BOOK REVIEW (ARC) ~ The Mourning Report

The Mourning Report


Two years after her mother’s death from breast cancer, Caitlin, then 20 years old, was admitted to a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt. There, a therapist diagnosed her with major depression and anxiety, and she spent time as an inpatient.

Years later, still suffering from grief and depression, Caitlin decided to embark on a “grief journey,” interviewing the people involved in her mother’s dying process: a hospice nurse, a priest, an estate planner, a hairstylist, and a funeral director. If she figured out how they could function after being so close to her mother’s death, then maybe she could learn how to navigate her own life.

Each chapter of The Mourning Report is centered on each interview and the memories, anxieties, and reflections that it stimulated. It asks what it means to “move on.”


My thoughts: This book jumps around in time in its telling of the story. Not necessarily a bad thing, just the choice of the writer, Caitlin Garvey, who shares her extremely painful journey watching her mother pass away from cancer. It details her rough time putting her life back together and moving on after the loss; which some may relate to if they’ve lost someone that close to them. For a young woman like her, there could be no one closer, just as it is for most.

I found the book easy to become involved in and feel a part of. I read it in one go, other than being interrupted by a puppy’s mischief a time or three. I needed the breaks, as I’m the emotional type that tends to go through a lot of tissues reading books like this. I found it really moving and heartfelt. I would suggest it for anyone interested in grief, or memoirs. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, the author Caitlin Garvey, and publisher Homebound Publications for my unbiased review.




Publisher:  Homebound Publications – 168 pages
Publication:  Oct 6th, 2020
My rating:   4/5 Stars


The Author– Caitlin Garvey is a Chicago-based writer and English professor. She has an MFA from Northwestern University and an MA in English Literature from DePaul University. Her nonfiction has been nominated for multiple awards, including The Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and has appeared in The Baltimore Review, Post Road Magazine, The Tishman Review, Little Fiction: Big Truths, Matter Press, Ragazine, JuxtaProse, among others.


BOOK REVIEW ~ A Convenient Death

A Convenient Death: The Mysterious Demise of Jeffrey Epstein

Description: A must-read for fans of the Netflix docuseries Filthy Rich: The full investigation of the shocking death of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein and those powerful enough to have orchestrated it.

In A Convenient Death, investigative reporters Alana Goodman and Daniel Halper search for the truth of what really happened to Jeffrey Epstein. With access to Epstein’s victims and lawyers, to doctors, Wall Street insiders and law enforcement officers, they reveal the dirty secrets and sinister ties that may have driven someone in Epstein’s circle to take matters into their own hands.

On the morning of August 10, 2019, Epstein, friend and financier to the rich and powerful, was found unresponsive in his prison cell in lower Manhattan, where he awaited his second trial for sexual predation and other crimes. He was rushed to a local hospital and one hour later pronounced dead by suicide. Across the world, a sinister web of powerful billionaires, celebrities, and politicians, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, had reason to sigh with relief at news of Epstein’s death. Having flown on his private planes and visited his many homes—the sites of so many illicit activities—they had much to lose if their transgressions were ever exposed. And now, Epstein was silenced for good.

But cracks in the official story soon emerged. And the questions kept coming:
·    Why did the surveillance cameras in front of Epstein’s cell stop working that night?
·    Why was Epstein’s cellmate transferred out and never replaced?
·    Why was a high-profile prisoner so suddenly taken off suicide watch and left unguarded for eight hours?

Was Epstein murdered to protect the powerful people who feared what he might reveal? The American public deserves to know the truth. With this book, they can finally understand the facts and decide for themselves.

My Thoughts: I didn’t see the Netflix docuseries, but I sure enjoyed this book. I only vaguely knew the major points of the Epstein story and this book was perfect for filling in the details of the story. It’s so well researched it filled me in perfectly on all the backstory I’ve wondered about. It tells about Epstein’s earlier years, how he got his start, what he does for a living, all of that. It also covers the juicy stuff that’s gotten him in trouble previously when he had to go to court and did a plea deal, and also the more current problems he was again facing that had him in the lockup that he never left.

I don’t know what you will think after reading it, but I don’t believe he committed suicide. I think his important friends weren’t willing to risk him talking. Or playing some blackmail games if the camera stories are true. It’s all moot now, of course…but so much speculating went on for a time. This is certainly a book of the times, and a good one to get your mind off the current Covid-19 stuff for a while. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Alana Goodman & Daniel Halper, and the publisher.



Publisher:   Sentinel – 252 pages
Publication:   June 2nd, 2020P
My rating:   5/5 Stars


The Authors-  Alana Goodman is a senior investigative reporter at the Washington Free Beacon. Previously, she was a reporter at the Washington Examiner and the Daily Mail, where she broke the story of politician Anthony Weiner’s online relationship with a 15-year-old girl. Goodman was named one of Politico’s “16 Breakout Media Stars.” She has appeared on the Fox News Channel, CNN, and C-SPAN.

Daniel Halper is the bestselling author of Clinton, Inc. Previously, he was Washington bureau chief for the New York Post and online editor for the Weekly Standard. Halper has appeared on the Fox News Channel, Fox Business, MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, and numerous radio shows.


BOOK REVIEW ~ Borderline Shine

Borderline Shine: A Memoir of Complex Trauma and Recovery


This book was a fascinating read on the subject of trauma and family issues. It follows the life of author Connie Greshner after her family goes through extreme trauma in early days, and how it affected her as she went along with her life afterward. It seemed to affect every part of her life, from friendships, relationships with family and men, and even her education and sobriety. I found it very readable, as she kept struggling along, trying to find her way through. There would be periods of great progress and then a relationship breakup might throw her into a tailspin and a total reversal for a time.

This memoir is quite an amazing road to recovery for those who like that type of memoir, you might want to check it out. I found the last quarter particularly well done. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Connie Greshner, and the publisher.




The publisher: Dundurn Press – 240 pages
Publication: Feb 15th, 2020 for Kindle edition and Mar 10 for paperback.
My rating: 5/5 Stars

The Author- Connie Greshner is a mental health therapist who works with people who often have complex trauma. She has always been a writer, an artist, and a lover of nature. She lives with her family on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

BOOK REVIEW ~Red River Girl

Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine


This is author Joanna Jolly’s debut book on the death of Tina Fontaine. Tina was a Canadian girl, one of a number of aboriginal females who had gone missing and later turned up dead in the Red River. It’s written about as part of a larger problem of sexual exploitation with so many aboriginal young females. But the focus is on this girl for the purposes of this book. There is a lot of pressure for the police to make some progress in the case, and it continues to grow. There are several suspects, and they are careful to take the time to rule them out correctly before focusing on the final one. All of that takes time. The final suspect turns out to be very slippery, and they have to go above and beyond to convince themselves and the Crown that it’s the correct person.

I found this to be an engaging true story of Tina Fontaine’s life and tragic killing. She was just beginning to test her wings in a larger city, and when allowed a bit of freedom took too much and got in over her head. I’d recommend it for true crime readers. It held my interest quite well, and I’d recommend it. A good first effort for Ms. Jolly. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Joanna Jolly, and the publisher.




Publisher: Viking – 320 pages
Published: Aug 27th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author- JOANNA JOLLY is an award-winning BBC reporter based in London. She began her journalism career at the Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun, moving on from there to freelance in India and Australia before covering the fight for independence in East Timor. During the past decade, she’s worked as a BBC producer and reporter in Jerusalem, South Africa, Brussels, Washington, and India as well as spending two years as the BBC correspondent in Kathmandu, Nepal. During that time Jolly specialised in stories of sexual violence against women. Jolly has won several awards, including the 2007 BBC Onassis Bursary. In 2015, she won the Association of International Broadcaster’s best current affairs documentary award for her in-depth look at the prosecution of rape in India. Red River Girl is her first book.

When You Find My Body

When You Find My Body: The Disappearance of Geraldine Largay on the Appalachian Trail


Gerry Largay had a dream to hike the Appalachian Trail and at age sixty-six she was thrilled to finally be doing it. She’d started out hiking with her good friend Jane Lee, and Gerry’s husband George served as support crew. Part way through the journey Jane had a family emergency and had to return home. Gerry decided to hike on alone. She and George met and made friends with many hikers along the way, as George dropped her off and hiked in part way with her some mornings, and drove ahead to the next crossroad meeting spot then hiked in and met her.

Then, there was the fateful day when Geraldine became lost along the trail and everything changed.

I found this to be a very well written book and a very good read. Readers of Strayed’s ‘WILD’ would likely enjoy it, but the sad ending is obviously there. The book showed a great deal of research was involved and that made it very interesting to me, as I am happy as long as I’m learning new things. This had plenty of that in it on many subjects. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author D. Dauphinee, and the publisher.



Publisher: Down East Books – 240 pages
Publication: June 1st, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author- D. Dauphinee has been a mountaineering, fly fishing, and back-country guide for over thirty years and has participated with several search & rescue organizations. He has led many expeditions, including mountain, jungle, or desert treks on four continents. Twice he orienteered (without the benefit of a GPS) across the Isthmus of Panama, he has four first-ascents on mountains, has hiked the Negev Desert at its widest part, and has climbed above 20,000 feet thirteen times.

Blissfully Blended Bullshit

This is a humorous book written by Rebecca Eckler about when she got began dating after her divorce and met a guy. Things progressed quickly and before they knew it they were love, she was expecting and they were moving in together. She decided to write about her experience with blended families. She was surprised at how many people it actually affected, how nerved up she was when it took place, and how much crap her guy showed up with!


She has a great, irreverent way of recounting how it all went down that I enjoyed. Especially her take on her guy’s ex when her shrink suggested that she call his ex up and let her know that: 1. she’s pregnant, and 2. he’s moving in with her so her (his ex’s) two kids will be living at her place 50% of the time in the near future. Ballsy move.  And not well accepted either. This one is for humorous memoir lovers. A fairly quick read that was eye-opening and fun in places, sad in others and pointed throughout. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Rebecca Eckler, and the publisher.




Publisher: Dundurn – 216 pages
Pages: May 25th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Rebecca Eckler is a journalist, columnist, blogger, and bestselling author of nine books, including Knocked Up: Confessions of a Modern Mother-to-be. Eckler is also the executive editor of, Canada’s largest parenting website. She lives in Toronto.

Blonde Rattlesnake

Blonde Rattlesnake: Burmah Adams, Tom White, and the 1933 Crime Spree that Terrorized Los Angeles

This turned out to be an interesting read about a media-heavy story back in the nineteen thirties about a five-days married couple, Burmah Adam White and Tom White, who were tracked down by law enforcement after a crime spree in Los Angeles that really had people on edge. They’d met at a dance, and had a rather whirlwind courtship of only a couple of weeks that coincided with the crime spree. It’s no surprise her family wasn’t a fan of the match, especially her dad, who really tried to talk her out of it. But she was having none of it, being a headstrong nineteen-year-old.

To the bride’s surprise, the groom turned out not to be a stockbroker with family wealth. He’s a stick-up man who used her as his driver and lookout person, and now she’s in all kinds of trouble sitting in jail awaiting her trial. Tom got the easy way out in a pine box after a shootout with the cops, so she’s also quickly a widow too.

I kind of felt they had to pad this story a bit to get enough for a book out of it by going off on tangents at times, like there wasn’t enough information on the subjects themselves and the trial, etc. But since I wanted to read the story I stuck with it. It still makes for a decent read if you like historical true crime from this period, the Depression era. I really enjoyed the pictures that are included too.  Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Julia Bricklin, and Lyons Press.




Publisher: Lyons Press – 200 pages
Publication: June 1st, 2019
RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

The Author– Julia Bricklin is the author of Polly Pry: The Woman Who Wrote the West (2018, TwoDot) and numerous articles for commercial and academic journals and magazines. In addition to serving as associate editor of California History, the publication of the California Historical Society, she is a professor of history at Glendale Community College. Bricklin’s interest in historical figures of the American West stems from her extensive collection of books, and from decades of watching spaghetti Westerns with her father. She lives in Studio City, California.

 Book Spotlight

My thanks to Shalini and Digital Reads Blog Tours


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Mistaken Identity Crisis


A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case from shortly before Gabriel vanished one stormy night. When a missing ruby is discovered near an electrified dead body during the campus cable car redesign project, Kellan must investigate the real killer in order to protect his brother. Amidst sorority hazing practices and the victim’s connections to several prominent Wharton County citizens, a malicious motive becomes more obvious and trickier to prove.

As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton? The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized, and if he wants to move forward, he’ll have to make a few ruthless sacrifices.

Election Day is over, and the new mayor takes office. Nana D celebrates her 75th birthday with an adventure. A double wedding occurs at Crilly Lake on Independence Day. And Kellan receives a few more surprises as the summer heat begins to settle in Wharton County.


Status: Available for pre-order now
Series: Braxton Campus Mysteries #4
Publisher: Creativia
Publication Date: 6/30/2019
Page Count: ~260




About the Author

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun!



List of Books

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)


Websites & Blog





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Paw Prints

Paw Prints

This is the sweetest little sentimental farewell book to a younger dog that’s being missed by its loving owner who wants to celebrate its all-too-brief yet meaningful life. Touching, and the illustrations grew on me, with all the cute activity it was showing. Short but sweet, it won me over.  Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Morgan J Muir, and the publisher.

Publisher: BooksGoSocial
Illustrator: Sava Andreea
Published: April 10th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars

The Author- Morgan J Muir lives in Utah with her fantastic husband, three offspring, and as many cats.



A Hero on Mount St. Helens

A Hero on Mount St. Helens: The Life and Legacy of David A. Johnston

A very good account of the events at Mount St. Helens, Washington at and around the time of it blowing up back in mid-May 1980. But more than that it tells about a volcanologist who lost his life while doing his job. Much of what was learned by him and others after the event helped a great deal since then in the amount of knowledge going forward. The team of scientists that were conducting scientific research at the closest camp to the volcano, Coldwater II, were sent back to Vancouver for the night, while David remained behind. He was serving watch in his assistant’s place, sending him away after 2 weeks of his being on site. David was scheduled to be relieved the next morning. He got up at dawn and radioed into Vancouver just before 7 a.m. on the 18th with the results of three laser measurements he’d taken earlier. He reported the weather as very nice, perfectly clear, temperature about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (ten degrees Celcius). At 8:32 a.m. (PDT), a 5.1 magnitude earthquake caused the bulge on the north face of the mountain to give way and the largest landslide in recorded history sped down its flank. Just before it hit, David managed one final radio message, “Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it!” He was 30 years and 5 months old, to the day.




This wasn’t an excessively long story, it was just about right, giving background on David and his family as he grew up in Illinois. Very well written as it blends in facts about a deadly tornado early in Dave’s life…shaping him and leaning him toward a career in photojournalism. Then he got to college, with the Vietnam war going on and two of his early school buddies already on their way there. Dave took a geology class almost randomly and it changed his entire future when he found he was crazy about it and eventually changed his major. This ended up adding four more years to his college years, making a total of eleven. Partway through, this book became emotional for me as often happens. But it’s a really good story for those who enjoy science type memoirs. My parents traveled out west sometime after this event happened, and brought me back some of the ash. They went to where the lake used to be and talked about an abandoned truck that was still around somewhere. You could tell it had really made an impression on them, seeing the after effects. I highly recommend this book for those that have any interest. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Melanie Holmes, and the publisher for my fair review.

Publisher: University of Illinois Press – 216 pages
Publication: May 16th, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars

The Author- Melanie Holmes is the author of The Female Assumption, recipient of a 2014 Global Media Award from the Population Institute.