pain

Book Review: Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

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Author Fredrik Backman is in my TOP 5 writers of all time. I’ve read 4 of his books now, and they always have a profound impact on me. I’m hoping to finish reading them all this year which is why Britt-Marie Was Here made it to my September TBR. If you’re familiar with his work, it’s a combination of ‘A Man Called Ove’ and ‘Beartown’ in terms of the love of sport, the human condition’s intensity, and the desire for a different life. All in all, I gave it 4.25 stars as it was better than a 4 but I couldn’t round up to a 5 on this one.

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Britt-Marie is in her early 60s and has left her husband, Kent, after she caught him cheating on her via the other woman taking him to the hospital as he had a heart attack. Although she’s independent, Britt-Marie has been cared for too long by others to know exactly how to survive on her own. She succeeds on many levels when she moves to a town, Borg, not too far away from home to get her first outside-of-the-home job since she was a waitress right after high school and right before marrying Kent. In Borg, life is basically listless, scarce, and penniless. It’s been hit by a financial crisis and no one has money for anything. Britt-Marie does her best to find a way to make the move to a new job and a new residence something positive, but it doesn’t go very smoothly at first. In time, she evolves into a more open-minded individual, yet her core beliefs remain stalwart. She’s ornery but lovable, kind but too direct, thoughtful but not very worldly. It makes her human like the rest of us.

Backman’s style is usually on-point when it comes to connecting with his readers. This book is no exception; however, there were several sections with either translation issues (it wasn’t originally written in English) or a purposed attempt to write in a different manner from what he’s shown us before. Examples include frequent repetition of words or phrases that it became too obvious. Was it intended or just the translation — I’m not certain, but it caused me to stumble a fair number of times. Another concern was a general casualization (yep, I’m making up words) of some characters where I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to root for them or ignore them. The end result was some felt too similar while others felt strong but underused given their purpose in the story.

That said, the rest is amazing. I felt the connection between Britt-Marie and everyone she meets who changes her life. I saw the lackluster relationship with Kent but understood why she couldn’t leave him. I felt the pain of what her childhood resulted in when it came to how she viewed herself and let others view her. I adored the way she persistently nagged the unemployment office employee only to become the woman’s bright hope for the future. It’s only when an author is an innate talent can these types of well-embedded structures, depths, and life perceptions be truly integrated into a story. That’s where, how, and why Backman leads the race when it comes to producing truly remarkable stories.

 

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: 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.

365 Challenge: Day 212 – Crick

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Crick: painful stiff feeling in the neck or back

crick

I have been lucky for most of my life — without pain in my neck or back. I’ve previously had a few muscle spasms or slept in a way that caused pain, but nothing that didn’t go away after a few days. Ever since I began working from home last year, I’ve noticed a significant increase in what we commonly refer to as a ‘crick’ in my neck. I’ve narrowed it down to how I’m sitting, but it’s going to take a while to course-correct itself. And all I have to say about that, borrowed from the lovely Linda, is ‘Humph!’

I primarily sit in two places when I’m working: (1) couch or (2) dining room table. On the couch, the laptop is situated on a pillow on my lap, probably too low, resulting in me angling my neck too far down. At the table, the chairs are more meant for short periods of sitting, not hours while writing or editing. Something will probably need to change if I want to avoid these infamous little cricks.

At first, it manifested as a pain in my shoulder last year, which actually forced me to go to the doctor. I never go to the doctor unless I’m two days from potential death. They did an MRI and noted I had spurs on my shoulder blades that were rubbing against the nerves, sending me to physical therapy twice a week for two months. Ultimately, it went away. Then it was replaced by a tingling feeling in the same area, which I attributed to sitting in the same position for too long. Now it’s back, but in a different form, settling in my neck on the right side. BTW, guess where I’m sitting right now while writing this post — couch — and I feel it starting, but I’ve yet to move positions. Stubborn ass!

Ah, the point… where in the world did the word ‘crick’ come from? I need to look that up. I’m on a mission to find a new sitting position, or a way to remind myself to change positions every hour, in the hopes I can stave the inevitable. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them… but I’d also like to extend a hearty amount of empathy to those who suffer from constant neck and back pain. My pain is very minimal, more annoying. To think someone lives with this, ten-times fold, wow… I’m so sorry! I am grateful and lucky to have just this tiny bit. But… as I do with everything, I will find a way to make it go away. Too much to do to devote time or energy to a crick. And that’s the only message I have today in this 365 Daily Challenge as it’s time to move to the dining room table.

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. 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.

365 Challenge: Day 180 – Vulnerable

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Vulnerable: susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm

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Being vulnerable is often interpreted as letting yourself be open to something that might hurt you. It’s usually not associated with a positive outcome, leaving us to worry about the consequences of other people’s or even our own actions. It could be that we reveal too much about ourselves or we let emotions control our reactions to those around us. In the end, we feel vulnerable over the entire situation, afraid of letting it ever happen again. Being vulnerable is scary. But sometimes being vulnerable, in a healthy way, can help us grow.

Fear is always going to exist. There will always be bad people who do bad things for bad reasons. Life is not a perfectly run machine; there are accidents, breakdowns and system failures. Sometimes it feels like the right thing to do is avoid risk and stay hidden somewhere no one can reach us. Yet if we remain closed up, unable to share our thoughts and interact with others, we might miss out on a ton of good things still to come. That’s where there the element of surprise can often bring wonderful change, giving us the freedom to control some of the parameters so that we have better balance among our ability to be vulnerable in a good way in front of others.

Today’s 365 Daily Challenge word is ‘vulnerable’ as a reminder that while there are many types of natural and unnatural disasters happening all around us, we can’t let ourselves be afraid to open up to others in a safe and comfortable environment. Look for the areas of life where you can experience beauty and love, by letting yourself be a little bit more receptive to new and sometimes scary ideas. Don’t focus on all the negative things that could bring more harm than necessary. Find a balance where vulnerability is within your power to share in comfortable situations and withhold in uncomfortable ones. It doesn’t have to mean someone is weak or open to attack because they allow themselves a bit of vulnerability. It could be that (s)he will find a positive connection that helps calm and settle everything around them.

It’s OK to say “I can’t do it all” or give yourself permission to make a mistake. People understand when you need to take smaller steps and re-schedule something. You can allow yourself a few moments to breathe without worrying what others will think of you. Being vulnerable in a healthy manner is simply taking care of yourself so that you can recharge and refresh before moving forward with a decision or action. But being vulnerable can also be an opportunity to discover something new about yourself.

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. 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.

Review: The Pit and the Pendulum

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The Pit and the Pendulum Book Review
3+ of 5 stars to The Pit and the Pendulum, a short story written in 1842, by Edgar Allan Poe. As in the tradition of Poe’s other Gothic and gory tales, this one takes the fear of death to new heights. Poe tells the story of a man facing punishment during the Spanish Inquisition, a death like no other. At first, he’s strapped to a wooden table while a pendulum swings from above with a saw, getting lower and lower until it’s nearly about to start ripping into his flesh. But the victim finds a way out… in a somewhat ingenious manner. But when he’s saved, he falls into the pit as the walls begin to close in on him. Once again, before he perishes, he is saved when the Inquisition is over.

On the outskirts, it’s just a Gothic tale of a man afraid to die. Two horrific options nearly take his life, all the way messing with this mental state. Neither are a quick and painless death. Both will shock his body and render his mind afraid of life… in a permanent state… just as he enters the after-life. Poe’s saying a lot more here than what you read upon an initial viewing of this story. As expected, the story takes you on the ride of your life. It’s a careful executed imagination that can find the right words and the perfect background to constantly jiggle the paranoia we all feel at some point in our lives.

Certainly not the best of his short stories, it is a good one… something all beginning thriller fans should read.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Idea of You

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The Idea of You
The Idea of You by Amanda Prowse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars to Amanda Prowse‘s book The Idea of You, a fictional story about a women craving motherhood but facing many barriers to success. I was offered this book through NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for a fair an honest review. I am glad I read it and had a positive reaction. On to the review…


Story

Lucy has wanted to be a mother for a very long time, but she’s about to turn 40 and was recently dumped by her boyfriend who went on to marry Lucy’s own cousin. At a christening, she meets Jonah and he proposes within a few months. He has a 16-year-old daughter, Camille, who lives with her mother and stepfather, but plans to come visit for a summer before her final year at boarding school. Lucy and Jonah have several miscarriages before Camille arrives, and it’s starting to put a small strain on their marriage. Lucy struggles at work and with her family, unwilling to tell anyone about the pain she’s going through, secretly hoping the next time she gets pregnant, she won’t miscarry. Along her journey, she writes notes to each of her lost children, pining away for a little girl of her own. She and Camille do not get along well for the most part, but do find a few things that help bond them little by little. When the past comes back to haunt everyone, and new obstacles are thrown in front of the whole family, Lucy is forced to decide between what is best for everyone and what is best for her. And as the story comes to end, Lucy finds a way to make peace with her decision, understanding the impact it has on everyone involved.


Strengths

Lucy’s story, an all-too-common one, is a strong and beautiful journey not only for the woman who has miscarried several babies, but for the family around them who don’t always know what’s truly happening. The pressure from friends and siblings to get pregnant before it’s too late… the comments from people at work about having difficulty dividing time between family and your career…. the doctors who try to comfort you but really can only do and know so much. Lucy’s a very likable character. She has flaws and makes mistakes. She’s a bit immature in such situations but she’s handling all the emotions with great strength and fervor. I felt a strong urge to want to hug her.

There aren’t always fairy-tale endings in life, and I really enjoy when books face those consequences. I’m not giving away any spoilers as to whether she eventually has a baby or not, but regardless, her situation is not one anyone would envy. I felt privileged to watch the struggle, especially being so far removed from it, by being neither a mother nor a father. The author, who has mentioned her own struggles at conceiving and keeping pregnancies, puts a lot of emotional connection into the words and the scenes.

While it’s a sad story, there was a fine balance in pushing readers to tears. Perhaps because I’ve never been in any type of a similar situation, I held back some of my emotion; however, there were just enough points where you felt the pain and felt the emotions come full force. But not so much that you had to put the book down and take a break. Good balance.


Suggestions

While I understood it was important to get to the point where she has a husband and and her time is running out to have her own baby, starting the book when she’s 39 and then rushing thru the first year may have caused a few moments of less than helpful separation. I care about her as the story unfolds, but when you know little about her first 39 years, other than she wants to be a mother, you have a few questions that linger. Most are answered eventually, and possibly this is a “point in time / life” story, but… it could have used a little tidying up in this respect.

I wanted to see more about Lucy’s life with her sister and mother. I understand with some of the reveals that come later in the story why it wouldn’t exactly be easy, but it would have helped give her more depth.


Final Thoughts

I’ve read a few stories with this theme, and this is definitely one of the stronger ones. I like the author’s style and would want to read some of her other books. It’s not a major stand-out where I feel compelled to buy her next one immediately, but it’s got all the qualities of a good book you will enjoy. I pushed it to a 4 because it’s much higher than an average / OK book with a few good parts at a 3.

If you like strong female characters, this one’s for you. Lucy’s remarkable in her strength and only had 2 or 3 moments where I thought she was being a little too immature. Enjoy.

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Review: Did You Ever Have a Family

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Did You Ever Have a Family
Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I treasure this book. It has everything I want in something I choose to read. I generally am driven by the plot of a book, closely followed by the character development. Oddly, there is no plot in this book as the conflict at the center of the story took place before the book begins. Yet I love it. Quickly falling to character development, it’s fantastic. Each chapter switches from character to character, some of which you understand the connection to the plot, some of which you do not. By the middle of the book, you know what actually happened to kick off the tragedy, but relating the story each character tells is where you find the soul of the plot.

I highly recommend you read this book over a few days, not all at once. Take time to think about the characters, how they relate to folks in your own life, and figure out what the meaning ultimately is to you. I wish we all had a Lydia Morey in our life. She can teach us a lot.

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