Month: December 2017

Book Review: Missing by Ann Jones

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Why This Book 
I connected with the author a few months ago and liked the summary of her book. While it was free, I downloaded it, knowing I liked mystery series and would want to give it a try. In a quest to close on all open items on my TBR before January 2018 finishes, I read this one on a plane ride home from a Christmas trip to visit family. And I’m glad I did; it’s got lots of potential.

missing

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Detective Lyn Kramer, ~32ish, works in a small town training her newest junior detective, who happens to be a few years older than her. There’s a spark between them, but she’s ignoring it while she’s trying to end another dead-end relationship. When a missing persons case is dropped on her at the last minute, she gets quite a surprise as the woman is her dead ringer. We later learn it’s her twin sister, and they were separated at a young age when their parents died of a drug overdose. There’s a lot more going on in this story, connected to her family’s past in the mob, and her grandfather’s hatred for his in-laws. As Lyn searches for her sister, she confronts a past that tormented her family, slowly learning the truth of what happened all those years ago.

Approach & Style 
This is a novella, on the shorter side of the scale, but it’s a good entry point for a new series. It gives the reader an opportunity over a ~2 hour period to decide if the characters, setting and voice work for their personal style. I read on my iPad through Kindle Reader.

Thoughts 
Besides the author being an absolutely wonderful person from a few chats we’ve had, the book series is quite promising. I was engaged by the plot and the mystery. I liked the family drama aspects of the story. I found the relationships quite curious, especially how Lyn treats her current boyfriend (or he treats her – yikes!) and what could happen with Jud, her new partner. The writing is clean and easy to digest, presents a picture, but lets you add your own imagination to some of the setting. The suspense factor began building in various chapters. For a debut, I think this could turn into something that I look forward to reading as each new book is launched. Kudos to Ann Jones for delivering a strong first book that has all the elements of a fine mystery series.

There were a few areas that were a bit vague or open-ended, and the full background seems to be missing (no pun intended!) a few important details, but I’m not going to question it right now… as sometimes that’s the point in a mystery series. You can’t reveal everything all at once, so those details will pop up when necessary in future books, I suspect. Twins makes things fun. A girl raised by her grandfather will add a different layer to the story. And Lyn has edge… so this was a good read for me.

Summary 
I will definitely continue with this series. For a debut, it has a lot of promise to deliver quality stories with memorable characters. We’ve gotten a small flavor for a handful and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. 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.
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365 Challenge: Day 294 – New Year’s (LIST: Holiday)

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New Year’s: the time at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar’s year count increments by one. Many cultures celebrate the event in some manner and the 1st day of January is often marked as a national holiday

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Sundays are LIST days and today is no different. For this group of 5 Sundays, I chose holidays and now we’re in our final week. I’ve gone with New Year’s because that’s what happens tonight into tomorrow — and it’s a perfect ending to this holiday list. Let’s explore why I love this holiday:

  • It’s a new beginning.
  • It’s a time to remember and reflect.
  • You can embrace change.
  • I love the song ‘Auld Lang Syne’
  • I have a few traditions, like holding money and ensuring the house is cleaned up with no outstanding laundry and a fully stocked food supply.
  • I have fun memories of my father and I banging pots at midnight when I was a child.
  • I live in NYC but will NEVER EVER go to Times Square.
  • I don’t really eat any traditional foods — none are very tasty from what I know of.
  • Watching the BALL drop on the TV.
  • Resolutions.
  • Off from work.
  • The possibility of a whole new approach to things.
  • A truly defining marker.
  • Hope for things yet to come.

I prefer to be at home. I have this weird moment as the ball begins to drop where I want and hope to be perfect starting at midnight… eat healthy, no drinking, say and think positive things, behave, just do everything right! As I get older, I realize that it’s not about picking a moment to change, it’s about incorporating it one by one into your lifestyle in healthy ways. But ever since I was a child, it was always a game to see how long I could hold on in the new year. Now that I’m no longer a child, though at times I like to think I am (ha!), it’s more about that breathtaking moment when the ball drops — to tell myself how lucky I am, kiss the one I love and wish for the brilliance of tomorrow. For me, that’s all about being in the comforts of home, or with a very small crowd, where it feels cozy.

How do you feel about New Year’s Eve or Day? Do you celebrate in any special way?

 

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Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, often organized by groups of five (5) focused on interesting things about my life. I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me. Past weeks included:

  • Weeks 1 – 5: Primary ethnicity groups and nationalities
  • Weeks 6 – 10: A to Z Favorites
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Colors with an important meaning
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Cities I’ve lived
  • Weeks 21 – 25: Jobs I’ve held
  • Weeks 26 – 30: Top 10 entertainment options
  • Week 31: How to follow or contact me across all social media platforms
  • Week 32: How to help an artist with promotion
  • Week 33 – 37: Favorite Book Genres
  • Week 38 – 42: Holidays
  • Week 43 – 47: TBD
  • Week 48 – 52: TBD

 

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.

 

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Book Review: Love, Secrets & Absolution by KL Loveley

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Why This Book 
Someone (I wish I could remember who — and if it’s you, please tell me) recommended Love, Secrets, and Absolutionby K.L. Loveley earlier this year. I downloaded the book while it was free, then it sat in my TBR on Kindle Reader until I had time to read it. I am trying to clear off all my ARCS, giveaways or commitments on authors I know, so I chose this one to read while boarding a flight over the holidays. I’m glad I did — it’s quite a good story – 4 stars!

ecrests

Plot, Characters & Setting 
The book kicks off when Alfie is born in a small English village to parents Grace and Paul. As he grows into a toddler, his behavior becomes questionable, pushing his father Paul to grow angry and ultimately have an affair, as he no longer loves Grace over how she coddles Alfie. Grace, with little education or money, learns how to raise Alfie on her own. Alfie learns how to make friends, socializes with others and attends college throughout the course of this novel. He encounters drugs, alcohol, girls and bullies, all in a way to self-medicate or handle his different personality and social anxieties. We later learn he likely has Asperger’s Syndrome, which has helped shape how he sees the world.

Approach & Style 
The book is relatively short and very easy to read in one sitting. I read the Kindle version on my iPad in ~2 hours. It’s told in third person POV with a focus on a bunch of different characters who all interact with Alfie. It’s inviting and simple, yet complex in emotions.

Thoughts 
I adored this book. Alfie and Grace have a very sad — and happy — story that will tug at your heart. It avoids all the cliches of the high points and low points, instead focusing on the middle range of someone with this type of alternative approach to interpreting the world. Alfie is such a likable character, and I could read more about him anytime. He makes mistakes – I want to shake him. He shows love – I want to hug him. It’s a snapshot of different points in his life where he learns lessons of who to love and trust, and who will lead him astray. Loveley captures a brilliant and endearing quality in a boy who deserves so much more than what he was given. Even though Grace is a wonderful mother, and Paul turns out to be fairly decent in the end, Alfie deserves even more. He needs friends, better extended family and true support from a school. It’s a remarkable story and I cannot recommend it enough for the way it will help you see things just a little bit differently.

Summary 
Loveley is a great writer; she knows how to elicit your feelings and trust. I will definitely read more from her, as there is a beautiful quality in how she tells a story. You’ll be engaged from the first moment where Alfie talks to you while in his mother’s womb to the very end where he has to handle all that’s thrown at his mother when she needs help. Take a chance on this one, please.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. 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.
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Book Review: How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

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Why This Book 
I won this book via a Goodreads Giveaway a few months ago. In my quest to finish reading all ARCs or Giveaways by 12/31, so 2018 starts off with less stress and a reduced TBR, I read this book over the Christmas holidays. I am quite glad I did, as it was a feel-good type of novel that really helped me prepare my resolutions for 2018.

changelife

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Eloise, 39, is a personal chef who takes care of a large, loving family in Chicago. She once had a promising sports career, but had to give it up due to an injury. Since then, she’s drifted, or at least thinks she’s drifted, due to losing connections with two best friends in high school and a married man she’d been having an affair with recently (unknowing he was married). When a former teacher dies, the 3 friends are reunited and make a pact to change their lives. They’ve given each other a list of 5 things to accomplish before their 40th birthday — all items to push their boundaries and emotions. The book is a journey to find oneself again after a number of years where life took you on a course you perhaps hadn’t realized was never truly planned.

Approach & Style 
The book is written in 1st person perspective with a focus on Eloise, the primary character. I read a physical copy which was ~380 pages, inclusive of a few recipes. 24 chapters average about 15 pages each, containing a beautiful voice of a woman I wish I could meet. She’s that wonderful.

Key Opinion 
With a title like this one, I had very high hopes. It absolutely delivered. Consider it a character-driven book, while a bit too fluffy / light in some areas, that will engage you on many levels. Eloise is a brilliant main character; she spoke to me as I begin thinking about my own life and what I am trying to accomplish. Like the main character, I turned 40 this year and had a lot of thoughts about what I wanted to do with my life. The characters drip off the page with love, sadness and hopes. There are so many clever moments, precious times in our lives we don’t always recognize. Eloise’s connection with each member of her family, the family she cooks for, and all the others she meets is heartwarming.

The plot, quite minimal, evolves at a slow pace as you read about Eloise’s every day for a period of a few months. It’s rare I enjoy reading about the very realistic happenings in someone’s life, but Ballis made it refreshing and immersive. I looked forward to hearing what happened on each of her 20 dates. I wanted to know what new social activities she would consider trying. I needed to be side by side with her as she wrote her cookbook. The writing is clear and direct — shows creativity and brings imagery to every page. I could feel the emotions within each relationship. I recommend this book for anyone looking to spend time with a beautiful character and just witness a normal life.

Final Thoughts 
I’d give this book a 4+ rating, as it was quite endearing, charming and inviting. I will definitely read more from this author, given the focus on food and relationships. It’s the type of book where you can let yourself go, immersing your thoughts and dreams in that of a character you will adore.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. 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.

Book Review: The Wannabes by F.R. Jameson

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Why This Book 
To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what made me download The Wannabes by F.R. Jameson earlier in the year. I know I saw the Kindle version was free on Amazon, but it was either recommended to me or I connected with the author. Either case, I did… and in my quest to close out by the end of January 2018 all my commitments for ARCs or authors I know, it was one of the many reads on my many flights over the holidays this year. And now it’s time for the review…

wannabees
Plot, Characters & Setting 
The story takes place in London, where main character John Clay has returned after a number of years absence. He was part of a group of entertainers/friends who dated one another, played tricks on one another and competed for meeting life goals in their various careers and family situations. John begins dating a former girlfriend from the group, but he awakens after strange dreams where he murders one of the friends in the group. As the nights go by, more dreams where he is killing various friends. But it doesn’t end there… he’s so startled by each dream that he goes to the friend’s house in the middle of the night to assure himself he didn’t commit murder, only to find the friend died in the exact way it occurred in the dream. Very strange! As the story progresses, readers learn of the intricate relationships in the group, a book that someone was about to publish and suspicion of witchcraft. Nothing is really as it seems, and you know there’s some sort of magic going on, but you won’t figure it out until the end — at least not the full story.

Approach & Style 
The book is written in third person with a focus on John Clay. I read the Kindle version in my iPad in about 2 hours on a flight – it’s relatively short and easy to digest. Chapters are short and keep you focused through suspense and intrigue.

Key Opinions 
This is a tough one to classify… it’s a good book, but at the same time, I couldn’t tell what readers were supposed to know and not supposed to know. I liked being a bit in the doubting range, as it forced me to focus intently on word choice and style. You need to in order to understand what’s real and pick up on specifically what’s not being said.

The characters were definitely not likable — none of them. They were a bit mean-spirited or over-the-top, but that’s the point and why it makes it a fun read. Dialogue is witty, clever and sarcastic – very British. You’ll know from fairly early on what’s probably going on, but you still want to see where it’s going and what the key missing piece to the story is — that’s the fun of the journey. All in all, I’d give it a 3.5, but because of the intention behind the book, how it lent itself to a humorous take, and what I think the author was doing with the approach, it rounds up to a 4 for me.

Final Thoughts 
In some ways, the book bordered on a bit of old school English tradition and classic American camp – in a good way. I enjoyed the premise, liked the writing style and bounced along with the plot. It’s a fun read, but it’s the type of book that doesn’t completely push you on being a serious thriller. Despite some of the ways people died or are killed, it’s not graphic but it’s not lighthearted. It’s something to add a little levity to the way people react when meeting a group they were formerly friends with. I like the author’s style and will read more of his work in the future.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. 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.

Book Review: Spectrum Collection of Short Stories by S. C. Jensen

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Why This Book 
One of the authors in this short story collection, Spectrum: A Colorful Collection of SmartyPants’ Best, is someone I’ve met, so I had to read the whole book coordinated by another author, S.C. Jensen. I was heading out of town for a few days and thought it would be a perfect opportunity to digest a few stories each day.

spectrum

Approach & Style 
This book is a collection of about 25 to 30 short stories, organized by various colors on the wheel, a kaleidoscope of fiction, hence the term Spectrum. I found the approach quite interesting, and read a color each day from the Kindle Reader version in my iPad. The book has about 250 pages with each story ranging from 5 to 15 in length. The genres run the gamut of fantasy and science fiction to romance, mystery and contemporary fiction. It has something for everyone.

Overall Thoughts 
Of all the stories, a few spoke to me the most and deserve 5 stars:

Sweet Pea by Cammie Adams is at the top. It’s a charming and cozy story about another side of life, one many of us are not familiar with: a homeless person who needs help, and gets an opportunity in an unexpected way. The characters are vivid; they tug at your emotions, especially the relationship between 1 person and 1 animal. The ability to see another perspective is also quite strong — you’ll think differently about someone you see on the street who needs a helping hand. It can turn out positive if you do the right thing sometimes. The voice is clear, the plot hums along and the book delivers a heartwarming ending. I look forward to more from this author.

Skipping Rocks by M.D. Pitman was another wonderful tale about a child’s view of the world, including how to deal with unexpected consequences. I almost wanted to cry for the poor father only trying to do something fun for his daughter, stuck with an impact he couldn’t have expected. It will make your heart hurt a little — in a good way, to know what parents go through.

Over by Kerry E.B. Black was another fantastic story about parents and children. I seem to gravitate to these types of connections and relationships, but you’ll see what an ordinary family goes through every day. Life’s not easy, but this one will teach you the value of a good mother who knows how to care for her children at bedtime!

And of course, Hunger, by the collaborator and main author, S.C. Jensen, wrote a wonderful thriller. I was definitely intrigued enough to want to read more from Jensen in the future – great way to gain our interest!

Many of the rest were quite good. A few pushed the boundaries of what I enjoy reading, but none were bad — they simply didn’t appeal to me due to my preferences as a reader. All were well-written and had strong voices.

Final Thoughts 
If you enjoy short stories and want to take on different authors and genres, this is a great opportunity to become acquainted with diversity and a diverse range of reads. Many of the stories were outstanding, a few missed the boat for me, but overall, it was a very strong read. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something unique and fun — different the ordinary voice.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. 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 293 – 2017

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2017: the current year — and a memorable one for me

2017.png

Although I am one day early with my final post for 2017, there is some logic behind today’s 365 Daily Challenge choice. Tomorrow is a Sunday ‘list’ day and the holiday I chose is New Year’s, which means the post really can’t be about 2017. As an ode to everything I accomplished this year — my last official random 365 Daily Challenge post of 2017 — I want to say goodbye to a very life-changing year.

When 2017 began, I was 39 years old, had just completed writing a draft of ‘Watching Glass Shatter’ and was about to start the process of achieving one of my life-long goals — publishing a book. I was afraid of being ‘unemployed’ by giving up (or putting on hold?) a successful corporate technology career just a few months earlier. I was hitting that next decade by turning 40, wondering how I truly felt about myself. I would be putting myself far out there in front of friends, family, acquaintances and strangers. It’s a lot of change at once, but it was also a lot of opportunity. I created a list of items that would be my measurement of success when I granted myself permission to explore this alternative life path. As I come up on the one year mark (February) of sending the manuscript to the first literary agent, I will review and compare how I’ve done. As the 365 Daily Challenge officially ends on March 12th, I will probably hold a countdown noting everything I learned during this time frame.

For now, as I look back on 2017, I am thankful for everything that has happened. For the mistakes I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learned and the progress that’s occurred. A few fleeting thoughts:

  • Many people talk about writing a book, but I actually did it. Regardless of its success or failure, this is a huge accomplishment — I am proud of myself. Very few people actually give themselves permission, or have the fortitude, to make this happen.
  • Between the first draft and the one that was published, I cannot possibly explain the extent to which I learned and developed my style and voice. It’s still in adolescence, but I am confident in the growth that is building each day. I see it already with the level of writing in Father Figure, my second novel.
  • Blogging is a way to express yourself, but it’s also a method to grow more comfortable interacting with strangers. By embarrassing myself with all aspects of who I am, I learn how to accept my own faults and to be less judgmental of others. People are different, and it’s okay. You don’t have to like everyone. Not everyone will like you.
  • Unfortunately, there are mean and rude people you will encounter, but they are in the minority — and they serve a purpose: To push you to stay honest, to remain open-minded, and to behave better than them. I’m finding ways to use their negativity to drive my success forward.
  • Change happens every day. Goals are re-prioritized. 2017 taught me how to grow more comfortable with living on the edge when it comes to people giving you feedback on your words, imagination and style. In the end, all that matters is you are happy with what you’ve produced.

I will always remember the year 2017 as a major turning point in my life. I am thankful for everything and everyone — much gratitude to each of you. May you have a wonderful last 24 hours before we start anew…

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. 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.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin