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