Finding Joy in Sadness

I can’t imagine losing your child. Our kids aren’t supposed to go before we do. I’ve seen it happen, quite a few times and it is heartbreaking.

My best friend’s son died yesterday. He’s just a couple of years younger than my son. I’ve known him all of his life. He was such a good man, son, and father. Everyone is no doubt wondering “why.” We can’t answer that question, not really, but I like to think that because he was so special he was needed above. He’s making a fantastic Angel. And when he’s not busy helping others, he’ll be fishing with his grandfather, his grandmother rocking in her chair, crocheting, with a huge smile on her face.

Meanwhile, his parents, children, and friends grieve. His warm arms will not hold us as they did before. He was a great hugger, and he was kind enough to share them with me when my son is so far away. He worked so hard and loved so deeply, what a huge hole his absence is making in the world. It’s still so hard to believe he is gone from us.

I loved his laugh and I can appreciate a good one. He laughed with his whole body and that’s the only way to do it and do it right.

Watching him with his kids was amazing. And listening to his mother share stories of him painting the girl’s toenails really cracked me up. His patience with his sons showed his love for them, I hope they never forget it. With four kids and two jobs, he didn’t get much time for himself, but he didn’t seem to mind. I’m told he was a great cook and grill master, knowing just what to do with spices to make everything taste good. I’m sure his experiments worked out much better than my “creative cooking” ever could.

When you’ve lost someone so special, you can’t help but feel empty. The tears never stop and everything hurts. Nothing works to make that feeling of loss and pain go away. Except, maybe time, but I doubt it. You grow a scab and a memory may tear it off. Eventually, the good memories outweigh the sad ones and you laugh. God, I loved his laugh, it was so contagious and heartfelt. That’s the part I will remember, his laugh, and his bear hugs. We love you, Shawn.

Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads SingWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stunning first novel. The prose is vivid, as are the characters and setting. One by one, Kya has been abandoned by her family, so she carries on living alone in the shack in the marsh. The townspeople don’t understand who she is and dubs her the marsh girl. She is strong and a survivor. She gets a little help from a few others, but she spends her life isolated. A friend of her brothers realizes how smart she is and teaches her to read. He also shares textbooks about biology, because he is also a child of the marsh. The sense of nature, the lack of nurture, the stunning scenes and tension of being alone and different are a poignant part of the story. I loved this book. I could smell the fetid water and hear the cicadas. I could sense Kya’s heartbeat as it matched time with the waves coming into the shore of North Carolina.

Thank you, Delia Owens for writing such a compelling book.

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Dreams of Joy, follow up to Shanghai Girls – ROCKS!

Dreams of Joy (Shanghai Girls #2)Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading “Shanghai Girls” I had to find a copy of book 2. It was worth it. I read it less than 2 days. OMG. A 19-year-old Chinese American girl runs away from home (L.A.) to the Peoples Republic of China with stars in her eyes and guilt in her heart. She wants to be a part of something bigger than herself, where everyone is equal and shares everything equally. She jumps into the culture with her eyes closed and her heart open and suffers along with the comrades in the countryside.

Lisa See gives us an amazing glimpse into what it may have been like from 1957 through 1959 Maoist China. Nothing is as it seems and our young heroine nearly loses her life before she realizes how wrong she has been.

Amazing stories from a wonderful author that transport you and tug at your heart and mind. Thank you, Lisa See.

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Shanghai Girls, an amazing read.

Shanghai Girls (Shanghai Girls #1)Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lisa See has recreated Shanghai China in the 1930’s and the escape from the Japanese invasion by two sisters. Their experience is compelling. They eventually make it to Los Angeles and Angel Island. Although they are married (arranged by her father) to young Chinese American men, they struggle with interrogations and accusations by the authorities. Their new lives in America are difficult and opportunities become fewer as World War II rages. They are able to maintain a semblance of Chinese tradition and culture by living in Chinatown and working there. This story centers around the sister’s stories, their closeness, and their difficulties. It is not always an easy relationship because they are very different. One sister bears a child then the other raises it. The other sister loses her child. When one sister betrays the other once again, the results are catastrophic.

I was mad when I came to the end of this novel. There was so much more to the story. That’s when I found “Dreams of Joy” the second book and read it in two days also. Thank you, Lisa See for bringing such richness to the story, the people, the places and the time.

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O.M.G. This book ROCKED!

The Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hold onto your seats. This kept me “enthralled” for three days until I finished it. O.M.G. Interesting characters galore. Untold twists and turns and surprises. It’s compelling, suspenseful. Okay, I can’t say enough good things about this book.

Harriet (aka Hal) is alone and struggling since her mother died, and she can’t seem to catch a break. Although she is good at reading people and the tarot, she anticipates tomorrow will be just like today – a constant struggle. Besides the past due bills, she gets a letter in the mail summoning her to the reading of her grandmother’s will. She thinks it must be a mistake but if there’s a remote chance she’ll receive a little money (hence a break) she decides to hop a train and find out, although doing so will leave her stranded without enough money to purchase a ticket home.

Suffice it to say, things aren’t all they seem. The reading of the will is full of surprises, and Hal finds herself amongst people who consider her family. A feeling she’s not had since her mother died three years before. I’ll stop now because I don’t want to give anything away. If you love a spellbinding book, this is a GOOD ONE!

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The Book is Better than the Movie

 

I can’t begin to guess how many films have been made based on novels or short stories, so I Googled it and believe there are too many to count. Twenty-six books are being made into films in 2018.
Twenty-four were made in 2017, twenty in 2016 so we could do the math, but that is not my forte.

Most of the time I find that the book is much better and I’m disappointed in the movie, so instead of rushing out to see a film after I’ve read the book, I wait a little while. If the movie captures the characters and story, then the details don’t matter quite as much.

For example. Our book club has been reading a lot of heavy WWII stories. They were brilliant, but we needed something light to ease the tension. We slipped in Joanna Fluke’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery and found it delightfully fun. (We even tried one of the recipes in the book and agreed her other recipes and books are worth trying.)

We only meet once a month so one evening I noticed that Fluke’s cookie story was a Hallmark movie and flipped channels to watch. Big mistake. The characters were different in not only appearance (the redhead was made a blonde), but their personalities were more superficial. They changed quite a bit of the story, too, but the essence was there. The trouble is, I had just finished reading the book and felt disappointed. I will return to my theory that there needs to be some time between reading the book and watching the film to not feel cheated.

Here are a few exceptions to the “book is always better” rule. 

  • In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner was an amazing book, and Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz did a great job portraying the characters. I noticed some missing scenes in the movie, but I didn’t miss them.  
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett was another successful book translation to the silver screen. The casting was stellar, and the story well told in both paper and film. 
  • I’ve never read Gone With the Wind (sorry Margaret), but I loved the film and have been told that the movie is very much like the book. 
  • Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic read that I don’t mind repeating periodically. Same goes for the movie, Gregory Peck and those kids made the story come alive for me, and I watch the movie every year. 

I don’t know how much the author is allowed to contribute to the making of a film based on their work. It appears that most production companies have their own stable of writers, but many times I read that authors are asked to consult on the script and during filming. Sounds like fun, but also nerve-wracking to watch your creation take form in someone else’s hands. Here’s hoping some of us experience it sometime. I wish you all tons of luck on your writing journey. 

Website: http://bdtharp.com
Facebook: Bonnie D Tharp Books
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BonnieDTharp 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard 
Amazon: Bonnie Tharp Author Page

New Author of Historical Fiction: Z. Minor

Please help me welcome: Louise Pelzl who is writing under the name of Z. Minor. She’s a delightful lady that I’ve known for a very long time and has been supportive of my writing journey. She’s past president of the Kansas Writer’s Association and a dear friend.

What parts of you and your background feed your imagination?

Everything around me; people, TV Shows, the what-if when I see or hear a headline either on the news or in a magazine.

Tell us a little about the very first story you remember writing?

The Sisterhood of the Coin. It was my first endeavor into writing a novel and it got published!

Creative people are often creative in other ways, besides writing what else does the muse encourage you to do?

I do decorative painting on wood – my favorite is snowman or Christmas decorations. I love to garden. I love having my home-grown cut flowers in the house. I plant a lot of flowers so when I bring them in the house my garden doesn’t look bare.

What genre(s) do you like to write?

Historical romantic suspense
Contemporary mystery novels
Play at sci-fi for fun
Most of my stories have murder and mayhem in them.

Tell us a little about your novel, its plot and the main character(s).

Sisterhood of the Coin is a series of three historical romantic suspense books.
The second book – I just sent my edits back to my editor, while I’m working on the third.

The stories involved three foster sisters who are interesting in finding out who their birth parents are for various reasons. The books take place between 1820 – 1824. When the women were young they formed a club called the Sisterhood of Coin. Each has an old Roman Coin. If they are ever in trouble, they only have to send their coin to another sister, and she will come to their aid.

Nicola Highbridge is the main character in the first book. She comes to London to help her younger sister and meets Clay Barber. He appears to be a common laborer but in reality, is a titled Earl. He helps her find her birth parents and in the process discovers who is one of the leading players in the Cato Conspiracy (a true fact from 1820).

My second book, Mara’s Legacy is about Mara Highbridge and what she discovers when she sets out to find her birth parents.
My third book, Emmy’s Discovery is about Emmy and an archeology opportunity that might just set the world of literature in a tailspin. And of course, as I have introduced new characters major and minor in my current works I see other books taking shape.Which might mean there will be more than three books in the series.

Are any of the characters like you and if so in what way?

I don’t think so. I think my characters are how I wish I could be.

What genre(s) or author(s) do you like to read?

I don’t have a favorite author. As long as the book is interesting, I will read it.

Where and when do you find the best ideas or inspiration for your stories?

I like to use historical facts that are not known to most people. I research the events and then add my own twists, while keeping the historically portion accurate.

If there were a message you could share with other writers what would it be?

Don’t give up on your writing- not ever!!!

Where can readers go to learn more about you and your work?

I write under the name Z. Minor (middle initial and maiden name). Find me on Amazon, or my website www.zminor.com. I’m also on Facebook under Z. Minor.

Another Enjoyable Read

BlueprintsBlueprints by Barbara Delinsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delinsky takes on the world of remodeling homes and gardens as a background for this novel. Mother is a carpenter and her daughter is an architect for the family firm. There are forces bent on splitting up this dynamic duo. During the course of this story, their close relationship will be tested. Careers will shift, a hunky contractor and a handsome school teacher become important to these women. As always Delinsky gives us some tension, life changes, romance, and surprises. I do enjoy her books.

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Welcome to the Lowcountry versus upper Midwest

By Invitation OnlyBy Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like the stars say, I really liked this book. When I open a Dorthea Benton Frank novel I feel like I’m visiting friends in the Lowcountry. She makes you feel right at home. Thanks again, Dot.

Shelby and Fred are in love. They’re from vastly different places, Shelby was raised in Chicago with money, culture and social standing. Fred’s family are southern farmers, with down-home attitudes of hard work and being kind to everyone, no matter what their station in life. To say that the two families have a bit of trouble relating to one another is an understatement. Planning for the wedding gets totally out of control, pretention abounding. But things can change and do when Shelby and Fred say enough. As always, there are a wonderful set of quirky characters and sticky situations that impact everyone. It’s fun. It’s funny. It’s sad. And it’s well worth reading.

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