contemporary

Book Review: Outside In by Doug Cooper

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Why This Book 
In early 2017, I had drinks with a former colleague when we discussed my goal to publish a novel that year. She had grown up with someone who published a book and offered to introduce us. I said ‘sure’ and never actually contacted the guy. Months later, I signed a contract to publish my book, then realized I never followed through, so I sent a message, we chatted a bit, and I thought… I should read Doug Cooper‘s book: Outside In. I got hold of a copy, it sat on the shelves for a bit, but I decided I wasn’t allowed to buy/download another book in 2018 until I finished everything I already owned… hence how this one got picked for January!

outside.jpg
Plot, Characters & Setting 
Brad Shepherd is a middle school teacher whose student overdoses in class. As part of the Administration’s way to handle the student’s death, Brad’s out of a job. He heads to Put-in-Bay, Ohio to meet a friend and have a summer off, where he can party for a little bit and find his new life path. When he arrives, a life he never knew, or perhaps had forgotten, begins to surround him: he’s quick to fool around with a bunch of women, drink himself silly and experiment with a range of drugs. Over the course of the summer, he makes several mistakes and finds himself going off into a darker oblivion. His family re-surfaces, and a friend has an accident, which helps re-structure his course, but life is definitely going to be different in his future.

Key Thoughts 
For starters, I’ll say the book is a very realistic portrayal of what could happen in this environment. It’s not something I’m familiar with, but based on tons of movies, other books and conversations that touch on these subjects, I’d comfortable stating it is accurately written. That said, it is not an environment I would ever want to be in, nor did I like ANY of the characters in the book. They were a mess, indulgent, immature and frustrating. BUT — that’s the point and they belonged being that way for the story. Cooper brought out my inner ‘angry man’ attitude over people who behave like this, so major kudos to him for a brilliant portrayal of his character set.

The writing has quality and brings to life both the background and the tone you need to be successful in a book like this one. While there are some plot points, e.g. the death of the student, the move to the island for the summer and the results of some of the drug overdoses, it’s essentially a story about a group of experiences people have while drinking and taking various drugs. It’s of course larger than just that simple observation, but you have to be comfortable reading about this side of life to enjoy the book. It’s not going to be ideal for everyone, but it definitely has a large audience to work with. Once you get beyond drugs/drinking, you start questioning how we make choices, our fears, what makes us fall for another person, how does someone guilt you into doing things…

The dialogue and narration provide all the details readers need to know what’s going on in the main character’s head; you will hear his voice, see his actions, know the reasons (most of the time) and follow along on his journey. Sometimes you’ll think he’s stupid and full of fault, others you’ll know he’s suffering from a tragedy and just floating around without any anchor. For those reasons, it is pretty obvious that this has happened and continues to happen to people going through this stage of life. The sum of the parts equal the whole for me with this book. It’s a solid read, full of a wide range of situations and thought-provoking ideas. I think if I had gone through something like Brad did, I’d probably like the book even more. I ended up around 3.75 stars.

Summary 
I’m curious to read his other novel, The Investment Club, about a group of people in Las Vegas going through some life experiences at the Blackjack table. It seems this is the realm the author writes in… that space where the group of people interact in ways we can all relate to, but not nearly as far into the depths… and I’m confident when he hits on topics that are more pertinent to me, I’ll be really invested in the novel and have an entirely deeper connection to the author and his work. For now, I’m glad I read this one and look forward to reading more.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read 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 find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also 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. 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.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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365 Challenge: Day 259 – Young Adult (LIST: Fiction Genres)

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Young Adult: literature generally meant for teenagers through early twenties, though some feel it ends at nineteen

young adult

Sundays are LIST days and today is no different. For this group of 5 Sundays, I chose a favorite book genre and discussed all the reasons why I love it. In our fifth and final week, it’s all about young adult fiction. Let’s first chat about why I adore this genre:

  • There’s usually a moral, which often can be extrapolated to cover general life lessons.
  • I enjoy it more if there’s a small element of science-fiction or fantasy, nothing too big, but enough to make it different from a normal read.
  • The characters are usually going through something we’ve all been through before, though not always; however, when it is something, we can compare how we handled the situation.
  • There’s often an innocence or thirst for knowledge which is admirable and easy to connect with.
  • I miss my youth? Ha!
  • The story tends to be a bit more simple, but has great depth in the characters.

While young adult isn’t my top two or three favorites, it is a bit of a favorite. I like to read one every 5 or 6 books to keep myself immersed in a wide range of plot and setting. I have found a few authors I like, and at times, these are often turned into TV shows or movies I’ve found appealing.

What are some of my favorite reads from the last few years?

What’s next on my list in this genre to read in 2017/2018?

How about you? Any favorites or recommendations? Do you not like this genre? Time to share!

————————————————————-

Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, often organized by groups of five (5) focused on interesting things about my life. I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me. Past weeks included:

  • Weeks 1 – 5: Primary ethnicity groups and nationalities
  • Weeks 6 – 10: A to Z Favorites
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Colors with an important meaning
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Cities I’ve lived
  • Weeks 21 – 25: Jobs I’ve held
  • Weeks 26 – 30: Top 10 entertainment options
  • Week 31: How to follow or contact me across all social media platforms
  • Week 32: How to help an artist with promotion
  • Week 33 – 37: Favorite Book Genres

 

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.

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

365 Challenge: Day 252 – Contemporary (LIST: Fiction Genres )

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Contemporary: creates imaginary characters and situations that depict our world
and society, focusing on themes of growing up and confronting personal and social problems. This genre
portrays characters coming to understand themselves and others.

fic.jpg

Sundays are LIST days and today is no different. For this group of 5 Sundays, I will pick a favorite book genre and discuss all the reasons why I love it. In our fourth week, it’s all about contemporary fiction which has a few different names and can often be confused with other similar genres. Let’s first chat about why I adore this genre:

  • Henry James was once my favorite author; now he’s 1 of 5 favorites. He wrote realistic fiction which is very much a prelude to contemporary fiction.
  • I love dissecting reality and understanding what’s happening all around us.
  • Domestic and family dramas are my ultimate favorite sub-genre. Maybe that’s why I write in this particular one!
  • It usually takes place in the current time that the author is writing, give or take a few years.
  • It’s often about problems or issues we face daily, giving us alternative thoughts or opinions.
  • We can relate to the character and see ourselves or people we know in them.
  • It gives you a chance to see different parts of life and society happening around you, but perhaps not close enough to see it, e.g. different parts of the world or society

Sorting books into genres as been a bit confusing for me. I’ll fully admit it, but at the same time, everyone or every book reviewer/rater or publisher can be subjective about it. They often compare literary versus contemporary fiction, trying to sort a book or an author into one or the other category. Perhaps I don’t have enough knowledge or information to speak intelligently about the topic, but I tend to look at literary fiction as the author trying to make a statement while contemporary is more about a casual read. It’s not the perfect definition, but under that notion, couldn’t it be both? Then there’s the concepts of adult versus realistic fiction. If it’s adult, is that supposed to distinguish it from children’s or young adult books? Or does it mean it’s mean for a regular adult to read? All that said, I just sort of blur the boundaries in this area for my own definition for contemporary fiction:

Books about adults set in current times (when the author wrote it) talking about normal things that happen in life. It shouldn’t be other genre-specific, e.g. fantasy, science fiction, romance, historical, mystery, thriller or suspense. It can have those elements on a small scale, but not the primary driver. If it’s none of those, still fiction, and not meant for younger adults and kids, then it must be contemporary fiction.

Hopefully you find my humorous attempt just that, but I do welcome anyone else’s opinion on how to break the genres into fair groups, as well as anyone who works in the industry with a legitimate definition most people agree to!

What are some of my favorite reads from 2017?

 

What’s next on my list in this genre to read in 2017?

 

How about you? Any favorites or recommendations? Do you not like this genre? Time to share!

————————————————————-

Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, often organized by groups of five (5) focused on interesting things about my life. I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me. Past weeks included:

  • Weeks 1 – 5: Primary ethnicity groups and nationalities
  • Weeks 6 – 10: A to Z Favorites
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Colors with an important meaning
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Cities I’ve lived
  • Weeks 21 – 25: Jobs I’ve held
  • Weeks 26 – 30: Top 10 entertainment options
  • Week 31: How to follow or contact me across all social media platforms
  • Week 32: How to help an artist with promotion
  • Week 33 – 37: Favorite Book Genres

 

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.

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

365 Challenge: Day 104 – Relevant

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Relevant: appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances; of contemporary interest; closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered

relevant

People have differing importance on the value of relevance. If something is relevant, you are probably interested and willing to focus on the subject. If something is not relevant, you will often simply pass by it without a second glance. We make these decisions all day long without even realizing it.

  • Sometimes the design, color or shape of objects capture our attention while at others they do not. You miss certain signs on the road but quickly notice others.
  • Images or subject lines capture your attention in newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites while others go by unread.
  • Conversations are overheard and call to you to listen in or participate while others remain as static background noise.

Our interest, or the subject’s relevance, is at the center of each of these situations. And depending on what’s going on in your life at any given moment, it spikes up and down, matching your inner desires and curiosity. This felt like a good topic for today’s 365 Daily Challenge, as I had a few things mulling around in my mind this morning when I awoke. Though I went to sleep around 11 PM after reading a few chapters about Lizzie Borden, I found myself wide awake — unsure why — from 3:15 until 6:15 AM. I wisely used the time to map out yet another outline for a novel that will sit on the side until I find the energy or time to begin writing it. But as I felt a bit more sleepy, I began wondering about my own relevance to the rest of society, asking myself a few questions:

  • Why are you qualified to write this story?
  • What makes you someone to complete a 365 Daily Challenge?
  • What topics are people interested in now and likely going to be interested in one year from now when you are ready to publish?
  • Who is your true audience?
  • What is it that you offer distinct [enough] from anyone else?
  • How does your voice correspond with that of your readers?

I have tons of other questions to consider, but you get the gist. As a writer of either fiction or a blog, we all need to know the perspective we bring and the purpose we have. We need to have a reasonable understanding of what makes us the right person to tell the story or deliver a message. But lining that up with what is relevant with the people around you is not often something that comes naturally or is easily understood. And at times, people make a guess as to what others might be looking for. A key question on my mind: should writers and readers explore things outside their comfort zones to make them more relevant?

One thing I’ve always tried to be or do is not get stuck in a box. I read every genre. I like all kinds of music. I enjoy different types of food. I connect with people from all over the world. I watch very diverse TV shows. I like to sample a little bit of everything. Sometimes I’m way behind on the trends. I’ve not sampled much in the way of anime or fantasy, but it feels like that’s going to be a strong component of the next few years. Same with AI (artificial intelligence) or VR (virtual reality). Neither particularly interest me, mostly because I already have enough on my plate or in my head to worry about adding such huge things to it, but as a reader and writer, I think those will be quite relevant. Others I’ve spoken with recently feel the same way. I wonder if we owe it to ourselves to explore this a bit more…

This opens up the true question on my mind today… and while it took a little while to get there, I felt some background was important before throwing out my thoughts and asking for feedback, as I’ve come to do in these posts… So here it goes:

  1. Do you think writers and bloggers need to make their content relevant to what’s going on around them today, or should they just write what they want to and let their fans and readers decide what to subscribe to or read?
  2. Do you feel the different forms of content need to be managed, e.g. video, photo, words to attract all types of viewers or is it whatever the creator feels comfortable in?
  3. What’s relevant to you right now that you feel isn’t being highlighted enough in any of these industries?

BTW, feel free to answer any question from this post, of even ask a new one. It’s all about the relevance of topics which hopefully bring out our dialogue. So… where this fits in for me… apart from just learning more about those people I interact with, is understanding different points of view other than my own.

Part of me is still a traditional reader. I enjoy books. I prefer physical but have adapted to e-readers. But I am more interested in the story and certain genres, less interested in exploring many of the new relevant things like anime, VR and AI. Will this ultimately hurt me? Am I a transitional generation? Is it based on where you live? Will it change as I age? Do I lose my ability to connect with the generation moving from high school and into college or the work force because of the things I choose or feel are relevant to me?

So many questions… more than a single post… but enough to get us started. Who wants to take a shot at it?

 

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.