Title: Last Lau…


Title: Last Laughs

Author: Everett Mattlin

ISBN: 9781936401345

Publisher: Two Harbors Press

 

 

So “Old age – what is that? And who thinks they’re old?” Some kids look at 20 year olds and think they are over the hill. Others think when you turn forty it’s time to chuck it all in. Then, there are those who are young at heart, invigorated and refuse to let any age get them down. So, what’s so terrible if you want to sit in your favorite easy chair and watch an old movie reread your favorite book or just stare off into space? How about waiters that annoy you throughout dinner to find out if you are enjoying your meal? What about dealing with voice mails, service people and others that do not understand English and have lived here forever? Author Everett Mattlin brings to light these issues and many other that plague, haunt and annoy the not so elderly but those who have lived their lives, reached 80 and want some recognition and respect. Like Rodney Dangerfield would say: I get no respect. But, by the end of this review I know this author will definitely not only get respect but a great review.

 

Many people believe that the elderly are useless and done with their lives. NOT SO! But, as the author states when do they get to reap the rewards or benefits of living 8 decades, doing what he wants and not worrying about the requests and requirements of others. So, if he does not want to watch his grandkids- he shouldn’t. If he decides to hire a Gardner and not do the weeding himself because his knees hurt: Go right ahead. Some people deal with their limitations and age issues and others refuse to acknowledge them. I really love when he writes in the essay Groucho Lives about sitting through a movie and wanting it to be over. Not wanting to read books than 275 pages. Imagine if all of the books I reviewed had only 275 pages how many more I could read in a day. But, my favorite is the clothing issue or the proper clothing to wear to the opera. My mom always told me to dress for the occasion and never ever go out looking anything but your best. Weddings, the opera, restaurants and even a simple date required being dressed with taste and class. I have to agree that going to the opera definitely requires more formal attire and those that come dressed for the beach or a card game seem to demean the grandeur of the occasion.

 

Coffee is definitely too much more, but how many of us can live without that first cup. Meals are more expensive and portion sizes at some restaurants miniature. My computer is my best friend but I use it for different reasons. But, the author makes some great points about aging, people and the younger generation who should definitely get up and give an older person their seat on the bus. I would and still do.

 

The reality is no one wants to admit that they are old or feel old. Being grumpy, grouchy and definitely allowed to speak their minds older people as we call them or the elderly need to be allowed to exercise their own way of dealing with life and not worry about what the rest of the world deems the norm. So, why is it when you go to the doctor or call a charge card on the phone to just pay your bill they need your date of birth. I never give it. Why is getting older or an elderly relative an embarrassment? I know younger people that take naps in the middle of the day, sit in front of the television set watching old movies or playing computer games. What is wrong with doing nothing because doing nothing to me is doing the something you want that will make you happy even if it is for a short time.

 

Complaints about dieting, overweight adults, going out to dinner and reading the dessert menu first and the rest last, life can be a real pain when you get older. But, despite his complaints his sense of humor shines through and you have to laugh when he discusses exercising and those that try to lose weight, exercise and eat ice cream after they are done. Smaller portions, leaving food on your plate and many old adages never work. Dieting would mean he would have to be thin and give up the good stuff he loves to eat like French fries, cakes, pies and much more. Being grumpy goes along with getting older and hating diets and diet foods totally allowed. Doctor’s appointments, cell phones you forget to turn on and you get the message too late, all part of what he complains about. Everything the author relates we all think about within ourselves and few say out loud. He is just writing or saying what everyone is really thinking to themselves.

 

Talking about organic foods, losing weight and giving up sugar, cakes and other desserts plus beer and wine would make this poor man shrivel up into nothing. So, what can he do: Give up vegetables. It’s a thought but I’m not sure I could live without my steamed spinach but then again I am weight conscious.

 

My Aunt Tova wore hearing aids on selected days that she wanted to hear. The funny part is that when she played poker, bingo or gambled at Atlantic City she heard everything. Selective hearing and non-hearing is what we used to refer her way of communicating with others. When the author tells about the hearing aids, the huge price tag on them and the discomfort they provided for him it brought back memories of when my Aunt Tova needed hers replaced because they were not properly made or the batteries wore out after a week and the fact that she really didn’t want anyone to know she wore them. You are right Everett: How can you contradict everyone if you don’t know what he or she is saying? Wear the aides!

 

Dementia is what my mom had actually Alzheimer’s and I know that she had memory problems so don’t worry Everett you are fine. As far as separate rooms you might have a point there to keep your room your way and snore away!

 

Mirror mirror in front of my face: WHO IS THAT? NOT ME! Don’t be so sure? Images change. Everyone’s does and consider it your own timeline from start we hope to a very long finish. Age is not something I care to deal with or discuss. Wrinkles, although I do not have any, consider them signs of distinction and a life well lived. The author also includes a discussion about the facts of life, teens and their viewpoints on sex, movies and music, tipping and how to avoid it and the ailments that befall the elderly. Doctor’s visits seem to be the norm for him and discussing back problems and more the topics of interest when getting together with friends. The many remedies that work, don’t work and the search for the best mattress are all included in this book that will definitely make you think, laugh, smile and wonder where all the time has gone. From lack of energy to his wife going out with her friends, his ups, downs and in-betweens this book has it all and more. Living up to the challenges of marriage, life, never faltering and more the author gives the reader reasons to stop and think: Is old age what it is cracked up to be or is there more to my young life that I can still salvage? Going to a bookstore rather than buying online, visiting the library and doing research with a real set of encyclopedia is definitely the way to go. Bookstores are great and reading on the nook, kindles and eBooks not for me.

 

There are rules about how women should act, dress, night flashes, cold flashes and when we were just cooks, laundry ladies, shoppers, sewers and much more. Don’t you know that we have definitely been liberated from the kitchen, behind the stove and are part of the working force? Of course just about everyone can identify with foot pain. Going to the mall is a haven for anyone. When stressed and upset shopping is definitely the best cure rather than a visit to any doctor. Shopping in high -end stores I rarely do but finding something I always will. I do agree with the author that buying it yourself makes you feel like you earned it but I do accept presents.

 

What lessons have we learned? He will never figure us out. HE might have learned from his mistakes. The true meaning of love, dealing with people in general and the rest you will have to read and learn for youself. Finally, if he can teach me and everyone else how to avoid stress that would be great and less money for those that are paid to analyze us. Stress is definitely a part of life at every age. Of course there is so much more and reading page 174 and his analysis of how kids are raised, children live beyond their means definitely hit home. So, getting old. You can’t avoid it. Finally, his sentiments on death and his demise and where he hopes to wind up when the time comes. The final chapters deal with death, heaven, hell and his final thoughts on life. Let’s hope he lives many more years and is able to share more of his thoughts, ideas, humor and sage wisdom with us. For writing such a humorous and honest account of life and because I am sure your wife would agree with me. I hereby give this book:


FIVE RED JACQUARS : Fran Lewis : Reviewer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FIVE STARS FOR THIS DEBUT NOVEL


Jennifer Taylor seems perfect on the outside. Carolyn Samuels would give anything to be her carbon copy. On the outside Jennifer Taylor appeared put together, secure, smart and confident. But, was that the real Jennifer? Deep down Jennifer had a secret that she wanted to keep hidden from everyone. Jennifer wore an invisible mask or shield that covered up truths hidden beneath them. Appearances are everything to teens and being popular and beautiful paramount in their minds. Author Barbara Ehrentreu takes readers both adult and teen inside the mind of two young girls: Carolyn and Jennifer in her outstanding debut novel “If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor.” Ehrentreu brings to light the pressures and issues teens face when trying to fit in, dealing with bullies, weight problems and just surviving in high school. This is one novel that all teens and YA’s should read.

 

Dreams often mirror our true feelings about people and events in our lives. Carolyn Samuels wakes up from a really great dream. The only problem was she was not the person in it. Although thinking she was experiencing the events the description of the person mirrored that of Jennifer Taylor. The young man in question Brad, Jennifer’s boyfriend. Realizing it was time to start her first day of high school, reality set in, her feelings about herself, her appearance and weight issues brought to the forefront and Carolyn begins her day skeptical about her wardrobe choices, dreading meeting Jennifer in school and hoping she can fake being sick and get away with it.

 

The first day of school turns into a rerun of middle school for Carolyn as Jennifer finds her way into her life reminding her of what happened the previous year and poor Carolyn hears those famous words: Breathe Carolyn and zones out right in the middle of math class. Going to the nurse and being escorted by Jennifer made the situation even worse. Promising to do her math homework to keep her silence and prevent her from telling anyone what really happened to her was the price Carolyn had to pay. But, things went downhill as the math teacher pairs poor Carolyn with Jennifer and the end result is they have to do a project together for his class. Added to her misery Jennifer insists Carolyn buy new jeans and a top to wear when she is around her in order not to embarrass Jennifer. Wearing jeans and shirts that are oversized and big poor Carolyn suffers at the hand of Jennifer only to fit in and become more popular or as some say good enough to share her space. Jennifer’s prime concern looking right, being seen as the most popular girl in school and making sure she spends time with Brad. Carolyn feels as visible as the Invisible Man without the bandages to cover his face.

 

Going to the mall with Jennifer is anything but fun for Carolyn who misses shopping with Becky and Janie her two best friends. Trying on clothes that she never wears and having Jennifer pay for them totally out of character for her. Hoping to escape her and go home she never expects Jennifer’s mother to invite her over for dinner. Too embarrassed and polite to say no she accepts.

 

Carolyn gets to see Jennifer in several new lights as she learns her secret to staying thin. Creating a math survey and completing their graph for their project does not make them fast friends but allows Jennifer to learn more about Carolyn allowing herself to even like her but afraid to admit it. Jennifer, believe it or not offers to give Carolyn a makeover and assist her with her tumbling after seeing her play volleyball in gym class. Running for the bus after class she collides with Brad, actually speaks to him and then gets in trouble with the driver but smiles even though she is in pain all the way home. Carolyn is smart, perceptive and definitely a whole lot brighter than Jennifer realizes. Jennifer has an eating disorder and Carolyn picks it up while having dinner with her. Will she keep silent? Will she have a real conversation with Mrs. Taylor or will she keep it locked in her mind? Jennifer has not really been that nice to her and why would Carolyn even try to help her? There is much more to learn as I continue my review of this YA novel that teaches young teens the meaning of true friendship, loyalty, honesty and forgiveness. “If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor,” says Carolyn. Why would you want to be anyone but you? That is a real question that many teens should ask themselves and many adults need to be aware of when teens or even tweens begin copying the behaviors, styles and actions of others because they are popular. Being overweight all of my life as a kid, I can identify with Carolyn and how she feels about herself. But, allowing someone else to make you feel than who you are is wrong.

 

Makeover successful and allowing Carolyn to take some of her outfits cements their friendship to a fragile point. Jennifer confesses her problem to Carolyn and enlightens her to why she needs to remain bone thin and her hopes for an Olympic Medal. But, Carolyn in her heart feels that Jennifer needs help and is unsure of what to do. Keeping her secret might help their friendship grow but not doing something to help her might prove detrimental to Jennifer. Lying to her mom, her friends and even herself, Carolyn tries to keep everything and everyone on an even keel but can she? Going to the movies with her friends she overhears Maura, Jennifer’s refer to her a Jennifer’s shadow. How will Carolyn react to this? Is this why she loses her appetite at lunch and can’t eat? Why does she have to catch her breath and have trouble breathing when she gets upset or nervous? What will the end result be and will Carolyn admit how she feels for Brad?

 

Peer pressure, body image, friends with the right people and popularity are just some of the vital and valuable issues that are brought to light in this novel. Lessons are going to be learned by both Jennifer and Carolyn. Friendships are tested and bonds are broken and others tightened. This debut novel deserves to hit the bestseller list really soon.

 

Jennifer becomes ill and is taken to the nurse at school and this is where things shift for both Carolyn and Jennifer. Friendships will be formed and deceits and lies just might come out. Jennifer is concerned about her weight and the meets that she is preparing for in order to qualify for the Olympics. Carolyn is hoping to join the cheerleading squad. Brad has started to befriend her and she can hardly believe it. But, Carolyn is a loyal and true friend and is being torn between her friendship for Becky and Janie and her new one with Jennifer. Where will her loyalties lie and will she be able to handle what comes next?

 

 

Confessions are good for the soul they say. Betraying a trust is something no one should do except if it means saving someone’s life. As Carolyn feels the pressure of keeping Jennifer’s secret will revealing it to someone create a rift between them or will it be the right thing to do? Helping Jennifer prepare for her meet by doing her math homework for her is that the right way to go?

 

Jennifer has a fall in the gym and learns she won’t make the cut this year. But, what happens next as a result will definitely change the way you look at her and Brad. Carolyn thinks her world is shattered when she learns Brad likes her just like a friend. But, one young man in plain site would change everything for her. Math class can prove to be the best thing that happened to her this year.

 

The end of the year has come and Carolyn is about to have her sleepover birthday party. What happens will definitely surprise the reader as Carolyn, Becky, Jen, Maura and Janie play a game that will change all of their lives forever.

 

What happens will surprise the reader and help all teens realize that being Jennifer Taylor is not who you are it is who she is. Just what would Jennifer really want for her life and will their friendships continue? Let’s hope author Barbara Ehrentreu brings the girls back for a sequel. Perfect is relative. Friendship is what counts.

 

Fran Lewis: reviewer

This book gets FIVE PERFECT SOMERSAULTS AND FIVE PERFECT CHEERS!

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Shark and the W…


Shark and the Wolf
Predators and Prey
Author: Daniel D. Shields
Reviewed by Fran Lewis

Creating a unique world inhabited by humans and animals possessing the same attributes both good and bad author Daniel D. Shields takes the reader on a journey into the mind of one man whose goal it is to enslave, capture, torture and orchestrate a spectacle so horrifying the viewer will shudder. Welcome to the world of slave trading and trafficking.

Our story begins in the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania, East Africa as three African elephants, a family like any other family spending the day together, enjoying the watering hole, splashing and having fun, fall prey to wiles of a really dangerous man. Not sensing the danger they continue with their fun not realizing that the end was near and their lives as they knew it would be over. Billionaire, Shaw, a casino magnate was behind their capture and eyed the elephants. Not concerned about the young two-year old, his goal was to capture these two huge African elephants and bring them to Las Vegas as a star attraction in his new show Predators and Prey. Just the name of this show brings chills down my spine and I would hope yours too.

Shaw’s primary goal was to enslave and hunt animals for profit and for sport. Allowed to hunt on a protected game reserve this man’s power or shall I say the power of money went far to help him catch his preys. As the author vividly describes the capture of the two adult elephants and the child that is about to become an orphan, the reader wonders why anyone would want to be so cruel, what kind of sport he has in mind the fear and sadness that comes through as you hear the voices of the elephants and visualize the fright in the young child’s eyes.

Shark is a Great White whose physical attributes are more human than Shark. With the ability to speak and agility of a pool shark, he attempts to take on hyena or Old Jack as a competitor. Winning would proof glorious for just a moment and the end result would change his life and many others. Hyena is cold and his stare would definitely make you shudder. His countenance fierce and hard as he cons Shark into many games, loses and places one final bet or say we shall winner takes all. The wager is $1000 if Shark loses. The end result is a sucker bet that would cost Shark more than just the game if he lost. But, Hyena purposely loses and delivers the prize a postcard, which enlightens Shark as to where his girlfriend Vixen might be. What he does not know is what the real message is behind the card and what Old Jack has planned for not only him but also his friend DogZ Boy and many others.

As the reader learns more about Vixen, how Shark met her and his relationship not only with her but with her father, Gill, you begin to understand her motive for wanting to go on this treasure hunt in order to help her father keep his business. But, poor Vixen does not know the truth behind what Old Jack really has planned after they find the gold saber. Inflation exists even in the animal world. So, off Shark and Dog Z Boy go to find Vixen meeting many other creatures along the way. Some are honest and some like their tour guide have other motives in mind and are definitely not there to really help them, as you will learn. Finding the billiard hall where Vixen hustles her game and frequents they fall prey to the crowd that is there, Old Jack and his scam and they meet another man named Wolf.

Imagine animals and people living together in the same places as a natural occurrence. Shark senses something is not really right as he travels over the mountain to the billiard hall but does not know what. Hyenas are not to be trusted and Old Jack really conned him and Vixen too. This journey would not end the way you or I would want it to and the end result for Shark remains to be seen as he agrees to go on this treasure hunt. Seeing Vixen after her long absence he does not even think about not helping her find the treasure. But, before we continue let me explain that Hyena was not born a killer he was taught to be one by his mother. Lessons learned and hopefully she would be proud of him and his accomplishments. You see, Hyena works for Shaw and together they will take down more than just Shark.

Agreeing to the hunt he does not expect what will happen next. Dog Z Boy wakes up a little tipsy and falls prey to the hunters along with his date from the night before. Fear is not just in the air it is all around them. Shark goes on the hunt-leaving Vixen with Old Jack as he dives for the treasure. On his satellite phone Old Jack connects with Shaw and the end is near and the prey just might be caught. But, where is Wolf and what is his part in this since he, like Shark was a Ranger. Sensing something is not right Wolf goes in a different direction to see what exactly is happening but whose side is he on? What will Dog Z Boy’s fate be and what will happen to Shark when he finds out the truth? What about Vixen?

Loyalties are tested, truths come out and deceits run high in this novel that really makes the reader think and where animals are mistreated and humans are depicted as inhumane and much more. Shark cannot believe what is behind his capture and where he winds up as a result of Old Jack’s scheme and Vixen being taken in. Many animals are caged and the end result is worse than the dogfights or a boxing match without protective gear. Animals are forced into cages and auctioned of where Shaw and others purchased them and put them on display hoping they will fight, draw blood and one will die. Lion, bull, zebra or Stripes, Wolf and Shark are taken as well as Vixen the end result are vicious deaths and killings and Shark is beaten, Wolf comes to the rescue and winds up in captivity and the end result is they are fighting for their lives and hoping to set others free.

Placed on a train starved and beaten these animals can only hope that someone will free them and set the wheels in motion to take care of Shaw and Old Jack. Throughout the story the characters flashback on events in the events in their lives that brought them together, how they met and the memories they will never forget. Old Jack reflects with pride on how he was about to trick both Vixen and others to fall for his treasure hunt scam.
Shark is quite resourceful and with the help of Wolf that come up with a plan hoping to free the captured animals on the train. But, what happens next will surprise the reader. Freeing the animals was only the beginning but the end result would not be what he expected. Shaw is a cruel and inhumane man. Feeling justified in capturing animals for breeding, execution and mutilation he created this hotel with three separate arenas for his show. Imagine 500 thousand spectators and seats that require special elevators to bring you there at heights unknown to most people. Animals for sport yet they are quite clever and know how to handle situations as well as humans. Characters that are quite cunning, clever, deceitful and resourceful as one Shark and one Wolf go after their prey even though they are the ones wanted.

In order to save Vixen, her father’s business and his friends he makes a deal with Shaw to be the main attraction in his sadistic show of shows. Old Jack never saw it coming when Shaw decided he would fight Shark using the treasure or golden saber. Spectators in place. The roar of the crowd is loud. The animals are released and the blood bath begins. But, the end result will astound the reader, endear you to Shark, Wolf and even Stripes the zebra, when the final blows are cast and the injured are tolled and the deaths pile up, who will come out the victor? Will anyone survive what Shaw has in mind?

Animal rights, humane treatment and cruelty to animals are just some of the issues brought to light in this book. Whether it is people of different races, nationalities and countries at war the characters in this novel exhibit the same qualities and character traits that humans do when hate is prevalent and understanding takes a back seat. Loyalties are tested, friendships are cemented, friends are remembered in deep thoughts and fights are fought to help those they loved. Vixen and Shark: What will be their fate? Wolf and Stripes will they escape? What happens to Old Jack and Shaw will anyone take them down?

Jealousies, suspicions, deceit, revenge and hope all come through as author Daniel D. Shields takes the reader on a journey from East Africa all the way to Las Vegas and even the Florida Keys to prove that survival means not giving up on yourself, giving in to the enemy and hoping that Shark comes to you aide. This book is really unique in its plot, character development and definitely with an ending that will surprise the reader, some might close their eyes before reading the ending since it is quite graphic but the point is made and you will definitely not be able to put the book down once you start reading it. This is one great read and one great journey. As Shark, Wolf, Bull, Stripes and the rest take on some very difficult predators of their own. Who turns out to be the final Prey? You have to read the book to find out for yourself. I promised Shark I would not divulge the outcome. What are friends for!

Fran Lewis: reviewer
This book gets FIVE RUM JUNGLES AND FIVE GREAT WHITES