Books & Art: Paintings!

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Today is the last day to download one of my novels, Father Figure, for FREE. You can download and read it via Amazon Kindle at this link. Earlier this week, I received a surprise package in the mail from someone I met just over a year ago. We chatted via our blogs, built a friendship, and then began referring to one another as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ because of the many similarities (also several differences) and powerful connection in such a short time.


We chat several times a day via texting or calls, swap pictures of life on the farm and life in NYC, and help each other push through the pain, sweat, and tears of all our creative work. What’s special about this woman is not only her amazing generosity and humble approach to life, but that she can tolerate me!


After I finished my first novel, she sent me a painting of the book cover. It was fantastic, and I absolutely adore it. The painting hangs on the wall in the hallway leading from the living room to the bedroom alongside a framed actual book cover my parents gave me last year.

You can see more via the post during my 365 Daily Challenge. Well… after I finished my second novel, Father Figure, the same artist, sister, and friend painted another cover. It’s stunning! I wanted to share it the last few days but I thought it was a perfect post for today as the promotion winds down. It is such an amazing and gorgeous match!


To my wonderful and dearest friend, Roda @ GrowingSelf, thank you for being one of the most amazing things I found in the last year since going on this journey as a blogger and an author. For anyone who must check out more of her art — from bees to flowers to animals to so much more — view her art site here. Thank you, Big Sis. I love you!




Book Review: X by Sue Grafton

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After a ~4 year hiatus from reading the Kinsey Millhone Alphabet series, I got back to focusing on it late last year just before the author, Sue Grafton, passed away. In the second to last installment, X, Kinsey and the series become a bit more relaxed, but it also reminded me there’s only 1 book left as the final one (Z, 26) won’t be completed by a ghost writer.

There are three primary story lines in this novel, not the usual focus or style for Grafton: (1) Henry and Kinsey’s personal problems with their new neighbors, (2) Kinsey’s friendship with the wife of a late deceased colleague (who we learned a lot about in W is for Wasted) where peculiar people and letters start showing up, and (3) a mystery investigation Kinsey’s actually hired to solve by a real client. Each on their own wasn’t enough to carry a 400+ page novel, but by combining it together, readers were treated to a “week in the life” of a private eye who we’ve come to love.

One of the things that struck me the most was how Grafton only aged Kinsey by a few years over the course of ~35 years writing the novels. The setting still take place in the 1980s where there were no cell phones or usable personal computers, but there were major issues occurring in California, like a drought. Grafton uses the book to offer solutions on how to solve the water shortage, which actually applies today in many cases, too. Always keen to offer political or societal commentary through the characters, we don’t lack for an education in this one either: both treatment of the aging and conservation of water in and out of the home. At times, I thought… wait, did I start reading non-fiction again?

As for the 2 main mysteries, both ended with too many loose ends. While we know the criminal, it’s not your standard whodunit in the first one; and in the second one, Kinsey ends up playing matchmaker. While I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t a true mystery / thriller / suspense novel like most of the past. There were several high action moments, and one where I really worried Kinsey was going to die, but in the end, I was a little disappointed in the mismatch of how it all came together. That said, it’s still a strong book, just not what I was expecting or wanted. 3.5 stars and I’ll round up because I have a strong affinity for the series and author.

Writing is as good as always. Characters are clear, memorable, and understandable. A few things didn’t sit well, but for the most part, I cared what happened to everyone. I am both sad and excited to read the last one… probably later this month or the beginning of July.

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, 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 323 – Paint

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Paint: to cover the surface of something with a colored substance that dries to leave a thin decorative or protective coating


I have absolutely no talent when it comes to painting, but I know someone who does. I’m always in awe of a person with this talent, but when it is a friend–who feels more like family–it’s special. When that person goes beyond your expectations and surprises you with a custom painting to match your book cover, it’s undeniably amazing. If you haven’t figured out whom I am referring to, then let me uncover this beautiful artist: Roda from the Growing Self blog that many of you already follow. If you don’t know her or the blog, click the name to get familiar with an inspirational and passionate woman who has shared so much with many of us about her life running a farm, a family, and a dream in Michigan.

If you want to check out her art website, you must visit Artistically Roda where you will see not only this painting, but several others she’s created over the last year(s). Roda has an amazing approach to how she builds layers and designs her art, even sharing this process on her site. I was utterly shocked when her painting arrived in the mail, as I knew she was doing something special for me, but I never guessed how wonderful it would turn out. I moved the painting around a few different rooms in my apartment before hanging it, as I wanted to see where it would look best. The colors worked in most rooms, but it seemed to pop best in two places. I decided to wait on hanging it until after the holidays when all the Christmas decorations had been taken down. In early January, it found it’s home in the central spot of the apartment — the hallway where I cross through all day long. It’s between the bedroom and kitchen, which means I see it each time I wake up and walk into the main part of the apartment and before bed when I go to sleep.


I adore this painting, but I adore my friendship and connection with this wonderful person even more. I’m grateful to all she’s given to me this year, especially the camaraderie we feel when referring to one another as Big Sis and Lil Bro. Thank you, Roda, for this perfect gift and for being one of my greatest treasures in 2017. And when I think of the word paint, it means so much more… to paint the beauty of life, to paint with inspiration, to paint the fabric of a shared connection… to paint the words that bond.


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 @ 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

Review: Jeopardy in July

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Jeopardy in JulyMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Barbara Venkataraman‘s Jeopardy in July, the fifth book in her Jamie Quinn mystery series. I’m starting to love this series! It’s simple, direct and easy-to-read, but it makes for such a fun experience.


Why This Book
The author and I connected months ago and I began reading her series. When the newest one came out, we chatted again and I was quick to jump on this read. I added it to TBR in late March when it was released and found myself propelling it to the must-read rather quickly. And I sat down at the end of my day today and finished it in less than 3 hours!

Overview of Story
Jamie Quinn has been a family law attorney for about ten years, growing tired of the boring cases that pass her desk. Though she’s had fun working on the unexpected murder cases over the last few years, those aren’t ones she comes across very often. And her boyfriend is stuck in Australia for a month longer than they expected, leaving her facing the world on her own. When she takes on some extra work at the local senior facility, providing advice about wills, inheritances and long-term care. But when something seems amiss with too many deaths at the facility, Jamie’s hot on the trail again.

South Florida. Forged paintings. An artist with a potential passion to do the right thing. Unfamiliar family connections. A mysterious flower that causes death, appearing as though it’s a foaming mouth. And that’s just 1 of her newest cases. How will Jamie figure it all out? With the help of bestie Grace, and Grace’s state senate candidate boyfriend, who annoys the heck out of Jamie. As she gets closer to the clues, along with PI sidekick Duke, Jamie’s sure to find a future in crime fighting this time!

Approach & Style
Barbara Venkataraman‘s style is absolute ease. The main character is a fun and quirky lawyer, one who has a witty and snappy tongue, but always comes across as someone you wish you knew. The book has so much humor, it’s hard to stop giggling sometimes. It’s not all-out crazy laughter, but a subtle hint of “this chick is cool and I wanna know her” type humor. And her banter with her favorite PI, ladies’ man Duke Broussard, is dynamic. I love their scenes together, even if it’s not about the case. Long-term, I kinda want them to end up together.

I read this as an e-read on my iPad through Kindle. The point of view stays on Jamie the whole story, following her antics across her own family drama and her various cases. In this one, two of her cases collide when art forgery meets death at the senior care facility. Chapters are short, quick to ingest… always humorous… and they leave you constantly wanting to click forward to the next one. And the author publishes a few a year, which should be enough, but I’m always wanting more!

Jamie’s a true heroine. She’s funny. She’s smart. Flawed. Tragic. Strong. And represents us all.
Duke’s such a hoot. He’s over-the-top and warrants a good slap in the face… or a little fun on the side… hard to tell sometimes.

The plot is straightforward, but has a few fun jaunts along the way. It is easy to follow, leaves you wanting to solve it on your own with all the information at your fingertips.
Jamie’s search for her own love and family hops along throughout the story, and with each of the five books, she gets a little closer. I love following this side-story.

Open Questions & Thoughts
I wish these were longer. Barbara Venkataraman‘s gonna hate me for saying this, but it always ends a little too soon. I wish the plots were a little more complex and a little longer, just to draw out the fun.

Jamie just falls into her situations all the time. I think it’s a good thing, but it can also be a problem… as in too coincidental; however, the way book 5 ends shows a lot of promise for changes to Jamie’s life that I think could be of a great benefit.

Final Thoughts
When I first started the series, I thought it had potential. As I read each story, my biggest concern was they were too short (about 200 pages). As I made the journey from book 1 thru book 5, I found myself really looking forward to reading each book. It’s an uncomplicated and focused read, taking you on a fun journey through a likable character’s personal and career growth. It’s not about how complex the plot is or how much the author can shock you. It’s just a good laugh-out-loud read for a few hours. And I’m quite fond of them!

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, 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