Thursday, June 28, 2012


Mike Wallace by Peter Rader

Mike Wallace: A Life by Peter Rader
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Mike Wallace was an icon in the world of journalism. On the outside or wide screen he appeared confident, self assured, confrontational at times and in total control of every situation he encountered. Mike Wallace was the perfect Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. From the onset of his career, even when working on his High School newspaper, Mike Wallace was aggressive, on point and never walked away from an argument or conflict until he came out the victor. But, Mike Wallace hid behind his own fears, melancholy and depressed personality by creating situations that most would shy away from, not afraid to blunder in public and offset his insecurity with pranks and help from family members. With an overbearing mother, successful and honorable father that he modeled himself after, Mike faltered in this world hoping to find the right niche that would be his and his alone.
Integrity is never overrated. Taking pride in watching his father’s success and admiring him when defeated and never giving up, Mike never quite fit in anywhere no matter how hard he tried. Yet, he was clever, resourceful and super smart when he wanted to be. With the help of a close relative he was admitted to the University of Michigan and it is there where things would change for this enterprising man. From radio, to television, journalism, actor and entertainer, he did it all. Morning news, specials, 24 hour news, the internet, news magazines and of course 60 Minutes which he put on the map. When you think about 60 Minutes you think Mike Wallace.
But, from the start you would learn he was a rebel and sometimes what he said in public or on the air was not always well received. From the many stormy romances he had to the difficulties dealing with his many marriages author Peter Rader shares Mike’s life with so many who admired and loved his manner and style. Mike appeared on many quiz shows such as Information please in his last year at the University of Michigan followed by his first radio job as a newscaster for WOOD Radio in Grand Rapids. Moving next to WXYZ Radio as an announcer and after many other jobs in radio he decided to enlist in the Navy in 1943 and was discharged in 1946.   Mike loved work and dappled in many areas of television and radio including radio action shows and announcing a real classic The Lone Ranger.
CBS offered him a job as a staff announcer on their network. But, what most people recognize and remember him for as the lead reporter on 60 Minutes, which led him into some really confrontational situations but definitely exciting reporting. Interviewing Farrakhan he stated and eluded that Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. One of the most talked about shows was Buff and Mike and his stormy romance with her led to many interesting times. Buff, with as strong a personality as Mike did not like being upstaged, pushed aside or not in the limelight. Married to her and no longer to Norma, deciding to take a job as the emcee on I’ll Buy That, Buff decided to call it quits. Next, we learn about his relationship with Lorraine Perigord and his rise to finally sitting in that anchor chair and working round the clock. This is when and where Mike thrived and it started with two news shows on Channel Five. Moving to WAMD he became the most talked about newsman in America. Working with Virginia Graham he would be outmatched and learn many other lessons.
The author shares the back-stories of many of his wives, newscasters like Ted Yates and we being to understand that Mike was not the only one hungry for that camera and top seat in the news. Ted taught Mike how to think outside to box, “question conventional wisdom as to how news should be gathered and presented.”  Working on Night Beat would unearth a whole new spectrum of news for him and a whole new world of TV sensationalism. Mike was unique, different and no one could really replicate his style. Next, the Mike Wallace Interview, a national show on ABC. Lawsuits, interviewing politicians, discussing others on his show, and problems arouse even at ABC. John Daly made sure he was not given any other news assignments.
Network news is definitely cutthroat even now. But, in the 1960;’s Mike finally became a correspondent for CBS deciding to go after hard news after losing his oldest son, Peter. Meeting Edward Murrow and one of my grandmother’s favorites newscasters Douglas Edwards these two icons both finding their way to CBS but they would not be working together for very long. But, the assignment that would create the real Mike Wallace happened in 1968 when he became the co-host of 60 Minutes. A slow starter but after ten years it would become one of the top ten rated news shows in the history of television news programs. Watching all of the newscasters on the show deal with corruption, fraud and world news everyone must tuned to CBS for that special sixty minutes.
Whether interviewing a political figure or just reaching out to the American public with a story Mike Wallace disclosed it all and did it his way. But, in the middle 80’s the world would learn about the other side of Mike and find out that the smile on his face was just a mask for the one hidden behind his clinical depression. This outgoing, assertive and confident man was really just a façade. Admitting his problem and getting help made a difference not just to him but others too.
Imagine interviewing Nixon right before the election. Nothing remarkable happened during that interview nor does Nixon attempt to thwart any of his questions. Interviewing not only Nixon, Ronald Reagan and even John F. Kennedy plus foreign leaders like Menachem Begin and Anwar el-Sadat, Mike Wallace ran the full spectrum of every type of interview. Mike’s form of journalism was referred to as “Ambush journalism” and he was the best at it. But, in 1984 things changed when the world would really see the other side of him after taking an almost lethal overdose of sleeping pills. Fortunately, his wife Mary would find him summoned their private doctors and called for emergency help.
Mike Wallace was on the air for many years on 60 Minutes after dealing with the Westmorland trial and much more. Friends would struggle, things changed and then in 2006 he decided to retire from the show. There is so much to share about his life but I won’t spoil it for the reader because you want to learn about him for yourself. Imagine more than sixty years in the news business. In August of 2006 Mike interviewed Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Knowing that this man was a “calculating provocateur would make for an interesting interview. The author shares the interview with readers in the final chapter of the book titled Tough but Fair. Mike’s death marks the end of an era in news reporting but he will truly remain in the hearts, minds and thoughts of everyone. Thank you to Peter Rader for allowing everyone to hear Mike’s voice and innermost thoughts in this outstanding biography told honestly, straightforward and definitely the way Mike would have wanted it told.
Reviewer: Fran Lewis
Fran worked in the NYC Public Schools as the Reading and Writing Staff Developer for over 36 years. She has three masters degrees and a PhD in Supervision and Administration. Currently, she is a member of Who’s Who of America’s Teachers and Who’s Who of America’s Executives from Cambridge. In addition, she is the author of three children’s books and a fourth that has just been published  on Alzheimer’s disease in order to honor her mom and help create more awareness for a cure. The title of her new Alzheimer’s book is Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey: Ruth’s Story. She is also the author of Because We Care and Sharp as A Tack or Scrambled Eggs: Which Describes Your Brain? Her latest book is Faces Behind the Stones. She was the musical director for shows at her school and ran the school’s newspaper. Fran writes reviews for authors upon request for several sites. You can read some of her reviews on and on under the name Gabina. You can visit Fran at her website, blog, and book review blog.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review by Fran Lewis

A Simple Seduction: Bethany Cross

When friends decide to spend a weekend in the Colorado Mountains sometimes magical things can happen and two people just might find each other but not in a conventional way. Jared Rainwater and Nicole Carter have been skirting around the issue of their feelings for too long. Going away on this weekend just might surprise both of them but you won’t believe how.

We first meet Julie Matthews and Nicole who is getting teased about her feelings for Jared. Kidding around and discussing how to get him in the mood they banter back and forth letting the reader know that Nicole just might be interested in this 6 foot six inches hot guy. Picturing him the way any woman with a vivid imagination would Nicole’s face begins to heat up just thinking about Jared. But, there is much more as we meet Nicole’s brother Charlie and learn about their childhood. Charlie is more than just a brother to Nicole he is her protector and friend. Growing up in a single parent household was difficult for Charlie and Nicole. Charlie’s vivid imagination was filled with wild and crazy stories to tell his sister of adventures to keep her mind going and not feel alone. Added into the mix of friends were Cole and Annie. Jared the financial brain, Charlie the writer, Cole as the author describes him the prosecuting attorney, Annie the diehard activist. Each year these close friends planned a getaway weekend and this year it was Jared’s turn. But, this would prove to be an unusual weekend in more ways than one and you the reader will come along as some special events take place, things happen that will surprise you as Jared and Nicole finally get together or do they?

Not wanting to go into town with her friends Nicole stays back and explores the cabin where they are staying. With the raging snowstorm she becomes concerned when her brother and the rest of her friends do not return. A text would alleviate her fears. But, what happens next is totally surreal, magical and will leave you stunned.

Jared is coming up the mountain hoping to unite with his friends but his car skids off the road. Blizzard conditions prevail and the roads are slippery and visibility is practically zero. His car skids, he slams the steering wheel and the next thing we know he is entering the cabin where he finds Nicole. What happens between them is amazing, beautiful, magical and romantic. Where they wind up and what he asks her surprising but did it happen?

Author Bethany Cross gives the reader a lot to think about as Jared and Nicole experience something beautiful, profess their love for one another and then we hear Nicole’s voice reliving her phone conversation with Jared and describing their night together. But, what happens in the morning will bring serious doubt into not only the reader’s mind but Nicole’s too as she awakens to an empty bed.

But, what Julie tells her as she comes storming into the cabin frightens Nicole. Didn’t she spend the night with Jared? How could what Julie is telling her be true? What really happened? What will their fate be and where is Jared when Nicole finds him? You need to read A Simple Seduction to find out if Nicole really had the memorable night of her life or if it was just a dream.

Once again author Bethany Cross rocks the boat, sets the bar and creates a short story that is well written, graphically and vividly depicted with scenes that will make anyone read this with someone that really love and much more as Nicole and Jared take the reader inside Their Simple Seduction.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Conviction Author: Robert Dugoni Abandonment...
Fran Lewis5:40pm Jun 20
Author: Robert Dugoni

Abandonment takes many different forms and can be defined in many ways. Although some think they are there when others need them in reality they are not. Young people perceive the world in their own way and adults do not often grasp their problems, see through their pain or understand their defeats and what causes them. Some act out by using drugs where others become defiant and use alcohol as a way of escaping reality. But, when a young boy sees his mother gun down right in front of him and is totally helpless facing the killer the end result is more than just tragic. Jake Carter watched his mother’s death unfold right in front of his eyes with his stepfather standing by unable to prevent what took just a second but would forever change more than both of their lives. Learning to deal with her death and being sent back to live with his errant father who was never really there for him from the start, Jake learned to live the fast life, create his own brand of recognition and wound up with a rap sheet that just might get him incarcerated. Using David Sloane, his stepfather as what he thought would be his out, he claimed and bellowed to authorities that he would make things right and they had no chance against him. Facing the judge in court would change things for Jake as she laid down the terms of his last chance before being incarcerated but will he heed her warnings? From the author of Murder One, Robert Dugoni comes a novel so powerful that all parents need to take notice before their son or daughter is the one who stands convicted. The Conviction is a powerful legal thriller filled with every parent’s nightmare coming to the foreground and in this case David’s decision to try to right some wrongs, deal with the guilt of abandoning Jake on his own and finding a way to bring him back.

Jake started his visit with David on the wrong foot. Lashing out at him and feeling angry is not uncommon. Following his own rules to the beat of his own drum definitely his way of coping with life and creating a world that makes him feel safe. As David meets with his old friend Father Allen he sets him straight, explains where he needs to go and hopefully helps him understand why Jake’s behavior is not uncommon, although unacceptable, needs monitoring and guidance of a full time parent.

A close friend in the police department calls David and asks for his help with a legal matter. Detective Tom Molia enjoys camping and invites David to join him with Jake thinking it might help both of them and get Jake away from the place where his mother was killed. But, not everything always turns out the way you want and sometimes the blending of two teens might turn into more than just a nightmare for both parents.

Things spiral out of control when Jake takes TJ on a downward path starting with using a fake ID and then attacking the storeowner for keeping it. Trying to divert the man’s attention away from what he was trying to buy and threatening him with a law suit Jake and TJ learn what happens when three strikes and you in. TJ gets drunk along with Jake and not willingly, but winds up learning lessons he never bargained for.

Laws are made to protect the innocent except in Truluck where they are made for those who run the town. Jake and Tj were arrested and taken to jail without any representation what so ever. When Tom and David were alerted to what happened they encountered law enforcement and rules that would harden not just the two boys but them too. Arrested and ramrod them into to confess by the judge they were sentence to juvenile detention. Worse then bad enough is the name Fresh Start Detention which is a cover up for abuse, emotional pain and cruelty inflicted by the adults that are in charge and the inmates that help carry out their torture. Jake and TJ enter the camp and Jake feels the pain before he even begins. The inmates fearing their own retribution from those in charge go along with what you might call the initiation of the newbie and never look back. As David and Tom try to locate their sons, find a way to get them released they learn many hard lessons about other states, the laws that they create just for them and the abuse inflicted on anyone visiting. Two teens that did the wrong thing, needed to learn a lesson but not the way they would where they were sent. As the tortures are more prevalent the parents learn more about the facility they enlist the help of someone to file the right motions and hopefully save their sons. Articles on the net verify their fears that their son’s lives are definitely in danger.

There are many ways to teach teens hard lessons but the staff at this juvenile camp goes over the top and beyond what is right for these young people. The punishments are inhumane, the fear they instill in them too frightening and the end result often can be death. Feeling immune to the powers of the outside world and their actions condoned by the judge that runs the town, many young people are sent to this camp without any regard for their safety, welfare or parental knowledge. But, the abuses do not stop at the kids it rises to the adults too as both David and Tom learn when they meet Office Wade and some of the other local officials.

Author Robert Dugoni brings to light what happens when one town takes it too far, creates and has their own form of laws and government and feels they are immune to the legalities set by others. Just how far will they go and how long will it take Tom and David before Jake and TJ lose more than just their freedom? The Conviction takes you to small town America and it is really frightening.

A town gripped in fear and a judge without morals or conscience. One young man named Jake who would prove his worth and metal but not before his body withstands what the guards and inmates deem fair in their minds. As one woman steps forward and wants to help learn the truth and free her own son, David and Tom risk it all to save theirs and others too. Facing Judge Earl David proves he is a force and not going away. Victor Dillon owns Fresh Start and he profits from it by charging families for their child’s incarceration. Fear that their sentences will be extended, inhumane treatment, and guards who hold back food, bathroom privileges and treat kids as cattle for their own sick purposes author Robert Dugoni brings to light what happens when a town lives without any conscience, laws are made to suit one man and tyranny reigns and greed wins and fear wins out.

Motions files, paperwork given in and other forms lost, as the judge does not want David to read the transcript from the bogus trial. But, when push comes to real shove wait and see what the end result is and what happens when two fathers take on a whole town and many young men fall prey to more than just the indignities and violence of adults. The title might refer to the guilty verdict but word Conviction definitely means both David and Tom as their conviction or goal to stop what has been going on too long takes them to Winchester County and the courtroom of Judge Earl.

As the pieces start to fit together the end result and the final verdict you won’t believe. Many people come into play and some risk it all to save the lives of so many wrongly accused. Jake, TJ, Bee Dee and so many others live through tortures, unjust treatment and more all because someone needed to keep Fresh Start Open for his own monetary purposes and the drug business that went along with the funding. When David comes up with a plan that just make shake the foundation of the Winchester Court will Jake step up to the plate and finally help him out? What is the truth behind one officer’s actions and what will be the final fate of those who committed so many crimes? An ending more powerful than that of any other legal thriller, an author who delivers justice in his own unique way and one lawyer and one detective who fought hard and hoped to over turn The Conviction. Did they and what happens you will learn when the documents that were missing and the disc of the trial played when you read the book and hear the evidence for yourself? Did Jake learn his lesson? That remains to be seen. Let’s hope the author brings them all back and maybe this time Jake just might help solve the case. Friendships tested, loyalties formed and many youths lives held in the balance and characters that are strong, bold and well developed. One town so corrupt it was hard to tell where the betrayers started and the honest reined. Read the Conviction and decide what your final verdict is.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review- Fran Lewis

Our own David Workman: FIVE ZEBRAS

Absolute Authority:
David Workman

A clandestine operation in the middle of the night finds several black-hooded men placed behind some crates hoping to catch their preys. But, as each member checks his weapons, defines his position and strains to try and see what was hidden in the darkness little did they know what the end result would be. One figure on the starboard bow of the boat they boarded would ignite a carnage so terrible no one would see it coming. Talon Team 6 Leader sounding off, watching the target move and as each target was picked off no one saw the one thing that would end it all. An operation in 1988 that set off an explosion that would kill many. Thinking that they had taken out the entire enemy the last thing they expected was the loud boom to follow.

Flashing forward to the present we meet one man that would set in motion a plan so diabolical and deadly it would rock the world. One by one several unsuspecting people are brutally murdered. Linked to the President of the United States and a team of elite assassins, one man, Gordon McAllister has been left standing. An executive recruiter by profession dealing with major corporations and heads of Fortune 500 companies, Gordon McAllister, code name Zebra, reporting only to the President of the United States learns that someone knows he and his team exists. Eliminating three members and aiming for him next, a note delivered would provide the warning that he was next. Max Preston is dangerous. Coded messages and one click of the mouse and the world would rock.

Imagine going to the mall and hoping to shop but being blown to bits instead. One man pretending to be a lost and absent minded shopper plants a bomb in a strategic place taking out and trapping everyone in the elevator and causing 100’s of injuries in the wake of the explosion. Throughout the United States several malls were hit. Three members of his team killed. Just how does this fit together and why did the President create a team of assassins to kill for him.

Max Preston was wallowing in glory at his handiwork. Listening to the news and watching the cameras flash the pictures of the carnage he created brought a smile to his sinister face. A phone call would reconfirm his success as he and his assistant enjoyed the glory and celebrate his success.

Contacts in place and hoping to focus in on the killer’s identity with the help of a man named Willard Stanford, McAllister views the carnage, sees the face of the man responsible and hopes the team sent to raid his house is successful. Hidden and clothed in black the elusive team enters the house of the killer and what they find and the end result does not bring them any closer to finding out who is behind these mass murders.

But, Molly Hindan contacts McAllister and his whole world, thought to be a closed book is now wide open and the identity of his team revealed as she explains her link to one of the murder victims, identifies him as part of the assassin team code name Zebra and hopes to learn more about why her fiancé was murdered. Together she and McAllister hope to pool their resources and information to find the answers to these murders and how someone found out about Zebra. Dinner proved interesting and the conversation had just moved into another room when a sniper shot through his window hoping to take out Gordon. But, the end result would reveal to Molly just who Peter really was, his true job and the reason why he was targeted and killed. But, there is much more as the author reveals to the reader and to Molly the history behind the many terrorist groups, the restrictions placed on the CIA and the reason why Reagan all the way back in the 80’s realized a need for Zebra. As Molly learns more about Peter and what his role was in this organization more questions related to her attack and his murder are asked and the question still rings out as to why she was left alive.

As Max Preston inspects a Russian plane the truth behind its mission is revealed to the reader. A nuclear power station is about to be attacked as one of several targets on his list. Just why has not been revealed but as Willard and Gordon reveal to Molly the truth behind Peter’s job, how they met and what exactly he really did you learn more about who might be behind the murders but not why. The cover-ups are huge and the chain of events that has yet to come will shake more than just the nuclear plant that was attacked as author David Workman takes the reader inside the mind of someone diabolical. But, just when the reader thinks he/she knows all of the players you realize that the person behind these attacks is the one person you would never suspect. Just how this links together you won’t believe as Molly might have been an oversight before but not anymore. Why would this mission and these deaths be linked to the National Security of the country? As Preston recounts his time in an Iraqi prison we being to learn more about this man and his missions and his link to the government. But not everyone was who they appeared to be deceits ran high and betrayals even higher before the final explosion takes place.

Lena Miller is smart and quite cunning. Working with Max was a cover. Finding Gordon and enlightening him to the truth behind the murders, who orchestrated them and what really happened to the members of his missing team hopefully break things opened. What she reveals would he believe? The links to the Department of Homeland Security will explain how she met Max but the reasons she chose to reveal the information to Gordon makes the reader wonder just who in the government can be trusted and who cant’. Why would the government want to create the illusion of terrorist attacks on our own soil? Why blow up a nuclear plant? How could this ensure National Security? Just how far up does this go and remember Gordon reports to only one man whose Absolute Authority should reign. Just how high up in the government does this go and just where do all the players fit in? Why doesn’t Lena trust the people she worked for and what exactly is on that flash drive she managed to get from Max’s laptop and emails?

When Gordon contacts Stanford something seems off as former operatives were killed and secondary targets were being exposed and his friend was in trouble but would he get there before it was too late? Enter FBI analyst Allison Crenshaw whose report to the President will enlighten the reader to the gravity of the situation and who is involved. The author flashes back to 1985 to give the reader a brief history of where this all began but that you won’t get from me you need to read it for yourself and take the journey along with McAllister, Molly, Lena and one computer geek named Martin who can hack anything and find out more than you would want him to about you or me. This is one great book that you will not put down once you start it.

When the pieces of the puzzle are put together and the players are all revealed you will not believe who is behind the plot, why and the end result they hoped for. Just how did this all end and will the next bomb get its target? Where is it aimed and will Gordon be able to stop the chain of events set in motion by one man who wanted it all? Who lives, who dies and who survives and who will remain the Absolute Authority? Author David Workman has created a character in Gordon McAllister that we hope he brings back again. Well defined characters, plot twists that you won’t ever see coming and extensive research done to create a plot linking the past, the present and what some hoped would be the future.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

This book gets: FIVE ZEBRAS

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Thursday, June 7, 2012


10:10pm Jun 7

Bo is a Buffalo. He tries to be good, but one day his friend, Pete the Prairie Dog, persuades him to sneak off to another part of the woods. Despite the warnings of Karl the Cowbird, Bo follows Pete with nearly disastrous results.
This charmingly written and illustrated book will delight children ages 5 – 8. I had the unique opportunity to read this book to two different second grade classes recently. It met with great acclaim. The children loved it and had lots to say about Bo and the other characters. It will now go with me to school when I substitute and remains on the top of my most loved list.
"Buffalo on the Ridge" is beautifully illustrated with pictures to entertain children as well as adults. Each page holds little 'hidden' pictures that the children enjoy finding as the book is read. In the back, Meyer has included a short list of facts about the animals in the book, making it a marvelous teaching tool for any classroom.
five golden acorns!

Book Review - PLAYDATE


12:40pm Jun 7

What happens when you and your husband are in an intimate position and your sixth grade daughter walks into the room? Even better what happens when she lashes out at her mother because she thinks she is strangling her father? What happens when one little girl is totally resentful of having to move from her home leaving all of her friends and having to go to a new school? Belle hates where she lives and no matter how hard she tries and how many bribes her mother puts in front of her nothing will ever make her love where she lives. Even more she dislikes and says it out loud her mother. The deep resentment shines through and this very bright no holds barred little girl does not mince her words when expressing her thoughts. Her father is her idol, her Adonis her best friend and the conversations they have about life, sex and relationships will definitely surprise the reader and Lance her father who is trying to be a great stay at home dad, husband, volunteer and much more. The Santa Ana winds are about to kick up in more ways than one as author Thelma Adams takes the reader on an inside tour of the Encinitas where things get hot and heated and not just the wild fires.

Straightforward, outspoken and definitely wise beyond her years, Belle’s caught in an intricate web between her father and mother who seem to want to recapture their youth, focused on their own needs and at times forget she is there. Never asking her opinion of what she would like for a birthday bash, Darlene, her perfectly manicured mom planned it around the reason they moved to this town which is the opening of her state of the art new diner. Adding balloons, Barbie decorations and more she decided to make it a double celebration without asking Belle for her thoughts. Lance’s primary role is to take care of all matters at home, deal with Belle, the babysitter and deliver the Girl Scout cookies. But, there is much more that the author shares with the reader such as the back-stories for each character allowing you to get to know them better.

Lance grew up as the man of the house when his parents separated. Darlene seems to treat life and its many situations as board meetings discussing the future outcomes and productivity of each event that has to be preplanned and perfectly orchestrated. The many back-stories are interesting and the author even includes Lance’s parents to help you learn more about him.

Playdate is about relationships, trust, betrayals, fear, vulnerability and passions ignited through vividly described situations encountered by each character and created by the author all becoming explosive in some way and igniting when the Santa Ana fires take control of their world. Added into the mix are two other players Alex and Wren Marker each playing a different role than expected in Lance and Darlene’s lives. Alex her business partner and much more and Wren who enjoys a romp in the sack Tantric style with Lance and then there is Julia the babysitter. Julia has a definite thing for Lance as we learn and yet she is amazing with Belle helping her come to terms with her feelings about her party and along with her close friend Sam, who happens to be Alex’s son, she expresses her true feelings about a lot of things bothering her.

The fires are starting to spread and the severity increased and the causes many. Discussing the diner Alex brings to light what is needed to create a unique image for her diner. But, when the winds are mentioned he does not take it seriously when Darlene expresses her concern. Darlene is caught up in her life in Encinitas and disregards the importance of her marriage and her daughter while meeting with Alex. Extensive hours spent leading up to the grand opening of her new restaurant hoping it will be an upscale place patterned after her café in Barstow. But, when things get out of hand and her focus in dimmed by her own concerns what will happen to her relationship with Lance and Belle? Belle seems to be floundering in relation to the other kids and Lance seems to have lost his niche with other men who as Belle’s not so wonderful friend said infer are defined by their jobs, which sets their value, and worth. Belle and Lance share their banter, inside stories and definite connection with the reader. She is the one major bright spot in this novel.

Darlene and Alex share lunch as the author allows Alex to share some insight into Darlene’s personality. Darlene appears to be competitive in everything she does and with everyone. Never wanting to share her day with anyone or asked by her husband. Stating she misses the connection she once had with Lance. But, whose fault is that when you are not paying attention?

When Belle gets up in front of her class and her humorless teacher to present her report what happens will definitely enlighten the reader to those who should not become or be educators and to students caught up in status and not friendships. When Belle elaborates about her Dad’s accomplishments at home it gets lost in the shuffle not only to the other students but the teacher too. Then, Lance recounts his childhood and we begin to understand why he wants something different for Belle. The sad part is Belle is a great kid whose individuality should have been embraced by others but was cast aside because she was trying to be herself. Her father was cast aside because he did not have what most people would state” a real job.” Sad what society does to people and how they judge them!

The fires were increasing and the possibility that they might need to evacuate and cancel the opening and the party a consideration. An interesting party comprised of guests that her mother and Alec invited with only a few that she might identify with. The conversation centered on marriages, expectations and more. Realities come to light and both Darlene and Alec learn some harsh truths. When the conversation really heats up just like the fires Lance is defended by an unlikely source as the discussion centers around marriage, work and appreciating someone for what they do and who they are.

Told within three days the first two dealing with relationships, school and a revelation made by Wren to Lance the final day which is Saturday will unravel more than just each couple as Belle gets ready for the big opening and her party. Would it be what she expected or would it focus on her mother? What about the end result revealed for Wren and Lance? What Darlene learns next just might open her eyes to the truth behind Alec’s help and his real motive. What will she do and how will she convince Belle that the party was really for her? The ending will definitely surprise the reader and the final outcome you won’t expect.

Relationships are tested and one young girl named Belle stands tall and what she does just might cause her own fires to burn and spark the embers for her parents and many others. What happens when the fires hit home? Whose homes will be affected and will anything ever be the same? Will Lance and Darlene face the truth about their marriage and will Darlene see the light before it is too late? Read Playdate to find out just how author Thelma Adams brings it all together to an explosive conclusion that will make you really think. What is the true worth of a person? Money: Power: Job status or who they are? You decide after reading this great novel.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

Let’s give this book: FIVE BELLES

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

THE ART OF MISS CHEW - Reviewer - Fran Lewis

The Art of Miss Chew

Author: Patricia Polacco

Reviewed: by Fran Lewis

Educators have great impacts on their students some positive and some negative. Learning how to work with students of different academic abilities requires understanding, kindness, knowledge and work. There are many educators that have difficulty working with students whose grades are not up to their standards and there are some that realize a special quality in their students and teach them how excel. The world of art is special and the language of Art, which is the central theme of this outstanding book, is not something that everyone understands or can learn. Not every student can handle taking tests as we learn when we meet our author, Patricia at the beginning of the school year as she enters Mr. Donovan’s class. Mr. Donovan’s flare for teaching and recognizing student’s shortcomings and helping them overcome them is what made him a first rate teacher. As a student our author worked hard but when she had to take a test she could not handle the time constraints and often failed. The subject matter was not foreign to her but she needed more time to be able to focus on the print and complete all of the questions. Mr. Donovan realized this and allowed her to have more time and her grades improved. But, Mr. Donovan saw more in Patricia than even she did. Drawing was something she loved. You might say it was her passion. Looking at her drawings one day he put them up on his bulletin board for everyone to see. The best part is her classmates rallied around and agreed with him. So, proud of herself she could not wait to tell everyone at home. But, here is where our story really begins. The insight of one teacher and the dedication to making a real difference in a child’s life is why her life changed.

Mr. Donovan told her about a special woman named Miss Chew. Miss Chew was the head of the high school art department and ran a special program for young artists. So very talented and definitely excited about being given this special chance, she could not wait for the first day of class to begin and was thrilled that her mother agreed. Enter Miss Chew whose colorful smock and appearance not only brighten a room but whose smile could light up a cloudy sky. But, Miss Chew could not pronounce her name and she was forever called Theresa. From day one as you can see from the amazing illustrations that the author has drawn and the detail and colors in each picture, you can feel the excitement, see the determination and feel the energy that the author of Miss Chew in each picture. “ The language of art.” As she relates to the author and the reader is not spoken it is the “language of emotions and images.” Patricia soared in her class and when asked to create drawings Miss Chew explained to her students first you see and then draw as you watch the lines go from dark to light. Her drawings were detailed, filled with emotion and definitely done from within her heart and soul. But, sometimes not every educator is a champion of the young.

As Miss Chew helps Patricia/Theresa capture the true understanding of negative space which you will have to learn for yourself in order to excel in the language of art yourself, someone else decides to try and tear down all the positive work that she and Mr. Donovan have done. When her teacher has to take a leave for personal reasons, another comes in and has not idea of the negative impact she is making on our author and young artist. The dialogue in this book explains in definite detail and quite clearly as you hear the voice of the substitute teacher explain to her that art classes are a waits and she needs to try and pass her tests. Even explaining how she receives extra time from Mr. Donovan it does not soften the hard heart of Mrs. Spaulding. When Patricia relates the incident and what happened to Miss Chew wait and see what happens and why this woman was more than just a teacher to her. Some children have reading difficulties and as a reading specialist I understand negative space and that some students have difficulty seeing word patterns and being able to group letters together to make words and blend them into sentences. Just what the reading specialist tells not only Miss Chew but her mother, the principal and Mrs. Spaulding is quite enlightening. Just what Mrs. Spaulding says and does leads the school to make a strong decision about her.

Mr. Donovan returns and things change as Patricia now passes her tests. But, the real surprise would come later as Miss Chew had a special present and something else she had planned for her. Just what happens and what she does to let our author know she is special and talented you have to read for yourself. The pictures in this book are colorful, full of many different color palettes and you can feel the warmth, the pride and the love in each one. Miss Chew comes to life in each drawing and the smile in the author’s face is infectious. So, what is this special surprise and can you learn what it is. First you have to see it. Then Read it! You don’t think I am going to tell you what happens and ruin the surprise for you.

Once again author Patricia Polacco brings to light so many important issues that students today face not just when she was growing up. Teachers can really make a difference in the lives of their students but some like Mrs. Spaulding are too rigid and cannot see past the red pencil point in their hand. The sad part is that not every student is like Patricia and some are greatly affected and often retreat and are afraid to speak out. Teachers like Mr. Donovan are special and rare and the fact that he took the time to help her along with Miss Chew lets the reader know that not all educators are like Mrs. Spaulding. I am a reading and writing specialist and worked with students with reading difficulties. You need patience, understanding, knowledge of their problems and how to work with them but most of all you need to see the beauty of reading and have a love for teaching.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

Let’s give this book: FIVE COLORFUL STARS

COVER HER BODY - Review by Fran Lewis

Title  - Cover Her Body
Author - Eleanor Sullivan
Reviewer - Fran Lewis

Leaving her home Adelaide to go to her favorite spot by the river she never expect to come upon the scene that would change not only her life but many others. A vision, a body in the water that was all tangled up come into view and she, although fearful of the water Adelaide went in to bring the body to safety hoping the person would be alive. What she did find and uncover was a young girl, Johanna Applegate, who was dead and the reaction of the people and those in charge was anything but compassionate. Belonging to the Separatists she knew she had broken the rules by going out by herself. The head demanded she prepare the body and the burial happen right away. Telling her parents would be the job of this one man and the way they would be told his doing too. But, the reason for her death has yet to be revealed as there is much more that remains to be seen. Adelaide is a young midwife who works in a small village called Zoar. The year is 1833. The Separatists run this village and the death of young Johanna has been deemed an accident but Adelaide thinks otherwise. She thinks it is murder. Found dead in the river she relates what she saw but the Zoarists, a group of Germans who came to America to escape religious persecution formed a communal society and worked for the state of Ohio digging canals.

Realizing from the onset that Johanna did not drown, Adelaide will stop at nothing to learn the truth and why she was killed. The Separatists are not too thrilled with her and Adelaide is on a quest to find her killer. But, first she would have to convince her mother that something was wrong with her death and keep Gerda, her sister from asking too many questions. Gerda, cold hearted, unfeeling and not wanting Johanna to be buried in fine clothes or prepared properly, seemed to not care that her niece was gone. The burial scene bone chilling and upsetting if not cold. The Separatists never believed in killing and refused to accept that her death was anything but an accident. As Adelaide was preparing the body for burial, Gerda, the sister of the teen’s mother appeared ambivalent, coldhearted and annoyed that any special care was being taken to bury the girl with dignity and love. During the cleansing of the body Adelaide makes a startling discovery and feels that she might have caused the death of this young teen with an herbal remedy she gave her. In order to follow their procedure she informs their leader of her findings and her thoughts about the teen’s death. But, before she speaks with a close friend who instructs her to do exactly that, report what she thinks. However, the end result is a community meeting that goes in a direction that she predicted would happen but not the one anyone would really want. Openly accused by one of the members of causing her death and his wife’s grief losing her sister, Adelaide is in danger of being an outcast and many more.

The incident remains an accident according the leader and no more is to be said or done about it. But, Adelaide will not quit until she finds answers for the dead teen. As the author allows the reader to get to know Johanna you hear from many characters including her sister, Brigit that she was carefree, fun loving and rarely did a day’s work. She broke the rule and lived life her way. Added into the story is a doctor who might cause more damage to his patients than her simple herbal remedies, one woman named Gerda who was in charge of the girl’s infirmary and whose actions were bordered on abusive and got away with it.
Rumors were flying, more accusations made and Adelaide was more determined to learn the truth about Johanna’s death and about her own people. Martin wanted to outlaw marriage and Simon wanted to take the seat on the trustees away from Nathan. Their heritage questioned, a preacher who called them all sinners and some who thought his ideals right and others who realized he was creating dissension. Who would win out? Who really killed Johanna and why? Why did Gerda threaten Adelaide and claim she would wind up like Johanna?

But, thinks start to heat up for not just Adelaide but for her community too as a Constable is sent for to investigate the death of the teen and her workroom is destroyed by an intruder and Adelaide is even more determined to find out why. Jakob was in love with Johanna. Martin, Gerda, Simon, August and many others are on her list of suspects. I cannot tell you why. Some men not allowing her to tend to their wives and children others ignoring what the doctor states about her. Many realizing his ways are wrong and will only hurt the patient. Some members of the community thinking changes are necessary in more ways than just medical care.

An inquest into the death would change things for Adelaide and bring to light what she thinks happened of she might wind up in deeper trouble for starting the investigation on her own. The ending is powerful and what happens is not going to be divulged since the Separatists : that is Josef and Adelaide made me promise not to divulge what they learned and the person who might have committed the crime. Will Benjamin support her or will she be shunned? The author brings to light the various herbal remedies used during this time and of course the controversy of some of the ways of a traditional doctor that many would question even today. Added to the plot is whether they election results in abolishing marriage, insisting on celibacy and which males will rule and prevail at the end as trustees. Will Adelaide’s past mistake hinder her in the present and will the answers help her move on? This is one thought provoking book where women are told to keep their thoughts to themselves, have a vote but some men disagree and want to take it away and the end result: Let’s hope the author brings Adelaide back for more. Replete in history and characters that are very well defined and a plot that will keep the reader riveted to the printed page from start to finish.