Day: May 19, 2017

Top Reads – Age 13 to 24 – Mystery

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Now that I’ve been blogging about books and writing a review for everything I’ve ever read, curiosity brewed over how people choose to read what book at which age, especially when they are younger and getting familiar with different genres. With so many genres out there and so many places to look for books, I thought I’d put together my own list of when I would recommend choosing a certain book.

Of course, everyone has a different maturity level and might be ready to read certain books sooner than others, as well as vice versa. It’s only meant as general guidelines with a fun spirit — and not any sense of indicating someone isn’t capable of reading something sooner. Since mystery fiction is my favorite genre, I am starting here with the best age to start reading a mystery… and it was not easy… there are so many to choose from! I tried to pick classics to show different styles, but also have a few more current ones. Maybe it should be a “3 per age” with a vote in the future…

Rules

  1. Pick a genre. You can get very detailed and go into sub-genres, e.g. cozy, classic, etc. I’m starting general and may work my way down into the details.
  2. Pick an age range, roughly covering 12 years. You can add more or start with less, but I figured twelve ages seemed like a good one to start with.
  3. Pick a book for each age that you’d recommend to get someone situated with the genre.
  4. You can’t repeat an author within that age range.
  5. Explain why that author, book and age.
  6. Either show a book cover or provide a link to the book on Goodreads, or if you’ve read it and have a review, link your review.
  7. Start a discussion with everyone, e.g. is it the right age, is something missing…
  8. Tag others if you’d like, but I open it to everyone.

Age / Book / Author

  • Age 13: The Tower Treasure with the Hardy Boys by Franklin Dixon
    • The introduction should start with something where someone young is doing the investigating, as it will help build the connection between the reader and the investigators in a book. This one offers a good, clean introduction to the world of mystery.
  • Age 14: The Secret of the Old Clock with Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene
    • It’s only fair that if you have a team of boy investigators, you also need to have a girl investigator. I put the Hardy Boys first only because it was a family doing the investigating… now it’s time to branch out on your own and understand things from the opposite perspective.
  • Age 15: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
    • Once you’ve got the basics under your belt, let’s add a mystery that adds the fear without being too overwhelming. And if you’re gonna read in this genre, you need to learn all about the potential for ghosts and the after-life.
  • Age 16: Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
    • Families keep secrets. But that’s not the first thing you should learn. Once you start investigating, you need to understand what happens when you don’t even realize there is a mystery going on until far too late… plus there are a few touchy topics (incest, poison) that probably require a bit older of an audience.
  • Age 17: The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
    •  The master needs to be incorporated, as well as the true intentions of a murder. A true mystery, an introduction to the concept of a morgue and where dead bodies go for an autopsy… the stage is set for horror to grow from here, too. It’ll help you determine if you like a little bit of gothic gore or you want to stay far away from it.
  • Age 18: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
    • The Queen of the mystery is perfect right as you’re graduating from high school. When you’ve got 10 potential killers all locked on a single island with no escape, you need to learn how to deduce the killer before you are killed yourself. You survived high school but now you’ve got a world to conquer without a real sense of who to trust.
  • Age 19: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
    • Many don’t think of Henry James as a mystery writer, but he’s a classic, and often taught in first year English college courses. This one takes the leap into the psychological aspects of a family wondering if there is a ghost or if someone is just playing games. At 19, you need to be careful who you allow yourself to be around, especially when you go out on your own… time to learn some lessons here about “what you see isn’t always what you get.”
  • Age 20: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
    • Ah, the classics. Before 20, you’re often not very interested in anything that’s nearly a century old.  This isn’t always true, but for folks just getting introduced to the genre or even reading, it likely could be accurate. Yes, many of the others on the list are fairly old, but this one is one of the earliest introductions to the <i>classic</i> private investigator of the 1930s, where the format and formulas were established and the movies were in the Golden Age of mystery. It’s great to kick back and read a classic one weekend when you don’t want to focus on your job or studies.
  • Age 21: Who’s Body? by Dorothy Sayers
    • Now that you’ve read the hardcore PI style with Hammett, take a gander at the counterpart with the British version of the classic detective. Plus you have an opportunity to to learn more about the concept of body doubles, perception and the art of throwing off red herring clues. With a focus on British government, structure and the slightly cozy direction, you’ll know if you want to stay this route or go a little more dark. Plus, once you can legally drink, this one may just push you there a little bit sooner.
  • Age 22: A Study in Scarlet with Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Another fine classic, possibly something you should watch even younger, but I’ve saved it for the early 20s when you’re mind is sharper, you’ve had some solid reading under your belt and it’s time to decide if you’re ready for a true series with multiple film adaptions or you’re more of a solid single stand-alone mystery. Having dual sleuths is an important introduction, too, as well as the art of the foil when you “meet” Moriarty.
  • Age 23: Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
    • The truest form of a psychological mystery at nearly 100 years old. You’ve had a few of these ghostly books under your belt by now, but this one will truly ignite a passion for how a mystery book is narrated. Do you want first or third person? Do you know who the narrator is? Is he or she reliable? You’ll determine if you want to continue down the fantasy and sci-fi mystery realm, or look towards the cozy or the thriller suspense.
  • Age 24: Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
    • And when you choose the thriller and suspense route, I can think of none better than something you can relate to… we all have a good and bad side to us, but which will win out? And though Brown’s works are more fun-reads, rather than a true-to-form traditional investigator solving crimes, it’s the introduction you need to the fast-paced, page-turning read you won’t be able to put down. And then you’re ready to head into formal “adulthood” with the next step of books that will rock your mid 20s to your mid 30s.

myster

About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” 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… see how you compare! Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All 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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365 Challenge: Day 68 – Unique

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Unique: being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else

I’m in a very contemplative mood today. It set upon me last night, as I had dinner with my better half and a friend of ours. Although it was a bit too warm for me, we had an al fresco Italian meal on the terrace under the Sunbrella awning. As the sun set and we enjoyed a glass of wine, I received an email, one which distracted me for much of the evening and again this morning. It’s nothing bad, nor anything at all to worry over; however, it made me realize how difficult it can be to reach a success point on your journey towards a goal. And when I awoke this morning, I asked myself: “What makes me unique?”

It’s a difficult question to answer. There are billions of people on our planet. Is it even possible to be unique? By it’s very definition, there is only one (1) unique item in a bunch; most of us interpret the word to mean “stand out above the rest,” rather than believe the word actually means a “single instance or occurrence.” I’m certainly not unique under the “by the book definition,” and I don’t really believe I’m unique per the commonly accepted “everyday definition.”

But in order to sell something… to convince someone… to get a “yes” to whatever the question is, you often need to be unique — that is, both stand out and be the only one with those qualifications. And so, not only is the question difficult, but being unique is also difficult. I suppose you really need to know yourself well to determine what makes you as “unique” as possible. I’d like to think I know myself well, but I’m not convinced I do, at least not today. I know the things I’m good at, but not what makes me top of my game. I sense the things I love doing, but not whether people want to listen to me because of them.

When I choose to read a book, it’s not often about what makes it a unique book. It’s whether the author has previously impressed me. It’s if the book cover or title truly capture my attention. It’s when the jacket description or online summary speak to me. Sometimes it’s when a friend recommends it. Other times, it falls into my lap. But there are millions of books…. they can’t all be unique. So how does one go about meeting that expectation when trying to write a novel, seek an agent or get published?

For those on a job search, you often hear “show why you’re the best candidate for the position,” either on the application, in the interview or as a follow-up review. Do we really know our own strengths? Are we savvy enough on the employer’s needs or the hiring manager’s thoughts to be able to highlight the right matching skills or words? It’s a balance of all these things… and I’m not necessarily looking for input or feedback on this… just noting how many times the question comes up: “How are you a unique fit or individual?” Perhaps it’s a bit too direct, egotistical or Pollyanna of me… but at times, I simply want to say:

I’m not a unique individual, nor do I want to be one. But what I am is a very capable, intelligent, strong, persistent, creative, open-minded and efficient guy. And you’d be lucky to have me as part of your team, whether I’m your next big writer or the one to re-organize your department to finally meet customer expectations. Some of us… are good at many things… and qualifying every piece of it won’t convince you why to select me. But knowing that there is no one more dependable than me, you should take this chance.

I’m not special, and I am OK with that. But it’s what others seem to expect when they are looking for the answer to the question. But then again, people’s natural instincts are also to be a bit doubtful or hesitant, to search for the absolute best, and to seek something that will bring in the money. Part luck, part game, it’s not always about talent. Nor is always about fitting in a prescribed box.

All this said, I’m not turning this into an advice column or a “help me understand” pitch. I’m not unique enough to warrant that kind of attention…  did you laugh over that? Yikes, I guess I’m not funny enough to be a comedian either. 😛  Even as I choose what to write in my reviews, or in the 365 Daily posts, I know I am not offering unique quality with a unique voice in a unique method. It’s been done by others, hundreds of times before and will continue to be thousands more into the future. I’m simply offering my opinion and thoughts, for whatever it may be worth at that time to that reader for a specific reason.

I’m purely reflecting on the things we face every day and how we choose to navigate that path. If I never found the perfect job or published a book, I’d still be a very happy guy. I’m simply being my inner two-year-old, questioning “Why, Why, Why” until I feel it’s time to move on to the next topic. And so I throw it back out to readers today. Pick one or more questions below and tell me what you think… or add your own question with an answer, too:

  1. What makes a book unique for you?
  2. How are you unique in your job or role?
  3. As a friend and general person, what types of unique qualities do you search for in others?
  4. Is unique important to you?

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I 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.

Review: Where the Sidewalk Ends

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Where the Sidewalk EndsBook Review
4+ of 5 stars to Where the Sidewalk Ends, a collection of poetry published in 1974 by Shel Silverstein. What a wonderful book to read with children at any age; that is, both any age for the reader and the children! I first read this book when I was about 10-years-old, and then again in college. From the brilliant characters to the alliteration and rhyme, to the memorable lines and funny situations, it’s one of those books where you will find something new each time you read it.

I cannot imagine being this creative. I can dream up stories about real people and situations and have written several, but to have an imagination where animals and things can talk, have emotions, interact in peculiar ways… to find the words to compare and contrast… to describe and draw precious creations… is true talent. I admire Silverstein’s massive fantasy world of freedom. He was so unconstrained in his ability to develop a world with just enough charm and beauty to win us all over. It’s a book all about perception, but without taking the didactic and pedantic approach.

Children see things differently than adults. Adults have limits. Children have experiences. But what happens on the other side… where something is too far to see, or too close to imagine? Who lives in the crack between cement blocks? The world of freedom does… and that’s where Silverstein wants us to go, where we are all equal, without preconceived notions… to be able to explore as if we are seeing something for the first time… and connecting with everyone around us. That’s how to motivate readers with this book… children learning to see more than what they actually see.

I could go on and on… but I’ll stop. It’s just a wonderful way to learn.

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: A Separate Peace

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A Separate Peace Book Review
3 of 5 stars to A Separate Peace, a novel written in 1959 by John Knowles. I suspect if I were to re-read this “classic” again now, it has a chance of getting a higher rating; however, I’m not in a rush to prove the theory. I have a few good memories of the story, some a bit “blah,” but overall… it was a decent book. When I read The Secret History last year, I had vague recollections of this being somewhat similar, though the topics are quite different.

At the core, this is a coming-of-age story focused on Gene and Finny, two polar opposite boys at a prep school around the time of WW2. An accident occurs which may have been deliberate, thus becoming the focus of the story. As a result of the accident, one of the characters suffers an injury that prevents him from continuing on his path to the Olympics. Friends take sides. Families wonder. But the friends try not to question it. Until other people force them to. And in the end, there is pain, death, forgiveness and unexpected consequences.

The book is a good juxtaposition of lifestyles and choices. It makes you think about what you’d do in such a situation. How far can one person be pushed? And when you do something wrong, do you tell anyone, especially if you can get away with it? Lots to teach young adults, learning to make their own decisions and set a path for their life.

I enjoyed the story, but I would have preferred a more modern setting. I’m not a fan of excessive sports or war, and these were two central themes in the book, which ultimately led me to feel partially disconnected. But the parts inside the character’s head, questioning motives, being psychological in their analysis, were the ones worth reading.

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: King Lear

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King Lear Book Review
3 of 5 stars to King Lear, a tragic play by William Shakespeare, published in 1603. I enjoyed the play and then watched a few film versions. My review will cover both the book and the film I saw — with a bit of sarcasm and humor (just to be different than all the other ones! LOL)

Lear is an absolutely ridiculous character who belongs in the looney bin in my opinion. He has lost all control over his life, his family, and his kingdom. He is foolish, blind, and stubborn. When reading the play, I thought Lear was some old king who couldn’t take care of anything. He was just plain ineffective. After watching a few film versions, I whole heartedly agree. Lear is still a vain, crotchety old man. However, I did see some humor in him that I didn’t notice in the first reading of the play. He was definitely not likable on a first read; however, when I started to watch the video clips, I found myself saying that I could tolerate him. All of a sudden, I classified him as likable human. Even when you just want to kill him, he is still kind of funny and tolerable.

Lear was somewhat like a grandfather in my opinion. Not one of those everyday grandfathers though. He reminded me of the much older, funny grandfather who laughs at everything, but doesn’t realize what he’s doing. In fact, I actually thought of him as a Santa Claus figure. It sounds weird, but the looks automatically qualify him to be Santa Claus. His attitude could be a problem though. He might have been a really nice guy when he was younger and not so stubborn. As for Lear’s daughters… I see Lear’s daughters as all being from 25 to 40 – no more than that, though. Gonerill though did make Lear’s anger appear believable to me. I see how much she had to say and then I realize how he can be so upset with Cordelia’s response. Cordelia seems a little too weak to be his daughter. I picture her as being stronger and able to handle herself against him. It was hard to picture three daughters surrounding their old, aging father Lear. Having each daughter one by one go to their father to say how they loved him was powerful. I watched the characters grow and then leap off the page.

The play is a good one to read, to see the life of parents and children, royalty and order of succession. It’s a great commentary on how we behave and treat our elders, especially both as parents and as humans. And on the flip side, you also see what happens when you make rash decisions, not realizing the impact down the line… and how much you want to fix them, but sometimes you cannot.

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: Black Notice

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Black Notice Book Review
3.5 of 5 stars (rounded up due to the topic in the book) for Black Notice, the 10th book in the “Kay Scarpetta” thriller and suspense series, written in 1999 by Patricia Cornwell. For me, this was a transitional book in the series, not so much from good to bad, but in the terms of who Kay Scarpetta is and what happens with the people in her life. If you are still reading the series, or think you will, don’t read the next few lines… then skip ahead to the next paragraph where it will be spoiler free. *** SPOILER *** Kay has lost Benton… and she needs to re-evaluate her life. Knowing what happens later in the books, and thinking about what we learn in this one and the previous one, I really questioned what Cornwell was doing in the series… and if it was just too many directional changes *** SPOILER END ***

So… the best part about this book is that there is the possibility of a werewolf. No… Cornwell didn’t delve into fantasy, but there is a disease that could make someone look like a werewolf and that’s where we go in this installment. Rather than cover the actual details of the story… think about the amount of effort and work Cornwell had to put into this book in order to write this story. It’s highly focused on extreme medical conditions, takes you across the continent, involves shipping procedures, politics, FBI investigations. This is not a normal everyday writer’s story… Cornwell may have a few downs in some of her books, but you can never question her ability to write a good story and to put the effort into surprising her fans. She excels in this area, and this book is one of those reasons for me. You don’t want to stop turning the pages and will end up reading it in one rather long sitting, just to understand what this werewolf thing is all about!

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: Blood Shot

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Blood Shot Book Review
4 of 5 stars to Blood Shot, the fifth release in a mystery series of 20 books (and still counting), written by Sara Paretsky in 1988. I stumbled upon this thriller and suspense book series during college, upon coming across some of the bright yellow, red and purple covers. After catching my attention, I gave them a chance and then devoured several in a row in the first few years to try to catch up. The main character, VI Warshawski, is a tough female private investigator in Chicago, a fictional character resembling no person I’d ever met before. In this book, VI goes back to the dangerous streets she grew up on to help a childhood friend find the father she never knew; the friend’s mother is dying which leaves a big hole in her life. VI, reluctant to help, gives in and starts an explosive path into history, uncovering crimes among the big business world, including toxic chemicals and the lengths people will go to keep some information secret.

For those new to the series… this is a really great set of “modern day” PI detective books with a strong female lead. For the most part, VI is quite likable; however, it takes a little getting used to. She’s tough, a bit rude and direct, and often fails to realize she’s holding herself back from being open-minded. In the first few, I thought… no one like this exists. Please forgive me, I was a naive 20 year old from the suburbs who thought all people were generally friendly. VI’s a different kind of friendly. If you’re on her good list, she’ll take a bullet for you. Seriously. And she has. But if she’s on your bad list, you might get some acid thrown in your face. OK, maybe not that bad, but you get the drift. The fun part part about these books is they were right in the beginning of technology’s rapid growth on the detection front. Cell phones and computers were just becoming common in the hands of regular people. See was still using coins in a pay phone and an answering service. I can’t imagine waiting for your service to tell you you had a message. Wow! But makes you realize how much harder she had to work to solve her crime — natural talents and ingenuity. Good one to sample from the series.

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