Smorgasbord Book Review – #Family #Mystery – Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney

The first book review for the year is for the family drama Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney. Having enjoyed the books in the Braxton Campus Series, I was looking forward to reading the first of the author’s books, and was not disappointed.

About the book

After 40 years of marriage, Olivia’s husband unexpectedly passes away. But when Ben’s will reveals a life-altering secret, she suffers a blow no widow should ever experience.

Olivia learns that she gave birth to a baby who later died in the nursery. Instead of telling his wife what happened, Ben switched the child with another. And as if that’s not enough, Ben’s will doesn’t reveal which of their five sons is truly not hers.

Olivia visits each of her sons to share a final connection before facing the truth that will change their family, and discovers that each of them has been harboring a painful secret, just like their father. But will the secrets destroy their family, or bring them closer together?

My review for the book.

Another excellent read from author James J. Cudney.

For anyone coming from a large sized family this book will only confirm that brothers and sisters, and sometimes our parents, don’t share everything with us as they tend to operate on a need to know basis. Especially as we don’t necessarily reveal every side to our nature when it might go against other people’s expectations of us, real or imagined.

There are five brothers all grieving the untimely death of their father, all with different emotions about their connection to him and also their mother Olivia. On the surface Olivia is elegant with a perfect home and life laid out meticulously, leaving her sons with a sense of coolness and detachment, despite her own way of showing her love for them. This has forced some of them to keep secrets from her in case of upsetting the status quo. From what we hear about their father Ben, he was much more attuned to the events in their lives even if he might not have acknowledged their choices whilst alive.

Whilst dealing with her own grief at the loss of the love of her life, Olivia now is faced with a dilemma about how she handles the secret she has now been made aware of. Which one of her sons is not the one she gave birth to? And how can she forgive her husband Ben for his actions and for leaving her to clear up the mystery on her own. Sensibly she decides to spend time with all of her sons before reaching a decision, and in doing so uncovers other truths she was unaware of, some of which are hurtful and some devastating.

For me Olivia is well crafted central and complex character, with what appears to be a coldness, but which is really a facade hiding a doubts about her abilities of a mother and her perceptions of how she is regarded by the society she has grown up within. Throughout the story we watch as she dismantles this facade to reveal the warmer and more genuine person beneath.

We also get to know each of the sons in turn discovering their secrets and their misconceptions about how they will be received. It shows what most of us know, that much of the time we misjudge how others are going to react, projecting our fear onto them. Usually we find they already know and have accepted the situation without judgement.

There is much miscommunication to sort out and James Cudney does this very well, with understanding and compassion as well as a realistic view about family life and relationships. There is tragedy ahead but that too brings another element to the story that strengthens the bonds between the brothers and their mother.

This process is facilitated by another well developed character, Olivia’s sister Diane, childless and recently divorced, and who is an impartial, loving, non-judgemental sounding board for both her sister and her nephews as they re-establish their connection to each other and mysteries are revealed.

I came away from reading the story with a renewed sense of appreciation of my own family, as I realised how easy it is as we grow older to detach ourselves from the lives of those close to us, only sharing what we think they might want to hear, instead of who we really are.

I recommend Watching Glass Shatter to anyone who enjoys well written family sagas with the mystery at the heart of the story, skillfully kept hidden until the last pages.

There are over 150 excellent reviews for the book: Amazon US

and: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by James J. Cudney

Discover more about James J. Cudney – read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And on Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow James: Goodreads

About James J. Cudney

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website:

What do I do outside of writing: 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 at, 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. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

Connect to James via his blog This is my Truth Now


Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the review and will head over to discover more about James J. Cudney and his books. Thanks Sally.

30 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Book Review – #Family #Mystery – Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 5th – 11th January 2020 – Count Basie, Phosphorus, Reviews, New Books, Bloggers and Funnies. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  2. Wow! I just checked on Amazon and saw that there were one hundred eighty-eight reviews of James’s book. As I’m still relatively new around here, I have yet to read any of his books. (I’m going to pick up this one.) I do remember reading some of James’s reviews of others, and I’ve been impressed with those.

    Liked by 1 person

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.