Review: The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern

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The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern
The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lilian Jackson Braun

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Background

The summer after I graduated from college, I started missing regular reading… during school, I had less personal choice and recreational reads, as all the college textbooks and novels were the priority. I was an English major and rarely had time for adding in my own particular interests. The last course I had taken was an independent study that one of my professors and I had built the curriculum on together: Murder Mysteries. I learned all about the genres and sub-genres, authors and styles. One in particular I grew fond of was the cozy mystery. I also had a thing about wanting a Siamese cat. And so… my love affair with Lilian Jackson Braun began. Finding myself without required reading, I selected a few books, including this cozy mystery series, and I read through a huge amount in the first few years.

Review
People either love or dislike the cozy mystery book. Sometimes it’s too simple. I get that. But sometimes, it’s exactly what you want to read before bed, when you need to relax, or because it’s just fun and charming humor and easy story.

Braun started writing in 1960s and published a few of these books, then stopped writing for 25 years before re-igniting the series in the 1980s… producing another 25+ in the collection. This is book number two, and it is where Qwill, the main character, adopts his second Siamese cat when its owner… for reasons I cannot disclose… can no longer care for YumYum. And thus begins the life of these 3 primary characters in the entire series.

Qwill is a really likable character. He’s about 60, a bit ornery, highly intelligent, very set in his ways, and the object of every woman over 60 in town. There are less male protagonists in cozy novels than female leads, which make this a bit of a unique series. It was one of the very first series that put the cozy sub-genre on the market. And the world that Braun creates in Moose County is just amazing.

In this book, Qwill hasn’t yet moved to Moose County, so you’re still learning background about him and his prior life before becoming sober and everything changing post divorce. And he’s asked to write a story and column about home design, something he has very little knowledge of.

It’s a very cute story with a cast of strong characters, a few of which move with him to Moose County along the path. This book establishes his relationship with the two cats, including their extra-strong senses when it comes to helping him solve crimes.

Yes, the cats come up a lot. Always funny. But the mystery is the focus, I promise. It’s worth a shot to see if you’re hooked on the series, but if you do… you have to read the first 3 or 4, so you can see his initial move to Moose Country where 90% of the books take place.

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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Blog: WordPress Site Feedback (Easy Tools!) – What can you do?

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Now that I’ve been blogging for about 9 months, I’ve realized it’s time to get creative. Although content and graphics are important, so is reader feedback.

I stumbled upon the free tools WordPress offers to help readers provide feedback to bloggers on how they’re doing. And they are very simple and useful.

I’ve incorporated all 3 tools:

(1) Comments & Likes

  • Allow your readers to “Like” each of your posts
  • Provide the ability for them to reply with comments
  • Shows your WP user name / blog

(2) Ratings

  • Create a rating system for readers to provide a numerical reference (e.g. scale of 1 to 5) on how great or poor the post was
  • Private / Blind – no one knows it was you who provided the rating

(3) Polls

  • Add polls to allow readers to provide specific feedback on things like book reviews, film reviews or general blog posts
  • Private / Blind – no one knows it was you who provided the rating

I’ve incorporated all three of these items into every post, allowing the reader to choose what they feel comfortable providing or not providing. I check the results each week to see what everyone is saying. Two key take-a-ways:

(A) You can provide feedback to me on what you like or don’t like, and in turn, I can improve my blog and site. Have fun participating!

(B) You can use these tools on your own site. If you need help building them into your posts, private message me or comment on this post. I’m glad to help anyone out.

Thanks for listening and providing feedback. It’s very helpful and I love connecting with everyone.

About Me

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Each week, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking.

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.

Review: All That Remains

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All That Remains
All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The “Kay Scarpetta” mystery series by Patricia Cornwell was one of the first adult mystery book series I began reading. I also started these very young, around 13 or 14, which may not be the best thing for young adults if they don’t have a strong sense of right/wrong and a stomach to handle really gory stuff. All That Remains is the third book in the series about a forensic medical examiner in Virginia who helps solve brutal crimes.

What I love about the early books is the relationship between the detective, Pete Marino, and Scarpetta, the medical examiner. It’s love/hate, and as the series grows, their relationship gets very volatile and intense. In the early books, like this one, you just want to hate Pete but you know he’s got a heart in there. He represents a typical cop of the 1970s / 80s, who is starting to change his philosophy on women being involved in his jurisdiction. And he’s of course in love with her but can’t do anything about it.

In this book, young couples are brutally murdered. And the psychopath behind it all is playing games with Scarpetta. All her serial killers end up wanting to get to Scarpetta, to impress her, because of how methodical and intelligent she is.

Cornwell’s writing is intense. And she describes everything about the blood and guts during the autopsies, finding the victims and conveying what the murderer is likely doing to his/her victims.

As the title suggests, this is all about “what remains” of the body to be able to figure out who is the culprit. Every page leads you to revelations, and you want to close your eyes and pretend you’re not reading about the gore, but you can’t help needing to keep reading it.

Scarpetta is so complex. Sometimes you love her. Sometimes you really want to lock her in a closet until she learns how to play a little nicer. But she will always evoke some huge reaction from the reader.

If you can handle the creepy-factor and the explicit language (vicious, usually not too sexual), you have to read a couple of these books to see how hard the author works to make each one unique and a very complex mystery.

She was one of my faves, and I stopped around 17 or 18 in the series to give myself a break. I’m close to going back to finish it up. And she’s still writing more!

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: Alice in Wonderland

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Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland written by Lewis Carroll and adapted by Jane Carruth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lewis Carroll‘s Alice in Wonderland is one we are all familiar with at some point in our lives. Many of us have read an abridged version, heard the basics of the tale from friends or family, or even watched cartoon versions. And when Johnny Depp’s version was filmed, everyone flocked to re-read the book. I actually read the story when I was about 13 or 14, as I had gotten a set of various classics for my Confirmation from a close family member.

Alice is a remarkable character. She can be a completely charming and funny girl, and she can be an example of life lessons. It’s the kind of book where you have a lot of interpretations, especially given what your particular reading style is. You may feel close to the Mad Hatter, the Queen or Alice herself. Perhaps it’s the caterpillar or Cheshire cat or the rabbit. Each character represents many things in our life, and each temptation is something Alice, or any young child, must consider. But it’s also just a beautifully drawn and illustrated tale of friendship and going on a journey in unexpected places.

It’s a must for for kids and again as adults. There’s a strong chance you will get something different between reads. I also suggest a first time reader NOT read it alone. It’s not anything bad, but it’s the kind of book worth talking about… that you want to share your thoughts on… it will build your analytical skills… and it’s a perfect way for parents and kids to connect about the right way to do things and the consequences of one’s actions. I’d say around 10 or 11 is the best age… but all depends on the maturity level of everyone involved.

Think about the imagination and creativity that went into designing the world that Alice finds in the hole… I wonder what gave all these ideas to Carroll. Lots of speculation, but in the end, I choose to forget what led to the creation and rather to simply enjoy the fantasy world created for me.

And who doesn’t love talking animals?

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

Review: Beowulf

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Beowulf
Beowulf by Unknown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beowulf is thought to have been written around the year 1000 AD, give or take a century. And the author is the extremely famous, very popular and world renowned writer… Unknown. Got you there, didn’t I? LOL Probably not… if you’re on Goodreads and studied American or English literature, you probably already knew this is one of the most famous works without an author.

It was first really published in the 1800s, using the Old English version where many have translated it, but there are still some blurry parts of the story. Essentially, a monster named Grendel hunts and kills the people of a town and many warriors have died fighting against it. Beowulf tackles the monster and its mother, and well… you’re gonna have to read it to find out. Or if you can’t get yourself there, watch the Star Trek or Simpsons episode which does a nice little rendition.

Here’s the reasons why you should take a look at the story:

1. Many famous writers and editors have attempted to translate the story into more modern English. Tolkien is a famous example. Each reader has his/her own interpretation. So pick one whose style you like and go to that version.

2. It’s a translated book… other than the famous Greek literature we read in high school, it’s one of the earliest translated forms of literature. Makes it worth taking a gander.

3. It’s a really great story. Monster terrorizes people. Someone strong steps up to fight it. There is a victory of sorts. Momma wants revenge. So… how many books have you read that have just copied… I mean borrowed… that entire plot?

4. There is a lot of beauty in the prose and the verse, and when you hear the words describe the creatures, it’s a bit like fantasy.

Here’s why you may not like it:

1. It’s long.

2. It’s hard to understand at some points.

3. It’s 1000 years old and you just like modern stories.

My advice… pick a passage or two, read for 30 minutes and decide if it’s something you want to read more of. But you should always give a chance to some part of our early heritage and culture. Right?

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 42 – A to Z Favorites

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

ATOZ

Yes, you are correct — this is not exactly a characteristic; however, in my defense, for the last 5 Sundays, I’ve provided an ethnicity as the trait for the end of each week, covering my genealogy as well as the Top 10 stereotypes for that country or origin. And so… I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) of sorts that provides more in depth knowledge about me. Only this time, I’m turning it into a fun game and perhaps a challenge down the road. For at least the next 5 Sundays, matching the first five weeks, I will have an A to Z List. As a warning, next Sunday’s will be “Least Favorites,” so be prepared.

Rules

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

My A to Z Favorite Things

A – Avocado

B – Books

C – Cooking

D – Dogs

E – Estates (love to visit them on tours)

F – Friends

G – Genealogy

H – Hyacinths (favorite smell in the world)

I – INC. (clothing brand I think produces cool items)

J – Jubilee (French restaurant on my corner I eat at a lot)

K – Kitchens (to cook or to think about re-modeling)

L – Lily (the flower is so pretty, especially the Calla)

M – Money

N – Netflix

O – October (favorite month, Halloween and cool weather)

P – Prosciutto (charcuterie and cheese platters, yum)

Q – Quiche (another hard one to come up with options… but I enjoy making quiche)

R – Reading

S – Sushi

T – TV

U – Undo (my favorite key on the keyboard as I’m always re-thinking what I just wrote)

V – Vino (wine and Spain… combined it together)

W – Writing

X – X-Rays (I know very little words… but I think it’s fun to look at our bones)

Y – Younger (a TV show I really like to watch and think could have been me!)

Z – Zoos

People You Are Tagging

  1. lghiggins
  2. Bentley ★ BookBastion.net
  3. Books, Vertigo and Tea
  4. Rae Longest
  5. readrantrockandroll

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: The Mysterious Affair at Styles

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The Mysterious Affair at Styles
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I love mystery fiction, and in particular, the classics. Agatha Christie died in 1976, and I was born the following year. Two things come to mind… (1) It’s a good thing I wasn’t alive when she died because I would have been so miserable to be around. (2) Since I was born just about a year later, I’m wondering if maybe a small part of her lives on… as I love her genius and her works of literature… and I can re-read her books over and over again without ever getting bored.

There are tons of reviews of all her major works, and I don’t need to be repetitive in my review. What I’d really try to get across is why you need to read ANY of her works, and then why I’d suggest this one:

1. This was one of her first books, and I believe the first published one, in 1920, which means she was probably writing it exactly 100 years ago. And though some of the language is a little different, and it takes place with a different cultural atmosphere, the crux of the story — its plot, is appropriate at any point in time. People don’t love Christie for her beautiful language or her great ideas… yeah, she had some of those… but it’s her plots and characters that stand out. And those transcend time.

2. Who else can create such a puzzle that you are constantly trying to guess what’s going on? True, tons of writers today, but not 100 years ago. And even with modern writers, it’s often in a suspense and thriller type of novel, where it’s all about the chase. Christie was all about the calm approach to solving a murder. She didn’t try to end each chapter with a big WOW and heart-wrenching scare tactic. It’s simple evolution of a timeline, collections of clues, conversations with people… and then you start to see the puzzle come together. But at the last minute, you get the unexpected twist.

3. With this first book, you meet Hercule Poirot, one of her two popular detectives. Poirot is annoying. He’s painful. He will make you angry while you are laughing. And that’s the cool part. Columbo is the best comparison I can come up with. And I’m certain Columbo was based on large part by Christie’s Poirot.

So why this book???????

It’s the first in the series. It’s a prime example of why her stories work. It’s the ultimate tale – a family with secrets. It takes place in the UK… the best place to visit and perhaps live. I don’t live there, only visited it. :}

But it’s really the slow build-up of the clues that will have your mind working overtime. So… if you need a Christie stand-alone book, go to “And Then There Were None.” If you like female investigators, choose a Miss Marple. If you like a Belgian male detective, flip a coin and pick between Murder on the Orient Express or The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Both will be a great read. But if you need to start at the beginning, go with this one to see what an author’s first book looks like. Because if I didn’t have my Christie… I’d be like…

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