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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

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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.

Review: You

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You4 out of 5 stars to You, the first of a two-book thriller and suspense series, written in 2014 by Caroline Kepnes. All I can start out with is wow – I loved it! I’ve tried to pull out all spoilers, but I do give a little bit of the high-level plot and antics away, as I think it will make you want to read it more.

 



Why This Book


My friend Medhat asked if I’d be interested in a buddy read with him and proposed 5 different books. I’d read 1 already, didn’t have an interest in 1 of them, and 2 were a re-read for him, which left this one as something new for both of us. So we went with it… I knew nothing about the author or the novel prior to him bringing it up, and I’m grateful he did. I had been in a slight reading slump and this book was extremely refreshing and strong, directly in my sweet spot as far as genres and styles go. Please go check out Medhat’s profile and look at his review of this book.



Plot, Characters & Setting


Joe runs a bookstore on the Lower East Side of NYC, sort of inheriting it from the man who basically adopted him as a boy from parents who weren’t doing a very good job at raising him. Joe’s witty, sarcastic and on the edge of being a little psychotic for his 25-30ish years. Guinivere Beck, known simply as Beck, stops in his store to make a purchase, and Joe immediately falls in love…. No that’s not the right word… obsession, yeah… falls into an obsession…that’s the right word… with her. He stalks her social media profiles, learns everything he can about her, then engineers the downfall of her on again / off again jerk of a boyfriend. He tries to isolate Beck from her friends and create situations where they keep running into another until she finally decides to pursue him. They begin dating for a few weeks and have a very peculiar relationship where they take steps to get closer, then she pulls away and looks for her ex-boyfriend. After a few weeks of the back-and-forth, some major event take place that show Joe’s true colors… and eventually we learn just how broken Beck also is. When one of them attempts to break off the relationship, the other goes berserk and takes the situation to an entirely new level of crazy. As the book comes to an end, a dramatic conclusion forces a major plot change and probably begins the focus for the second book in the series, which as a nice little teaser for you… is called Hidden Bodies. {Phew… this is a hard one to describe without giving any spoilers}

Beyond Joe and Beck, you’ve got an ex-girlfriend of Joe’s and an ex-boyfriend of Beck’s. Beck’s psychiatrist enters the picture for a good chunk of the book, as well as her friend, Peach. Peach is an annoying and pompous witch (I have another word in mind but I’ll be nice today) who is almost more psychotic than Joe. Joe’s got a few workers at the book store who interact from time to time, as well as a cop intervening for a few chapters.

The action mostly takes place in NYC, but there are a few short trips to Rhode Island and other parts of the immediate vicinity. It all takes place in current times, where social media and technology are very important to the plot and character actions.



Approach & Style


The book is told from Joe’s point of view, as he is the narrator which means it’s told in a first-person perspective. However, the big difference in this book is that Joe is telling the story as if the reader is Beck, constantly referring to her as “You” throughout the book. As a reader, you start feeling like everything he’s doing, he’s doing to you. And when your character, Beck, makes decisions or reacts in an unexpected way, it’s a roller-coaster of fun trying to balance your amusement and your frustration with your anger and your confusion. All in a good approach. I haven’t really read much else using this perspective, and it was done in a very strong way.
The book is about 400 pages and broken into about 50 chapters, so each one is relatively short but consistent in its narration, style and language. The language is a bit convoluted at times, as they are both avid readers and writers, work in a book store and get quite philosophical. It’s definitely a 17+ book in the sense that there are many 4-letter word bombs and extensive sexual content. Some will find it on the vulgar side, and while it certainly had a few moments where it was on the edge, I thought the author only included such content when it felt appropriate.



Strengths


Due to the style, you are immediately drawn into Joe’s psychotic attraction and dangerous personality. However… there is something so wonderful and charming about him, you want to look past the stalker he becomes, as he has a heart of hold. And when Beck begins to show signs of being venomous, you almost don’t mind some of the things he does to or against her, in spite of their growing attraction and relationship. It’s truly like watching a train wreck, knowing you can’t really stop it, but kinda wanting to see every little gory detail as it unfolds.

Joe is so crystal clear, you would think he’s standing right next you. Beck is almost as real as he is, but given Joe narrates the story, you tend to feel closer to him. For an author to make you almost root for the bad guy, it’s a good book. The interaction, the imagination, the internal thoughts, the passive-aggressive behavior… it’s all so spot-on, I can’t even begin to explain how real this situation seems to play out, with the exception of he’s a stalker and basically invaded her life. If they had just met and gotten into a relationship, everything from that point on felt 100% real – from their fights to their make-up sessions, as well as from the games they played and the way in which their friends took sides. Amazing slice of life to watch play out.



Concerns


The last few chapters felt a bit rushed. It was quite suspenseful and you could see the whole sequence of events unfolding in real-time before your eyes; however, because it’s all from Joe’s point of view, I’m unsure exactly how much Beck knows in those last few chapters. She clearly articulates that she was aware of what he had done before she told him she knew about it. But you don’t know how much of a preview she had into his psychotic mind, or if she was happy or scared with it. {Again, sorry, don’t want to give away any spoilers} For me, I would have loved to read a journal entry she’d written saying exactly what she knew and when she knew it. Otherwise, we’re left guessing a little bit, and having that information may help us decide whether or not she’s a good person or a bad person.

Joe gets away with a lot. He’s sneaky. He’s smart. He’s vengeful. He’s manipulative. But it seems no one picks up on it until too late. I can pretty much buy off on it; however, in the scenes where he is caught, I can’t tell if it’s remorse or anger. I would love to know if he wanted to be caught, if he accepts the consequences or if he is just growing more volatile. It’s a pretty clear ending to the book, so you know when it’s done what is going on in his head, but it would have been fantastic to watch him spiral a bit more out of control in the last 20% of the novel.



Author & Other Similar Books


As far as the way the story is told, I can’t think of anything. As far as the type of story, perhaps Fatal Attraction? Joe also feels like a diabolical version of a narcissistic Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. Loveable and annoying, but be careful as you never know what he’s truly capable of until after it’s already happened.



Questions & Final Thoughts


I need to read the second book ASAP. This is such a different kind of story… one where you may side with the criminal in this story. You see both perspectives. You want him to get everything he deserves – both the good and the bad. And in some strange way, I think I was even attracted to parts of his personality (and that’s scary, given how the book ends up). If you need something to pull you out of a slump, this is the book. It’s still sitting on my brain, as vivid as though I were reading the words on the page. It’s that kind of book… one where you will want to keep thinking about it and talking about it for a long time after you are done.



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

Review: Be My Killer

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Be My Killer3 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 publishes. On to the review…

Why This Book
NetGalley has become my new go-to for selection of ARCs to read and review. But this time, I happen to see this book on my friend Bentley’s list of Goodreads’ books, and I thought it sounded really interesting. I requested it via NetGalley and was awarded it that day. It was the next book on my list due to be published, which meant I had to squeeze it in this week. Oh, deadlines… Many thanks to the author, NetGalley and the publisher, Bookouture, for the advanced copy in lieu of a fair and honest review.

Overview of Story
A killer is on the loose, propelled by a new Twitter handle called “@BeMyKiller,” in which people can suggest names of who should be killed, as well as a witty response to taunt the killer into choosing them. It was only a fun game one man created, but someone took it to heart and killed 3 people in the exact manner suggested on Twitter. The families of the victims are out for blood, but the man who created the Twitter handle has been cleared of any wrongdoing. Enter Hazel, an indie film producer fresh off a prestigious award, looking for her next big break. She’s pulled together a crew to interview the family of the last victim, Meredith; however, Hazel is the only person who believes the same killer murdered all the victims, and possibly a 4th and a 5th, which the police are still investigating. As she heads to the sacred ground where Meredith was brutally murdered, Hazel interviews all the families, as well as the guy who created the Twitter handle. Things start getting out of control when people threaten to kill him, but along the path, people’s true personalities and hidden agendas begin coming to the surface. Over the course of 4 or 5 days, one by one, each member of the crew or victim’s families begin disappearing. The killer is knocking them off for some mysterious reasons. As the story comes to an end, there are only 4 or 5 people left and they begin to realize the others haven’t just disappeared (no bodies were ever found until the very end). It all comes to an explosive conclusion in the final chapters when the killer is revealed and Hazel takes a stand to save and protect those who still remain.

Approach & Style
The book is told in the past tense via an omniscient third party narrator, watching over each of the characters as they are brutally murdered. The point of view is consistent, but there is some mystery as you don’t always know which character is being tracked by the killer. Pronouns are often used in lieu of him or her, especially when the victim realizes they are about to die and knows who the killer is — the author doesn’t want to give it away, so “they” is quite frequent. It got a little confusing in the beginning, but then you realize you have to go with it, based on how the story is told. It takes place in a small New England town, though the murders happened all over the country, and possibly one in Europe.

I read this on my iPad Kindle reader. Chapters are very short, and even though the book is roughly 300 pages, there is a lot of white space on the screen due to the break in each of the scenes. As a result, it’s much shorter, and only took me about 4 hours to read over the course of 2 days.

Strengths
1. For a thriller novel, it’s full of suspense and the fear-factor. Given the way the story is told, and the writing style, it has the creep-factor. It almost feels like you are the camera person, following the people and watching the murders happen, but you can’t do anything about it. It’s also very descriptive and creative in the ways each of the characters die. I love me some horror, but this was very intricate. I felt the pain and shook / squirmed a few times, thinking about the vicious torture the attacker inflicted on “their” victims. Just to give you a flavor of the torture, one of the Twitter followers suggested her brother be killed, the brother responded “Sure, take a piece of me.” Well… the killer basically gutted him, chopped him up while he was still alive, into little pieces, and filmed the whole thing for the family to watch. What?????

2. I love when books kill characters one by one, keeping you guessing who is behind it the whole time. This book does well in that capacity. I also am fascinated by the premise of a Twitter stalker who kills people based on suggestions from various followers. It makes for a fun read and makes me a little leary to respond to people I don’t know on social media!

3. The characters are strong and real. I didn’t like many of them, mostly because they are all spineless jerks who hide behind the walls of the internet. The families of the victims also seemed to be using the death of their loved one as a way to help promote their own objectives. The film crew felt dirty and seedy, given what they were doing and how they treated each other, but it also felt a bit realistic in how this would play out — as far as the exploitation part.

Open Questions & Concerns
1. The cops seemed way too easy-going about the whole film production setting up in the murder spot. They were missing throughout most of the book, which felt too convenient just to keep the murders happening one by one.

2. I am not sure I believe the FBI couldn’t track the killer down through technology. I suppose the killer may not have had his/her own Twitter profiles, and looked at victims thru other means… but it felt like no one had a clue what was going on in that investigation.

3. I didn’t care for the ending. It was a surprise, and it made sense; however, it felt like it came a little too far from nowhere. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll stop there. Key thing to convey is… if you want a truly tidied up, complex and shocking ending, this wasn’t it. It definitely was surprising, but I wanted more in terms of the “why.” It does make up for the disappointment in the reasoning with a fantastic hide and seek scene in an amusement park.

Author & Other Similar Books
Tough one… I think it’s the author’s first book, so not much to say here. I am in no way, shape or form comparing him or the book to Agatha Christie; however, the concept of “one by one they die” was very similar to her novel, And Then There Were None.

Final Thoughts
I liked the author’s style and the topics in the book. I wasn’t a fan of the pronoun usage and think there could have been a better method to accomplishing the mystery goal. Overall, I’d definitely try another book by the author as it had a good amount of suspense, some horrific gore and kept my attention the entire time.

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