Book Review: Soul’s Child

When I started blogging, I met Dianne Gray from Australia and fell in love with her writing, both her blog and her books. I read every book she wrote. Links to other reviews are at the end.

Soul’s Child, the 2012 YWO award-winning spell-binder by Dianne Gray, unearthed and explored a love/hate relationship between co-dependent father and daughter.  After the accident in which Aurora Jones’ mother and younger sister died, Aurora stayed in a coma for three weeks.

Soul's Child
Do you love a mystery?

The accident gave Aurora an urge and ability to draw unnaturally realistic scenes she had never experienced.   Although she hid her drawings, her father discovered them and realized their meaning. He began to capitalize on them.  Mervin legally changed his name to Clive Soul, and created a Hollywood TV show, Soul Search,  to “prove the reality of precognition, ghosts, and demons.”  When she realized what he did, Aurora lost trust in her father. She learned he would do anything to take possession of her drawings.

Throughout the book, Aurora sought true friendship. She struggled to find someone she could really trust in an increasingly hostile environment. As her father became more and more dependent on them, she feared for both hers and her father’s life. The webs between the pictures and real life became dangerously entangled.

Since this book is recommended for young adults, I usually connect book reviews to the Common Core and sometimes the History-Social Science Standards for California. For example, asking seventh-grade students to work with standard RL 6. Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text. Grappling with this story will help students deeply understand the intricacies of complex relationships.

I highly recommend this book for mature young readers who are well past the age of nightmares.

Related Posts

Tuesday Review: Interview with JT Weaver

the interview

As I continue to try to find my voice as a blogger, I find myself drawn into the role of book reviewer.  As I continue on this pathway, a next step that I notice among other blogger reviewers is the INTERVIEW.

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Since I am blogger friends with JT Weaver, who authored Uphill Both Ways, he’s my interview guinea pig.  Thanks JT  🙂

Hi JT,

Let’s begin with an ice breaker question.

jt

What makes you laugh?

I guess I like intellectual humor; the kind of story that has you going in one direction and then at the last-minute gets you laughing at what you missed.  I’ve never been a fan of slapstick Three Stooges type of humor.  The Bill Cosby “Himself” album still cracks me up.  I was raised on the droll tangentially humorous stories of my father and it became easy for me to adapt any of my own stories into the format that he used. 

What do you think contributes to your success as an author?

To be honest, I don’t know what “success as an author” really means.  I wrote some stories and then discovered that, without any approval process from the world of “Big 6” publishing, I could self-publish my book at almost no cost.  Years ago being a published author meant you went through several gateways, signed your rights away, hired an agent, hired an editor, and were accepted and printed by Houghton-Mifflin.  Because of these gateways, the title of “published author” carried with it an aura of prestige that perhaps no longer exists.  While my stories were individually lauded and my book is 5-star rated and reviewed, it is also doing well in the marketplace.  

The impetus of the project was to document the important parts of my life for my children in such a way that they could understand who I am.  At the beginning of the project, there were no ideas or discussions about compiling these stories into a single volume; that discussion came later.  The mere idea that someone outside the family might have the slightest interest in these stories is somewhat shocking to me.  I am, of course, delighted that people enjoy them and even want to buy them, but that was never my intention.

 Since you wrote this book to your kids, what is their reaction to your its publication?

“Congratulations Dad, what’s for dinner?”  I haven’t really discussed it with them.  I have a sense that they may be a bit uncomfortable with it all.  From their point of view, this was supposed to be my “letters” to them.  Now the world has access to it.  It somehow has lost it’s personal appeal to them I think.  Many of the stories in the book are familiar to them already.  Some of them probably make them a little uncomfortable. Just because I was documenting my life for them didn’t mean that they had to read it now.

Another part of the emotions of a document like this is the finality of it all.  I think to them it signals the beginning of the end.  Kids grow up thinking their parents will be around forever and only when something happens, an illness or an accident, do they ever think that their parents are even mortal.  They have both moved away from home and are leading their lives to the fullest.  In their minds, they can visit Dad and Mom anytime they want.  Reading this memoir may signal to them that a time will come when they won’t be able to do that.  And to me, that’s OK.  When they’re 60 and I’m long gone, this will be something I hope they will enjoy reading.  I think they’ll like to reflect back on things and this will help them do that.  Perhaps they’ll even want to read some of these stories to their own grandchildren, who knows?

What part has your wife played in getting this book off the ground?

At first, I just began writing a story.  My wife, Karen, really wasn’t involved.  Then I wrote a little something about Social Security and then something about the 2nd Amendment.  Then I found the picture album my parents had made for me and wrote a story about one of those pictures.  I honestly was just fooling around with it.  As I was writing, Karen and my college roommate John were both reviewing each piece.

 Then a discussion started among John, Karen, and I about what it was I was doing.  They thought these stories were better than I did.  At one point John said that he thought he was looking into my soul, and because he knew me so well, he was a little uncomfortable with it.  From that came the idea came the thought from Karen that this would be a nice gift for the kids and it was then that I wrote the letter that would become the Prologue to the book.  When I published that letter, the blogging community took notice and my readership exploded.  At that point Karen got involved with every aspect of the writing.

What obstacles did you run into as you went through the process?

Generally, the writing was very easy.  All I had to do was remember things that happened and write them down.  It wasn’t like writing fiction where you have to make sure everything fits.  In a memoir, if it happened, then it fits, plain and simple.  The difficult part was the rigorous editing and publishing.  I had no previous experience with any of these things so I had to learn it all for the first time.  I am a consummate researcher so I spent many hours trying to understand everything.

I did have some difficulty with some of the chapters.  Recounting military school and the death of my friend Rick was one, some of the experiences in my teen years were some others, and the last chapter was very difficult.  What I found was that a wonderful healing that occurs when you commit these things to paper.  I was surprised and gratified that the weight had been lifted.

Do you have another book in mind?

As I continue to write, I may consider compiling a large series of essays into a book.  That would depend on the enthusiasm of my blog readers.  If the quality of my writing stays up, and people want it, I can publish another book.

What place in the larger picture of American history do you think your book holds?

 From my point of view, the answer is none.  It’s something that we cannot know.  The wonderful letters home from the Civil War are a perfect example.  They were simple and innocent when they were written however; now give so much insight into life at that time.  I cannot know what people will interest people in 100 years.  To me this is a good look at what it was like to grow up in the 1950s and 1960s.  It wasn’t an ideal life perhaps but then no one knows what that is.  I just lived my life in the best way I could, married a wonderful woman, and raised two great kids.

What was your favorite period in your life?

 The best part of my life began on August 22, 1984 and has continues every day.  That was the day that I met Karen in San Francisco.  

What surprised you as you went through this writing process?

Everything!  I’ve never written anything before.  I’m a pretty good storyteller like my father before me.  In my mind, I simply placed myself in a favorite chair by the fireplace and enjoyed the warmth it gave me.  I would enjoy some fine wine and aged cheese and daydream into the past.  When the children came into the room before bedtime, I would tell them a story.  What you read in my book are those stories; nothing more complicated or fancy about it.  It was extremely easy to write these stories down because I had lived them.  I think the most surprising thing for me was that there are people who like these stories. 

 What would you change if you were going to write another book?

The process would be the same, I think.

What are your favorite songs?

This is the “record” he wore out as a teen.

If you enjoyed learning about John T. Weaver, then you will enjoy his website.  You can go on his site and see what he’s working on now.

memoirs

Have any of you written your memoir?  It’s amazing how little our children actually know about our lives before they were born.  Do JT’s motivations to write his story remind you your own?   Would your children read it?  How did the events in history touch your life? Let me know what you think!  🙂

Book Reviews: Susan Hunter Mysteries

I love a good mystery, and these Eastern/Midwestern setting, Susan Hunter mysteries are all fun and “easy breezy” reading.  I’m writing one post about several of these books for several reasons.  First and most obvious is that they are all mysteries.  Secondly, they do not fit the profile of being literature that I would recommend for English teachers aligning with the Common Core standards which support reading primarily non-fiction materials.  Third, I do feel that they are worth reviewing because they are fun to read.  I was going to also include Bill Noel’s Folly Beach Mysteries in this post, but I can tell by reading to the bottom of what I’ve already written so far that I will lose Meme if I do that.  I’m already waxing wordy.

Book #1  Buy it now for $0.00
Book #1 Buy it now for $0.00

Maddie Cochere is a blogging friend whose website and gravitar introduce you to her adorably lovable protagonist, Susan Hunter.  If Legally Blond had not already been written and produced, I think Maddie could have written the script, and made it even better than it already is.  While Susan is blond, we readers don’t know whether she’s legal or not, but the assumption is that she is striking both on and off the racketball racquetball court.  By the way, for those non-players like me, who have trouble spelling, what’s with the cqu, for heaven’s sake?  What’s wrong with “racket” being spelled “racket.”

What makes tight-muscled Susan Hunter bearable, since all she does is shop for name brand clothes without having a name brand type job, eat fattening foods, play racquetball better than any man, seldom cries when she gets hurt, attracts every man in a town the size of New York City, and doesn’t have sex with her boyfriend in the first two books, is that she is unbelievably clumsy.  She falls in the mud, dives into the ocean and one breast pops out, has a pitcher of beer spilled down the front of her name brand blouse without getting mad, and gets her tennis shoe (with her foot in it) caught in the mouth of a shark.  Autty, you’d like that!  Those are just a few of her escapades.  Oh yes, and she helps catch bad guys, too.

When I was a pre-teen I read Trixie Beldon and Penny and Pam mysteries.  Penny and Pam had lots of fun with boys AND they were smart, and they single-handedly convinced me that I should be a journalist if I wanted to have fun and lots of boyfriends.  I took 4 years of journalism because of the twins.  OK, I was legally blond.  If I were 13 instead of 61, you can bet I’d be begging my mom to buy me a raCQUetball racquet, and cute outfits in which to attract guys play.  I would try not to cry when I got hit with a ball going 100 mph, but I’m not sure that even Susan could convince me that didn’t hurt.

The moral is, Marsha, move away from the shopping center, stay out of the gym.  Don’t even think about buying a racquetball racquet.  Don’t try eating more mac and cheese shrimp dishes than the 300 pound man at the bar.  And remember, Mick loves Susan, so don’t moan over him another minute.  You have a perfectly wonderful husband, and really, you don’t look 25 going on 16.

So if you’re ok with all those kinds of goings on – even if you are 61, and you want to know how people younger than that think about romance these days, give Susan Hunter mysteries a go.  I bought four of Maddie’s books for my Kindle, and I’ve breezed through the first two of them.  They are as promised, “easy, breezy.”  If you want to buy something for your grandchildren that isn’t filled with bad language and graphic sex scenes.  then I would recommend Maddie’s Susan Hunter series.  I only wish I’d written them.  Easy, breezy.

By the way the first book is free right now on Kindle if you go to the Amazon site.  You can’t beat that!

One more by the way, then I’m going to have to publish this and get to a retirement dinner for a friend, I looked for a picture of Maddie online under images.  This one was there, and since you all know that I love this picture, I’m going to post it.  Click like on my FB page if you know who this really is.  Maddie, I’d love to post your real picture, but …  can you beat this one??

 

Stab At Haiku

Thirty-nine hours

Face to face blossoms grinning

Spring dreams never fade.

 

Kudzu on phone poles

Recalculating again

Summer vacations

 

Autumn reds and golds

Birthdays remembered with joy.

Reflected in lakes

 

Tsarina shivers.

Siberian silence roars,

freezing her smile.

Haiku uses an economy of words to paint a multi-tiered painting, without “telling all”.[9] Or as Matsuo Bashō puts it, “The haiku that reveals seventy to eighty percent of its subject is good. Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent, we never tire of.”[10]” Wikipedia