Friday, April 29, 2011

BOOK REVIEW BY FRAN LEWIS - SALA,MORE THAN A SURVIVOR

Sala: More than Just A Survivor
Author Marsha Casper Cook
Told by Sala

interview on blog talk radio - SALA
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rrradio/2010/05/20/a-good-story-is-a-good-story-hosted-by-marsha-casp?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a50:g2:r3:c0.391312:b34304696:z0

Reviewer - Fran Lewis
The Holocaust really did happen. The atrocities inflicted on the Jewish people by the Gestapo are beyond words and should never be forgiven nor forgotten. Imagine going on an errand for your mother and coming back to find that no one is there and your house is boarded up. Added to that your own family will not take you in forcing you to live on the street and eat the scraps of food that they might give you as long as you stay outside. Dora and her sister Sala survived the unthinkable tortures, indignities and horrors that befell them and many others at the hand of these monsters. Dora entered a work camp doing as she was told in order to survive. Making sure she protected as many girls as possible she even performed deeds that repulsed her and would be embedded in her mind forever. Then, her sister Sala arrived and together they banned together to make sure they were never separated again no matter what it took. When the Germans finally realized they lost the war and they were freed would their lives be any better? This brings me to my review of a book that reminds us that 6 million Jewish people were killed, burned and cremated by these less than human beings just because they were Jewish.

With a grandmother that endured many of what is recounted in this story and aunts that met their fates at the hands of the Polish during the Pogrom, author Marsha Casper Cook brings everyone included this reviewer back to a time that we must never forget.

As the war ended the two sisters traveled to Gosla and were put up in a hotel. Registering with the Red Cross they hoped to find their missing brothers where Dora met Irving. But, the war of weapons might have been over, and the captives freed, but the hate that lingered behind would fester like a pain that would not subside for a very long time.

Dora married Irving and to please her sister Sala married his friend Ben. With her dreams to go to America and become an actress or a singer, Sala decided to honor her family rather than forge ahead with her own life's plan. But, there is much more. Sometimes when we try to please others we wind up hurting ourselves. Stuck in a loveless marriage with a husband who seems oblivious to her needs or wants, Sala learns some hard lessons in life. Becoming pregnant, feeling all alone except for her sister Dora and her husband Irving Sala has a beautiful daughter only to learn that she has contracted TB and must be sent to a sanitarium until she is well leaving her child in her sister's care.

Surviving the camps, the hardships and a loveless marriage, Sala, Evelyn and even Ben travel to America to make a new life. With Dora and Irving in Chicago she and Ben went to live in Detroit hoping to repair their lives but that was not meant to be. When they finally parted A Sala met Rita on a really hot day at the beach and they became fast friends and that is when her real life begins. The friendship of one friend that is honest and loyal is often more precious than all the money in the world. Such a bond was formed between Rita and Sala as she finally forged ahead with her modeling career and hopefully fulfilling her dreams. But, she loved her career but her daughter more and the move to Chicago to be with her family would be life changing and more.

This is a story of love, survival, loyalty and the courage of two women who would never give up on life or each other. Dora, like a second mother to her who always guided her in the right direction. Sala, the girl with the hopes and dreams and a heart of gold who only wanted to be a success and find her way in this world.


As the author takes us on the journey of her life from the camps, to Chicago, Detroit, Ohio and back to the beginning in Chicago, we relive with Sala the many happy, sad and difficult times she experienced. An accidental meeting at a gathering would change the course of her life and bring her the true love she so rightly deserved. Modeling, runways, traveling and enjoying life could never take the place of her real love, her daughter, her husband Jerry who provided the encouragement she needed to pursue her career and become the loving wife she was.

Sala is a strong woman, outspoken and no holds barred woman who would not let anything or anyone set her back from what really mattered to her. But, wherever she lived no matter who was in her life, she remembered her roots, her sister, Dora her visions of her mom were projected through her. Never let it be said that anything would get her down.

Read about her life. Listen to her voice as she tells you her story from beginning until the present. Learn about what a true Holocaust survivor went through and know that it really did happen. Read about her life with Jerry her 2 children that loved her dearly and an ending that says it all as her son Cort puts it all into perspective for the reader.


Thank you for giving me the honor of reviewing this outstanding novel and for being able to let the world hear Sala's voice and remember that it is not what race, religion or creed that makes you a person it is who you are inside and how you treat others with love , understanding and kindness. The Holocaust and the horrors will always be in the forefront for her, for those of us with family and friends who experienced it. Thank you Sala for sharing your story.

This book should be in the Holocaust Museum's bookstore, the Jewish Museum's bookstore and in the Jewish and History Section of bookstores and libraries.

BOOK REVIEW BY FRAN LEWIS - AUTHOR LINDA NANCE

Life Goes On

By Linda Nance

Life does not always go according to plan. There are many bumps, slides, and mishaps along the way. Everyone’s life is different and even when you are part of a family and might have your own master plan for your future and success, things might not turn out the way you planned. Like an architect who creates a blueprint for his next structure and something goes wrong with the foundation, life can send you some serious structural damage and the foundation of what you have created can crumble if you are not careful. Bob and Becky have a serious problem their lives are about to change and their family dynamics too as they are forced to change their lifestyle and leave the city to live in rural Arkansas with family they hardly know. But, that is not the only obstacle they face. Their three recalcitrant children find it difficult to want to leave their friends, jobs and school and provide little or no support for their distraught parents as they travel to Arkansas and learn the true meaning of the word Life and much more.


As they move to Arkansas and the children begin to assimilate in the culture, the area and their new home Bobby, Donna, Stacy and both Becky and John will learn some really hard lessons in life that just might bring them together. Donna and Bobby are bent on returning to their old life and old ways. Bobby was involved in gangs, drugs and was becoming anything but what a parent would want for a son. Donna overly involved with a boy named Keith and Stacy who just wants to be like her older sister. This could be on formula for disaster. But, Uncle James is a really smart and savvy guy who tolerates nothing and takes no prisoners. When things get rough he takes both Bobby and Stacy for a long ride to talk, see the country and get to know and understand them better. Two parents who want the best for their children yet condemned for it.


As the children assimilate in their new environment things begin to change as Donna learns the truth about her boyfriend’s disloyalty and harsh words befall her, Stacy takes on the role of protective sister and Bobby begins to meet friends, work and attitudes turn around. But, Becky’s job turns dangerous, the police become involved and second thoughts about what she does need to be considered. But, Becky is hard working and caring helping her coworkers and a real asset to the owners of the motel who really do not appreciate her dedication and never really take heed of what is happening behind closed doors in their motel.

Families change and situations need to be dealt with as some are torn and in turmoil as one child needs attention, another in crisis and a third guidance as they all live in one house but in their own separate worlds trying to survive and some just to exist. As Donna bears her soul to her parents and Stacey proves she is wise beyond her years, Bobby strays in the wrong direction and hopefully a strong hand will guide him back.

As Becky’s job takes a dangerous turn and she the truth about some of the patrons of the motel where she works, she begins to question their ethics, business practices and enlists the help of some officers to help her. But, Bobby’s new friends in Arkansas seem as seedy and corrupt as those left behind in St. Louis and his behavior comes full circle turning back in the same direction from where he came and soon realizing that his actions and those of his friends could affect his mother’s safety. Just how you will have to read for yourself.



With their new home being fixed up and the anticipation of finally setting down permanent roots, the family faces some serious challenges that will either divide them forever or unite them.

Life Goes On is a narrative told by Becky, the mother who is town between the inner turmoil she faces within herself and the problems dealing with her family. True to life bringing to light many real life issues faced by families today, author Linda Nance takes the reader on a journey with many ups and downs, smiles, laughs and tears with a family that just wants to find somewhere to live.

Some kids will do anything to be accepted and have friends that they feel will back them up and protect them. Some are too na├»ve to realize that those same friends will think nothing of turning on you to suit their needs. Bobby learns a hard lesson when his old world meets his new one and things take a downward spiral turn. Friendships can link you together with others and create positive situations but in Bobby’s case this does not hold true as he becomes embroiled in major drug deal, tries to wrangle out of it, he endangers the life of himself and someone dear to him and things will never quite be the same again. Lessons will be learned and hard choices will have to be made as Bobby will come face to face with his past, his future, his families disappointment and their love.

But, the twists and turns at the end will surprise the reader and renew your faith in family, love, understanding and trust. One young man learns a lesson of a lifetime and one family understands the true meaning of the words Life Goes On. Never give up on yourself, be who you are and never give in to the wants of others because you are afraid. How do you teach children values and when do they finally realize that parents do know best and that they have their best interest at heart? This is a well written novel with real life characters for adults, young adults, teens, church groups and youth groups to read and discuss as start for kids to understand that parents are their best friends in the world and communication is the link to everything.

Life Goes On authored by my friend Linda Nance is an inspirational novel written by a woman of great courage, warmth and love for her friends and family. So, meet Becky, John, Donna, Stacey and Uncle James and understand what a real family goes through to survive. As John learns how to forgive and Becky will always protect the lines of communication need to stay open and Bobby, Donna and Stacey will learn that life in the country is not so different from that of the city it’s what you make of it that counts. Great novel, characters that are real, true to life and heartwarming, read Life Goes On by Linda Nance and learn the true meaning of Family.


I am honored that Linda asked me to review her book.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Thursday, April 28, 2011

BOOK REVIEW BY FRAN LEWIS - AUTHOR - BEN LIEBERMAN

Odd Jobs

Author Benjamin Lieberman

Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Odd jobs centers around a college student named Kevin Davenport who takes anything but a nine to five normal job to make ends meet. Taking the reader inside the mind of one young man whose voice is heard from page one and who tells the story in his very own way and time. Told in the first person narrative, the reader becomes one and the same with our main character as he takes you on a face paced and rocky ride of a lifetime hoping to survive. Kevin Davenport introduces the reader to the inner workings of a corrupt and dangerous business: Kosher World Meat Factory. Thinking that he has the odd job from heaven which will help him finance the lifestyle he wants and tuition for school, Kevin takes on more than just hauling carcasses of beef, pulling skin off of a tongue and learning how to make pastrami towers. Odd Jobs by author Ben Lieberman takes us into the world of Kosher World Meat Market, the ins and outs of what really transpires, the graft, the deceit and the murders that occur while Kevin is just trying to survive.

Kevin Davenport, our main character, witnessed the deaths of his father and sister leaving him to care for himself and his mother. Accustomed to taking Odd Jobs to make ends meet to pay for his tuition and the finer things in life so many desire, Kevin gets sucked in. Friends that he made introduced him to living high on the hog and indulging in pastimes that he really could not afford. Kevin did a favor for one man and that one favor changed the course of his life forever. Becoming a product of his own environment and needing fast cash, he allowed himself to work for this man, Jimmy Baldacci not realizing what that entailed. Kosher World Meat Factory was anything but Kosher in its management and daily operations. As he became more ensconced in the daily operations of the company he crossed many lines, angered many people and formed several wrong alliances, some which might prove deadly. Learning some secret truths about what was really behind the lack of production and numbers in the company, joining forces with those behind it, betrayed a trust that he had developed with his boss and friend Sev, Kevin is about to lose even more. Pulled in several directions, Kevin now has to decide which road or path to follow and whether he would remain someone’s valuable commodity concerned about the all might dollar, or a man with integrity and loyal to his friends. As Kevin immersed himself into the real structure of Kosher World Meat Market he finds out what is really behind the lack of production in this company. What happens next will seal his fate and change the course and direction of his life.

Decisions you make should be your own and not forced on you by others. The consequences born by those decisions are yours alone. Imagine your life hinging on the decisions that others have inflicted upon you to make because you have decided to follow the wrong road in life in order to get what you want: STATUS and Acceptance and Power! Status comes at a very high price when gaining importance and reaping wealth deteriorates your inner core, your very nature and underlying being. As you choose the many roads and paths and become enveloped in the will and desires of gaining status, acceptance and importance you might sink deeper and deeper in a dark pool filled with quicksand hoping that someone will pull you out before it’s too late.


As Kevin is speaking with Sev his immediate supervisor, he inadvertently learns the truth behind the deaths of his father and sister. Anger sets in and then rage and what happens will not surprise the reader or Kevin. But, just how much of his soul and integrity will he sell in order to stay on top and in the good graces of those in charge. What will happen if he falls from grace and realizes just how deep and dangerous the waters are? Will he ever be able to swim back to the top or will he sink? Murder is serious and never really justified but some feel it’s the only way to avenge the death of someone they loved and cared for. Kevin crosses that line, finds the killer of his sister and father and slowly lowers himself deeper into that quicksand until only his head is sticking out. But, he’s not done yet. Deceit runs deep within him and although this powerful man was once his friend, Kevin hopes to become his downfall. But, can he do it with the meager help that he has? Formulating a plan to take down Baldacci and entering into other areas of employment to supplement his cash, our main character can add bookie, numbers man, drug dealer, and more to his employment resume. Keeping afloat will not be easy and covering all the odds and bets made by some powerful people will require creativity, manpower and more to prevent more deaths as they mount up. With his college friends Loot and Carey they manage to become entrepreneurs in many illegal fields, forging ahead and hoping to unglue Baldacci , Petro and many others. Hoping to bring Petro into his corner and away from Baldacci.


Standing at the center of a dangerous intersection not knowing which direction to walk in when the light turns green. Imagine the outcome of all of your decisions, life’s choices and future hinging on that green light and which you decide to walk. Kevin Davenport is about to approach that light what will he do next?

Realizing that the law will not be able to aide him in bringing this man down Kevin becomes no better than him, justifying his reasons for being as corrupt, deceitful, dishonest and unscrupulous as this man in order to bring him down. Vigilante justice is not new and many belief in it. Kevin has literally sold his soul, moral integrity in order to avenge the deaths of his sister and father. But, is this the answer? Added to that is his new girlfriend Rocky, who has issues of her own and had become part of his world.

Author Ben Lieberman created a character with guts, gum shin, fortitude, determined, persistent and methodical mind who does not give in to fear, force or failure. Kevin Davenport is different from most young men. Using what the enemy does best and fighting back by taking over what the other side has is his way of creating, in his mind, justice for his family’s deaths. Spying on the other side, feeding information to someone who wants to get close to Baldacci, he rigs his own plan to get everything, but can he or will he when things go awry, money is lost and bets need to be covered. With his loyal friends Loot, Carey, Sev and the help of Special Forces, they unleash a plan that will that sends Baldacci hiding in fear, his accomplice thinking he’s home free and one young man from Hempstead avenging more than just his family. Relentless in his pursuit for justice, an ending that will give the reader pause for thought and a character who is resourceful and unyielding, he will have to decide which way to go when that light at that dangerous intersection turns green and one final decision must be made. With strong dialogue that allows the reader to become one and the same with the main character, you feel every punch, understand his frustrations and cheer for his victory, but at what cost? Is there really a winner at the end or is Kevin still fighting for his life and a place in this world when all is said and done? Will he win or will he be totally covered in quicksand with no way out?

Lives hang in the balance and others will be lost. Friendships will deteriorate, hardships will be endured as murder and corruption reign and how the end plays out will surprise the reader and keep you wondering about the true definition of justice and whether it was rightfully served. Kevin Davenport: What is next for him? This is one novel you want to read, odd jobs that might having you thinking twice before you undertake them, fast cash that can be made but is it worth the risk? What would you have done in if you were Kevin? Think about it but not until you read the book and get all the facts and weigh the evidence for yourself. Odd Jobs a must read and now endorsed by this reviewer.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Posted on Amazon

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BOOK REVIEW BY FRAN LEWIS - AUTHOR R.M. DOYON

Upcountry

Author: R.M. Doyon

Reviewed by Fran Lewis

.................

Family is precious and relationships often change throughout a person’s life. But, one constant is the bonds that unite one’s family. However, that is not always the case. Jane Schumacher’s family has not seen her for many years. Her perspective about family and past are about to take a drastic turn as I review Upcountry, by author R.M. Doyon.

Jane Schumacher’s life is about to change in many different directions and ways. As press secretary for the Governor of New York, she is used to being in the limelight dealing with a highly charged political world. Her boss is running for President and her job is to make him a marketable candidate.

But, as she is about to embark on this journey with him, life hands her a curve and things change for her. Receiving some life-changing news shortly before Thanksgiving, abruptly, Jane decides to return to her upstate New York hometown of Morgantown, and to her estranged family.

As she ponders her past and comes face-to-face with her present, she enters her sister’s home and a scene that will set in motion one event that will change her and her sister’s life. Spousal abuse is a behavior that engulfs and involves many symptoms.

Joanne, her sister, is married to Denny, a man who takes pleasure in degrading her in public and anyone in his wake. Threatening verbal and physical abuse on her and others, he justifies his actions in his mind and others. Soon after Jane arrives, Denny openly insults her in his attempt to inflate his own ego, thereby creating his own sense of sense of control.

However, what happens as a result of Jane witnessing his actions towards her sister will surprise you. What Joanne does as a result of her Jane's response will further surprise the reader as the two sisters, reunite and take a journey into the future together. One sister is freed from one set of chains and another must face her own.

Traveling together for the first time in many years, the sisters meet many people along the way including Matt Booker who owns and operates a motel, bar and restaurant. Hiding from the police and not wanting to face what happened back in Morgantown, Jane and Joanne must decide what will happen next. Some will understand and others will drift farther apart because the stark reality sets in and the truth is told.

As Jane decides their next move, she calls an old beau, Brian Boychuk, the county sheriff back home, and explains certain facts to him hoping to draw him away from her sister yet not telling him the truth about what happened. Her father, cousins and others are concerned about the outcome. The sheriff wants to help but his hands are tied.

Sisters should have a special bond and relationship. They should be each other’s best friend. But Jane and Joanne parted company years before due to their mother’s attitude and treatment of Jane. Yet, they are in this together and hopefully something positive will result. And Jane is harboring a secret of her own--one that she has kept to herself and to the exclusion of her lawyer boyfriend, Roberto.

The author brings to light the very serious issues linked to spousal abuse. Recounting the events in Joanne’s life you can hear the screams of pain inflicted on her and the verbal slurs and abuse carried out by her husband. Staying with him seemed like her only choice. Men like Denny Lowry need to have a sense of power and control over people. Joanne did not have the courage to leave, although at times she did stand up to his attacks. But physically she was no match.

But when you read about his fate, you need to decide who is the victim and who is guilty? Would you agree with what one of the characters did in order to free her sister from bondage and the abuse? What would you have done?

As Roberto tries to determine Jane's motives for her action, Jane must decide what will happen next in her life and where she will wind up. Her sheriff friend is still searching for answers and although he knows the truth in his heart, he is having trouble dealing with it.


Throughout this novel, you hear many voices that enter the minds of both Jane and Joanne. If you listen carefully to Jane’s inner thoughts you will relive many of the difficult conversations she had with her mother, Donna, and learn the reasons behind her leaving home.

If you listen further, you will relive with Joanne the horrors that befell her living with an abusive husband, his words and his voice. Along with that you will learn the many secrets that Jane kept from her family.

Sisters have a very close and special bond as I did with mine before she passed away this July. Reuniting with Joanne was Jane’s greatest gift to both of them as years of resentment are washed away--only to form a final bond that would remain forever. As Jane’s secrets are revealed and her fate is decided, Joanne is liberated and can now start anew once the final nightmare is over.

What these secrets are and who is involved you will have to read for yourself.

Jane, strong willed, strong minded, and was determined to shield her sister from so many truths. But as a result of her Thanksgiving trip home, we find that abuse rears its ugly head in so many ways. This includes a father caught in a tangled web by a mean and controlling woman, while Joanne’s abuse was mental, physical and psychological. A domineering woman that did not know the true meaning of the word love controlled Hubie, her father. Jane, a victim of her mother’s narrow mindedness and bias, and a family torn about by lies, decides it is time reveal the secrets that kept them apart for too long.

There are many innocent victims of this crime that need to speak up and speak out. As Denny’s voice begins finally to fade from Joanne’s thoughts and mind, Jane’s voice can be heard as she reminds her of their love and final bond; a family learns the true meaning of loyalty, friendship and love.

The circle of life has many curves and winding roads. Each bend on the never-ending circle holds many unique and exciting things in store for us. Some good and some bad will be revealed at each bend and hopefully we all can learn to become stronger and wiser in order to deal with what comes next.

An ending that will bring tears to every reader’s eyes brings new meaning to the word survival. Author R.M. Doyon’s novel is one that everyone should read to be reminded how precious life is and how short our tomorrows are before there are no more.

The ties that bind a family are fragile and yet strong. We need to always remember that and celebrate our love of family and our closeness whenever possible.

The empty space in our heart that is left behind

Within this world we all know

Reminds us just how we must cherish each day

And how precious our time is before we go



This review is dedicated to Family Love and the Memory of my best friend and sister Marcia.

This novel gets Five Beautiful Carousels with Five White Horses


Fran Lewis: reviewer

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BOOK REVIEW BY FRAN LEWIS - AUTHOR HOLLY WEISS

Crestmont

Author Holly Weiss
Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Come along with me and take a journey back in time to the roaring twenties when life was much different than today when families valued their time together and prohibition was in full force and meet the Woods family and visit one of the most elegant and magnificent Victorian Inn’s in the world, Crestmont. Meet William, Margaret, Peg and Eleanor and let’s not forget the staff and Gracie, their special addition to the Crestmont staff see how William Warner’s dream came true. Banker William Warner took one look at this great mansion and decided to create a place where visitors could spend the summer enjoying the beautiful pleasures in life with quality service. Fewer amenities than hotels or inn’s have today, the guests that frequented this summer resort received platinum service equal to that of the Waldoff today with their personal needs catered to in every way.

Enter Gracie Antes the newest member of the staff who found it imperative to leave her family due to personal reasons. Gracie had developed feelings for her sister’s future husband and rather than express them or cause a rift between her and her sister, she decided to just leave without telling anyone why or where she was going. Thinking she would find her way to the big city to become a singing, she saw an ad in the paper and took a detour to the Crestmont and found employment and so much more.

Gracie is someone who has ethics and wants to be trusted. Employed as a housemaid she soon gains the respect of not only her employers but the love of their two young daughters too. Gracie is special. She loves books and enjoys reading endearing her even more to those in the Eagle Mere and the many people she encounters. Becoming part of the church choir, singing at various talent shows at the Crestmont she soon becomes an integral part of each of both. But, Gracie although trustworthy losing face with her employer when she befriends her two daughters, keeps a secret they ask her not to reveal and when found out causing a serious change in the climate between her and Margaret their mother. Once close and trusted she is no longer needed to complete many tasks but not fired. But, this one incident would change the trust and relationship that Gracie and Margaret created and although she now lives in their home she no longer feels the warmth and love that she once experienced. As Margaret has an accident causing her to resent her infirmed condition, hampering much of what she wanted to do in order to renovate and redo much of the inn, Gracie learns many other lessons in life including that of her own families ambivalence toward her even though she tries to bond with her sister. Gracie must learn to find her own path in life and become an independent person with her own goals and desires fulfilled. As he relationship with Margaret changes and they begin to develop a strong trust for each other, things change between her and Mrs. Cunningham as he daughter, caught up in her own life begins to resent her relationship with her mother forgetting it was her idea to hire Gracie because she had things to do. What does happen as a result will surprise the reader. As some staff members leave and others remain each character develops and grows in many different ways during this time.

The author flashes further back in time to enlighten the reader about PT’s past, his life before coming to the Crestmont and much more. Each character is so unique, different and brings different qualities and attributes to this outstanding novel and to the inn itself. Of course, being an educator, I love Dorothy and her flair for making everyone feel comfortable, the love she shows to both Eleanor and Peg and the way she refers to her students. She is definitely a great role model and even better friend to Gracie.


But, Gracie although happy feels an emptiness inside as she comes to realize that her real family seems to have left her behind in more ways than one and she does not know how to repair the damage she thinks she caused. But, did she and would she have been treated with the same indifference had she remained?

William Woods, Margaret’s husband is a wonderful man but consumed with his job as a teacher, coach and much more often forgetting his role as husband and father. When called to task he often makes light of it until Margaret insists on taking it one step further. But, situations change and Margaret has an accident requiring Gracie to move into the main house and take on more responsibilities including her extra job on Thursdays taking care of an elderly woman.


Gracie learns many other lessons in life including that of her own families ambivalence toward her even though she tries to bond with her sister. Gracie must learn to find her own path in life and become an independent person with her own goals and desires fulfilled. As he relationship with Margaret changes and they begin to develop a strong trust for each other, things change between her and Mrs. Cunningham as he daughter, caught up in her own life begins to resent her relationship with her mother forgetting it was her idea to hire Gracie because she had things to do. What does happen as a result will surprise the reader. As some staff members leave and others remain each character develops and grows in many different ways during this time.


But, is the past and history of Eagle Mere Lake about to come front and center as she learns more about it, visits it more frequently and even becomes a member of one of the churches. Each character is so vividly brought to life you feel part of the staff of this beautiful inn. Tell about her daily experiences and taking the reader on a journey into the lives of the Woods, the owners of this Inn, Gracie and the many other colorful and vividly described characters makes the reader want to get in her car and take a trip to the real Crestmont Inn depicted in this novel.

From PT, a man with a hidden past, Olivia the dressmaker, singer, Rosa Ponselle, each bringing their own individual flair and story and each having a different relationship with Gracie as well as asked to care for an elderly woman on her day off. With outstanding skills, an impeccable work ethic and kind heart, Gracie Antes endears herself to just about everyone but Bessie. Why? Well , you need to find that out for yourself?


Family ties are broken with her own family and knitted together with her new found one at Crestmont as she gets closer to Mrs. Cunningham whom she cares for as Margaret the owner who drifts further apart from her own mother.



Trying to fulfill her father’s legacy and wishes, Margaret works hard to rebuild and fix this Victorian Mansion. Her father a banker, desiring a new challenge in life conducted his business in Eagles Mere. Nature is magnificent and the wonders and beauty of the area described so vividly by the author help the reader take the journey along with the characters. You can feel their pain, understand their sorrows, hear their laughter and applaud their successes. Added to the mix are two wonderful young girls named Peg and Eleanor who provide much joy to their parents and Gracie too.



Gracie grows so much in this novel as she meets opera singer Rosa Ponselle who encourages her to use her gift and teaches her to believe in herself. As more tragedies befall the family, a close friend passes away Gracie reflects on her loss of her own family only to be encouraged by PT to move on and embrace the life she made for herself. Relationships with many of the staff members, marrying one special man, the author moves forward to the final days of Crestmont at the end. When all is said and done you will not believe what finally happens to this magnificent inn and those who made it their home. What does happen to Eleanor, Peg, the Woods, Bessie, Olivia, PT and the rest of the staff you need to read for yourself. This outstanding novel ends with a real surprise ending bringing tears to this reviewer’s eyes and hope that the story will continue on with Gracie’s family taking the reins in perhaps another chapter of Crestmont Inn. With the legend of where it all began and how Eagle Mere got it’s name in the prologue to the final words spoken, you will fall in love with Gracie and the magic of Crestmont Inn. Take the journey with me back in time. Close your eyes , hear the music play, see the happiness that is and was Crestmont Inn.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

FRAN LEWIS REVIEW - JUST LINE AROUND BY KINSY MCVAY

Just Line Around

Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Did you ever consider how it feels to be a line? Did you ever think about the life or plight of a line? There are long lines, short lines, medium lines, curved, lines and so many things that you can do with a pencil, pen or even a crayon to make a line. Meet Stew: He is a very special line. He’s going to tell you about himself and the amazing experience he had when all of a sudden he realized that there is a whole other world out there for him. Being a horizontal line, lying straight on his back he really never gets to see the world from many different perspectives. Stew never realized that lines have many different opportunities to and limitless possibilities when trying to become unique, different and explore new avenues to make their lives more exciting and interesting. Who would think that a mere hiccup would be the start of something creative, innovative and meaningful and change the course of the life or direction of this wonderful horizontal line.

A line can be as long or as short as you want it to be. After all you are the one creating it. Stew has no end points. He can do more than just lie there in a horizontal position. So, how does his life change as a result of a simple hiccup? Wait and see! Well! For one thing he is no longer completely straight. Part of him looks like a small hill turned upside down and right side up. He thought this was great. So, he tried hiccupping even more and now he looks that a whole bunch of waves or ripples in the ocean. How cool is that!

But, Stew was not satisfied with just being flat or wave. Like all kids that learn a new game or play with a new toy, he tried doing other things. First, he skipped and turned himself into zigzag lines or a bunch of large and small tents. Happy with his progress and creativity he jumped up and down with joy and would you believe this horizontal line is now a vertical line standing straight and tall. But, author Kinsy Mcvay decided that kids need to know that Stew’s imagination as well as there is limitless. Imagine the endless possibilities of a simple line. You can make swirls, mountains, loops, zigzags, thick and thin lines and so much more. Using black marker drawings he created these thick and thin lines on page 30 and then turned our Stew into a tree, a balloon and the rest you will have to read for yourself because I am so excited about all of the things that Stew turned into I do not want to spoil it for the reader who needs to learn about the other fun things Stew becomes. Will Stew keep on hopping, skipping, running and hiccupping in order to try new things, become different things and explore the world more on his own? Will he decide to go back to being just a horizontal line or is that no longer enough for him? I cannot reveal that because I will never tell because there is no end to any line and I have not come to the end of Stew’s line because he has so much more to go and many more shapes, forms and sizes to explore.

What kind of line am I? I am definitely not a straight line. I am line filled with waves, curves, loops, zigs and zags changing as my mood changes. Sometimes I stand up straight and when I am tired I am lie down flat and take a break and rest.

This is a great book to teach children the properties of a line and how to use this simple form to create so many different things. The vocabulary is simple and the idea so creative that kids can write their own stories and adventures for Stew. They can even create their own straight line, name it and write their own version of this create book: Just Line Around. Doodling is fun. Scribbling can be creative. Just think about the fact that without lines we would not have letters, numbers and words. Without this Kinsy Mcvay we would not have this innovative, brilliantly written book.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

I never give stars to books except on Amazon: this book gets Five Horizontal Lines named Stew to hopefully enjoy some more adventures.

FRAN LEWIS REVIEWS - ACROSS THE POND - BY BARRY EVA

Across the Pond

Author Barry Eva
Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Languages are really interesting many have different ways of saying the same thing. When Fred’s parents win a trip to Australia he is totally put out. Wanting to join them on their short holiday he is torn between going to stay with their friends in America or his grandmother in Scotland. Which would you choose? Well, Fred opted for America but with one catch. Part of his trip would be to learn and record new words, expressions and thoughts that differ from those in England where he lives. How cool is that! Well maybe not to a fourteen year old who is going to a new country, as they say across the pond, for a vacation, but certainly to this reviewer who found this quite interesting and humorous. Very few people think about the fact that different dialects, languages and expressions mean the same thing and can often be misunderstood. Well, take this one for example: Fred alights from the plane joins meets his parent’s friends and offers to put his luggage in the boot of the car. Would you realize that means Trunk here in America? What about other expressions like chips which in England stands for crisps? But there is much more to this story besides the project that could land Fred a new Xbox.

Getting off the plane after being pushed and shoved he meets Phil and Julie and their daughter Brittany or Brit as she wants to be called. Immediately taken with this beautiful young girl they become fast friends. But, not everyone is understanding or welcoming to our British visitor. Meeting Brit’s friends was great at the mall but on the way out he encounters so boys who decide to give him the wrong kind of American welcome letting him know that he was not welcome in their part of town. But, Fred stands up for himself and will learn many other lessons before the entire story is told.

Right from the start author Barry Eva brings to light many important issues teens, adults and even small children face today. Fitting in with people that come from other places, understanding their customs and dealing with boys/girls that are bullies and mean. Fred did not want to come to America and fitting in with Brit and her friends was important to him. Teen relationships are fragile and often can leave permanent scars not only young girls but boys too. As Brit confides in Fred the truth behind why Steve Harris one of the bullies they encountered at the outing at the mall was rude to her, the author shines a bright light on Fred as a true friend but casts a dark shadow on the American boys and their rudeness. Some just follow suit and are afraid of what their ringleader might do if they do not act a certain way and others think they are big and cool if they overstep many moral boundaries. When Fred learns the truth behind Steve’s behavior is determined to even the score coming to Brit’s aid as her own Knight in Shining Armor or Sir Lancelot every girls dream guy. But, there is so much more that will happen before our young British friend returns to England and many more lessons to be learned.

One trip to the mall, one encounter with her friend Angel and a huge misunderstanding arises as Brit thinks she’s been betrayed by Fred and Angel is the reason. After hashing it out girl style, Brit finally simmers down and listens to her friend’s explanation and realizes the meaning of loyalty, friendship and honestly in both Fred and Angel

As Angel and Brit discuss their differences and many other secrets come out the author brings to light other issues kids face growing up not just in America but England too. But, Fred is a true gentleman and so rare you just want to clone him and have him teach other young boys the true meaning of friendship and how a young man should treat a young lady that he cares for.


Squaring it away with her mother and father there next journey is to Shea Stadium and a Met game where Fred catches a ball worth quite a bit to other fans and the need for Julie and Phil, Brit’s parents to help him make a quick getaway. Baseball is a really great pastime but catching a ball can be dangerous to the one who gets it as it seems.

But, the story is far from over and the author brings many other issues to a head as Steve and Fred will face off and the rest you will have to read for yourself. Fred is really clever and what he does to teach Steve and his aunt a lesson at the barbeque party for Brit’s family and friends to meet him is hysterical and so clever that you might not want to drink anything pink for a very long time.


But, sometimes things and disagreements are settled in the typical teenage way. Fred stood up for not only Brit but for all girls. When Steve and Fred’s issues were dealt with and the adults took over from there, Steve would learn a lesson he would never forget. But, the ending of this book will not only endear you to Fred but make you a total baseball fan too. What happens with the ball he caught will surprise you? What deal does he make that most kids would not? What other surprises are in store for not only Fred but Brit too? What is in the stars or future for them after he returns to England? A young man came across the pond only to return a lot wiser, smarter and with an increased vocabulary bridging the language barrier between countries and much more.

One group of teens from America who taught Fred that not everyone is the same and that there is loyalty in true friendship and honesty does pay off. This is one book that every teen, adult and guidance counselor should read. This is great for discussion groups, peer mediation groups and police explorer groups working with difficult teens. Everyone should have a Knight in Shining Armor.

Author Barry Eva takes the reader on a one-week vacation along with Fred to a place that most of us call home and reeducates the reader, the characters and many adults on old-fashioned chivalry, kindness and trust. Well written, fast paced and so engaging I read the book in one hour and reread it again after reading the heartfelt ending.

I truly hope that our creative and talented author will write the next chapter for both Fred and Brit.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer
I never give stars when a book deserves five: I give this book FIVE GOLD BASEBALLS: Read it to find out why!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

MICHIGAN AVENUE MEDIA BOOK REVIEWS - VIRGINIA GRENIER- book reviewer

04/23 VS Grenier gave 4 stars to: The Weaver by Kai Strand
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in March, 2011

The Weaver
By: Kai Strand Published: 2010 ISBN: 978-1-61633-122-1 $12.95 Ages: 9-12 4 stars
Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Synopsis: Kai Strand’s The Weaver is her first mid-grade novel. It is a wonderful book that is a must- read for kids of all ages. The story begins with Mary Wordsmith, who wishes to weave a tale just like her mother. Mary, however, is a typical teenager who has similar vulnerabilities and sensitivities. She wants to be liked and respected. She wants so badly to be like her mother. But story telling doesn’t come easily for her.

In her quest, she meets a blue man who tries to convince her that he will help her achieve her wish of weaving a story just like her mother. Since Mary feels especially vulnerable and experiences the lowest self-esteem she ever had, she allows the little blue man to help her. However, despite his help, Mary’s wish isn’t granted. She feels betrayed and even unhappier than before. And things get increasingly complex for Mary when the blue man keeps appearing after each practice of weaving a story.

Overall thoughts: I was spellbound by this book. I just couldn’t put it down when I started reading it. It is about a topic that most young and older teenagers could easily relate to. In addition, Mary is portrayed as a vulnerable character too, one that most adolescent girls will be able to relate to right away.

Kai’s book is unique in that there are valuable lessons for younger kids and teens of all ages. One of the themes underlying her book is that each of us is special and we should celebrate and accept ourselves for who we are.


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04/23 VS Grenier gave 4 stars to: What Is That Thing? by Kevin McNamee
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Reviewed by Irene S. Roth

Synopsis:
This is a story about a young girl, Jenna, who is trying to come to terms with the arrival of a new baby sister. She has a difficult time adapting to her, and one of the ways that she believes she could help herself is to play a game of astronaut Jenna. Through the little alien, she comes to terms with changing diapers and listening to baby cries.

The story is cute, and kids of all ages will be able to relate to it. Older siblings struggle when they have to share their lives with another little being. And this story shows how kids can come to terms with their new responsibilities when a baby sister or brother comes into the family and they have to help with the chores..

Overall Thoughts:
This is a heart-warming story of how a young child can accept a new member of the family. The illustrations are hilarious and witty. It will keep a child spellbound and captive.

I recommend the book to any child who has younger siblings or is about to accept the arrival of a new sibling. They will be able to laugh and also accept the little being into their lives, and even be very happy and enriched by the new little baby sister or brother.


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04/23 VS Grenier gave 5 stars to: Adventures at Walnut Grove by Dana Lehman
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Adventures at Walnut Grove: A Lesson About Teasing Written by: Dana Lehman Illustrated by: Judy Lehman Lehman Publishing, 2007 ISBN: 13-978-0-9792686-0-1 $15.95 Ages 3-8 Rating: 5 stars Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Synopsis: This is a great book about treating others like you'd like to be treated. Sammy was different. He was a squirrel but he had the eyes of a raccoon. Because of this he got teased a lot.

Bucky, one of the animals in the forest, kept calling him raccoon eyes when he tried to play walnut ball. Because of this, he struck out. However, when Bucky got teased himself, he finally learned how much it hurt, and he wowed to never do it again. That is such a great lesson for kids to learn.

Overall Thoughts: Dana's book has many great messages for young kids. She shows that it is wrong to tease others because it really hurts their feelings. In addition, we have to appreciate people for who they are but not their physical appearance. Lastly, she shows that we shouldn't tease others if we don't like to be teased ourselves. Our true friends will love us for who we truly are. We don't need to be something that we're not.

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04/23 VS Grenier gave 5 stars to: I DOUBLE Dare You! by Dana Lehman
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Synopsis: From the author of Adventures at Walnut Grove: A Lesson about Teasing comes a story about taking responsibility for our own actions.

Silly and Sassy come to Walnut Grove to visit Sammy, one of their cousins. They spend their time playing hide-and-seek, have frog races, and play double dare. All seems to be going well until Silly double dared Bucky to jump off a high bridge, despite the fact that he couldn't swim. Was this a right decision for Bucky to make?

Overall Thoughts: Dana's story shows us the importance of taking responsibility for our own actions. We have to say NO if we're uncertain of things. Just because someone double dares us to do something, it doesn't mean that we should do it. We should decide ourselves when, and if, we're going to do something. This is a great lesson for kids to learn from the earliest of ages.

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04/23 VS Grenier gave 3 stars to: Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure by Allan Richard Shickman
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Review by Irene Roth

Synopsis: This is a prehistoric adventure story of a tribal boy, Zan, and his twin brother, Zan-Han. The book spans more than a year in which time Zan goes on a journey to find his lost twin brother who has been captured by a dangerous clan.

While the story is interesting and Zan's story is fascinating to watch, much was packed into these two little books. Thus, there was little time to really properly develop the plot, characters, or allowing the story to naturally unfold.

In addition, there is a bit of imbalance in the reading level versus maturity level of the targeted readership. Although the prose and structure of the book seem simple enough and easy to follow, there are varying degrees in vocabulary and thematic difficulty levels. This can make it a bit confusing for the younger reader.

Lastly, I found the books to be a bit too violent in places for the younger kid as for instance in the graphic slaying of a rival clan member. So, parent supervision is essential for kids in the middle grade age group. It is best to read the book along with your kids than let them read these books alone.

Overall Thoughts: These books will be especially interesting for boys who are 13 years of age and up. These books aren't really suited for younger kids as the main character is a young man and there are really violent aspects to the story. With adult supervision, however, these books can be read at home as well as in traditional school settings.

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04/23 VS Grenier gave 5 stars to: Nobody Likes Me by Cynthia Dekel
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Reviewed by Irene S. Roth

Synopsis: Dekel's book is about a little girl who feels that no one likes her. No one will give her the time of day or pay any attention to her. When she tries to show her dance moves to her mommy, she is busy. When she shows her painting to her teacher, she doesn't pay attention to her. When she wants to play a game with her friends, they say that she has to wait her turn. Because of these experiences, and others, she felt so alone and unloved. Will her Mom and Dad be able to convince her that she is indeed loved by everyone?

Overall Thoughts: This is a wonderful book with a great message for young kids. Many kids feel that no one is paying attention to them. And because of this, their self-esteem suffers and they feel unloved and sometimes even isolated. This book has a strong message. Dekel shows that all kids are loved and special in their own unique way. This book should be read by kids who feel a bit out of place in their family and school. Many kids will be able to relate to this story. Dekel's message in this book is very uplifting and comforting indeed.

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04/23 VS Grenier gave 4 stars to: May the Best Dog Win by Kelly Hashway
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Synopsis:
Dash is a dog that loves his human family and has the perfect life any dog could want until the Super Sweeper 5000 shows up. Dash thinks Sweeper is another dog and is not happy to be sharing his family. It also seems Sweeper gets to run all over the house sucking up leftover food scraps and even gets his own room. Will Dash understand Sweeper isn’t a dog?

Overall thoughts:
I read this story with my two little girls. My youngest (under 2 years old) didn’t really understand the story, but she did love the illustrations by Valerie Bouthyette. She loved the loveable Dash and seeing him express his disappointment in not being able to do what Sweeper was allowed to do like getting up on beds and eating the scraps from under the dining room table.

My soon to be 6 year old, on the other hand, kept laughing at Dash and how he thought the Super Sweeper 5000 was a dog. She also related to how a dog might think Sweeper was a threat. She kept saying, “Taz does that and he looks like that too when you vacuum the house, mom.”

This is a fun story young children will love to read; even if they don’t have a dog. Dash is cute and very friendly in the illustrations. His facial expressions remind me of Snoopy. The words are easy enough for earlier readers to read along aloud with their parents, too.

Links:
Publisher: http://www.futureworld.net
Author website: http://www.kellyhashway.com


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04/23 VS Grenier gave 5 stars to: Lily Hates Goodbyes by Jerilyn Marler
bookshelves: sfc-review
status: Read in April, 2011

Lily Hates Goodbyes
Author: Jerilyn Marler
Illustrator: Nathan Stoltenberg
ISBN 13 978-1460960707
Retail $6.95 Soft Cover
Rating Five stars
Reviewed by David Broughton

Lily Hates Goodbyes is a special book, originally written as a way to help the real Lily, the author’s granddaughter, explore her feelings and deal with her dad's long military deployments. This little book captures many of the emotions a small child would experience. Jerilyn Marler wrote the book so well that the reader can't help but experience the same emotions. The illustrations are superb and capture the emotions perfectly. About a week before Scott (Daddy) got back, Lily and Geema were talking about Daddy’s return. Lily ran to the bedroom window, blew a kiss to the moon and said, “Good night, Daddy.” Then she smiled at Geema. "I know he heard that. Just like in the book." On the night he returned, when it was time for Lily's bedtime story routine, she took the book to Daddy, he read it to her, and they discussed the feelings the book talked about. At the end, they reenacted the jumping into his arms bit, just like on the docks. Jerilyn says that knowing Lily asked her Daddy to read the book on his first night back was “the culmination of the emotional arc" for her. Lily might say it more simply: Lily loves hellos.

MICHIGAN AVENUE MEDIA BOOK REVIEWS - FRAN LEWIS

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and Inspirational, March 28, 2011
By Fran Lewis "Fran and Bertha" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE) This review is from: Angel Marie (Paperback)
Angel Marie: The Making of an Angel

Author: Sam Oliver

Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Can you hear me? Do you know that I am here? Can you see me? I am right in front of you. Everyone wants to be loved or part of another human beings world. Angel Marie is an entity that has existed between Heaven and Earth all of her life. But, something is about to change. Metamorphosis: Change: Transformation: Her whole world is about to emerge and be transformed into something so new, so amazing and so wonderful: She is about to link up or connect with another being: A Human and become part of the world she has been looking down on. Wondering what happens on that blue ball she peers through the clouds and the magnificent and serene world she calls her home, she begins to feel different emotions, feelings and urges within her body as she develops a whole new form, a whole new outlook on what is soon to become her life. While pondering her thoughts and feelings The Angel of Promise comes front and center to guide her through this transformation, teach her the meaning of desires, intentions and relationships and how each of these simple yet complicated works will take her on a once in lifetime journey filled with love, individual choices and life.

Author Sam Oliver brings to light the issue of what happens when everyone is born, transformed from the beginning of your existence and learns to create your own life's path using what we hope are the right desires and making the right choices to have a life filled with love, understanding and connections to those who will keep you safe and love. But, there are some who choose the path of destruction and harm and hurt others. This is explained to our Angel Marie by Promise who hopes this will not affect her and that her choices will only make her stronger and able to deal with her whole new life when she connects with the parents she will choose to love her.

Angel has many questions about her transformation and about how she is going to understand and handle the new world she is about to enter. Your heart is the key to everything, as we all know. Within your heart the author so brilliant describes the four spiritual chambers that I found not only enlightening and really inspirational but a positive and wonderful way to teach everyone how to deal with not only the wonders and joys of life but when things do not go your way or life throws you many different curves. Coming to the various crossroads you often have to stop and think, reflect and decide which course or action to take, after reading about the four spiritual chambers, the heart, the making of your soul, I think I truly understand more about what has recently happened in my life, losing three wonderful people and having to work through my grief, keep focused and understand that I have to move ahead because I have a purpose in this world.

The four chambers are inner strength, perseverance, trust, and unconditional love, all four combined will help you to develop your heart and help you through your days and your ability to create yourself to more than who you are but what you want to be. Inner strength is what keeps me going and strong allowing you to work through your feelings when you feel all alone causing you to look deeper into your heart creating as the author writes," a vacuum for your heart to be able to embrace more than you thought was possible." How true! The next two are perseverance and trust. Perseverance I do have, trust, I often find hard. Trust, not so much in myself but in being able to trust others around me. My mom and my sister were the two people I trusted and in my heart, still do the most. My mom saw the best in me and made sure I was encouraged and strived to be more than I ever thought I could or would attain. My sister and I supported each other in everything we did whether hair-brained or not, we were best friends and did most things together as kids and as adults we never failed each other.

As Promise continues to describe the wonders and beauty of life and birth, Angel Marie prepares to become one with her Mom and you hear her voice, feel her heart beating as she connects with her Mom. Learning to believe in herself, trusting in the new world she was about to enter and the next one she has yet to see, our Angel Marie begins to understand the importance of believing in herself, the wisdom to create all that she can be and even more. Each day we awake and look out of the window hoping to see the sun shine down upon us creating warmth that makes us feel safe. But, whether or not the sun shines or the clouds cover the blue sky, the work we do, the energy we feel to move ahead and fulfill our goals and purpose brings us closer to creating our own path with our desires, intentions, feelings, thoughts and hopes to creating our soul which is really our home. Hoping to seek God's unconditional love, Angel Marie tries to enter this world and what happens will bring tears to your eyes, renew your faith in hope and truest, and definitely a place in your heart for Angel Marie. As she hears her mother's voice and stretches out her arm to touch her just once, the experience described will leave you breathless, hopeful and yet sad. Some children are meant to bring endless joy in life to their parents and others in a different way. Her image, her heartbeat and her love will forever be inside of her parents and if you look up in the sky at night you will see the brightest star shining down on you keeping you safe. What is her final destiny? That I cannot reveal, as you have to find that out for yourself to truly understand what Angel Marie becomes and her true purpose in life. As Promise takes her on one last journey you will experience it with her along with the joys that become: Angel Marie our special Angel.

Heartfelt, joyful filled with hope and love for life and the world, author Sam Oliver reminds everyone in this outstanding book that life is precious, love, trust, understanding, perseverance, unconditional love and inner strength so vital in a book so mind stimulating, well written and told through the eyes of an innocent Angel named Marie and what we all need Promise. Can you see me? Can you hear? I am always with you!


Fran Lewis: Reviewer

I give this book Five Special Angel Maries to watch over you and keep you safe. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
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Friday, April 15, 2011

MICHIGAN AVENUE MEDIA LLC.

Today I was a guest at the Holocaust Museum in Skokie IL. Sala Lewis was the guest speaker at the museum. There were over one hundred students, all 7th graders, listening to her lecture. For those of you that do not know, several years ago I wrote the book SALA, MORE THAN A SURVIVOR. It is a memoir about Sala Lewis and her family. She spoke and I wrote. The book is written in the exact way Sala speaks to her audiences.

As I sat quietly in the back of the auditorium it occurred to me that I had been marketing Sala's Memoir to the wrong audience. Sala's book definitely is a must read for the young adult market. When Sala visits schools and Museums the young students that she speaks to connect with her in a magical way. They ask questions and she answers them. She speaks to them and they listen. She knows what they are feeling and they understand her message. She never makes them feel as if their questions aren't important because to her they are the reason she is there.


Last year I the pleasure of a one hour, one on one, online radio interview on Blog Talk Radio, on my show A GOOD STORY IS A GOOD STORY. The link to the show is on demand and can be heard on my website www.michiganavenuemedia.com. I will also put the link out at the end of this Blog.


It has been an honor to have had the opportunity to write a memoir about Sala Lewis and the reason for this blog today is in remembrace of every family involved in the Holocaust and the sadness I feel about the tragic events that had led to the lose of millions of men and woman.



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A GOOD STORY IS A GOOD STORY -You Can’t Outsource Weight Loss Author- REVIEWED BY FREAN LEWIS

You Can’t Outsource Weight Loss Author: Capt Ed Boullianne, USN (RET.)

ISBN: 978098438903 Publisher: Blue Water Health Concepts

Obesity! Not something many Americans want to neither own up to- nor admit they are prone too. Overweight and addicted to fast foods or trying diet programs filled with quick fix gimmicks, high sodium foods that often raise your blood pressure or more, waiting impatiently for the Fed Ex or UPS guys to bring those pre-prepared meals with the hope of a quick weight loss fix to solve their ever present weight problems. Think again- think smart- Better get STOP! Sit down: Take several steps back- Get a copy of “You Can’t Outsource Weight Loss,” by author and Capt Ed Boullianne and then start your weight loss journey over again- the right way.
The most devastating thing in life is losing a loved one especially when it’s unexpected. The author’s sister passed away from a massive heart attack in 2002. No warning! At 46 years old his sister, who was overweight passed away causing Ed to sit up, take notice and really rethink his own future and make some positive changes to extend his life by changing the way he eats. The purpose of this book is to help the reader learn how to improve the way you look, help increase your life span, decrease medical expenses while saving health care dollars. After reading this book you will hopefully be in charge of your eating habits, based on what you have learned, the skills and the information to manage your own weight for the rest of your life.
Begin your journey and relive Ed’s as he takes the reader from start not to finish- but lifelong- quest or journey to losing weight beginning with the Five Basic Truths. Discussing these 5 basic truths, understanding them and of course beginning to make the necessary changes to move ahead with your journey to weight loss be expertly explained in Chapter 2. Most important, and what I find vital is exercise and the human body as the author states. “ Is meant to move,” and making changes that are permanent ands till enjoying eating is what it is all about. Of course you cannot start in the middle, there has to be a beginning- with every program whether a new skill at work or a pretest in school, it helps to know write down what you already know- there is or should be some type of self-assessment. Let’s take this together and create our own individual charts and see where each one of us has to begin. Get a notebook, pencil, and ruler and create the chart that is on page 9 and fill in the boxes: Remember; be honest. Look over your responses and decide where your focus must start. Is it on how much you eat, or why you eat or how you feel or how much you move? Next, the following chapters deal with what Eaters need to change. Why eaters need to make sure they are not eating because the food is there, in other words why you ate these foods, how you felt when eating them and how much exercise you exerted before each meal. VITAL to assess these things before beginning.
Walking, exercising added to eating properly, portion control and losing those fried, fatty and salty foods have helped me lose weight. Some people really do not care if they are overweight. Others are frustrated and have clue where to begin. I identify with is on page 48 where the author states that a “ 500 calorie per day deficit will burn one pound of fat per week only it it’s a deficit from your normal calorie output.” I totally agree and I know for a fact that it’s true. If you check out my Guiding Star at the end of my copy of this book you will note that the author’s drink choices on page 57 match mine except I do not drink milk but I do drink water, coffee and tea with nothing added to either one. Pages 58-62 will help you understand the calories in each and decide which ones are right for you.
Ever try something or retry a food even if you think you hated it as a kid? Try it again you might be pleasantly surprise and even more as the author relates in chapter 4, you might like it. Train yourself to eat the right foods everyday. You might even cut down on those high caloric foods at parties and go for the fruit, veggies and health stuff that I do.
So, take the scale and hide it until Friday when you will weigh yourself and see your progress. Next, don’t expect to loss tons at first or tons every week. Read Chapter 30 and you will learn the rest. The final chapters 27 and the chapter titled Sources will tie it all together for you.
Written as if the author is speaking to the reader and told in the first person with cartoons that will make you laugh, and straightforward approach to weight loss, this easy and definitely simple and worthwhile guide will help jump start the undecided, the apprehensive and the does not know what to do person into losing weight and keeping it off. Losing weight is not easy. Learning the inner workings of how your body works and understanding how to approach weight loss holistically will is something Ed learned from the beginning. From the best antioxidants to how to read labels and much more which you need to read for yourself, because I can’t give away everything that he wrote or you will miss out on learning this for yourself. Just like a novel with a surprise twist or ending this one has an ending that only you can create for yourself and a plot that will keep you, the reader engrossed, enveloped and healthy. Fran Lewis: Reviewer
Smile when you read the cartoons and get healthy. I dedicate this review to everyone who wants to lose weight, stay healthy and to Michelle the inspiration and reason Ed wrote this outstanding book.
Reviewer – Fran Lewis

A GOOD STORY IS A GOOD STORY - SIGNS OF LIFE - REVIEWED BY - FRAN LEWIS

SIGNS OF LIFE - Author Natalie Taylor


Survival is difficult after a loss. Losing a husband, sister, parent or any family member leaves lasting scars on those left behind. Twenty-four year old mother to be Natalie Taylor heard the words no young person should ever hear: Your husband of 18 months was in a fatal accident. How do you deal with that and still go on? Natalie Taylor is about to find out as she comes to term with the death of her husband Josh. Josh was killed crave boarding without a helmet. Death came almost instantly and her whole life came crashing down. But, with the support of her sister, Moo, her best friends and family Natalie slowly creates a new future for herself and her unborn child. But, can she deal with a new child and learn to love him? Never giving up on herself Natalie is about to turn herself around, deal with her grief and as one wise doctor so aptly states: Works on her brain in order to move ahead. Going back to school would change things for her but there is so much more to her life and her journey that still needs to be revealed.

Comparing her definitions of family connections and loyalties to that of the Corleone Family in the Godfather, you learn early on how much Natalie cherishes those who stood by her and not in a small way. But, getting counseling and help to try and reconcile and deal with her feelings in order to restore her life, she fins a support group for single mothers. Returning to teaching, rewarding with her students supportive, unique and understanding, still being teens and exhibiting the normal behaviors of high school students, showed a side of them that most would prefer stay hidden. Fixing up her soon to be newborn child’s room was not as therapeutic as she thought it might be. It was more of a help to her mother-in-law and at times she round her visits and that of others an intrusion on her time to grief, vent and cry.

As time passes Natalie begins to openly reflect on her life, her feelings for her friends and family and compares many situations with characters on television and in the movies. As she watches some of the talk shows and hears the discussion about the lives of these people her anger and frustration comes through including her bitterness for what her life has turned into. The author seems to resent anyone that is happy and cannot deal with the joys of others since losing Josh. I do understand how she feels since losing my mom, sister and mother-in-law within the last 7 months. Dealing with three deaths is difficult, getting the anger and hostility out is vital but walking around like that and feeling remorse all day and anger is not what anyone needs to do in order to cope with life as it is. So, where does this take her and what will she do to create a new life for herself and now, her young son, Kai.

Told in a monthly diary or journal the author recounts the events from the moment she heard the news about Josh, through the birth of her son and the present where she has made some remarkable changes and strides in her life. Joining the grief support group, rekindling the light in her teaching, connecting and relating the many authors that wrote not only the classics but my favorite, Robert Frost and his special poem which inspired her to realize that she has many places to go before she dies, Natalie’s words are heard, her voice is loud and clear and her determination as she takes the reader through that hardest first year of losing someone you truly love and too soon, inspires everyone that has known or experienced any loss to change their life, do something to restart the energy along with her Fairy Godmother who helps guide her through this journey this is one book everyone should read. The excitement she shares as she trains and completes her first Triathlon is contagious as you cheer her own hoping she will succeed. What does finally happen to Natalie and what does she learn from her many experiences, her friends, family, counselors and the many support groups she joins you need to read for yourself.


Told with emotions that run the gamut from anger, sorrow, happiness, joy and elation, Signs Of Life is an inspirational book that helped the author starts the healing process of losing Josh and those who read it understand that the world does not have to be so dark and gray and that the Colors are Read Again. To Natalie: They will only get brighter for you as time goes on.

Thank you Amazon Vine for sending me this book to read and review.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A GOOD STORY IS A GOOD STORY - HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY is MAY 1

In honor of the Holocaust Remembrance day May 1

This Poem is from the book - SALA, MORE THAN A SURVIVOR -

The Author of TO LIFE - MARSHA COOK

TO LIFE

The question is to be curious
To be curious is to care
To care is to love
To love is to forget
But if we forget
Who will answer the questions
Who will be there
To make sure
The deaths of our loved ones
Will have not have been in vain,
So please don’t ask us to forget
The pain and the sadness
The outburst and
The tears
They belong to us
They are dreams,

They are the sparks of light
That survive in us
To remind us
Of love and honor
And of being who we are
We have been spared by G-d
To hold in our hearts
All that is dear to us,
For we as a people have
Survived
We are not just Jews
We represent honor
And courage

We are the inspiration
We represent love,
We are not only survivors
We are teachers
We are friends
We are the assurance that
The Holocaust did happen
We are here to repeat
The facts
So it can’t happen again,
Yes, we are the reminders
But you my children
You are the future
You have the power
To say no
We didn’t …

the link to interview with Sala Lewis May 2010
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/rrradio/2010/05/20/a-good-story-is-a-good-story-hosted-by-marsha-casp?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a50:g2:r3:c0.391312:b34304696:z0