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Book Review: Sea Cliff by Mary Deal

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Sea CliffSea Cliff by Mary Deal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sea Cliff is a very appropriate title for this book. Not only is Mary Deal’s story about a beautiful area in San Francisco named Sea Cliff, but it’s also the way to describe the main character’s emotions as she struggled with overcoming a haunting past and accepting love for a promising future. I’ve read many of Deal’s books before, and even though I don’t usually read in the love / romance genre, I read this one because the author is just that good of a writer. It did not disappoint on any level.

Main character, Rachael, is an author who finds inspiration in Matthew, a handsome guy she meets in a park. At first, she’s hesitant because he’s too forward and overly interested. She suspects ulterior motives, but pushes herself to extend her boundaries. She’s been emotionally and physically abused in the past which has left her unable to trust others. She lost both her parents, has a difficult relationship with her brother, and isn’t able to keep friendships all because of this pain. But life’s not all bad… she’s published two books, she’s inherited some money and a house, and she is starting to open up. As the story progresses, she lets Matthew in but not consistently enough resulting in several moments and interactions that leave them both uncertain of their future. After an emotional and turbulent event changes the course of their relationship for a few months, readers are never certain how it all might end up.

I daresay this isn’t a typical romance novel. While there are definitely large chapters and chunks of the book focused on the growing romance and subsequent roadblocks, it’s more a study in the life of a woman over the course of about 18 months as she goes through many changes to accept herself. There are several romantic scenes, but it’s not a huge piece of the action. It’s more of an emotional and psychological tale where we see the ebbs and flows of Rachael’s ability to open up. As she meets new characters and takes on bigger roles in her career, we see confidence and pain emerge. She struggling, and we root for her, which makes the story easy to read.

Deal is a very talented writer who can evoke emotion from her readers. I don’t want to give away too much more, but there’s a climactic event that truly tests Rachael (and Matthew) where as readers, we can’t decide what to feel or think… and we want to grab hold of someone and shake them for what they’ve done… but ultimately, we might be misunderstanding what’s really going on. There’s a little bit of suspense, a hint of ‘coming of age’ although Rachael’s already a fully grown adult, and a gripping saga about how to move on from damages. Deal pushes readers to explore how they’d react in some tough situations, then provides a calm relief where things seem to be okay. Only they’re not… and it takes a lot more to overcome something we didn’t realize was so powerful in the past.

Although I’m still not sure romance books are a go-to genre for me, Deal’s writing and style makes this a much more genre-crossing story for me that I’d be open to sampling a few others who tread the water in this realm. I’m thrilled with this book and the fact that I devoured it on a 3-hour train ride should show how true it is. I never wanted to put it down nor did I get bored of any plot or setting which I’d been worried about purely because of it being a non-norm genre for me. I should’ve known better… the genre might spook me a bit, but the author consistently delivers no matter what she writes. If you’re read her work before, but don’t read in this genre, it’s got props and strength – very worth the read. If you love romance and like a little extra, give this one a shot. It’s full of depth and hope, sorrow and worry… but the ups and downs the characters go thru are worth it. Solid read… definitely recommended.

View all my reviews

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. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and 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 –and multiple Readathons. 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 227 – Domain

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Domain: (1) your home, or (2) website URL folder configuration technical component

domain.jpg

Today I pretend the only definition of the word ‘domain’ is the former one: my abode. Tomorrow I will tackle fixing the domain for my website while trying to transfer from WordPress.org to WordPress.com. Between SSL certificates, re-directs from an old to a new website, incorrect copy in a book telling readers the wrong author website and cache not clearing, I’ve lost 5 hours today. I give up and will tackle it another day. And that’s all I have to say about today’s 365 Daily Challenge word. Happy Hump Day!

 

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

365 Challenge: Day 204 – Return (RYDER RANT)

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Return: arrival at home from a long trip

return home

I have made my official return home from the fifteen day vacation. Everything went quite smoothly today. We checked out of the hotel, returned the rental car and got through security very quickly in Orlando. Our flight was ready on-time and arrived early in NYC. Our suitcases were one of the first few on the conveyor belt at baggage claim. No line at the taxi. No traffic back to the apartment. It was a bit shocking, but quite welcome. So many choices today that I had to make:

  • I think I gained about 8 pounds on this trip. Do I start eating healthy again today or tomorrow? Since I had a croissant for breakfast, I felt like it was still a vacation day. Therefore, we ordered pizza delivery from the taxi on the way back home from the airport. Decision — Start healthy tomorrow!
  • Do we unpack as soon as we get home or relax? Neither of us wanted to look at the luggage all evening so we spent thirty minutes and fully unpacked everything.
  • Laundry tonight or tomorrow?  I’m a tad lazy today, so I’ll start it tomorrow. It’s a mountain!
  • Will Ryder remember us or ignore us for leaving him alone? He was super excited at first but now is being aloof. He did beg for lots of pizza. I think we’re being punished.
  • Pizza for dinner. No cooking. Too tired to go out. Not even a choice.
  • What to do about the vacation costs? Should I verify now or in a few days? Decided to do it now, e.g. match all the pre-paid costs versus credit card charges versus pending items. I’m a little obsessive, so I’m actually working on it right now.
  • I left the house cleaned. Do you know how much dust accumulates over two weeks? Wow! Should I start tomorrow or wait until the end of the week? I will spend an entire day cleaning this week.
  • Mail sorted. List of ‘to-do items’ made. Bills paid.

I have a few more errands to run and priorities to organize for tomorrow, but by early evening tonight, everything should be back in normal swing. And later on, we’ll watch a bit of TV, as we didn’t almost the whole trip. Excited to see Will and Grace! I also have feedback from 6 of 9 beta readers (some had full manuscript, some had a few chapters), so I will get that all saved locally to begin tomorrow morning with editing plans. And oh yeah, I got the semi-final cover of Watching Glass Shatter from the publisher this week. I really like it and can’t wait to share it soon.

It’s 68 in NYC. Finally a return to lower temperatures! I will return tomorrow with a regular post. Thanks for everyone’s patience while I was away, unable to comment much on others posts or reply to your comments. I hope you enjoyed the trip and the pictures. More to come later this month, once I settle back in to a routine. Have a great day!

 

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.

365 Challenge: Day 197 – Estate

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Estate: A ‘few’ pictures of the Biltmore Estate from yesterday’s tours in Asheville, Nort Carolina

bilt

Ryder is on vacation in NYC. He sends me pictures and videos each day of his walks, playtime and morning treats. He wanted to tell you all that he’s very happy and wishes he was on the trip with me. He’ll return for his own posts next week. As for the Dads, we spent most of Saturday and Sunday touring the Biltmore Estate. I could generate tons of posts from this part of the trip, and I may do a few special ones upon returning; however, for now, it’s just the pictures from the basic tour. I went on an Upstairs/Downstairs Tour which shows you everything basically comparing it to Downton Abbey. I then took the Roof Top tour which shows you all the inner workings of the estate’s technology, construction and rooftop peaks. Yes, I was all over the roof and thru crawl way spaces and attics. And the final tour was in an outdoor vehicle all over the grounds. More to come, but enjoy the pics from today’s general tour of America’s largest privately owned estate home.

IMG_2428IMG_2429IMG_2430IMG_2431IMG_2432IMG_2433IMG_2434IMG_2465IMG_2466IMG_2467IMG_2468IMG_2470IMG_2471IMG_2472IMG_2473IMG_2474IMG_2476IMG_2478IMG_2479IMG_2485IMG_2486

IMG_2426IMG_2424IMG_2425IMG_2423IMG_2422IMG_2418IMG_2416IMG_2415IMG_2414

 

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.

365 Challenge: Day 72 – American

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American: originating or coming from the United States of America (USA)

As I wandered the apartment this morning, prepping for an interview and thinking about the 365 daily post, the word American popped into my head. In the first five weeks of the challenge, I choose the primary ethnicity groups that made up who I am.  I suddenly realized I never spoke about being an American. But what exactly does that mean and how has it changed over the last ~ 250 years. Two key things to clarify before I start babbling: (1) I am not political and (2) This will not be a “rah-rah” post about the greatness of my country — not because it isn’t, but because that’s not the type of blog I would post, given I’m more the kind of person who asks questions rather than provides answers. Back to the topic at hand…

Over the last ~250 years since America was created in the late 18th century, people have defined themselves as American based on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I agree with all of those beliefs, and I am proud and grateful for all of the liberties we have; however, what does it mean to be an American in today’s society? I believe it’s changed over the years, based on how we’ve grown as people and as a country. Not so much as in “How do other countries view us?” as that would be getting political, which I won’t do on a blog. But… what do you think of when you say “I am an American.” For me, a few key “normal every day” things come to mind… and I mean this seriously, not as a joke:

  • Apple Pie

  • Hot Dogs & Hamburgers

  • Hollywood

  • Stock Market

  • Tipping

  • Convenience

convnient.jpg

There are tons of other things I could have added, some judgmental and some humble, but I am not going for a controversial post… I’m going for the casual feel of “oh, yeah, that just feels American to me.”

  1. Apple Pie
    • There is the saying “as American as apple pie,” which is a well-known quote.
    • There’s the movie “American Pie,” which provides a pretty strong commentary on what it’s like growing up in American high schools and colleges.
    • Towns fight over the best way to make apple pie: type of crust, covered or uncovered, which apples, sweet or fruity…
    • I enjoy apple pie, but it wouldn’t be my first dessert. Desserts in my world require chocolate.
    • I don’t think I represent America well, when it comes to apple pie.
  2. Hot Dogs & Hamburgers
    • Quintessential BBQ food, especially on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.
    • Have been turned into a gourmet food in some places, i.e. how many different ways can you re-invent this staple of the “American diet.”
    • I won’t eat hot dogs as I’m not a fan of mystery meat, even when it’s “all beef.”
    • I’ll have a hamburger every once in a while, but I much prefer filet mignon or steak tartare. I’m obnoxious, I know.
  3. Hollywood
    • Included because it’s where everyone goes and talks about, when it comes to entertainment.
    • From Old Hollywood in the 1920s and 1930s to today’s super-idolized gossip and drama, it’s been a staple defining the country for an entire century.
    • Everyone talks about TV/Film Hollywood stars; it’s the go-to conversation more than books, plays, sports… it’s a universal standard for things to talk about.
    • I enjoy films and TV shows. I talk about them. But I’m more apt to talk about books. I don’t follow or track celebrities, nor do I care if I pass one on the street. It’s a secondary thing in my life, not a driver.
  4. Stock Market
    • Driven the world’s economical impacts for many years. I’m not saying it’s the only driver, but it’s been an influential piece for nearly two centuries.
    • It’s on the news every day, especially lately!
    • It’s used as a way to judge “how the world is doing” instead of looking at how people treat one another.
    • I know a little bit about it. I invest in it. I check a few key numbers each day, but that’s more because I like watching counts go up/down and measuring numbers from day to day, regardless of if it’s the stock market or the weather.
  5. Tipping
    • The US seems to have its own tipping standards, and the rest of the world is not a fan of how it works here.
    • In all my 40 years, I still struggle with understanding exactly when to tip and when not to, i.e. maintenance in my building, deliveries, services. I probably over-tip as a result, but it’s painful even for Americans!
    • I always thought 15% to 20% was the scale. 15% if it was so-so, 20% if it was stellar. Now, I see 22.5%, 25% and 30% on receipts, taxi screens, etc. So confusing!
    • My standard now is 20% for 8 out of 10 occasions. If I had a problem with the service, I’ll drop it to 15%. If it was awesome, I’ll leave 25%.
  6. Convenience
    • In the past, it feels like the motto was either “Work hard and you’ll achieve your goals,” or “Nothing worth having is easy.” Or some paraphrasing around those messages.
    • Now, it feels like the focus is “How can we get something done quicker, faster, cheaper?” Certainly has been prevalent in history before, but now… with technology, it’s all about pushing the envelope even more.
    • Everything is being designed to accomplish more in as little time or space as possible
      • On one hand, this is great if we are saving our environment or resources.
      • It’s exhausting us and causing more illness.
    • I feel like people often think “they take it easy in America” when it comes to just doing or saying whatever we want. I would agree we are definitely all about the convenience, but at the same time, we take the worst vacations (meaning we work the entire time, and there’s little work-life balance).
    • Me personally… eh, I tend to try to do as much as possible in as little as possible time, so I probably fit this one fairly well.

So…. 6 things I think of when I hear the word “American.” All non-political and non-controversial. I’m not focusing on the land of the free… all important stuff, but I purely wanted a reflective moment, not an argumentative one.

How about you? What other attributes do you think are American? Which of these do you fit in? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve noted?

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.

365 Challenge: Day 45 – Neighborly

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Neighborly: being good neighbor [person who lives close by to you], especially helpful, friendly, or kind

Being neighborly can be a good and a bad thing. As I begin writing this post, I’m smack in the middle of the barometer on the whole subject. Let’s see where I end up at the bottom of this post.

Seems like an easy one, right? You’re nice to the people who live next door to you. But how far do you actually take it? Do you become friends? Do you dog-sit? Do you lend items? Do you stalk? Oh, wait, that’s taking it too far.

I’m proud to say I’ve never had a combative relationship with any of my neighbors. I’ve had a few times where they bothered me a little bit with excess noise or a sour puss… but those things can be ignored or fixed with a minor conversation. Except for once. One neighbor always looked like she was miserable… and trying to be a nicer person, I said “hi, how was your day?” in the elevator. She looked at me, pulled her glasses down towards the end of her nose, smirked and said “There’s no need for us to talk.” I had never spoken to the woman before. Our apartments don’t share a common wall. And I’m extremely quiet, so I couldn’t have bothered her before.  A few days later, a friend stopped by, and we all got stuck in the elevator together riding down a few floors. I admit it was childish… but when the woman stepped out of the elevator before us, I mumbled just loud enough for her to hear… “Shh… talking will send you straight to hell around here.”  Ah, that’s on my board of “Moments I am Proud of.”

Historically speaking… your neighbors were people you were often very close to, related to, or at least knew enough about. Nearly 100 years ago, it was acceptable for your neighbor to complete the US Census for you when the census taker couldn’t get hold of you. And when the cops came around looking for you, your neighbor always knew where you’d be!

Today, people sometimes live in an apartment building for years, never once seeing or meeting their next door neighbor. When I lived in the suburbs, I thought that was completely nuts. How could you not see the person every day? Then I moved into the city and realized… it’s definitely possible.

As a child and teenager, I lived next door in the suburbs to my best friend. We were the same age, went to school together and played or hung out every day after school and on weekends. Everyone on the block knew one another… until slowly generations changed and people moved… then folks started talking about that new couple that moved in… and the nosy gossip started!

When I lived in the dorms in college, I knew my mates and the 2 or 3 dorm room inhabitants directly around me, but not everyone. And when I bought my first house, I made zero effort to get to know the people who lived nearby. So where do I fall on that neighborly scale?

Reasons Why I Am

  • I love small town charm and knowing everyone else’s business. But they can’t know mine.
  • I love being helpful in case (s)he needs to borrow a cup of sugar.
  • I kinda want to know if someone creepy is living that close to try not to get on his/her bad side.
  • It’s probably good someone knows what you look like in case someone else is trying to break into your place. At least there’s a chance (s)he will try to call the cops for you.

Reasons Why I Am NOT

  • I live in NYC where everything is a rush. Who has time for chit-chat?
  • I’m a shy and quiet person. I don’t like to be interrupted.
  • I tend to get a little “that’s mine, don’t touch it” attitude every so often. I was an only child. And I don’t like border disputes! 🙂

In all seriousness though… being neighborly seems like a good thing. It can run the gamut from friendly to just a nod of acceptance. We’re all in this world together, a little gesture now and again shouldn’t kill us. And you never know who or what may come out of getting to know them a little bit.

I also think it’s a different type of neighborly when you live in the same building versus separate land and property. It’s easy to chat in an elevator with someone who lives on your floor. (REALLY, it is…) You may need to make the effort when they live 100 feet away.

How about you? Do you want to know your neighbors or would you prefer to keep some distance?

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and 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.