Irish

Book Review: Trip to Birmingham by Lisa Reynolds

Posted on

Trip To Birmingham (Rory Murphy Mysteries #2)Trip To Birmingham by Lisa Reynolds
Trip to Birmingham is the second novella in the Rory Murphy Mysteries series by Lisa Reynolds. I read the first book in the series last year and an entirely different series by the author earlier this year. Some of the key elements I enjoy about her books are that they’re quick and easy reads, offer a non-American point of view, and focus on atypical characters (in terms of what you traditionally see in mainstream fiction).

In the opening scene, a gay couple are enjoying the day when one basically says to the other ‘hey, did you hear about the murder in Birmingham?’ Rory’s boyfriend knows what that means, and the next day he’s rolling Rory onto a train (Rory is in a wheelchair) to investigate it… all because of an agreement about sex! From there, the guys and two friends get cozy with the family of the deceased woman in order to determine their suspects. Rory and his boyfriend’s relationship changes in this book, and the ending while not entirely a surprise to me, presents a different kind of justice.

Another fun entry in this cute series… refreshingly honest and quirky, it’s a simple but dynamic tale to show you why you love to read.

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. 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.

Advertisements

Book Review: A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle

Posted on

A High-End Finish (Fixer-Upper Mystery, #1)A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last month, I finished reading all the cozies I had on my bookshelf or Kindle. I had stopped buying them a while ago because it was getting out of control. Once I caught up, I decided I could start one new series a month… this month, it was Kate Carlisle’s Fixer-Upper Mysteries, and the first book is A High-End Finish. I’d previously heard good things about Carlisle through reviews or recommendations, and it has been a great suggestion. I enjoyed a lot about the book, saw a few things I hope settle in as the series continues, and look forward to the various plots that could come from a contractor being an amateur sleuth.

In this first book, Shannon goes on a bad date. He’s creepy, handsy, and basically crosses that border of anything considered acceptable. Luckily she gets a good kick to his shins to stop the jerk (in front of a crowd no less!), but unfortunately for her, he winds up dead a few days later. The new detective in town immediately thinks she’s guilty, but quickly decides he might’ve made a mistake. As she begins to ask questions around town, Shannon learns other women also experienced the same behavior from the awful man. Which one of them killed him? It doesn’t stop there, though, as another body turns up. And this one is a bigger connection to Shannon, someone she hated almost as much. Is there a killer trying to make her look guilty, or a Casanova from afar trying to make her happy in a psychotic sort of way? Shannon tries to stay out of the case, but she’s drawn back in each time something bad happens. In the end, she sees the killer trying to murder someone else and intervenes (what a good citizen) yet it puts her suddenly in the line of fire.

Carlisle’s writing style is great. It flows well, I like the balance of humor and seriousness, and there is witty dialog and wonderful narrative. Shannon’s relationships are developing nicely, and she has a lot of potential to be a great sleuth. I am thrilled to see a female contractor represented with both supportive and non-supportive men around her; it provides a good balance of different views. I love the decor and architecture being described, I felt like I was in southern California, San Francisco, or the 1920s seaside environments. Kudos to the author for all these wonderful things in a series I expect to love.

I was a little off-put by some of the interactions: some in a good way, some in a confused way. She has an instant connection with Mac (a famous writer), but he comes across too flirty and then too standoffish. I understand writers can be like that (no, not me!), but there wasn’t any explanation from him to her on why he acted so cold in one scene. Another instance was where the sheriff went from thinking she was awful to ‘let’s be friends’ without a smoother transition. In a single mystery with multiple characters and stages to be set, I understand this isn’t always the easiest, but I hope there’s a few less completely-180-degree turns happening. Some are fun to watch with forthcoming clarity, but it can’t become a common theme.

That said, it was minor, and I’m just being a tad picky since I’m on my 725th review at this point and now trying to share all the positives with one or two constructive ideas just in case readers want to know the potential areas of a book they might wonder about. But definitely a high recommendation read from me… I’ll be starting number two later this month.

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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. 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.

365 Challenge: Day 308 – Bottle (LIST: Objects I adore)

Posted on

Bottle: Bailey’s Irish Cream two friends drank during college, where life started to get easier, and I will always remember the fun times

image1 (2)

Sundays are LIST days and today is no different. For this group of 5 Sundays, I chose objects I adore or that have some huge importance to me. We’re in our second week and I’ve gone with bottle because of the treasure you see in these pictures. It’s an empty Bailey’s Irish Cream bottle from 1996, the last week of college during my freshmen year. I’ll explain more later, but of course, as I was only 19 at the time, I didn’t drink anything that evening. I participated only in the conversations and not the imbibing! 😛

I’ve mentioned two things in the past: I’m an only child and I am very shy. I was even more shy 20 years ago. After a decent freshmen first fall semester adjusting to a new life, I found myself considering changing colleges to stay at home, rather than live on campus two states away. My family convinced me to return for the spring semester and give a full year a chance. So… I did. And it worked out. I met a fantastic group of guys, and joined a fraternity. I also met a fantastic group of girls in a sister sorority. Friendships bloomed and everything was feeling great. I finally became a full brother after the pledging period ended, completed my final exams and had a few day before my father could pick me up on the weekend to head back to Long Island for the summer. I had met two girls (they were graduating seniors) and grew quite attached as friends. Everyone else left for home for the summer, but I had the extra few days… luckily, the senior class was around for another week until their graduation. I was staying to say goodbye.

One night, we sat on the front porch of their sorority house for several hours, just talking about life and our goals for the future. It continued for 4 or 5 days in a row, sometimes til 5am. Anette was going back to Finland. Gina was returning to New Jersey. I was going to miss all my new friends, but these two were quite special — especially since they were graduating and I knew it would be hard to keep in touch once they started teaching and working in the business world, while I was still in college for three more years. Our bond would be tough to maintain given the distance… but they did something a few days later which made it all the more special and long-lasting. They gifted me the first bottle from the first hour of the night we hung out, as there were many more bottles of other things after that — not that I had any, of course!

There are phrases on the bottles that are obvious, and there are some that were just the ramblings of a few drunk people. But it will always be in my memory as the beginning of when I pushed myself to be comfortable with new people, to take chances on friendships and to trust others. While we will still send an occasional message on Facebook, we’ve all moved on in our lives, but if I could ever transport back to a time in my life for a few hours, I’d pick one of those nights to discuss our hamburger theory, to listen to someone telling me to grow a backbone or to dance the macarena together. Life was simple. Grades and classes. Nothing else mattered besides our time together.

I’ve had this bottle for over 20 years. It’s moved with me to California and back. It’s been on my bookshelves and locked away in a closet for safe-keeping. I often pick it up to remember the days of my past. Sometimes to laugh at us them for going from tequila to wine to beer to Bailey’s Irish Cream all in the same night. Other times to just feel that connection. Thank you, Gina and Anette, for being one of my first amazing college friendships, and giving me this permanent reminder. xoxo


Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, often organized by groups of five (5) focused on interesting things about my life. I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me. Past weeks included:

  • Weeks 1 – 5: Primary ethnicity groups and nationalities
  • Weeks 6 – 10: A to Z Favorites
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Colors with an important meaning
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Cities I’ve lived
  • Weeks 21 – 25: Jobs I’ve held
  • Weeks 26 – 30: Top 10 entertainment options
  • Week 31: How to follow or contact me across all social media platforms
  • Week 32: How to help an artist with promotion
  • Week 33 – 37: Favorite Book Genres
  • Week 38 – 42: Holidays
  • Week 43 – 47: Objects I adore
  • Week 48 – 52: TBD

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Review: A Modest Proposal

Posted on Updated on

A Modest Proposal Book Review
A Modest Proposal is a satirical work of fiction by Jonathan Swift, written nearly 300 years ago. It is an Irish piece, originally published anonymously, but served as a way to shove stupidity in the face of the English government and wealthy. Essentially, in order to solve the problem of poverty, people should eat their children. But it was written in a very serious manner, as though it were meant to be real suggestions. Ahead of its time, it propelled Swift to the forefront of both English literature and the 18th century collection of masterpieces. My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although not very long (under 50 pages), the language is a bit outdated and requires a few translations to understand what he meant back during that period of time. The humor is undeniable. The time he took to create a solution for every aspect of the problem, as well as provide counter points, is incredibly delicious — pun intended! Though a bit too absurd, even for me, it’s still one of those parts of our English courses we all enjoy reading. It’s hilarious to a 15-year old, who may not know all the different parts of history or the way in which governmental red-tape can work. Find a few pages online after perusing this review… just sample some of the words and phrases he used. It may push you into reading the whole thing!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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.

View all my reviews

Review: Gulliver’s Travels

Posted on Updated on

Gulliver's Travels Book Review
If you’ve never heard of Jonathan Swift before, perhaps this will jog your memory… In one of his other famous works, A Modest Proposal, he offers a suggestion that we should eat babies in order to survive.

Whaaaaat? You’re probably thinking I’m a nut job for talking about this. But a few things to remember…

1. Swift is Irish. So it’s OK. They can say those sort of things and get away with. And so can I. Because I’m Irish. Oh… and it’s all satire. So let’s relax a bit. 😛

2. A Modest Proposal is not the point of this review. Swift’s other famous work, Gulliver’s Travels, is the point of this review.

3. Swift wrote these novels / essays about 300 years ago. Yes, you read that correctly. 300 years ago.

4. The government controlled everything. He was a rebel. But a good one. And his works are absolutely fantastic. On to Gulliver’s Travels. My rating: 4 of 5 stars

5. This may be where the word “yahoo” comes from. LOL

This is one where I just don’t want to ruin the story. Gulliver encounters several new species of people on his travels, most notably the Brobdingnag folks and the Lilliputians. Basically, the land of really tiny people and really huge people. But don’t think this is a non-politically correct book, where he’s saying negative things about giants, midgets, short people, tall people, etc. It’s satire and 300 years old. It’s the language of the past. He’s commenting on society’s values, the things people say/do, who’s hovering over whom, etc. He’s actually “standing up for the [wo]man.”

It’s such an absurdist story that you undoubtedly enjoy it. Yes, its language is a little stilted. And it’s written in a way where sometimes the classics can be painful. I admit it. I love them, but I admit it. If you need something satirical, read a few chapters. Pick the first two voyages. It’s a bit lengthy, but you’ll get the drift even skimming a little bit. Everything he has to say is still mostly pertinent to how we feel about government today, just different priorities and levels of occurrence. But when you can input all the things we’re feeling and thinking into a entirely new made-up race or breed of people, showing the silliness of what is going on in politics and culture, it’s a good laugh worth experiencing. It was one of the fastest published and absorbed works of literature in history. People ate it up! America wasn’t even a country when this was published!!!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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.

View all my reviews

365 Challenge: Day 35 – Genealogist

Posted on Updated on

Genealogist: One who is actively engaged in the study or investigation of ancestry and family histories

We’ve made it through another week and on this fifth Sunday, it’s time to wrap up the first month’s focus on my genealogical heritage. See below for a picture of my Ancestry DNA results.

genealogy

In the last four weeks, I selected the 4 countries where I believe my ancestors hailed from, as well as picked the top stereotypical traits people assumed about the people from those places. A quick summary:

  1. Irish: 20%
  2. English: 33%
  3. German: 33% (Includes the Scandinavian as some of relatives were on the border)
  4. Scottish: 13%
  5. Other: 1% (West Asian – I think everyone gets that!)

While the DNA results and the documentation have a 10% disconnect, it’s a very clear picture of who my people were and where I came from.

Why do I study my genealogy? Take a look at this post on my professional website. It will give you some insight into my historical nature and great big quest for the past.

I often wonder why I’m so persistent on it… do I doubt who I am? Do I need more details about where I came from? Is it trying to understand how it all began?

Ultimately, this interest goes back to more than just people… it’s how did the USA begin. What happened to the dinosaurs? What were the original continents like? How did Earth form? What other galaxies are there? It’s more than being curious. It’s more than dedication or obsession. When I’m researching a family member on my laptop, tons of windows open to compare and contrast records, and I stumble upon a find… my eyes light up, I can’t sit still and my fingers can’t keep up with my mind. The discovery is brilliant and I’m ecstatic.

I’m a linear person. I like to start at the beginning. I have to read the first book in a series. I prefer straight lines. I like to create project plans with a starting point and an ending point. I love watching time pass on a clock, counting down to the re-start of the 60 segment process.

I believe it’s the same orderly structure that drives me to research my roots. I like seeing things improve, gain strength, drive forward. Adding more knowledge with each successive chain or generation. I’m sociological, I suppose.

Seeing a family tree, learning how people survived, how they met… what types of jobs and families they had. What made them move? These are all details I enjoy searching for across the internet.

Can you imagine watching from the sidelines as your ancestors moved through their lives? What if we had a time machine and could go back not to change the past, but to watch it unfold on warp speed? Quick enough not to see the tedious things, but slow enough to watch how each generation changed. To see your 4 times grandparents meet on a boat and decide to marry within days. To know your 6 times great-grandmother suffered so many miscarriages due to the poor conditions of medicine and health, but then she finally gave birth to your 5 times great-grandfather. To know how wars impacted your family. To recognize who touched royalty at some point.

It’s not unlike my interest in mystery fiction. Investigation. Detection. Research. As I draft each of these posts, hitting number 35 today, several themes are starting to appear. I’ve always known about them on a smaller scale, but the picture is becoming more clear.

So now I throw it out there… where do I go next?

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.

365 Challenge: Day 28 – Scottish

Posted on Updated on

Scottish: containing roots from Scotland

There are lots of famous Scottish people I admire: Gerard Butler, Ewan McGregor (one of my favorite and most versatile actors), Annie Lennox, Sean Connery, Robert Burns… there are tons more, but I only picked the few I easily recalled and that I actually know things about or have seen things they are in. For example, Tony Blair is apparently Scottish, but I only know of him as a former PM for the UK. I couldn’t tell you very much about him, so I didn’t list him. But I guess I just did. Oh well.

As we finish the fourth week of the 365 Daily Challenge, it’s time to cover the last major ethnic and genealogical heritage within my DNA. Irish, German and English were the first few, and now we’re gonna chat about my Scottish roots. Based on my research through Ancestry.com, I’m around 12.5% Scottish, mostly stemming from my mother’s side of the family. There are 4 families from Scotland, out of 32 branches, focusing on the ones who immigrated from Scotland to the U.S. And those names are: (1) Robertson, (2) Wallace, (3) Hector, and (4) McGregor or McSwegan. I am not certain which is the correct last name because there are two marriage certificates when James Robertson married Margaret around the turn of the 19th into the 20th century. Both are New York marriages, both have all the same details for addresses and parental information, except on one certificate it shows her name as McGregor and on another, it shows her name as McSwegan. I can only assume it is the same woman, filled it out twice for some reason, and she was married once before my 2x great-grandfather, but I would likely need to go to Scotland to get more details. Some day!

So let’s talk about Scottish roots and stories. I love the accent. I love Outlander (who doesn’t)! I love Mary Queen of Scots. And I’ve started reading a new cozy mystery series with lots of potential. For those not familiar with my book reviews, check out the links to see another side of me. And when I Love Lucy went to Scotland in her dream, I loved it! There is so much rich culture and history in the country, beautiful landscapes and fantastic substance, I wish I had more Scottish blood in me.

But when I looked up the top ten traits of the Scottish, this time using a cross between Quora, Huffington Post and Answers.com, I had to wonder how much of these things are true: at least when it comes to me. Here we go, lasses and lads:

1 – Pale / Freckled / Ginger

  • We covered this one under Irish and English, so I’m not gonna repeat myself. I am. I was tempted to post a picture of an attractive red-head… but too many to chose from, so you get a bottle of soda!

  • Score: 1 out of 1.

2 – Violent

  • We covered this one under Irish, so again, I’ll skip it. I’m not.

  • Score: 1 out of 2.

3 – Sports-Lovers

  • We covered this one in the last few. I’m not a big sports guy. Who runs around on a field and chases balls purely to say I caught it in the end?

  • Score: 1 out of 3.

4 – Drinkers

  • We covered this one under German, Irish and English. The whole world seems to be. And while I drink a bunch, I wouldn’t fit this definition.

  • Score: 1 out of 4.

5 – Kilts & Bag-Pipes

  • I think kilts are gorgeous. I think they should be worn in the right setting. If you’ve got strong calf muscles, definitely flaunt them. If not, skip it. I’ve never worn one, but I’d like to and I’d ROCK it. But since I haven’t, I can’t claim it.
  • I find the sound hypnotic. In the funeral scene in my book, “Watching a Glass Shatter,” there’s a passage about bag pipe music that moves a character to tears. Writing it also moved me to tears. It’s a bit lyrical. You should read it here; it’s in the beginning of chapter 1, but read the whole thing. (Oh, how bad was that plug!). But I’ve never played one, nor been in the physical presence of one. So that’s a no for me sadly.

  • Score: 1 out of 5.

6 – Cheap

  • The word used was miserly, but I don’t agree. When I think of miserly, I think of Shylock from Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice.” No… perhaps a little cheap is what they mean. And there’s a small part of me that is a bit cheap. I do spend money, and sometimes way more than I should, but my initial reaction to something is usually “and how much will that cost me?” I should give myself a few points to account for that…

  • Score: 1.25 out of 6.

7 – Haggis-Lovers & Poor Diets

  • I have never eaten haggis. Most people aren’t even sure what it is. I looked it up to be certain, as I knew it was the stomach of some animal. It’s sheep. And while we’ve covered my obsession with cookies, you also know my diet is generally healthy. So epic fail here.

  • Score: 1.25 out of 7.

8 – Can’t understand them

  • The accent is alluring. Charming. Exotic. Sensual. Rich. Many of us get chills when we here it. I’d probably do anything under the right circumstances, if someone spoke to me with an authentic Scottish accent. And yes, it can be a little hard to understand the person. Although not quite the same, people sometimes have a hard time understanding me… claiming I mumble and speak too softly. I suppose they are correct… it’s not that I slur, but since I’m quiet and shy, I tend to not speak too loudly unless in a work situation. So… I’ll give myself a few percentage points for this, but not a lot.

  • Score: 1.5 out of 10.

9 – Loch Ness Monster

  • While I love the concept of the Loch Ness Monster, and it’s used so often in books and film, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist. Though it would be cool if it did! And I am not a monster, so I get nane. (none, in Scottish)

  • Score: 1.5 out of 10.

10 – Homophobic

  • Hmm… I don’t think I agree with this being a trait of the Scottish. But it showed up in 2 of the 3 places I looked for the “top 10” traits, so I had to include it. I’m just gonna go with… if you’re reading this post, you know me, or you live in the modern world, then no… this is ridiculous. I don’t think Scots are, and I am certainly NOT! Quell hypocrite!

  • Score: 1.5 out of 10.

How ironic… 1.5 out of 10 is 15%, which is roughly how much Scottish I have in me. I wonder… did I just work that math out purposely, or are these true and accurate tests for my DNA structure and personality characteristics. The world will never know…