Death

Book Review: Fractalistic by Gerardo Delgadillo

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FractalisticFractalistic by Gerardo Delgadillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The title and the cover of this book are the initial reasons someone would feel compelled to pick it up and learn more. I say that because it’s eye-catching and pushes a person to wonder more deeply what it could be about. Would there be the potential for science-fiction or fantastical elements? I had little knowledge of the subject matter of fractals, but I was familiar with the author’s work, as I’ve read (and very much enjoyed) two of his other books. I assumed the tale would have something to do with a ‘broken’ young adult and that it would focus on Mexican heritage (based on cover and past styles — the author excels in these settings)! But what I read was so much more… and I’m excited to share my thoughts on it today.

Winter, ~17ish American girl, moves to Mexico with her parents, searching for a cure for her mother’s illness. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, and her mother passes away. Winter and her father struggle to overcome the pain and loss. The book starts after the death, so we learn much of this in back story. The struggle is clear and obvious through the lack of words and emotion, brittle arguments, and abrasive moments between the two characters — all done in a beautiful and heartfelt way. Winter then meets some new friends at school, something she was reluctant to allow because the last time she trusted her friends, they all abandoned her when her mother had gotten sick. She’s been through a lot, but she is strong and pushes through the swirl around her. Winter is a fine balance of a young girl in need of love and guidance and a soon-to-be adult who is mature beyond her years.

Delgadillo lets us stir in confusion for a little while, trying to understand the mysterious fractals that her father is working on. All we know is that they are a way to communicate with his deceased wife, Winter’s mom. They both want to see her again, whether it’s real or spiritual, but we can clearly tell it’s affecting them differently. Her father is angry and forceful to get Winter on board with trying harder to connect with her mom. We think he’s being too aggressive, but there are reasons beyond what we know at the time. This is where we feel the fantastical elements, and it’s a startling and beautiful moment of bliss and pain — what if it actually works?

By midway, Winter’s developed friends, even a boyfriend of sorts. He has his own issues. It’s with her new best girl friend that Winter finds an intriguing connection, as her mother is also interested in the research Winter’s father is conducting. We see the relationships grow among each of the people in Winter’s life, all the while knowing something else is going on beyond what we’ve been told. It’s not easy to figure out, and when it hits you about 75% through the book, you’ll stop and need to take a breath. Our beloved characters are far worse off than we realized, but we feel even more enamored with them, hoping they can make the fractals work.

Delgadillo tells a poignant story. With several parts using Spanish (and enough English translations in the text to make the points clear), we have a different layer to the story. It’s not just a typical family we might know; it’s a family with different cultural beliefs, heritages, stories, and interpretations of life and death. I loved seeing these aspects in the book, as I felt it made the story even stronger. Winter is not a typical young adult, but in many ways, she is exactly the type of kid we’ve all seen somewhere along the path. Take away the science-fiction and ‘death’ turbulence in her life, she is going through all the normal things teenagers do… relocation, making new friends, dating a boy/girl for the first time, dealing with parental issues, etc.

Kudos to Delgadillo for a multi-dimensional story with tons of emotional peaks that will make you quite glad you took a chance on this one!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: A World Without Color by Bernard Jan

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A World Without Color: A True Story Of the Last Three Days With My CatA World Without Color: A True Story Of the Last Three Days With My Cat by Bernard Jan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When you lose a cherished pet, sometimes the loss is so inexplicable, all you can do is cry. When I had to let go of my ten-year-old shiba inu just about a year ago, it was a painful 2-week process. It is nearly impossible to put into words for most people how you go about making the decision to end an animal’s pain, begin your own, and suffer the consequences. Not impossible tho, as proven by Bernard Jan in the second book of his I’ve read this year. Jan lost his beloved cat, Marcel, and shares the emotional turmoil he encountered throughout the process.

This book is ~100 pages covering the three days when Jan and his family know they have to say goodbye. His words and imagery are stellar… honestly… he captures all those emotions pet-parents go through trying to rationalize our decisions, understand the whys, convince ourselves we will be okay, and determine how or if we can lean on anyone around us. By showcasing Marcel’s movements and struggles, we see the pain Jan’s family has gone through. It is visceral and constant. It is harsh and definitive. It is widespread and menacing.

I had to put the book down several times as it brought me to tears thinking of my own pet loss this year. Jan is brave. He shares everything from the moment he adopted the cat to the treasures of their ~15 year life together. As a younger guy suffering through this, he’s developing all his emotions and reactions to something he’s truly not ready to handle. I say this not because Jan’s not strong enough (he is), but because this is one of his earliest life experiences dealing with death. It is never easy. But to write about it and share those feelings, notions, worries, and sighs of relief when it’s all over (even tho it really isn’t) is remarkable.

Translated into English, the creators of this version are masterful in their descriptions. The comparisons… similes… references… moments… all bring readers to experience as closely as possible what the author experienced. If you’ve never gone thru it, it’s probably not fully apparent. Human loss is different… agreeably more harsh in most circumstances, but when your pet cannot talk to tell you what kind of pain they have, you are the sole person responsible for deciding how to help them.

I felt the intensity from Jan’s writing, and I recommend this for anyone who has a pet and/or is coping with [or the potential] loss. It might not be a good idea to read it as you’re going thru it depending on what kind of person you are and how you handle grief, but it’s something you should read when you are starting to recover. Thank you for sharing this truly humbling work, Bernard Jan.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Murder at Morningside by Sandra Bretting

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Murder at Morningside (Missy DuBois Mystery #1)Murder at Morningside by Sandra Bretting

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Murder at Morningside is the debut book in the Missy DuBois Mystery series written by Sandra Bretting. Missy is a wedding hat designer in Louisiana who is in love with her best friend Ambrose, a wedding dress designer, and who has a penchant for being a little too nosy and finding dead bodies. After I won the third and fourth books in a giveaway contest last year, I read them and thought they were good. I wanted to catch up on the beginning before the fifth one is released in the future, so here we go…

In this caper, Missy and Ambrose are staying at an inn where a couple is being married. They are onsite for final wedding ensemble fittings and preparation but taking advantage of the old southern home’s beautiful buildings and grounds. After overhearing a few odd conversations, they enter a hat contest to see if it will help grow Missy’s start-up business. During the opening ceremony, Missy comforts a distraught woman who can’t find her stepdaughter. She’s later found by a maid, but the girl is dead in a bathroom stall — it’s the bride Missy and Ambrose were working for but had never met! Missy gets to know the staff, family, and friends at the estate and finds herself suspecting a few people of affairs, gaslighting, and intent to harm. But which one really did the bride in? Missy discovers the truth with the help of her high school friend who’s now a detective in the parish.

As far as mysteries, it’s good. There are red herrings, strong clues, misunderstandings, and interesting discoveries. I enjoyed learning about the history of the area during the Civil War and how different kinds of hats are created. Missy is a vivid character with all the typical amateur sleuth personality traits and portrayed as a bold southern woman (maybe a little too much exaggeration, but I’m not from the South, so I can’t be 100% certain). That said, I felt some of the writing and ways in which Missy got her information were a bit forced or stilted. I remember thinking the same thing in the other books I read. It’s not bad, just borders on awkward in certain sections. I still want to read the full series as there’s a lot of dimension and detail in the settings, relationships, and characters which draw you in easily.

Bretting is strong in describing action and culture, and she has a good grasp of when and how to throw in southern slang or common vernacular. A few times it made me cock my head a bit in curiosity, but I’ve actually heard some of these sayings so it’s more just that it’s a difference place than I’m used to. That’s what makes it fun as I feel transported somewhere else while reading her books. The cover is snappy and cute. The series has a good hook. I gotta wonder what’s ultimately gonna happen between Ambrose and Missy, as in books three and four, they seem to be dating. In book one, she’s in love with him and he’s smitten. Maybe when I read book two, I’ll figure it all out. But he’s definitely got something he’s hiding…

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Pet Sematary by Stephen King

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Pet SemataryPet Sematary by Stephen King

My rating: 4+ of 5 stars

Believe it or not, after 700+ books read (and I know there’s at least 100 I’ve forgotten to review over the years), I’ve never read a Stephen King novel. I’ve seen a few movies and enjoyed them (Dolores Claiborne, Misery, It, Carrie, The Shining) but never actually read one. Yep, I’m a loser, I know it… okay, done yelling at me? Let’s get on to the review…

So… I had in my mind a certain expectation of this book. I knew it was about animals coming back to life. I knew it was about a pet cemetery. I knew it had some religious overtones. I knew it took place in Maine. That’s about it. I expected gore and horror. I looked forward to it, if I’m being honest. Then I read the book, and it probably met about 50% of those expectations in a good way. The rest, not so much… I didn’t absolutely love it, but I also didn’t dislike it. I can see why it’s beloved, but I’m not comfortable allotting more than 4 stars.

I won’t summarize the plot because I’ve already said enough that I’m sure you can figure out what goes on. Ultimately, there was a lot more religion in the book than I expected. Maybe spiritualism is more appropriate. It wasn’t a bad thing, but I felt it was either too much or too little in some places. I wanted to see it projected from rooftops in certain points, but it fell light, for instance, in terms of the connection to a Native American tribe that was brutalized years ago in the area where the main protagonist family buys a house. A lot was noted, or perhaps skim-covered (my made-up word for today) so you could imagine what once happened, but I wanted to see more of that vivid detail dripping from the pages to truly shock and scare me. It was written nearly 40 years ago, so perhaps that wasn’t quite the right time frame, but ultimately it fell a little short in this area.

As characters, the family was great. I loved the way the relationship between the husband and wife played out. True to some behaviors from the 1980s, women weren’t treated fairly, so I overlooked that but also respected it was true to the time period. My favorite character was the wife. When she described what happened to her sister when they were children, I thought it was a combination of the Exorcist and Poltergeist all wrapped in one — that was a chilling scene. The interaction among the children with the neighbor, grandparents, and parents was electrifying at moments. Sometimes it was light and fluffy, but those scenes were needed to draw a distinct comparison when things got volatile.

The main character often talks to someone in his head or talks out loud. I found myself trying to figure out who it was all along. I’m not sure how important that aspect was, other than to scare us. Which it did at times, just not enough with a fully rounded answer in the end to make me go “OMG” when it all came together. The writing was good and highly descriptive, but at times, it was too wordy. I think the book was a little longer because some scenes were painfully drawn out when it might have been a stronger read if there was some erratic dialog or narrative prose. It works as it is, but to pop a bit more, I think it needed that missing jagged edge.

It’s a psychological story. If you allow yourself to believe and invest, you will be alarmed and scared. If you are looking solely for amazing crazy things to happen, it’s not there. I liked how this was handled because there were at least 10 scenes that really make you freak out / turn the pages quickly. I skimmed some lines just to get to the ‘what’s going on here’ moment but I would’ve rather slowed down and read something scary with each single step.

It’s made me a fan of the writing. I was already a fan of the story and plot. King’s good, I can totally see it… but this probably wasn’t his best work. I’m placing bets on Misery or Dolores Claiborne… which I need to read soon! What made this a really fun read is that I buddy read with my pal, Medhat, and we could chat about it each day we’re reading along together! I can’t wait to see his review and will link it up once it’s published.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Look For Me Under the Rainbow by Bernard Jan

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I’ve been following the author of this book, Bernard Jan, for about a year, but I hadn’t read any of his written works previously. When my shiba inu passed away earlier this year, someone reminded me to get a copy of Look for Me Under the Rainbow: A Novella as it would provide some comfort and offer a few ideas about the life of animals outside what we know. I purchased a copy last month and added it to my TBR once I was ready to deal with the concept of a wonderful animal passing away.

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Jan offers an emotional tale of beloved mammals of the sea. We love looking at them sitting on icebergs or watching them dive into the frozen ocean playing around with others of their kind, yet we also get angry when people hurt them for the pleasure of a kill or to make money off their bodies. The author’s created a family of amazing and gentle creatures who appeal to our hearts as we see what happens when a sibling is killed or a parent dies. Danny’s mom tells him to look for the rainbow when death approaches whether it be a killer whale, evil poachers, or something even more nasty. She’s a mom to all of us in many ways.

In a short work, Jan has provided an intense connection filled with love, fear, bonds, and touching moments we can easily translate as humans. From oil spills to getting caught between the ice, we understand the struggles of animals who can only do so much to protect themselves or their young. It’s not unlike our own reality as humans, but at least we are rarely hunted down and brutally mutilated just for the fun of it.

Without getting into any gory details or making it uncomfortable, Jan has truly shown a different side of life in the ocean. Death is never easy. Loss is profound. Through wonderful imagery, lyrical text, and strong emotions, he’s got a winner with Danny’s story. I look forward to reading another of his novellas in the future. I’m sure it’ll be another 5 stars from me!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

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Given the popularity of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, I’m surprised I only just read it this week. It’s been in my queue for years, but I never had a copy and for some reason, I just didn’t buy it. Earlier this year, I found a copy on my apartment building’s bookshelf, so I snatched it up and included it in my September TBR list. I enjoyed it a lot, but it wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. Knowing how much you can take away from the messages, I ended up with 4.5 stars even though part of me thought it could have pushed the envelope a bit more. Then again, it is almost 15 years old and this type of literature has only become popular in recent years. For its time (minimal social media or digital blogs!), it was definitely motivating.

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Rather than critique the book, I’ve decided to focus more on the messages within it. Life is short. You should remember the valuable things when you’re in the latter stages approaching death. Perhaps if you develop a terminal illness, you’ve been given an opportunity to squeeze in as much as possible before you do actually pass on. It seems odd to phrase it in such a manner, but rather than just die unexpectedly, you have a rough time period in your head… you can try to achieve a few goals and make whatever changes you can before it’s too late. Of course, a terminal illness comes with extraordinarily negative impacts, but I’d prefer to focus on the benefits you can reap from the messages in such a book.

It’s not important how clean your house is, tho I often obsess over it. It doesn’t matter if you traveled the world and saw amazing things when you don’t have anyone you love by your side. And you’re not gonna focus on the little things in those last few moments. So make the most of it… find people you care for and share your feelings. That’s basically the gist of the autobiographical work on a very cursory level. Albom goes back and forth between his younger days with Morrie and his older days with Morrie, and as readers, we see the change in him across time.

I kinda feel like this was one big way to accomplish a goal, but we can also implement his ideas in smaller form across each day. That’s where I found the greatest lessons in his words. I’m on a kick to read a few more of his books this fall, too.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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4.5 stars to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I found this book on the shelf in my building’s resident library and brought it home. I’d wanted to sample a Green novel but wasn’t sure which one. ‘Let It Snow’ was also there, so I took it, too! I added both to my Monthly Book Bucket List on my blog, and this was the book followers selected in my September Reads poll. Thank you so much. I adored the novel and was very excited to see so many other fans.

Cancer and death are rough topics. Kids or teens with the disease are even harder. Throw in an author whom Hazel is dying to meet (pun intended) and her first love, could this have any more tug on our heart strings? Maybe a little, hence the 4.5 stars, but I’d still recommend this book as one to get to when you can. I read a few of the negative reviews where they talk about the characters feeling like cardboard or the plot being too much too handle. For me, I thought it was all quite powerful and had lots of depth. There were a few surface qualities, but they’re easily overlooked when 90% of the book is definitely solid.

I knew there would be death. I wasn’t sure who, and I was somewhat surprised by when and how. I also was shocked at the incident with the author in Amsterdam. I never saw it coming — neither the initial meeting or the one weeks later. Wow! He’s got quite a personality… I’m not sure I’d have the strength to deal with writing about this topic in a book. It’s painful and horrifying. I wouldn’t want to interview patients with cancer as I’d feel too much of the emotion and the fear. I don’t think I’d do it justice in my words, but many times, Green conveys exactly what I would think if it had been me. Kudos to him for doing it justice on many levels.

The metaphors are strong. The language is simple. The messages are clear and direct. In the end, I found the whole thing charismatic (in terms of liking the characters) and emotional, though it didn’t actually make me cry like a few other books have in the past. I’m a little off in my reviews this week, probably because I’ve been reading a book a day and can’t seem to come up with the right words afterward. That said… I’m glad I read this one and definitely look forward to another Green novel. Suggestions on what’s next? Oh, I guess I need to see the movie, too… right?

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.