Day: July 29, 2017

TAG: TBR Books

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Many thanks to Noriko @ BookfiendSite for tagging me on the To Be Read (TBR) Books tag. It’s been a lot of fun, but her site is so much more fun than this tag. So click the link and check out all the marvelous book reviews she’s posted!

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Questions:

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

  • I don’t. I’d go crazy if I tried. I add books to it all the time. I limit myself to a few outstanding books on NetGalley at any one time, so I can stay focused on those. I get at least an ARC a week from publishers, so I have to read those. And any new releases from my favorite authors get shifted to the top. Otherwise, it’s whatever I can get free or whichever book my friends push the hardest for me to read!
  • I know I’ll never get to everything on my TBR, so I created my Book Bucket List. It’s a list of the top 12 books I want to read, and I must pick one a month from it. After I read the book, I am allowed to add a new one. I keep track here.

 

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

  • Mostly print books. I will find a few e-books, but it’s rare I search for those. I think most items on my TBR come from Goodreads Giveaways, NetGalley or friends’ recommendations.

 

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

  • I read about 10 books per month these days, given I’m also building my blog and working on my own novels I’ve either written or about to publish. It gets divided usually as follows:
    • 2 NetGalley
    • 2 Publisher ARCs
    • 1 Favorite Author
    • 1 Goodreads Giveaway
    • 1 Book Bucket List
    • 3 Whatever My Friends Push on Me the Most

 

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest.

  • The first book I added to my Goodreads TBR was Memoirs of a Geisha, on January 7, 2012. I still haven’t read it, though I’ve seen parts of the movie. It wasn’t high on my list, which is why it’s probably been there for the longest period.

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A book that you recently added to your TBR.

  • I added Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker just this week. I’ve seen so many good reviews, I had to give it a shot. I might check NetGalley to see if it’s available.

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A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover.

  • The Revenge by Jayne Hannah. I love the title but especially all the angles and shadows in the photo.

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A book on your TBR that you NEVER plan on actually reading.

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Only because I saw the movie, and while it was good, I think the book would lose the suspense factor, which is my favorite part. There are tons of other ones I want to read.

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An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for.

  • A Column of Fire by Ken Follett. It’s the third in the Kingsbridge Series and he’s my favorite author. How could I say no?

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A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read except you.

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas. At least everyone who reads this genre has read it but me.

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A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you.

  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. There are so many and they are so long. I’ll never get thru my TBR if I pick huge books.

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A book on your TBR that you’re just dying to read.

  • Citadel by Kate Mosse. It’s the third in a trilogy, and I loved the first two. I didn’t even know until last year she wrote a third several years ago.

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The number of books on your Goodreads TBR shelf.

  • 1247 — someone please help me

 

Tagged

 

 

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.

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Book Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

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3 out of 5 stars to Hidden Bodies, the second book in a thriller and suspense series by Caroline Kepnes.

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Last month, my buddy Medhat suggested a read of You, the first novel in the series. It was such a fantastic book, probably in my top 2 of 2017 to date, that I had to continue reading the series. I’ve heard rumors there will be a third book, but I’ve yet to see it confirmed. I need to check on that! I am also completely excited as Lifetime is turning the books into a television series. I can’t wait… but until then, let’s get on with the review of this second book. While I enjoyed several parts of it, it doesn’t hold a candle to the first book and I’ll explain why below.

Plot, Characters & Setting
When we left off at the end of [book:You|20821614], our protagonist/villain, Joe, completed his vicious cycle of crossing many lines and breaking tons of laws in NYC all in the name of love, also known to most people as stalking your prey. Yet he escaped without anyone knowing of his crimes and found himself falling in love with a new potential victim, Amy Adam. Joe begins trusting Amy, realizing she’s a much-improved version of his last girlfriend, Beck. Amy begins pushing him for a key to his bookstore, which we all know from reading the first book contains a few secrets Joe would prefer stay buried, like some bodies. He hides everything as much as he possibly can, caving in to his girlfriend in order to hold on to her. When he arrives for work a few days later, the place has been robbed and Amy is missing. Did she do it? Was she kidnapped as payback for his prior crimes? What does she know? You’ll find out… he finds a lead that shows she may be in Los Angeles. Joe quits his job and moves cross-country, where he meets an interesting cast of characters in his typical LA apartment. He negotiates/manipulates his way into working closely with a few Hollywood type agents and producers, finding himself falling in love with a new woman, coincidentally named Love.

Love is perfect for Joe. She adores him. And he soon forgets about Amy. All seems well for a short period of time. But he keeps worrying about the one piece of evidence of his former crimes back in Rhode Island… and it drives him nearly insane, especially when the case is re-opened. He knows he has to find a way to retrieve it without anyone seeing him in the victim’s house. Unfortunately, he’s distracted by Delilah, one of the women in his apartment complex who has the hots for him. And then there’s a cop who has taken a dislike to Joe, tailing him at different parts of the day while Joe is trying to tie up loose ends. But it’s when Love’s ex-boyfriend and her brother monopolize all of Love’s time, Joe goes off the rails. As he begins to unwind, adding more and more crimes to his list in order to cover up the past and protect himself from losing Love, Joe finds himself getting careless. It all comes crashing down in the last few chapters of the book, ending at a place where it’s very clear, a third book is necessary. Readers will not be OK with this ending, as it opens more holes than the one’s Joe’s already had to dig for each of his hidden bodies.

Approach & Style
Whereas in the first book, Joe talks to the readers almost as if they are Beck, it’s quite different in this second book. It’s still told in first person with the perspective only on Joe throughout the whole story; however, there’s no concept of “you” this time around. It works just as well, given the title is no longer “You,” which means alternative progression is an expected path.

I read a large-sized soft-cover book with ~430 pages. There are 56 chapters, so each one is less than 8 pages long on average. It took me 4 days over the course of a week, as I couldn’t read each day; in total, probably about 6 hours. Some sections are a bit slow-paced while others are ultimate page-turners where you probably skip every fifth word just to see more quickly what’s happening.

Strengths
Kepnes can certainly dream up extremely aggravating and realistic characters. Everyone she incorporates feels like someone I’ve met before, and at times, I wish I could be Joe and punish them for the things they say and do. But I’m a good guy and I don’t commit many crimes. I mean any crimes.

When she’s on point with a dramatic scene, the plot and action is amazing. A few scenes were just as good as the initial book, especially when Joe is dealing with Delilah and the cop. It’s almost like we never left the first book.

Love is a really multi-dimensional woman; she has moments of brilliance followed by sheer silliness. I want her to be with Joe, but sometimes, she seems too good for him.

The settings are crystal clear for the most part. I can always tell where we are and whether it’s gonna be a safe zone or all hands to the battle field.

Concerns
It was such a let-down from the first book. Joe became weak. I didn’t buy his drama. He seemed to cause problems for the sake of causing problems. He had the girl. But he let himself get caught up in other areas, ones that made him a true criminal and not a man in love. That’s where he becomes a bad stalker. In the first book, he loved the girl so much, you could see why he did the things he did. This time, I struggled connecting with his motivation. He became every other evil antagonist, rather than the guy you wanted to root for.

The ending gets closer to the original strength, but not all the way. I was pleasantly surprised when the last 100 or so pages took the story in quite a different and unexpected direction, but it wasn’t enough to turn the book around for me. If this were the only book I read, and I didn’t know much about the original plot, it wouldn’t have been a book I’d recommend to friends. And that’s sad because Joe is an amazing villain. I toyed with giving this less than 3 stars but I know that is mostly the disappointment in ruining a good character. It’s redeemable in a third book, so I will have faith things get better.

Final Thoughts
The story is still good. It’s got major problems with his constant quest for sex, which is just an overused plot component in this book. Pull that out. Take out the section where he turns into a whiny mess. And maybe give him a few more close calls, and we’re back in the game.

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.

365 Challenge: Day 139 – Stalkery

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Stalkery: characterized by or displaying an obsessive and inappropriate or unwelcome interest in someone

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I finished reading the book Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes last night before bed. Review will be posted later today or tomorrow. It’s about a serial stalker who will scare the <<insert your choice of expletives>> out of you, but if you’re like me, you’ll fall in love with him and dream about… well, let’s just stop there. As I thought about the 365 Daily Challenge word, for the pure fun of it, I searched the word ‘stalkery’ expecting nothing to return. But it’s a real word in the Oxford English dictionary. Yet, it’s got the wavy red line underneath it in Word and WordPress, telling me to fix my stupid spelling error. But apparently I do not need to fix it when Oxford says it’s legal — the spelling of the word, not the act of stalking… don’t get those two things confused! Then I searched for an image… and it’s really a true statement, people will put pictures up of EVERYTHING they do on the Internet. It seems destined for the 365 Word to be stalkery today, so let’s just go with it, shall we?

Stalkers are bad things. You really don’t want one. If you’re interpreting the excess attention as a wonderful, loving and caring gesture from a person whom you don’t know very well, you might need to spend time talking through those feelings with someone else (other than said stalker), as it’s probably not healthy. I myself in reality do not want a stalker, but in my head, it might be kind of fun to stalk the stalker in return. Unless I’d get a little confused as to who was stalking who, what the purpose of it all was, and how to safely exit the game… not unlike how it happened on the TV show Pretty Little Liars — all too frequently. If you’ve never watched it, multiple stalkers torture a group of girls over a six year period to the point where you almost want to lose your own mind. And at the source of it all is social media!

Which is what’s on my mind this morning… stalking by way of social media, in respect to how much information you actually post about yourself on each of the different websites or apps. I’ve previously mentioned all the platforms I use, so no need to duplicate efforts; however, when you put yourself out there on 1 or 2 of them, you suddenly receive all the links and suggestions indicating “you’re friends with X on site Y, here they are on our site.” And sometimes I think to myself… there’s an alien behind all these computers laughing at us while it collects every bit of information to eventually use against us! Despite coming from a technology background and finding all of these tools quite valuable, it certainly makes me wonder when enough is enough.

People can legitimately stalk you on social media! On one hand, I find it a bit alarming. All that information they know about me… On another hand, so what? If I’m posting a message on one site, who cares if someone finds it on another site and starts following me. Isn’t that the point? If you’re on all the apps, you want to chat with other people. And if you don’t want to talk to anyone but instead simply just read what’s happening to others, then create a fake name and don’t have any connection to your real identity. Become the stalker instead of the stalked. {Aside: I am not advocating stalking other people. This is not healthy and please do not tell the police it was my recommendation. Thank you.}

ceelry

Too funny not to post – blood in celery? I don’t get it…

Then you’ve got the people who find you on one site and purposely search for you on every other site. Sometimes they connect all at once. Sometimes they patiently wait it out over a few weeks, hoping you don’t realize it. Other times, they send invites asking you to join the site they’re already on. Stalkery. Seems like a good word to describe it. Rather than hunt ’em down the old-fashioned way (follow down a dark path), hide behind the Internet walls. It’s still a form of remaining hidden, and it can be quite useful, especially to people trying to sell things… that’s the stalkery type that bother me most often. Someone sees you looked at their site and suddenly they message or follow you. Yikes! What do they want? Run. But I don’t. I tend to accept those types of requests if it’s someone who seems to have a good product or service. Everyone needs to try to market their stuff, so I get it. I can choose to follow them or decline them. It’s just part of the process.

No, don’t drown me in that Bloody Mary! Oh, that’s where the blood is…

What I mostly worry about is how revealing to be in my 365 Daily Challenge posts. Once you start listing places you’ve lived, hobbies, or family member names, stalkers do have a goldmine of information to recreate your identity. I check my credit report and other sites every month or two; I am cautious in looking out for those types of things. I think I’ve got that covered. And I really don’t expect someone to become obsessed me with based on seeing the words I write in my posts… I’m good, sure… {Aside: Where’s that post on humility versus being a jackass right now… it’s like I’m patting my own back here… honestly, the nerve I have…} but not that good. And if you’re my hidden stalker reading this right now, ‘Please be kind. I’ve done nothing to hurt you. We can go for dinner and talk about it. On your dime.’

So when it comes to being stalkery, I’d suggest knowing that line before your cross it. Yes, send a friendly message. No, don’t try to search for someone new on every site the second you meet them — unless they advertise on their website how and where to find them. Then it’s OK. If you’re trying to find me, have at it any which way you please! I chose to put the content online. I won’t put anything I’d fear you finding out. And I love the connections, hence being happy to chat across all platforms. But I understand not everyone is like that. Even though parts of the book last night certainly freaked me out a bit, in a way, I admired the main character for having the guts to be himself and just go for it. {Aside: If the cops are reading this in the future, this is not an acknowledgement on my part that I condone stalking or am in the process of currently stalking anyone.}

That celery is stalking the poor Golden puppy… help him please!

For a minor bit of humor, the word stalkery reminds me of the word celery. And the picture I included above hints at celery. It kinda sounds the same. So maybe since the word doesn’t really exist outside Oxford, we’ll start saying celery instead of stalkery. And this my online friends… is why I write the 365 posts after I’ve had coffee and not before I’ve had coffee. You end up with some really bad humor and silly memes otherwise.

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RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Dee @ Rad Reads and Reviews. To be clear, the 365 Word has absolutely nothing to do with the Blogger of the day — I’ve pre-planned the bloggers for the next few weeks. It’s just the luck of the draw when I pick the 365 Word.
    • Dee and I connected on Goodreads at least six months ago, frequently checking out each others reviews, sharing recommendations and talking about new releases. We realized at some point that both of us had WordPress blogs and began following each other on here, too. Now we’re constantly trying to remember if we read the other person’s review on Goodreads or on WordPress, as you never know which ones pops up first in your notifications or activity log. But that’s OK because she reads fantastic books in tons of genres. I’m constantly finding new releases that I missed during my own searches, choosing new and old books from her read and to-be-read list. We also have a lot of the same online friends in our inner circle on Goodreads, as far as who we’re always chatting with, constantly surprised (or maybe not) when we meet other people who already know the other person. If you ever need a book recommendation, or just want to chat about the silly end of a book you both loved and hated at the same time, Dee’s the one to chat with! If you don’t believe me, check out the below blurb from her About Me section and then go visit the site yourself:
    • “I am an avid reader in my early 40’s.   I joined Goodreads a few years ago to keep track of books I had read, and books I wanted to read. It wasn’t long before I started writing reviews for the books I had read. Next I joined NetGalley and found even more books to read and review!  I love to give my thoughts and opinions on what I have read and eventually decided to create this blog in order to keep all of my reviews in one place.”

 

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.