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Book Review: Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison

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Tear Me ApartTear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read a few J.T. Ellison books over the last two years. When Tear Me Apart came out, I quickly added it to my TBR and looked forward to getting it scheduled in the queue. After reading lots of light cozy mysteries, I needed a stronger thriller or suspense last week and moved Tear Me Apart up on my list. I enjoyed the book a lot and walked away with tons of mixed emotions, ultimately settling on a solid 4 stars.

Mindy Wright is a 17-year-old competitive skier who is likely about to join the US Olympic Team. An accident on the slopes derails those hopes but also reveals she has leukemia. The rest of the book is an explosion of lies and secrets all culminating in discovering (1) Mindy’s real parents, (2) how she became adopted, (3) what happened to several young girls in a psychological institute, and (4) what is the relationship between parents and children versus sisters. Since I don’t want to give away too much about the plot, what you need to know is that this book will delve into how far a person will go to protect someone they love or something they desperately want.

The book starts in complete discord and chaos — in a good way. Different characters lead the first few chapters. We have perspective and POV from a few primary people in the book. We don’t know how everyone relates to each other until at least fifty percent into the book. It’s a suspenseful tale that draws you in… not immediately, but with each unraveling layer of the onion. It’s a bit sweet, sometimes make you cry, but always leaves you with something more to keep discovering. Who’s telling the truth? Who’s leaving out some info and embellishing other history? It’s confusing and all leads to a rather huge explosion.

Let’s start with the good. Character, plot and writing are all solid. They are well-depicted and keep you interested. Ellison chooses to only show Mindy’s point of view in a handful of not-very-important scenes. The focus is on her biological parents and her adopted parents, as well as other interested parties and one kind aunt. How everyone fits together is intriguing, especially once you discover who’s behind the letters Mindy finds in a locked closet in her house.

Let’s dance around the odd. One character goes from completely in control to completely out of control. I can support her slow unraveling… history coming back from the dead… the powers of psychosis taking over… but it was way too far. If you’re crazy, you’ll do some crazy stuff. But I still don’t understand why 17 years later you go off the rails in a spectacularly insane finish. If the secret comes out, it does. You could have kept a bunch hidden and just said: “here’s who your parents were” and “this is how you came to live with us.” Also, we don’t have nearly enough clarity on what was wrong with the bio mother to do the things she did. I understand depression can make you do things you wouldn’t normally do, or feel things you shouldn’t feel, but… the progression wasn’t enough for me to completely believe it. For those reasons, I couldn’t give this 5 stars.

I thought about dropping it to a 3 or a 3.5, but ultimately, I couldn’t put the book down. I found myself in constant attachment and wanting to know how did it happen. Sometimes I poked holes in the explanations only to find those same holes being explored chapters later. It’s OBVIOUS the author went into extreme planning mode and truly wrote a complex thriller. It just didn’t complete the webbing for me. I respect her talent and think because of my obsession to know what happened, I feel comfortable with 4 stars.

Who else read it? What did you think? I will definitely read more from this author. She’s a wonderful storyteller.

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 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.

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Book Review: Scripting the Truth by T. A. Henry

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You may recall the post I shared last week on the RONE awards where Henry’s current book, Ostrich Mentality is up for an award. Or you may know her from her fantastic blog. Either case… this is definitely a book that fit into many of my reading / genre preferences. I highly recommend it for any historical fiction fans looking for witty British dialogue. Let’s get to the review…

truth

Although I’m American, I find myself drawn to lots of British literature with 20th century settings and plots. Scripting the Truth showed up on someone’s blog as a recently added book, so I had to look up more about it. That’s when I discovered the author, T.A. Henry, is also a blogger. I began following her blog and learning more about her, then decided to add a few of her books to my collection last month. I’m so glad I did… this one I started with is a wonderful novel that carried along with great ease and interest. And it came about at the right time given the topics covered in the story about the film business which is where I find myself focusing the last few weeks. But first a quick overview of the story:

Lady Margaret Leighton served in World War II administering to injured soldiers coming back for rest and treatment. She fell in love with one of the patients, but lost the opportunity to stay connected with him. After Margaret arrived home, her mother wanted to find a suitable husband while her father wanted her to work for his company. Margaret wanted nothing to do with that! She learned that the soldier she had met became an actor, which pushed her to try to become an actress (to meet him). When that didn’t work, she decided to become a scriptwriter. It all began to come together, but then it soon all fell apart. Throw in a few side stories with her best friend, Lila, her two brothers and their wives, and a couple of other characters she meets in the film business, and you’ve got a nice romantic historical drama with levity and charm.

Henry’s writing style is witty and seamless. I wouldn’t call it a classic ‘page-turner’ (as I think that’s more for suspense and thriller books), but there’s something about the story and characters that push you to read just a bit more than you planned each day — in that respect, it’s a new kind of page-turner! I read the book over two days, sitting for about an hour each time, finding myself wanting to read more but also wanting to let some of the actions and themes settle in for analysis and thought. Margaret is probably a very typical woman of her time, but she’s also got an energy and a drive that you don’t often see in people. She’s persistent and will make her re-connection to the soldier happen no matter what. But it’s the surprises life has in store for her that make this extra special.

Henry’s characters are charming. The mother is definitely not a character we’re supposed to like. She’s not awful, but there’s enough of a wall and attitude that we have good conflict for Margaret to face. The relationship with her father is charming and has both ups-and-downs, which is very typical of someone in her situation — that’s what makes the book so readable. You care just as much about her family life as you do her professional life. It’s in her professional life where we see her shine, but when her heart is broken, you feel the sadness over the loss just as much as she does.

Much of the detail in the book is very well-thought out and intricate. Given the time frames are ~70 years ago, the film business is way more complicated than an average reader probably knows, and the specifics of the war are frequently referred to, it’s obvious how much energy and effort went into researching this novel — it’s also what makes it all the more appealing for a reader when there’s something to learn but also truly transport you to the historical place and time.

Kudos to Henry for gaining a new fan with this 4.5 star book. I’m looking forward to picking up more of her work later this year. She’s even nominated for a RONE award on one of her latest pieces. Nice!

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: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison

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Another great read by J.T. Ellison with ‘Lie To Me’ — my book review is below…

lie-to-me

Why This Book 
I selected Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison, when it was available on NetGalley about 3 months ago, after enjoying a prior book by this author. I’m glad I did as it was very engaging and twisty. I chose it this weekend because I am trying to get to a ‘0’ count on NetGalley TBR books and other ARCs so that I can start 2018 with a clean and fresh slate to choose new reads.

Approach & Style 
I read this ~400 page book on my iPad through Kindle Reader over ~5 hours in one day. It is written in third-person POV from a few different character perspectives, including the killer, the husband and the wife. It switches back and forth a few times, but is usually clear and clean when it does.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Ethan and Sutton, both authors jealous of each other’s work, have been married for a few years despite fighting a lot. They lost a baby a few years ago and there might have been an affair or two, it’s unclear at first. Sutton leaves a note that she needs space and no one should look for her outside their Tennessee hometown; Ethan thinks there is foul play and begins to check with her friends and family. Eventually, he loops in the cops and a full investigation opens. It’s difficult to provide anymore details without giving away the plot, but there are tons of twists involving bloggers, reviewers, friends, family and murders in another country. Nothing is as it seems and you never quite know who to trust.

Strengths 
The cast of characters is varied and diverse. You get a sense of love and hatred from almost all of them. The sub-plots are nicely woven into the overall story. The drama and suspense are at a good level — not too over-the-top, not too weak. The writing style is strong and inviting.

Concerns 
The two main characters aren’t very likable. They both seem to treat each other poorly, which makes readers uncertain about rooting for them. Ultimately, the he said / she said dilemma leaves you thinking at the end that there are a few too many open-ended situations. While some intensity and far-out plot points are necessary to keep the thrills high, there are a few pieces that either fell too short or went a bit too far for me. Not enough to have a problem with the work, but enough to hold it back from being a true stellar read. Overall, it’s a typical twisty thrill ride, but because of solid writing and good characters, I’d recommend it to others as a good read.

Author & Other Similar Books 
It’s very similar to Gone Girl. VERY similar.

Questions & Final Thoughts 
I like these types of books. I turn the pages quickly. I get invested. I like the balance between reality and chaos. The author is a good writer. It’s a definite recommend from me for a quick weekend read, but it’s not the “oh my god you have to read this book” type of situation.

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 202 – Wedding

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Wedding: purpose of this trip, to attend the marriage of two good friends

wedding

It was the big day yesterday — the purpose of our trip — to attend the wedding of two good friends in Orlando. All the wedding photos from the official photographer won’t be available for a few days/weeks, but we took a few before shots so you can see what I look like in a bowtie and suspenders. What a fun day! It was a quiet morning spent poolside by the lake, and then we had lunch in the hotel. Afterwards, we got dressed and met the wedding group for pictures. W took a couple of photos of me, but I don’t photograph well, so I am only picking two or three of them to share.

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Above is a picture in the room before I finished cleaning up. Decided to leave a few day’s stubble instead of go completely clean-shaven. Thought it might make for a more fun look! Then I had to figure out what to do with my hair, as it’s in-between lengths right now. I am trying to grow it out, but it’s getting unmanageable. It covers my eyes, so I wanted to keep it wet and slicked back, but in the humidity down here, it wouldn’t work!

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I left it alone to dry and that’s how it ended up! After the ceremony, I stopped back up in the room to drop off a few things before we left for more pictures with the photographer. We all had name cards for where to sit. And yes, cut out in the shape of dachshunds because the wedding couple have always had them for the last ten years. Too cute. W took this picture before we left, and it’s one of the rare pictures of me that I actually like. I smiled, which is unusual for me. My hair stayed out of my eyes. And the outfit worked. The wedding was so much fun… but we head to the Disney parks with the main group for the weekend, so more pictures to come early next week. Tomorrow is a normal list day!

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I’m thinking this might be my new profile pic since it tells my name!

 

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.

Review: Pride and Prejudice

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Pride and PrejudiceBook Review
So it starts off with this zombie who is thirsty for… oh wait, wrong book. I thought this had zombies in the title. I must be confused. Oh, there are 2 of them. Why would someone do that? What do zombies have to do with marriage and love and the idea of ideas? Is this the book where the women in a lion’s den dislike the men? Oh, I’m so lost today with these older reviews. JUST KIDDING!

3 out of 5 stars to Pride and Prejudice, a remarkable novel written in the early 19th century by the wonderful Jane Austen. I read this when I was around 20 years old, as part of one of my English courses. I like the book. I enjoy the characters. But I’m not as big of a fan as most people who say they like this book. I’ve also never seen any movie, film or tv series versions of it, nor would I dare pick up the one that includes the zombies. There are 2 things preventing me: (1) I wasn’t enamored with this one enough to want to re-read something very different and (2) I’ve never been a fan of zombies. Vampires, yes. Werewolves, yes. Witches, totally. But for some reasons, zombies don’t do it for me. I did like the first two movies in the Resident Evil series, but that’s just because she’s a badass! Why am I still talking about zombies. Let’s move to marriage, a more appropriate topic, given it’s a central theme in the book.

I am not married. For a while, it wasn’t legal for me to marry the person I’d want to marry. It is now. But I’m still not married. And I have been in a relationship for nearly six years. My point… so off topic in this one… is that marriage has never been important to me. And so this book had some interesting parts to it that I both agreed with and had some conflicts with. I believe in doing what’s best for the two people involved in the relationship, not what society says is the acceptable thing to do. I also find marriage to be something more private between the married couple, and it would be weird to stand up in front of a whole room of people and say some words, have some sort of institutional approach and then continue on with our lives.

I liked the pairing of Elizabeth and Darcy, but it wasn’t a romantic and wonderful turn of events for me. It felt more like a societal commentary of relationships, expectations and courtship. As a result, I focused less on “should they be together” and more on “what’s the meaning under all these words.” I liked the book, probably give it a 3.4999999, which unfortunately rounds down to a 3.

Of all the classics, it’s not one of my favorites, but I’d give it another chance under the right circumstances. Just would want to maybe see a visual interpretation first, perhaps to drive my imagination and provoke some different thoughts for the next read.



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.

View all my reviews

Review: The Portrait of a Lady

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The Portrait of a Lady Book Review
3+ out of 5 stars for The Portrait of a Lady, a classic story called the “Great American Novel,” written by Henry James in 1881. I adore Henry James and found great enjoyment in his literary works when I began reading him in my freshmen year at college. As an English major, I was exposed to many different authors, but I felt a strong connection with him and this literary period. American realistic works spoke to me above any of the other “classic” books I had been reading. As a result, I chose Henry James as the primary focus of an independent study course I’d taken in my senior year. I read 6 or 7 of his books during those 3 months and am going back now to provide quick reviews, as not everyone finds him as enjoyable as I do. I also don’t want to bore everyone with a lengthy review on how to interpret him or his books.

The Portrait of a Lady tells the story of a young woman who years to have her own life and make her own mark on the world. She doesn’t want to be contained by marriage or the structure in place at the time in the late 19th century. She has different characteristics coming from American, English and continental European female archetypes. She has strong moral and ethical values. She knows who she is, yet she does not know all. As she moves through life, she makes choices that are not easy for her to execute. What I loved about this work is its deep exploratory view points, beautiful language and unparalleled characters. Though I only give it a 3, when compared to some of this other works, I would recommend you read a few chapters or sections, just to see if it is something you could find yourself getting lost in.

The impact you feel upon reading this book is questioning what is the true view of a lady, how is she different from generation to generate, location to location and societal class to societal class. James knows women. He is very accurate on many levels… wrong on a few, too. But to put out his thoughts, in a huge tome, at a time when women were beginning to get more rights… and be able to cross genres and genders… is amazing. It’s less about what he says and more about how he says it. And that’s why I enjoy reading him… but even I admit, I can only take 1 book every few years! 🙂

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.

View all my reviews

Review: It’s Always the Husband

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It's Always the Husband3 out of 5 stars to It’s Always the Husband, a new thriller and suspense novel set to release to the public on May 16, 2017, by Michele Campbell. It’s a quick-read with a few slow spot, but keeps you guessing all throughout the chapters, almost playing a bit of Russian Roulette with who’s behind the whole plot.

Why This Book
I saw it pop up on a few Goodreads reviews. I looked on NetGalley and thought it sounded like a strong psychological thriller. I was awarded the book in lieu of a fair and honest review, which is always the case with me. And who wouldn’t be curious about a book with this title?

Overview of Story
Kate, Jenny and Aubrey were roommates their freshmen year in a New England college. Each girl came from a different background: Kate was a rich NY trust fund girl. Jenny was a townie who wanted to get out badly. Aubrey came from Vegas with little support from her family. Somehow, they form a bond and remain friends over the course of 22 years. The book alternates between when they were 18 and when they turned 40, covering different boys they date, men they marry and the secrets they keep from each other. During that freshmen year, something awful happened, which sent Kate running out of the country. But when they all re-connect years later, the details of the night begin to unravel, especially when someone else ends up dead. This is the story of friendship and enemies, love and hate, secrets and revenge.

Approach & Style
The book is told in third-person limited omniscient, carefully navigating from character to character, telling the events as they were unfolding or did so in the past. It covers two distinct time periods: when they were 18 and freshmen and when they’re about to turn 40. It’s always clear which time period you’re in, but not in an overt way.

The book starts off with someone taking a walk on a bridge. You soon learn this person is being forced off the bridge. And then something happens, but your not sure what it is. Then the real story begins, describing how the girls meet and the subsequent events that occur throughout their lives. You never re-visit that scene in the present time, rather re-live in through each character who was involved via memories and dialogue, explaining what they thought happened.

But in the end, you will clearly piece it all back together — you know who was behind the entire situation. Cleverly told in small pieces, you learn just enough to keep your mind guessing… and when you tie in the title, you’ll keep asking yourself which husband killed someone, but you’re not entirely sure as there are many of them it could have been.

Strengths
1. Each of the 3 girls are very clear and distinct. You can picture them, you understand their motivation and you know what is likely going to be their downfall.

2. The men are less important, mostly as catalysts to help propel the relationship growing between the women. But as background characters, they all have a certain appeal, be it positive or negative. You get a sense of real people with real problems in most cases.

3. The suspense and timing is strong. The bounce back between periods keeps your mind guessing, even up until the very end when you have 3 pages left and are still waiting to figure out exactly what happened that final night for the victim.

Open Questions & Concerns
1. These girls did not like each other and I don’t buy their friendship. For one thing, Kate was an uptight trust fund baby who tried to play it off like she wasn’t. But she was. There is no way Jenny would be friends with her. Jenny even sparred with her the first few scenes and chapters, to the point where you question why they stayed together as roommates and then as friends. I struggled to believe they would help each other. Aubrey was definitely the glue, and given where she came from, she needed both of them to help propel her life forward. But I really think they would have had other people in their lives to prevent the disaster of their relationship as a triad.

2. The story with the new cop seemed to come from nowhere and go nowhere. He wasn’t very likable. He had no connections except to Kate, which was very unclear. Felt like extra fluff, just to cause readers to not guess the actual mystery.

3. Something is just missing from this story. It’s got lots of good parts. Some of it felt a little disconnected. And I was waiting for a bigger surprise payoff. I was surprised with the final overall explanation. I guessed part of it about 50% thru the book. But it felt like so much time was spent throwing readers off from guessing the details, when a little more should have been spent tying things together a little more closely with some additional emotions, connections and struggles.

Author & Other Similar Books
It’s in the vain of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. It’s a bit more about the friendships between the 3 girls rather than a focus entirely on problems between a husband and wife; although, that does play a significant role given the number of affairs happening over the course of the 22 year period.

Final Thoughts
As for thrillers and suspense, it certainly has some. The biggest issue was that the 3 girls weren’t all that likable… too much dependency on drugs and alcohol which made me really question why I cared who died and who was the killer. I’m all for drugs and alcohol in books, to match the realities of life, and to help propel the plot… but it felt like 80% of the characters relied on it to move the day forward rather than a background to the emotional and mental drama brewing within the extended group of friends. And that’s how I felt about the book. Too much extraneous and not enough focus on the missing years. So much could have happened and caused the tensions when they turned 40, but little of it was ever front and center.

That said, it’s a quick read… 4 hours, and has some great character development and intrigue as far as which person died, who is hiding what and how will this all end. You only know parts of the final death scene in the beginning and that’s what keeps you holding on throughout the rest of the book.

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