Day: January 23, 2018

Book Review: Down to the Needle by Mary Deal

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Why This Book 
After reading a few light-hearted mysteries and non-fiction books, I was in need of a strong thriller and suspense novel. I had Mary Deal’s Down to the Needle in my Kindle downloaded book list, as it was recommended by a friend. I flipped through the summary and overview, which convinced me to give it a try last week; I’m quite glad I did.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
There are several plot lines in this book, but they weave together in multiple ways in a typical small American town called Seaport. The book kicks off with Abi and Joe, mid-40s to early 50s, covering a string of fires occurring across the city. We learn that Abi has been searching for her daughter, whom her husband had kidnapped nearly twenty-three years ago. Joe stumbles onto an ex who disappeared many years ago, but they’ve found solace in one another as he makes plans to get her off the street. Abi and Joe have their own separate careers and homes, but they consider the possibility of future marriage, assuming Abi can find out if her husband is dead or find a way to divorce him. News outlets are covering the upcoming execution of a young inmate named Megan, who was accused of torching a house eight-years earlier that killed a man’s wife and children. Then Abi finds a few clues which lead them to believe Megan could be her long-lost daughter. The book navigates the path they each take separately, and together, to find their pasts, as well as determine if they can build a future together. New eye-witnesses to the fires step forward and more fires occur. A lead on Abi’s missing daughter unfolds and the discovery of what really happened to Joe’s ex take center stage during this journey — all ending with some happy, bittersweet and sad news. Let’s just say… ‘Down to the Needle’ is the perfect title for many reasons.

Approach & Style 
I read the 381-page novel on my iPad through Kindle Reader. It took about 5 hours over a few days; there are 62 chapters, each fairly short and easy to digest. The story is told in third-person POV with a perspective mostly focused on Abi and Joe. The setting is vividly described, bringing a clear picture of everything, including fires, character expressions and thoughts, homeless conditions, prisons and medical illnesses.

Key Thoughts 
One of the best things I enjoyed about this book is the approach Deal takes in evolving the entire story. There are tons of facts and background information that need to be revealed, but it’s moderately paced and deliberately methodical, to the point where you find your eyes bulging as you get a tad frustrated because you can’t wait to see what comes next. It’s full of suspense, keeping you hanging many times – and then a curve ball comes out of nowhere, in a very almost nonchalant way – it shocks you had some of these things just pop up in a realistic way. Some may find that style hard to digest at first, but once you realize you’re on this wild ride, and you really won’t know what will be thrown at you next, you just dive in to see what happens to the hero and heroine(s) in the story – there may be a few heroines, I can’t decide how I feel! You desperately want Abi to find her daughter, have absolutely no belief/trust that Megan could possibly be her daughter, and then you get happily slammed with something that makes you change your mind, over and over again. It’s great… and when you finally learn all that happened, it’s a brilliant evolution and clearly shows the art of a slow-burning build before the fire pops. Deal has strong skills in this area. The story has a little bit of everything and every genre. It is never boring; a few times, you might wonder where it’s going, but you hang on tightly because you know the author has a plan in mind on how to connect it together. It won’t let you down… to the needle.

Mary Deal is an excellent writer, and I am very glad I read this book. I will pick up a copy of her latest novel, The Ka, in the next few months. I enjoy her character development, complex plots, methodical approach to laying out the setting and descriptions, and ability to weave in just enough confusion and red herrings to keep the pages constantly turning. Kudos!

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, 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 312 – Cable

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Cable: a service I use (or may no longer use) to watch television and surf the internet


Last night, I received two communications from the building management company who maintains the co-op apartments where I live. In the first, they noted the monthly maintenance costs were to increase by ~10% to cover some unexpected shortfalls. It’s aggravating, but I will not go into that now. (I kinda wish Ryder could rant about that one… as you know he would!) In the second, they let us know that our cable provider was unwilling to negotiate on the monthly cable costs for our building, and there could be another increase. In full disclosure, I don’t mind saying how much I pay for cable as it’s probably not all that far off from anyone else. For internet and a single television cable DVR box with a few additional channels (not much) above basic, the monthly bill is $205. I don’t even have telephone service with it! In the past, we watched a lot more shows, so it wasn’t too big of a deal, but now it’s just getting absurd. So… I found myself a little project this week: alternative options to my current cable package.

Verizon Fios is also in my building, so I will call them to see what better deals I can get, then ask my cable provider to beat it if they want me to stay as a customer. However, I’m also investigating another alternative and thought I’d throw it out there to see if anyone had experience, opinions or suggestions… We already have Netflix and AppleTV, which is where we tend to watch most of our shows or movies. We watch basic cable stations for current season TV shows, including PBS, FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, TVLAND, Discovery, BUZZR, COZI, MeTV, FX, and POP. That’s all – we hardly ever watch anything else. Most of the stations have apps to watch through AppleTV or to watch on an iDevice, but you’d have to purchase each subscription to watch current season episodes. There is also purchasing an antenna to get most of these stations, but then you’d have to be home to watch the show when it airs, or buy the DVR to record for about $250.

The alternative, which seems to be a promising idea, is to get an antenna and skip the DVR for watching many of those stations. In lieu of a DVR, I could add a Hulu monthly subscription for about $10 per month and watch current episodes the day after they actually air (really not a big deal, we sometimes wait days to get to them if busy). After 2 years, the cost of Hulu would exceed buying the DVR, but you get a lot more things with Hulu. I’ll be doing my research this week with a goal of contacting all the companies next week to find the best plan and try to reduce the $205 monthly cost of basic TV and cable. I’m not even going to comment in detail on the rising costs, as I’d just be venting which I’ve already done here at home. Between operational costs, actor/actress salaries, insurance and lawsuits, it’s just going to keep increasing. I also know that paying this much is a lot less than going to the theatre or the movies all the time, so I totally get the picture.

My main concern is that I believe I’m paying twice as much as I probably need for the services and products I actually use. I don’t watch 150 channels… just 8 to 10 of them. I don’t spend hours a day watching TV either, maybe 1 or 2 hours each night. In the end, I think this is the right path. Anyone have thoughts on Hulu, the antenna solution to watch broadcast television or any other alternative options?


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 @ 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.

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