Book Review: Final Resting Place by Jonathan Putnam

Posted on

Earlier this year, the Crooked Lane publishing company suggested several books that I might be interested in reading. Final Resting Place: A Lincoln and Speed Mystery by Jonathan F. Putnam is one of those books. It is the third book in this mystery series and will be published in July 2018. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and took on this historical novel today. At first I was a bit apprehensive… it had politics (which I don’t normally like or discuss) and some basis in fact (I know a bunch about this time period, would it all line up?)… how would it all materialize as a book to read ~180 years after the fact. But rest assured, Putnam has done well!
The book takes place in the late 1830s when Abraham Lincoln was still a practicing attorney and just entering into politics. His best friend, Joshua Fry Speed, serves as his Dr. Watson during the day and his bed-mate at night. No… I’m not suggesting anything was going on there, nor is the author. I bring this up only because it reminded me that people would sleep in the same bed together back then. As an avid genealogist, I find this entire time period in America fascinating. Disputes over territory with Great Britain, kicking Native American off their land, Whigs and Democrats having duels (remember Burr and Hamilton?). It’s like a rich history lesson and I seem to be on a kick reading several historical fiction novels lately.

In this caper, elections are front and center. When the current Town Land Recorder is killed, it appears like a political opponent had something to do with it. Throw in backstory about Lincoln’s first fiancee (all real!) who died of meningitis, a decade-old feud over who loved her, and Honest Abe’s rough & rude father and step-brother, there are tones of side stories to keep this plot moving along. The pace is good, a fair balance between life nearly two centuries ago and the need for some expediency in action in modern times. The trial was eye-opening. The duel was amusing. But the camaraderie within the primary characters and between the protagonists and antagonists was quite strong.

Resurrection of long-dead actual people as fictionalized characters has been done before. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Here it definitely did. This story had a very palpable voice and connection. I could feel the tension between the political rivalries. I could see the respect they still shared for one another (something lacking in today’s leaders) and the differences in how men and women were treated. Putnam paints a good picture of life in America in 1838, and you feel transported to the tenacity people demonstrated to get ahead but still follow the rules. A few people misbehaved, but they apologized and often received fair judgment and punishment.

The book contains an afterthought chapter from the author who describes what is real and what was potentially fictional. I LOVE this part, as I could see where he drew a line in what he would make up or keep strictly accurate. This is the kind of approach I wish other authors would take when writing historical fiction, as sometimes readers like to know where the line has been blurred. Kudos to Putnam for generating some interest in a time period we only ever attribute to the Civil War. There were a lot of expansionist activities occurring in the Midwest during this time period, and the true nature of our political parties beginning to veer off into different directions was taking place. But we also saw the birth of law and trials. The courtship between men and women. And then ways in which people traveled from one part of the land to another.

All in all, a very exciting read. It fit well into my expanding genre selections, showed some opportunity for a great series to explore on the literary forefront, and gave me something analytical with many hidden truths to think about. Thank you for sending this book my way!


About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. 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.


Review: Utopia

Posted on Updated on

Utopia Review
Thomas More was the first to coin the word “utopia.” More was the son of a court judge, and a page to Archbishop Morton throughout his youth in London. He was profoundly affected not only by these two great gentlemen, but also by the philosophy of humanism that was spread by Erasmus during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Europe. As a result of More’s fanatical advocacy of socialism and communism, he was tried, and later executed on July 6th, 1535, at the age fifty-seven. Sir Thomas More is studied today as a leader of Renaissance literature in England because of his famous work Utopia, which was published in 1516. In his work, More creates an ideal society on an imaginary island in strange waters. The word “utopia” is best translated from the Greek as “a place that can never be” because a “utopia” is a perfect society; however, More was simply using this perfect society to satirize life in London during that time period. He was not proposing a solution to England’s ills.
Before Thomas More began writing his masterpiece, he was privileged to read several other works, which enabled him to write Utopia. Plato’s Republic, St. Augustine’s City of God, and the stories about Paradise and The Garden of Eden from the Book of Genesis profoundly influenced More. He was also inspired by several Renaissance reports he received from the Portuguese-owned “New World.” All of these influences led More “to confront all the serious evils of his day, religious, social, and political, but he considered philosophically their remedy, and that in a manner far in advance of the period at which he wrote… Utopia has been interpreted to condone every kind of political theory directed to the transference of power and wealth to self-styled reformers” (Warrington xii). More wanted to reform the society that he lived in; however, it was next to impossible to reform a society that had already been set in its ways. According to Thomas I. White, “More’s Utopia has been aptly described as a work that can be read in an evening but may take a lifetime to understand. One reason for this is that the book is built on the intellectual equivalent of a geological fault. The simple landscape suggested by Utopia’s structure and conception belies subterranean forces that push and pull the book in different directions. The resulting tensions may not lead to earthquakes, but they certainly erupt in dramatically different interpretations of More’s little classic” (White 37). Thus, it is difficult to know what More’s intentions were in writing Utopia.
Per Chad Walsh, noted critic and interpreter of utopian societies, “a utopia is often an oblique satire on the writer’s own society, though it need not be. It can represent simply his attempt to conceive of a perfect society… More offered Utopia as a guide to the improvement of an England that badly needed it. He wished to show that poverty, crime, cruel punishments, and invidious distinctions between classes are not in the order of nature, but are man’s doing, and that man could equally create a just and happy social order” (Walsh 26). He was offering one or two suggestions, but at the same time, he was also satirizing the foolish thoughts of some philosophers and politicians of the day. Yet, critics to this day have continually debated whether More’s Utopia was a satire on the way in which London society operated, or whether it was what he truly felt London society should try to mirror. One can agree, despite whatever contradictions there are to those who claim More’s Utopia was a satire, that England definitely needed some guidance during this period. It seems that More’s Utopia was read as a solution, though it was only meant to be a satire that had some valuable ideas.
While an ideal society seems to be the best solution to England’s problems, one cannot help but ponder why men would dream utopian dreams. “Man is an animal with an imagination; he can conceive of things that do not yet exist, [and] may never exist. Man has the curious and awesome ability to transcend himself and nature… There is also the theory that man once lived in a utopia, but does no longer, and that he is always trying to return. The name of this first utopia was Eden” (Walsh 29). It does not seem that whether or not man already lived in a utopia, or is simply wishing to live in one now, is the central thesis of More’s satire. The important questions still remain: How is Utopia a satire on English society? Is More merely showing men what he believes is the best way to rid London of its problems? Richard Marius has the answer. “More could not have created an ideal society with so many flaws that affronted liberal imagination. More had truly intended to cast Utopia as a dystopia, not a good place but a bad place, one where rule of reason had obliterated the gentler human virtues” (Marius 11). Although there were several seemingly perfect solutions throughout the contents of Utopia, it was not a ten-step program for London society during the sixteenth century. “Utopia [is] viewed as a prototype of the obverse genre, the dystopia. The paradigm More created simply lent itself ideally to satire, because the distance between his imaginary society and the society in which he lived enabled him to contrast the two” (Fox 12). “It is not a blueprint but a touchstone against which we try various ideas about both our times and the books to see what then comes of it all” (Marius 12). More’s work was indeed a satire on the many men who continually dreamed of living in a utopian society. He saw where English society was in comparison to where other countries and civilizations were, and knew that he had to create a society that would give its people ideas, but not build the specifics of the said society for them. Therefore, Utopia was merely a suggestion of ideas (one or two, not as an entirety) that could be conceived as helpful, tolerable and ideal.
In fact, “More’s own society was rigidly hierarchical and highly regulated, so Utopia may not have seemed as restrictive to him as it does to us. Thus, it is easy to understand why a writer would want to satirize a bad commonwealth” (Logan 8). In satirizing this commonwealth, More was simply presenting a society that was so perfect that it could not truly exist; however, people enjoy reading about ideal utopias because it gives them some kind of hope for the future. “It shows the best society not as a normative or prescriptive model but as actually achieved, as already in existence. Utopia is a description of the best (or, in anti-utopia, the worst) society not as an abstract ideal, and not simply as a satirical foil to the existing society in full operation in which we are invited vicariously to participate” (Kumar 25). “More published Utopia for the purpose of showing… the things that occasion mischief in commonwealths; having the English Constitution in view. The island of Utopia is, in fact, England. More designed [it] to show how England would look, and what shape her relations with abroad would assume, if she were communistically organized” (Kautsky 14). By participating in this communistic utopia, More is able to present a few suggestions, as well as ridiculous (meant to be taken as jocular, and nothing else) ideas, all the while discussing his semi-radical viewpoints on three major issues. The three specific aspects of utopian life that Sir Thomas More attacked in this satire were communism/socialism, religion and marriage/family.
More’s own socialistic outlook on society dates back to when he was arrested and executed for his beliefs. Richard Marius tells readers “ I believe that the answer to the questions in More’s own mind [about socialism] was not that we should create a communist society. But [he does] believe that part of the response that More intended was to make us at least ask the questions, for to question society is to see it, and we must see it before we can do anything to reform it” (Marius 5). Since their leader Utopus basically imposed communism upon the Utopians, one can assume that More was studying the idea that a communistic society is indeed the solution for London society. He was not suggesting this, but merely saying that the equality offered amongst a socialistic society would provide stability. More does include a section on how the Utopians change their houses every decade so that no one person gets accustomed to a higher standard than another; however, the houses are exactly identical according to the section on The Geography of Utopia. Marius later notes that “The communism of the utopia deserves another word to this generation that has seen this once mighty ideology crumble to dust in most places where it once seemed imperial, irresistible and eternal. I’ve [also] noted that the Utopians acted on the premise that to eliminate poverty, the entire economic and social order had to be radically rebuilt from the ground up. That was precisely the view of Karl Marx, but More and Marx came to radically different conclusions about what the social order would be if it were rebuilt” (Marius 8).
The idea of rebuilding the entire society from scratch comes along by way of Utopus, who senses that again, equality amongst the people can only be achieved when things are created from originality, not from existing lands. Unless man rebuilds everything he owns, there can be no sense of justice. Similar in the ideas of socialism and communism, man must work together to bring about the overwhelming outpouring of parity. Thus, More is not suggesting that communism is the only way to go – the “be-all, end-all” answer to the problems in London society; he is satirizing the idea that everything has to be destroyed (and rebuilt) in order to gain fairness and equality. London society was still heavily distinct amongst classes at the time. Marius writes that “to the middle-class people like ourselves, our messy and fragmented society looks good in comparison to Utopia. Here, More’s Augustinian conception of sinful humankind becomes burdensome to the soul, for in the Utopian commonwealth, individualism and privacy are threats to the state. I suspect that we see as clearly as anyone does in Utopia just why communism did not work. The weight of human depravity was simply too much to be balanced by eliminating private property” (Marius 5). A communistic society that contains laws saying that private property is not allowed in society will never last long. People have an inner need to own something, and More is pointing this out in Utopia; he laughs at those who want to take everything away from the people of English society. He basically tells the readers that if such a thing were to occur, they should beware of an outbreak of war.

He concludes by showing how much the Utopians are afraid of war. Exactly. They are so afraid of war that it is necessary to have such a militaristic society with communism at the helm in their society; however, it would not work in London society. According to Kenyon, “More argues [that] men could attain salvation only if temptation were first to be removed. Given this, it was evident to More that social institutions required radical emendation. Consequently, in Utopia, More is to be discovered proposing a series of alternative arrangements such as communism which, he hoped, might remove the temptation of sinfulness presented by existing institutions such as private property” (Kenyon 54). More thought that some of the socialistic views would work in English society, but he knew that London was not ready for an overhaul. He thus satirized what it would be like if England were communistic. There would not be a single freedom such as private property. Just as communism was a seriously discussed issue as one solution for a utopian society, so were the fundamental laws of religion.
“More posits in Utopia a set of social institutions designed to reduce temptation, limit available choices, and channel the will in a requisite direction. The question of whether by living under such constraining institutions individuals nevertheless exercise free will is not developed by More to the extent that it might be” (Kenyon 58). Thus free will , as in the free will to choose whatever religion you want to follow, is a prime target for satire in this work. At the time when More lived, there were many ongoing debates over Puritanism, Catholicism, Protestantism, etc. “The discussion of religion presented in Utopia generates a problem not least because we are informed that although they do not subscribe to full-fledged sixteenth-century Catholicism, the Utopians follow a religion that in terms both of its doctrines and its externals maintains several important prescriptive recommendations relevant to the salvation of Christians” (Kenyon 97). In Utopia, all can practice a religion of any form that they wish. They are required only to attend a church service, which operates in the same manner as a college campus mass does. All of those that attend can take from the service what they wish to since there is no one supreme denomination in the city of Utopia. After More’s struggles with a corrupt church, no wonder he would satirize his experience with religion. “Since Utopians live according to the law of nature, they are not Christian. Indeed they practice a form of religious tolerance – as they must is they are to be both reasonable and willing to accept Christianity when it is announced to them” (Marius 3). “The practices and externals of religious observation are apparently of less moment to utopian theology. Certainly, the formalities of medieval Catholicism are reflected in Utopian practices. On this facet of religious life More’s position is undoubtedly speculative. It is evident that at least a certain amount of revision would be necessary to accommodate some of these offices to the introduction of Christianity” (Kenyon 99). Therefore, it is obvious that Utopia could not be a solution to the problems in society; More himself had no idea how to solve the religious tensions and corruption that was ongoing in the churches in English society. It would be nice if everyone was tolerant of another’s religion, and no one fought to the death with others over which was the true religion; that is pointless though. There are no answers. More knew this, which is why he proposed a solution that was impossible. He was showing others the stupidity of such a belief that there could be one supreme god who created everything, thus he satirizes said beliefs. He had no choice but to present an idea or two, but again, he did not suggest that the Utopian’s religious ways were a solution. Either did he try to solve every one of the problems in London society concerning marriage and divorce.
“The apparent disparity between Utopian religious tolerance and the Lord Chancellor’s rigor has already been touched upon. But how do you account for such Utopian institutions as euthanasia and divorce, both forbidden by the Church for which More died. Or for tactics like subornation of treason, assassination of enemy rulers, and forcible annexation of foreign lands the natural resources of which, in Utopian judgment, have been insufficiently exploited” (Nelson 9)? To insure that people would not want to get divorced because they are no longer happy with the appearance of their spouse, More suggests that the bride and groom be allowed to see each other naked before the ceremony. Therefore, they will know what they are getting themselves into prior to marriage. If they re happy with what they see, the marriage will take place, and there is no case for dishonesty. However, if they did not see the other person naked prior to marriage, then a case could be made for dishonesty if that person were hideously scarred. There is no way that More could logically suggest the idea of seeing a prospective spouse naked before marriage when society at the time frowned on nudity. It was a disgrace to reveal even more than one’s face when in public. More would be condemned for life if he seriously thought he could get away with proposing nudity as a solution to unhappiness. Even today, nearly five hundred years later, nudity in public is still considered disgraceful. Society will almost never be ready for such a thing. More was simply laughing at the many ways in which people tried to avoid the problems of life when he proposed such an idea of nudity prior to marriage. If More had written a handbook, like The Prince, on how to behave and what society should look like, his solution would truly be that people should just deal with their problems in a dignified manner rather than propose such outlandish practices. There is no way to avoid such a problem in life. Life is not perfect. Life is not a utopia, as More would say.
However, the “average human behavior in Utopia is considerably higher than in the rest of the world. Yet even in Utopia, with its splendid education, More thinks it necessary to provide a system of criminal justice: human nature is such that no matter what nurture it receives, some fraction of individuals will always be criminals” (Logan 37). Man may have had an innate goodness in such a society according to More and Logan, but it was not absolute. There were still laws necessary to keep people in line. People needed to be protected legally from deception beforehand. One other interesting aspect of Utopian life that parallels real life is that “after The Fall [in Eden], man was exposed to the prospect of temptation and deadly sin. By contrast, More responds to this situation in Utopia by posting a strict moral code which… he also saw as the inherent inferiority of the female sex” (Kenyon 66). Women were still considered of a lower class in Utopian society. More would have elevated their status if he were truly proposing a new way of life. Instead, he keeps them “where they belong” according to people of the time. Therefore, More was again, not providing the concrete plans on “how to eliminate problems,” but laying the foundation in order to show people how to laugh at themselves when things go wrong. There will never be complete equality; More was trying to parody such a philosophy.
“In all [of] these ways, More showed himself, and his Utopia, to be the product of a new age. His Utopia has a rationalism and a realism that we associate typically with the classical revival of the Renaissance, and that are to be found equally in the architectural utopias of fifteenth and sixteenth-century Italy… Utopia is a fiction whereby the truth, as if smeared with honey, might a little more pleasantly slide into men’s minds” (Kumar 21). More cast his utopian society as one in which life was perfect and ideal, thus it had to be considered satirical since there is no such thing as perfection. By sugarcoating his views and ideas, he was able to create a utopian land that affected humankind more than he expected. He could show mankind how foolish their thoughts were on trying to perfect and correct everything that was wrong with society. A little error can sometimes keep things more in balance. If everything and everyone were perfect, what would man have to strive for? Why would they exist? More was simply presenting a satirical solution to society that he never meant to assume the role of the “be-all, end-all” problem-solver.

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.

View all my reviews

Review: Hardball

Posted on Updated on

Hardball Book Review
4 of 5 stars to Hardball, the 13th book in the mystery thriller series by author Sara Paretsky, written in 2009. At 450 pages, it’s one of the longest, if not the longest, books in the “VI Warshawski” Chicago-based series about a female private investigator in the 1980s and 1990s. In this book, family is abundant. VI’s late father pops up in her investigation, potentially revealing he had some dirty dealings. It seems too hard to be true, but sometimes people are pushed to the limits. Nonetheless, it propels VI to try to prove his innocence. Ultimately, the book is about a missing person’s case, over 40 years old. VI tackles issues between races, trying to weed past the bull in order to solve the crime. But more people end up dying, the deeper she gets into the investigation, including a nun. VI’s cousin is in town on a politicking venture… but she may be in more danger than she knows. This is one of the stronger Paretsky books, as it covers a multitude or close to home issues for her, and she’s out to prove and protect her family.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

365 Challenge: Day 31 – Impartial

Posted on Updated on

Impartial: treating all rivals or disputants equally; fair and just

At a quick glance, is there any reason for someone not to be impartial? Isn’t fair and just the right way to live, part of the American Constitution (for international readers, I’m sure there is something a bit similar for you, but not always, I suppose…)?

It’s often hard for people to be impartial. We have favorites. We have anger. We have revenge. We have loopholes. We have a very disparate set of rules that vary from person to person, family to family, house to house, city to city, state to state and country to country. But for most of us, it’s what we strive to accomplish in all that we do. I’m sure there are moments when we wish for someone to win, maybe talk up someone more than another person in the hopes they get the job, boyfriend, girlfriend, house, car, etc.

In today’s post, I will discuss being impartial when it comes to my immediate responses to things, people or situations. I’m not focusing on when people are judgmental, racist or biased. I’m looking at pure state of mind without seeing the specific decision in front of them.

For example, can you walk into a situation without pre-conceived notions about how you will react? If two people are fighting, and you know one of them, do you automatically decide whether they are guilty or not guilty based on past experiences with them? Or can you forget everything you know, starting from scratch, listen to both sides and weigh in with an impartial mind? If you hear that someone likely hurt another person, do you immediately think the person is guilty, or do you want to hear his/her side of the story before determining your reaction?

For me, I battle these thoughts all the time. No matter how confident I feel in a decision, there is always a lingering “what if” in my mind… and I can never 100% commit to a feeling or thought. Sometimes it’s a big enough concern that I tell whomever I’m discussing it with what the lingering concern is and why… other times, it’s trivial enough that I don’t feel the need to explain why there’s a bit of doubt.

Regardless, being impartial should be an automatic given for all of us. No matter the situation, we should have the ability to look at the entire end-to-end picture, big and small, and then come to a reasonable conclusion. Sometimes, it’s simple and you can take turns, alternate or split something so that it ends up being equal. Often, it’s not and you have to communicate and share your thoughts so that the full exposure can occur.

I would have made a good mediator. I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes. I hope to understand why they chose to do something, not just think about the impact it had on me. I believe in fairness and equality. My mind doesn’t think of other ways. If there are two people and two of something, each gets one. If the two objects are not of the same size, then I look for ways to make it as fair as possible. If two people have a story, but differ on the details, I need to hear both and then work with them to see if they can figure out why they each saw it differently.

If one child typically is the poorly behaved one, and an incident occurs with another kid, I wouldn’t assume it was the poorly behaved one. Nothing is that obvious. That said… you can have an opinion, a bias, a judgment, but shouldn’t we do our best to ignore those in the beginning and try to be as impartial as possible? If there’s minimal time, yes, an educated guess or prior research would come into play… but when there’s available time and opportunity, use it wisely. Be impartial.

I feel preachy today. Perhaps I’m annoyed about some things I listened to on the news while having lunch. Or maybe I have such a hard time understanding people who aren’t impartial, it’s fueling my words today.

I think what I’m most trying to say about myself here… and the way I believe people should be… is that we should always have an open-mind. Try not to be judgmental (and just wait… that’s going to be the topic in a few days… and I have been known to be judgmental!). We should never have a boundary that prevents us from considering the alternative. Never may be a harsh word. Some laws and rules should not be broken. There’s a set of standards we should all follow. This isn’t about religion or politics or spirituality. It’s about recognizing as people, we’re evolved enough to know better.

When my time’s up, the biggest hope I could have is that I know I always did my best to listen and consider things outside of my own opinion. I may still choose my original thought, or to believe I am the correct one… but it’s my responsibility to be impartial and look beyond the limitations of my own knowledge. This is a lesson I have learned the hard way over the years.

Rant done. Thanks for not hanging up!

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.

The Blog is Growing!

Posted on Updated on

When I first started this blog about 6 months ago, I thought it would be an entertaining experience… but somehow in the last few months, I’ve got close to 100 followers and I’m on here posting nearly every day. It’s been really fun and challenging, but ultimately I want it to deliver valuable content, insight and laughter. I’m super excited with the results so far!

Now I need to start adding new content sections. Starting next week, a few posts each week on the following topics:

  1. Book Reviews
  2. TV & Film Reviews
  3. My Book: “Watching a Glass Shatter”
  4. Other Fiction I’ve Written
  5. Vacation Spot Experiences
  6. 365 Daily Challenge
  7. General Blog & Thoughts

What else should I add?

  • More animations?
  • Restaurant Reviews and link to Open Table and FourSquare reviews?
  • More author and book content?
  • Or keep it streamlined as it is now?

Let me know your opinions and let’s see what we can come up with next! Thanks for everyone’s support.


-jjc iv


<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/18262535/?claim=a2w98hgncwe”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

365 Challenge: Day 16 – Punctual

Posted on Updated on

Punctual: happening or doing something at the agreed or proper time; on time

You’re all in for a treat today… well, that may be overselling things. I’ve discovered and decided to add animated graphics and GIFs to my posts. I searched for a few fun ones this morning and will drop ’em in throughout today’s topic. And since I am a voracious reader as you recently learned, and well, this picture is just great, the first one, obviously someone intelligent checking their watch to see who is late and who is on time:

Bbc GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Who doesn’t love Sherlock?  Just started watching this TV show recently and posted a review on here, too! You can find it by clicking here. Back to punctuality.

Ever since I was a small child, I was fascinated by time. But get this, I never wore a watch. I don’t like things dangling on my arm or wrist… distracting… and then you have something else you need to match to whatever you are wearing (and I’m no good at that)… I digress a lot today. Time is so simple yet so complex.  The second hand clicks around 60 times, then the minute hand moves ever so slightly. Once the minute hand moves around 60 times, the hour hand has moved to the next of the 12 hours on the clock. It could be AM or PM. But so many people have such a hard time with being punctual. Forget DST… that could cause some people a trip to the asylum.

Adventure Time GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I have no sense of time when it comes to looking at the sun or the sky. I can’t tell what it means to set in the east or west, what shadows are being cast, et al. For me, being punctual is some internal clock that just knows what time it is.

I rarely use an alarm clock. Unless I’m sick or traveling, meaning time change hasn’t settled in quite yet, I wake up at the same time each day (usually about 7am) and start feeling tired about 10pm each night. I can tell throughout the day what time it is usually within 10 to 15 minutes, even if I haven’t looked at a clock in hours. And for those reasons, being punctual has always been innate in me.

It’s a sign that you care enough not to waste someone else’s time. It’s evidence that what you are showing up for is important. It’s considerate (ah…. remember that post!) by showing you took a few minutes to plan your arrival rather than just show up whenever.

Suits GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s not an option for me to be late. I get nervous and uneasy if I’m going to be late for some unavoidable reason. I get frustrated with train or plane delays because it throws off my timely plans. I feel like it says “he didn’t care enough.”

Happy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s not about counting the minutes or planning to the moment. It’s about ensuring you are not causing any inconvenience to other people. Punctuality helps things run more smoothly. You can often accomplish more as a result.

That said, I’m not 100% punctual. On occasion, if there’s no impact to someone else, I might arrive a little later than planned. For instance… there’s a party from 8 to 11. I tell the host I expect to arrive around 8:30. If I show up at 8:35, I’m not gonna freak out.

Panic GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

But if I am meeting friends for lunch and we say 12… you bet your ass I’ll be there by 11:55. Unless the person I’m meeting is always late… and I have a few friends like that… then, I… well, no… I show up at 11:55.

Some laughs for you about how punctual I’ve been:

  1. Created an itinerary for a 2-week trip to Italy. Arrival times and departure times were noted on a schedule to the minute. I never made that trip, but when I do re-schedule, I’ll be thrown off if I’m not on schedule. And one of those places was the Amalfi Coast where La Dolce Vita is the way of life: you just enjoy the beauty and forget about time. Ha!
  2. I once kept a log of all my times at the gym, noting when it was scheduled and when I actually worked out — each activity, set, rep. Wanted to see if I was using the time the best way possible. NERD!
  3. I’ve timed it so that I walk around the corner for a restaurant reservation so that I could walk right up to the host or hostess at the precise time. Yes, I am a little obsessive.

How about you frequently late arrivals?  What’s the scoop?

TV Show Review: Madam Secretary

Posted on Updated on

4 stars to “Madam Secretary’s” Season 3, Episode 6 “The Statement.” This season started off a little shaky but has been growing much stronger. I look forward to each new episode unlike the prior season where it sat waiting in the DVR station.


Henry’s former asset, Dmitri, has gone rogue. Henry flies to his new undercover location to try to save him, subsequently learning that Dmitri doesn’t want to live if he can’t be near his family or in a career protecting the country.  Henry acts fast to find a solution to try to meet one of the two requests.  And he succeeds…

The presidential election is heating up and it looks more and more like Dalton will lose. All their decisions about current politics and US relations with the world are based on this election.  Realistic much?

Poor Matt is tied to a radical Islamic terrorist bombing, or so it seems… perhaps it’s the Afghan government’s connections who are behind it all.  Matt made a donation to a mosque which is under scrutiny, but he refuses to speak to the press.  He’s branded a traitor by some American new groups and in the end, he’s proven innocent (of course). But it was a very clear picture of what it’s like in America these days…


  1. Reality. It mirrors so much of what’s going on right now, it ain’t funny!
  2. Matt’s story was moving. You saw what it was like for someone being accused of a crime they didn’t commit purely because of religion. Awful.
  3. Tea Leoni’s angst and determination are unparalleled.  She was born to play this part. Maybe she should have a real role in government. 🙂


  1. Less about the Middle East in the future please.  Sometimes we need a different topic. I look forward to next week’s about Venezuela! Maybe we can find with Trudeau’s counterpart in Madam Secretary Canada?
  2. The family comes in and out too much. It feels disconnected.  As does the plight of the rest of the Secretary of State team. I understand giving each actor a chance to shine, but sometimes we lose traces of what’s going on in all of the character’s personal lives, e.g. what is up with Blake?  Can we please find out who the heck he is after 3 seasons?

Final Thoughts

It’s the best of the political dramas.  Scandal is good… and I can’t wait for that to come back in 2017, but it’s a little too drama-oriented.  Madam Secretary is all drama too, but it’s based in reality where people do things that make sense and that I can understand. I hope it’s renewed for season 4. Check out more at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6102296/?ref_=ttep_ep6.