BLOG TOUR – Watching Glass Shatter – REVIEW & SPOTLIGHT

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5 out of 5 stars.

Welcome! Today, I’m beyond excited to be featuring a stop on the blog tour for my friend, Jay’s, new book, Watching Glass Shatter. This book is phenomenal! I don’t say that lightly. Yes, Jay is my friend, but the writing totally lives up to the hype and is well-deserving of a 5-star rating!

*** Also, this weekend, November 10 – November 14, the eBook version of Watching Glass Shatter is free on Amazon! You can check out this phenomenal book for FREE! ***

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Synopsis

The wealthy Glass family lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. Olivia receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family.

Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia must figure out which boy Ben refers to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney searches for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. When Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her. Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life-altering, but she will not rest until her family is reunited after Ben’s untimely death.

We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re all a mix of quirky personalities. Will Olivia be able to fix them or will the whole family implode? What will she do when she discovers the son behind Ben’s secret? Check out this ensemble cast where each family member’s perspective is center stage, discovering along the way who might feel the biggest impact from all the secrets. Welcome to being an honorary member of the Glass family.

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Review

Olivia and her sons and the rest of the characters are well-rounded, developed, complex characters. There were points where I wanted to “Gibbs’ slap” each of them in turn, but they’re all terrific characters. I can also identify with each of them in turn as they deal with the various pressures and secrets in their lives. Zach and Caleb are my favorites. They seem to have a hidden depth to them and I want to get to know them even more than we do in this book.

The character development in this novel is wonderful. We watch several characters go from being obsessed with their own lives and their own feelings, to the exclusion of others, to reaching out and enjoying the fact that they have a family to rely on. Everyone grows to some degree, some more than others, but everyone grows and changes a little in this book and it’s fabulous to watch.

The setting descriptions were slightly wordier than I tend to like, but they worked in this book. I didn’t feel as though they pulled me out of the story as setting descriptions sometimes do. I tend to prefer more basic descriptions, but the wordiness worked in this novel and it didn’t detract from anything at all.

The plot line is incredibly dramatic and amazing. How Ben’s secret affected Olivia, how the secrets of the boys affected their relationships in the family, everything was excellent. There was just the right amount of suspense for a dramatic novel without there being too much suspense.

All in all, I’m totally in love with this book and it’s definitely in my top 5 books of 2017. It’s phenomenal, amazing, and you really need to read it! I’m also very excited to hear that Jay’s planning on writing a sequel!

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About the Author

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 Jay wears many hats and has had a variety of experiences in life, all of which he combines into his writing. He grew up on Long Island, went to college in Pennsylvania, has lived various places and now lives in New York City. He spent about 15 years working in technology in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries, but writing has been apart of his life since he was a child.

In 2016, he left his work in the technology industry and started re-focusing on reading and writing which are his true passion. He’s written over 500 book reviews on Goodreads and he has a blog called This Is My Truth Now with over 3000 followers.

img_2917Outside of reading and writing, Jay’s interest include genealogy, cooking, and his 10-year-old Shiba Inu, Ryder. Ryder even has his own segment each week on Jay’s blog called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about Jay.

Watching Glass Shatter is Jay’s debut novel. His second novel, Father Figure, will be published in early 2018.

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Thanks for joining me today! I’m so excited about this book! I hope you hop over to Amazon, pick up a copy and enjoy it! Thank you, Jay, for letting me be a part of your blog tour. It’s an amazing book!

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The Swallow’s Nest – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m happy to bring you a review of the newest book by Emilie Richards, The Swallow’s Nest. For the most part, I really enjoyed this book, but I’ll explain why it only received four stars down below.

Book Cover: The Swallow's Nest by Emilie Richards - a young white woman with long dark brown hair holding a curly, blond haired toddler boy.

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Synopsis

When Lilia Swallow’s husband, Graham, goes into remission after a challenging year of treatment for lymphoma, the home and lifestyle blogger throws a party. Their best friends and colleagues attend to celebrate his recovery, but just as the party is in full swing, a new guest arrives. She presents Lilia with a beautiful baby boy, and vanishes.

Toby is Graham’s darkest secret, his son, conceived in a moment of despair. Lilia is utterly unprepared for the betrayal the baby represents, and perhaps more so for the love she begins to feel once her shock subsides. Now this unasked-for, precious gift becomes a life-changer for three women: Lilia, who takes him into her home and heart; Marina, who bore and abandoned him until circumstance and grief change her mind; and Ellen, who sees in him a chance to correct the mistakes she made with her own son, Toby’s father.

A custody battle begins, and each would-be mother must examine her heart, confront her choices and weigh her dreams against the fate of one vulnerable little boy. Each woman will redefine family, belonging and love and the results will alter the course of not only their lives, but also the lives of everyone they care for.

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Review

I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The story moved along at a decent pace, the characters were great, it was a delightful read. However, I only gave this book four stars because I felt the second half of the book was just way too long. I felt like it could have been about a third of the length it was and we still would have gotten all the pertinent information.

Our characters are all very strong-willed women. One of them doesn’t seem as strong-willed, but she finds her way and finds her backbone along the way. I enjoyed the interactions between the women and between the men in their lives for the most part. I’m not big on conflict, so of course those pieces weren’t so fun, but strong-willed women make some of the best characters in the world because they know what they want and they go for it with no punches pulled and no holds barred.

The setting descriptions were enough that I was able to imagine the places where the story took place and weren’t too overdone. I’m not always easy to please in this area, so it was nice to see these done well.

As I said above, the pace in the first half of the book was great. We moved along steadily and yet we weren’t moving along so fast that we missed important details. However, I really felt like the second half of the book dragged on and on. I felt that the second half could’ve been cut down to even a third of its original size and we still would have had enough details about the custody struggle.

The overall writing style is good. The prose flows well from section to section, chapter to chapter. I still recommend this book for those who like to read women’s fiction. Perhaps your view on the second half of the book will vary from mine!

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When We Were Sisters – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars

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Synopsis

As children in foster care, Cecilia and Robin vowed they would be the sisters each had never had. Thirty years later their bond remains strong. International pop star Cecilia lives life on the edge, but when Robin is nearly killed in an accident, she drops everything to be with her.

Robin set aside her career as a successful photojournalist to create the loving family she always yearned for. But now, as she realizes how close she’s come to losing everything, she questions what she really has. Gazing through a wide-angle lens at both past and future she sees that her marriage is disintegrating. Her attorney husband is rarely home, leaving Robin to be both mother and father. She and the children need Kris’s love and attention, but does Kris need them?

When Cecilia asks Robin to be the still photographer for a documentary on foster care, Robin agrees, even though Kris will be forced to take charge for the months she’s away. She gambles that he’ll prove to them both that their children—and their marriage—are a priority in his life.

Cecilia herself needs more than time with her sister. A lifetime of lies has finally caught up with her. She wants a chance to tell the real story of their childhood and free herself from the nightmares that still color her nights.

As the documentary unfolds, memories will be tested and the meaning of family redefined, but the love two young girls forged into bonds of sisterhood will help them move forward as the women they were always meant to be.

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Review

I recently finished reading “When We Were Sisters” by Emilie Richards, a very powerful novel about sisters, family, childhood secrets, forgiveness and love. Powerful enough that I had to take this novel a little slower than most novels.

When I first started this book, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Looking back at that, I think it was my own battles with depression and anxiety that made me feel like that. I get extra anxious when there’s a lot of conflict in my life. There’s a decent amount of conflict at the beginning of the book, especially passive-aggressive conflict which is my least favorite and combining with the anxiety I was already experiencing at that time, it was a little too much for me.

I took a breather for a few weeks, read more, took another breather for a week, and carried that pattern for the rest of the book. It really helped me keep things in perspective and enjoy the book a LOT more.

The characters in this book were fairly well-rounded. At first, they seemed a little chaotic to me. By that I mean that it wasn’t until we got further into the back story that I finally understood some of why Robin and Cecilia (and Kris to a lighter degree) reacted the ways they did, but it wasn’t a necessarily a bad chaotic. I enjoyed seeing the changes that each character underwent as things from the past were revealed and new connections & understandings were made.

The plot moved along at a steady pace. There were a couple of times I felt it was a little slow-moving, but the majority of the book moved at a good rate.

The setting descriptions were the perfect type for me, not too wordy but enough detail so I can see them in my head, from Kris & Robin’s house in Virginia to Cecilia’s early childhood home to the dusty old barn in Florida.

There were several parts of the book that made me tear up and some that made me laugh out loud. There were things that made me angry, really angry and things that made me so happy for the characters.

The only thing that I really didn’t like is that Cecilia goes by CeCe. I absolutely loved “Beaches”, both the book and the movie. I’ve read the book numerous times and I’ve seen the movie even more. To have this CeCe be a singer and actress made it hard for me to keep the two characters separate in my mind. If you’re not a “Beaches” fan (or have never even heard of it!), this little factor won’t color your opinion like it did mine and probably won’t even phase you.

All in all, for the most part, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it highly. I’m happy to see my library has bought a few copies and they’re checked out. But, word to the wise, read it with a box of tissues!

[I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review. My review was not influenced by this, nor was I compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own.]

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Say Nice Things About Detroit – REVIEW

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Say Nice Things About Detroit by Scott Lasser book cover - photo of three neighborhood houses, one with a tree in the front

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Synopsis

Twenty-five years after his high school graduation, David Halpert returns to a place that most people flee. But David is making his own escape—from his divorce and the death of his son. In Detroit, David learns about the double shooting of his high school girlfriend Natalie and her black half-brother, Dirk. As David becomes involved with Natalie’s sister, he will discover that both he and his hometown have reasons to hope.

As compelling an urban portrait as The Wire and a touching love story, Say Nice Things About Detroit takes place in a racially polarized, economically collapsing city that doesn’t seem like a place for rebirth. But as David tries to make sense of the mystery behind Natalie’s death and puts back the pieces of his own life, he is forced to answer a simple question: if you want to go home again, what do you do if home is Detroit?

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Review

Say Nice Things About Detroit by Scott Lasser is a short, but fun novel. I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to like the book because I was thinking it was all set in the City of Detroit and the first part of the book was talking about some of the outlying suburbs, like Birmingham (and for those not from Detroit, anyone here will tell you, Birmingham is not Detroit). However, the more I got into the story, the more I liked it.

While Mr. Lasser didn’t sugar coat the problems that the City of Detroit and its residents are facing, nor did he paint them in a bad light. He stated them objectively and accurately but also made sure to point out some of the nicer aspects of the city. He also weaved the various story lines together quite well and told a convincing story that wasn’t overwhelming in violence.

It was a good hometown read for me. I recommend it if you’re looking for a short read in an urban setting.

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Angelina’s Bachelors – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars

Angelina's Bachelors by Brian O'Reilly book cover - photo of a woman from the neck down dressed in a black dress with an apron and high heeled shoes getting ready to set a table with plates

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Synopsis

Far too young to be a widow, Angelina D’Angelo suddenly finds herself facing a life without her beloved husband, Frank. Late one night shortly after the funeral, she makes her way down to the kitchen and pours all of her grief and anger into the only outlet she has left, her passion for cooking. In a frenzy of concentration and swift precision, she builds layer upon layer of thick, rich lasagna, braids loaves of yeasty bread, roasts, plump herb-rubbed chicken; she makes so much food that she winds up delivering the spoils to the neighbors in her tight-knit Italian community in South Philadelphia.

Retiree Basil Cupertino, who has just moved in with his kindly sister across the street, is positively smitten with Angelina’s food. In a stroke of good fortune, Basil offers Angelina (not only husbandless but unemployed) a job cooking for him, two meals a day, six days a week, in exchange for a handsome salary. Soon, word of her irresistible culinary prowess spreads and she finds herself cooking for seven bachelors, and in the process discovers the magical power of food to heal, to bring people together . . . and maybe even to provide a second chance at love.

Filled to the brim with homemade warmth, Angelina’s Bachelors is a sweet tale of overcoming grief, redefining family, and following your heart, through food.

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Review

Angelina’s Bachelors by Brian O’Reilly is a wonderful debut novel. It’s well-written; the characters are lovable and interesting; and the story line is well-thought and well-executed.

The bachelors that Angelina ends up cooking for are all fascinating and it’s fun to gradually get their back stories as the novel progresses. The level of emotions throughout the book also seemed to fit the circumstances of where they fell in the plot. This book struck the right balance between heavy, emotional reading and light-hearted, carefree reading.

The one thing I did find annoying was that, at least in the copy I read, the recipes for Angelina’s dinners were right in the middle of the story line. It was very annoying to have to keep skipping over three to five pages with the recipes on them just to get back to the story line. It would’ve been much better if the author had put those at the end of the chapter.

All in all, a wonderful debut novel and I would love to read more from this author should he publish more.

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