Book Review: For One More Day

Last weekend I was in the library and a book jumped off the shelf and slapped me in the face. The cover of For One More Day by Mitch Albom is as plain as they come. In fact, if the book had been named anything else I think I would have thrown the book back onto the shelf and kept walking. But the title of the book grabbed my attention immediately.

For One More Day

for one more dayBeing a bereaved mother, the title spoke to me in volumes. Without reading anything more than those four words, I knew I wanted to read the book. And I didn’t read the blurb or the inside cover, I just borrowed the book and brought it home with me. And my gut instinct was right.

During the week, I picked up the book again and this time I read the blurb on the back:

“If you had the chance, just one chance, to go back and fix what you did wrong in life, would you take it? And if you did, would you be big enough to stand it? Mitch Albom, in this new book once again demonstrates why he is one of my favourite writers: a fearless explorer of the wishful and magical, he is also a devout believer in the power of love. For One More Day will make you smile. It will make you wistful. It will make you blink back tears of nostalgia. But most of all, it will make you believe in the eternal power of a mother’s love.”

James McBride, author of The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

As children, we often think our parents are wrong. We don’t understand why they refuse to let us do the things we want to do. We often are embarrassed by them, shy away from them and say things that hurt them. As children, we just don’t get what it’s like to be a parent.

As adults, we fight to become our own person. We still don’t understand why everything is such an effort. And why our parents insist on trying to run our lives by telling us what is best for us. As adults, we still don’t understand what it’s like to be a parent.

Then we become parents ourselves and suddenly everything falls into place. We finally see the sacrifices our parents made. We finally see the mistakes they made and have been trying to warn us against. Without realising what we are doing, we take on the role our parents had and start doing the same things they did. As parents, we finally understand the love our parents had for us and appreciate the need they had to protect us.

If you are a parent now, can you imagine what it would be like to be given the chance to go back and right a wrong with our mother…especially if that mother is dead?

For One More Day gives a son that opportunity. Charley’s life is in ruins and he wants to end his life, but he gets to spend one more day with his (dead) mother. He learns things about his family he never cared about when he was a child. He learns things about his mother that would have embarrassed him as a teenager. He learns things about himself from a mother who never stopped loving him and whose wisdom guides him to pick up the pieces of his tragic life.

This story is written is a way where the words seem to be written especially for you. It felt so private and so close to reality that it had me in tears. If I knew then (when I was growing up) what I know now, life would have been so much easier. I could have saved myself a lot of heartache if I had listened to my parents, but as life is not meant to be easy, we stumble through the years making mistakes. These mistakes make us the people we are today, but what if…

Every family has its secrets. Some children never learn the reason for important decisions made, such as divorce. If we had the chance to go back and spend a day with a lost relative, what would we learn from that time? What would we say?

This book affected me because it was written about a mother and son. The fact that the son wanted to kill himself added to my desire to read the book (although it isn’t in any way a main focus of the story). It gives clear reasons why someone with everything can lose focus to such an extent that it can ultimately lead to the lack of will to live. On the other hand, it shows why a family can become dysfunctional and how easily wrong ideas are formulated because people are not told the truth.

I highly recommend For One More Day to anyone with a heart. You will not regret the time spent within this world, reading the words and sharing the insights this story has to offer.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) about three or four weeks ago. However, due to a heavy editing schedule I had at the time I was unable to write a review of the book…until now.

With over 600 pages, the book is much longer than those I usually read. Having a short attention span, and because I read frustratingly slow, I prefer to stick with thinner books because I feel as if I’m accomplishing something when I finish reading them. So, I get that happy feeling more often with thin books. I never used to be like that. In my younger, more aware days I would only buy extra thick books because I felt I was getting my moneys worth. How things change. 😀

Anyway, back to Harry Potter 6, I have to say that the story kept me intrigued from the beginning. I was carried from chapter to chapter with ease and, of course, the well known characters and well defined plot had a lot to do with this.

If you haven’t read this series, then do yourself a favour and buy the Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-6) right now. You won’t be sorry.

Right, if you haven’t read the book, then I strongly advise you to stop reading this post right NOW!!

Read moreBook Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Grab Your Reader With Conflict

by Lea Schizas

No, not conflict of interest…not conflict within your being…but conflict found in a story.

What exactly is conflict in a story? Simple…a problem/obstacle your main character needs to overcome by the end of the story. Think of it as your engine that drives your car forward. Without one your car remains idle, collecting dust in the driveway. Give your car a super booster engine and you’ll be coasting the streets with no worries. Well, until the police stop you.

In a story conflict moves your character through various situations he must overcome. This intrigues and pulls your reader deeper into the story, connecting with your character’s predicament. A character needs to have a hurdle tossed at them, makes for an intriguing situation to find out the outcome. Without an outcome, there is no magnetic charge with your reader.

Before writing your story and making up your character profile, ask yourself these questions:

1- What will be the main goal my character will face and need to overcome?

2- Who will be my target audience?

The second question is important because it will help to focus your words and subject matter to suit the appropriate audience. For stories aimed at children, your focus will need to adapt to a child’s view of the world around them. Most of the time the story is told through the character’s point of view aged a few years older than the intended audience. For example, if you aim your story for the 8 – 10 age group then setting a story for a twelve year old character would be best since kids always like to read and associate with kids a bit older than them.

What subject matter can you write about for this age group? Middle grade readers love mysteries, soft spooky tales ( no knife-wielding maniacs, head chopping, blood and core etc, more suspenseful and ‘goose-bumping tales like in the “Goosebumps” books), magical tales (Harry Potter), even teeny bopper stories like Baby Sitters Club or Sweet Valley High. These latter ones are suitable for the Young Adult market, too.

TYPES OF CONFLICTS:

Here are some examples of conflicts in some books:

– the almighty tried and successful ‘good against evil’ Think Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs…yes, these fairy tales were using the ‘good against evil’ method if you sit down and think about it. The wolves in both fairy tales were intent on overcoming their ‘so-they-thought’ weaker counterparts.

In the above examples, something stood in the protagonist’s way:

Harry tries to defeat Voldemort but problems and other antagonists along the way makes this quest difficult for him.

The Lord of the Rings finds Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring but evil and dark forces stand in his way, too.

Luke Skywalker in Star Wars needs to defeat the new order of evil, and he, too, faces many obstacles and characters along the way.

In each of these examples, these obstacles (new smaller conflicts against the bigger goal they are after) causes a reader to continue reading to find out if he’ll be successful, how he will outsmart them, and what change will this cause in the main character. Along with these obstacles, throwing in some inner conflicts alongside the outer emotions helps to cast them more as three-dimensional beings, for example:

Luke Skywalker deals with the knowledge he has a sister somewhere out there. His inner being and emotions help to make him more sympathetic, which eventually bonds the reader to him. The same with Frodo; his world has been thrown for a loop when he takes on the quest of the Ring…along the way he begins to doubt if he, indeed, is the best man for this job. Also, he questions his will power to avoid succumbing to the dark forces once he has tasted the Ring’s power.

Another example to show you what ‘inner conflict’ means:

Let’s assume your book is based on a police officer who mistakenly shoots a young child while pursuing a suspect. It’s dark in the building and the kid jumped out of nowhere with a toy gun. The police officer is suspended while the case is being investigated.

INNER EMOTIONS:

How he deals and is dealt by his immediate peers His struggle to remove the visions of the killing The emotional turmoil as he waits for the investigation to conclude. His dealings with the parents of the child he accidentally killed.

Throughout all of these emotions the one factor that will bind your reader to continue will be: How will he fare at the end of this book. The way you first portray this particular character in the beginning will be totally different by the end because of the various upsets he’s had to deal with. Show him as upbeat, nonchalant, no change at the end and you will lose your reader’s interest in the book and in you as an author.

Think of real life: if you had to go through a trauma as the officer in the example above, how would it change you? A writer needs to wear his character’s shoes and get inside his head to fully understand him. Write a story with a stick person and you get stale material. Write a story with powerful emotions and you have one interesting read.

THE ALMIGHTY ENDING

By the end of your book all inner and outer conflicts need to have reached a conclusion. Whether your character overcame or failed is not as important as making sure he tried to meet them head on. You cannot place a conflict (or foreshadow) without making sure by the end of the story some sort of a resolution was made. This is cheating a reader and they WILL notice, especially if one of those conflicts was the one he’s been hoping to see the outcome to.

About the Author of this post:
Lea Schizas is an award-winning author/editor and founder of 2 Writer’s Digest top writing sites since 2004. She is the author of the YA fantasy “The Rock of Realm” and the paranormal suspense/thriller “Doorman’s Creek”. http://leaschizaseditor.com

Excerpt: Evil Genius

by Catherine Jinks

The following is an excerpt from the book Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks: Published by Harcourt Children’s Books; May 2007;$17.00US; 978-0-15-205988-1 Copyright © 2007 Catherine Jinks

One

Cadel Piggott was just seven years old when he first met Thaddeus Roth.

Dr. Roth worked in a row house near Sydney Harbor. The house was three stories high, its garden shrouded by a great many damp, dark trees. There was moss growing on its sandstone window ledges. Curtains drawn across all its windows gave it a secretive air. Its front fence was made of iron, with a spike on top of each post; beside the creaking gate was a brass sign bearing Dr. Roth’s name and qualifications.

“That’s it,” said Mrs. Piggott. “Number twenty-nine.”

“Well, we can’t stop here,” her husband replied. “No parking.”

“I told you to park back there.”

“It doesn’t matter. We’ll try down this street.”

“Stuart, that’s a one-way street.”

“Dammit!”

“I knew we’d never find a space. Not around this area.”

“Just shut up for a minute, will you?”

Mr. and Mrs. Piggott were not Cadel’s real parents. They had adopted him when he was not quite two years old. Mrs. Piggott was thin and blond, Mr. Piggott fat and gray. They almost never agreed about anything, but that didn’t matter because they almost never met. Their busy schedules kept them away from home, and one another, a good deal of the time.

At the suggestion of the police, however, they had both agreed to attend this interview.

“We’re going to be late,” Mrs. Piggott warned her husband after they had circled the block four times in Mr. Piggott’s big, gleaming Mercedes-Benz. “Just let us out, for god’s sake.”

“I’ll park here.”

“Stuart, you’ll never fit in there!”

“Watch me.”

Cadel said nothing. He sat on the backseat, dressed in his good brown cords and a lamb’s-wool sweater, staring out the window at Dr. Roth’s house. He didn’t like the look of it. He thought it had a murky, ominous appearance.

“I don’t want to go,” he said flatly when Mrs. Piggott got out and opened the door beside him.

“I know, honey, but we have to.”

“No we don’t,” Cadel retorted.

“Yes we do.”

“There were no formal charges,” Cadel pointed out, in his high, clear voice. “It was just a suggestion.”

“That’s right,” said Mr. Piggott, yanking Cadel out of the back of the car. “And when the police make a suggestion, you always follow it. Rule number one.”

“Be careful, Stuart, you’ll wreck his clothes.”

Cadel was so small — even for a seven-year-old — that he didn’t stand a chance against Mr. Piggott. Though he dragged his feet and hung off his adoptive parents’ hands like a sack of melons, he was forced across the street and through the front gate of number twenty-nine. The path beyond the gate was mushy with wet leaves. There was a rich smell of decay. The door knocker was a ring in the mouth of a snarling lion’s head, painted black, like the rest of the ironwork.

Cadel noted with interest the switchboard near the door. It was obviously ancient, full of porcelain fuses and dial meters. The Piggotts’ own house was only three years old, with a state-of-the-art electrical system, so Cadel was fascinated by this dusty old relic.

But he was not permitted to gaze at it for long.

“Come on,” Mr. Piggott barked. “The door’s open.” And he pushed against it, causing it to swing back and reveal a long, dark hallway carpeted with dingy Persian rugs. About halfway down this hallway, a staircase the color of walnut swept up to the next floor. There were several doors to the right of the front entrance, but only the closest stood ajar.

“Hello!” said Mr. Piggott, marching straight through it. He wasn’t a man who normally waited for anything. “We’ve an appointment with Dr. Roth. For ten thirty.”

Gripped firmly around the wrist, Cadel had no choice but to follow Mr. Piggott. He found himself in a reception area: two rooms divided by a pair of folding mahogany doors. There were two marble fireplaces and two chandeliers. Cadel noticed cobwebs on the chandeliers.

A woman sat behind an antique desk.

“Good morning,” she said calmly. “What name, please?”

“Piggott,” Mr. Piggott replied, in pompous tones. “Stuart, Lanna, and Cadel.” He looked surprised when the woman rose, revealing herself to be almost as wide and as tall as he was. She had a broad, square face and small blue eyes. She was wearing a suit the color of dried blood.

“I’ll just go and tell Dr. Roth that you’ve arrived,” she declared, before lumbering out of the room. Cadel didn’t watch her go. He was more interested in the computer that she’d left behind, with its alluring glow and contented hum. The screen saver was one that he’d never seen before: a pattern of falling dominoes.

“Don’t even think about it,” Stuart rasped when he realized what was attracting Cadel’s attention. “Sit down. Over there.”

“Look, honey, there are toys for you to play with,” Lanna said, nudging a large basket with the toe of her expensive Italian shoe. Sulkily, Cadel eyed the basket’s contents. He was used to the broken activity centers and torn books offered for the amusement of younger patients at his local doctor’s office and wasn’t hopeful about the distractions provided here.

But to his astonishment, he quickly spied an old voltmeter, together with a book on flies, a plastic human skull (life-sized), a Rubik’s Cube, and a Frankenstein mask. Further investigation uncovered a dead spider embedded in a resin paperweight, a shark’s tooth, a Galaxy Warrior complete with Thermopuncher torpedoes, and a very curious fragment of puzzle bearing the picture of a staring, bloodshot eye over a set of claw marks.

He was puzzling over this macabre image when the sound of heavy footsteps reached his ears. It seemed that Dr. Roth’s receptionist was returning, clumping down the stairs like someone wearing ski boots. Lanna, who had flung herself onto an armchair, immediately jumped to her feet.

Stuart glared at the door.

“Dr. Roth will see you now,” the receptionist announced when she finally appeared. “You can go straight up.”

Stuart and Lanna exchanged glances.

“Are you sure?” Lanna objected. “I mean, does he want to discuss things in front of Cadel?”

“Oh yes,” the receptionist declared firmly. Something about her voice made Cadel look up. He studied her with care, from the top of her permed head to the soles of her brown shoes. She smiled in response, and the Piggotts all recoiled.

Her mouth looked as if it belonged to an older, harsher century.

“Why are your teeth black?” Cadel wanted to know.

“Why are your teeth white?” the receptionist responded, wending her way back to her desk. Lanna snatched at Cadel’s hand and hustled him out of the room. She and her husband whispered together as they climbed the stairs, which creaked and groaned beneath them.

“Stuart, what was the matter with . . .?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think this is a good idea?”

“Course it is.”

“But what about that woman? Her teeth?”

Stuart shrugged. They had reached a landing, but it wasn’t the right one. From above their heads, a voice said, “Up here.”

A man was draped over the second-floor banisters. He was tall and thin and wore a tweed jacket. His thick, dark hair was going gray.

“That’s the bathroom,” he remarked in a soothing voice with a cultured English accent. “I’m afraid my office is at the top, here.”

“Dr. Roth?” said Stuart.

“Yes, indeed.”

“We’re a bit late,” Lanna offered a trifle breathlessly. “No parking.”

“You should turn that front yard of yours into a parking lot,” Stuart added, climbing the last flight of stairs. Gracefully, Dr. Roth moved to push open the door of his office.

“I would,” he said, “if the local council would let me. Heritage listing, I’m afraid.”

Stuart grunted. Lanna smiled a meaningless social smile. They both passed into Dr. Roth’s office ahead of Cadel, who stopped on the threshold. He gazed up at Thaddeus.

“Why does she have black teeth?” Cadel inquired.

“Wilfreda? I’m not sure,” Thaddeus replied. “Poor dental hygiene, I should think. Her parents had very strange ideas about diet and doctors. Maybe they didn’t believe in toothbrushes, either.” He cocked his head. “So you’re Cadel.”

“Yes.”

“Come in, Cadel.”

Dr. Roth’s office surprised Cadel, because it was full of modern furniture and computer equipment. There were a number of glossy cabinets, some full of filing drawers, some with cables running out of them. Cadel’s eyes gleamed when he spotted those cables.

“Sit down, please.” Dr. Roth gestured at a cluster of couches placed between his desk and a pair of French doors. Lanna chose the crimson couch, settling down onto it very carefully, her bare knees drawn together. Stuart dropped into his seat like a stone.

Copyright © 2007 Catherine Jinks

About the Author:
Catherine Jinks is a three-time winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award. In 2001 she was presented with a Centenary Medal for her contribution to Australian children’s literature.

Book Review: The Time Twister

I think it’s strange that my last post talked about time being lost and moments later I’m writing a post called The Time Twister. Maybe the book I’m about to review twisted my time in real life. 😉

Anyway, I finished reading Charlie Bone and the Time Twister (The Children of the Red King, Book 2) last night. In fact, it was almost 1am, so I should be saying “this morning”. 😀

Charlie Bone hoped the new term at Bloor’s Academy would hold no nasty surprises. But then Henry Yewbeam appears, twisted through time from the icy winter of 1916 into the present day.

With malicious Yewbeam aunts on the prowl, and the Bloors out to catch him, Henry will need Charlie’s help just to stay alive. Bloor’s Academy can be a very dangerous place…

The above blurb is all I’ll say about the plot, because I hate it when a plot is revealed prior to me reading the book, so I refuse to spoil it for anyone else.

The Time Twister is an interesting book. Something is always happening, as it should in any good book.

Midnight for Charlie Bone is the first book in the series, which I might add, I enjoyed immensely. I believe there is a third book called Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy, which I haven’t seen yet, but definitely intend to buy.

From a writer’s point of view, the only thing I see wrong with this series is the fact that the reader has to read the books in order to understand what’s going on. It’s highly unlikely that anyone picking up book 2 will not become confused at some stage if they haven’t read book 1. Do people read books out of order normally? I never do, so this isn’t an issue for me.

I said it for the first book, and I’ll say it with this one. It’s hard not to compare it with the Harry Potter books. They are alike, but different at the same time. They definitely are worth investing time (and money) into.

Leaving Early: Youth Suicide

Leaving Early: Youth Suicide – the horror, the heartbreak, the hope by Bronwyn Donaghy is a book about … well, exactly what the title suggests.

It takes the reader and plants her (as in me in this case) in the middle of three families. The words are written by a published writer who hasn’t experienced suicide herself, but Ms Donaghy obviously felt the families pain and torment. The words are powerful, because the stories are powerful.

The heart rendering stories of Collin, Jason and Maz are contrasted by cold, hard facts. The two are literally placed side by side. The author draws the reader in with emotion in one chapter and then swaps over to hard hitting facts in the next. As the pages turn, almost by themselves, I was left feeling battered and bruised from the experience. I can’t count the times I had to put the book aside and walk away, my vision blurred with tears. This is not an easy book to read, but I felt compelled to return to it and read more about the families and learn more about suicide.

Published in 1997, Leaving Early is a little dated with the information supplied, especially the statistics. However, it was interesting to see that many of the suggestions made in the book for improving suicide awareness have been implemented. Unfortunately, the suicide rate continues to climb, so it hasn’t made much difference. I believe this is because most parents think “it won’t happen to us” and tune out.

I suspect only those affected by suicide would consider picking up the book. This is a shame, because if we can educate the parents and their children before tragedy strikes, more lives might be saved.

…For us surviving parents, this grief is ever after. The isolation, guilt, despair and frustration that most of us feel is the legacy our children have left us. Now, too late, we understand what they must have been going through in the days and hours leading up to their death.

It would be naïve to believe that we can make suicide go away, but with care, intelligence, knowledge, sensitivity and genuine concern for our fellow man, perhaps we could hope to reduce these frightening figures.

We have to start somewhere. No one should have to farewell their child at a morgue.

– the words of Ruth Anderson as published in the book Leaving Early by Bronwyn Donaghy –

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – if only I had been suicide aware, Barry might still be with us today.

This book is not only about suicide, it also gives the reader hope, which is something every family member loses in the face of death. Whilst Collin and Jason ended their lives – leaving their families wounded, grieving and angry – Maz’ life continued. Desperate, Maz attempted suicide, but she was found before it was too late and rushed to hospital. Afterwards, her brother took Maz under his wing and showed Maz that someone loved her, and always had. This one small act opened the doors of communication and that put Maz on the road to life again.

I started reading this book as research for the book I intend to write on the same subject. But, my wounds are still raw, and the words in this book are strong. I learned a lot about writing a non-fiction book, but I learned more about suicide and grief. This book should be read by everyone, not only the families who have lost a loved one to suicide.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

bad-thingsAn impulsive act of a friend saw this book bobbing it’s way over the wide ocean from America to Australia at the end of last year. The byline of this book is “for everyone who has been hurt by life…”

The author, a rabbi by the name of Harold S Kushner, wrote this book because he had been hurt by life. His only son was born with progeria, “rapid aging”. His son died two days after his fourteenth birthday and When Bad Things Happen to Good People was the result of the pain and hurt the author felt. But, more importantly, it was the sharing of how his faith was tested to the extreme and the conclusions he made in the end that helped him carry on with life.

Not being much of a religious person, I was a little taken aback when I realised the direction the book was taking from the start. However, the author writes in a manner that is absorbing and touching and I found I couldn’t put the book down. More than once I felt that all familiar lump choke my throat and tears well in my eyes as I felt he was talking directly to me.

As I turned the pages I felt something stir within me. The fundamental message of this book is that God is not all powerful, He is not perfect and He is not to blame for bringing the bad things into our lives. He is not punishing us for things we have done wrong, He is not piling grief and sadness onto our shoulders because He thinks we can handle it and He is not sitting back looking down on the world enjoying what He is seeing.

Bad things happen to good people, bad people and indifferent people. No one is favoured, no one is spared. But it is not God’s doing. It’s just life and nature. God is there to help us through those bad times. He will give us the strength, perseverance and the courage we need. He will walk beside us and offer us comfort.

In order to let us be free, in order to let us be human, God has to leave us free to choose to do right or to do wrong. If we are not free to choose evil, then we are not free to choose good either. Like the animal, we can only be convenient or inconvenient, obedient or disobedient. We can no longer be moral, which means we can no longer be human.
~ Harold S Kushner ~

If God is not to blame, who is? I never blamed a God I wasn’t even sure existed for what happened. Barry took his own life, how could I blame God for that. I blamed myself for the loss of my son. To me, something I had done had bought this about, but When Bad Things Happen to Good People has helped me see that I’m not to blame either. I am not to blame! However, I can see how a mother of a child who dies from cancer might blame God. Or why the parents of a child who is handicapped feel as if they have been abandoned by God. These things are not fair and in the midst of pain and grief, we automatically want to blame someone for what has happened. This book helps the reader see that no one is to blame. Life is cruel and so is nature, but no one is to blame.

Harold Kushner wrote of an old Chinese tale about a woman whose only son died. Desperate to have her son back, she goes to a holy man and asks if there is a magical incarnation which will bring her son back to life. The holy man tells the woman to fetch him a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow. The woman set off on her quest to find the magical seed. Of course, she could not find such a house. She learned that everyone – the rich and the poor, the educated and the not so educated, the young and the old – everyone had their sorrow, but on her journey she learned to help other people and eventually forgot about the mustard seed.

In grief, it can feel lonesome. People don’t know what to say, because they don’t want to hurt you more than you are already hurting. Yet to say nothing also hurts you. We don’t want to hear that our loved one has gone to a better place (if it’s so great there, why are we all still here?). We don’t want to hear that there was a reason for that person to suffer and die (that statement certainly did not help me). We don’t want to hear that their time was up, or that God needed them more than we did, or that they have learned the lesson they were send here to learn. We don’t need to hear “don’t cry” or “don’t feel bad”. None of these things help and the book explains why these statements are damaging. All these things result in guilt and blame and punishment. The people left grieving do not need this added pressure at the darkest hour of their lives. They need comfort and understanding. They need the comforter to say, “this is unfair” and “you have a right to cry”. They need the comforter to just be there and listen.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People helped me see that I shouldn’t be asking why this has happened to me. The simple fact is that it did happen and nothing I can do will change the fact the Barry is gone. I have to stop asking why this happened and concentrate on how I will respond to what’s happened.

When bad things happen to people, some of those people turn bitter and nasty, others live a life feeling disappointed and unforgiving, and others can’t push the hurt aside. But this book has reminded me that although the world and its people are not perfect, and although it doesn’t always seem like it, there is great beauty and goodness to be found around us. All we have to do is forgive and love.

I think of Aaron and all that his life taught me, and I realize how much I have lost and how much I have gained. Yesterday seems less painful, and I am not afraid of tomorrow.
~ Harold S Kushner ~

Thank you, Sherry, for being impulsive and being a friend. Your gift helped me immensely.

Midnight for Charlie Bone

midnight_for_charlie_boneMidnight for Charlie Bone (The Children of the Red King, Book 1)
I bought books 1 and 2, brand new, for only $4 on sale, which I thought was a bargain.

First off, I have to admit that I bought these books because I thought (maybe I saw this on the internet somewhere, I’m not sure) that the story was similar to the Harry Potter books.

Yes, there is an 11 year old boy who has a magical “ability”. Yes, there is a special school for children with these abilities. Apart from that, the story is quite different. I had to push the Harry Potter thought out of my head and start thinking Charlie Bone, because wherever I got that idea…I was wrong…and it was wrong of me to continue reading with that thought in my head.

This was a slightly longer children’s book than normal, but it draw me in and captivated me from the beginning. I loved the characters and the setting. Although I never worked out when the story took place, it didn’t matter. It felt “up-to-date” and that was enough for me.

Reading this book showed me that whilst characters need to learn and grow throughout a story, their problems don’t have to be resolved completely. I think this is the main problem with my series. I tried to resolve all their problems and make the world perfect in book 1, which makes it difficult to undo all that hard work in book 2.

As I mentioned before, Midnight for Charlie Bone is the first book in a series. Although the immediate problem in the story was solved and the author gave the impression that everything was fine for the characters, it was quite obvious that it wasn’t and the very last line of the story confirmed this. However, I didn’t feel cheated and I don’t feel as if I have to read the next book (although I will, because I’ve already got it). So this story also showed me that it is possible to have stand alone books in a series, which is something I’ll be aiming for in my series. I never want my readers to feel like I’m conning them into buying more books, because I hate it when I feel that way.

Recommendation: A definite “yes”. Read this book.