north carolina

Book Review: Last Girl Gone by J. G. Hetherton

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Starting off this review by saying it’s right around 4.5 stars for this one… Everyone once in a while, a writer truly catches you off guard with either a story arc or a plot twist. It’s especially powerful when it’s a new writer you’ve not experienced before. And that’s what happened when I picked up Last Girl Gone: A Laura Chambers Mystery by J.G. Hetherton after it was provided to me earlier this year by the publisher, Crooked Lane.

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Laura Chambers, a reporter who’s been fired from a big-time Boston paper for doing something bad, is the main character in this suspense thriller series. Eventually we find out what happened, and all I have to say is… yikes, we better revisit that story as it doesn’t feel like it’s quite over yet. She returns home to a North Carolina town where she has been working at a local paper for about a month. She’s being treated poorly by a real jerk of a colleague, has a horrific mother, and now a serial killer is fascinated by her reporting. But it doesn’t start there… we open with a young girl being kidnapped nearly 40 years earlier, then we figure out we’re decades forward in Laura’s story. It’s connected somehow, but it takes 2/3 of the book to get there. And when it does, you’ll definitely enjoy the connection. But trust me, that’s only the beginning!

For some reason, this book really talked to me. I felt Laura’s pain given how everyone treats her (tho she can give back with full force). Writing quality is strong. I’m not sure how much I particularly like Laura yet–or understand why she is still living at home / tolerates her mother (other than money)–but I’m hoping it’ll get fleshed out in the next book in the series. The book has a bit of everything and quickly pulls you into the action. It also ends with a bang and a very twisted story. It’s the perfect genre with an out-there-over-the-cliff-edge plot, yet I totally see it happening in a weird sorta way one day.

I look forward to reading more from the author. He builds creepy characters and creates rousing suspense, especially when Laura goes after the killer basically on her own. And the title is such a play on words — always like seeing that when the book is over and being analyzed. Kudos and thanks to Crooked Lanes for sending me this book. Definite spot-on read for me!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Lady on the Hill: Biltmore Estate by Howard E. Covington, Jr.

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Book Review: I read Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon by Howard E. Covington Jr. over the last two weeks, absorbing a few chapters each night to reminisce over my stay at the beautiful estate last September. I miss it and want to go back right now, but alas, a short book review will have to do.

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Summary 
It’s a 3.5 star read for me — a good account of the transition of the estate from what it originated as through what it became in early 2000. I don’t often read non-fiction unless it’s someone famous I admire in history (I don’t read current celebrity/political books, just not usually my thing) or a great account of some marvel or period in history. This fell into the second category, as I was anxious to learn about how the Vanderbilts changed over the years. It’s hard to maintain a fresh voice in a book that is informational. At times, I felt this was a tad dry, even for the type of book it is. I went in knowing there’d be information dumps, partial history and a different take on how it currently runs. I learned a lot more than I did on my visit, but at the same time, it felt like it was missing enough of a lure to keep me wanting to read more. The writing is strong. The information is great. Yet, it came from a starting place of facts rather than the passion behind everything that went into the estate. You feel it from the Cecil family in a few chapters, but not always. The author did a good job at balancing all the information, and it’s worth a read for anyone who loves the estate. If it’s your first time to get acquainted, it might be a difficult read. All in all, I’m glad I revisited the place and took the time to read over several weeks in between other books, as it made the magic last a bit longer.

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 200 – South

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South: a part of the country where I am currently visiting (and think I’m from)

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Howdy. Today we spent a few hours driving around different neighborhoods in Charlotte to get a good feel for the city. It’s quite beautiful and has a definite southern appeal and nostalgia to it. I like to claim I am from the south, but W refuses to accept me being born and living in Florida for the first 2+ years of my life as qualifying me to ‘be from the south.’ I disagree, especially when the map above clearly shows I am from the south. I suppose him being from Louisiana means he would know better, but I refuse to accept this one! We also spent a few hours today touring the Levine Museum of the New South. It chronicled the shape of the south’s culture and identity after the American Civil War through current times, covering freedom from slavery, industrialization, Great Depression, New Deal Impacts, Civil Rights and re-building Charlotte into a financial center. Quite informative and amazing photos, videos and stories, but I couldn’t take any pictures. Sorry!

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As I finish up my trip in the south, since apparently Florida for the next 4+ days doesn’t count, I am more appreciative of this part of the country than I was in the past. I would enjoy living here, but I will say temperatures in the 90s in September was more than I could handle. I much prefer the 60s, but that’s not too common in the south as I had suspected. It’ll be interesting to see where we go next in this journey to check out options for the future. For now, you are probably reading this message as we are arriving at or are in flight to Orlando for a wedding and Disney weekend. I also get to see another good friend for lunch who moved here several years ago. Exciting! I’ll be back again tomorrow, but have no idea what the post will be about yet… hopefully it will contain pictures for you this time.

 

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 199 – Store

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Store: an amazing book store in Asheville I wanted to live in

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Today’s post is a short one as we’ve been driving around a lot and haven’t stopped to take many pictures. We are leaving Asheville later this afternoon after a final stop in an amazing bookstore called the Battery Park Book Exchange, where they have tons of older books (and newer ones). They also serve champagne, pastries and coffee, as well as have a full bar and about 30 sitting areas over three different stories in a winding maze pattern. Amazing! My friend Kiersten (good blog to follow!!!) suggested another one, Malaprop’s, which I hope to catch before we leave. Definitely worth visiting Asheville… my favorite of all the towns in North Carolina so far. We had lunch at Tupelo Honey Cafe, where the biscuits were perfection and walked around the town for a few hours. Oh, it’ll be sad to leave. But I have all the pics of Biltmore to get me to come back soon. Off to finish out the day… back tomorrow!

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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 198 – Bilt

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Bilt: shortened name of the Dutch family who founded Biltmore, where I toured this week and took pictures of a great man’s estate (different Vanderbilt in the picture)

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Cornelius Vanderbilt was a man who developed great wealth for his family during the mid 19th century. Their name was originally Dutch, and part of it was dropped when they immigrated to the USA in the 1600s. “Van” in Dutch means “from” and “Bilt” was the town in Europe where they lived. Thus was born the name Van-Der-Bilt (Coming From Bilt). His grandson, George Washington Vanderbilt, inherited the least amount of money in the family, being the youngest of all the boys. He was also responsible for taking care of his mother after his father died. When his mother was told by doctors to go south to Asheville to heal her respiratory problems, George took her there to ensure she recovered, but she soon fell in love with the town. It was here that he built the beloved Biltmore estate, which gets its moniker from his family’s surname / town and Scottish moors, which were one of his favorite things to see. He changed the spelling and thus was born this great estate. Today’s post covers all the pictures from the “Roof Top” tour, where you will see the ornate limestone carvings, the domes, the observatory, various components of the roof and the gorgeous, sweeping views around the property. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

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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 196 – Country (Top 10)

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Country: (a) the third entry in the list series for Jay’s favorite pastimes, (b) a part of the US that is beautiful to visit

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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: 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

The current set of 5 Sundays covers the top 10 countries Jay has visited or researched extensively and would like to visit or live in; however, since I’m on a vacation and unable to post a lot, this is just a brief list and some pictures of the ‘country’ trip to Asheville, North Carolina. The ‘Top 10’ list for countries listed below, other than the USA, come from places I’ve either been and loved, or I know I want to I want to visit, as potential options for the future as a home or extended vacation. There are tons of other ones that I think would be cool, but these all have a special place in my heart, e.g. ancestry, things to do, culture or historical educational review:

  1. Canada
  2. Spain
  3. England
  4. Argentina
  5. France
  6. Scotland
  7. Ireland
  8. Australia
  9. Germany
  10. Italy

Below are all the pictures from today’s drive between Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina. It includes a few pictures from the Great Smoky Mountains, Cherokee Indian Nation properties and the views from the hotel where I am staying on the Biltmore property. More to come this week when I share all the pictures from the Biltmore House and grounds.

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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 194 – Forgetful

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Forgetful: when Jay doesn’t remember to take pictures along the way on a day in a trip

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Every so often, my brain doesn’t work as well as I’d like it to work. When that happens, I call myself forgetful. It’s not anything to be worried about… I am usually not a camera person. Unfortunately, it happened today on a few occasions. I either left my phone in the car or forgot to take pictures. But there were also very few things to take pictures of as we did a lot of driving and looking at real estate in residential areas, which doesn’t work well when trying to photograph things to share with everyone. So… today’s 365 Daily Challenge word is forgetful and I apologize for no fun pictures. More to come tomorrow though; I promise.

Today we drove to Hillsborough, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and a few other smaller towns in between. It was a solid five hours in the car between all the stops and total round-trip distance of the trip. Hillsborough was a great town with a beautiful downtown area. We walked around the residential areas, stopped in the historic Welcome Center and strolled tree-lined streets, popping in and out of small stores. It was also a big site for the Revolutionary War. You should definitely look up and visit this town if you’re ever in North Carolina.

The other highlight was Old Salem in Winston-Salem, where I learned it was founded by Moravians, which is a tad ironic given I went to Moravian College. They had an entire village setup with early 1800s tools and spaces. It was a pretty cool street to stroll, given the architecture of the buildings and homes. All-in-all, a great day. I was forgetful, but I at least wrote down all the places I went to. Many thanks to everyone for their suggestions, with special thanks to Stephanie and Patty for all the details on places to eat and visit. We hit a few of them, but that’s when I didn’t have my phone with me. W had his phone, but it’ll take forever to upload/transfer right now, so I’ll do that in a future post.

Tomorrow we leave for… a small surprise… as we had one night open in our trip depending on where we were having the most fun. As we looked at places to go, something else popped up unexpectedly and we booked it! We will be getting up quite early tomorrow (probably while this is being posted) to make a four-hour trek somewhere a bit further away before we head to Asheville and the Biltmore Estate on Saturday. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s exciting adventures when we cross the border into Tennessee singing ‘9 to 5’ throughout the Great Smoky Mountains and arrive for 24-hours in Dollywood! Now that’s something not to be forgetful when it comes to pictures…

 

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.