Remembering- A 9/11 Tribute

I recently visited the 9/11 Memorial in downtown Manhattan. It was something I wanted to do, but no one wanted to go with me. “Too far,” they said. “Too sad,” they added. “Besides, you can’t park there and I don’t do subways.”

I guess the universe picked up my thoughts. One of my former colleagues soon called me unexpectedly to ask if I was at all interested in visiting the Memorial. I was very thankful for this gift.

We boarded the Express Bus in Queens to the Wall Street area and rode in air-conditioned comfort on a scorching hot day.

At first the memorial seemed disappointing because we kept looking up, expecting to find the exhibits on the upper floors. Instead, we were directed to descend deeper and deeper into the very heart of the earth where the exhibit slowly revealed itself. We walked the same stone steps that led the few lucky survivors to life, and helpless victims to death—the remaining remnants of the stairwells filled with terrified employees rushing down, and brave first responders confidently moving up.

How many made it out alive to tell their stories? How many left their wallets, shoes, photos, lipstick, handbags, ID cards, uniform buttons as proof they had once lived? Their bodies somehow missing, only scant possessions remained.

Sad for days, the visions stayed with me—the thwacking sounds as their bodies hit the pavement after jumping out of windows to escape the flames, screams of terror and disbelief, tears of sadness.

I remember.

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

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Book Review: The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Book Review: The Secret To Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey 4 Stars ****

Love Hallmark and Lifetime Channels? Then , this book is for you!

This is a heart-felt story reminiscent of Hallmark movies and series with families full of secrets and complications, but all still loving and supporting each other. Chesapeake Shores comes to mind with the multi-generational family story line: setting on the water in Peachtree Bluff, Georgia; boats, fishing, nature loving activities; supportive grandmother; struggling, flawed parent(s); striving, heart-broken, seriously ill children; adorable, rascally grandchildren; hidden lovers and old relationships that never really ended and somehow still create longing…You get the idea.

You might wish you were a member of this family. Everyone is basically normal, high achieving, loving, caring, and cooperative.  We have a mother, Ansley, and her three grown daughters and spouses, and kids, grandma and handsome neighbors and nosy neighbors. They support each other through loss. A spouse MIA in Iraq, a much-loved family member passes peacefully and quietly into the afterlife, true paternity is revealed. Yes, of course, there is some lying, manipulating, withdrawal into the self. But, the characters’ other redeeming qualities manage to shine through, creating a balance. Nothing is forever. A bad mood is for a reason, but then discarded as each new day brings more joys and adventures.

So, what exactly is the secret to southern charm? Grandma believes it’s all about the southern accent. Sloane, mother of two, and wife of Adam, who is MIA in Iraq, heart-broken, withdrawn and feeling guilty for past lies and manipulations, tells us, as she gazes with love upon her family, “This putting on a brave face, carrying on , helping others, being kind and humble and giving, believing with all your heart that the world could be a better place and that maybe you could make it that way…that was Southern charm. Looking around at these women who all embodied those qualities so well, I had to think that maybe Grammy was wrong. Maybe it wasn’t a secret at all.”

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Book Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Book Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
4 Stars ****

Written with the elements of the old-time Gothic Novel, we have the story of modern day (2016) twenty-one year old Harriet (Hal) Westaway whose story contains all that’s necessary to fit into that genre: orphaned at eighteen; never knew her father or other family members; no friends; flat-out broke; living a hand-to-mouth existence; the mob is strong-arming her for exorbitant interest payments on a $500 loan; works as a tarot card reader on an English Channel pier; screeching magpies punctuate her life; receives a mysterious letter informing her she has a huge inheritance from her “grandmother”; arrives at the grandmother’s funeral during a torrential rain storm; is invited to stay at Trepassen, the family home, to find a dark, creepy old mansion without basic heat, hot water, bathroom, electrical amenities; is sourly greeted by a surly, unwelcoming housekeeper and lousy cook; discovers old, faded documents and photo albums; is introduced to her newly found feuding, dysfunctional, secret-keeping family who try to accept her but an underlying resentment and skepticism prevail so that Hal never feels safe.

How’s that for a checklist?

The story unfolds very slowly. There is a lot that needs development and follow-up. For instance, when Hal discovers someone has removed the lightbulb from her bedroom ceiling fixture (leaving her in complete darkness on the attic level) she never questions this or requests a replacement bulb. Strange things happen and are quickly pushed aside. Story development is needed in a number of scenes to give insight. Most family discussions are in groups so it’s hard to keep track of individual characteristics.

Hal believes she is a fraud and that a mistake has been made as to her true identity. She is so desperate for money and fearful from the threats and roughing -up at the hands of the loan shark’s henchman, that she takes her chances that no one will discover that she is an imposter.  Hal, along with the family at Trepassen, are in for some very big surprises!

One thing I really like about the book is how the author coordinates messages from tarot cards with each event in Hal’s journey. As Hal’s self-confidence increases, so does her belief in the message of the tarot. As her mother taught her: the tarot tells you what you already know. Now that Hal has faith in her ability to find the truth, she sets out to discover the real story lurking behind the impassive, unyielding walls of Trepassen.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

 

Book Review: The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Book Review: The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson 2 Stars **

Let me start off by saying if Bill Clinton wanted to co-write a political thriller, he should have sought out Daniel Silva or Nelson DeMille. James Patterson may not have been the best choice. Sure, Patterson is the highest grossing author who ever lived BUT he does not write about political intrigue or complex situations.  His early books were exciting with main character Alex Cross struggling to keep his family safe while chasing down psychopathic killers. Then, Patterson decided to branch out and help unknown writers by co-authoring books with them to boost their sales. Patterson’s writing style changed from that point. Most of these books are geared to Middle Grade readers (8-12 years old) and The President Is Missing reads exactly like one of his kids books. Not all good writers are good across the board.

The chapters are mostly short—one, two or three pages with a few chapters as long as ten pages. There are 128 chapters plus an Epilogue in the book. The president tells his story in the first person, a technique used in middle grade books. The terrorists’  activities are described by a third person narrator. Sentences are short, choppy and lacking in sophisticated vocabulary the reader would expect to find in an adult political thriller. The characters are shallow, the dialogue preachy, self-congratulatory, and often repetitious.

The title is misleading because the president is not missing. He’s holed up with a small group of advisors and foreign dignitaries trying to thwart a cyber attack on the United States that would destroy every known system that keeps the United States going. The American people are unaware of this danger. All attempts at avoiding disaster take place in one room, presenting a missed opportunity to show the president’s strength in calming and guiding the American people. Way too much tell, and not enough show.

The president’s ego is always on display—from his rugged good looks to his POW loyalty to his fellow soldiers to his undying, faithful devotion to his daughter and late wife. Of course, it’s his suggestions that save the day. By the way, despite what TV interviewers implied about the president in the book taking advantage of a young woman by having an affair or sexual relationship,  it never happened. It’s not there. Period. So, I don’t know how this misinformation prevailed. This is one aspect of President Clinton’s life that did not find its way into this book.

Whatever you may think of Bill Clinton’s politics and private life, the man is extremely intelligent and also distinguished himself as a Rhodes Scholar.

Bill, you should have and could have done better than this. Next time, work with a writer who displays knowledge of how systems work, has sophistication in international relations, displays a mastery of the English language, and who also deals in well-researched facts and exotic locations.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Please Join Me! East Hampton Library Children’s Fair, Long Island, NY

Book Signings & More 

Sunday, August 12  1:00-5:30pm

East Hampton Library Children’s Fair

Free Admission

Carnival Rides, Games, Book Signings, Raffles, Crafts, Treats

555 Field, 555 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett, NY

easthamptonlibrary.org or 631-324-0222

Many Authors Including Me, Elaine Donadio!

It’s A Happening Place

Please Join Me! E. Hampton Library Children’s Fair, Long Island, NY

Book Signings & More 

Sunday, August 12  1:00-5:30pm

East Hampton Library Children’s Fair

Free Admission

Carnival Rides, Games, Book Signings, Raffles, Crafts, Treats

555 Field, 555 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett, NY

easthamptonlibrary.org or 631-324-0222

Many Authors Including Me, Elaine Donadio!

It’s A Happening Place

Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn 5 Stars *****

This has to be one of the best books I’ve ever read! That this is the author’s debut novel is astounding. A.J. Finn (real name Daniel Mallory) opted to use a pseudonym to protect his privacy. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans…This book became an immediate best seller, is the biggest selling fiction title of 2018, has been translated into thirty-eight languages, AND is being made into a major motion picture due to be released in 2019 starring Amy Adams.

Anna Fox, an agoraphobic woman, formerly a child psychologist, now living alone in New York City, hides from the world with bottles and bottles of wine, old classic black and white movies, and last, but not least, her camera with its zoom lens which enables her to magnify the otherwise flimsy details of her neighbors’ lives as seen through their uncovered windows. Yes, this story brings back memories of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On The Train, but it is so much more. The premise is the same, but this book is no rip-off. The plot has many twists that unfold slowly. Anna’s real story seeps out while the reader is given glimpses and hints throughout.

Anna becomes obsessed by the new family across the park. The Russells present a contradictory picture. Nothing is as it seems. Anna is sure she has witnessed a violent crime, but the police cannot find any proof. Anna befriends their sixteen year old son, Ethan, who is presented as a sympathetic character. David, Anna’s basement tenant, is a moody character with a criminal past. Anna’s husband and daughter live “elsewhere” as a result of their marital separation. Abject fear of leaving her home prevents Anna from venturing outside. Being a voyeur keeps her in touch with what’s real. Groceries and medications are delivered. Her therapist makes house calls. Weird things start to happen which make Anna and others doubt her sanity. Is Anna being Gaslighted?

The dialogue from these wonderful old classic films cleverly mirrors the events taking place in Anna’s life in real-time. Characters are developed. The author shows rather than tells. Transitions and interior thoughts move the plot along. We look inside the head of a desperate woman and begin to realize what she tells us about herself might not be entirely true. We begin to mistrust her judgment. Despite this, the ending takes us by surprise. You see, we find out we only thought we knew the real Anna Fox.

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

 

Book Review: The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable

Book Review:  The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable- A Novel About JFK  (John F. Kennedy) 4 Stars****

Did JFK have a love child with Alicia Corning Clark?

Alicia Corning Clark was an actual person whose life mirrored many of the events in the life of the fictitious main character of this book.

Wow! What a story! Although this is a novel—a product of the author’s imagination—the author has read more than 150 books about the Kennedy family and has mixed fact with fiction in this very unflattering portrayal of one of America’s most celebrated presidents and the family that surrounded him. The problem for me in a book like this is the author does not qualify which  events and conversations are based on accurate facts, and which are imaginative portrayals thrown in for dramatic effect.

The main character, beautiful, sexy, social-climbing, truth stretching, opportunistic Polish-Jewish survivor of the WWII Holocaust, Displaced Person, Alicia Darr, meets JFK in Hyannis Port during the summer of 1950. Alicia works as at the local movie theater and also fills in as a house maid and server at the Kennedy household—a boisterous, rambunctious, ill-mannered, disrespectful, cold-hearted, manipulating, misogynistic bunch of ruffians. That’s on a good day! Alicia Darr, born Barbara Kopczysnka, speaks several languages and is well-versed in world politics and able to hold her own in conversation with the movers and shakers of the day. Alicia becomes involved with Jack Kennedy (as he was known) on his climb to congress, then the presidency. Alicia and Jack are engaged to be married, but Joseph Kennedy, Jack’s father, wants Jack to end the relationship since it is unseemly that a president of the United States should have a Jewish Displaced Person as a wife. After possibly being paid off, Alicia walks out of Jack’s life with her heart broken. Jack continues to have affairs with other women and soon marries Jacqueline Bouvier. Alicia lives among the rich, famous, and celebrated in New York, Hollywood, London, Paris, Rome, marries a few times, and intermittently sneaks off for trysts with JFK. One of these intimacies results in a secret pregnancy and birth of a beautiful little girl who is raised in Rome by Alicia’s dear friend. Many conflicting rumors fill the gossip columns. Was Alicia Darr Purdom Corning Clark actually a conniving hooker, or a misunderstood, misinterpreted beautiful woman who just made some very poor choices? In the end, Alicia dies alone as a recluse and leaves a sizable estate to her daughter, Serena Palmisano, who only knew her as a dear friend of her “mother” Novella Palmisano.(The real Alicia Corning Clark died in 2016) The author tells us this decision to give up her child was the result of death threats made against Alicia and her child. Alicia feared for their safety, put her daughter in a perceived safe place, kept her mouth shut, and went on with her life.

This book challenges many of the facts we have come to accept about the Kennedy family. For example, while JFK presented himself as a strong man who encouraged vigor or vigah as he pronounced it, he actually “relied on exercise, hot baths, heating pads, massages, back braces, and crutches to combat his physical pain. He also wore corrective shoes, slept with his head elevated, and had sex with the woman on top. Toward the end of his life, he and his wife (Jackie) had had frequent methamphetamine injections.” (This is not part of the story but presented as factual information)

As part of the story, Alicia Darr’s friend tells her the following: Bobby Kennedy killed Marilyn Monroe as Peter Lawford looked on; Frank Sinatra’s son was kidnapped at the behest of the Kennedy’s; socialite Mary Meyer was killed in broad daylight after she planned to write a tell-all book about her affair with JFK; gossip columnists Cholly Knickerbocker’s and Dorothy Killgallen’s reputations were destroyed in retaliation for published pieces of gossip. Also, Cholly Knickerbocker’s wife committed suicide (or may have been forced) by swallowing thirty pills as a result of depression after being socially ostracized by Jackie Kennedy at her husband’s request.

You can see this is not a happy story. The Kennedy’s are negatively portrayed with family quirks spotlighted—sexually inappropriate father, cold as ice mother, wild, inappropriate kids, gangster methods of achieving fame, fortune, and reaching goals. How much is true? Good question. It makes for fascinating reading.

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

 

My Books Are Now Available for Borrowing from Manhasset Library, NY!

Great news! Printed copies of my books are now available for borrowing from Manhasset Library, LI, New York. 30 Onderdonk Avenue, Manhasset. 516-627-2300.

Printed copies of my books are also available for inter-library loan at Queens Library, Nassau County Library, and Suffolk County Library in New York.

The digital copies are available in Queens Public Library and may be available in other library systems throughout the country. If your library cannot provide access to these books, please ask them to purchase in digital or paperback formats to add to their collection.

My Book Titles

Middle Grade…(8-12 year olds )

The Science Project
The Ocean’s Way
Who Do Voodoo?
The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion

12 – Adult…

Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

In New York, this is where you can find my printed books:

The physical copies are available from the Queens Library system at Central Library, Jamaica; Bay Terrace Library in Bayside; Whitestone Library in Whitestone. Or, you can borrow through inter-library loan if you’re a Queens County library patron.

Also, the physical copies are also located in the East Hampton Library and Port Washington Library. Suffolk and Nassau County library patrons can borrow through inter-library loan online.

Happy reading! If you do decide to borrow my books from the library, please remember to write a review on the library website.

Thanks,

Elaine

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Please Join Me! April 29 Authors Fair-Port Washington Library, LI, NY

Please join me!
Sunday, April 29, 2018  

2:00-4:30pm

Port Washington Public Library  
1 Library Drive  Port Washington, NY
Lapham Meeting Room
516-883-4400

        Meet local self-published authors and learn about their latest works. Books will be available for purchase.

My Book Titles

The Science Project
The Ocean’s Way
Who Do Voodoo?
The Ocean’s Way Poetry Companion
Sojourn Into The Night—A Memoir of the Peruvian Rainforest

Questions? Visit elainedonadio.com or email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

 

 

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