June book previews: Lot Stories by Bryan Washington and Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Here are two books that have settled into a place on my coffee table. They have been patiently calling to me and I am determined to read them in June.

Lot Stories by Bryan Washington

A collection of 13 short stories set in the city of Houston, Texas. Told mainly by the son of a black mother and a Latino father, a young man who is just beginning to figure out who he is. “Bryan Washington’s brilliant, viscerally drawn world vibrates with energy, wit, and the infinite longing of people searching for home.” Because I like short fiction, I’m already drawn to this collection. I like that the stories are integrated and think I will enjoy this debut.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

I don’t know how best to describe this debut novel except to share parts of the inside jacket description:

“A literary courtroom thriller about an immigrant family and a young single mother accused of killing her autistic son…”

The book takes place in rural Miracle Creek, Virginia and is about “an experimental medical treatment device called the Miracle Submarine. A pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic ‘dives,’ it’s also a repository of hopes and dreams…” During treatment, the oxygen chamber explodes and kills two people and these events lead to a murder trial.

I haven’t read a courtroom thriller in a long time, so I’m looking forward to what sounds like a unique story!

Do these books interest you? What is next on your list?

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Who’s That Indie Author? James J. Cudney


Author name:  James J. Cudney (Jay)

Genre:  Adult / Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Mystery & Suspense

Books:  Watching Glass Shatter (2017), Father Figure (2018)

Bio:  James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City. I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time.

My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, is an emotional rollercoaster about a family full of secrets. When the patriarch dies in a car accident, his widow Olivia, and their five adult sons must learn how to re-connect, except all the secrets stand in the way. It’s full of humor and tears, but you will find a whole new family to love when you take this book on.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Being able to create characters and a plot that truly bring emotions to a reader, whether it’s tears, laughter, inspiration or fear. Knowing that I can share an idea that’s in my head, and seeing how it materializes for each distinct reader, brings me immense joy.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Convincing people to take a chance on reading your work when there are so many talented authors in the world. I try to build relationships rather than just ask someone to read my book; my available time becomes a challenge as building connections doesn’t happen overnight. I am committed to finding success by always being honest and sharing who I am, connecting with my readers as much as possible.

Favorite book:  It changes, but right now, Ken Follett’s Night Over Water

Contact Information:
Author Site:  jamesjcudney.com
Blog:  thisismytruthnow.com
Amazon Author Page:  James J. Cudney
Goodreads Author Page:  James J. Cudney

Awards/special recognition:  As an October 2017 debut author, I am just submitting my work for contests and awards. My book was written in for the Goodreads Debut Author Choice Awards by over a hundred people, which was heartwarming humbling. I hope to make a huge splash in 2018 as I begin marketing the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, and publish the second one, Father Figure.

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

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Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

reconstructing amelia
Reconstructing Amelia

Kimberly McCreight


“If you think you know what your teenagers are doing on social media, you’d better think again.”  That’s what Kate Baron might have said in the end, long after her daughter Amelia’s shocking death and the investigation that followed.  Kate’s discoveries of the cyber circles in which Amelia had become entangled reveal a world Kate could have never imagined, full of cliques, vicious gossip, exclusive clubs and secret initiations.

Reconstructing Amelia is Kimberly McCreight’s debut novel about the secret life of teenagers at Grace Hall, an elite private school in Brooklyn.  Her story begins on the day of Amelia’s death and continues through the months that follow while Kate tries to understand what happened to the girl she thought she knew.

Kate already knows that something is wrong when she’s called out of an important meeting at work to retrieve her daughter.  Amelia, a gifted high school student and talented athlete, has been suspended for cheating, effective immediately.  As she rushes to the school to pick up her daughter, Kate braces herself for a meeting with Amelia and the headmaster.  But there will be no meeting because Amelia, she is carefully told, has fallen off the roof of the building.

Amelia’s death is ruled an “impulsive suicide” and, just as Kate begins to face her new reality, she receives an anonymous text:  “Amelia didn’t jump.”

Kate knows in her heart these words are true and, with the help of a police detective, she immerses herself in her daughter’s secret internet life.  They pore over emails, Facebook posts, and text messages and try to piece together the events that led to Amelia’s death.  In addition, a snarky gossip blog and a pile of hate notes hint at bullying and secret clubs.  But who is responsible?

In some ways, Reconstructing Amelia is a coming-of age-story, for both mother and daughter.  In the weeks before her death, Amelia faces many decisions about friendship, love and fitting into a world she is just beginning to understand.  And in the months after her death, Kate must make peace with her own decisions and move forward.

McCreight builds a suspenseful story on an interesting premise and I enjoyed reading this fast-paced story because of its many twists and turns.  Readers may become frustrated, however, with partially-developed leads and an overabundance of questionable character motives that muddle up the storyline without purpose.  Equally frustrating are a good number of typos and grammar errors, taking away from the reading experience.

That said, I liked the book for its ideas and pace, making it a light, entertaining read.

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