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Book Review: A Charm of Finches by Suanne Laqueur

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A Charm of Finches (Venery, #2)A Charm of Finches by Suanne Laqueur
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If there were ever a review that I found difficult to write, it would be for a book written by Suanne Laqueur… simply because she is such a phenomenal writer, and I know I will never do it justice. A Charm of Finches is the second in the Venery series, and the second book I’ve read from the author to date. While nothing will ever surpass the first one, this comes very close. This is not a book for everyone. It addresses many topics which will be awkward, painful, invasive, and too raw for those who prefer something lighthearted. But at the same time, Laqueur is such an intense and powerful writer, every moment is packed with beauty and emotion that will make any and all readers cry. If you do not bawl while reading this, you need to speak with someone about getting your tear ducts repaired.

Okay, the facts: a multi-day gang rape of a young teenage boy, death of someone’s family, survival after Auschwitz, divorce, suicide attempts, new love, discovery of homosexuality, addressing fears head on, psychology / art therapy for the truly physically and mentally abused… BUT, forget what the story deals with and focus on the path that our beautiful and tragic characters take to climb deep into a hole and thrust themselves through the pain to find the one ray of shining hope. It doesn’t come easily. It doesn’t always happen. But when it does, your heart will feel such an immensity of relief, you don’t ever want to put the book down.

But you have to. Not because it’s not a page-turner. It absolutely is. But you can only handle so much reality at once. I might never complain about anything again after seeing what others have gone through. While some of this is fiction, there is a huge component of truth. This has happened to people. Probably people you’ve met. But you never knew. And now, an amazing author can deliver it, and while what Laqueur has dropped in our laps, though some of the best writing I’ve read in years, is probably minor compared to what victims truly experienced. Laqueur has given us gift in this series… a way to understand people we might not know in person.

It’s not all emotionally-wrecking behavior. There are moments of levity. Laqueur captures those early new relationship feelings when we don’t trust ourselves that someone can love us. She highlights what we do wrong and what we do right when trying to share our love through both physical and mental methods. Whether she’s comparing fellow members of a rape-survival group to the Easter Island statues protecting us from anyone getting in or out, to the flight of a finch or a lark, you will connect with this author.

The only reason someone shouldn’t read the book, or doesn’t like it, is if he or she can’t handle the topics. Other than that, this is a finely crafted, must-read book for true literary fiction fans who can immerse themselves in the world of people you will grow to love like family. But do it the right way… buddy read it with a friend, like I did. Nina and I carried each other through this book for a few days. Almost chatting like two awkward teenagers who share a language no one else understands. It was the words we didn’t say that explained our mutual feelings… and that’s exactly what happens in the book, too… it’s what the author purposely doesn’t say that shows how awesome she is and how she should be on the top of the charts for all to see. I don’t often praise this highly, but this is a series that I will never forget, and I will always recommend.

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BTW, thank you to Sophie @ Beware of the Reader for recommending this book — she has changed my life!

Check out The Cozy Pages review to see what Nina thought of our buddy read!

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 five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. 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.

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Book Review: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

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What If It's UsWhat If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

With all the hype in the last few years about these authors, I knew I needed to read one of each of their books. I requested a few from the library and got placed in the queue to wait my turn. This was the first novel that showed up, so I get to sample them both at the same time. It was a fantastic read, and I ended up just shy of 4.5 stars hence rounding down to 4 on the ratings charts. Let’s dive into my thoughts…

While the first few chapters drew me in on many levels, I squirmed a lot over the dialog and viability of the scenarios. I live in New York City. I’ve been to this post office many times. I couldn’t visualize it based on how things were laid out. It definitely could happen; however, between the dialog of the characters and this meet-cute scenario, I thought they were mid-20s at first. On the flip side, I’m not in my 20s now, so it’s possible I’m a tad removed from how things currently work in the dating world! What this book ultimately made me do / think after finishing 90% of it was… how in the world do people date in today’s times? These two guys are ~17 in NYC riding subways on their own and going all over the place. In my day (wow, that makes me sound way older than I am) I was a scared little boy who wouldn’t have (a) been allowed to nor (b) felt comfortable doing it. Perhaps that’s more of a comment on me and not the book, but I couldn’t imagine having a conversation with my parents about ‘dick-picks’ from people online. However, in 2018, it’s probably warranted with so much technology and social media in our hands.

My only other concern with the book was the ending. If you prefer not to know, skip this paragraph. If you are okay with small spoilers, keep reading. So… I’m reading along wondering if the book will be a happily-ever-after story or a heart-crushing painful one. I’m definitely more like Arthur minus the Jewish background and desire to attend Yale. I have a free spirit like Ben but I would never show up late nor be friends with an ex the way he was. At 95% in, the book ends with Arthur going back to Georgia for his senior year (was in NYC with parents just for a summer). We don’t know how it ends… but in the epilogue, we do. They go off to college / career separately and have different lives that still intersect. I don’t want to give it all away, but it made me stop and think… isn’t letting go of love hard? I’ve had two prior long-term relationships (5+ years each) end before I met my current partner. Going thru that at 17 (a precocious 17) must be worse.

Yikes, this is a review about a book. Why am I being so personal? I suppose it means the writing, characters, and story were that strong… I connected on many levels. To see how two young guys in high school learn how to date, how not to get mauled on a subway by a bigot, to deal with parents meeting one another, to be out at such a young age… it’s all a challenging and eye-opening experience. I see it with younger friends and family, but to read about it with two kids you just want to hug is a different sort of emotional heart-string tug. I admit I teared up in the end, and Ben’s grand gesture was adorable.

So… I’ll definitely read more from both authors. I recommend this book. Some will find it trite / overdone / simple… but honestly, they just like to complain and have no heart (no offense intended, I respect our differences)… I always look for the wonderful sentiments in a book and enjoy when my boundaries are pushed to think about things differently. Kudos for making it happen here.

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 three books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, and Flower Power Trip (March 2019). 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.

The Terrace & Baxter

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Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve shared any personal posts on the blog. After returning from the trip to England and Italy in May, my schedule got busier than expected. I introduced everyone to Baxter in early June, planted all the flowers and bushes on the NYC terrace garden in mid June, kicked off the Children’s Book Readathon in late June, and mentioned I’d started writing my next book in early July. With all these priorities being the focus of my day, as well as a massive about of reading and book reviews, getting online has been happening less frequently. We start the actual children’s book reading segment of the readathon in ten days and I will announce this upcoming week which book I’ve focused on writing. For now, I thought I’d share some photos on Baxter and the NYC terrace garden.

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If you’re new to my blog, a brief introduction… I live on the top floor of a 12-floor building in the middle of New York City where there’s very little green. Without a backyard, nature, and grass, it felt too plain and dull… hence why we turned the terrace into a giant garden with potted trees, flower boxes, growing vines, outdoor furniture, and a new water feature. It runs the length of the whole apartment and then wraps around both sides part way. I’m quite lucky to have this outdoor space, and when I roll out the awning, it’s actually not too bad even on a particularly hot day given the wind this high up keeps it a bit cooler.

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Baxter, a black and tan shiba inu puppy, is officially 4 months old and proving to be quite the little devious one. He’s actually adapted quite well with the overnight sleeping and ‘doing his business’ side of things. He’s only about 15 lbs. but quite SOLID. It’s like a brick wall when he goes on a running race around the apartment and slams into me. He’s finally received all his shots and was allowed to go to the park last week. He’s learning how to walk on his leash and play with other dogs. I’m very happy with his progress to date, but he also started official training this week to fix a few small issues. He’s almost sitting on command, but next we’ll focus on come, stay, and leave it. The only real concern so far is he’s a biter! It’s totally play-biting, and he only does it to W and to me. He’s an absolute perfect angel whenever anyone else visits. I spend most of my day cleaning up dirt he’s eaten out of potted plants, stuffing from stuffed animals he’s ripped apart, and spraying bitter apple on things. Last night, as we’re watching a movie, the lights started to flicker. It was in the middle of a torrential rain and wind storm, so we assumed that was part of the issue. After a little research, we found that Baxter had actually started biting an electric cord we thought was well-hidden behind the couch. Thankfully that ended with only a harsh lecture and and early bedtime! Maybe he’s learned his lesson, too.

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More updates in a few weeks. Hope you enjoyed a little peek inside my life at home right now!

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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.

365 Challenge: Day 346 – Roda

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Roda: who came to NYC to visit me — you can check out her blog profile at GrowingSelf

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As many of you figured out from a few posts, Roda from GrowingSelf visited me in NYC this weekend. We’d been having a lovely week of 65 degree weather, a very comfortable temperature filled with sunny days and light breezes. The darkness and the rain descended upon us Friday morning and just finished as Roda left for the airport a few minutes ago. (Correction…this is Roda, by the way, and I am still here.  The rain ended yesterday afternoon.  Jay is sharing his “Untruth” now.) I’m not at all suggesting it’s a coincidence. Just setting the tone… as it’s been quite an interesting (Interesting…let’s consider a new word choice, my author friend!) trip! I’ve learned a few new words, such as woozy. I believe it’s a combination of what and boozy, but I am still trying to get a clear answer. (Definition: woozy is when your head feels floopy because your so called “friend” keeps adding boozy to your glass, while you are making him a birthday cake, without your knowledge!) It hasn’t been easy as she just opened a bottle of champagne before we left for the airport as her “see ya later” toast. (Oh my goodness…more untruth!)

 

Part of our trip included taking in a Broadway show. I wanted to go to a memorable show that would inspire us. Roda selected Book of Mormon… and let me tell you, I learned quite a few new four-letter words. It was a show full of sarcasm, just like her! (More untruth) She cried during the scenes from laughing so hard!!!

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(Truth…it’s Roda again…I knew NOTHING about this production.  When Jay said it would be inspiring and moving and to make sure I brought my tissues, I had no idea what he truly meant!  Naughty, I tell you!  My Little Bro is naughty!) I cannot repeat the words we learned as I’d have to wash my mouth out with soap.

I did introduce her to the taste of Jack Daniels and ginger ale. (Not by choice!) She baked a chocolate marble cake with my assistance (51% me, 49% her). (So not true…once again!  Jay was happy to sit, at the table, with a bottle of bubbly in each hand, trying to play cruise director.) There was flour everywhere! And I didn’t get any candles to blow out either. (Let’s just say, after three grocery store trips, I could not find enough candles for Jay’s age, so I decided to count by 5s instead.)

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(There was also flour everywhere, due to the fact that Jay was throwing it everywhere…maybe because of his “woozy” head!) We tried taking pictures, but she kept making funny duck faces (don’t even ask, but I did try to recreate it below!) and they might be too embarrassing. I’m sure we’ll post more pictures when we have time to format and fix them.

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A few other facts:

  • We spent 2+ hours in multiple grocery stores because someone couldn’t find the ingredients she needed to make part of dinner. We had fish, bruschetta and broccoli.
  • We played Uno. She LOST bigtime. W also beat her. (We decided from the beginning that the person with the highest score would lose.  Jay could not locate the directions and now that he has, he wants everyone to think that he actually won!  Jay has truly set a new record for the highest losing score, of all times!  I have already notified the Guinness Book of World Records!)

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  • We walked around NYC for several hours each day. She was super afraid of grates, yellow banana cars (cabs as you and I know them) and anything that moved on the sidewalk, but oddly enough, she was fascinated by pigeons. What??? She also brought farm animals and I had to keep pointing out which was her drink (see below) because she wasn’t always aware enough of her surroundings… and she slipped on the floor multiple times. (Jay sabotaged my glass numerous times!  Also, the slipping was due to the fact that Jay spent a week cleaning his floor before I arrived.)

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  • We saw Grand Central Station and she purchased us cupcakes… then I went to the bathroom and she ate them both!!!  (Again…so untrue) We did whisper in the corners across the vestibule and she was totally shocked at how you could hear each other over 100 feet apart.

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  • She brought me a gift… ‘NomNom’ wine glass holders – see above. She preferred the male drink holders below… and named them Cody and Chad. Then she and W decided to put them in ice cube trays for their drinks. I was not drinking, so I really don’t know what this is all about! (I have no words…)

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  • She had issues with shin splints from walking so much… then blamed it on the shoes! WAMbulance. (I admit…I chose fashion over practicality, on this day.  This is the first true statement Jay has made.) 
  • I have never eaten or drank this much in my life. Every day…. oh my she can be a pusher! She also gets very bright red cheeks when she drinks. Someone had 4 days of red cheeks!  (I must say, the food in NY is spectacular!)

The moral of our story here… to keep this short… is how fun it is to meet someone you’ve chatted with for nearly a year on the Internet… and I’ll happily say, she’s exactly the same in person as I’ve seen, heard or read about on her blog. And that’s a good thing! (It is Roda again… I so want to disagree, but I have to say that Jay is the same talented, kind and completely adorable man we all know and love.  I was honored to spend four days in NY, laughing and having fun with my Little Bro.)

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About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

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

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

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Author Discussion: Where Do you Write?

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Please check out this great interview with the amazing Sassy Brit from Alternative-Read.com where she and I chat about my writing desk – how and where I write! I shared a few amusing tidbits about life in NYC, but the best part is learning more about her and her site; she’s a prolific blogger and UK book promoter with a fantastic web presence. Definitely someone to follow!

via What’s on your desk, Wednesday? #AuthorSpotlight James Cudney @jamescudney4 #WatchingGlassShatter

365 Challenge: Day 151 – Vocal

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Vocal: expressing opinions or feelings freely or loudly

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Yesterday was quite a day, leaving me little time to draft the 365 Daily Challenge post for today. Though I previously preferred drafting the posts early each morning, after consuming at least two cups of coffee, I’ve now become more comfortable writing them late afternoon in preparation for release the upcoming day. Yesterday I was not able to accomplish my goal. I had a prolific writing day for Father Figure, pushing me to a few extreme moments of hair-pulling crazies and watery eyes that refused to listen. Suddenly, fear permeated throughout my weakened body, when I looked up to see it was 4:30 pm. I’ve not written the post. I’ve not read anyone else’s blog. I’ve ignored social media. And I had to leave my apartment by 5:45 for pre-scheduled plans. I had 75 minutes to accomplish everything, which was no small feat. Curious how I did? Oh… you’re not gonna like the answer.

First, I changed into gym clothes. I can’t go to the gym without those, now can I? OK, task one complete. Then Ryder looked at me with the “I need to go outside” expression. Fine… handled that. Distracted by trying to start the draft of this post. Couldn’t focus. Picked out my clothes for the event. Ugh, @#@$@$ it’s hot out. I have to wear pants and a shirt. I don’t like shirts. I hate pants even more. “Why must I be punished by wearing clothes?” I ask myself. Someone answered me via text, reminding me they were a necessary evil so that I am not locked up in prison for streaking the neighborhood. So, I looked at the clock… needless to say, 30 minutes had passed before I was actually able to leave for the gym (given the tantrum I threw over pants in my closet choosing the lightest possible fabric and loosest-fitting yet smallest shirt possible), but that wasn’t enough time. So nothing got done. Just a lot of back and forth trying to juggle way too many balls in the air, lacking clear priorities. Definite new number one task for later today: Prioritize everything you need to do.

So… shower, change, head off to dinner. It’s #@$#@$@# hot in the city in August. I was a sweaty mess by the time I arrived in midtown, across from Times Square, at the restaurant we all agreed to have dinner at. Ah, tourists… have you ever wondered what goes through people’s minds when they look down at their phones, stare up at digital signs, point at everything that means nothing because they can and they’re there, but it’s something they could do anywhere, yet in NYC, it seems cool, and you’ll never see it again, but in truth… it’s just another human in a weird costume having a good day because that’s what you do when you live in NYC so that you can get the attention of tourists and hopefully make a few bucks? (I haven’t done that – @#$@@##@$).

Five people standing too far apart yet too close together to pass by them, their arms linked across the entire sidewalk with a full crowd in front of stores containing people entering and exiting, no one paying attention. Are people just truly not aware of their surroundings? I gave a few looks of death, as I’m pretty good at mastering that in-between look of ‘I will shoot daggers at you in the hopes I’m letting you know that you are completely screwing up my timing and if you don’t get out of my way way…’ until they realize it and I can then dial it down to a ‘Oh, thanks so much for letting me pass by, have a wonderful day,’ unless they don’t get it and then I elevate said look to ‘You’ve got 3 seconds to get your #$@$# out of my path and use your #$#@$#@ brain to realize that you are so rude and unaware of the traffic problems you are causing right now so move the #$#@$#@$@ away right now.’

At that point, one of two things generally happens: (1) they move or (2) I move. Because I’m the kinda guy who may think all those things, yet I also know tourists make or break a town, and while NYC is in no shortage, I don’t want to impede someone else’s happiness the way they’ve chosen to momentarily impede mine. Ah… arrive at dinner. I was the third of five of us — even two minutes early! The bartender asks me what I want to drink. I search the menu about ready to pick a lovely cocktail to tone down my little mental tantrum when someone give me that look, surreptitiously and silently reminding me: ‘You committed to not drinking for 21 days until the beach weekend, right?’ #$#@$#@$#@ (Yes, I’m doing a lot of that today). On a different note, seltzer has such amazing qualities, between the flavors and the bubbles, it’s just…

Dinner was great. We rushed out at 7:30 and made it to the the theatre. As we turn the corner, one friend says “These people are just standing everywhere blocking my path. Get the @#$#$# out of the way. Oh, I hope that’s not the line to Hello, Dolly.”

  • Point 1: I wasn’t the only person thinking that! Someone else relieved my shift and handled the tantrum business.
  • Point 2: It was the line to get tickets which we had to pick up at Will Call. I counted about half way down it as we walked to the door. 289 people wrapped around the block.
  • Point 3: I was going to Hello Dolly with Bette Midler!
  • Point 4: W somehow got a nice, friendly security guard to let us go thru the side entrance and we suddenly were at our row within 5 minutes. The others had drinks. I did not. #@$@#$@#
  • Point 5: Please do not be angry with us… Bette called and needed us in our seats. Couldn’t help it.

So, I’m sitting in my seat, and it’s about five rows back, so amazing… and… well, now that I think about it, this post has already gotten quite along. And the word of the day is vocal. I can’t remember if I meant vocal as in not sharing the thoughts in my head, or vocal as in screaming about them to anyone who will listen. And if I keep them in my head, does that mean I am not vocal? Or was the point to talk about the vocals at Hello, Dolly. Unfortunately, we’ve run out of time today with this post, as my priorities dictate it’s time to move on to writing the next Father Figure chapter. I’ll be back again tomorrow where it might be time to dish about the show last night. Dolly will have to wait 24 hours.

YES, YES I AM

 

Love,

#$@$#@$%@# JERK @#$@@#$@# RUDE  #$@@$#@$@# (AKA Insensitive Me)

 

Aside: While all this was true, I hope you know I’m just being humorous today… and I promise to talk about the Broadway show in tomorrow’s post… I just have to be vocal about that!

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Linda @ Maine Paper Pusher. Linda and I met online about two months ago through another fun blogger, and I feel like everyone already knows this wonderful woman, so why would I need to include her in my Recommended Bloggers… right? But on the off chance you don’t know her, you should be clicking the link above to peruse her site and then click the follow button on hers. Start with the post from earlier this week where she tells us how she is like a porcupine. Yes, a porcupine. So on point! Linda is always an extremely funny poster and comment writer — I never know what to expect but it always provides an undeniably interesting and funny perspective that will make you tilt your head and say “what is she talking about… oh, wait… that’s totally true!” We’ve had some good banter going back and forth, all starting when I tagged her on an award or some other post. It was a doozy of a tag that would cause her hours to decide on what content, so she let me have it — in a totally hysterical way. It was the start of a great online friendship which makes me smile each day. I read all her posts and try to keep up with the wit, though I usually fail miserably. If you’d like to learn more about her but not from me (maybe you don’t even like me!), check out what is on the site’s About Me (AKA Life is Good in Cornville) section:
    • “I wear many hats: dog mom, silly auntie, baffling wife.  I’ve been “retired” for 3 years following a diagnosis of epilepsy that continues to stump the docs.  Mostly, I just hang out in our old farmhouse in Cornville, Maine.   Our house is in the country so I get to watch deer and wild turkeys in my back yard.  Bald eagles fly overhead and the view from my living room is a horse pasture.  Life is good in Cornville, Maine. On the inside, the house is a circus.  I have two Great Danes, two cats, a collection of fish, and my ever-suffering husband Bill.  Yup, life is good in Cornville.”

 

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.

Book Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

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3 out of 5 stars to Hidden Bodies, the second book in a thriller and suspense series by Caroline Kepnes.

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Last month, my buddy Medhat suggested a read of You, the first novel in the series. It was such a fantastic book, probably in my top 2 of 2017 to date, that I had to continue reading the series. I’ve heard rumors there will be a third book, but I’ve yet to see it confirmed. I need to check on that! I am also completely excited as Lifetime is turning the books into a television series. I can’t wait… but until then, let’s get on with the review of this second book. While I enjoyed several parts of it, it doesn’t hold a candle to the first book and I’ll explain why below.

Plot, Characters & Setting
When we left off at the end of [book:You|20821614], our protagonist/villain, Joe, completed his vicious cycle of crossing many lines and breaking tons of laws in NYC all in the name of love, also known to most people as stalking your prey. Yet he escaped without anyone knowing of his crimes and found himself falling in love with a new potential victim, Amy Adam. Joe begins trusting Amy, realizing she’s a much-improved version of his last girlfriend, Beck. Amy begins pushing him for a key to his bookstore, which we all know from reading the first book contains a few secrets Joe would prefer stay buried, like some bodies. He hides everything as much as he possibly can, caving in to his girlfriend in order to hold on to her. When he arrives for work a few days later, the place has been robbed and Amy is missing. Did she do it? Was she kidnapped as payback for his prior crimes? What does she know? You’ll find out… he finds a lead that shows she may be in Los Angeles. Joe quits his job and moves cross-country, where he meets an interesting cast of characters in his typical LA apartment. He negotiates/manipulates his way into working closely with a few Hollywood type agents and producers, finding himself falling in love with a new woman, coincidentally named Love.

Love is perfect for Joe. She adores him. And he soon forgets about Amy. All seems well for a short period of time. But he keeps worrying about the one piece of evidence of his former crimes back in Rhode Island… and it drives him nearly insane, especially when the case is re-opened. He knows he has to find a way to retrieve it without anyone seeing him in the victim’s house. Unfortunately, he’s distracted by Delilah, one of the women in his apartment complex who has the hots for him. And then there’s a cop who has taken a dislike to Joe, tailing him at different parts of the day while Joe is trying to tie up loose ends. But it’s when Love’s ex-boyfriend and her brother monopolize all of Love’s time, Joe goes off the rails. As he begins to unwind, adding more and more crimes to his list in order to cover up the past and protect himself from losing Love, Joe finds himself getting careless. It all comes crashing down in the last few chapters of the book, ending at a place where it’s very clear, a third book is necessary. Readers will not be OK with this ending, as it opens more holes than the one’s Joe’s already had to dig for each of his hidden bodies.

Approach & Style
Whereas in the first book, Joe talks to the readers almost as if they are Beck, it’s quite different in this second book. It’s still told in first person with the perspective only on Joe throughout the whole story; however, there’s no concept of “you” this time around. It works just as well, given the title is no longer “You,” which means alternative progression is an expected path.

I read a large-sized soft-cover book with ~430 pages. There are 56 chapters, so each one is less than 8 pages long on average. It took me 4 days over the course of a week, as I couldn’t read each day; in total, probably about 6 hours. Some sections are a bit slow-paced while others are ultimate page-turners where you probably skip every fifth word just to see more quickly what’s happening.

Strengths
Kepnes can certainly dream up extremely aggravating and realistic characters. Everyone she incorporates feels like someone I’ve met before, and at times, I wish I could be Joe and punish them for the things they say and do. But I’m a good guy and I don’t commit many crimes. I mean any crimes.

When she’s on point with a dramatic scene, the plot and action is amazing. A few scenes were just as good as the initial book, especially when Joe is dealing with Delilah and the cop. It’s almost like we never left the first book.

Love is a really multi-dimensional woman; she has moments of brilliance followed by sheer silliness. I want her to be with Joe, but sometimes, she seems too good for him.

The settings are crystal clear for the most part. I can always tell where we are and whether it’s gonna be a safe zone or all hands to the battle field.

Concerns
It was such a let-down from the first book. Joe became weak. I didn’t buy his drama. He seemed to cause problems for the sake of causing problems. He had the girl. But he let himself get caught up in other areas, ones that made him a true criminal and not a man in love. That’s where he becomes a bad stalker. In the first book, he loved the girl so much, you could see why he did the things he did. This time, I struggled connecting with his motivation. He became every other evil antagonist, rather than the guy you wanted to root for.

The ending gets closer to the original strength, but not all the way. I was pleasantly surprised when the last 100 or so pages took the story in quite a different and unexpected direction, but it wasn’t enough to turn the book around for me. If this were the only book I read, and I didn’t know much about the original plot, it wouldn’t have been a book I’d recommend to friends. And that’s sad because Joe is an amazing villain. I toyed with giving this less than 3 stars but I know that is mostly the disappointment in ruining a good character. It’s redeemable in a third book, so I will have faith things get better.

Final Thoughts
The story is still good. It’s got major problems with his constant quest for sex, which is just an overused plot component in this book. Pull that out. Take out the section where he turns into a whiny mess. And maybe give him a few more close calls, and we’re back in the game.

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.