goodreads

365 Challenge: Day 99 – Social

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Social: (a) relating to society or its organization, as in being friendly and engaging with others, or (b) using technology to stay connected with others

social.jpg

As I awoke this morning, I reached for my phone and looked to see if I’d missed anything overnight. Apart from the normal news, nothing too big happened, except I had over 200 notifications waiting for my review. I thought to myself… so many red dots in the corner of each app on my phone… how will I ever keep up when I am working more frequently and have more people I connect with. Yikes!

Stepping up to the podium, my eyes look down… my expression a bit sullen. “My name is Jay, and I have an issue with the little red dots in the upper right corner on my phone. It calls to me. It mocks me. It makes me think I am slow and unable to keep up. I think I’m growing obsessed with staying on top of social media and I need help.”

Anyone else get a tad bit of anxiety when they have notifications or messages to read or follow up on?

The solution is probably to condense the number of apps I use. To set specific times when I let myself read, review and comment. To relax if it takes a day to respond to someone. So… my post today is going to list all the social media accounts I use and see what others are doing. I’m curious how you all handle it:

  • Which social media apps do you use?
  • Do you interface from one to another or post separately?
  • Do you read every post from every follower or just randomly go thru when you have time?
  • Do you comment on everything?
  • Do you respond when someone writes to you?
  • Do you have “no social media time” rules in place?

 

OK… where is Jay… and why?

 

  • Goodreads: My favorite site… where I list all the books I’ve read, want to read and am currently reading. I’ve created ~500 reviews for books I’ve previously read (99% caught up finally!) and write new ones the day I finish the book. I look for new books, groups and great people to connect with. I am always on here.

 

  • Facebook: It was the first site I joined nearly 8 years ago, but I was one of the last of my friends to finally give it a chance. I’ve added all my former high school and college friends, then removed anyone I didn’t speak with regularly, then added some people back. I can’t decide what I want to do with this site. It’s now a way to see what’s going on in friend’s and family’s lives when we don’t get to connect that often. But sometimes I post book reviews in groups I’ve joined. I’ve created a basic author page, but I rarely post because I haven’t yet published my first book.

 

  • Instagram: I post 1 or 2 pictures a week, generally of food I’ve cooked or baked, the apartment, the terrace or Ryder. I’m not a good photographer and don’t have any editing software, so I’m fairly basic here. I’d like to try to do more with it, but it doesn’t occur to me to take a photo of a book and post it. I’m not creative in that way.

 

  • Pinterest: I’m all over the place on here… I snapshot all my book reviews and setup a collection to highlight them all. I also have clothing, foods, desserts, houses, places, people, books… so many collections of things I love. But my usage is random. I’ll go weeks without looking for anything new, then spend days on it. But if you look through all my collections, you will clearly see who I am and the things I love.

 

  • Twitter: I rarely use Twitter other than to share my book reviews, which I do from the WordPress site. I only go on to check when someone has messaged me. It’s not that easy of a tool to use, plus so many people follow for follows, I don’t have a clean list of people’s accounts I’d actually want to read and follow!

 

  • Google+: I interface book reviews and the 365 Daily Challenge. But I never just go on to search it. Anyone else use it? Find anything new or good?

 

  • Tumblr:  I interface book reviews and the 365 Daily Challenge. But I never just go on to search it. Anyone else use it? Find anything new or good?

 

  • LinkedIn: I created a huge account on here a few years ago for my professional life as a technology executive. I have nearly 3K connections and go on almost every day to see people’s job changes, anniversaries or birthdays. I send a message anytime something changes to keep up our connections. But I don’t look for articles that often anymore since I haven’t been working this year. I need to get back to it, but there’s nothing on here about my writing or reading life.

 

  • Professional Site: I have 2 other websites besides ThisIsMyTruthNow. This is my professional one as a technology executive. I need to keep it up more updated once I get back to work.

 

  • Book Site: I have 2 other websites besides ThisIsMyTruthNow. This one is dedicated to my book, “Watching a Glass Shatter,” as I search for a literary agent or decide to self-publish. I’d love to get feedback on here from everyone.

 

Above and beyond, I have an account on WhatsApp, SnapChat, FourSquare, Ancestry, LINE, OpenTable, Seamless, NetGalley… and it goes on and on! My intention by creating all of these accounts was to be able to connect with and be available across all platforms as: (1) book reviewer, (2) writer and (3) thinker / musings / 365 Challenge dialogue… perhaps find a voice that leads me into my future role and career. Have I over-extended or is everything in the right place…  lots to think about! OK… hit me with it… what do you think is wrong or right, good or bad, useful or silly?

 

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.

May 2017: Monthly Wrap Up

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May has been a tremendously busy month for this book blogger, now finishing 9-months as the owner and creator of the “This-Is-My-Truth-Now” WordPress blog and website.

may wrap

Key Metrics in May 2017

  • 232 Posts (average of 7.25 per day)

Note: This is 300% increase since last month, given all the previously read book reviews.

 

  • Site Metrics – NEW for this MONTH
    • 11,108 – Views
    • 2430 – Visitors
    • 276 – Followers (Thank You!!!)
    • 5709 – Likes
    • 1311 – Comments

Note: This has gained 5 times as much interaction as last month due to more people reading the blog, responding to book reviews and participating in the 365 Challenges.

 

*** May 2017 has officially been the blog’s best and most popular month! ***

Books Read in May 2017

In the month of May, I only read 8 books. My focus was on re-designing the blog and figuring out how to best organize the content for different viewer types or readers.

I now have 14 books out of 20 awarded books on NetGalley with 2 badges: professional reader and 10 reviews.

Books included

You

really liked it
tagged:
3-fic-multi-book-series, 1-fiction, currently-reading, and 7-read-2…
***WILL FINISH READING THIS TONIGHT
Cream Puff Murder
liked it

3 out of 5 stars to the eleventh book, Cream Puff Murder, in the “Hannah Swensen” cozy mystery series by Joanne Fluke. And yes, it was hard to read without wanting a cream puff the entire time!Why This Book

I’ve been readin…

tagged:
2-fic-cozy-mystery, 1-fiction, 3-fic-multi-book-series, and 7-read-…
Beartown
really liked it
4.5 out of 5 stars to Beartown, a 2016 contemporary novel by Fredrik Backman. Although the book had a bit of a difficult start for me, it developed into an emotionally-charged hot bed, triggering anger and frustration over so many things…
tagged:
1-fiction, 5-netgalley, and 7-read-2017-may
It's Always the Husband
liked it
3 out of 5 stars to It’s Always the Husband, a new thriller and suspense novel set to release to the public on May 16, 2017, by Michele Campbell. It’s a quick-read with a few slow spot, but keeps you guessing all throughout the chapters,…
tagged:
1-fiction, 5-netgalley, and 7-read-2017-may
I Found You
liked it

3+ out of 5 stars to I Found You, a 2016 thriller and suspense novel, by Lisa Jewell. Many thanks to NetGalley, Atria Books and Lisa Jewell for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.Why This…

tagged:
1-fiction, 5-netgalley, and 7-read-2017-may
Be My Killer
liked it
3 out of 5 stars to Be My Killer, a mystery and thriller novel set to release on May 26th, 2017, by Richard Parker. It appears this is Parker’s first novel, and for a debut, he shows a lot of potential. I’m curious to see what else he pu…
tagged:
1-fiction, 5-netgalley, and 7-read-2017-may
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
liked it

3 out of 5 stars to Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, a new mystery and thriller novel set to release on June 13, 2017, by author Matthew J. Sullivan.Why This Book

For all us readers, who wouldn’t love a book with suc…

tagged:
1-fiction, 5-netgalley, and 7-read-2017-may
Dead with the Wind
liked it
3 out of 5 stars to Dead with the Wind, the 2nd book in the “Southern Ladies” cozy mystery series, written in 2015 by Miranda James. I enjoyed reading about the two sisters and their rather rude family, feeling almost glad to see the cha…
tagged:
2-fic-cozy-mystery, 1-fiction, 3-fic-multi-book-series, and 7-read-…

 

Books Reviews Written in May 2017

In addition to the 8 books I read above, I also wrote reviews for books I’d read in the past, but hadn’t taken the time to write any content besides a numerical rating. In the month of May 2017, I completed the following book reviews by genre (excluding the 8 that I actually read during the month):

  • 13 – Children’s Literature
  • 41 – Classics (Pre 19th-Century)
  • 54 – Cozy Mystery Fiction
  •  4 – Fantasy & Science Fiction
  •  6 – General Fiction
  •  1 – Historical Fiction
  •  0 – Non-Fiction
  •  2 – Other / About TV Shows
  • 27 – Thriller & Suspense Fiction
  •  8 – Young Adult (YA) Fiction
  •  0 – Alternative Fiction

365 Daily Challenge

Characteristics – Click Here

  • Self-Conscious (50)
  • Retentive (51)
  • Wasteful (52)
  • Writer (53)
  • Nervous (54)
  • Fastidious (55)
  • A to Z Fears (56)
  • Calm (57)
  • Mean (58)
  • Shoe-less! (59)
  • Charming (60)
  • Blind (61)
  • Soporific (62)
  • A to Z Foods (63)
  • Camera-Ready (64)
  • Eager (65)
  • Card-Shark (66)
  • Pet-Dad (67)
  • Unique (68)
  • Mover (69)
  • A to Z Happy Places (70)
  • Dark (71)
  • American (72)
  • Gardener (73)
  • Mechanical (74)
  • Patient (75)
  • Courageous (76)
  • Grey – Color (77)
  • Lazy (78)
  • Authentic (79)
  • Flashback (80)

365 Challenge Surprise

  • How much everyone is revealing their own 365 characteristics and comparing us to one another — it’s awesome! Thank you.

Site Re-Structure & Feedback

Site Re-Structure

I re-organized the site to have a primary menu item for all the major content in the site. Feedback has been very positive. Please continue to provide feedback. And remember, I can’t tell who provided which ratings or poll responses: it’s all anonymous. Feel free to share any other feedback about what you’d like to see or not see.

  • 87 polls participated
  • 120 ratings (you gave me an average of  4.5 out of 5 stars for all my posts)

Tags & Awards

Tags

  • Participated in 12 tags (click here)
    • 8 Book Tags
      • Blogger Stats
      • Goodreads Books 2
      • Listicle – Top 5 Non-Human Creatures
      • Listicle – Top 5 Objects Making Characters Stronger
      • My Life in Books
      • This is My Genre Tell Me Yours
      • This or That
      • Would You Rather
    • 4 Non-Book Tags
      • Celebrating the Little Things & 300 Followers
      • Get to Know Me
      • Where in the World Are You
      • Why am I a Reader

Awards

Film / TV Show Reviews

Wrote 3 reviews for Films & TV Shows:

Genre / Author / Series

Created a new menu where you can look up by genre, each author I’ve read and see if there are any book series or which reviews I’ve completed. You’ll also access content about the author and the book series to see if they may be something you’d like to read.

As part of the month, I completed two (2) “Spotlight on the Author” posts, where I included a link to the author and book reviews I’ve completed so far: Authors included:

Book Bucket List

I created a new book bucket list where I will keep a running list of 12 books that I must read before I die. Each of the 12 books is assigned a month when I will read it and post a review. Once completed, I’ll cross it off the list and add a new book for the next month:

What Age Do I Read This Book?

I created a new series to recommend by genre, what are the best books to read by age, covering a range of 12 years for each post. In May 2017, I had two posts, which were:

Final Thoughts

  • I set my May goals during the April month-end update. Let’s see how I did:
Goal Plan Actual Comment
New books read 10 8 Focused on older reviews
Reviews (prior books) 40 157 I am on a mission to finish by 6/15
Tags 4 12 I was tagged a lot!
Film & TV reviews 4 3 I got busy with older book reviews
Visits & Trips 4 0 Not doing older trips, only new ones
General Blogs 4 13 I had a lot to say this month
365 Daily Challenges 31 31 On target!
  • Thank you for reading and commenting. I am really enjoying interacting with everyone. Please feel free to suggest any changes you’d like to see or for me to consider.

June 2017 Goals

  • 10 – New books read
  • 100 – Reviews (prior books) — Then I’m done catching up!!!
  • 4 – Tags / Awards
  • 4  – Film & TV reviews
  • 4 – Author Spotlights
  • 4 – What do I read by genre and age?
  • 4 – General Blogs
  • 30 – 365 Daily Challenges

 

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! Each month, 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. 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.

Blog: 350 Book Reviews on ThisIsMyTruthNow

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After I finished looking at all the updates on Goodreads, WordPress and my other social media accounts this morning, and posting today’s 365 Daily Challenge blog, I began writing up a few reviews for books I’d read in the past. When I finished, I realized I’d written 350 book reviews in the last 9 months. I was shocked I’d gotten that far already. Just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for reading and providing feedback on all the reviews. I’m about 75% complete with finishing prior reads and hope to finish by the end of June. Below are some statistics as well as a link to the Book Review section here. This will help give you some insight into the different authors, books and genres I’ve read in case you want to go poking around in previous posts.  Thank You!

book


Welcome to my collection of book reviews. My favorite genres are thrillers and historical fiction. I’ve broken the categories into the following 11 genres: (1) children’s literature, (2) classics [pre-19th century], (3) cozy mystery, (4) fantasy & science fiction, (5) general fiction, (6) historical fiction, (7) non-fiction, (8) other & about TV shows, (9) thriller & suspense fiction, (10) young adult fiction and (11) alternative fiction.

As May 2017, there are over 350 book reviews on my blog and website, ThisIsMyTruthNow. Within each menu, you will find all the books I’ve written a review for organized by genre. I first post the book review on Goodreads and then send it over to this site, where I explore more about the genre, book series and authors. Since I only started publishing book reviews in October of 2016, I have been trying to catch up on everything I’ve read to date. As a result, there are two types of book reviews being posted.

Book Review Type 1 – Full & Detailed

  • For any book I’ve read since I started this website and blog in mid-2016, there is a full and detailed book review containing the following items: author, title, genre, rating, year published, overview of the story, initial thoughts, characters, strengths, areas for improvement, similar books by this author or another author, why I chose the book and some final thoughts. There are also pictures and graphics to help provide a fun and informative review.

Book Review Type 2 – Short Summary

  • Although I have a good memory when it comes to books and authors, I can’t possible remember everything about all 500+ books I’ve read in the last few decades. For anything before 2016, if I don’t have a vivid recollection, I have a shorter version of the review with some general thoughts, the good and the bad of what I remember, ratings, and some recommendations on similar items. These are generally only 1 paragraph long and do not have pictures or graphics.

book

 

Thanks for stopping by and perusing the site. If you aren’t sure which genre the book falls into, you can also search by author in the next menu category called “Genre/Author/Series” or you can enter the book into the “Search” box on the main home screen. If you have any feedback, please share… I love to hear from everyone, as well as get book recommendations. To see my profile on Goodreads, click here.

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. <i>Note</i>: 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.

TAG: Goodreads Books #2

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Thank you to Susan @ SusanLovesBooks for tagging me on the Goodreads Book Tag. Everyone should take a look at her site, as its full of great book reviews… current books, blasts from the past and a little bit of every genre. Good stuff! Here we go…

goodreads

WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU MARKED AS ‘READ’?

killer

It was a good read, full of horror and gore. But it should have been better. My review can be seen here.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

bookstoredead

“Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore” is a NetGalley award and I am 50% through. Good so far. “Dead with the Wind” is the second book in a cozy mystery series by a great author.

WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU MARKED AS TBR?

one.jpg

I saw it on someone else’s Goodreads profile and it looked fantastic. What if we chose our partner based on DNA? Scary…

WHAT BOOK DO YOU PLAN TO READ NEXT?

watch

It’s the next book to be published from the NetGalley awards I’ve won. Review due in 2 weeks!

DO YOU USE THE STAR RATING SYSTEM?

Yes! I first rate the book on Goodreads using the 1 to 5 scale, and then I transfer them here to WordPress. The star definitions are:

5: Fantastic, a must check out for this genre. Changed how I think or made me incredibly happy to have known this work and I will tell everyone about it. Top-notch!

4: Extremely good and held my attention throughout. I connected with the story, want to experience more from the author/director/actor and will remember it well.

3: The all-around good work that had some strengths but also had some weaknesses. I’d recommend it to a friend but with a bit of caution.

2: Not of interest, missing major standards in either character, plot, theme, consistency, etc. Lost my interest way too many times.

1: Not even sure how this got published; how and why did I choose this work?

*My ratings scale considers the genre of the work meaning I could give a 5 to both a cozy and a famed traditional fiction novel or a cozy mystery. I interpret this to mean both are top notch in their genre, but it doesn’t imply that I think that a fun short mystery read is the same caliber as a Shakespearean play or classic coming of age work. Both can be incredibly good but are important for very different reasons.

ARE YOU DOING A 2017 READING CHALLENGE?

Yes! It’s on my Home Page… 104 book. 2 books for every week. I’m currently at 49 books, which is about 9 ahead of schedule. I hope I can keep it up! See it here.

DO YOU HAVE A WISHLIST?

Sort of. I have a few books I’ve added on Amazon. I have a few items I’ve submitted requests for on NetGalley. And I recently started my “Book Bucket List.” Check the post out by clicking here. It has 12 books (one per month for a year) that I hope to read… then add a new one as each month passes.

WHAT BOOK DO YOU PLAN TO BUY NEXT?

I just placed an order today for 4 books

  • Three in a few cozy mystery series that I enjoy by Jenn McKinlay

drophatterstory.jpg

  • Buddy Read book with Medhat, who you can see here.

you

DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE QUOTES? SHARE A FEW.

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
Mark Twain

“After all, reading is arguably a far more creative and imaginative process than writing; when the reader creates emotion in their head, or the colors of the sky during the setting sun, or the smell of a warm summer’s breeze on their face, they should reserve as much praise for themselves as they do for the writer – perhaps more.”
Jasper Fforde, The Well of Lost Plots

“Persuasion is not about force; it’s about showing a person a door, and making him or her desperate to open it.”
David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks

“A life well lived is a life full of decisions.”
Guess

WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS?

Oh no! I could go on forever… but right now, I have 4 primary favorites:

  • Agatha Christie
  • Kate Morton
  • Ken Follett
  • Henry James

HAVE YOU JOINED ANY GROUPS?

I have a few on Goodreads and Facebook, but I get so busy chatting with friends, I forget to check them or post in them. Do you have any good ones? I’d like to join a few new ones.

I TAG:

EVERYONE on my follower list. YES, that means YOU if you are reading this. I want to know all about your read habits and favorites.

I love fun little get-to-know-the-reader tags, where you find a bunch of new books, authors and tools. Happy Blogging!

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! Each month, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. 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.

{Aside} Rating On Goodreads Before You’ve Read It.

Aside Posted on Updated on

A very wise, important and thought-provoking post about rating books before one even reads them. Thanks to Bentley for sharing this on his blog… I am re-posting it for others to read.

Book ★ Bastion

Fair Warning: Unpopular Opinions Incoming!

I’ve been debating writing this post for quite some time now. I’ve titled it “Unpopular Opinions” for a reason. I’m fully expecting this to spark a bit of discussion and yes, disagreements, but given that we’re all civilized people with strong opinions that are all worthy of merit, I felt more and more compelled to share my thoughts.

I wanted to talk today about the state of Goodreads; in particular a disturbing trend I’ve been witnessing of people maliciously rating books before they’ve actually read them.

For the record, I also take issue with people rating upcoming books that they’re looking forward to 5 stars before the book has even been published, but that’s really not what I want to focus on here. Yes, that equally skews the ratings of any book, but I think it’s more pressing that we talk about the…

View original post 1,451 more words

Blog: Upcoming Site Changes

Aside Posted on Updated on

It’s been another successful month of blogging, and as we come to a close on April, a few key things to share:

  1. I’ve changed some of the colors and the fonts on the blog. If it doesn’t look appealing, let me know.
  2. I’ve added a new menu item called “Genre, Author & Series,” where you can see a list of all the reviews I have completed. Note: Since this is in progress as of 4/28/17, you can look at Cozy Mystery Fiction / Braun, Lilian Jackson as a future example of what this will have available.
    1. It will be sorted by genre, then author.
    2. When you click on the genre, it will provide a brief description of the genre and key authors and information about it.
    3. When you click on the author page, it will list any of the author’s book I’ve read or am planning to read in the near future — organized by series, as well as noting books (s)he’s written in other genres.
    4. You can click on the name of the book if it has a link. If it doesn’t, it means I haven’t yet read the book or written the review. I’ll include target dates whenever possible for you to check back.
  3. I’ve changed the Blog menu item to include Tags. On a weekly basis, I will add a book tag and highlight books I have read or want to read, as well as tag my online friends to participate in the challenges.
  4. The 365 Daily Challenge is getting exciting and more fun. I’m almost done with 2 months and learning a lot about me and about you! I’m open to suggestions, but posts are now linked back and forth so you can check all the history if you’re new to the site.

My target to have all the content updated and all ~500 book reviews updated from Goodreads on “ThisIsMyTruth” is June, 2017; however, there will be a lot of progress each week. I hope you’ll check it out and provide any feedback you think is helpful. I’m very open to hearing the good and the bad!

changes

Thank you to everyone who has participated by commenting, liking, taking the poll or providing ratings. I’m having a tremendous amount of fun, trying to create a fun world for all of us.

-jjciv

Review: Nick and Jake: An Epistolary Novel

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Nick and Jake: An Epistolary NovelMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to Jonathan Richards‘s book, Nick and Jake: An Epistolary Novel, published in 2012. I’m not ashamed to admit it, but I had to look up the word “epistolary,” as I had no clue what it meant. Usually I’m good at determining the meaning of a word by breaking it up into smaller words, using my etymological skills; I am either getting old or I just had brain freeze; it shouldn’t have been that hard since it’s Latin and French. Epistolary means “written in the form of letters,” which is exactly how this novel was created.

Why This Book
All hail NetGalley! I liked the cover. I enjoyed the overview. It seemed like something different, once I knew the definition of the word epistolary. It became #9 on my NetGalley reads this year. For those unfamiliar, go check it out at https://netgalley.com, a site where publishers and authors provide an opportunity to win free books in exchange for honest reviews. Family was visiting for the Easter holiday and had just left, so I opened this book on my iPad Kindle Reader and finished it in about 2 hours, as it’s only about 200 pages.

Overview of Story
Nick and Jake work in the newspaper business in the 1950s, but they’ve never met at the beginning of the story. It’s a few years after World War II, where McCarthy’s fear of the Reds and Communism has taken over the country. The head of the CIA and other operatives are working across the world to track down any Communist supporters and arrest them, but if you even said something nice about Russia, or once passed someone on the street who was a Red supporter, you’d be accused yourself. Nick’s accused himself, but gets out of it and leaves for Paris, having nothing but ill-feelings towards the US government despite his love for the US itself. Jake’s already moved to Europe and publishing a newspaper, but they develop a friendship through their columns and words, supporting one another through various personal crises. Nick even gets divorced and re-married during the course of the story. The book is full of other characters, all who seem to be playing each other on different sides in the Red War. You can never quite tell who is being honest and who is a secret agent. But over the course of a few months, a few “stings” are executed to catch the criminals, ending with a bit of freedom and a small surprise or two.

Approach & Style
1. For starters, the book is written in the form of newspaper articles, telegrams and letters. Of the 10 major characters, they lives in the US, Europe and Asia, staying at houses, hotels and with friends. You get to see various post styles and handwriting samples, trying to figure out who is connected to who throughout each section.

2. The book is full of made-up and real characters… from fictional people in novels like the Great Gatsby to Senator McCarthy and George Bush. It includes Christine Jorgensen, the first person to have a sex-change (man to woman) and various family members of the primary characters who could be gay or are playing gay, including Maurice Chevalier. It’s quite an unusual cast.

3. Humor and satire can be your friends.

Strengths
This is a highly imaginative story, full of facts and fiction. As a reader, if you are familiar with all the books being used as fan fiction, and you know a lot of about the real people involved in Senator McCarthy’s war, you will love this book. It’s very clever and instantly transports you back to the fear-mongering of the 50’s. I am not familiar with the depth from this time period, but reading the transcripts of one “trial,” if that actually happened (the way people were questioned), I’m super ashamed for the US for that behavior. I have a feeling this was not an exaggeration, too.

The writing style is quick and easy, full of different handwriting styles, formats and voices. It’s a fun and quick read, as you maneuver your way through each of the sections to try and figure out who is good and who is bad. The friendship between Nick and Jake is a really strong basis, especially when you realize it was the 50s and one or two of them might be playing the other!


Open Questions & Concerns
1. What was with the obsession with the male body part in this book? I understand the sex-change story-line as that is an important piece of history, but Nick’s obsession with his own member… Jake’s curiosities about surgery, the way it became common conversation in letters… I thought I was reading an entirely different book at a few points.

2. Some of the characters and history were lost on me, as I’m not too familiar with McCarthy other than the basics of the communist war. I also didn’t read all the books being noted in this novel, so I feel like I missed out on some of the clever writing. That’s my fault, not the books… though I think the description and overview could have been more clear, so I knew going into it what I was getting myself into.

Final Thoughts
I wasn’t too keen on the novel when I first started it, but by about 15 minutes in, the quirky and clever writing made it a much easier read. It’s sharp and has good focus. I suspect had I more historical info on what had actually happened, this might have been a 4 out of 5 stars. So if you do, then you should read it. If you don’t… or the discussion of the male body part doesn’t appeal to you (I feel so peculiar putting that in a book review that’s not an erotic or romance book…), then perhaps this isn’t for you. But be warned… it’s an odd one… funny… not dirty at all… just a bit different.

About Me
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