accident

Book Review: In the Best Interest of the Child by Felicia Denise

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In The Best Interest of the ChildIn The Best Interest of the Child by Felicia Denise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a surprising book! I knew it would be good because I’ve read author Felicia Denise’s reviews of other novels, interacted with her on social media, and visited her blog; however, there were so many different levels and components in the story, I really connected with it beyond expectations. And that’s saying a lot because I am very far removed from the primary topics and experiences it covers. Kudos to the author for capturing this reader’s attention and making my flight across the country quite entertaining and heartwarming.

Olivia was victimized in foster care ~25 years ago. Her father was killed, her mother’s memory practically erased in an accident. Despite everything that happened to her, Olivia pushed herself to become a successful lawyer who helped other children in similar situations. The only issue… her emotional confidence and ability to open up to others never fully developed. She threw herself into work and closed the doors to many things in life. But then life throws her a curveball with a case about a young girl in a very similar situation who needs help. Olivia agrees to take the case, but it’s far worse than she imagined: corruption, evil, family, secrets, and theft. On the flip side, the temporary family who is looking out for the young girl’s interest is amazing, and there’s a sexy uncle with a crush on Olivia. What’s a girl to do?

My favorite aspect of this book is the writing style Felicia Denise has chosen to employ. After much build-up regarding the awful side of the family who is trying to gain custody / oversee the case (hard to explain, but I don’t want to give anything away), readers will feel anger and frustration over the lengths selfish people go to steal from others. At the same time, we watch Olivia assemble information to protect the child, but we don’t necessarily know what facts she’s learning from all her meetings. We see her interact with others but through summaries while she’s getting to know the temporary family. It’s a wonderful approach because when the case goes to court to make the decision, EVERYTHING comes out and Olivia looks AMAZING. I had this jittery excited moment where I’m thinking… “Go Olivia, go!” I loved this approach and commend the author on igniting my passion for her story.

At some point, Olivia decides to give in to her feelings for the girl’s uncle whom she’s met and gone on a few dates with. The book completely changes in this chapter when we see Olivia’s barriers removed, and readers are treated to a passionate, vivid physical encounter, what I imagine is along the lines of a romance novel. I’m not a huge reader in that genre, so I can’t really compare… but it was quite strong and had a lot of contrast to the emotional tugging over what was happening to the young girl and Olivia’s heartbreak. I didn’t expect it and was like… wait… did I change books? All good tho, as it was tightly written, showcased the author’s range, and made me thoroughly excited for Olivia.

Well-written, tons of heart, lots of pain (in a good way), and provides proof that readers should chance reading different styles. I look forward to my next book by this author, as I hear there may be a sequel coming!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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.

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Book Review: Escape into the Blue by Bibiana Krall

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I’m an ardent fan of suspense and multi-book series. When the debut novel, Escape into the Blue A suspense thriller, from the Sophia series published in 2015 by Bibiana Krall, crossed my desk, I needed to give it a chance. What an intense ride!

lue
The novel is a slow-burner until it’s NOT… Sophia is on a plane seemingly only to escape some drama going on in her life. She’s been hurt physically somehow, but also emotionally. We don’t know why. An escape into the blue sounds amazing, right? Unfortunately, this girl seems to be a magnet for trouble. When she arrives in her destination, things begin to get a little aggressive. It doesn’t happen right away, but by midway in the book, she’s become attached to a few men who aren’t very good for her. And by ‘aren’t very good,’ I mean…. does she want to live or die?

Anger, love, violence, threats, and so much more ensure in the coming days and weeks. Paradise is never quite paradise, it it? Krall is very talented in describing scenes and settings. You will feel like you’re there down to every small detail. Her vocabulary is top-notch and offers a wonderful approach to feeling words transcend off the page.

Her characters are flawed, and while I can’t say I particularly loved any of them, it’s only because so much dimension was added to them that it makes you really wonder… does this really happen to people? And if it does, how would you handle dealing with it? I’m sure the answer is yes… and it’s quite a difficult life. Sophia is a survivor, and knowing this was a series, I knew she’d make it out. But the harm that came with it… wow. Poor girl needs a break. Krall likes to torture but find redemption and safety. Good approach!

Kudos to Krall for showing how mastering the right words and descriptions can make the difference in a story. From the cover, you’ll think beauty and peace. From the action, you’ll be far from it. I’m curious to see what else might happen to this courageous and dynamic woman… but I guess we’ll have to wait until the next book is released. If you’re looking for a character and action-driven story, this is one to check out. You’ll feel surrounded exactly as Sophia is, but there are other points of view in the book to take notice of, too… so get ready for a wild ride… a few lessons in how to pack a punch into your words, and some unexpected consequences.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. 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 Impact of a Single Event by R. L. Prendergast

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In the Fall of 2017, I won The Impact of a Single Event by R.L. Prendergast in a Goodreads Giveaway. I was finally able to make time to read it, and I’m so sorry I waited this long. It was superb! I initially entered the contest because it was about the passing of a journal over a 150+ year period throughout a few different connected families. Writing and genealogy, how could I not love it? At about ~280 pages, it is such an easy-to-read novel, I devoured it in about 3 hours one afternoon.

event.jpg

Sonia and Richard, a couple in their mid to late 30’s, stop on the road to help victims of a car accident. After the ambulance arrives and carts the couple to the hospital, Sonia and Richard find the journal among the victims’ belongings, then rush to the hospital to drop it all off. From there, the book alternates chapters tracing the lineage of the journal back 6 generations and discussing the impact of it on Sonia and Richard’s current lives. We learn more about what’s going on with Sonia and Richard in their chapters and understand what troubles they face, but we also see how the journal was used by each of the 6 people who’d previously written in it. In the final chapter, Sonia and Richard leave their own imprint when the journal finds its way back to their hands.

Much of the writing style and language in this book is absolutely enchanting. In the first 75%, I found myself turning pages without even realizing how much time had passed by. It was so engaging. When I hit the final chapter, I was less interested only because it became a bit more Eat/Pray/Love journey, which while fascinating, isn’t something I can easily grasp when it’s set in 1860s India. I’m just not familiar enough with the country, religions, or the history, but for the right reader, this will be, I’m certain, a phenomenal journey. That said, it was still beautiful, and if that final chapter (the longest) was more like the rest, I would have given this 5 stars. It was more a case of reader disconnect and not anything the writer had done. It was written well, just hard for me to connect when the main character of that journal entry was hiding in a jungle hoping not to be eaten by a tiger! I tend to prefer something a bit more concrete with just a dose of philosophy.

The way the journal is handed off from person to person is breathtaking. The characters are rich and vibrant. The jump from time periods is virtually effortless. And there’s a great family tree graphic in the beginning to help you understand how everyone’s connected, but in all honesty, it’s not necessary despite how complicated the story can get. And there’s a wonderful surprise at the end which I wasn’t expecting.

It’s a high recommendation from me if you like books to move you and take you on a journey. But you need to be comfortable with missing details, getting in your head, and taking a leap of faith in philosophy. Kudos to the author for one of the most seamlessly written books of this nature I’ve read before.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. 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 Party by Robyn Harding

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Book Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars to The Party by Robyn Harding.

the party

Why This Book
The publisher, Gallery Books, sent me a copy of this book either because I won a Goodreads Giveaway or they thought I might like the book (I get lots of books and I can’t remember how this one came to me exactly). I’m trying to close up my 2017 Reading Challenge and clean off all the outstanding books my bookshelf, so this one’s turn was up next!

Plot, Characters & Setting
Hannah is turning 16. Her parents throw her and some friends a party in the basement of their $2.5 million San Francisco home. Hannah invites some of the popular girls, as her fame is on the rise. She wants to fit in, but the girls bring alcohol and drugs. When something awful happens, her parents, Jeff and Kim, are thrust into a lawsuit and a divided high school. Hannah’s friends are typical 16-year-old girls searching for acceptance and adult experiences. Kim and Jeff’s marriage is having a few issues and they are each keeping a secret from one another. Their friends aren’t sure what’s wrong, but someone isn’t telling the truth about the night of the party. The novel explores the lengths to which parents will go to protect their children, as well as those young adults will go to keep their own secrets.

Approach & Style
I read this 340 page paperback book in two sittings over the course of one day. It absorbed me! It’s told in third person POV from the perspective of 4 or 5 main characters. Chapters alternate their focus, revealing different aspects of a story over the course of a 6-month period. The writing is clear and concise, which made it quite a quick read.

Strengths & Concerns
Harding quickly makes you dislike these characters, which is a good thing. I was immediately taken back to what life was like in high school for many students. While I felt some components were an exaggeration, I also know that things like this happened to varying degrees. For the most part, it really captured the reality of what 16-year-old girls go through, but it also showcased a particularly nasty strain of kids hoping to climb to the top. It angered me (the plot), but it also impressed me (the quality of the details). I enjoyed the leaps between different characters. It was a page-turner for me and brought me back to when I once lived in San Francisco.

On the flip side, the ending was not what I wanted nor expected. It had a few too many open questions. For a story with lots of tight components, I think this was a bit of a let-down. Ultimately, I’m not sure if I learned a less or just saw a slice of life during a short time period. I’d be fine if it were either case, but it was a bit too blurry. I definitely took sides in the conflict, which makes me wonder what kind of a person I am… in terms of who I rooted for. While I understand both sides, ultimately, the wrong people were punished for something they had little responsibility for. At the same time, it propelled the lives of every person in that school toward a new direction. If everything came together better in the end, this would have been a solid 4-rated book for me, but it unraveled in a few too many places so I knocked a half star off.

Final Thoughts
I’d still recommend this book despite the ending which threw me too much. You’ll be drawn in and really enjoy witnessing the battle, as there isn’t necessarily a right and wrong in an unfortunate accident like this one. It’s a strong point of view and really shows the differences in the way parents and children think.

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 83 – Clumsy

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Clumsy: awkward in movement or in handling things, difficult to handle or use; unwieldy

When I began the 365 Daily Challenge… oh, 83 days ago (wow!), I noted it would be about traits I currently embody or would like to embody in the future. Today, I’ve selected a trait that I am not right now, nor would I want to be in the future. Why, you’re undoubtedly asking, [are you boring me] would I choose this one? It’s a pretty common one, and it affects my life a bit more than I realized. You’re in for a bit of a more revealing than usual post, as it’s all on the table now! Hopefully you enjoy my sarcasm and humorous mood today.

I am not clumsy, but my significant other is quite clumsy. I cannot even begin to bitch about explain how many times we have laughed over the messes being made all about the house. A good friend of his once exclaimed “You make some of the biggest messes I’ve ever seen” in a public setting… to which several heads turned… and I in my shyness, I believe, ducked behind a column near the table. Those lines somehow ended up in my book, too. Revenge is sweet — remember that!

An example… when we moved in together about 4 years ago, we consolidated kitchen stuff. Between the two of us, we had about 16 wine glasses. After about 3 months, I noticed we were down to 6. I realized how many had either “disappeared” or been broken either while I was already in bed sleeping, or hidden during the day so I couldn’t find the remaining shards. {Not that I’d be mad… it’s a running funny joke between us). So… that weekend, we went to some department store and bought a box of 24. We arrived home, started unpacking everything else… he took responsibility for the glasses… as I didn’t break them, so I wasn’t cleaning all the new ones. As I’m putting away some groceries.. BANG. BOOM. CRASH.  I meander into the living room… half a box of glasses strewn across the floor. Ryder sitting on the couch looking judgmental… possibly annoyed for being woken up. And the significant other… holding a box upside down… “They were stuck. I was just trying to get them out.”

Unfortunately, in the last few weeks, the tables seem to have turned on me. Last week, I was clearing out the dishwasher, mostly full of wine glasses, water glasses and some plates.  {Aside: Maybe I do drink too much…}  We’d washed the pots by hand. As I pulled out two stemless wine glasses, I knocked one against the top of the counter and cracked it in half. OK… cleaned that one up. I then grabbed the remaining glass, turned around and lifted my arm to place it in the top cabinet on the other side of the room… and misjudged the shelf. Yes, that one cracked, too. OK, twice isn’t so bad in one day, right?

Moving along… last night, we’re at a friend’s 40th birthday dinner at a restaurant our friend picked because of its performance space. Guests are arriving…. he hired a few friends to sing since he’s in the theatre and music business… a few of us are chatting near the entrance. In comes someone I know, who walks towards us. We both lean in to give a quick hug / kiss, and as I pull back, I look at my significant other’s expression… {no, it wasn’t jealousy}… then my eyes cast downward to the front of his shirt… about a third of the Manhattan he was drinking casually rested on his dress shirt, awaiting a tart reply.

I ask: “Did I do that?” {Aside: Not in an Urkel voice, don’t go there please}

The response: “Grumble Grumble… Yes.” {Grumble = inexplicable words I couldn’t understand}

What do I say: “Eh, you had it coming. Not sure why, but I’m sure it was warranted.” {Followed by a very huge smirk!}

And to top it all off… this morning… I got up at 8am — later than normal, but then again, I stayed up past midnight, which is unusual for me. Made coffee. Had 1 successful cup of coffee. He wanders out around 8:45 and sits on the couch, petting Ryder (dog. shiba. almost 10 years old). I stand to get myself more coffee and pour him a cup, too. I bring it back from the kitchen. At that exact moment, Ryder chooses to jump down in front of me, as I lean in to hand over the coffee. I try to stylishly pause, but it was too late. I jerked the cup forward and about 1/2 poured out onto the significant other. {Thankfully on him and not the couch. I didn’t feel like cleaning couch fabric this early in the morning! This is where that revenge part comes into play — turn-about is fair play!}.

I didn’t even respond. I just casually backed away and sat on the other side of the room in the chair and covered my face in a pillow, laughing uncontrollably. So… you see… I am not clumsy. I have never been clumsy. Except for the last few weeks. I don’t understand it. It’s a regularly daily occurrence when it’s his clumsiness. Every meal requires clean-up on the floor (whatever Ryder’s chosen not to eat). I constantly take clothes to the dry cleaner and apply stain remover to the laundry. It’s never been me. Why, oh why, have the Clumsy Gods chosen to reverse this malady of bad fortune onto me?

Are you clumsy? Do you live with someone who is always making messes? And does anyone know a spell to reverse whatever cockamamie (sp?) ridiculous switch-a-roo has befallen me?

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: If I Stay

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If I StayMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Gayle Forman‘s If I Stay, the first of a two-book series and recently made motion picture. I first stumbled across this book when I saw the movie promo last year, and I recall thinking “oh, that looks like a great story.” I had just finished reading JoJo Moyes “Me Before You” series and felt they’d be similar in story and character. I went on my merry way, happily choosing from the physical books on my own bookshelf or my electronic digital subscriptions. (I always need to have 15 to 20 books on hand so it’s like a surprise when I choose a new book each time) And then, one day, while waiting for the dryer to finish in my building’s laundry room, I perused the small library next door (it’s awesome, my building shares books all the time and I constantly find new things to read!), and this book was sitting on the shelf. I grabbed it, tossed it in the laundry basket and well, went on with my day… but yesterday I needed to choose a new book and landed on this one, as I need to read it before I watch the movie perhaps this weekend. And it was an AMAZING choice!


Story

This is the hardest part to write in the review, as I’m not sure where to begin. This book was about so many things, so many, many things. I’ll keep it simple:

Mia is a beautiful, caring, intelligent and warm seventeen-year-old in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, sharing her days with her grandparents, parents, younger brother, best friend, boyfriend and mentor. She’s an accomplished cello prodigy nearing graduation with a choice in her soon-to-be future: move to NY for Julliard or stay closer to her boyfriend who needs to remain in Oregon. The thing is… Mia is the teenager we’d all love to meet and be around; she’s just amazing as is her family and everything else around her. And you know the cliff is coming, as you’ve read the book jacket cover and know there’s a terrible accident. But then it happens when you least expect it — and everything changes. Mia is somehow separated from her body and she watches as she’s rushed to the hospital for surgery. As she sleeps in a deep coma, her separated self wanders the hospital halls to learn what else happened in the accident (no spoilers here, so I won’t say who was with her when it occurred, nor what happened to anyone else). One by one, her remaining friends and family visit her bedside, possibly to say goodbye given her grave condition, and as each person sits near her, Mia’s separated self tells readers who they are, how they met, exploring key moments in her life… you fall deep into this tragedy as Mia must make her own choice: to stay or go — but it’s not about moving to NY anymore, it’s about whether she will stay alive or go [die].


Strengths

1. Writing: It’s simple. It’s direct. It’s evocative. It’s endearing. It’s thought-provoking. You won’t be able to put it down.

2. Characters: The entire story takes place over one day’s events, but through the story-telling, Mia recounts how she knows each person over her 17 years… and every person is wonderful and stunning and real. I want to be a part of this group.

3. Emotions: You will feel a lot. You will want to know what happens beyond the last few words of the final chapter. Good thing there is a book 2, but your imagination will think a lot about what could have been.


Suggestions

Too short and I wanted more? (~235 pages)

The only reason I didn’t give this a 5 of 5 stars is because I felt like it should have gone on longer… I want to know more about her struggle to decide if she stays or goes… to know how each person feels other than thru her eyes and ears. Maybe it will come in book 2, but as its own unit, I wanted more.


Final Thoughts

This is what I call a “contained” book. The story could be read on its own, or it could have sequels and prequels. Your emotions will be contained by the bounds of what you’ve learned in its 235 pages, and you will walk away from it as a changed person. Not in any magnificent way, but in a subtle way… one where you think about your own life and how you’d make a choice of staying or going, assuming you were in a similar situation as hers. This book makes you think for a few minutes, hours or days… and you won’t forget it. Contained because you’ll experience a journey in the time you read it, put it down, and after you’re on to the next book, it’ll feel like the impact was contained to just those few days where the pages were in your hands and the words in your dreams… but far into the future, it will pop back in your head as you wonder how you would have handled it.

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Review: The Husband’s Secret

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The Husband's Secret
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read the cover jacket summary, I was highly intrigued. What did this man do that he wrote a letter to his wife that should be opened upon his death… maybe I should do something like that! But wait… do I have a secret I need to reveal… yes… worth putting in a sealed letter that I can’t disclose until I’m dead and buried… no… so I guess this won’t be something I need to do in the future. Eh, I tried.

But reading the book is something to do! And it did not disappoint. It has many different characters and focuses on 4 or 5 stories that interweave throughout the different people’s lives. Figuring out who is who takes a little while, but once you do, you totally see the story coming together. And when it finally does with the tragedy near the end, you’re heartbroken.

<> Fate? Karma? Is it fair to inflict that on someone who had nothing to do with the original crime except that the recipient was related to the perpetrator of the original crime? I found it unfair given who is impacted, but ultimately, it gives the reader something very intricate to think about.

I would definitely read another book by this author. I have recommended it to several friends. Nice job!

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