… this book was the most eye-opening for me.

See, that wasn’t so bad to re-read a little bit of Harry Potter. I promise the next one won’t be so hard. Only 4 left to write a review for.

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: I, Lucifer

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I, LuciferMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan, a fiction novel with some elements of fantasy buried about. Sometimes I don’t know how books fall into my lap, sometimes I do. With this one, it flew in the wind, also known as a former book club, and slapped me in the face. I still feel the sting every so often. While I didn’t dislike it, the book felt a bit like a satire of a satire — and frankly, I’m just not that clever enough to always get it.

I really enjoy books where Satan makes an appearance. I know how that makes me sound, but it’s true. Lucifer brings in the drama, especially when he’s reincarnated as a normal man named Declan Gunn, who has just died — but I guess he really didn’t since Lucifer took over his body on a little wild venture into human reality.

The premise of the book is brilliant: Lucifer wants to know what it’s like for real people, as well as to cause a little fun and crazy on Earth, so he inhabits a body just before death. Sometimes he knows his “victims,” but not always. When he enters Declan, he assumes he’s got a quiet little ride where he can do some exploring. Nothing ever goes as planned.

Up til this point, if you’re not offended by or able to read books where the Devil is the protagonist (I get it, not everyone’s cup of tea… totally understand!), then you probably think this is gonna be a great ride. And parts of it were. But sometimes the satire was over my head and over the top.

I think because I read this in the very beginnings of my “foray into fantasy,” I wasn’t as open-minded as I might be now in reading something a bit abstract.

That said, it’s not a common theme or option, so I’d suggest it is worth taking a chance. But put your seat belt on because the hilarity and venom is all over the place. Randomness is the style and if you prefer a bit more order, add a harness and “oh-shit” handles onto the car, so you have something else to keep you from flying out the windshield of what you thought you knew about this jalopy.

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 43 – Mentor

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Mentor: an experienced and trusted adviser, to advise or train someone

A few interesting thoughts occurred to me as I sat to draft today’s 365 Daily Challenge. One, I awoke thinking about something entirely different from the daily characteristic. Two, how many traits are there to describe oneself without being redundant, repetitive or superfluous. Ha, aren’t I funny?

Three, it doesn’t have to always be a characteristic, i.e. it could be a noun that offers certain images or feelings which I’m ultimately trying to represent. And so today, I will veer a little bit and offer up a word that means a lot to me. And perhaps it will be a useful mechanism in the future for these daily posts. I have at least a dozen other traits in mind, but some I’m saving for a certain day or time period.

Back to the word “mentor.” I wrote a post about being a mentor on my professional website (https://jamescudney4.com/the-6-key-elements/mentor/), where I keep pertinent information for anyone who may stumble upon me and consider me for a consulting position. It very much applies to today’s post. That said, in this post, I will try not to duplicate what I’ve already noted, but instead indicate why being a mentor is something I already am on some levels, as well as something I would like to expand and showcase in the future.

What I admire about a mentor is his/her genuine interest in sharing the knowledge gained to those in an inner circle. To me, there is a difference between a mentor and a coach, friend, adviser, boss, et al. A mentor, usually long-term, is (1) someone who has amassed an expansive amount of knowledge and experience in certain areas that demonstrate (s)he is qualified to be a mentor and (2) someone who develops intimate relationships and bonds with the individuals being mentored above and beyond a brief exchange of advice.

A mentor is someone you can talk to who has a well-rounded amount of knowledge about you, too. I wouldn’t classify it a mentor relationship when you’re reading someone’s books or attending their seminar to improve your own skills. It’s not having a conversation with your boss about the next step in your career. It’s not feedback from a more established writer to help you get your focus back on a specific chapter or task when they don’t know anything about your work. It’s about continuous conversation, outside of normal “work-related” activities, where you engage in introspective and enlightening discussions about the topic you are being mentored in and decide on a path together, that seems logical, and focused on your future.

An adviser can tell you about things you need to consider for next steps, but that seems more temporary to me. What I like about the mentor relationship is that it seems more permanent. Sometimes life-long, sometimes only a few years; it all depends on circumstances, need and location. The key is a solid foundation, commitment and depth of connection between the two people involved. Both need to want it to work and not in a fleeting manner. It’s picking up a phone and talking about where you are today and where you want to be in 3 months, 3 years or 3 decades. And then reflecting in that future period how it turned out.

I’ve been privileged to have two true mentors in my lifetime thus far. Both came through my professional career in technology. I still consider myself friends with both, even though our lives are more separate now. I often pick up the phone and chat when I want to discuss something important about me, my choices, my decisions, my options, et al. It’s not like calling a friend and asking for advice, although we also do have that kind of a relationship. But when the format is as a mentor, it’s very clear and distinct from casual friendly conversation about “how was the trip,” “what’s new with the family,” “did you see that play?”

I hope to be a mentor one day. I’ve had the beginnings of this develop with a few people, but not enough that I would call myself a true mentor – yet! I’m on that road tho, as it is part of a cycle where I’ve been blessed with the relationship and want to give back in the same way. It also makes me feel better than most anything else in normal, every day life. To know that I can share common thoughts, goals and dreams with someone else, watch the growth and changes, and see the end results is a very rewarding experience.

NO – NOT LIKE THIS EXAMPLE!!!

I read a post last week about being a mentor, and it reminded me I haven’t been focusing on this as much as I should be. Thank you to that blogger (you know who you are if you are reading this!) for the reminder. You’ve put a spindle back up on the stairway guiding me on this journey. And what I should be focusing on is finding a mentor to help me with deciding my next steps as well as ensuring those around me know I’m open to helping someone else in the same way. Now to figure out what it is I’d be good at…

And while I’m working on both of those options… how about you? Any good examples of a mentor relationship you’d like to share?  How does it make you feel when you’ve been successful? Or even when you haven’t been?

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.