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Book Review: Our Little Secret by Roz Nay

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Why This Book 
I was either approached by the publisher or received the book, Our Little Secret written by Roz Nay in 2018, through NetGalley. I liked the premise of the story and saw it was getting positive reviews, so I took it on. It was published this week, which meant I needed to read and review it to share my feedback with others. I would give the book 3.5 stars and encourage fans of thrillers and questionable narrators to give it a chance.
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Approach & Style 
I read the Kindle Reader version on my iPad in about 3 hours over a few days. It has ~30 chapters split across ~225 pages or ~3k lines. It is told in 1st person POV with the perspective on Angela or LJ or Little John (she has many names) where she conveys what she knows about the disappearance of an Australian woman named Saskia.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
The book takes place in a small New England American town over a 24-hour period where the main character, Angela tells a story to Detective Novak after being brought in for questioning. We have no idea who Saskia, the missing woman, is or what her connection is to Angela. It’s obvious Angela has either got information she’s hiding (protecting someone?) or has killed Saskia. Novak wants answers and holds her without arrest for maximum time.

We learn of Angela’s relationship as teenager with HP whom she fell in love with. She traces the last decade of how they dated, fell apart, how she dated Freddy, etc. Then we learn how Saskia fits in. We see what happened between everyone. And in the end, we discover what likely happened to Saskia. Add in Angela’s parents, a few other friends, and a couple of trips to Australia and Europe, the plot thickens. The book ends with readers knowing how it happened, but the cop is still uncertain, yet he makes an arrest.

Key Thoughts 
There are many parts of this book which I enjoyed reading. The story draws you in. The plot builds in all the right places creating suspenseful moments where as a reader you think you’ve got the answers. Then it changes and you’re back to the drawing board. Nay’s writing style is very strong and clean. It makes you feel part of the action and tension. You want to keep turning the pages to know what’s going on.

At the same time, I struggled a little with character attraction. Each character had a voice, personality, and physical descriptions, but I couldn’t quite find myself supporting Angela or even HP. I liked their romance, wanted them to get together… as kids, they were adorable. As a witness, Angela was evasive in a very good way in the beginning. As the story unfolded, I felt a little less connected to her and couldn’t quite get behind the decisions being made.

When the book ends, you’re left with a few “hmmm… not sure I understand that” moments and sorta think “eh, okay, well, I guess it was obvious in the beginning.” I think with a little more suspense and depth to have a bigger climax scene, this would have been a solid 4 star read. But it was missing a little something for me that either made it stand out because of who the main character was and the secrets being kept, or to give us that jaw-dropping moment. All-in-all, it was a good read and has lots of promise for the author to build an audience.

Summary 
This is Nay’s debut, and her writing skills are strong. Her plot development is also impressive. I would chance another novel, but I’d like to see some stronger character development as noted above. Thank you to NetGalley, Roz Nay, Minotaur Books, and St. Martin’s Press for getting me an early copy (ARC) to review.

 

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.

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365 Challenge: Day 236 – Mask (Author Alert: Jordan Antonacci)

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Mask: (a) something we all wear to protect our identity, or (b) 365 Daily Challenge word for 2017 debut novelist and today’s author alert — Jordan Antonacci

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If you are new to the ‘ThisIsMyTruthNow’ blog, the ‘365 Daily Challenge,’ or the ‘Author Alert’ segment, check out the “About Site” section from the main menu.

Authors are often a mystery to their fans. Sometimes you read a book without knowing (or caring) about the author — it’s the story you must devour. Often the author is shy and doesn’t have a huge following or social media presence. And on the rare occasion, several of the author’s personality traits show up in one or two of the characters in his/her books. It’s almost like authors wear a mask both to those who read our books and even sometimes to ourselves. In today’s post, I’m exploring the concept of the word ‘mask’ and how it relates to today’s featured author, Jordan Antonacci. Not only is he a interesting new novelist whose book debuted last month, the cover of his novel ‘The Author’ contains a picture of a mask… let’s dig into this one a little further…

I began chatting with Jordan earlier this year over a book review one of us posted… I can barely remember my own name lately, so good luck figuring out which book it was. The point… I thought he was a pretty cool guy. At 23, he’s found his passion and already churned out his first novel. I was lucky enough to read a few chapters during its early phase; I recall thinking he had a lot of talent and a good knack for drumming up suspense and thrills. A few months went by while we chatted each week about books, movies, 365 Daily Challenge words… and then, BOOM! — He’s publishing his book. Kudos to him for taking things so far in such a short time. When he agreed to also be the debut on my Author Alert series, I asked him what message he wanted to most share. He said:

“In chasing after what we want, we often leave behind what we had. We burn bridges, cut ties, and close doors that can’t be re-opened, no matter how much we knock. Too often when we get what we wanted, it’s only after that we realize it’s not what we thought. Too often…when we let something go, it’s only after that we realize what it truly meant to us. Every action has a reaction; every decision, a consequence.”

It’s good advice; inspirational in many ways. Once Jordan takes off his mask, there’s an intelligent and thoughtful guy waiting to be heard and read. When we talked about the best way to represent him in this segment, he left it to me… I thought that was fair, but  when I asked him how he felt about the mask being a reference to ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ he mentioned had hadn’t seen it. Oh, the poor guy, should I roast him for that? It’s one of my all-time favorite stories… so I could roast him, but I let this one slide.

Below are some key things to know about this author, but at the end of this post, you’ll see the permanent page I’ve added to my blog. You can return to check out more on who he is, what he’s writing and how to buy his future work. I started reading his novel this week and will probably finish it and post a review early next week. So far, he’s kept me intrigued and curious what’s going on in this serial killer mystery. He and I share that in common — we love stories about serial killers and artful murders. Now, before anyone worries, it’s only a healthy interest in fictional characters who are completely out there and insane. We love them because it’s fascinating to see the creative ways in which people get hurt or caught, and Jordan has come up with some immensely detailed scenes! Let’s get to the basics of how to contact or read more about him as an author:

Description of ‘The Author’

A heart-wrenching story of longing, loss, vengeance and consequence.  How far would you go to rebuild the life you let break? Forensics expert Troy Graves has helped solve a lot of crimes, but he can’t seem to put back together the pieces of his own life. After years of chasing a serial killer known as “The Portrait Killer”–TPK–through the streets of Laguna Niguel, Troy has lost his wife as well as himself. Desperate and eager for the freedom of a fresh start, he decides to take matters into his own hands. Going behind the back of his Lieutenant, Troy takes on the role of Lead Detective, hunting the streets of Laguna Niguel for the one thing that haunts him. But when he puts a face to the monster, Troy only sees opportunity, and does something unorthodox–he asks the killer for help.  Seduced by his lust for greed, Troy seems to forget that every action has a reaction, and that befriending the Devil doesn’t go without consequence.

You can purchase the book at:

https://www.amazon.com/Author-Jordan-Antonacci-ebook/dp/B076BFLZJN/ref=la_B076DL77LJ_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1508199196&sr=1-2

It’s critical to support new authors when they first launch a book. As I’m going through this with only two-days advanced knowledge (my debut was 10/8, his is 10/10), I’m sharing all that I learn with him to help him be successful. If you’re interested in thrillers, mysteries and suspense novels, it would be a great opportunity to support a new artist. You can read a few of his chapters through his blog or you can ask him for a copy in lieu of a review. He’s approachable, friendly and working hard to build a future in writing books. I’m excited to finish reading his novel this weekend and will post a review very soon.

To see more about Jordan Antonacci on ThisIsMyTruthNow, check out his dedicated author page where future content and books will added.

Thanks for stopping by this first edition of the Author Alert.

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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.

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Book Review: Seashells, Spells & Caramels by Erin Johnson

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4 out of 5 stars to Seashells, Spells & Caramels, the first in a cozy mystery series set to be published on October 29th, 2017 and written by Erin Johnson.

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Why This Book 
My reading interests are fairly diverse; I often need a balance an intense thriller with a lighthearted cozy mystery, or a direct and clear biography with a lyrical historical fiction book. My head has its limits. When the author reached out to me offering an opportunity to read her novel, I said ‘yes’ for two reasons: (1) I am low on cozy mysteries readily available from my TBR and (2) she’s a new author, like me. The premise, a cross between a Harry Potter wizarding world and Hannah Swensen’s wonderful dessert world, intrigued me. It was time for something new and the story said ‘pick me tonight,’ so I did. And I’m quite glad, so let me get right into the review…

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Imogen’s life is a bit of a mess, mostly because her boss is sarcastic and awful. When she steps up to help cater the woman’s wedding rehearsal dinner, Imogen finally gets a bit of kudos but also realizes something weird is happening around her when she bakes. Her luck improves for just one night when a guest at the dinner convinces Imogen to enter a secret baking contest which will hopefully earn her a chance to get the money to open her own bakery. She submits her entry, falls asleep at the kitchen counter and wakes up to a disaster happening all around her. The only good thing after she loses everything of importance to her is she’s been selected to participate in the final round of the contest. After she finally locates the place in a remote island off the European shores, she learns there really is a world of magic; now she needs to find out where she belongs in it. One by one, she competes against other bakers, learning all about her new world, until another participant in the contest is murdered. There’s foul afoot in her new magic world and she’s desperate to avoid getting caught up in the problem, as she just wants to win the prize or find a way to get home and open her own bakery. But she begins to develop friendships and care about the future of the world she’s come to know.

Approach & Style 
I read the 286 page book on my iPad through Kindle Reader. There are 28 chapters, each one around 10 pages. It’s told in first-person point of view with the perspective always on Imogen, the main character. It’s the first in a series with at least three already written and coming available soon. I read it over three nights in about four hours in total. The writing style is simple and clean, offering good imagery and world-building.

Key Thoughts 
I really enjoyed the concept of the story; it has been done before on some levels, but it’s also handled in a different manner in this book. Imogen accepts she’s a witch, doesn’t try to complain or research so she learns everything at once. A lot is still a mystery at the end of the book, e.g. who were her parents, what magic does she possess, how do people not know witches exist, where is the line between good and evil, etc. When you combine a passion for cooking desserts and a contest, it’s a win for me. I kept picturing “The Great British Baking Show” meets “The Witches” while reading the story.

For a debut, it’s strong; there are several open questions, good characters, lots of opportunity for growth without repetition and subtle humor. I felt transported to a different world for a few hours, which is always a positive reaction to a book like this one. On the flip side, I am curious to see how the author addresses many of the open items. It can’t go on for too long, or we’ll worry that we have to suspend our disbelief and just accept we don’t know the rules to this magical world. But for now, I’m excited and look forward to more action.

Author & Other Similar Books 
There are a bunch of cozy mysteries in the market either about witches or cooks and bakers. It’s hard to choose one, but it falls right within that niche. What’s special about this first book, and we’ll see where the others go, is the main character discovering who she is while also trying to re-build her new life. Imogen isn’t trying to be a detective or solve the case; she’s merely living her life and thinking about everything happening around her. The mystery is two-fold here: who is she in the magic world and what is happening to her fellow contestants. It reads like a fun story about someone re-inventing herself rather than someone with a penchant for trying to find killers.

Summary
If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I’ve only given 5-star ratings to less than 5% of my reads, which are currently over 500 books. A 4-star rating in my world means ‘it’s pretty darn good,’ and this one certainly qualifies in that category. There’s some room for improvement and growth, but it’s a very engaging and style. I recommend it to cozy mystery fans and those who enjoy reading light / creative stories about witches and magic. I am looking forward to book #2 in this series, but I might pace myself so I don’t read them all in one sitting… then I’d have to the author to conjure one up quickly… but as the magic in her books tell us, you can’t conjure something from nothing. To know what that means, you’ll just have to read the book!

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 @ http://mybook.to/WGS. 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 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.