Day: February 4, 2018

Book Review: The Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman

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Why This Book 
I’ve built a good relationship with the publisher, Crooked Lane, who offered Lara Dearman‘s book, The Devil’s Claw, the first in her Jennifer Dorey mystery series, as a thank you for all the other books I’ve chosen, read, and reviewed from them. I’m closing out all my commitments this month to publishers before I tackle some open ARCs, hence why this book wound up as my first choice in February.

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Plot, Characters & Setting 
Jennifer Dorey, a 30ish news reporter in contemporary times, returned from London to her hometown in Guernsey, a large island near France in the English Channel, after an attack over an article she had been writing on a scam over human trafficking services. When she arrives, she has memories of another attack when she was younger and the mysterious death of her father; however, that’s nothing compared to when she discovers a body on a beach near a cliff. Working with the local detective, Michael, they discover a series of murders that occurred throughout the last 50 years all with the markings of the Devil’s Claw. Jen and Michael investigate the past crimes, learning about improper police work, Nazi supporters, and a penchant for young blonde girls who hurt themselves. Everything collides when she stumbles upon the killer and is trapped in his/her menacing grip.

Approach & Style 
I read a hardback version of this ~325 page novel in five hours over three days. It is broken into 45 chapters, each relatively short around 8 pages, and told in third person POV. Chapters alternate perspective from the killer, Michael, Jen and a few other supporting characters. The characters revisit history multiple times, so you have to focus on what’s current and what’s historical, but it’s fairly easy to stay aware. It’s written from a UK style with some details specific to police procedures and news reporting local to the area. It read well, but at times felt a bit too formal and stiff. It wasn’t enough to cause any issues, but it could have been relaxed a tad more so build a better reader / story connection. I’m not sure if it was the writing or the personality of Jen; time will tell when we see book two.

Key Thoughts 
I enjoyed the debut book in this series. It has a slow build, keeps you guessing and offers multiple suspects. There are several side stories that eventually interweave in the plot, and it includes a few supporting characters who will likely continue into future books in the series. No one stood out other than the primary two, but with focus, I’m sure the depth will provide characters we crave reading about in the future. I love the connection between the private citizens and the owner of the newspaper. I was glad to see the partnership between the police and the news outlet. It felt real in both senses of what they did and they didn’t allow.

The plot was strong in terms of execution, red herrings, guesswork and inter-dependencies between all the characters and time periods. The ultimate reason for the murders isn’t as clear as I would have liked it to be; that said, it is good and keeps you turning the pages. You may just have some open questions in the end as I did, in terms of the Nazi connections, the reason the killer chose the victims (s)he chose, and how much the Devil’s Claw really had to do with it all. Nothing that threw me off, but I wanted it tied together more tightly.

Summary 
Dearman weaves an eerie story with a fantastic background setting. Guernsey was a new locale for me, but one that peaks a lot of interest. I’m curious to find out how much of what was in the book is truth versus fiction. Kudos to her for creating a new series with lots of possibilities.

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 324 – Memorabilia (LIST: Objects I adore)

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Memorabilia: objects kept or collected because of their historical interest, especially those associated with memorable people or events

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Sundays are LIST days and today is no different. For this group of five Sundays, I chose objects I adore or that have some huge importance to me. We’re in our fifth and final week and I’ve gone with memorabilia because it brings to the surface of my mind so many wonderful memories, moments and minutes of my past. I am not a pack-rat, hoarder, or saver of many things. I was when younger… for instance, I kept every issue of four weekly magazines I subscribed to for ten years. When I moved cross-country in 2007, I realized it was time to let go of things that really weren’t all that important. But I kept those that were, focusing intently on items that truly had memories or a connection to other people and events in my life. Let’s break it down into a few key areas:

A. Letters & Cards

  • Most everyone gives or gets cards for their birthday, holidays and/or other special reasons. Over the years, I saved some of the ones from people in my life who passed or moved on, or the ones that had a beautiful message inside. I have every card that W has given to me, even the little ones early on when we celebrated the small milestones or the “just because I care” notes we left in each other’s apartments before we moved in together. I have most of the Christmas and birthday cards from my parents, seeing how my mom still refers to me as her baby boy in each one.
  • I also have a group of ten letters written by important people in my life during my Confirmation. I grew up Catholic and when I completed my religious education in middle school, part of the ceremony ushering you into adulthood where you confirm your faith for the first time on your own accord is Confirmation. Grandparents, Godparents, parents and other friends and family write you letters that you get when you are on a two-day retreat away from normal life. They help you feel connected to your family as you embrace your journey forward. I saved them all, treasuring the words people thought and said about me when I was thirteen. My uncle lamented (in a fun way) how it was so odd I could listen to groups like Metallica. My godmother asked me to stop teasing my cousins but also make them act and behave more like me rather than get in trouble. My grandmother told me how much she loved spending time with me after school. Treasures!

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B. Photographs & Albums

  • Everyone saves photos. In my childhood, teenage and college years, they were actual printed photographs from cameras. Afterwards, they were digital photos stored on my computer, phone and then the cloud. I wasn’t a big photographer, but I did take some. When W and I began dating back in December 2011, I realized I’d found the complete opposite of me when it came to memorabilia. He saves everything, and his our storage facility would prove that! But I cannot complain, as every summer in the first five years when we rented a beach house with a group of friends for several weekends, he took photos. At the end of the season, he presented everyone with a photo album of all the summer memories.
  • As if that’s not enough, he does the same as one of my Christmas presents each year — an album of all the memories from our past year together. I now have six albums since we’ve been together and five from the summer beach house. They are in the hall closet and we flip through them several times a year. Unfortunately, some of the photos are highly embarrassing, so they will never see the light of day on the blog! While I wouldn’t mind the ones of me showing (a few hangovers, a few cooking mishaps, some where we’re in bathing suits or caught in semi-compromising positions), I can’t show other people, so they will stay hidden unless you happen to be visiting me in NYC.

 

 

C. ID Cards, Exams, Grades & Reports

  • I have all my ID cards, drivers licenses, and birth certificate documentation in a small box. I like seeing the numerical data and aging from year to year as things changed both in appearance and skill.

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  • I have every report card, standardized test result or major exam scores. Things like my SATs and GREs… all the kindergarten notes from the teachers… college transcripts. I even kept the three where I had a final grade less than a B. I was a nerd, but I had a few classes that didn’t go over very well in my book. I will not reveal when they occurred or what class they were in, but it would be a bit shocking to know.
  • I love seeing the results on some of them as they reveal a lot about me. For instance, I almost always scored perfect on math exams, even close to 800 on that portion of the SATs, yet my reading comprehension when I was younger had been a weaker area. How odd! My personal favorite was a comment from a middle school guidance counselor to my parents about how I should have been pushed forward two grades when I was younger given how far ahead I was compared to the rest of the grade. Before you think I’m just tooting my own horn… the very next quarter’s report said ‘Jay is incredibly shy and often refuses to talk to anyone else. I see now why pushing him up a grade would have hurt him.’ Whaaat???? LOL

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D. Books

  • It goes without saying, but any writer or reader will have treasured books on a shelf. I’ve shared those pictures before, but there is one special book I have not. During the six weeks when I pledged a fraternity in college, we had a spiral steno notebook to keep notes on all the brothers, learn information about the fraternity and write our tasks and plans. It’s of course confidential, and no one else has ever read it, but I can show the cover… it has been twenty years! When I re-read some of those things, I am scared and shocked at so much of the past. Nothing bad, just… really… I had totally forgotten I did that and didn’t get caught.

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If you look closely, you might see my Pledge Name — I told that story in a past post!

As you can see, they are the typical paper and print memorabilia we all keep, but the ones I store all fit within one large box. I take them out from time to time when I need to connect with the past. It’s always fun to take that trip down memory lane. I hope you enjoyed the last five Sundays where you learned about all the important objects in my life. I look forward to sharing the final five weeks of my lists with you before the 365 Daily Challenge comes to an end soon…

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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: Objects I adore
  • 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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