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Book Review: The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

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I chose this book purely based on its cover. The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor looked gorgeous, and after seeing it all over Goodreads and thinking about the Cotswolds, I fell in love. Then I learned it doesn’t take place in England, but in Ireland, as well as that it’s based on a true story. Wow! Knock me over with a feather… all that said, it was a good book and I enjoyed it very much. I’d give it somewhere between a 3.5 and 4 stars rounded up.

Two young girls take pictures of faeries in Ireland during World War 1. One of them is a transplant from South Africa returning because her father must fight in the war. She bonds with her cousin, they become somewhat famous for their pictures as everyone thinks it’s real. Was it? In current day, a somewhat distant relative / friend (I’m being vague to not give it away) returns to the village to take care of her aging grandmother after her grandfather passes away. She’s contemplating breaking off an engagement and starting life anew. The stories intertwine and we learn what really happened with the photo of the faeries.

If this weren’t based on a true story, I’d have said the plot was too simple. Knowing it comes from a real-life experience, it makes the book a bit better. The author created a beautiful story. The characters felt real. I enjoyed the current story more than the historical one, tho. I felt the book had some literary merit, but at times, it was repetitive and listless… yet I also found it enchanting and vivid in many other places. I think it’s meant to be that way if you’re not aware of or fully caught up in the true story.

Gaynor’s writing is quite strong and made me keep reading. I will definitely sample more of her work in the future.

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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 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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Book Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

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Kate Morton is one of my favorite authors, and when The Clockmaker’s Daughter came out this year, I was one of the first to jump on NetGalley to get a copy. I was so excited to be awarded the book and added it to my August reading queue. It made for a good alternate style given I’m also running a children’s book readathon this month! Although not my favorite of all her novels, it’s an enchanting story and covers a lot of beautiful generations within a couple of families.

What I loved the most about this book was how you never quite knew who was speaking in the beginning of a chapter. It took a few paragraphs or a page or two before it became obvious. Some might be bothered by this approach, but it added to mystery and ambiance for me. The Radcliffe family was quite peculiar, and I wondered whether it would turn out to be accidental death or murder for one or two characters. As the story unfolds and we learned about Elodie in 2017/8 discovering the past, everything comes flooding forward. There are memorable characters in this book and I recommend it for that reason alone. On the flip side, there are over 30 main characters, so it gets a tad difficult to keep focused if you have to put the book down for more than a day at a time. Don’t read it with anything else like I did.

Morton is the queen of lyrical words and astounding settings. The plot is strong, and the twist at the end is great. Along the path, it’s much lighter tho… less about the mystery and more about hearing what happened to people over a century. I found myself eager for more action than present in the book. But it still captured my heart and attention. A solid 4 stars.

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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 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: A Poisonous Journey by Malia Zaidi

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Given two of my favorite genres include historical fiction and cozy mysteries, I expected to enjoy A Poisonous Journey, the first book in the Lady Evelyn series, written by Malia Zaidi in 2015. I was definitely thrilled with this book and pleasantly surprised to learn there were already 3 published in the series. What a great find for this enthusiast of history, detective stories, and charming characters set in foreign lands.

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Lady Evelyn, a mid-20s former orphan (her parents died young and she was raised by a strict aunt) who escapes to Greece to visit her best friend and cousin, Briony, is the star of this caper. She’s intelligent, funny, kind, and open-minded, and those are just the surface traits worth mentioning… there’s so much more. Longing to find a purpose for her life, she settles in with her cousin and begins meeting many of the Greek neighbors and townspeople in 1920s Crete. When one of the group is found dead, the suspect list is at first empty, but as more comes to light on the deceased, it begins to grow larger and larger. Although she isn’t investigating the mystery, events unfold where she asks questions and thinks out loud to a few people, thus opening and closing doors as to who the possible culprit could be. When a few side stories (antiquities theft, romance, clandestine affairs, and secret pregnancies) begin to collide, Evelyn finds herself in the middle of it all with a dashing suitor willing to help find the answers.

Zaidi has created a very strong protagonist who jumps off the pages despite the century time difference between when the story was written and when it takes place. Among the language, setting and relationships, readers find charming connections and introspective thoughts about the beauty of life nearly 100 years ago. With no Internet, DNA or quick-n-easy access to get answers, she has to use deduction and behavior to understand what’s happening around her.

What appealed to me the most in this story is how although the mystery is front and center, the book is really a story about ‘a few weeks in the life of a character we can all identify with on some or multiple level(s).’ Whether she’s having a conversation with the maid, relaxing at a picnic with friends, or corresponding with her aunt to explain the rushed exit, I want more Lady Evelyn. Zaidi matches the style and tone of her word choice with the time period, the relaxed and casual setting with the quiet island life, and the descriptions with the lyrical flow of a single woman from a well-to-do family learning about real life outside her immediate circle of experience.

Many of the supporting characters are well-developed, too. They feel real and shine as either sounding boards or a pivotal and unwitting distributor of clues to Lady Evelyn. I felt a steady stream of low-key suspense (that’s exactly how this type of story was meant to be shared) that kept me turning the pages with keen interest in how it would all unfold. When a key ‘chase scene’ puts Evelyn in the line of dangerous fire, we worry despite knowing she’ll be okay in the end. Although the different sub-plots help direct the main one, they also stand on their own as key stories within the book to help build the world in which Evelyn resides. It’s part of the way Zaidi generates interest in each chapter, all leading to a very appropriate conclusion for what would likely have happened during this time period.

Kudos to the author for making quite a splash for me with this book. I look forward to reading the next book later this year!

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.

365 BONUS: Blogiversary Guest Post with Claire @ BrizzleLass

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Although the 365 Daily Challenge ended about one month ago, I’ve shared a bonus post in celebration of my very good friend’s third blogiversary. If you’re not currently following Claire @ BrizzleLass, then you must click the link and do so immediately. I chose the word unexpectedly for my guest post on her blog to share how we met, became friends, and will be hanging out together in person in London next month. This is a special week on her blog with giveaways, awesome friends to meet, and the potential to find a new author you’ll have in the future as she’s gearing up with several upcoming novels. She’s also quite well-known in the blogging world for helping authors on their books and marketing. So… without further ado, check out the link below to see today’s unexpectedly shared bonus 365 word all about my friend, Claire, via Blogiversary Guest Post: James from This Is My Truth Now @jamescudney4.

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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…

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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.

365 Challenge: Day 264 – Simply (Author Alert: Melanie Mole)

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Simply: (a) easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty; straightforward or (b) 365 Daily Challenge word for today’s author alert — Melanie Mole

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. 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 she is, what she’s writing and how to buy her future work. Melanie and I met about 6 months ago when we somehow connected via this blog. She’d read a few chapters of my work and then introduced me to her publisher, which eventually lead to me publishing my novel. I am eternally grateful to her for helping me cross that finish line. Today, she’s out guest author and I am very happy to share more information about her and the wonderful books she’s written. I read her novel, Simply Does It, earlier this year — please check out the review. A small part of it below:

‘Every once in a while, it’s good to take a chance on a new author or a new book topic. I’m glad I did with this one and encourage others to take a look at the book for their own world. It may just give you a different perspective, one you might have heard before, but always need a reminder of. And if simplifying life is not for you, it’s still a fun tale about three experiences many of us don’t have very often in life. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to visit a convent or a monastery… now I have a good sense.’

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When Melanie and I chatted this week about life being an author, one of the first things that came to mind for me was how she accomplishes everything she does. I read her book and learned a lot about her life, but I wanted to know more… Is there anyone pushing her  on the sidelines, I asked, curious to compare our experiences. She had a great response:

Support for a writer is so important. Yes, you can write without it, but it is so much easier to know that someone has your back no matter what you are going through. I am so lucky to have full and continued support from Rob, my other half. As soon as we met I knew that he was one in a billion, and he hasn’t disappointed me. I feel both lucky, and privileged to have him in my life, and I wouldn’t ever want to be without him, or his support.

 Everyone should be as lucky as her!

To see more about Melanie, below are the key links

Website – melaniemolecom.wordpress.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/melaniemolebook

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/melaniemolebooks/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/57372902-melanie-mole

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/melaniemolewriter/

Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Simply-Does-Simplicity-Melanie-Mole/dp/1975877519/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511459102&sr=8-1&keywords=simply+does+it

Other book on Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Man-Woman-Trouble-Melanie-Mole-ebook/dp/B0759YBZDJ/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1511459178&sr=1-7&keywords=melanie+mole

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To see more about Melanie Mole on ThisIsMyTruthNow, check out her dedicated author page where future content and books will added as she publishes them and I review them.

Thanks for stopping by this edition of the Author Alert.


 

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

Author Alert: William Shakespeare

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As part of our Author Alert series, we’re now on our fourth week and I’ve completed 500 reviews on the ThisIsMyTruthNow blog site. This week, I’ve selected… William Shakespeare!

 

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William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) wrote 37 plays and 157 sonnets. You can find more about him on Goodreads or Wikipedia.

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He married Anne Hathaway and had 3 children. She looks great for being nearly 500 years old, but given she’s an actress, she probably has tons of people taking care of her! Oh… that’s right, it’s a different Anne Hathaway. Silly me. I get them confused a lot… probably because I’ve read at least 21 out Shakespeare’s 37 plays. See below for links to all the reviews. I should probably keep on reading…. which one…. feel free to suggest a good one I’ve missed. It’s been a while and although a re-read might work, something “new” is even better.

  1. Sonnets (1590 – 1610)
  2. Richard III (1591)
  3. The Taming of the Shrew (1593)
  4. Comedy of Errors (1594)
  5. Romeo & Juliet (1595)
  6. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595) — would love to do a re-read some day
  7. Richard II (1595)
  8. The Merchant of Venice (1596)
  9. Much Ado About Nothing (1598)
  10. As You Like It (1599)
  11. Julius Caesar (1599)
  12. Hamlet (1600) — favorite tragedy
  13. The Winter’s Tale (1600) — least favorite of all!
  14. Twelfth Night (1601) — favorite comedy
  15. Measure For Measure (1603)
  16. Othello (1603)
  17. King Lear (1603)
  18. Macbeth (1606)
  19. Antony and Cleopatra (1606)
  20. The Tempest (1610)
  21. Cymbeline (1611)
  22. Henry VIII (1613)

 

I adore Shakespeare and took a 4 month course on him in college (many years ago). Saturday mornings 9 to 12… some days, I wasn’t sober enough to have a lot of input, and I think my grade showed it. It was the only class where I didn’t have at least an A-. Very disappointed in myself. Now you probably are too!

I also love the movie Shakespeare in Love. Have you ever seen it? I wonder if that is representative of who he really was… I might have fallen in love myself. And then there’s Shakespeare in the Park.

To see the actual author page and all the reviews, click here. All 20+ reviews I’ve completed are there…

The Cat Who series I adore has a book with Shakespeare in the title by Lilian Jackson Braun.

What’s your favorite thing about Shakespeare? What other things have you seen / read about Shakespeare that weren’t actually his own writing?

 

About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” 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… see how you compare! Each month, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking. Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All 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.