A Reader Opines: Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney #review #books

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Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney
Expected Publication: November 4th 2014 by NAL
Genre: Women’s Fiction | Contemporary | Mainstream
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
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You could say I’m an epic fail when it comes to reviewing books for Netgalley. Too often I request a book, get approved and end up not reading said book or begin reading and can’t bring myself to finish. It is with a happy heart that I tell you, I requested, was approved and read Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney.

Summary taken from Goodreads:
For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth….

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken away from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways…

Where do I start? There are so many things about this book that I loved that it’s difficult to contain my excitement and give you an unbiased assessment.

Hello From the Gillespies is marketed as a contemporary women’s fiction novel, but in my opinion it leans more toward mainstream simply because it contains the point of view of a man. The majority of the book is told from and relates to the life experiences of women, however the inclusion of Nick Gillespies’ thoughts and experiences adds another dimension to the overall story.

McInerney has expertly weaved a tale of family dynamics and human failings. Using multiple points of view, the story unfolds with eloquence, like a flower emerging from a bud into fullness, each petal contributing to the overall beauty. Plot points and pinch points were revealed with finesse. The major ones were unexpected, but some of the minor ones were easily foreseen.

The characters are credible and flawed. It didn’t take long for me to forget they were characters and see them as living, breathing people. They frustrated me, inspired me, made me laugh and cry but never once did they bore me.

My favorite aspect of this book is the atmosphere. McInerney transports the reader with unobtrusive descriptions, dialogue and internalization. When forced to close the book to attend to real world chores, it took a while to remember my place on earth, like when you move into a new house and you have to adjust to the changes. The Australian Outback clung to me, enticing and seductive.

The only reason I didn’t give this book five stars is because I did anticipate some of the twists. That seems a bit narrow-minded of me, but I’m stingy with those five stars because I’m a writer. It makes one more critical of the stories we read. Don’t let that stop you from reading Hello From the Gillespies. It is manna for book lovers.

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Warrior Wednesday: Marine Sgt. Yadir G. Reynoso #NeverForgotten

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Marine Sgt. Yadir G. Reynoso

Dec. 16, 1976 to Aug. 5, 2004

Photo provided by Elizabeth Reed and Find A Grave.

Photo provided by Elizabeth Reed and Find A Grave.

A one-time high school wrestler whose body was lean and heavily tattooed, Yadir G. Reynoso was anything but dangerous. He would take money out of his pocket to pay the grocery bills of a stranger at the checkout counter. Reynoso, 27, of Wapato, Wash., died Aug. 5 in a firefight with Iraqi insurgents in Najaf. He was based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. “He was the kind of person who loved challenges,” said his sister Patty. “My brother always knew the strength he needed to do anything. He knew he would serve honorably no matter what he did.” Reynoso was an eight-year veteran of the Marine Corps, which he joined shortly after graduating from high school in 1997. At school, he was active in sports, especially the wrestling team. “When he came home after he graduated from boot camp, my mother remembers when he looked in a mirror at himself in his uniform and said, ”I used to be a boy; now I can confirm I’ve become a man,'” Patty Reynoso said.

REYNOSO, YADIR G. (KIA)
Citation:
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Silver Star Medal (Posthumously) to Yadir G. Reynoso, Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy as 3d Squad Leader, 81 millimeter Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, Eleventh Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), I Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 5 August 2004. Ordered to clear a 200-meter section of An Najaf cemetery, Sergeant Reynoso’s squad engaged a reinforced platoon-sized enemy unit at ranges of 10 to 30 meters and was immediately pinned down by a heavy volume of rocket-propelled grenade and AK-47 fire. Sergeant Reynoso responded by throwing a fragmentation grenade that eliminated three insurgents. He then directed the fires of an AT-4 rocket team on a pocket of four insurgents, destroying their position and all personnel. While providing suppressive fire against the enemy to enable his squad to withdraw from its position and maneuver against the enemy, Sergeant Reynoso was mortally wounded. Sergeant Reynoso’s bold leadership, wise judgment, and unyielding dedication to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Home Town: Wapato, Washington
Personal Awards: Silver Star (War on Terrorism), Purple Heart

If any of the information I’ve shared is incorrect or you have something to add, please comment or contact me through the link in the top menu or button on the bottom right of your screen. Verification of facts are always welcome.

The protagonist of my WIP is a physical therapist who works with wounded vets. Through my research I’ve discovered patriots that leave me awe-filled, many of whom gave their life for their country. If I’ve learned only one thing, it is that these soldiers don’t do what they do for notoriety, they love their job, their country and their brothers (and sisters) in arms. I encourage you to do a bit of research on these warriors, but keep in mind that initial media reports often contain unverified information and for security reasons many details of operations are never revealed.

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Halloween Candy for the Troops! @OpGratitude #military

happy-halloween-picTrick or Treat?

So, Halloween is approaching and that means CANDY! If you’re like me you don’t need the extra calories hanging around. Tempting. Tantalizing. Fortunately, there is a way to get rid of the leftovers.

Send Treats to the Troops

If you decide to donate your candy, here are a few important links: Donation Form must be included in each box you send. Follow these shipping guides.

As per Operation Gratitude’s website here are some important “Do’s and Don’ts”!

DO’s:

  • DO ship your candy NO LATER THAN November 15 to:
    Operation Gratitude
    17330 Victory Boulevard
    Van Nuys, CA 91406-5438
    ATTN: Halloween Candy/Angel Cuevas
  • DO separate chocolate and non-chocolate candy.
  • DO include donations of individually-packaged toothbrushes, dental floss and toothpaste — we need to keep smiles on the troops’ faces all shiny, bright and healthy!
  • DO fill out the Donation Form and include the number of pounds of candy, number of toothbrushes, etc., you are shipping.

DON’Ts:

  • DON’T ship the candy to any other Operation Gratitude address than the Victory Boulevard address.
  • DON’T buy candy at the 1/2-off sales the day after Halloween — please consider making a financial donation instead.
  • DON’T use boxes any larger than 24″x 24″x 20,” please.
  • DON’T send Pixy Stix – unfortunately, they make a mess for the troops.

Please ship or deliver your donations by NO LATER THAN NOVEMBER 15. Oh, and consider asking your dentist if he participates in the Halloween Candy Buy Back.

Check out the Operation Gratitude blog for specifics.

Connect with Operation Gratitude:

Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Website | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube | Flickr

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A Reader Opines: Flawless by Jan Moran

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Flawless by Jan Moran
Published: August 2014 by Briarcliffe Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction | Contemporary | Romance
Series: A Hostile Beauty #1
My Rating: 2 of 5 stars

When an author asks me to review their book I’m always flattered. It also takes a bit of the fun out of reading because you really, really want to like the work in which you’ve been entrusted. Flawless is such a book and while I’d like to give it high marks, to remain honest I must say it was just okay.

Summary taken from Goodreads:
Verena Valent is at the helm of her family’s legendary Swiss skincare company, which caters to a glamorous clientele in the heart of Beverly Hills. After her parents are killed in an automobile accident, she becomes the sole provider for her younger twin sisters and her grandmother. Instead of attending college with her friends as planned, she rises to the challenge to guide and expand her family’s business. She is in the midst of a critical international expansion into Asia when her carefully organized life begins to unravel.
Verena is shaken to discover that her fiance, Derrick, who is a venture capitalist, might be behind a scheme to take over her growing company. While she struggles to save the business that means everything to her, she meets Lance, an executive chef at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She encounters this intriguing man again while on a business trip to Paris, and soon gains a new perspective on relationships.
When the unthinkable occurs and Verena’s world collapses, her friends rally around her, among them Scarlett Sandoval, a top intellectual property attorney; Dahlia DuBois, a perfumer from an esteemed line of French perfumers; and Fianna Fitzgerald, a fashion designer with her own trendy boutique.
Ultimately, Verena learns that truth, family, friendship, and love are the unshakable pillars of life. But will she get a second chance in business, or in love?

My knowledge base doesn’t include the beauty industry and I found the passion Verena feels for her family business refreshing. Moran includes details that enhance the dynamics of the trade. However, when it came to the financial and legal jargon my attention wanted to move on to something else. The story is solid, but the plot didn’t unfold organically. The characters didn’t live up to their potential. You like the protagonist, her friends and family and you dislike the antagonist and his minions.

Most people root for the underdog and Verena is certainly that. She had been thrust into the business at a young age, making all the right decisions until we, the reader, begin to bear witness to her life. It takes intelligence, strength and savvy to achieve the success she has. Knowing this made some of her decisions seem out of character, most of them actually.

On the surface, Flawless is detailed to the highest degree. Not only do we get a feel for the physical characteristics of the players and their surroundings, we get detailed descriptions of everything, including the hotel’s wallpaper. If the internalization of the characters had been more detailed it might have made the cause and effect more believable.

Upon reflection, Flawless resembles a puzzle that has been completed, but some of the pieces were forced into places they didn’t quite fit.

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Photography: David Alan Harvey #quote

Orange County wedding photographers
Image courtesy of: SnapKnot – Orange County wedding photographers
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Warrior Wednesday: Maj. Walter David Gray #NeverForgotten

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Major Walter David Gray, US Air Force

Aug. 15, 1973 – Aug. 8, 2012

Photo courtesy of George S. Ellington and Find A Grave

Photo courtesy of George S. Ellington and Find A Grave

Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38, of Conyers, Ga., died Aug. 8 from injuries suffered during a suicide bomb attack in Kunar province, Afghanistan. Gray was assigned to the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Carson, Colo. David was a former enlisted airman who cross-trained to become one of the first air liaison officers in 1997. He was the career field’s second highest-ranking officer after serving for several years as an airfield operations officer. He was known as “a tremendous officer and leader,” Col. Samuel Milam, commander of the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing, said in a statement. Tech. Sgt. Israel Del Toro, a tactical air control party instructor at Joint Base Lackland-San Antonio, said he had known Gray for 12 years, and was an instructor when Gray went through TACP school as an officer. Even though he had been through it before, Del Toro joked with him while he was training with the younger airmen, saying “you better keep up dude.” “He liked to joke around, he was a joker,” Del Toro said. “He was very good for his buddies.” By Brian Everstine – Staff writer, Air Force Times.

Gray was awarded, posthumously the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Love and honor fueled 14 men as they marched 140 miles for one man: Air Force Major Walter David Gray.


If any of the information I’ve shared is incorrect or you have something to add, please comment or contact me through the link in the top menu or button on the bottom right of your screen. Verification of facts are always welcome.

The protagonist of my WIP is a physical therapist who works with wounded vets. Through my research I’ve discovered patriots that leave me awe-filled, many of whom gave their life for their country. If I’ve learned only one thing, it is that these soldiers don’t do what they do for notoriety, they love their job, their country and their brothers (and sisters) in arms. I encourage you to do a bit of research on these warriors, but keep in mind that initial media reports often contain unverified information and for security reasons many details of operations are never revealed.

Have you joined the mailing list for my monthly newsletter? You can opt in here.
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The Columbus Day Controversy: Where Do You Stand?

“This historical record has cast Columbus into the shadow of enormous consequence. Protests at Columbus Day parades, efforts to eliminate him from classroom curricula, and calls for changing the federal holiday have all followed.” Source

What do you think? Should we celebrate Columbus or take steps to set the record straight?

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