Ruta: Kit Masters


The life of an artist is not always that simple and the feelings expressed by the painter, artist, sculpture are often depicted within the pastels, paints, watercolors or charcoal used to create the images, structures or events that the artist creates on the canvas. As you hear the voice of this author and understand his rationale for his work, the reasons he singled out certain paintings of the masters he will blend his own thoughts, his life, that of others that he came in contact with in this unique novel that teaches many lessons in life about children, hardships and much more: Meet Ruta and hear the words of author Kit Masters.


Everyone wants to be accepted and fit in with not only his or her peers but with society too. Teens face extra-added pressure placed on them by those they encounter in the social media, teachers and parents that require they follow rules and adhere to rigorous schedules. The author relates his feelings and firsthand experiences about his tutoring and how those starting out are idealistic and hopeful and later realize that things change, rules are defected and hopefully some students will be successful.


He then goes back to expressing his feelings about Dylan and playing Guthrie. Imagining himself as not only them but Bowie too says that he appears to feel lonely, lost, cold and needs to find a purpose just knowing the type of songs these three artists play and their words.


Explaining next the plight of his students, the poverty level of the school and the fact that the as he puts it “the mediocrity got to me.” As an educator and working with students who had learning difficulties I had to find ways to help each one and use different teaching styles to create a reading program that would reach most if not all. Not easy but I guess there were times that you feel frustrated and deflated but you need to move past those times because teaching and working as a reading and writing staff developer was the most rewarding and amazing experience I have ever had.


Each student is different so that very special one that you can ignite with an interest is the one you remember the most and makes it all worth while. Then the author expresses his frustrations with the curriculum he had to teach, the everyday battles to get students to focus and learn and the finality of it all including an incident involving a missing phone. Schools where I live do not allow students to have phones in school. They have to leave them home or they are taken away upon entering the building and returned at the end of the day.


The next chapter deals with World Heritage and he enters two quite different photos that are of the Peragamon Altar on the museums island in Berlin. As you look at the two figures one with only partial limbs and the other a head and partial limbs you being to see the fractured world he is living in and the fractured student who wanted his attention for all the wrong reasons.  Even bright students change and this young lady he refers to as Lump, the same one whose phone was missing, claimed her entire bag was too. Read the chapter and decide if this was handled the right way or if she was just as the author aptly states and realizes using it to get attention. But, did anyone try and figure out why she changed and what caused her to need negative attention when she was definitely bright and seem to want more. He continues with his focus on another artist’s work.


Migle is the name of this young lady and the short chapter devoted to her says it all. In spite of someone taking her bag, in spite of the situation he was elated and surprised that her work ethic did not change. She kept on writing as does our author to keep us informed about what happen next.


Educators can be falsely accused of many things as our author relates to the reader what happens when he is accused of rape. However, apologies and saying you are sorry does not erase the after affect of what others might think even though you are innocent. This young lady continued to pursue him in many different ways to say she was sorry. When realizing the core of her attack, he learned she wanted his attention and decided this was the only way to get it.  Ruta who also lost her phone and his reaction to her was quite startling.


Dealing with child protection can be quite difficult. One of his student’s complained about abuse at home. Hiding their feelings students that are abused at home or anywhere else often have a change of character, demeanor, get quiet or even act out. Protective and definitely realizing his true feelings about the children in his group the author never realized that this could occur. All too often when something like this occurs we reflect on our own lives and more important he began to reflect on the lives of his other students. Paying closer attention to their actions and their moods often helps to assess any major changes that occur. This is a vital issue that the author relates to the reader, as it is not something just germane to the schools.


The author seems to be floundering as he travels through many phases of his life trying to decide whether to paint, write, teach, and take pictures or just sketch. Each career worthy of the time yet not all blending together as one. Prejudice rears its ugly head next as the author relates how Ruta won an award in his class and that her mother sought a better school for her closer to home. But, class, social status and snobbery often win out when high schools are selective about whom they enroll and whom they won’t. So, Ruta won the award but lost the place in the better school as the author explains his own inner turmoil and discord writing his dissertation. Ruta played an important part in his life each time she went through something, each time she was taken from a class she enjoyed and each time her lip quivered letting even the reader know she was hiding something and upset. The author went through many phases too where he could have used someone to give him so direction so he wisely chose writing this book and his outstanding illustrations that depict the work of famous artists, structures and his own inner feelings about life.


Added in are many moral issues that schools face today and behaviors that should have been addressed in a more stringent and formal way. Jonas, Migle and Ruta all faced the same obstacles in a school that seemed only there to house the bodies of the students but not really deal with their needs. Each one coming from poor backgrounds which should not have any bearing on the education they receive or their intelligence factor, each one dealing with some type of abuse either in school or at home. How can these kids grow into kind and nurturing adults if the role models are not there?


To add to my point Corridor Girl is described next and the school twisted her moral compass as the author states and even more some might succeed. Lithuanian and Latvian students were being enrolled and they were middle class and worked hard like Ruta, Migle and Jonas. But some like these three floundered from hardship to hardship and had to deal with economic changes in their family dynamics.


There were other ethnic groups and the author defines Roma. Roma refers to kids that stay up late, have poor attendance and school is on the bottom of their must do lists. Music is utmost at home, traditions oral not written and their behaviors defiant from the norm. Schools have students of many different backgrounds economic and ethnic and they should be able to focus on all of them but they do not in the case of where this author teaches.


The next chapter is titled Derision where he author sounds off and expresses his frustrations to it seems one feral child yet I think it is meant for all those who defy authority, rudeness, lack of effort and definitely show no attempt at respecting teachers, themselves or others. Added in he continues with his own guilt and torments. The sculpture of the Thinker definitely gives you pause for thought and lets you know that he too is pondering his next idea, thought and creative moment. But, the next few chapters allow the reader to hear the voice of the author loud and clear as he expresses his inner most thoughts about teaching, his new attitude and demeanor and the changes within him as his tutoring group was changed and he missed his previous group and till this day images of Jonas, Migle and Ruta come to light wondering just where they are and what they are doing, especially Ruta. At one point he felt alone and exiled in a world filled with students, teachers and his own loneliness.


Isolation comes next as he leaves his job and enters a different one faced with inner turmoil and conflicts comparing himself to the artwork of Goya and each illustration that is included is graphic and expresses the emotions of not only the artist but the writer too. Concluding his book by fast -forwarding to 2014 and his thoughts about Ruta. Wondering where she is and what she is doing. There is always one student, in his case Ruta that leaves that lasting impression and hope that you in some way made a difference in that person’s life. That year the school was out of control and the kids seem to be in charge. The staff did little to stop the crime and the end result you will have to learn for yourself.


But, something brings him back into focus and the reality of what happens might just change him and make him into more than just an observer of his own life and a man who compares his emotions and life to that of the paintings of many artists. Jonas and Ruta were in trouble and a feral boy seemed to want to take them on. One young boy taunting another and not getting the reaction hoped for. One young boy that did not understand what he was supposed to do how to react while the other just wanted to inflict pain and take control. So, why didn’t he move? Why did the writer stay silent and locked where he stood? What happens you won’t believe and what the end result was you have to learn when you read the chapter titled Resolution. But, was there really one?


The author includes a graphic illustration to help the reader understand what happened and what happens next. The end result is related  and if the incident was really stopped read Brave Girl and you  need to decide. The story is really not over but just beginning for this author. I think he has much more to share with the world and I think he needs to continue his writing and journey to find himself and learn that writing this book is your first step to finding the respect you deserve for yourself.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

Undead on Arrival: my review

Undead on Arrival: Justin Robinson


Glen Novak is dead but is he really dead dead? Glen Novak was shot in the head and his thoughts and feelings have not been erased, well not yet anyway. Humans are practically extinct. The war that started over five years ago is over. The human race is gone so who is telling this story and how why does he have one day: 24 hours to make things right? What exactly does he think he will accomplish? Why?


This man’s entire world ended five years ago. A strange and mysterious plague soared through the world, depleted human society and destroyed everything and everyone he held dear. Hoping to survive and working along a group of men just like him and equally as dangerous, he winds up caught in a trap that will lead him to his final demise. Once a wrestling coach and now a hunter hoping to find any remnants of life, semblance of humanity in order to make things right. Those we meet in this novel are real people not geeks as he describes himself after someone gives him that fatal bite. Those living in Devon in the same building are Jim Sorensen, Christopher Stewart, Dave Pulaski, John, Michelle and many more who make up the group he calls the gang. A group that is feared and dangerous hoping to as the author states, “tip the balance of power,” Greg’s direction. Pulaski, a born killer, someone who took care of the geeks, carved them up and made sure that they did not infect anyone else. Their bodies littering the streets, the stench you can only imagine and sight horrific. Ricky Robellada was part of his team and someone you did not want to come up against in a fight. Scars on his face and hands, a body that looked emaciated, skin darker and tougher he was one of his feared gang members. Add in Tom Martinez and that comprises his group that note what is happening in place called the Barricade. Everyone lived behind the lines of this Barricade. This place held for ten of them and if anyone broke through they went to the Athena and where they killed and murdered the geeks. There were many others on duty that protected the elder on the inner wall of the Barricade. The author describes how this gang moves, what they do and what they find. The scenes are vividly described, graphic and you can see the deterioration, smell the decay of the bodies and wonder how they even live for any length of time.


The Hotel Athena overlooks Devon. Once a place many would want to stay now transformed into a sea of death. The description that the author relates on page 43 will make you shudder as the metal gate over the front doors and bars on the windows more prison like. As he makes his way into the hotel and has one person in mind that he needs to find.


Glen is no one to trifle with as he finds his mark, explains why he is there and relates that some of his gang is now dead because they were bitten. Anyone bitten is automatically killed. But, confrontations occur and more people are killed as those bitten are eliminated and Novak searches for answers of his own. One man comes at him with a gun in a bar and another takes him out. Approach the man he thinks sent him proves interesting and enlightening to the reader as you learn more about this demented world filled with misfits, killers, and those struggling to stay alive or rule others. The person in charge of the investigation proves somewhat capable as the real person; the Reverend appears not to care.


As Novak moves about from place to place he hides the bite on his hand, hopes no one will discover his fate or he won’t be able to even last that one more day that he needs to find his killer and make things right in his own world and mind. When the man he thinks sent someone to kill him claims he wants him to join forces with him, the end result would not exactly make them friends. Which one is telling the truth and whom can anyone trust? Those that watch his back and protect him kill when necessary to save themselves and Novak.


As the day wears on so does Novak’s spirit and body decline and fall apart. Like a person with a terminal disease that eats away at their brain, body and mind within certain time limits, what happens to him would be any fatal disease fast forwarded and in fast motion. Calomiris vs. Novak that’s what it seems to come down to at this time. One man killed on the Calomiris side sets off a chain of events and reactions that are quite violent, graphic and almost typical of kids who seek revenge on other gang members when the possible culprit is dead or justice needs to be served. Society has a definite way it views people and in this world created by author Justin Robinson, although most are what we call zombies and others semi-human, class distinctions still exist as far as how people are treated, protected and the availability of services that they need to survive in world that does not really exist in the true sense of the word. Two separate factions: those on the Hill and protected by the Barricade and those in the Athena protected by Calomiris and his minions. Threats fly, the body count increases and Novak hopes that no one will notice the state his body is in and the fact that as the day wears on so does his life where thin. But, push comes to shove as a confrontation ensues between Novak and Rippey the Reverend and the end result will surprise you as you learn who comes to Novak’s aid when things get violent, someone opens the gate and lets in the wrong people and the threat of getting bitten is real.


Flashing back in his mind to his life before as a coach and gym teacher he visualizes how his life used to be before the end came. Fast- forwarding to the present he reminds himself of the true nature of the new world which is survival of the strongest, fittest and most powerful. Violence and revenge see to reign over logic and reasoning even when others try. Cool heads never seem to prevail and Glen will stop at nothing to find out why he is one of the undead. Society, as the author depicts it is comprised of those who only care about themselves, taking control of the three factions, Athena, the Hill and Town and deciding which serves them the best. Memories of Susan come into his mind and just as quickly dissipate and disappear. Final confrontations, realizations and come front and center, more lives are lost, truths are revealed and deceits uncovered before the final shot is fired, the next head is lopped off and the true killer is revealed. Loyalties are questioned, trust is overrated, and one man tries to right one wrong before his time runs out. Just what happens and who comes out if you can call it that alive and still on top? You will have to read Undead On Arrival to find out the end result to see if the Undead Win, the Hill, Athena, Town or if you could call what happens winning at all.  Author Justin Robinson may have created a world of fiction that might remind the reader of some of what is going on in the world today filled with hate, deceit, lies, and of course senseless killings but this book definitely should give you much pause for thought and reason to stop and think about how we can make the world before it’s too late a better place. Undead on Arrival: What is Glen’s fate? You decide after reading this graphic, descriptive and really quite unique and thought provoking novel.


Fran Lewis: reviewer



Alyce Joyce: Ka-Boom

Ka-Boom: My review

Welcome author Alyce Joyce


Author: Alyce Joyce


Do you believe in fairies? What would you do if one turned up in your room? What about if this fairy just happened to by accident blow up your favorite dollhouse? What if this fairy was all dressed in green wearing army boots and covered from head to toe in dirt? What if this fairy got zonked, clonked and banged on the head and had no idea why she was there but remembered who sent her? Taylor is seven years old and is used to getting her own way. Seeing this site in front of her not only made her mad but a little afraid. Imagine ruining her new pink Capri pants and thinking she was hearing things but in reality she was not. So, what would you do if this happened to you? If you are Taylor you might start by trying to boss this poor little four- inch fairy around even though she is really not dangerous. But, what if she was sorry for all the damage she has done? What if she escaped from the pages of a book because a Queen named Splaminda sent her here? The Queen is smart and she realizes that our fairy that likes to be called Sprout has issues or problems and maybe with the right help and a little maturity she just might turn out great. Sprout really means well but in between well just wait and see what happens when Taylor learns just how Sprout can help her, joins her on many new adventures and finds herself best friends with she hopes not a fibbin fairy who she thinks is bad at first. But, is she?

Sprout is a little confused at first or as she says, “Discombobulated.” Would you be if you got clunked and zonked on the head? Taylor is not sure about her at first and thinks she needs to do something to let her know that she is in charge and this is her room that she has invaded. Sprout on the other hand explains that she has been stuck in this book that she finally got out of for as she states a gazillion years. But, Taylor needs more to trust her. So, just why did Queen Splaminda send her here from Spritesville? She cannot seem to remember that but she knows she has a job to do. Sprout is not an ordinary fairy she wears a disc around her neck that is sort of like a mood ring, which changes words or feelings as things happen in the story. Starting with Zonked and then changing to Boiling. You figure out why!


But, Sprout just wanted to be Taylor’s friends and when she apologizes Taylor feels bad and then watch what happens next. Would you want to be four inches tall and join this fairy on some cool adventures?     The author introduces some really cool vocabulary words for kids like lollapalooza and cumbersome, imperative, pathetic and many more added to a glossary of Sprout’s favorite words at the end of the book. Just think how cool that will be when you go to school and the teacher asks for words that mean the same as these and you come up with gallant for courageous or even humongous for huge.


But, a miracle happens and her memory comes back and the disc now says Hopeful and she magically repairs herself by taking away the dirt, fixing her clothes and looking quite cute. Then we learn that she wears the army boots because poor Sprout has a thing or fetish for shoes meaning fad and I guess the Queen thinks these boots will have to do for now rather than Sprout buying tons more shoes. But, imagine a fairy that can make you four inches tall, teach you how to ride a butterfly and help a snail in trouble and even meet an Earthworm. But, when the mean Bratts brothers come along will they escape before they do some damage? Hoping to go into the tunnel of Miss Chipsie Chipmunk before anyone is harmed. Would you want to meet Sir Leapsalot Frog? But, Taylor is afraid of the tunnel but Sprout promises to protect her?


But, when Taylor meets Miss Chipsie she complains rather than say hello about her size and how dangerous it is to be so small and babbling on and on about Sprout and that no one has to be afraid because she will protect them. Being afraid can do that to anyone when you don’t know what to expect you sometimes ramble on until you convince yourself you are not afraid.  But, just where is Sir Leapsalot Frog? But when things calm down they really don’t as the earth begins the shake and what happens next you won’t believe. DANGER is what Sprout’s necklace says. Just who is after them and who found them? Why do they have to whisper? Oh Dear: it’s the Brattz! Its Doozer and Loozer looking to make someone pay but who? But, even though they might have managed to escape poor Miss Chipsie is still upset. Why would they call her stupid and why were they being so mean to such a nice chipmunk?


Her adventures are far from over as they encounter many obstacles along the way. Would they confront the Brattz for pushing the tile down the steep incline with Snilly Snail, Taylor, Sprout and Miss Chipsie inside? But, were they out of danger? Then, Taylor meets Sir Leap. Sir Leap was quite big, green and had a twinkle in his eye when he met Taylor. Taylor seemed to always greet someone with a confrontational attitude that others needed to deal with before getting to really know her. But, Taylor was hoping to ride on his back. But, did she? Would she be afraid? But, when a fish hawk endangers them Sprout comes to the rescue after all she is magical in her own way? Can you discompopulate a rotten old bird? But, the necklace remember deals with Sprout’s feelings and this time it says PRIDE. These are great character education words that teacher can use to reinforce kindness and character lessons. Pride, Hope, Relax and more. So, why was Sprout sent to meet Taylor: believe it or not to teach her something that adults need to learn when dealing with kids and kids need to learn when they might have to wait their turn: PATIENCE. Just what is a Behavioral Custodian’s job: what other words would she have to teach Taylor: Patience, Tolerant of other people and much more. Will she succeed? Can’t tell you the rest you have to read it for yourself. Learn the lessons that Taylor learns. Understand the meaning of the words on the necklace the character words that will help her to be a better person and take the journey with her and enjoy the adventures. Look at the pictures or illustrations that are in this book and maybe you will find yourself within the pages of Ka-Boom as you join the Queen, Taylor and Sprout on their adventures as we find out if Sprout remains with Taylor or goes back inside the book. Did she change Taylor’s attitude and help her understand that hurting others is mean, bullying is rude and tolerance is important?      The pictures created and illustrated by Diane Lucas are so lifelike and realistic you see the emotions on the faces of the characters, the fear in their eyes when in danger, the fun they have on their adventures and the inviting look that says: COME JOIN US!



Will she remain in the dollhouse? What will be her next assignment for the Queen? Will Taylor join her in her next adventure? Find out when you read KA-BOOM! But, watch out for a little sprite with flaming red hair, green dress, army boots and special magic. Do you believe in fairies?


Fran Lewis: reviewer



Donovan House: My review

Donavan’s Island

Daniel Neff


Five young teens called the Donavan Five decide to explore a cave to find buried pirate treasure. Using his father’s boat, Colby and his friends venture out on a beautiful morning where the waters appear to be calm. But, waves rage, the water surges and the five wind up in the cold icy water and thought to drown. Max Velius is thirteen years old and cannot understand why no one wants to investigate or try and recover the bodies of the five young teens. The memory of his close friend Colby who protected him from the cruelty of the other boys would remain with him forever.


That was 1973 and let’s fast forward to the 2010 and Max’s life with his wife Diana and two children as they venture to spend the summer on Donavan’s Island unaware that the past is about to come full circle in the present and the adventures he hoped to live in the past would definitely come true in the present. As author Daniel Neff gives the reader the history of the island and the covert operations that are happening right under noses of the residents there as Spain is hoping to make its mark in the world, hidden agents are operating out of the island and an intelligence device called MC2 will give them the power to reign over everyone on in the world of intelligence and spying. But, there is much more as Max and his family arrive at the island and their dog finds something that is linked to the past. A simple cylinder that his dog finds and he emails a photo of to a friend in the Pentagon who tells him to return the cylinder to where it was found, delete the photos and forget he ever found it. Something sinister is lurking and Max decides to find out more and hides it in his study not to be found by anyone. Added in he visits the small town, remembers the past and his first true love, Mary and the reunion allows the reader to know there is much more that will happen between them before all is said and done. Max is rich, has a great wife and yet he feels he has no purpose in life and laments about what would happen if he were single and could explore the ocean, the world and life’s excitements on his own.


Getting to know Max and his family is quite enlightening and the descriptions of Donavan’s Island and Donavan House provide the intrigue and mystery associated with this story plus wanting to learn more about the rumors that ghosts, aliens, spies and sightings are associated with this house.


Pasts come into play and in focus when you least expect it as Diana meets an old flame of Max’s in a change meeting in town. Approaching Mary, seem uncomfortable, inner thoughts are shared and the end result might surprise the reader as Diana relates her meeting to Max who never revealed he knew Mary was on the island or owned a restaurant. Added in his both his son Bobby’s spirit for excitement and adventure as well as Max’s undying curiosity about what lies behind the walls of the old Donavan House. Consumed with learning more about the cylinder his dog Dusty uncovered, he negates the warning given to him by his old friend and decides to investigate on his own.

Max is relentless is his quest to learn the truth about the device he found and visit to an old friend’s store might stir things up more than he would like. Just how is this man related to the device and is there a covert operation going on or spy ring on Donavan’s Island? What if Spain becomes a world power and a force to be reckoned with? Wouldn’t that change the complexion of the countries and how they view Spain? Interesting to say the least and the author really keeps the reader wondering and glued to the printed page to learn more.


What is really going on inside Donovan House? From the outside it looks rundown, shabby and depilated, and mysterious, lights go on but what is really going on inside Donavan House? Just who is monitoring Max and his every move that is a secret that the agent in charge asked me to divulge. Lies, deceptions and betrayals will come out eventually and spies are everywhere if you just know where to look. Hiding in plain sight they could serve you coffee, tea, food or even dinner. You just don’t know whom to trust, who is an agent and for which side. Is Max in danger? That remains to be seen. Will he be inducted into the agency to stay alive? That remains to be seen. What would happen if he and Bill decided to turn them down?


What happens next will surprise even Max and his friend Bill as they go out for a boating trip, get attacked by two Spanish operatives, injected with something to put them out and will find themselves embroiled in a situation they won’t get out of so fast as two old friends come face to face after 30 years and what Max learns will definitely change his life and enlighten him to the term MC2 and much more. Just how many more people are involved well let’s not forget the Spanish agents we have yet to get to know better: Cordero and Aragon. Imagine what happens when he wakes up and sees someone that would change his life.


What would happen if you had to make a choice that would change the rest of your life? Would you enlist as an agent or would you chance the end result of what they might do to you if you decline? What about your family? Max and Bill are about to learn their fate. But, the training begins and the deceit and lies are told but will Diana realize that Max is up to something and what about his feelings for Mary? Just how far will they have to go to be part of this agency and what will their first mission be? What about the MC2 and will Max learn the true origin of it and that he had it all the time? As Max and Bill become more involved in spy work things change at home for both of them. Max seems enamored with Mary and finds he needs to spend time with her as Diana suspects something is going on between them. Bill is unaware of what Melissa planted on him as the Spanish are now tracking the Americans planning their own mission and hoping to override their security to get their hands on the MC2. Just how will this all play out and who else will be in danger? Eyes are everywhere and one older woman has her fixed on two agents who are unaware that she could blow it all up in their faces? But, will she?


An ending you won’t see coming and a mission that puts both Max and Bill in danger as one life ends and the truth about another is exposed. Donavan’s Island: what will happen next? Will Max return to the mainland? Will he and Diana find their way back to each other? This is only the beginning our two spies. I cannot wait to see what author Daniel Neff has in store. This book teaches many lessons that even young kids can learn. The respectful way all of the children interact with each other and their parents is really great. The way Diana and Max interact with Mary shows that Diana has respect for him but what are his true feelings for her? Wait and see in the next book. Donavan’s Island: One summer vacation that proved to be more exciting for two men who just wanted to have some fun and rest. Donavan House: who knows what else you will find behind the closed doors of this rundown house. Max: the purpose you wanted in life: did you find one?


Fran Lewis: reviewer

Laments: My Thoughts


Michael Embry


Regrets often happen too late and sometimes our actions do not speak louder than words that often create situations that will come back and haunt us forever. Michael Embry presents a collection of short stories that will teach every reader many lessons in life and hopefully awaken you to the harsh realities of what happens when greed, lack of thought, regrets that are too late and rationalizing our wrong doings and lack of forethought will change the course of your life and others. Laments a book that will definitely give everyone much pause for thought.


Story One: A Brother’s Lament:


Families often go through difficult situations and when financial aid or help is needed some try to assist while others do not. Jack and Arnie were brothers. Arnie for some reason could not get a job nor keep one. Jack, being his brother, bailed him out when things got really tough. Arnie appreciated the help but when you hear this story and you learn what happens you might wonder if he didn’t have too many excuses not to forge ahead with this goal and get a job. As Jack bailed him out with 1000 dollars his friend Burl asked him to place a bet on the horses. But, Arnie did not think of the consequences involved of placing bets with money that his brother gave him to pay his bills and expecting it back from a friend that used him for his own financial purposes. When the debt was not paid and the bets were placed Burl made excuse after excuse to not pay him back. But, Arnie, in his own way, not really thinking, maybe somewhat too naïve pressed the issue and then made the biggest mistake of his life by going along with a scheme to get money that would change everything. Would you rob a bank to get money to pay your debts? Would you go along with a friend who never plans anything out and never really considers the end result?


When his brother gets him a job as a roofer, why does he forge ahead with Burl’s plan? When things get out of hand you won’t believe the end result and who winds up losing the most and how? Sometimes being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be costly. Sometimes listening to the wrong person can cost you more. Author Michael Embry presents the reader with a moral issue as to how this all might play out. When things went haywire one man left and the other went back to learn the truth about what really happened. Would you rob a bank to pay your bills? What would you do if you were Arnie once you learn the outcome of what he will be lamenting about for the rest of his life?


A Coach’s Lament


Some people are not cut out to work with kids while others are more understanding. Tommy is the captain of the basketball team and works really hard to do his best at every practice. So, why does the coach literally do a number on him during every practice that makes him rethink whether he wants to be on the team anymore? Running the practices like an army drill camp or boot camp can definitely dissuade anyone from wanting to continue working with that coach. Each time Tommy does his best and each time he thinks he is succeeding the coach not only criticizes him but puts him down in front of the rest of the team and claims if he cannot do better how will his teammates respect him. Even the assistant coach feels the strain and questions how Tommy is being treated.


Tommy decides to handle the situation head on and approaches the coach and asks to speak with him. But, this man shows his own bravado and depends he speaks in front of the team which proves to be a mistake for Tommy. With his mother on his side and definitely understanding the problem Tommy decides to quit the team and avoid the stress. What the end result is you will have to learn for yourself as Tommy and his mother decide to move to another town and live near her parents. What happens when the coach tracks him down and the end result will let the reader know that sometimes your treatment of others comes back to haunt you when you least expect it. Does the coach learn a lesson when Tommy’s decision is final? Will he ever understand that playing basketball is not army drills? Read story two: A Coach’s Lament and find out what this man will be thinking about for a long time.


A Dad’s Lament opens with a father telling his son that he should not allow another child to pick on him and he should stand his ground. There are many kids that would prefer backing away from a fight and others who will handle the situation head on. Doug is a really level headed 16 year old teen that would prefer not fighting but his father seems to feel that giving it back to the teen that is picking on him is the only way to prove he’s not a wimp. Asking for help and hoping his parents can come up with a better solution he learns that what you hope for is not what you always get. His father seems to brow beat him and comes down on him and the end result will not be what anyone expects or wants. As Doug goes to the park and sits on a swing and laments in his own way to solve the problem is mother approaches his father with other solutions that he would not consider. When things heat up in his own mind the solution will change not only his life but that of the bully too? Read this story and find out what happens when a teen has nowhere to turn and the end result is a Father who will do more than just lament over the bad choices made.


The stories in this book teach many lessons that adults and parents can learn. Money is something that can cause people to do things that are not smart. Bullying in school is wrong and handling a fight with a fight equally as wrong and parents need to listen to their kids when they ask for help. Coaches need to know that playing on a team can be competitive but basically kids should be having fun. When the element of fun turns into the element of disgrace and fear find out what one wise young man does. An ending that will certainly bring chills down your spine and a father that will never be the same. Pressuring young children/teens into using their hands inside of their minds and intelligence to deal with a bullying can sometimes being catastrophic results.


A Drinker’s Lament is next as we meet a group of friends that are drinking in a local bar and concerned over one friend named Dylan that had too much. Leaving the bar he gets into his car and speeds down the freeway not really focused. Traveling at a high speed another car comes around and he winds up flipped over and the car bursts into flames. The following morning Dylan goes to check on his friend Marty to learn that he died in a crash the night before. Not really focused on what happened and hoping to learn more he questions his friends and they await Marty’s parents. But, what happens next will surprise you as Dylan handles the situation, learns more about the accident and someone notices his car and what they realize you will have to learn for yourself. Dylan’s lesson in life might be short lived and those that might discover the truth will have to decide how to deal with it. Will they figure it out? Read A Drinker’s Lament and find out that will be thinking about what and why?


When someone expresses grief for or about something they lament. In the first story the brother will lament what happens to someone he cared about and was always there for him. In this last story when they realize the truth many will deplore or lament the senseless act that caused a young man’s death and in the Dad’s lament the father laments his grievous act towards his son and the sorrow he expresses and regret will linger on with him forever. The next story is a Father’s Lament. Not everyone is cut out to do every job. But, Jake is 22 and seems to be floundering and his father comes down hard and wants him to become responsible and a man. Thinking about his many options and not really finding anything he decides to join the military. The branch of choice the National Guard and that is where the rest of the story begins. Training camp goes well and then his unit is called up. His father is concerned about the bills, Jake helping his family with their expenses and never realizes the gravity of his decision. Jake is sent overseas and what happens will definitely make a father think about what he asked his son to do and the choices that some young men make at their own expense. Just what will be this man’s final lament find out when you read this story.


A Friend’s Lament is truly a heartbreaking story that will give readers much pause for thought as we meet Esther and Lorraine two best friends. Lorraine lives alone in a neighborhood that Esther thinks is dangerous. Geraldine, Lorraine’s daughter agrees and together they try and convince her to move. But, no one realizes that she is happy there and her life with her late husband was there and all of the memories too. When Esther decides to present Lorraine with something she hopes will keep her safe she never expects the outcome that will teach many a long and hard lesson. What happens next will definitely bring tears to your eyes and the end result might not be what it seems or appears to be. One woman just wants to live her life where she wants another thought she was being a friend. Find out the end result when you read this story and decide who should be lamenting and why.



A Grandpa’s Lament follows and the story focuses on smoking and a young child who emulates him. The next is a Husband’s Lament focusing on a family who seems to go out of their way ignoring each other and not really caring about the needs of anyone but themselves. The father seems preoccupied with his job, the mother with her new focus on losing weight and her children into their own things. When the father requests his son turn down the music or else find out what the response is and find out what happens when parents do not pay attention to their children or each other. The next story focuses on teenage pregnancy and what happens when one young teen tries to talk to her mother who seems unyielding in many respects. Wanting to make her parents understand that she would like to be allowed to take birth control pills, Becky’s argument for the most part is on deaf ears. With a father who seems to understand her and a mother who rarely listens except to her own side, the end result is definitely not uncommon but with one twist. Some girls in order to please a boyfriend give in to their wishes and demands. Becky is not different and she and she alone suffers more than just the consequences of her actions. When her parents learn the truth what happens will definitely not endear you one of them and harden you to the cold facts that some parents need to lift the barriers and really listen to their children when they speak. This is a story that should teach parents and teens some very important lessons. As the book closes with A Sister’s Lament. Hannah and Mildred are sisters and live together. Mildred seems self-centered and Hannah lets her know it. What happens between them is not uncommon as they bicker, yell and scream and one sister goes about her business and the other eats a sandwich. The end result of this simple act will surprise the reader and the final outcome will leave one sister thinking about her last words before learning the truth.



Each story is unique unto itself and each teaches a simple lesson in life yet one that many never realize needs to be learned. Read Laments and hopefully you will come away with the lessons imparted by the author and learn from the mistakes of those that lived them.


Fran Lewis: Reviewer








Last to Die : my review

Last to Die: Tess Gerritsen


Monsters are born everyday and of course they don’t deserve to live. Those that prey on other people do evil things and some go after them as they did the person they referred to as Icarus in the prologue of this book. A man referred to as Icarus someone with children although young, still was cruel, a monster as our narrator states and the reason why he and others were in Rome.


Thirteen-year-old Claire Ward was supposed to have a date with death. So, how does she escape? Living with her foster parents and quite rebellious and resenting the restrictions they placed on her, Claire decides to take a leap of her own faith, jump from her window to freedom hoping she won’t get caught. But, something will happen to change her destiny and the lives of many others before all is said and done that night. Meeting her friends at midnight was her first mistake and getting caught the second not just for her but also for her foster parents Bob and Barbara Buckley. Told to get into the car that Barbara drove Claire finally did and what happens next will definitely make the reader pause for much thought as a car hurtled its headlights in their direction and the rest is crumpled steel as the lives of her foster parents ended right there. But, someone speaks and Claire hears her name and has no choice but to go with the strange woman or she might be next.


Fourteen-year-old Will Yablonksi loved to hunt for aliens and lived with his aunt and uncle on their farm. His father passed away and his goal was to find a comet and name it after him. Will loved to look up into the sky and enjoyed taking out the equipment with his Uncle Brian to see what the night sky offers as he did this evening alone in the field behind his aunt and uncle’s farmhouse. Comet Neil Yablonkski was his goal to find one and give it his name. An explosion out of nowhere catches his attention as he thought he found the comet and realizes he did not. Farmhouse ablaze and hoping to save his aunt and uncle the same woman appears and takes him to safety. But, why and who she is still remains to be seen and what is the reason these things are happening to young teens?


Jane Rizzoli is trying to stay calm as her mother asks her to model what most would think was a bubble gum dress for her wedding to her boyfriend, Vince. But, Jane hates pink and as they discuss the dress and the wedding in walks her soon to be ex-husband Frank pretending to care and trying to plead his own case. But, something would change the night as Jane receives a phone call about multiple murders and once again a foster child living in the house is the only survivor. Five people dead. Three children and two adults the only one that survived, Teddy Clock is their foster child. As I review this outstanding novel by New York Times Bestselling author Tess Gerristen: Last to Die.


Jane Rizzoli hate wearing pink and her mother can’t wait to see her in the dress she wants her to wear to her upcoming wedding. But, while talking with her and dealing with her father she gets a phone call that would change the complexion of the evening and send her into the world of the rich and definitely important to help solve a multiple murder. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg as she meets her close friend ME Maura Isles at the scene and together they witness a site that would haunt most and terrify others when the bodies almost speak for themselves. Each one shot but not before some tried to run away from the killer and others blocking the oncoming shot, leaving fourteen year old Teddy Clock orphaned once again. Teddy’s birth parents were brutally murdered leaving him alone and now his foster parents about to adopt him were gone. Hoping that Jane would be able to speak with him as the only witness to these murders, Detective Crowe, the lead on the case requests her presence. The anger soars within her as she sees the end result of what the killer did and although she knows Maura feels the same way, she somehow holds her emotions in or in check. Surviving a horrific murder for the second time, Teddy Clock’s life is once again going to change.


When Jane finally meets Teddy you can tell he is traumatized but for some reason he starts to trust her and explains what he saw which was not much. Losing his glasses made it difficult for him to focus on anything more than the killer’s black shoes and the fear that enveloped him did not allow him to come out from under his bed until the next day. Midnight seems to be the link to all three murders as they all occurred around that time.


As you listen to the investigators you get to know Darren Crowe as hardnosed, unfeeling and determined to solve the case at all costs. But, Jane is strong, straightforward and handles his remarks quite boldly as the rest of the team just listen. With Thomas Moore backing her up and hoping to find a link between the murder of his birth parents two years before and now his foster parents, Teddy Clock is fragile, scared and only Jane provides any kind of hope for his safety. Why would he fear her help? Why would she be next to die if she helps him? What is the link between the two murders and why the rich? Why are the foster kids left alive in all three cases but these questions have a long way to go before they are answered as the author once again allows the reader to hear from our narrator who is hoping to catch the man he calls Icarus whose life style mirrors that of rich Italian Don and whose young son stared him right in the eye.


Maura is about to add more to our story as she visits the place where all of these foster children are now living along with Julian Perkins the young man who saved her life and who has the uncanny ability to see things that most don’t or will miss. Sheltered from harm these students live in this amazing structure along with Lily and Anthony whose pasts are scarred whose hopes for the future of these students is high. Now, the pieces might start fitting together as we meet Claire and Will again each hoping to find a place for themselves in this odd world filled with students that are anything but ordinary, Julian and Maura at his side and her instant fear that something in the school is not right. Each foster child is a lone survivor of a mass murder. Each teen has no where to turn and feels alienated and alone. Maura voices her concerns about what she realizes is going on at the school and their objectives for the students. As she contemplates pulling Julian out another child is now whisked in as Teddy Clock’s safety is once again in jeopardy with Jane comes to check on him and someone invades his home. Can all three children’s situations be linked to the same killer. What is the motive and the killer’s mission? Then, three dolls are found covered in blood, concerns are voiced and Julian asks that he and his forensic group be allowed to help in the investigation and find clues on these dolls. Evensong is supposed to be heavily guarded and protected but even behind these locked gates they are not safe. Claire and Will become friends and discuss their tragic pasts which seem to mirror each other. Just who is behind these deaths and who is the predator who wants one more person to be the Last to Die you won’t believe it?


Three teens all connected in some way as Claire breaks open the investigation along with the members of the Jackal Club. Just what she shows the staff and Maura of the school and how it launches another part of the investigation will not only put Rizzoli and Frost in danger but will lead to another death at the school. Why did Welliver die and who was the man found in the woods?


When all of the lies, deceits and truths come out you won’t believe who was behind the murders of the three families, the danger they put the three teens in and the end result will stupefy and amaze the reader. Once again author Tess Gerristen brings the reader front and center into the world of private schools, forensic medicine, police work and one detective and one ME who would not give up before someone else was THE LAST ONE TO DIE? This is Tess at her best. With an ending that will leave you wondering what is next for Jane and Maura and where will the next case take them read Last To Die. Teddy, Claire, Will, Julian and the rest of the teens will teach the adults to take notice and listen. Trust, loyalty, friendship and hope are at the center or core of what these teens learn and who is Icarus and how do all three families tie together. Ask the teens.

Fran Lewis: reviewer