Tag Archives: death

#Bookreview There Will be Stars by Bill Coffey (@billycoffey) Have you ever thought what being dead would be like? If you have you might want to read this book.

There Will Be Stars by Bill Coffey
There Will Be Stars by Bill Coffey

Title:   There Will Be Stars
Author:   Billy Coffey 

ISBN13:  978-0718026820
ASIN:  B010R7HOR2
Published:  Thomas Nelson 3rd May 2016
Pages:  416
Genre:  
Christian Books, Religious and Inspirational, Literary

Description:

“IN A LIFE FULL OF LIES, HE FINALLY SETTLED FOR THE TRUTH.”

No one in Mattingly ever believed Bobby Barnes would live to see old age. Drink would either rot Bobby from the inside out or dull his senses just enough to send his truck off the mountain on one of his nightly rides. Although Bobby believes such an end possible—and even likely—it doesn’t stop him from taking his twin sons Matthew and Mark into the mountains one Saturday night. A sharp curve, blinding headlights, metal on metal, his sons’ screams. Bobby’s final thought as he sinks into blackness is a curious one—There will be stars.
Yet it is not death that greets him beyond the veil. Instead, he returns to the day he has just lived and finds he is not alone in this strange new world. Six others are trapped with him.
Bobby soon discovers that this supposed place of peace is actually a place of secrets and hidden dangers. Along with three others, he seeks to escape, even as the world around him begins to crumble. The escape will lead some to greater life, others to endless death . . . and Bobby Barnes to understand the deepest nature of love.

 

Body of review:

Have you ever thought what being dead would be like? If you have you might want to read this book.

Thanks to NetGalley and to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I understand this book is part of the author’s Mattingly series although is the first book I read by this author. In my opinion this book can be read as a stand-alone and be enjoyed without any knowledge of the rest of the series.

I hesitated when I saw this book recommended in Net Galley as I realised the publisher is considered a publisher of Christian books, and although that is not a problem for me per se, I don’t usually read books within that category and it’s not one of the things I look for in my reading. But the description of the book, and the fact that the author has been compared to great American Southern writers, convinced me to give it a go.

With regards to the plot… I had an accident in January this year. I thankfully was fine (the car not so much) but I had a strange thought afterwards. What if I had actually died at the accident and what I went back to and I thought was real life wasn’t such but just the afterlife that just happened to look exactly the same as my previous life? It might have been the shock, but I kept thinking about that for a while. When I read the description of the book, I realised that what I thought at the time is somewhat similar to what the main character, Bobby, experiences. He has what appears to be a car crash at the beginning of the novel but wakes up the next morning with no clear memory of what had happened. Strangely enough he realises he can tell what’s going to happen next, as if he’d already lived that day. Eventually he is told that he’s dead and he becomes a member of an ersatz family of dead people who are caught up on what they call the Turn, whereby they keep again and again repeating the same day, as if they were Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, but with far fewer laughs.

The book is told in the third person but from different points of view, although the main one is Bobby’s. The assemble of different characters (and old widow who becomes the mother of the group, a preacher who’s lost her faith, a battered wife, a young boy who’s lost his alcoholic mother, an old teacher who only believes in science, and a young man with more brawn than brains) have very different views on what this place is. For some, it’s heaven, for others is hell, and others try to find a scientific explanation for it, it’s either a bend in the river of life, or a mirror. They all have secrets and unresolved issues and the author is very good at creating complex characters that are anything but clichéd. They are all flawed and that’s what makes them human.

We might have our suspicions about what is really going on and I very much suspect this book will mean different things to different people. It is a book about redemption, and about second chances (or even multiple chances) and about how we might not be able to choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we react to them and we can try to be the best version of ourselves possible.

If I already said that the book can be interpreted and read in many different ways (in another review somebody mentioned Groundhog Day meets The Twilight Zone, and yes, that’s true), the ending can also be open to many interpretations. I won’t go into detail but I think whatever the faith, or lack of it, of the reader, that should not impede the enjoyment of the novel.

For me this book falls into the category of literary fiction, and as such it might not be to everybody’s taste. It is beautifully written, with nice cadence and rhythm to the words, but it isn’t a page turner or a quick read. It is contemplative and it has its own pace (like the river mentioned by one of the characters). The novel delves into psychological, moral and transcendental questions and the characters are not immediately likeable or recognisable (perhaps with the exception of the young boy), but if you are intrigued by such themes and are prepared to go exploring, you might discover a pretty special book.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5
Made Me Think: 5/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
 

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $11.11
Kindle: $10.27

 

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

 

Fear of Dying by Erica Jong #bookreview by @FTThum

Fear of Dying

Title:                    Fear of Dying
Author:                Erica Jong
Publishers:        Canongate (29 October 2015)
Format:                Paperback
ISBN-10:             178211744X
ISBN-13:             978-1782117445
Website:             http://www.ericajong.com/fear-of-dying.htm
Pages:                   288
Genre:                 Adult Fiction; Women’s Fiction
 

What’s it about?

This book is further evidence of Erica Jong’s courage in tackling personal politics through fiction.  This poet and author of ‘Fear of Flying’ to ‘Fear of Fifty’ now tackles the issue of ageing and death and our very human reaction to fear of dying through the pursuit of sex.

Fear of Dying opens with an advertisement on Zipless.com – an internet sex site, by the protagonist, Vanessa Wonderman, which read in part,

“Happily married woman with extra erotic energy seeks happily married man to share same.”

Vanessa is a 60 year old woman exposed to deaths around her from the loss of her beloved father, to the process of losing her mother whom she admired and loved, to the shock of almost losing her husband. And her psychological response? To cling to life, to the symbol of life and vitality that is, sex – the “life force, the fire that goes from loins to navel, navel to heart, heart to brain”.

Vanessa is married to a man two decades older and impotent whom she loved yet found wanting, he met her needs yet she is unable to appreciate some of his ways, particularly the interference of his work.

Vanessa have always had the adoration of men, whom she in turn adored and flirted with and more. Ageing threatens her, as the first line in the book states, “I used to love the power I had over men” and later, “I hate, hate, hate getting older”.

Written in the first person, I encounter Vanessa’s mind in Fear of Dying as she experiences conflicted emotions and confusion. Vanessa does not profess to be the ‘good daughter’ or the ‘good mother’ or the ‘good wife’…quite the contrary. And it is the flawed aspects of Vanessa that makes this book entertaining and humorous. Her honesty is refreshing. It kept me turning the pages.

How does it end for Vanessa, the cynical somewhat jaded actor? You must discover this for yourself.

And if Fear of Dying is semiautobiographical then it is a testament that 60 year olds are still sexually passionate and not just in their minds.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, an intelligent and entertaining book that kept me wanting to know how it ends for Vanessa.

Ratings:

Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think:               3.5/5
Overall enjoyment:           4/5
Readability:                       3.5/5
Recommended:                 3.5/5
Overall Rating:                   3.5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD $4.44
  Paperback USD $15.99
Booktopia Paperback AUD $17.95
Bookdepository Paperback £12.23

– FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

florence-2

© 2016 LitWorldInterviews

 

Creatures of A Day by Irvin Yalom #BookReview by @FTThum

It is such sweet anticipation knowing a book by Irvin Yalom awaits me.

yalom

Title:                    Creatures of A Day and Other Tales of Psychotherapy
Author:                Irvin D Yalom
Publishers:        Piatkus (5 March 2015)
Format:                Paperback
ISBN-10:             0349407428
ISBN-13:             9780349407425
Website:             http://www.yalom.com/index.html
Pages:                   224
Genre:                 Literary Non-Fiction; Psychology
 

What’s it about?

Once again, Irvin D Yalom does not disappoint. On the contrary he proves (not that he needed to J) yet again his mastery in conveying the complexity of the human psyche into short stories designed to engage the imagination and to teach. For those who do not know, Yalom is an eminent existential psychotherapist and author. He is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Standford University who is cautious of the perils of diagnosis and pathology, rather preferring to delve into human psyche. At the age of 82 (when the book was written), Yalom’s curiosity and ‘work’ on himself lies with the reality of impending death.

In ‘Creatures of a Day’, Yalom explores through ten tales (of real cases) the existential theme of ‘death’ or ‘existential death’, and how we, no matter our age, experience and respond when confronted with our own mortality. There is no formula, no correct answer – just a deep appreciation for the complexities that is the human psyche. Yalom’s humility and candour shine in the short stories. Though a master therapist, Yalom does not shy away from owning his missteps in therapy sessions, nor his judgment, non-engagement and not-knowing. What is important, as he highlights in ‘Creatures of a Day’, is the therapeutic relationship between him and his clients, one that is authentic, honest and transparent. He demonstrates the transformative power of this healing relationship.

If there is one ‘flaw’ it is that ‘Creatures of a Day’ through Yalom’s exquisite storytelling makes the psychotherapeutic process seemed a ‘natural’ process and can be attempted with ease. Here is the paradox – the therapeutic process is hard work and difficult for the client and the therapist; it is never simple.

As Yalom states,

The patients in these stories deal with anxiety about death, about the loss of loved ones and the ultimate loss of oneself, about how to live a meaningful life, about coping with aging and diminished possibilities, about choice, about fundamental isolation.

Yet this book provides such an uplifting, hopeful perspective to our humanness and our capacity for growth.

Would I recommend it?

So would I recommend this book? A resounding ‘yes’.

And the book’s audience?

I will quote Yalom. “I write for those of you who have a keen interest in the human psyche and personal growth, for the many readers who will identify with the ageless existential crises … and for the individuals who contemplate entering therapy or are already in the midst of it.”

Savour the book not just its entertaining tales but take time to explore the nuanced interactions between Yalom and his patients.

 

Ratings:

Realistic Characterization: 4.5/5
Made Me Think:               4.5/5
Overall enjoyment:           5/5
Readability:                       5/5
Recommended:                 5/5
Overall Rating:                   5/5

Buy it at:

Amazon Kindle USD $8.27
  Paperback USD $15.99
Booktopia Paperback AUD $23.80
Bookdepository Paperback £9.38

– FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

florence-2

© 2016 LitWorldInterviews