tragedy

Book Review: Climbing the Coconut Tree by S. C. Karakaltsas

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Climbing the Coconut TreeClimbing the Coconut Tree by S.C. Karakaltsas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A majority of my reading comes from the mystery, thriller, and historical fiction genres. Occasionally, I step outside these realms to sample new authors or topics. Climbing the Coconut Tree is one of those occasions where it’s not the typical read for me, but it absolutely has elements of mystery and focuses on a specific historical period. I saw the author’s book reviews and interaction via blogs, social media apps, and websites and decided to give something new a chance. I’m glad I did!

The novel is based on real-life events from ~75 years ago in the Pacific Ocean when cultures were clashing and emerging in a world very far from my own. The author, and many characters in the book, are Australian. An island’s population has been drastically impacted by the various wars and visitors over the years, but in particular in recent periods. The story chronicles the life of several who try to protect what they can, balancing the true purpose of non-natives being on the island against those who want to take back what is theirs and others who were made promises about a better life. Tragedy ensues, and readers are left quite curious to learn more about what really happened so many years ago between the Chinese, Japanese, natives, and other visitors.

When I began the book, the most apparent thing to me was how well the author assembles descriptions of either people or settings. Much of the first portion has minimal plot, so we focus on what a few key people think about the island and what’s happening in the world around them. We get to know the mindset of the characters and create a vivid picture in our minds of the location we probably have not ever seen, nor might not ever see. By midway, the plot evolves slowly until we see the growing tension among the various classes and populations. Karakaltsas weaves a light but powerful level of drama within the words she chooses to tell the story. By three quarters of the way through, the mystery elements kicked in and I found myself intrigued to learn what really happened on the island. I won’t say anymore, so that I don’t spoil any plot lines.

I’m glad I went in to this one knowing nothing about the history of the place. It might’ve ruined the story for me if I already knew the outcome. It’s sparked some interest in the reality of the situation, so kudos to the author for inspiring readers to want to learn more about the events. I look forward to seeing more from this writer, as she has a strong handle on turning real-life events into tales that entertain and awaken her readers.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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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Book Review: Mackenzie’s Distraction by Angie Dokos

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Reading new genres has become part of my routine to find fantastic new authors, understand different writing styles, and explore great stories and content. I found all three with the latest book I read, Mackenzie’s Distraction, written by Angie Dokos in 2016. The book is considered new adult contemporary fiction, but it’s stocked full of romance, emotions, attitude, and possibilities. I bought the book a few weeks before a recent vacation and read it poolside on the Amalfi Coast while in Italy. What a perfect combination of beauty in a book just like the many splendors of my surroundings.

mackenzei
Mackenzie’s been hurt in the past and steers clear of relationships especially when the man seems too good to be real or true. But in this case, before she even meets him, her life is traumatized when her mother is a car accident and struggles to survive. Though Mackenzie has friends and other family to help her handle the huge blow, it’s not quite as simple as all that. Her mother’s hospitalization leads Mackenzie to learn a few deep-rooted family secrets, meet friends from a parent’s former life, and discover things about herself she never knew existed. That’s when the potential man of her dreams walks into her life, but is she too crushed and shocked to accept it? Let’s not forget the sudden onset of several available and potentially great catches who are very interested in getting to know her. Who will she choose, if any? Now that’s where the plot of this book takes off… weaving readers on a very emotional and manic ride with the unfortunately impacted young woman just looking to heal.

I’m normally a plot, then character guy. In this book, though the plot is important, it’s less about what the secrets and actions are and more about how Mackenzie deals with all the repercussions. It was a great change of pace for me as you had to settle in, listen, and understand why Mackenzie reacted the way she did in each instance. I didn’t always agree, and I sometimes got angry with her for what seemed like an unnecessary or spoiled adolescent attitude; however, I also haven’t suffered through the craziness that hits her in the span of a few days. In that sense, she certainly tries to find a balance, and readers can easily connect with her on the journey. I vividly recall thinking, if she didn’t accept Trevor’s love and attention, I’d certainly volunteer to stand in. (I won’t tell you if she does or doesn’t, but it’s complex!) He was practically perfect in every way, what exactly was stopping her? Well… that’s where psychology and personality truly come into play and drive her responses. It takes a truly analytical, sensitive, and courageous mind to deliver this kind of story. Kudos to Dokos.

Writing style and caliber were strong. Characters were vivid and relatable. Actions and dialog were balanced well, even if at times I was feeling a little frustrated with some of the things people did or said. But that’s the beauty of a good book: sometimes it takes the writer to challenge the reader to engage outside their normal comfort zone, and readers should keep an open mind to fully understand the vision of the author. Then you see why it works… and you have a thrilling escape in someone else’s complicated life. Being a teenager or even in your early 20’s is ridiculously tough in a modern world. Dealing with siblings who have different attitudes, step families with bigger concerns and questions, friends who just want you to be happy but get in your face all too often… wanting to open your heart to love but not knowing how any more… trusting someone who is virtually a stranger despite spending days with him in the first week… people are often secretive and misleading, so I understand Mackenzie’s concerns. But from one particular scene, the girl can take care of herself! Awesome scene, Ms. Dokos. 😊

I really enjoyed the book and will definitely look for more from the author this year, as she has another book published and is hopefully working on a few more already! She’s got a new fan and I’m confident many more as they take a chance on reading her work. I recommend giving it a chance for all readers, but most definitely if you enjoy balanced romance and emotions, journeys, analytical decision-making and learning how to let go and accept change.

I am also a big fan of Angie’s blog. She covers so much beyond just books on her blog, and it’s a welcome distraction every week to see what’s going on in her life. A wonderful writer, blogger and person to know… stop by for yourself!

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.

365 Challenge: Day 206 – Embrace

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Embrace: (a) accept or support [a belief, theory, or change] willingly and enthusiastically, or (b) hold closely in one’s arms, especially as a sign of affection

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Life is about embracing as much as you can while you have the chance. It is short, even if you live an entire century with little to no health issues. It may not seem so, but with so many choices and opportunities surrounding us, we will never accomplish everything on our infamous lists. Since returning from vacation less than two days ago, I realized how much time I spend doing things because I just do them as part of a daily task, rather than because I want to do them. When I was on vacation, other than prearranged tours or transportation, there wasn’t a single thing I ‘had‘ to do other than enjoy my time. I like that life. And while I recognize it cannot always be that way, and not everyone has the freedom to embrace it, I believe strongly in finding a way to make that the predominant approach to my remaining years. Two things are forcing me to realize it since my return:

I met a very cool blogger earlier this year who helped push me to submit my own work to agencies and publishers. As I grew to know Melanie Mole a little more, I learned she was also a writer who had her own books available for purchase. I chose her newest one, ‘Simply Does It‘ and began reading it the night I returned from my trip. Click the link to read more about it on the Goodreads book page, but give me another two days and I’ll have a review posted all about it. It is the exact perfect reminder we all need to help us realize our priorities and attune our focus towards our goals. As I read the pages while laying in bed each night, I kept wondering how to get myself closer and closer to the ideals of how I want to live my life. I believe this book may help me realize a few of those paths. Embrace the simplicity of everything around us, not the things that we feel forced to do.

But there was also something quite horrific this week, something happening all too frequently, that hit a little more close to home than it ever has before. What happened in Las Vegas was an absolute tragedy and there aren’t enough words to express how any of us feel. When I heard the news, I knew my cousin had been in Las Vegas but thought he had left the night before. He didn’t. He and his girlfriend were there onsite in the venue when the shooting started. They were actually in a row right next to someone who was shot. He’s about 14 years younger than I am, but we were very close as children and young adults. I babysat him when our parents would go out for dinners on their own or to other activities. I cannot imagine what it’s like for the families and friends of victims to lose someone like this. I’m grateful and lucky it didn’t happen this time to my family this time, but ultimately, it could at any point in the future. This reminder, way too close to home, helps you re-set your own priorities. You can see him and his girlfriend’s account of how they escaped in the news audio clips in this link.

Life is short. We should always do whatever is in our power to enjoy each day, focused on our goals, helping one another and finding paths that make us happy. Not working 24/7, constantly waiting for some device to tell us what to do, or wishing for something different. Get out there and make it happen for yourself. Learn how to find the simplicity and the happiness we all crave. Embrace what you deserve.

 

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.

Author Alert: William Shakespeare

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As part of our Author Alert series, we’re now on our fourth week and I’ve completed 500 reviews on the ThisIsMyTruthNow blog site. This week, I’ve selected… William Shakespeare!

 

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William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) wrote 37 plays and 157 sonnets. You can find more about him on Goodreads or Wikipedia.

shakes.jpg

He married Anne Hathaway and had 3 children. She looks great for being nearly 500 years old, but given she’s an actress, she probably has tons of people taking care of her! Oh… that’s right, it’s a different Anne Hathaway. Silly me. I get them confused a lot… probably because I’ve read at least 21 out Shakespeare’s 37 plays. See below for links to all the reviews. I should probably keep on reading…. which one…. feel free to suggest a good one I’ve missed. It’s been a while and although a re-read might work, something “new” is even better.

  1. Sonnets (1590 – 1610)
  2. Richard III (1591)
  3. The Taming of the Shrew (1593)
  4. Comedy of Errors (1594)
  5. Romeo & Juliet (1595)
  6. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595) — would love to do a re-read some day
  7. Richard II (1595)
  8. The Merchant of Venice (1596)
  9. Much Ado About Nothing (1598)
  10. As You Like It (1599)
  11. Julius Caesar (1599)
  12. Hamlet (1600) — favorite tragedy
  13. The Winter’s Tale (1600) — least favorite of all!
  14. Twelfth Night (1601) — favorite comedy
  15. Measure For Measure (1603)
  16. Othello (1603)
  17. King Lear (1603)
  18. Macbeth (1606)
  19. Antony and Cleopatra (1606)
  20. The Tempest (1610)
  21. Cymbeline (1611)
  22. Henry VIII (1613)

 

I adore Shakespeare and took a 4 month course on him in college (many years ago). Saturday mornings 9 to 12… some days, I wasn’t sober enough to have a lot of input, and I think my grade showed it. It was the only class where I didn’t have at least an A-. Very disappointed in myself. Now you probably are too!

I also love the movie Shakespeare in Love. Have you ever seen it? I wonder if that is representative of who he really was… I might have fallen in love myself. And then there’s Shakespeare in the Park.

To see the actual author page and all the reviews, click here. All 20+ reviews I’ve completed are there…

The Cat Who series I adore has a book with Shakespeare in the title by Lilian Jackson Braun.

What’s your favorite thing about Shakespeare? What other things have you seen / read about Shakespeare that weren’t actually his own writing?

 

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.

Review: The Zoo Story

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The Zoo Story
The Zoo Story by Edward Albee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Review


4 out of 5 stars to The Zoo Story, written in 1959 by Edward Albee. If you haven’t read this story, you’ve missed out on something intense and truly spellbinding. It’s a classic American play staged on Broadway (and other places), but so few have probably read it these days. The story is amazing and not what what anyone would expect from the title, of even in general. Two men sit on a bench in Central Park. Uppity business man taking a break from his day. A man approaches, appears a bit like a vagabond. He wants to talk. The business man wants to ignore him. The vagabond asks useless and painful questions. The business man wants to walk away, but the vagabond tickles him. A fight ensues. Something bad happens. One man runs away. The other reflects on what he’s learned.

What a commentary on society. Forget age, gender, race or class. It’s a story about how different personalities handle conflict or friendship. Do you get close or stay distant? Do you listen or talk? Do you ignore or immerse? And when something bad happens, what kind of character do you have? Do you stay or go? Do you deny or admit? All the choices we make in life. Wrapped up into a little old play so many of us haven’t actually read or seen.

So what are you waiting for? Sure, it’s not a suspense novel (which I love). It’s a not a page-turning thriller (which I love). But the dialog is on point. And it should be read. So go now.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: Antony and Cleopatra

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Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Review


4 out of 5 stars to Antony and Cleopatra, a play published in 1606 by William Shakespeare.This is one of my favorite Shakespearean plays, partially for some of the reality on which it is based. Some know the full story, others know bits and pieces. Cleopatra, famous in her own right, is the Queen of Egypt. Caeser is conquering the world. Antony rules Rome for a while. The love affair between these three, plus a former wife and the sister, Octavia, create such a beautiful and tragic story. Misunderstood messages. Betrayal. Hatred. Anger. Love. It’s a reflection on all the human emotions, wondering why we are tested at so many points in our lives. Where does a man’s heart lie? How honest is the woman he loves? Can you trust your own staff? Time-tested questions we’ve faced for nearly 400 years since this was written, but also the thousands of years before it. This one had a bit of everything and was one of the more easily understood plays. It tugs a little at your emotions while pushing you to root for the right people. And if you are a history buff, it makes it all that much more enjoyable.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews

Review: Oedipus Rex

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Oedipus Rex
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Book Review


4 out of 5 stars to Oedipus Rex, the first of “The Theban Plays,” written by Sophocles around 430 BC. If you are unfamiliar with Greek tragedies, the thing you need to know most is that the authors often played with the concept of fate: not just that some things are meant to be or to come back and haunt you, but that there is always more going on than you realize at the time. This is one of the plays you should absolutely read. Although borderline spoiler, it’s important to know 1 fact about the play, as it plays into the mind of so many psychologists today when they speak about an Oedipal Complex, as in all young boys (kids?) fall in love with their mothers at some point. Essentially, Oedipus kills the King and marries the King’s wife. Little does he know…. that was his father and she is his mother. Whaaaaattttt? How does that happen? Seriously… well, the plot is intricate, the history is insane… and it’s only the first of three in this trilogy. Find a translation and read it. It’s a little convoluted, and the language may be a bit metaphorical in too many places, but the characters and the plot is amazing!



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews