Thursday, March 29, 2012

One Last Love by Derek Haines

They took ‘it’s never too late’ to a whole new level!

A beautifully written love story with a message of tolerance is what Derek Haines brings to his readers. His main character, Bonnie, as he likes to be called, is transferred from a hospital to a hospice to live out his last days. It’s here that he sheds his grumpy old bastard reputation and his prejudices with a little help from another patient, Madeleine, his unexpected last love.

Bonnie shares his last days with patients he held strong opinions about in life, to name just a few; a homosexual, a typical teenager he would never have related to, and a pompous ‘prat’. All contributed to changing Bonnie’s lifelong perceptions. His awakening, being in the last days of his life, may not have made any impact except for a last minute mea culpa, but Derek tells the story in such a way that you will be forced to think about your own attitudes.

Bonnie’s life wasn’t a barrel of laughs; he had crosses to bear, like many of us. A bad marriage which ended in a suicide, bad relationships, and losing his son at age 11. He hid his insecurities by being brash, but as Madeleine says, “Everyone knows you’ve got a soft centre under that grumpy crust of yours.”

I recommend One Last Love for those who enjoy a thought provoking romantic story with subliminal messages. For Bonnie, he experienced an epiphany in his last days of life. Along with that, he fell in love, perhaps the truest love in his life. If not for Madeleine and his new friends, he would have died alone.

I was left with one final message in One Last Love. Don’t be afraid to be open-minded and let people in. One shouldn’t wait for companionship and love until the last days of your life, even if unexpected as was the case with Bonnie and Madeleine. They took ‘it’s never too late’ to a whole new level!

Derek Haines, as always, brings his characters to life. Each one will captivate your heart. Readers will truly enjoy meeting Bonnie and his last minute friends who change his life if only for a few days.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Song For My Mother by Kat Martin

A Song For My Mother by Kat Martin

While picking up my books on hold at the library, A Song For My Mother was being displayed on a shelf above my books. It’s a small book so I picked it up and read the book flap. Since it was a very short story I figured why not. It’s not one I would have read if not for being displayed, so I took it home. I try to expand the genres I read.

The story was about a mother’s love for her children. The mother in the story gets a chance to explain to her grown daughter why she made the choices she made when her daughter was young.

After 12 years of not seeing or talking to her mom, and after hearing the reason why her mother made the choices she did, the daughter forgave her and everyone lived happily ever after.

I assume readers finished the story feeling good that all is forgiven and a good life was lived by all. I did not have this feeling. I think the mother made the wrong choices. I’m not even sure I would forgive the mother. I understand her daughter’s reason for leaving home and not communicating with her mother for 12 years.

However, the story itself was touching and the characters fit the story. But to me it lacked substance so I looked at it from a different perspective as I always try to bring something positive from a book I didn’t really enjoy. What I realized was Kat Martin’s dialogue sounded effortless and spontaneous. It was literary genius.

As any aspiring writer does, I read to improve my writing skills. A Song For My Mother is a great book to improve writing dialogue. It’s the perfect model to emulate.

A writer may take classes, purchase writing books, and write daily to improve. I learn better reading books by authors who have mastered writing dialogue, along with taking classes, purchasing writing books, and writing daily!

I recommend A Song For My Mother for readers who enjoy romance novels and feel good stories that have happy endings.

For aspiring writers, I recommend A Song For My Mother for its outstanding dialogue!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life by Natalie Dykstra

Natalie Dykstra writes a well-written detailed biography of Marion (Clover) Adams. She was Henry Adams wife. Henry was President John Adams great-grandson and President John Quincy Adams grandson. The book is an enjoyable read rich in facts about the mysterious life of Clover Adams. The author includes the works of Henry Adams and the history of The Gilded Age.

For the time period, one would surmise Clover and Henry’s marriage and life were appropriate. Both were educated coming from influential families. Although they married later in life than most for the era, they were able to share their love for the good things in life. Both were intelligent and good companions to one another. They never had children.

However, as time went on, Clover felt unrest in her life and her marriage. She became desperate in many ways trying to figure out why she was unhappy. Henry was no help, as most men were not nurturing during that time, so Clover felt isolated in her depression. Clover only knew she felt sad, lonely, and unfulfilled. She tried to find something to make her happy and feel worthwhile so she took up photography. This was a double edged sword because it did help Clover feel better; however, it wasn’t highly regarded as art. She took many photos and had her ups and downs during this time. She had a complicated family which at times added to her sadness, other times brought her happiness. She had a close relationship with her father. When he died, this was the beginning of the worst depression for Clover. She truly did not recover from his loss.

So while Clover was suffering, Henry was also depressed. At the same time she was losing members of her family and it all became too much for Clover. She committed suicide on December 6, 1885. She was 42 years old. What gave her hope was what ended up killing her. She drank the chemicals she used to develop her photographs.

Natalie Dykstra suggests the answers to why Clover took her life may be seen in her photographs. Natalie’s extensive research includes Clover’s notebook, letters, and family papers. From this research Natalie was able to describe to her readers Clover’s daily life, her thoughts and feelings. It describes life in the 19th century.

The book contains 31 extraordinary photos. One is a photo of an untitled bronze statue named, “Grief” that marks the graves of Clover and Henry. It is located in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C. It’s sad, but people only know she was the wife of Henry Adams and that she killed herself.

Thanks to Natalie Dykstra, we know there was much more to Clover Adams.