Day: July 22, 2017

Book Review: Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

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3+ out of 5 stars to Lies She Told, a thriller set to be released on September 12th by Cate Holahan. I enjoyed reading the book and look forward to sharing this review with you.

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Why This Book 
Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, the publisher, for sending me this copy to read and review in advance as an ARC. They found me on Goodreads based on my reading tastes, reviews and ratings, suggesting this as a potential book I might find engaging. And they were right. I had it sitting on the shelf for a few weeks as I got through other books, but as all my NetGalley reads aren’t due until September, I had some time to squeeze this one in.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Welcome to the concept of a book within a book… The primary story revolves around Liza Cole, an author living in the NYC metro area who’s had some good books and some not so good books. She’s been given a deadline to get the next one written since she won’t first draft an outline, which prompts her to dive head first into her own thrilling plot. While she’s writing the book, readers learn Liza’s trying to conceive a baby with her husband, David, but they’ve been unsuccessful due to a few issues she’s had in the past with uterine damage. David’s best friend, Nick, is presumed missing, which is setting off a few alarm bells. David starts worrying when they can’t find Nick and he’s being suspected of causing the disappearance. Eventually, his body is found in the East River, dying in a very similar way to the character in Liza’s book. Liza’s supported by her mother, agent Trevor and best friend, Chris.

In Liza’s story, her primary character, Beth, is a new stay-at-home mom who suspects her husband, Jake, is cheating on her. When she secretly monitors his behavior, Beth learns he has been spending a lot of time with a cop named Colleen. When she accuses her husband, he forces her to go to therapy, where Beth meets Tyler, a therapist who attempts to get her to realize she needs to end the marriage. Unfortunately, Beth isn’t ready and soon finds herself stalking Colleen. Next thing she knows, she’s killing Colleen and dumping her body in the East River, then sleeping with Tyler.

As the two stories begin weaving in and out, readers learn there are common things occurring in both, leaving us to question which one is real and which one is a story. Or perhaps… it’s all the same story happening from different perspectives. You don’t really know until the last few chapters when the random clues begin fitting together, revealing what has actually been happening along the path.

Approach & Style 
I read the paperback version sent to me by the publisher. It’s just under 300 pages, broken into three sections and alternating back and forth between the two story lines. There are 19 chapters, each dividing into two sub-chapters: (1) Liza and (2) Beth. As a result, chapters are relatively short, usually under 8 pages each. Both stories are told with first-person narration from the main female character’s point of view, and both are told in the present tense. I read the book over 3 days, about 100 pages each day.

Strengths 
The concept of the book is great. I love trying to solve not only the mystery within the novel, but also determining how the two stories would eventually link together and which was fake. I enjoy seeing parallels between the two lead characters and their families. The emotional aspects of the characters are strong and offer readers an easy connection. You can understand the pain and feel the impact of the actions happening around them. It’s full of suspense, some very descriptive scenes and lots of potential suspects and angles.

Concerns 
It was a hard read, and I’m normally good at keeping story lines separated. A few things that could have worked differently, which would have helped readers retain which characters belong in which section, as well as distinct from one another. Character names were too similar: Beth and Liza. I know this is supposed to help with the parallels, but it left you a tad confused at times. Jake and David. Sound a bit similar. Go with two very different options to help us keep it straighter. Something long, something short. I had to stop and start a lot. I don’t like to re-read the same thing over and over again. But I was OK here as it was a complex story, plotted out in a good way.

The ending came a bit from out of left field. You can guess the connection between reality and the made-up story, but why it happened was very unexpected. There were a few clues, but we needed more to not be fully surprised. I would have liked to be reading it and go “oh, now I understand how it ties all together.” Instead I went “Hmm… there were no clues of this before…” It wasn’t too much of a distraction, but it was enough to make me think the book needed another round of editing before its release. Add in a few more connected pieces of history. Make me impressed with the things I missed along the way.

Author & Other Similar Books 
The author has two other books prior to this one. I might give them a chance, depending on the plot and setting. I’ve read another book in the last few years like this one, but I can’t recall the title. It’s not a common story where there is 1 real story and 1 fake story an author is writing, which makes it a different type of read. You’re sure to be excited and thrilled at parts, but you will also be confused at some parts.

Questions & Final Thoughts 
The author can certainly write. She has a good eye for characters, setting and details. I’m glad the publisher sent this one to me, as I definitely found myself wanting to read it each night. But it was also one where I stopped a lot to check if the story had an error or if it was being written in a vague way on purpose. Overall, good book… lots of complexity in the details… good supporting characters and a treasure of relationship drama that you find quite engaging. Put it through another round of beta readers or editing and it would have been an easy 4 from me.

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.

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365 Challenge: Day 132 – Casual

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Casual: relaxed and unconcerned

casua;

Every once in a while, you wake up on the other side of the bed. Literally. Not physically. I have a dog that prevents me from moving at night, so waking up in a different part of the bed is not usually an issue. On the floor is a possibility, as with every hour that goes by, his little paws push me an inch closer to the edge. One day, I will be knocked off. And that’s the only day it will ever happen. I push back. I’ll tie up all his stuffed animal toys just above where he can reach them on the wall and see what he does about it. Evil. That’s me sometimes. Unpredictable. Relaxed. Casual.

Most people on this blog probably know me as a bit too organized and formal when it comes to my posts. I never just wing it… for the last week, I’ve been drafting the posts at night and scheduling them for the next morning. It gave me an opportunity to spend more time writing “Father Figure” with less distractions and worry over “oh, yeah, gotta get to that 365 post.” But last night, I was in a good mood and we went out to dinner, then watched some TV and I had a book to finish (review to come later), so no 365 post was drafted last night. This morning… I went to check that the post was released and went “Aaack… I still have to write something.”

Casual. Sometimes just writing what’s on your mind and combining a few things together is OK. It’s still putting in effort, but it’s also allowing our bodies some time to re-group. Writing the 365 posts isn’t difficult, but when you want them to have substance, it does require a good chunk of uninterrupted time. So today’s post is going to be about letting go and just doing whatever feels natural and normal at that moment. Nothing pre-planned. Nothing forced. Nothing formal. I’m not even going to discuss what being casual means or why it’s important. From this point forward in today’s post, I’m just gonna tell you what’s going on in my life this weekend. “I can grow. I can change,” said the boy as his nose doubled in size.

I have an arbor to build and install on the NYC Terrace Garden. It might need a hashtag. Although, Ryder (9-year old shiba inu) calls it the Enchanted Garden. He has his own Facebook page… “Ryder the Cat-Like Dog” {Aside: Yes, he can talk… it’s a strange little voice my friend Paul invented, but W has taken it over and now Ryder chats all day long, asking for food, demanding more flowers in the garden, wanting his allowance to go out with friends to the local bar. We like to keep it fun around here.} This arbor is going to be quite a little project, as it’s for a new wisteria tree. It never ends around here. Our friend Matt is very concerned as wisteria is invasive; he fears one day, he won’t hear from us and when he stops by to check on us… the wisteria will have grown through the always open bathroom window… into the apartment… trapping us against the walls and taking over like a jungle. Poor Ryder will be trying to bite his way out. He’d just as soon leave us here to die, taking any cash and starting a new life, I’m sure. That dog while adorable is the most independent codependent dependent unusual creature next to… well… me. #EnchantedGarden #NYCTerraceGarden

And then there’s Game Night tonight, where a bunch of friends of ours are getting together for drinks, pizza, cards and games. It’s an amazing night of fun where someone brings a new game we all learn and play… it’s often very adult in its childishness… a very dirty cartoon version of Cards Against Humanity was once played. I’m still recovering from those pictures and what people made a few stick figures do. And the last time we played, it was the Voting Game where you vote for which person is most like the phrase on the card. I got a few really bad ones. And a few good ones. I think they voted me most likely to be a serial killer. Not Good! Tonight though… I think it will be more card games. And I’ve settled on wine as my beverage of choice — no hangovers needed while trying to finish that arbor tomorrow. And I’m writing Sunday’s post this afternoon, as it’s time for either Pennsylvania or San Francisco, the last two other places I’ve lived.

My stream-of-conscious knows no bounds today. It was a productive week. I let myself accept being casual and relaxed over a few things. I accomplished a lot. And I’m giving myself a break this weekend from constantly being on the computer… at least tomorrow… as today will be catching up on anything outstanding: 3 award, 3 tags, book review, 365 post, author spotlight, reading plans, etc. Hitting the gym soon. Reading Hidden Bodies, the sequel to You. And preparing my list of questions for the agent and publisher I’m meeting with next week. I’ve got some good things brewing on that front… very exciting. But I won’t go into any details until I know if something is working out or not. And other than that, I’m going to relax. It’s time to just have a day where whatever gets done, gets done. Last thing on my mind, I owe you a response from last week’s post…

Unpredictable Reminder

  • In last week’s 365 Daily Challenge Unpredictable post, I noted I’d confirm what I selected for my list of things to put in the hat. After discussion with the significant other, we settled on NYC Things To Do. We’re always finding we have blocks of hours available on the weekend in between errands, house or garden maintenance and hanging out with friends. Rather than toss the ball back and forth, never settling on anything, we’re going to list 26 items in NYC with all the key info: location, directions, open days/times, categories, website links and who is responsible for planning it. We will put them together in the next few weeks to start in September. I estimate we will pull from that hat every other weekend, but we will have pre-planned things to do for about a year. We still need to decide if it’s a physical hat or an electronic program (he hates technology, so it might be a good punishment for him to be in charge of this… and if you’re reading this part, W, you did agree to this while you were half asleep the other night) to make the choice during each selection. What did you all decide to do with your unpredictable challenge?

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Danielle @ Books, Vertigo @ Tea. Danielle and I met about 4 months ago over a few books we were both reading around the same time. Our favorite reading genres tend to cross paths a lot, as we’re often recommending books to one another. But we also have different reading tastes, so it always becomes interesting to see what we’re chatting about! Danielle is a really cool person to chat with, especially when you get on topics that you both have in common. She’s recommended a few teas to me, though I’m a coffee drinker. She suffers from vertigo, which is awful, but she has a good approach about it all, which makes reading her entries about what’s going on in her life quite interesting. I enjoy chatting and commenting back and forth, and I believe you will, too. Stop by her site, check out the extremely varied books she reads. Danielle’s on several social media apps too, which makes connecting quite easy. She has tons of recommendations by genre and a fantastic game / poll called “You Choose, I Read” where you can pick the book she reads in the future. Go check it out now!
    • “I am Danielle, a 30 “ish” yr old mother of two. I have an insatiable appetite for all things books. I adore bookstores, libraries, and falling asleep while surrounded by my current reads. I prefer to do the latter with tea in hand. I also happen to be a fan of my kids, anime, food, and life in general when I can partake! I am also 100% anti-adulting when possible, so if you are easily offended, I apologize in advance 😉But only a little, because life is seriously too short to be serious all of the time. You will probably see a little bit of everything that is me here at Books, Vertigo and Tea. Enjoy!”

 

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.

AWARD: Mystery Blogger #3

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Many thanks to Roda @ Growing Self for nominating me for this award. I’ve been nominated recently, but she has different questions, so I definitely wanted to participate. She had a beautiful sight with tons of inspirational messages and pictures. You need to check it out, as I promise you’ll find something you love.

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What is the Mystery Blogger Award?

“The ‘Mystery Blogger Award‘ is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion” ~ Okoto Enigma.

 

How Does It Work:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their  blog
  • Mention the creator of the award
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • Nominate up to 10 people
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

 

3 Facts about Jay:

  • I’m short for a guy — only 5’6″
  • I cannot whistle
  • I love Tudor style homes

 

Roda’s Questions To Me:

  • Are you more the talkative or listening type in social settings?
    • Definitely the listener. I will talk if I am close with the people, but if it’s a gathering of people I don’t know all that well, or even some friendlies, I am usually quiet and listen to everyone else.
  • Do you prefer to read the book or watch the movie? 

    • Read the book — always before watching the movie
  • Which cartoon character would you say best describes you or you can relate to most? 

    • I haven’t watched cartoons in years, but probably Scooby Doo!
  • Are you good at board games? If yes, which one?
    • Yes, all of them. I rule at all games, particularly Life and Sorry!
  • If you’re at a party would you describe yourself as a dancer or more of an observer?
    • Definite observer… unless I’ve had 4+ drinks, then I am the dancer. Or stripper. It can get bad!

 

Jay’s Favorite 2nd Post (I included my favorite in the last award)

https://thisismytruthnow.com/2017/03/13/the-challenge-365-days-of-discovery-who-am-i/

  • It’s the beginning of the 365 Daily Challenge Post!

 

Jay’s Nominations

 

Jay’s Questions For Those Nominated

  1. What other blogger would you want to do a co-written post with?
  2. If you had to choose sweet or salty as the only flavor for the rest of your life, which would it be?
  3. What inspirational speaker or motivator always captures your attention?
  4. Do you consider yourself clever, smart or lofty? Or all 3?
  5. Where will you retire?

 

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.