Death

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.

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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.

Book Review: Will You Remember Me? by Amanda Prowse

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4.5 stars for making me cry through the last few chapters of Will You Remember Me? by my new Queen, Amanda Prowse— and it was even sweeter knowing this was a signed copy that my friend Claire secured for me. I make no pretense here: I waffle back and forth between Amanda Prowse and Kate Morton as my favorite contemporary fiction female storyteller but it always comes down to who makes me tear up the most… Wow, this was quite a story and I can’t wait to devour another one of her books next month.
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Although part of a series, it can definitely be read standalone as the series seems to jump around from character to character. I didn’t read the first book, Poppy Day, which focuses on the same lead but I have a feeling it’s okay to go out of order. Poppy is 32, married to the love of her life, has two wonderful children and a great sense of happiness for the future — until she finds a small lump in her breast, and nothing is ever the same again. Prowse takes us thru the journey as Poppy begins to realize everything she will lose. From telling her husband to searching for her unknown father, finding a new family member and saying goodbye to people for the final time… this tale will have you holding your breath, tearing up, and gritting your teeth with anger and disappointment. Things don’t always work out. Sometimes they do but on a different level. What fine balance in this beautiful and heartwarming piece of brilliance.

My only minor hesitancy in giving a full 5 stars is that there were a few moments where I wanted more details about her relationships with her mother, doctor, and son. There was a lot to cover in the book, and it was the right page count but it was a tad short on some details and a bit full on others that didn’t add 100% value. All very, very minor and just a personal taste for me. I definitely recommend this book especially with the sea of stories out there probably full of similar tones and styles. What’s different for me in a novel by Prowse is the genuine understanding of what the person is suffering from. It’s not just words strung together to make a reader sad and empathize. It’s as if you’re sitting there with the same pains and wishing only for a way to make it better for both you and the one suffering in the book. That’s an author I respect and plan to read her full canon as quickly as I can!

 

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: Death Comes to Dogwood Manor by Sandra Bretting

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Death Comes to Dogwood Manor is the 4th book in the Missy DuBois cozy mystery series, written by Sandra Bretting and published in June, 2018. I won an ARC of this book through a cozy mystery group I subscribe to and have previously read the 3rd book in the series. At some point, I’ll go back to read book one and two once my TBR is a bit shorter this year!

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In this book, Missy, a milliner in Louisiana, is distracted and accidentally sideswipes another car. She attempts to do the proper thing by notifying the owner, a rich man sweeping up local mansions and converting them into mini-hotels. She’s met him before, and he’s not a very kind person, but in this instance, he himself seems distracted by the renovation going on at the house. A few days later… she finds him dead. At the same time, Missy’s trying to build up her business and lands a potential big win when a magazine wants to publish an article about her shop. As she stumbles upon several people connected to the deceased man, and works with a designer to freshen up her shop before the photo shoot, everything starts to fall apart and come together in very interesting ways.

I see great improvement from the third book to this fourth book in the series, particularly around the writing style and assemble of the potential suspects. There is more balance and less formal language around Missy’s dialog and relationships, which is a great step forward for the series. I enjoyed reading each of the pages and consumed the whole thing in about 2 hours one evening. Missy is very likable and doesn’t put herself in harm’s way to try solving the case. She is a bit nosy, but its endearing and often just part of who she is rather than an issue of getting in the way of the police. She works with them, as the detective is an old-friend.

Lots of detail, descriptions and research went into building the setting for this edition. Between the various wedding veils and hats Missy’s designed, the decor in her own renovated shop, and the design style of the homes-converted-into-hotels, we can see a wonderful backdrop of southern architecture and beauty. There’s also a few steps forward in Missy’s relationship status, as in the last book, there were two potential suitors. It’s a nice small arc rather than a major piece of the story, but seeing her friendships is also one of the more sweeter aspects in these books, too. Bretting’s settling in well with this series and I will definitely be interested in reading the first two and the next when it comes out.

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: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

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I read a Lisa Jewell novel last year and connected immediately with her writing style, tone, and voice. When Then She Was Gone showed up on NetGalley last month, I immediately requested it and added it to my reading queue for April. I really find myself enamored with Jewell’s characters, plots, and settings, so much that I’ve added ten of her other books to my TBR and hope to read a few more later this year.

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Domestic drama is the best sub-genre to describe this book. A 15-year-old girl goes missing, resulting in her family falling apart. Ten years later, her mother finds new love (divorced her ex-husband though they still remain friends) and slowly learns of connections to her missing child who was feared dead. The description in the Goodreads or Amazon summary says it all, so I don’t need to add to it here. The book alternates between “Then” and “Now” to tell the story of what happened to Ellie, who kidnapped and hurt her, what the new love interest for Ellie’s mother, Laurel, has to say transpired over all the years, and where things really fell apart.

This book read itself. I intended to spend 90 minutes reading on a weekend afternoon to have a relaxing break from some outside chores. Three (3) hours later, I’d finished it. The book was so good that I lost track of time and read so quickly, everything just disappeared, but I was absolutely connected and attached to every part of the story and characters. Jewell clearly knows how to lead readers on a path where investment is deep and shock is wide. I’m sure a few readers will sideways glance at a couple of plot twists, and I can understand it. You have to suspend a tiny bit of your disbelief or questions as to how the kidnapping was truly pulled off. But it’s fiction and it’s part of a story and that’s why it worked — the writing supports it and carries you off into a world you cannot leave.

I normally figure out what’s really going on. But Jewell uses some clever disguises regarding timing that make it complicated, and when you do figure it out about 2/3 of the way thru, you have to stop for a few minutes and think about all the repercussions, Then, it all adds up. How did I miss it??? But for me, that’s what makes an incredibly gifted writer. One who transports you into the story that you forget to try to solve it because you’re just so stunned by its beauty. I can’t wait to pick up another Jewell book this summer. So many to choose from! But this one gets at least 4.5 stars.

 

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: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

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Why This Book

After reading Rebecca several years ago, I placed My Cousin Rachel, another of Daphne du Maurier‘s famed novels, on my To Be Read (TBR) shelf. Earlier this year, a Goodreads buddy, Michael, and I were chatting about various books when we decided to do a buddy read together, selecting this wonderful Gothic edition. We were both interested to see if it lived up to the hype and how it compared to the author’s other words. We agreed on early March and got to it this week. I’ve only started doing buddy reads in the last few months, but they are quite fun… I recommend them.

 

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Approach & Style

I purchased the Kindle Reader version from Amazon to read on my iPad. It contains ~350 pages and took me four days to read. The novel is written in first person point of view and told from the perspective of Philip Ashley, a 24-year-old English man set in a somewhat unknown time, but likely the early/mid twentieth century given some of the details in the background setting. The language is intense and full of amazing imagery and astounding descriptions.

Plot, Characters & Setting

The novel centers around the Ashley family. Philip’s parents die when he is less than a year old, but his cousin Ambrose raises him in their England home. At some point years later, Ambrose unexpectedly marries a widow named Rachel who is half-Italian and grew up in Tuscany. It’s an odd pairing, as she has a bit of a reputation for husband-hunting and spending lots of money. After ~2 years, Ambrose mysteriously dies and Rachel disappears. Philip is distraught, but searches for her in Italy. Rachel eventually shows up in England looking to meet her pseudo-stepson, and that’s when the story really begins to get interesting. There’s an air of darkness concerning Ambrose’s death–was Rachel involved? She has a suitor of sorts who follows her from Tuscany–yet both claim there is nothing but friendship. Philip intends to crucify his cousin Rachel after reading a few letters from his late cousin, Ambrose; however, things take a surprising turn when more secrets are revealed and there’s a bit of romance developing in the background. Add in a few traditional English families, an inheritance upon Philip’s 25th birthday, and a possible proposal to/from a neighboring family… and you’ve got quite a Gothic story unleashing it’s power on you.

Key Thoughts

  1. du Maurier truly engages the reader with lyrical and ethereal descriptions of everything going on in the story. You will feel like you are sitting at a table in the house watching everything occur around you. The super-fine details are what challenge your intellect to decide what is real and what is not.
  2. As a plot, it’s classic — did she or didn’t she kill him? But here’s the interesting part… that question hardly ever comes up in the book. It’s not a mystery in terms of researching the past to see if murder actually happened. It’s entirely psychological in the relationship between Philip and Rachel… where you listen to the words or what isn’t said, think about whether you trust either of them… and in the end, you just wish you could have spoken to Ambrose yourself to get the answer.
  3. I went back and forth multiple times deciding whether I liked Rachel and Philip as characters and as human beings. Humanity and kindness are huge themes in this novel. Attitude and disinterest are also keen to make themselves present within the relationships. Sometimes I wanted to throttle both, other times, the tenderness was admirable. The last few chapters truly push the envelope in terms of engaging more doubt before there is a final reveal.
  4. While reading the first ~75 pages, I was also editing my novel. I had on my ‘writer glasses’ and couldn’t stop analyzing the word choice in du Maurier’s initial chapters. It was disconnected and hard to attach myself, too. I also found a few words that were repeated a couple of times on the same page (a pet peeve for me in my own writing) and after the third or fourth, I slapped myself and realized it wasn’t important. 99 amazing words on every page and 1 every so often that didn’t work. That’s way too high of a percentage to ever get stuck! Stick with it past that initial 15% mark and you’re in for quite an intellectually stimulating ride.
  5. If you love Italy or the quintessential proper English culture and decor, you will enjoy this novel. The only thing that bugged me from time to time was not really knowing enough about Philip prior to meeting Rachel, so I could form a strong enough opinion on who he was as a person, i.e. before he became mesmerized by his cousin Rachel.
  6. My favorite part of the whole book… Philip ALWAYS refers to her as ‘My cousin Rachel’ until a certain event changes their lives… then she simply becomes ‘Rachel.’ The meaning of the novel is hidden in that ever-so-small alteration in their relationship and future.

Summary

du Maurier is quite skilled at creating scenery, characters, and undetermined truth. We really never know who to believe, even in the end. But it works. Whereas Rebecca was a stronger plot, I think My Cousin Rachel pushes the envelope more in terms of who should we believe. Either case, I really enjoyed the read, especially discussing it with Michael, who is an author you might want to take a look at (new book coming out in April ’18).  I plan to review the author’s bibliography this summer to see if there’s another potential novel of hers I’d like to read. Overall, I’d give this 4+ stars as I really enjoyed it, but there was some repetition and missing pieces so I couldn’t quite knock it up to a 5-star rating.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. 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.