I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye by Brook Noel & Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D.

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Title: I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping & Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One by Brook Noel & Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D.

Premise:

This book is meant to be a reference aid for those who have experienced the sudden loss of a loved one.  It features personal stories, guidelines for coping and healing, grief recovery exercises, information about the grieving process, additional resources, and more.

My thoughts:

This is the most recent book I read in my quest to find quality books which cover the topic of grief.  The title jumped out at me because of my sister’s sudden death.  I haven’t found many books that deal with sudden death, in particular.

 

Personally, this was a very cathartic read for me.  I came away with a sense of affirmation and understanding, and the acceptance of being okay with my current progress in my grief journey.  The authors really emphasize the fact that grief is a journey, not a destination, and that there is no prescribed method or timeline for it.  For someone who is feeling out of control, like they are regressing, or like they’ll never “get better,” this is a very helpful thing to hear.  I agree with the authors that each person should make their way along the path of grief using the methods which suit them, and according to their own timetable.

 

There were some after-life views which I didn’t agree with, but the authors presented them as different modes of belief, not necessarily their own.  They neither endorsed nor discounted the different after-life beliefs, but left it open so that the book could be helpful for people of all different faiths (or no faith at all).

 

One criticism, if you can even call it that, is that I wish there were more examples of sudden deaths in which the family has to forgive the person who was responsible for their loved one’s death (i.e. murder).  It was lightly touched on, but not given a lot of discussion, probably because of the authors’ lack of experience with that kind of death.  Since it’s outside of their scope, I can’t really complain that they weren’t able to relate to those particular feelings.  I just wish I could learn about some ways to recover from a situation where your family member died a more violent death and you have to accept the fact that their killer gets a second chance at life.  Perhaps I’ll find a book like that one of these days.

 

Aside from that, there are a fair number of errors in the text which would have been caught with more careful editing.  It would have also made the book and writing style come across as more professional.

 

I recommend I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye to those who have experienced the sudden death of a loved one and are looking for healing.  No matter where you are in the healing process, this book should have something of value to offer you.  It’s quite helpful as a reference book on grief.


A favorite quote:“Laws of nature do not make exceptions for nice people.  A bullet has no conscience; neither does a malignant tumor or an automobile gone out of control.  That is why good people get sick and hurt as much as anyone.”  (p. 70, Rabbi Kushner)

“‘Relationships with a brother or sister help children know who they are and how they fit in the family.  The bonds between siblings are woven into the fabric of each one’s life.’  When we lose a sibling, we lose a piece of ourselves, a piece of our family, and a reflection of ourselves.”  (p. 160)

Possible Objections:

  • You may not agree with all of the after-life beliefs which are presented

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris by Holly Tucker

City of Light

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Title: City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris by Holly Tucker

Premise:

During the reign of King Louis XIV of France, a man named La Reynie was appointed as the first police chief in Paris.  La Reynie worked tirelessly to bring the city’s crime under control, installing so many street lamps that Paris came to be known as the City of Light.  The police chief also uncovered a complicated web of crime which brought to light the poison, witchcraft, and murder taking place even in the upper echelons of society.

My thoughts:

This was such an ambitious book!  Not only was it a monumental task to write, but it’s a challenge to read, as well.  It’s like trying to take five loosely associated soap operas (with all their complicated drama), and trying to form them into one cohesive story.  Not easy.  I think the thing that saves the book from becoming totally unmanageable is that the subject matter is so juicy and interesting.  Even if you have to keep going back to check who the characters are and what they did, you do it because you want to understand the intricacies of this twisted tale.

While reading this book, you may doubt that it’s non-fiction because of how fantastical the events are, but rest assured that this is authentic French history at its finest!  I told my husband when I got done with the book that I was so glad that I wasn’t alive back then.  Those were some majorly messed up people!

So, the gist of the story is that La Reynie was appointed the first official police chief of Paris–a city positively drowning in crime.  The book talks about some of the general improvements and goals La Reynie had for the city, but the bulk of the story centers on a strange period of time called the Affair.  In a nutshell, it was La Reynie’s investigation into some very high profile poisonings and other crimes, and the extremely tangled web he tried to unravel.  You will be quite shocked by the lengths some of these nobles went to to get what they wanted.

I found the book highly interesting, but I’ll warn you that you need to be mentally on your toes to follow the story.  The author necessarily had to give a lot of back story and weave together many threads, and it can be difficult to follow.  There are also a few parts that might be rather uncomfortable to some readers.  Most of it is towards the end of the book when the interrogations take place.  Some of the things they described are just gross and offensive.

I recommend City of Lights, City of Poison to adults who enjoy history and are not afraid to hear all the ugly details.  Even if you’re not a history fan, this book reads like fiction, so you would probably enjoy it, too.

Possible Objections:

  • some grotesque descriptions
  • some semi-explicit sexual stuff
  • violence

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Honeymoon by James Patterson & Howard Roughan

Honeymoon - WM

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Honeymoon is the next book from my Rainbow Cover Reading Challenge.  I’m nearing the end!  This book was the one that I wasn’t sure about.  I had never read any James Patterson before, so I didn’t know what to expect.  Spoilers below!

This book is a mild thriller about a black widow type woman and the FBI agent who is trying to figure out whether or not she’s a killer.  Basically that is all that the story encompasses.  The woman, Nora, is virtually irresistible and has a knack for drawing men into her web before dispensing with them.  O’hara is the FBI agent who goes undercover to infiltrate Nora’s inner circle and ascertain her culpability.  The only problem–O’hara finds himself drawn into her web, just like the men before him.  Will O’hara escape Nora’s clutches?  Read the book to find out!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t crazy about this book.  I finished it because the story was brisk enough to keep my attention, but it won’t be getting any awards for quality literature.  The dialogue was often a series of witty rejoinders, sometimes entire conversations.  It seemed a bit fake to me.  Also, I found the premise unbelievable.  I understand that it’s a thriller and not meant to be very realistic, but could one woman really maintain how many different relationships and a busy career?  She was a bit too wonder-woman for me.  My last criticism might seem trivial, but if you read the book you will probably notice it, too.  There are a ton of product and brand mentions in this book.  As an example, these are the brand mentions and name drops from chapters 1 and 2: Dockers, Evian, Ferragamo, Eleish-Van Breems, New Canaan Antiques, the Silk Purse, the Cellar, Monet, Thomas Cole, Magritte, J. P. Morgan, Castro, Richard Nixon, New York School of Interior Design, Le Cordon Bleu, Polo, Amstel Light, Smith and Wollensky, Graeters, Tiffany, Dom Pérignon, Jack Daniel’s.  It’s like they’re trying to convince us of the awesomeness and wealth of these people by telling us about the brands they buy and whose furnishings they own.  (Or could they be paid product placements?) Sigh.

I don’t really recommend this book, but I suspect it might appeal more to the male population.

Possible Objections:

  • Bad language
  • Violence
  • Sexual scenes

Rating: 1 Star

 

Until next time…

Lori

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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I checked this book out on a whim.  Whenever I read the newspaper, I notice that list of popular books right next to the crossword puzzle.  I never have looked at any of those books–until now.  I thought it might be fun to see what’s so great about the current popular books out there.

I finished reading The Girl on the Train a couple of days ago.  It’s not the type of book that I normally pick up, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  It’s a little hard to classify.  I’d call it a cross between a psychological/crime thriller and peoples’ personal memoirs.  It sounds a bit strange, but the book focuses equally on events and peoples’ thought lives.

Each chapter focuses on an individual character and records their thoughts and actions in diary form.  The chapters jump around from one character to another, where we learn what happens in the story, the characters’ motives and thoughts, and what they think about one another.

This book is interesting in that you don’t really know who the “good guys” are until the end.  In the beginning you will probably think that you have it figured out, but as the story progresses and peoples’ thoughts are exposed, you will come to a new understanding.  The book really got me thinking about what makes a person good or bad.  Outward appearances can be deceiving.

I don’t want to tell you a lot about the plot because that will totally ruin the book for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.  I will tell you that it’s about a woman named Rachel whose husband (Tom) divorced her for another woman.  Rachel can’t move on and she becomes an alcoholic.  While riding on the train past the row of houses where she used to live, she witnesses something that is seemingly inconsequential, but that has a major impact on the other characters in the story.  There are other characters who become entwined in the story–Anna (Tom’s new wife), Scott and Megan Hipwell (neighbors of Tom’s), Kamal (a therapist), Cathy (Rachel’s flatmate), etc.

I would recommend this book as an interesting and engrossing read.  It kept me guessing almost up to the end about who the “bad guy” was.  It’s also a good study on human nature and what makes people tick.  I would say that it’s appropriate for adults because of the language, sex, and violence.

Possible Objections:

  1. Bad language–quite a bit of it.
  2. Sexual themes.
  3. Violence.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori