kate morton

Book Review: The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

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The House at RivertonThe House at Riverton by Kate Morton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kate Morton came into my life just under 3 years ago. I don’t remember how, but I picked up one of her books and absolutely fell in love with her writing style, characters, and multi-dimensional storytelling abilities. After almost 3 years, I’ve finished reading all 6 of her books; it’s a tad amusing that the last one I read is actually the first book she wrote — The House at Riverton, or The Shifting Fog, as it was previously known. For me, she’s the queen of historical fiction when the focus is on ‘ordinary’ families in a world from ~ a century ago. The House at Riverton is no exception, and while not my favorite of her tomes, is quite a splendid novel very reminiscent of Downtown Abbey.

In this book, Grace is ~100 years old and dying very soon. She has a story and a secret about the past to tell her wayward grandson who’s gone missing after his wife died of an aneurysm. Through flashbacks and other POVs, we learn about Grace’s time as a maid and ladies maid in the Hartford family household. We witness conversations in the current period between Grace and Ursula, a film director telling the story of what happened when a family friend and renowned poet committed suicide in the 1920s at the Hartford estate. We find out who actually loved whom, and which family members shouldn’t have been trusted. All set against the gorgeous backdrop of the English countryside, it’s a powerful and emotional tale about fighting your desires and knowing when it’s time to give in.

One of the things that made this book so appealing is how similar it was to Downton Abbey. There’s a family torn apart by war. Girls cannot inherit their father’s estate. Love between classes is forbidden. Estates cost too much. A daughter must marry into a wealthy family to survive. But then it goes off on its own path with a murder, an affair, and a past indiscretion connecting two people who never knew until it was too late. Morton can weave the most elaborate stories to warm the heart. I feel such passion and connection with her words and imagery. I can think of no other author who evokes such lyrical enthusiasm and despair in a scene on multiple levels that overwhelm you and excite you at the same time.

While a majority of this book is amazing, there were a few areas that I struggled with… hence 4 stars. The beginning is a bit too slow; it takes time to develop characters, but Morton uses a few different techniques to foreshadow what’s to come in the future almost crossing that invisible line with audience. For example, there’s a paragraph ending a chapter that actually speaks to readers saying, “You think she should have done this, but no, instead, she does this… and this is why what happens to her later was so painful.” I paraphrased to not give away any spoilers, but you get the basics. Another concern I had was how certain storylines were left too open-ended for my taste. We know two characters re-connect 40 years later, but how / why. We know there was a blood relationship between two characters, but was it ever acknowledged? We know one character leaves a letter to another, but what happened with the gift she also left behind? Who was Lady Clementine and how did she fit into this family?

Some of those were loosely explained, but with a powerhouse like Morton, I expect everything to be properly tied together. I’m okay with vague, but there needs to be some clarity on what the ‘options’ are as opposed to just making a statement and never exploring the follow-thru aspects. That said, this doesn’t happen in her later books, so I think these were debut author style changes… and definitely ones I’m glad she eventually made. All said, it’s a must read. The book is slower than others, with less of a major climax, but fully immersive and extravagant in other ways. I am sad that it’ll be at least another year before her next one…

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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Book Review: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

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Ever since I read my first book by Kate Morton, I’ve been keen to read all her others. This month I went with The Secret Keeper since I tend to love books where there’s a secret buried somewhere that must come out despite every intent to bury it years ago. I was thrilled with the novel and can’t wait to take on the next one.

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The book takes place over a period of ~60 years focusing for the most part on Dorothy (Dolly) and daughter Laurel. We see snapshots of their lives while Laurel tries to unravel the mystery of a childhood incident where she’s certain she saw her mother stab a stranger. We see the perspective of a few other characters who interacted with Dolly when she was younger, as well as Laurel’s three sisters and one brother. It all comes together in a surprising conclusion where readers are forced to decide how we feel about an event that can be seen from many different angles.

Morton is the best at weaving together a story full of so many different side stories, you can never tell which will be the significant one to change the entire ending or plot arc to capture your shock. As this one moved along, I enjoyed the lyrical prose, tense dialog, well-drawn characters, and thrilling descriptions. About 75% through, when I thought I’d figured most of it out, I was feeling a bit disappointed. It was good, but that shock factor didn’t emerge as powerfully as I’d hoped. A few chapters later, in the most unusual place, I thought I saw an error. I re-read the passage twice, then realized — Oh, here’s that crazy twist! And what a fantastic one it was. 🙂

At that point, my opinion on the book shot up from a 4 to a 4.5. I would love to give it 5 stars, and it’s close, but there were a few moments of repetition and slowness that held me back. By no means did it make me want to put it down and wait days before reading again. It just didn’t force me to stay up super late… but that’s okay, sleep is needed, too. Overall, the story is very enthralling on many levels. You’ve got a backdrop of war, then modern social media times. You’ve got a mother who might or might not be lying or be a killer. As you read the historical portions, you can’t decide which of two girls is the one to believe. It keeps you going to the point you almost think they’re both lying, but which is the most pertinent among all the confusion?

Above all the plot and story, the settings are among the most gorgeous and captivating as any I’ve ever read before. Morton can describe the simplest things in the most complex terms, but it still makes me yearn for more. I never think “ugh, she’s completely overdone it,” but there are times when I would be okay with a few less words if it’s not ultimately important to the detail of the story. It’s a fine line, and in 98% of the cases, she’s spot on.

If you’ve never read her work, this is a good one, but I’d start with The Forgotten Garden then come to this one. I’ve two more left to read of hers, then I’ll probably have to wait a year for the next to be published. Oh well… sometimes patience is a good thing.

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.

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.

My Very Own “Book Bucket List” – June 2018 (VOTE NOW)

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I’ve knocked the 13th entry off my Book Bucket List:  The Lake House by Kate Morton. You can see the review here. In its place, I’ve added Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom to round out the 12 options for the next vote (post with poll to VOTE is below).

 

The poll for the July 2018 read is open. Click below to vote by 6/19!

 

Below is the link to the on-going Book Bucket List and a background on what it’s all about. My Very Own “Book Bucket List”  —  Click the link to access everything since the beginning of this post series as well as see the 12 books currently on the list.

 

About Me
I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS.  My second novel, Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/FatherFigure.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read 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, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access 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.

Book Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

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After reading a few Kate Morton novels last year, I found myself enamored with her storytelling and character creation abilities. I added all of her books to my TBR and included The Lake House on my monthly Book Bucket List on my blog, where followers vote to select one read per month for me — this won as my June novel and I finished it over 6 days last week. With a new puppy in the house, reading and book reviewing time is not as easy as usual but I’m determined to meet my June TBR goals. While I absolutely adored this book, there were a few times I felt disconnected and disappointed, or that the coincidences were a little too much, but not for too long or in any way to truly bother me.
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The story focuses on several characters in England mostly during the 1910s to the 1930s, and then current time which is set in the 2000s. In the 1920s, the Edevane family is recuperating from World War 1 where while no one died, the savagery of war has had its toll on relationships. Alice is the focus, the middle sister who never quite fit in the family and became a mystery writer. When her younger brother disappears, and her two other sisters begin to act oddly, something seems off. Throw in a battleaxe for a grandmother, a fun but peculiar uncle-type, and some very attentive or non-attentive nannies, there’s got to be something bad that happened to the little boy… but was he kidnapped, killed, or is someone making things up about his childhood? When Alice’s book covers some of those true-life situations, people wonder what happened years ago… in modern times, Sadie has been put on leave after she made a mistake during an investigation, so the cop visits her grandfather and gets caught up in the old Edevane case while taking some rest. This is a story about missing children, lost children, and kidnapped children… there are a few cases going on, but they are not connected in any way other than as situations to help readers reflect on the character’s emotions and lives.

What I love about Morton’s writing is the imagery and depth you see, hear, and experience. Everything feels like it’s unfolding right before your eyes on a stage. Among the always present gardens, large estates, dysfunctional families, and interconnected historic and modern times, you’re carried away into a dreamlike state where you can happily immerse yourself in beauty and lyrical action. Morton also excels at weaving together multiple stories that have both small and large connections you begin to assemble along the path. At times, it’s a bit too connected or coincidental, but truthfully, isn’t that part of why we read books? We want to experience something new and different, a shock or a twist… if it was all simple and straightforward, there wouldn’t be a lot of drama to dig into. So while it can be a bit overdone or over-the-top (even in my own writing, I would agree it happens), it also is what truly makes the book spectacular in other ways. It’s a story with a start and a finish, so it’s going to have very specific reasons for things happening. In this one, it all felt natural as it could have happened just pushed together too closely in a few occasions.

I also struggled a bit in the early pages as there were a few too many characters to keep track of, and with so many women across 4 generations, it was often a confusing in the beginning of a chapter to know which one we were talking about. It was done purposefully to add intrigue and suspense, which I understand, but sometimes it was a little too much. Other than those concerns, I was very happy with the story. It isn’t my favorite Morton, but I find myself still thinking about it days later… Morton captures the young heroine trying to solve the past like no other author I know. She can also brilliantly build the amazing balance in an octogenarian who is torn, but also a bit of a curmudgeon about the past. You feel the indeterminable strength in the woman who can’t let go but is desperate for a closure that seems destined to cause more pain.

I am thrilled with this book, especially with the last 25% and how it all came together. Stunning poetry at times. I can’t wait to read her latest book, The Clockmaker’s Daughter, which I just got approved for on NetGalley.

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 Challenge: Day 231 – Historical (LIST: Fiction Genres )

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Historical: novel that takes place in the past (and I’m gonna leave it at that, you’ll see why later)

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Sundays are LIST days and today is no different. For the next 5 Sundays, I will pick a favorite book genre and discuss all the reasons why I love it. We will kick off the week with ‘historical’ because I am most looking forward to reading one of those types of novels on my TBR shelf,  but I can’t seem to find time to get to it. I’m hoping this will push me over the edge, but we’ll get to which book that is in a little bit.

Historical fiction generally has a broad range of definitions, but there are also many people who are fierce loyalists as to the specific rules. Although we all agree the story must take place in the past, there are a few points potentially up for debate:

  • Is there an acceptable # of years that must have passed before the author can write about the time period?
    • Some think it is after an entire generation (about 20 to 25 years) has gone by.
    • Some believe if the novel takes place at least 50 years ago, it qualifies.
    • Some feel an entire lifetime (about 80 years) must have passed.
    • MY VIEW: I’m in the ’50’ year bucket as when I think of WWII stories, I consider those historical because they occurred before I was born. In order to be a lifetime, it would have to be before 1937 based on today’s date, which seems like it’s excluding a lot. A generation is too little; that’s just a slight adjustment in time periods.

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  • Does it need to be about a real person?
    • Some think it absolutely must include a real person who lived and breathed during that period in history, but contain some fictional events and characters.
    • Others think as long as the setting is historical, the character can be fully made up and not be connected to any other reality.
    • MY VIEW: I do not think the main character needs to be a real person; however, I do prefer the novel include some real-life characters to help the setting feel more realistic. It could be as little as discussions about current leaders or famous people within the book; potentially meeting or interacting with made-up characters, but when it’s strictly fully fictional, I’m not as impressed or excited.
  • Can it cross genres?
    • Many people believe it must not broaden into other genres, e.g. mystery, fantasy or science-fiction. To be true historical, it has to be strictly general fiction.
    • Others are open-minded and refer to it as a historical “sci-fi” or “mystery” novel. Yikes, what do we call a young adult mystery with fantasy elements set in a historical period?
    • MY VIEW: I think we have to leave rooms for other genres, but as sub-genre categories. It all starts with the initial high-level category, then breaks down. I don’t think we all agree with the main categories either, which makes it harder. For instance, are Adult, Contemporary or General part of the first level of categorization, and are they ultimately the same thing?
      • So… I’d say, first I’d categorize a fiction book by it’s time period, either historical, contemporary or future.
      • Then I’d add in the age, either children’s, young adult or adult.
      • Then I’d get into things like fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, thriller, romance, etc.

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Now that we know all the options [and if I’ve missed any key points, please feel free to share]… let’s chat about why I love historical fiction:

  • I’m a history buff, so I enjoy being transported back to a time period where I have some knowledge or information.
  • I live in the current century, which means sometimes I need something different to distract me from what’s going on around me. I’m not a huge futuristic type guy, and I get tired of ‘technology’ solving all our problems and issues (meaning things being done the old-fashioned way are often more interesting to me).
  • I love making up stories about people that might have been true and might have had some connection to reality. The research aspects of what’s real and not-real amaze and interest me.
  • Reading or seeing the settings from the words the author chooses help ignite my literary passions. When it’s a world I wasn’t part of, it’s even more fantastic.

 

What are my favorite reads?

What’s next on my list in this genre?

 

How about you? Any favorites or recommendations? Do you not like this genre? Time to share!

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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

 

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

365 Challenge: Day 182 – Authors (My Top 10)

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Authors: Writers of books that are in my top 10 list

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Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, 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.

  • Weeks 1 – 5: My Ethnicity
  • Weeks 6 – 10: A to Z Favorites
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Meaningful Colors
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Cities I’ve lived
  • Weeks 21 – 25: Jobs I’ve held

The next set of 5 Sundays covers the “Top 10” of entertainment options that I spend my time thinking about or doing: Authors/Books I Read (Week 26), TV Shows I Watch (Week 27), Countries to Visit (Week 28), Foods to Cook (Week 29), and Pastimes (Week 30). It’s a bit of an unwieldy set of similar items, but these are five leisure activities where I spend a majority of my time, which clearly speak volumes about who I am and how I like to keep myself occupied.

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First up is a list of my ten favorite authors, chosen based on each having a number of books I have read or want to keep reading. Often in my favorite genres (mystery fiction, historical fiction or suspense/thriller fiction), you will likely see a pattern. I only selected authors under the following conditions: (1) I’ve read at least 2 of their books, (2) They have more coming out or already out that I desperately want to read, (3) I could re-read some of their books and still get something new from them each time, and (4) one or more of their books have been adapted to film or TV, which I have seen and loved.

It was tough to narrow down to only ten, and sometimes I questioned whether I just enjoyed the author’s novels or I truly felt I could read them at anytime. If I hesitated, I tossed them to the next level, which means this is a list of people who while I might not love 100% of everything they do, I can always settle into a comfy chair with a cup of coffee and a few hours in the world they’ve created (just for me, I know they had me and me alone in mind when writing the words!). These ten are in no specific order!

  • Agatha Christie
    • All the mystery and suspense I need to keep me highly interested
    • Favorite: And Then There Were None
  • Ken Follett
    • The storytelling is top-notch, I can feel all the connections between time periods and characters
    • Favorite: World Without End
  • Kate Morton
    • Amazing and brilliant descriptions, ability to transport you to a different setting
    • Favorite: The Forgotten Garden* (not yet a film, but I see it in my head already)
  • Dan Brown
    • Unbelievable suspense, so many weaving plots, rich depth of plot and setting
    • Favorite: Angels and Demons
  • Henry James
    • Lyrical language capable of truly making you think about who you are and why you choose to do the things you do
    • Favorite: Daisy Miller
  • J. K. Rowling
    • A world of magic like no other, I can read these over and over again with utter joy, even as an adult
    • Favorite: The Philosopher’s Stone
  • Edgar Allan Poe
    • I am a huge lover of Gothic and dark literature when done properly
    • Favorite: The Tell-Tale Heart
  • William Shakespeare
    • The ability to strike a balance between plot and character, where you simply get lost in everything he has to deliver
    • Favorite: Othello
  • Janet Evanovich
    • A bit of mystery, romance and humor, the only series I find myself laughing aloud consistently
    • Favorite: Eleven on Top
  • Philippa Gregory
    • I adore British history and lineage of all the kings and queens, plus her ability to present historical fiction in such a beautiful manner captivates my attention
    • Favorite: The White Queen

 

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What are your favorite books? Who are your must-read authors? What’s your favorite activity to keep occupied when you have free time to spare?

 

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.