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review 2017-05-30 09:35
Trophy Son
Trophy Son - Douglas Brunt

By:  Douglas Brunt

ISBN:9781250114808

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: 5/30/2017

Format:  Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

From the author of The Means and Ghosts of Manhattan Douglas Brunt turns to the world of sports with this latest: TROPHY SON – a compelling yet haunting glimpse into the lives of professional athletes; the burdens and sacrifices they bear.

 

Written with an insider knowledge of the tennis circuit, TROPHY SON explores a young man striving to find balance in his life, navigating moral compromises, performance-enhancing drugs, and the elusive lure of wealth and celebrity.

From Wimbledon and the U.S. Open to the off-court life of elite players, Anton finds exhilarating highs and desolate lows as he searches for an identity apart from his achievements.

Anton Stratis, a tennis prodigy whose childhood is stripped away by an ambitious obsessive father who nurtures talent and resentment in his son.

“A tennis racket lurks in my earliest memories like a sick relative who had come to live with us . . . I had no sensation of milestones and the power to value a moment was never granted to me. My parents had the plan for my life from the moment my mother tested positive with me. . . “

The hard turn: When Anton was pushed to leave school after the eighth grade to play tennis full time and study some with a traveling tutor.

“I know I was born and I know that I’ll die. The in between is mine. “ – Eddie Vedder

Tennis prodigy Anton Stratis is the son of Pennslyvania parents- two former Olympic athletes. His dad obsessed beyond control is determined to make his son a star.

Anton’s parents met in the early eighties. She was an Olympic downhill skier. He an Olympic swimmer. His mom, a natural athlete. Not as intense as his dad.

In the average day he would spend seven hours on the court with this dad blasting tennis balls from a machine, then strategy, watch game film and train with weights. Then in the winter, they would rent a place in Florida with tennis courts to do the same year-round.

His dad, was a retired hedge fund manager and now his number one focus was his son’s game. By the time Anton was fourteen he was good enough to beat the crap out of decent college player— and his dad scouted out the places.

His dad taught him how to approach the court, taunt the players, bait them and then bait them into putting money on the line.

“A friendly game will ruin you. Play with adversity, with animosity. No friendly games.”

With all the drilling, this meant no friends. No normal childhood.

Tennis was about only hate and suffering.

 

 

 



Anton grew to despise the game.

His dad saw in him what he did not see in his (three years older) brother Panos. He thought Anton could handle the hate. He took the punishment and by twelve he had used it to become an elite junior player. By the age of fourteen, he was on the Penn campus to humiliate a Divison I college player.

Panos drove a Porsche 911 that cost their dad less than his tennis travel each year, so that was supposed to the balance. He liked his brother. They watched out for one another the best they could.

His dad never let anyone come to like him. He was trapped. His dad was ruthless. Obsessive. He even withheld water during the heat of the summer. Torture. There were no water breaks.

There was the beat me, love me. Over and over.

His dad would not tolerate slacking off, complaints, and no talking back. No kid stuff. He would not allow the expression of rage from Anton. His dad was his trainer and coach.

Through the torment, and grueling practice he developed a toughness, a knowledge that no opponent across the net could fathom his training, but it was all built on hate.

The only light he had was reading. If he could not go anywhere physically, he could take the journey with a book. From Hemingway, Faulkner, John Irving, Nelson DeMille, Dickens. Anton loved Dickens. Unfairness, unhappiness, suffering, heroes and villains—glimmers of hope at love and a way out. David Copperfield – the idea of being the hero of your own life.

The mandate was to succeed, win tournaments, be the best. But being the number one tennis player did not make Anton the hero of his own life. It made him the hero of someone else’s life.

“Being the hero of my own life is about something else, something internal. It’s about who has their hands on the steering wheel that’s inside me. It needed to be me and it never was then, and I didn’t understand that until much later.”

His game was not like Agassi, Rafter, McEnroe, Federer; however, he liked them. His game was more like Marat Safin. His dad said he was unique.

There would be no distractions from girls, friends, or outside influences. He did what he was supposed to do.

His whole world was small. The only thing of value was winning at tennis and losing was Armageddon. Losing was trauma. His dad was more invested in tennis that Anton. A loss to an inferior player would not be tolerated.

“Some parents feel their position of unconditional love permits unfettered abuse. They can rationalize self-forgiveness for harsh treatment because parenting is an obligation and only the parent can do certain things. . . “

From triumphs, failures, to the highs and lows. The dramatic rise through the intensely competitive world of professional tennis. From abuse and performance-enhancing drugs pushed by a domineering obsessive father pushing a son to exceed at the expense of his own happiness.

The author pulls the reader into a world filled with conflicts and struggles of a young boy, through his teenage years to adulthood, the pro-circuit and Wimbledon. A strife for happiness, self-fulfillment, and pressure to succeed.

Some may find some similarities with Stratis’s father resembling Andre Agassi’s, an overbearing former Olympic athlete and immigrant.

As in Open (highly recommend) his autobiography— Agassi reveals off the court he was often unhappy and confused, unfulfilled by his great achievements in a sport he had come to resent.

From the author:

“Trophy Son” was inspired by how childhood sports have changed since his youth to become highly specialized and competitive, as the pressures on athletes trickle down from colleges to high school to youth sports, adding incentives for them to try performance-enhancing drugs.



An engrossing tale for anyone who loves the game of tennis, and a cautionary tale for parents who utilize pressures and tactics to push a child in our overly social and achievement-obsessed society of perfectionism. Well done!

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for an early reading copy. Cover Love.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

 

About the Author 

 

 

Douglas Brunt is the author of the New York Times bestseller Ghosts of Manhattan and The Means. A Philadelphia native, he lives in New York with his wife and their three children.


Until 2011, Douglas Brunt was CEO of Authentium, Inc., an Internet security company. He now writes full time and is currently working on his fourth novel. 


Doug’s new novel will be released on May 30th, and is available for pre-order now.  Read More 



A NOTE FROM DOUG BRUNT

The first thing I do after I’ve finished reading a novel is to flip back to the beginning and read the author’s first sentence again.

 

All novelists try to set the trajectory for the book with the first paragraphs of the first chapter. As a novelist myself, I love the opportunity to write that first sentence.

Once readers of my books have completed the journey with me, if they come back around to re-read the first sentence, they should have a greater understanding of it.

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/11/06/Trophy-Son
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-28 22:47
Book review : Daughter of smoke and bone lanini Taylor
Daughter of Smoke & Bone - Laini Taylor

My review from 2014

 

 

April 8- May 23

Summary -Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?




Review - Karou lives two lives she's a teenager that lives in Prague and has sketchbooks filled with different creatures and the other life where those monsters are actually real she is the errand girl to the chimera a man monster named Brimstone and it involves teeth Brimstone has teeth Karou doesn't know what is with the teeth and where the shop really is he says it is in Elsewhere . other characters that I loved are zuzana is karou's best friend . then we meet Ackiva who is an angel with vengeance for the chimera he and the rest of the angels are putting black handprints on portals when Ackiva and Kauro meet he tries to kill her and then stops Karou gets away and gets back to the portal she sees the door that has always been closed open and goes in and brimstone is there and this other creatures he throws her out goes home and she tells zuzanna and she believes her when kishmish is flying dead into her hands and the portal is gone. ackiva wants to know who Karou is and when he finds her Karou bares her hamsas and hurts him they go to talking and then something happens she starts to feel for him and when he notices her wishbone necklace and he says he knows who she is then his angel family appears he tells her to run and ackiva tells them that he fell for a chimera and they left . before I get into something big that I was not expecting I want to talk about the wishes so the wishes comes from pain scuppies are not that bad but bigger it's worse and Brimstone said hope is bigger than wishes . so when they break the wishbone it goes back to madrill I knew of her because she was akiva's love and she died but this was like the biggest thing I liked hearing all the stuff but when Mad is sentenced to death for being an angel lover that's when resurrection comes into play so apparently when you die you can take the soul and put it in another body and that's what happened to hide Mad from thiago the white wolf Brimstone put her as Karou WHAT! I didn't see that coming and the ending there all dead I loved this book so much I recommend it .

Favorite quotes Who are you ? he asked she almost didn't recognize the language he spoke as chimera so soft on his tongue don't you usually find that out before you kill someone.

Daughter of smoke and bone by lani Taylor

You haven't come up here before ? He asked she turned to him oh yes I bring all the boys up here . And if they don't meet your approval he said you can always push them off. Page 218

Fiala would so eat her words . You should bring him in to model on monday . Right said Karou I'm sure he wouldn't mind stripping for a bunch of humans disrobing said zuzanna ,prim .For art page 236


It's a wishbone , she told him , holding it out . you hook your finger around the spur , like this , and we each make a wish and pull. whoever gets the bigger piece gets their wish. Magic ? akiva had asked . what bird does this come from that it's bones are magic . oh it's not magic . The wishes don't really come true then why do it ? she shrugged . Hope ? hope can be a powerful force . Maybe they're no actual magic in it , but when you know what you hope for the most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen , almost like magic . Page 288
 

 

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review 2017-05-28 04:43
I Am Death
I Am Death (A Robert Hunter Thriller) - Chris Carter

Robert Hunter #7

By: Chris Carter

ISBN: 9781476765716

Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler 

Publication Date: 5/30/2017 

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

Mastermind Chris Carter returns following An Evil Mind with I AM DEATH –a terrifying, dark, intense, and twisted psychological crime thriller, featuring Robert Hunter front and center in a suspense cat-and-mouse "mind-blowing" chase.

For those who enjoy twisty, smart, edgy, intelligent, gruesome, and very dark psycho-thrillers!

Detective Robert Hunter of the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division grew up as an only child to working class parents in an underprivileged neighborhood of South Los Angeles. His mother lost her battle with cancer when he was only seven and his father never remarried and had to take on two jobs to cope with the demands of raising a child.

He was different. He got bored easily and made his way quickly through school- At the age of twelve Hunter was given a scholarship to the Mirman School for Highly Gifted Children. Only the beginning, making his way to Stanford University. At nineteen he had graduated with a degree in psychology and at twenty-three received his Ph.D. in criminal behavior analysis and biopsychology.

For years the FBI had made attempts to recruit Hunter. Hunter would rather be a detective with the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division than join the most advanced serial killer—tracking force in the US, and even, the world. however, Hunter would rather be a detective with the local police force than join the most advanced serial-killer tracking task force in the USA. He had continued to decline every offer by Kennedy.

In other words, he is brilliant!

Hunter did not have a family and was not married. No kids. An insomniac. His partner of six years, Detective Carlos Garcia was also his best friend. They headed up a specialized group where all the homicides were overwhelming brutality and or sadism had been used by the perpetrator and tagged by the department as UV crimes.

A young woman about to start her second year of law school at Cal State was found by the LA airport and left in a position of a five-point human star. (A protection against evil)? A symbol that has been associated with evil and devil worshipping.

Nichole Wilson from Indiana and was abducted while babysitting for a wealthy couple. Grisly details. A tube of paper. Lacerations; no two the exact same size. Tortured. Violated. Whipped. Two different instruments. Like cutting brushstrokes onto a canvas. Blood inside the brain. A sadistic killer. A note from the killer in blood, I AM DEATH.

The killer had tortured her for almost six days. They had never come across a killer with this level of confidence.

Hunter knew this meant one thing. He did it for one reason. To let everyone know that this wouldn’t end here. A huge ego. Confident. Intelligent. Knowledgeable. Meticulous. He wanted the body found and the note.

Perpetrators who place their victims’ bodies in specific positions or shapes, with the intention of them being found that way are very particular about every detail.

The abduction, the torturing, the killing, the positioning and disposal of the body and the note. Tremendous detail. He wants them to know how good he is. Did the killer make the call?

Nichole Wilson was only the beginning.

From a flight attendant’s corpse to a kidnapped eleven-year-old boy renamed Squirm. A system that failed him. A serial killer. From taunting notes, photographs, to messages from a monster, a fast-paced action-fueled—terrifying sadistic game. A clue to a double meaning.

Gross, dark, gruesome, bloody, chilling, and brilliantly crafted. As always Chris Carter draws on his personal experience and a pro at creating the most heinous and intelligent of evil psychological crime thrillers. He knows monsters.

An unpredictable twist at the end wraps up another winner by Carter!

A special thank you to Atria and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

 


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/11/03/I-Am-Death
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review 2017-05-27 10:02
In This Moment
In This Moment: A Novel - Karma Brown

By: Karma Brown 

ISBN: 978-0778329916

Publisher: Park Row Books 

Publication Date: 5/30/2017 

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

Bestselling author Karma Brown returns following The Choices We Make (2016) with an with an equally moving, emotional and riveting follow-up.

IN THIS MOMENT a woman struggles with complexities of tragedy, guilt, and secrets as her life unravel along with those around her.

Meg Pepper is a wife and mom with a real estate career. Married to Ryan, a physician. Daughter Aubrey age fifteen (boyfriend Sam Beckett).

Meg and Aubrey are running late for a dentist appointment and Meg is picking up her daughter at school. She is struggling to balance family and career and has not been completely honest about an event in her past.

They notice Jack (Sam’s twin brother) on the side of the road attempting to get across. His mom is a financial whiz and works at one of Boston’s private equity firms. The boy’s dad Andrew is a stay at home dad, having left a journalism career when the twin boys were born.

Jack has his skateboard on the curb’s edge in one hand waiting for the car coming toward their car to pass so he can cross. His friends are on the other side waiting. Aubrey tells her mom they should let him cross. She waves him across. A life-changing split-second choice.

However, just as she does so, the unthinkable happens. Jack’s body smashes into the windshield of the other car which came out of nowhere, too fast. Aubrey and Meg are mortified. How did this happen?

Sarah Dunn, Audrey and Jack’s history teacher was texting and had to stop too quickly.

However, it is Meg’s guilt, which haunts her.

She was the one who deemed it a safe crossing for this innocent and clearly vulnerable teenager now lying in the road with an injury that will forever change his life. How could she have let the boy cross the street?

The accident turns into a nightmare for all concerned.

Meg is suddenly slammed with a memory from when she was sixteen; from a terrible night where another teen lay bleeding and broken on a road in front of her. She has worked hard not to think about that night because she cannot breathe around her guilt when she does so. But just like that, it was back and she was left sucking in air around the heaviness of the memory—

And like the part she played on that night so long ago, she was the reason Jack Beckett cross the road when he did. It is her fault. With a simple careless wave of her hand, she did this.

Soon they are at the hospital and she faces the family. With her daughter dating the brother, and even though the family may not be close friends they know one another through their children.

Meg becomes overwhelmed with guilt. Her family and Jack and Sam’s family torn apart. Meg becomes close to Andrew as her terrifying dreams continue. The past and present collide. She is thinking about Paige. Her friend from the past. Her face haunts her.

It has been twenty-eight years since that horrible night. Now the dreams surface again. Two days after Ryan slid the engagement ring on her finger. Only a week after her twenty-fifth birthday, when she learned her mom had cancer. Ryan in pre-med. A woman who had to grow up too fast. A sister who had to take care of her little brother and her dad.

Meg throws herself into helping the family and drawing closer to Andrew. Shutting out her own family in the process, especially her own husband. He knows the truth about the accident long ago, but he has never understood why she holds herself responsible. She carries it inside. She is spiraling out of control.

Andrew turns to Meg for support, and the two bond over the tragedy, putting at risk her marriage, family and her own moral compass.

Will these two families ever be the same?

As the past secrets and guilt collide with the present, Meg is at her breaking point. Emotional and heartbreaking, a picture-perfect life comes shattering apart in the blink of an eye. A wife and mother striving for perfection and balance with personal, career, and family.

She is searching for answers yet she cannot trust herself, to be honest through her grief with the weight from the accident of long ago and the one in the present.

Once again, Brown delves deep, exploring the intense emotions and pressure of guilt, grief, parenting, marriage, accountability, and responsibility. However, in the end, family comes first and that has to take top priority. If we let that slide, all will begin to unravel.

Brown has proven herself a strong voice representing the trials of the modern-day contemporary woman. I enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the novel. Publishers Weekly interview. Spotlight on Karma Brown.

A cautionary tale. This scenario could happen to anyone. My heart went out to Meg and the author does an exceptional job with the character development.

If you have read Karma’s previous books, she has a way with domestic suspense, tragedy, emotion, grief and aftermath – which hits on every cylinder. She holds nothing back and you get inside her character’s heads. You feel the emotions. Their desperation. Their vulnerabilities. The character’s emotions are real, heartbreaking, raw, and painful.

The past tragedy and present storyline enhanced the overall tension and suspense, keeping you glued to the pages while demonstrating how guilt can hold you down and shape your life years later.

For today’s contemporary woman who sometimes strives too hard to be perfect. Thought-provoking in our fast and furious world today. Learning to forgive yourself in order to move on with your life.

For fans of Amy Hatvany, Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain, Liane Moriarty, Karen White, Heather Gudenkauf, Sarah Pekkanen, and T. Greenwood.

Highly recommend!

A special thank you to Park Row Books and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

 



On a side note: This road crossing fiasco is a real problem here. I walk everywhere in the downtown urban area of West Palm Beach and there are two major crossings which are quite busy from my apartment. A crossing with four busy lanes to the market and shops and no way around it. The only route. Many times a car in one lane will stop to allow you to pass, at the crossing (no light here).

However, you cannot trust this, just as the book outlines— because the person in the other lane may not stop and the speed here is very fast. This is quite dangerous since a large number of elderly seniors live downtown, and walk to the store along this route. They are already quite unsteady in their walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters. I cringe each time I see this happen, holding my breath.

These elderly folks are like in their late 70s-90s and still trying to live independently in this crazy screwed up health care system of ours, which offer little or no support for long-term skilled nursing. (many of them living in my building).

When this happens to me, I motion for the car to pass along. Nice for them to make the gesture; however, a risk as the author outlines. Too much room for error when you cannot judge if the car in the other lanes will stop. In addition, we soon will have a train going 80mph at this same intersection with the station located here, with 40 stops a day coming mid-summer, so let’s hope they build an overpass or some alternative for all the S. Florida seniors. (myself included since I fall into this newfound category).

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/02/02/In-This-Moment
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-25 08:38
Book Review : The Raven king Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, Book 4) - Maggie Stiefvater

April 26- May 21 All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore. Review : The final book in the raven cycle I loved it one of my favorite Series . Gansey knows he's going to die . Cabeswater is having problems Noah almost killed Blue . The Character Henry I didn't like him at first but he grew on me he's an odd character . Blue and Gansey at the toga party was funny . Gansey tells Adam and Ronan about him and Blue I'm glad he did so they can be open with each other . Ronan's dream person came out Orphan girl . OH my god Ronan kissed Adam I'm so freaking happy for them and Adam kissed him back ahhhhhhh . They found Gledower and he's just dead that was disapointing there is this demon they have to get rid of . Gansey goes to the place where he dies and Blue kisses him and he dies but Cabeswater brings him back . Noah finally moves on I cried I loved this book I cried I laughed this series is one of my favorites I loved the characters and the storyline .

Quotes:

“His feelings for Adam were an oil spill; he'd let them overflow and now there wasn't a damn place in the ocean that wouldn't catch fire if he dropped a match.” 
 
When Adam kissed him, it was every mile per hour Ronan had ever gone over the speed limit. It was every window-down, goose-bumps-on-skin, teeth-chattering-cold night drive. It was Adam’s ribs under Ronan’s hands and Adam’s mouth on his mouth, again and again and again. It was stubble on his lips and Ronan having to stop, to get his breath, to restart his heart. They were both hungry animals, but Adam had been starving for far longer.”
 
 
No homework. I got suspended,” Blue replied.
“Get the fuck out,” Ronan said, but with admiration. “Sargent, you asshole
 
You're asking me to define an abstract concept that no one has managed to explain since time began. You sort of sprang it on me," Gansey said. "Why do we breathe air? Because we love air? Because we don't want to suffocate. Why do we eat? Because we don't want to starve. How do I know I love her? Because I can sleep after I talk to her. Why?” 
 
 
Trees in your eyes ... Stars in your heart.”
 
“It'll be OK. I'm ready. Blue, kiss me.” 
 
He wordlessly crossed the floor and sat beside Adam on the mattress. When he held out his hand, Adam put the model into it.
“This old thing,” Ronan said. He turned the front tyre, and again the music played out of it. They sat like that for a few minutes, as Ronan examined the car and turned each wheel to play a different tune. Adam watched how intently Ronan studied the seams, his eyelashes low over his light eyes. Ronan let out a breath, put the model down on the bed beside him, and kissed Adam.
Once, when Adam had still lived in the trailer park, he had been pushing the lawn mower around the scraggly side yard when he realized that it was raining a mile away. He could smell it, the earthy scent of rain on dirt, but also the electric, restless smell of ozone. And he could see it: a hazy gray sheet of water blocking his view of the mountains. He could track the line of rain travelling across the vast dry field towards him. It was heavy and dark, and he knew he would get drenched if he stayed outside. It was coming from so far away that he had plenty of time to put the mower away and get under cover. Instead, though, he just stood there and watched it approach. Even at the last minute, as he heard the rain pounding the grass flat, he just stood there. He closed his eyes and let the storm soak him.
That was this kiss.
They kissed again. Adam felt it in more than his lips.
Ronan sat back, his eyes closed, swallowing. Adam watched his chest rise and fall, his eyebrows furrow. He felt as bright and dreamy and imaginary as the light through the window.
He did not understand anything.
It was a long moment before Ronan opened his eyes, and when he did, his expression was complicated. He stood up. He was still looking at Adam, and Adam was looking back, but neither said anything. Probably Ronan wanted something from him, but Adam didn’t know what to say. He was a magician, Persephone had said, and his magic was making connections between disparate things. Only now he was too full of white, fuzzy light to make any sort of logical connections. He knew that of all the options in the world, Ronan Lynch was the most difficult version of any of them. He knew that Ronan was not a thing to be experimented with. He knew his mouth still felt warm. He knew he had started his entire time at Aglionby certain that all he wanted to do was get as far away from this state and everything in it as possible.
He was pretty sure he had just been Ronan’s first kiss.” 
 
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