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Book Review: In the Best Interest of the Child by Felicia Denise

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In The Best Interest of the ChildIn The Best Interest of the Child by Felicia Denise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a surprising book! I knew it would be good because I’ve read author Felicia Denise’s reviews of other novels, interacted with her on social media, and visited her blog; however, there were so many different levels and components in the story, I really connected with it beyond expectations. And that’s saying a lot because I am very far removed from the primary topics and experiences it covers. Kudos to the author for capturing this reader’s attention and making my flight across the country quite entertaining and heartwarming.

Olivia was victimized in foster care ~25 years ago. Her father was killed, her mother’s memory practically erased in an accident. Despite everything that happened to her, Olivia pushed herself to become a successful lawyer who helped other children in similar situations. The only issue… her emotional confidence and ability to open up to others never fully developed. She threw herself into work and closed the doors to many things in life. But then life throws her a curveball with a case about a young girl in a very similar situation who needs help. Olivia agrees to take the case, but it’s far worse than she imagined: corruption, evil, family, secrets, and theft. On the flip side, the temporary family who is looking out for the young girl’s interest is amazing, and there’s a sexy uncle with a crush on Olivia. What’s a girl to do?

My favorite aspect of this book is the writing style Felicia Denise has chosen to employ. After much build-up regarding the awful side of the family who is trying to gain custody / oversee the case (hard to explain, but I don’t want to give anything away), readers will feel anger and frustration over the lengths selfish people go to steal from others. At the same time, we watch Olivia assemble information to protect the child, but we don’t necessarily know what facts she’s learning from all her meetings. We see her interact with others but through summaries while she’s getting to know the temporary family. It’s a wonderful approach because when the case goes to court to make the decision, EVERYTHING comes out and Olivia looks AMAZING. I had this jittery excited moment where I’m thinking… “Go Olivia, go!” I loved this approach and commend the author on igniting my passion for her story.

At some point, Olivia decides to give in to her feelings for the girl’s uncle whom she’s met and gone on a few dates with. The book completely changes in this chapter when we see Olivia’s barriers removed, and readers are treated to a passionate, vivid physical encounter, what I imagine is along the lines of a romance novel. I’m not a huge reader in that genre, so I can’t really compare… but it was quite strong and had a lot of contrast to the emotional tugging over what was happening to the young girl and Olivia’s heartbreak. I didn’t expect it and was like… wait… did I change books? All good tho, as it was tightly written, showcased the author’s range, and made me thoroughly excited for Olivia.

Well-written, tons of heart, lots of pain (in a good way), and provides proof that readers should chance reading different styles. I look forward to my next book by this author, as I hear there may be a sequel coming!

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 but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. 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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My Novel: Father Figure (Week 5 – Friday, August 4th, 2017)

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Shock accompanied my mouth as it dropped to the floor today when realizing it was Friday and another week had passed since our last Father Figure update. Are we seriously finishing the fifth week since I began writing this new novel? It must be true or I wouldn’t be writing up this post, so here we go with the weekly status:

writer

Status:  Friday, August 5, 2017 – Week #5

  • Research
    • I unfortunately avoided this again because I was heavily involved in editing and writing. It’s being pushed out another week. No real impact to the overall schedule.
  • Chapters 1 thru 3
    • I edited these chapters, cleaning up grammatical issues, passive voice, repetitions and missing dialogue tags.
    • It reads well, but I am not ready to share with with any beta readers at this point. I believe some of it might move to a later chapter and/or be pulled as background simply for me to know while writing future content.
    • Contains 23K words on 70 pages (way too long)
  • Chapters 4 thru 6
    • I wrote all 3 chapters this week, as per the plan and the outline.
    • I edited all three chapters on Friday afternoon similarly to the first few chapters, as noted above. They are in decent condition, but I’m not thoroughly happy with where they ended up. It needs a few days to idle before I re-read them and decide on the appropriate alterations.
    • Contains 13K words on 45 pages (about right)

 

 Next Steps: Plan for Week #6

  • Complete the research for setting locations and character personalities to incorporate very specific facts into the detailed descriptions and scenes
  • Write chapters 7 thru 9 with a target to end up in total at ~ 135 pages & 36K words
    • At this point, I’ll be 1/3 complete with a first draft
    • At that rate, with 7 more weeks to finish the remaining 2/3, a first draft will be ready by early October. I’m thinking I might have to pull this forward as I leave mid-September for a two-week vacation. I’d like a full draft completed beforehand, which means I need to start writing 4 chapters per week.
  • Edit Chapter 4 thru 6 to match tone and voice of earlier chapters

 

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • Who will beta read the first 3 chapters in late August? I’m searching for 4 people, as I have someone who beta read the first book and is formidable when calling me out for less than stellar writing.
  • Chapters 1 thru 3 are too long for the story I am telling. It’s important to capture readers’ attention by getting to the conflict and drama by ~ 15% into the book. My outline planned for that to happen in Chapter 5 and 6, which I’ve just completed; however, at this rate, the book would be 25% longer than planned due to my extra-wordiness. I’ve got a few options to mull over, but I think it will require a little bit of each of these items:
    • Do nothing except increase the planned total page and word count
    • Determine what needs to be cut as it was only initially included to help me flush out characters and relationships
    • Move a few small scenes and content to later chapters as I write future conflicts
  • I love these characters more than I had last week. Amalia has so much more depth than I had originally felt inspired to create within her. I Brianna has a wicked charm and sass about her, but I think it will resonate with those who enjoy the tone in my 365 posts.
  • I’m still a child, as whenever I reread the intimate scenes, I giggle. I can’t help it when I say certain words that don’t ordinarily come up in conversation. I might not make it through this exercise if I have to talk about cleavage anymore…

Not that I am the smartest, but the clip was too funny!

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Summary of Father Figure (only read if you’re new to the book)

  • Amalia Graeme, sheltered and abused for most her life in Mississippi, longs to escape her difficult family and small hometown in 1984. When her older brother returns with his best friend, Amalia is tempted to have her first experience with a boy that summer. As they head off to college for her first year and his senior year, she begins to learn about life and love, battling her loss of innocence with the attraction she’s developed to an older professor. After she suffers a few personal tragedies, Amalia is forced to head back home, uncertain how to handle the permanent impacts on her life and future. No matter where she turns, someone or something always takes away her possibility of hope.
  • Brianna Porter is desperate to discover the purpose of her life, develop confidence in who she is, accept the consequences of who she has fallen in love with, and discover her father’s identity. Set twenty years in the future in New York City, there’s a connection between these two women’s stories that is about to be discovered. As Brianna stumbles upon her mother’s old journal, she learns a shocking secret about her father, rocked by a truth that could completely change the future. It may be too late to deal with the impacts of unleashing a history that was meant to stay buried for many reasons. When it leads to someone’s death, Brianna must come to terms with the choices she’s made and what is left of her own future.

 

About Me
I am a writer. I am currently searching for an agent and looking at independent publishing options for my first book, Watching a Glass Shatter. To see more, please check out the website for this novel where you will find the first 3 chapters, character bios and sample quotes.

I am writing my second novel, Father Figure, with plans to finish it in December, 2017. As part of the process to engage with my fans and followers, I am publishing a weekly status on the progress of this second book. For a description of this book, check out the post where my friends and followers voted for this book as my second novel.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

My Novel: Father Figure (Week 4 – Friday, July 28th, 2017)

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Last time we chatted, I’d just finished week #3’s update for Father Figure, the new novel I began writing earlier this month. For a summary of the novel, scroll to the bottom of the post. We have now arrived at the end of week #4 – and I cannot believe almost an entire month has occurred since I began this book; status follows below:

writer

Status:  Friday, July 28, 2017 – Week #4

  • Research Noted Last Week
    • Epic Fail! But that’s OK. I researched a few facts to keep myself pacing properly in the first few chapters, but I put off the remainder until next week because…
  • Writing Chapters 1 thru 3
    • Actually happened… well, 1 thru 2.75. I’m debating the end of the chapter.
    • 17K words, 53 pages
    • It’s too long, there’s a bit of fluff, and some will probably move to another chapter. But I expected 3500 words on average per chapter, which means I should have ended up at roughly 10K words this week. I’m 7k words ahead, which makes up for missing the research portions.

 

 

Next Steps: Plan for Week #5

  • Complete the research for the setting locations and character personalities to incorporate very specific facts into the detailed descriptions and scenes
  • Write chapters 4 thru 6 with a target to end up at about 85 pages and 25K words.
  • Edit Chapter 1 thru 3 to determine what stays, what goes and what moves to another chapter

 

 

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • In the last book, and a few other short stories, I included a few brief romantic scenes. Nothing too extensive, as it was mostly just closing out a chapter or an arc, referencing how someone met, etc. In this book, both the main characters have multiple love interests and there’s a critical story arc about the different men with whom the mother had a relationship and whom could be the girl’s father. I have to create very different seductive, romantic and passionate scenes and connections within each distinct relationship. That’s a challenge for me, as I haven’t done a lot of that type of writing previously.
    • I wrote two of them so far, one brief and one extensive. I have some editing to do, but I think I need to share those with a few people to see if hit the right balance between hot-n-bothered and falling-in-love; or not getting to R-rated!
    • I got all squirmy re-reading it, thinking to myself… “oh man, I’m like a voyeur right now in a dark room giggling at those two…”

  • I’m debating how ‘bad’ to make a certain character. (S)he is definitely not likable, but I’m experimenting with a range of “readers will want to kill her” versus “she’ll cause a few expletives from time to time, but otherwise, she’s typical for her role.” I can’t say much as I don’t want to reveal the story, but there’s something to be said for both angles… more thought needed here. For now, (s)he’s as bad as can be.
  • Who will beta read the first 3 chapters in late August? I’m searching for 4 people, as I have someone who beta read the first book and is formidable when calling me out for less than stellar writing.

 

 

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Summary of Father Figure (only read if you’re new to the book)

  • Amalia Graeme, sheltered and abused for most her life in Mississippi, longs to escape her difficult family and small hometown in 1984. When her older brother returns with his best friend, Amalia is tempted to have her first experience with a boy that summer. As they head off to college for her first year and his senior year, she begins to learn about life and love, battling her loss of innocence with the attraction she’s developed to an older professor. After she suffers a few personal tragedies, Amalia is forced to head back home, uncertain how to handle the permanent impacts on her life and future. No matter where she turns, someone or something always takes away her possibility of hope.
  • Brianna Porter is desperate to discover the purpose of her life, develop confidence in who she is, accept the consequences of who she has fallen in love with, and discover her father’s identity. Set twenty years in the future in New York City, there’s a connection between these two women’s stories that is about to be discovered. As Brianna stumbles upon her mother’s old journal, she learns a shocking secret about her father, rocked by a truth that could completely change the future. It may be too late to deal with the impacts of unleashing a history that was meant to stay buried for many reasons. When it leads to someone’s death, Brianna must come to terms with the choices she’s made and what is left of her own future.

 

About Me
I am a writer. I am currently searching for an agent and looking at independent publishing options for my first book, Watching a Glass Shatter. To see more, please check out the website for this novel where you will find the first 3 chapters, character bios and sample quotes.

I am writing my second novel, Father Figure, with plans to finish it in December, 2017. As part of the process to engage with my fans and followers, I am publishing a weekly status on the progress of this second book. For a description of this book, check out the post where my friends and followers voted for this book as my second novel.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Spotlights, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: Matilda

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Matilda Book Review
Roald Dahl gets 4+ out of 5 stars for his knock-it-out-of-the-park story, Matilda, from 1988. For some reason, I thought this was published before 1988, but I know I read it when I was 13, so… must have been right then. I thought it was great. Looking back years later, and seeing all the films and cartoons made from it, I love it even more. While she’s a good role model in many ways for young kids, she’s all a little too spunky and might give some the wrong impressions. Nevertheless, with the right guidance, she can be someone to look up to.

Not everyone gets the best parents, family, teachers and friends. And when you don’t, you better be a smart girl to be able to make it on your own. And that’s what she is… brilliant, funny, witty, sarcastic, friendly… everything all wrapped up into 1 adorable young girl. She has a few adventures, tries to make things happen and shows the world who she. And that’s all we can ask for! Great book. Great story. Lots to see and learn. Definite re-read some day!

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