Book of Death


 

Book of Death: Sheldon Townsend

Brunhild and Ingolfur have come to deal with Vlad II Dracul but instead will face a scene that would haunt most humans no less these powerful adepts. As they approach the jungle and are about to ask entrance to meet with Vlad the scene that the author describes would make most cringe. Dead bodies strewn all over, hollow eyes, impaled bodies and lives ended at the hand of one so cruel would certainly make most turn away and go off in the opposite direction. But, these two powerful adepts would not cower or leave as they follow the guard inside and want to meet with Vlad to elicit a warning before its too late. Crossing into the large hall and meeting the eyes of this leader the head of the Transylvanian Guild, they begin by explaining why they are there. Necromancy is illegal and they demand he stop practicing it. Defined as a “ a method of divination through alleged communication with the dead; black art” Vlad has been communicating with the dead using black art and magic in general. If he does not hand over his documents and agree to stop these practices they would be forced to kill him. As he learns that the guild leaders met at a conclave and even included those in lesser ones he become irate and what ensues is short of full-fledged war or battle. Vlad ruled by fear and now those he ruled just might overthrow him as we go from the past to the present and meet Peter Branton.

 

Adepts like Peter never use their real name because as is revealed by the author in Peter’s voice if another adept knows your real name that would give them power over you. Going to meet with the head of the Transylvanian Guild, Anica, he discusses her problems why the two most powerful adepts did not come and how they meaning Brown and Vaughn the two powerful heads of the AMA could help her along with Peter to get more members for her guild. They discuss the problem and why she is having problems gaining membership and why many would prefer joining a more powerful and larger guild than her smaller one. But, in the middle of dinner something happens to change everything as Anica is shot and two men are responsible. Healing herself is not the problem as frank goes invisible and tells her to stay down as the two men fired off more shots. But, Anica was unconscious and Miss Vojir her apprentice had her protection spell up but the battle was far from over. The author shares how the powers of adepts cannot use a protection spell while moving or using other spells. But, the warrior had to die and he made sure of it and felt this was in self-defense. The FBI is now involved and information is shared. But, is everyone being honest and telling it all. As Branton learns more about the origin of the weapons used no one seems to know why the Cubans would want to take out Anica. Surprised that the communists would use their resources to kill an adept leader. As the FBI reveals that so does Branton, as he could not understand what the motive was as he realized in the pit of his stomach that there was much more to this. As the author reveals that the organization behind the attempt on her life was equal to the KGB. Coming to America from Romania after the war the author then reveals the history behind the communist regimes. The Book of Death by Sheldon Townsend will definitely give up more than just chills and hope to learn your own protection spell before all is said and done and the final truths are revealed.

 

A short trip to the Purple Chrysanthemum reveals some information about the Cubans related to drugs. As the Director of the CIA and another agent come into play we learn more about the ball bearings being made for missiles and a ruse to send one of the adepts to find out how they are being made in order to allow the U.S. to make better ones. But, Vaughn and Brown know this is just a plot to get one of them to go and see what is really happening and if the Warsaw Pact is making better ball bearings than the U.S. Added in Anica says that it would be impossible for anyone in Romania to be able to do this since the educational system has deteriorated and where would they get a great engineer. But, Peter is going to be sent but first he is going to meet with Kader in Norway. Francis Kader is the adept leader that formed all of the diverse guilds. But, then an incident occurs and Branton is hurt and the next thing we know he learns that someone shot Dr. King. At which point we learn that Ernestine disappears during their sightseeing trip and the possibility that she is linked to the attacks is made. The really interesting part is whether to trust the FBI or the CIA or neither one as Branton shares some of his past and how and when he met Kader and their relationship. Next, Branton shares his past with readers as we learn about his parents, where he grew up and surviving in a group home. Imagine living on the streets in 1940 and learning how to steal to get food and a roof over his head and drinking at the age of 8. Remembering what happened when he picked the pocket of an adept brings him back to the present and his plane trip to Norway. But, the truth behind the attacks and why he had been chosen to go to Transylvania has not been revealed.

 

As we learn more about the guilds and the history behind how Nader came to run it and why he wanted to meet with Peter we learn how the past is about to come full circle in the present. Suspicion is cast upon some of the players that might appear to be innocent and necromancy is something the Transylvanian guild is into. Revealed is another secret about Anica and Ernestine that would shed light on the situation even further. Added in he explains that he was attacked by a wooden Indian leading him to believe that the attacks that he witnessed were not by accident that necromancers were after him and they knew about the involvement of the CIA and their sending him to Romania. Wanting it stopped at all cost would put him in danger and being aware that there is a traitor in the CIA makes the situation even graver. But, even a simple dinner proves dangerous as someone decided to attack him and Liesl turned dangerous. The two attackers were powerful and stronger than either one expected so would they be able to defeat them and what was going to happen next? Under the guise of going to Romania to learn more about the manufacture of ball bearings Peter meets with those in charge at the CIA and realizes there is much more at stake than these metal parts. But, the truth was about to be revealed as Peter is taken captive and drugged. When things got tight he managed to take matters into his own hands and defeat his captor but what was really going on and why was he detained? The maze of deceit created by our author increases as Peter needs to figure out why the CIA lied to him, who the leak was, why the Romanians wanted to get rid of him and what would they necromancers have in store for him if they found him. Author Sheldon Townsend brilliantly takes the reader inside the mind of this adept allowing us to hear his inner most thoughts, doubts and fears and findings. But, we also learn the secrets of the CIA, betrayals, disloyalties and deceits. Who is lying to him? Is the person hiding in plain sight?

 

The Book of Death just what secrets from the past does it hold? Vlad Dracul’s Book of Death that they are planning to use against the United States and steal government secrets of our country and other NATO allies. As he travels to the next destination Peter shares more of his past with the reader. His real mission is to find the necromancers and stop them. A trip to Pitesti and a reunion with Ernestine and things come into place for a while.

 

The lies and deceits come out and the truth about Ernestine and her past is revealed and what you learn you just won’t believe. Where does she come from? Just how powerful is she and what will be the next step of those involved in the Great Conclave? Where will Peter wind up next and what will be the final fate? Who wins: The guilds or the necromancers? Which countries are at risk from the necromancers? Can Peter convince the Russians to help? Told in the form of a timeline of dates and the suspense and end result not revealed until the very last page once again but just who has the copies of the three Books of Death? The ending and what Peter really experiences or causes you will have to learn for yourself as the Adept that is the main character of this book put a “Promise never to tell the ending spell,” on me to make sure I would not spill the ending to readers. One interesting ending and that keep you guessing as to what really happened and the future for Peter and the guilds.

 

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

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Volunteers for Literacy: MY REVIEW


Volunteers for Literacy

Author: Gretchen Elhassani

Reading is an invaluable tool. It is your doorway or gateway to knowledge, the freedom to explore and learn about different worlds and to understand the wonders that make up the many different areas that authors write about. But, what happens when you are either denied the right to learn to read, cannot afford an education or you live a life that is filled with abuse, drugs, alcohol and wind up having to care for your child and not able to go to school, then you are someone like Amanda. Amanda is struggling to give her daughter a better life but at what expense. A supervisor for a fast food restaurant she spends her days serving rude adults and teens that do not appreciate her kind smile and warm personality. Her staff, young teens, not very energetic, dependable to a point yet looking to do the least amount of work on their shifts. When two young men come into the restaurant one of her employees needs a quick ten-minute break. As Sara leaves with a young man she calls Anthony little did she know that the chain of events to follow would not only endanger her life but others too.

 

Theresa is looking for something to fill her day and her time. Retirement is fine but she wants to do something meaningful with her life. Thumbing through the paper she comes across an ad for City Volunteers for Literacy and rather than procrastinating she makes that all-important call to learn more. Speaking with the representative of the organization she agrees to come in for the orientation and then take the classes needed to learn how to help adults learn to read. Then, something happens to unite Theresa and Amanda. Amanda is placed with Theresa as her tutor and they agree to meet at a library to begin her tutoring session. The first session is great but the second links what happened to her employee Sara who disappeared to the young men that rob a bank and decide to hide out in the library taking people hostage. Within the framework of this novel we meet the librarians, Theresa, Amanda a young mother who never learned to read and a homeless man who spends much of his time in the library. The issues brought to light within the first few chapters alert the reader to the fact that there are many adults that never learned to read, literacy is something that we all need to promote and the homeless are often cast aside and forgotten.

 

While Amanda and Theresa are having a session in the tutoring room two men walk into the library and overtake everyone that’s there. Fear runs more than its average course as these two women learn the fate of so many and have to try and save everyone before it’s too late. Within the structure of this hostage situation there’s a homeless man who seems to have than just a handle on the situation. Finding the two people in charge of the program, one seriously injured they are able to contact the police and alert them to the situation in the library. But, when Amanda and Theresa become hostages too can anyone stop what is about to happen?

 

Anthony and Toby not only have these people locked within the lobby of the library, other entrances closed off they also have Sara locked away and hurt. But, Amanda was once an alcoholic and although she might not know how to read she does have what is necessary to hopefully save the hostages. Making eye contact with the homeless man she readily asks him if he has a bottle with him that she and the robbers can share. Telling them she wants a cut of their money and pretending to help them walk out of the library she cleverly outlines her plan to help them escape. So, what was their plan? How are they going to get out with their money? A librarian named Erik came up with what they thought was a foolproof plan. Anyone that borrows books should know that if one library does not have the book you need another one does. Interlibrary loan it’s called. Anyone can request any book from another library and it is sent to the other location. Hiding the money in the books and then arrange for them to pick them up at the other location hoping that no one finds the money within the pages of the requested book. Calling the police and telling them what they wanted she was able to stall for time. Choosing two people to help hollow out the books and plant the money was next.

 

The homeless man was called Joe Montana and he his friend a homeless woman spent their days in the library. He was smart and observant. This man took to the streets after having trouble finding a job. But, Joe had his own plan to create a diversion. What happens next is right out of a Rambo moving as the homeless man overtakes the robber and teaches the young guy a lesson he will never forget. Trying to save the children, figure out whose side Amanda is on and what he does you just won’t believe.

 

Anthony, Johnson and Toby would they get away with it would they be fooled by what the homeless man did in order to save everyone? What happens when he realizes that Amanda was Sara’s boss? So, would Anthony help her? Would he work with her to save the rest and take down Johnson?

 

Theresa was the hostage freed and repeated the story to the police. Answering their questions, hoping it would help save Amanda. While the police question Theresa they learn the fate of those in charge of the organization and question Amanda’s motives. But, Theresa is loyal and knows she is just pretending to work with the robbers. Then the table is turned and hopefully in the favor of the young girl that was kidnapped as the driver decides to use her as bait to get the others free. But, will it work? As one robber, one librarian, one homeless man and Amanda ban together to take down the remaining one robber another enters the library with the missing young girl. At this point the author has the librarian share with the reader how many times we have all seen homeless people and not realized that they are someone and need to be treated as people. Some lost their jobs; families and others have no place to go. This man, Joe Montana, is a vet. So, why did the system fail him? How?

 

As the plan comes into place of course there are unexpected outcomes that no one foresees. With the help of the Joe Montana and Erik the librarian they hope to get everyone out without anyone more fatalities. Just what they did will definitely keep you rooting for them until the final conclusion. While Amanda, Erik and Joe try to capture and take down Johnson, Theresa is meeting with the Board Of Directors of the Literacy Organization. What happens next is quite remarkable as another gunman decides to take control but the plan that Amanda comes up with is totally ingenious. What can you do with episodes of Law and Order that might scare the criminals? What happens when the sirens blare and the voices of the cops are heard loud and clear? What will the end result be?

 

When they three think they are home free Johnson strikes back but with the help of Erik and Joe they just might get out. But, betrayals run high among the thieves as the one person who wants to get out of this alive and help the hostages becomes one himself. One homeless man that risks it all to help strangers. Burning books to help with their escape. Leaving two people helpless on a railing. The ending will definitely surprise the reader and the final outcome you will have to read for yourself. Just what happens to the money in the books? What is the final fate of Amanda, Joe and Erik? The homeless need to be taken care of and our vets need jobs after serving their country. Adult literacy programs are valuable tools to help educate those that want to get ahead in life and make it on their own. As an educator this book brings to light why reading is such a precious tool, why libraries need more funding and why people need to not judge others by the appearance.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Let’s give this book: FIVE GOLDEN BOOKS

 

 

 

 

 

The Way of Nacor


The Way of Nacor

Author: Jeff Horton

 

Jessie Seekers refuses to speak as a result of a traumatic experience. Watching her father’s image fade from view as he closes the closet door that housed his family and prevented them from harm would be the last thing she remembers about him for the rest of her life. Jessie and her family would never be the same as a result of a tornado inflicting its wrath and destruction on so many. Author Jeff Horton hits the mark with his astute and authentic beginning of his outstanding novel that brings to light an important issue from the onset. Children can often withdraw from others and face the world living sheltered in a world of their own that they create where everything is perfect and the way it should be after living through something that causes them fear, distrust and danger. Added in we meet Rachel who takes over the place of her mother who is now has to work in order to provide for her family. Michael and Eli the two brothers who round out the family and are dealing with the tragedy each in their own way. Living with their grandfather when their mother is at work the children learn to become somewhat independent, have a nurturing grandfather who cares and listens to them taking pride in each one of their accomplishments. But, then something odd happens that changes everything. As Jessie is sitting with her grandfather at the start of the novel we learn about her fascination with the chickadees on his farm. The reader realizes that for some reason she cannot seem to take her eyes off of them and no one in the family sees what will happen next. When the grandfather goes off to do some errands the children remain under the care of Rachel who is older and then get caught in the web of a light or glimmer that draws Jessie towards it for some reason. As the glimmer becomes stronger and the pull becomes even more intense Jessie goes off in its direction followed by her family and then the real adventure begins. Drawn into this portal and crossing over they find themselves in a dark and cold place. While trying to figure out their new environment they realize that the atmosphere and the sky, although filled with stars is not quite the same as that on earth. The constellations are gone and in their place Rachel sees vague shapes and vegetation that looked like grasses and small bushes bluish in color. Added in just as they were going to explore the area and find shelter they meet one of the aliens who identifies himself as a rephaim. As they talk he relates to them where they are and although he appears huge he’s not threatening at least not at first. With the author’s creative stroke he injects in the plot the ability of people of from two different worlds to be able to communicate even though they speak different languages. Imagine a force or power enabling your words to be translated and understood by another person of a different nationality or origin. Think about the summit conferences and the need for no translators or misunderstandings if we had this great power.

 

As Michael introduces his siblings to this man they teach more about his people and the fact his council never mentioned the planet Earth to the Alliance. Imagine wondering if the Earth was ever part of this world or their Alliance. As they speak the alien whose name is Varuth Terakon, questions them about the scientific capabilities of those on earth and how they learned to travel from between the stars? The Earth does not have interstellar flight capabilities and according to this man it is dangerous. But, he reveals even more about his planet called Zantura, the fate of his people and the plagues that obliterated many of those living there. Sarin, unleashed these plagues on his people and therefore many died. But, although in a foreign place they are treated with kindness and hospitality which shows that people of different races can get along and there are children in this world that are not only smart but polite too. As Varuth shares with the children how his home planet was destroyed the reasons why Sarin felt the need to unleash these plagues and as in all worlds or countries unwarranted takeovers can lead to death and destruction. As Sarin spread his evil word to the people that followed Nacor, you learn more about the weaknesses that some have when tempted with power and lies as he told the people of Zantura that Nacor’s existence was a myth and that he should rule in Eden. But, he was banished but that did not stop him from unleashing the plagues that swept the planet. Added in is the fact that Nacor might be the only one that can help them find the portal to return home. But, will he and when?

 

Imagine something called a nourishment processor that can create any combination of food or beverage you want. Okay: You have to admit that would be great! As Varuth explains that there is an ancient relic that if found might be able to transport them home. The relic has the power within it to allow someone to pass through a gateway to the destination the person desires. Next, we learn about a professor that might have some answers for the children. In order to find their way home they need to find the ancient relic and only Nacor can provide it but first they have to go through the seven trials, which are tests, and the danger can be great. These trials if passed are designed as the author states to endure that the “character of the one seeking the Relic of Nacor is worth of find it.” These trials are different he states for each person and as I said can be dangerous. What happens if you fail? Let’s hope they don’t.

 

As they started their journey down the road to find the Way of Nacor the children asked many questions of the elderly professor. Learning more about the history of what caused the plagues and the downfall of this planet they became more aware of why this could prove dangerous and how people could become corrupted by others. Technology and believing more in themselves then in Nacor caused many to sway but what no one realized is that the eyes of evil were upon them and would report back to Sarin of their journey on the road. Just what obstacles and dangers would they face?

 

While stopping at the town of Glamor something unusual happens. The people greet Rachel and thought to be their new queen but was this an attempt to separate her from her family and the professor? While she is given the Royal Treatment her family and the professor are thrown into a dungeon awaiting their fate as sealed by Sarin. But all of the children but none more than Michael learn many lessons when he convinces the professor to veer off the road or way of Nacor to explore the riches of a town. What happens will teach him the true meaning of greed, friendship and loyalty and a lesson he will never forget as he risks his life for what he thinks are all the right reasons. As Michael meets Rubicon their first link to Nacor. “ Eli was tested when fighting with a friend, Rachel tempted to be Queen and deciding to take the throne or save her family, Michael’s was one dealing with greed, another was test dealt with gluttony and still Varuth’s would be the hardest as the man who took the lives of his family now faced him. Does he kill him or is this trial on the Way to Nacor? Taking the slave trader Plator with them was that the right move? Will Sarin win?

The path to finding the portal has been blocked so many times and still they move on as a team. Next we learn something about the fate of Varuth’s family and Sarin’s true motives as the author takes the reader inside his palace.  But, the trials are far from over and the danger still very real as the final test is bestowed on Plator. Facing the enemy brings to light just who can be trusted and who cannot not. Four children and three rephaim face the wrath of one Sarin who is evil to the core. What happens and will they ever find that portal to return home? What happens when they enter the Cave of Sorrows and memories flood back? What happens will surprise the reader as author Jeff Horton takes us inside the minds of four children who face more than just a series of tests in order to survive.

 

Just how they manage to outsmart Sarin you have to read for yourself. What happens when the relic is destroyed? What happens when they face Nacor? Will he save them and will they free all of the slaves before it’s too late? Will Nacor’s words make Jessie speak and let go of the bitterness she feels? An ending that will definitely endear you to the people of Zantura, Nacor, Varuth and one great professor. But, what happens at the end will definitely give you much pause for thought. Will they return home or will they remain in Zantura? What happens if they never find that portal? Read The Way to Nacor and take the journey along with Rachel, Michael, Jessie and Eli as these four amazing kids learn many important lessons in life that will definitely make them stronger, braver and just maybe wiser. This is a great book for children of all ages and I think teens too. Adults you just might learn some important lessons in what is really important in life. What is next in store for them only the author Jeff Horton has the answer to that question?

Let’s give this book: FIVE POSITIVE TRIALS

Fran Lewis: reviewer

Under the House


Under the House: Leslie Hall Pinder

 

Parentage, birthright and are just the tip of the iceberg of the issues brought to light in “Under the House.” Some grow up knowing who there parents are while others remain in the dark. Two women torn apart with a huge difference in their ages both not knowing who there father is. Family secrets can tear apart the members creating lives that are carved out of distorted patterns and leading them to living lives that deny them the ability to make choices and have the same opportunities afforded to others. Maude is our main character as we meet her as a child learning about her hopes and dreams and what happens to her in school, her mother’s reaction to her birth and the resentment of her brother Stanley towards her. As the years go on we learn more about Maude as she marries but does not seem happy and is summoned home by her father. Learning we find out that the family owns a Canadian farm and her brother would like to exile her from the family and keep the farm for himself. Overprotected as a child and keeping a family secret, there is much that she reveals about a basement in their home haunting her waking hours and reminding her of someone else. Meeting the family you find them cold, stark, austere and sedate. The father runs the family, the mother seems to be a typical matriarch and the two sons not very warm to Maude as she appears to enter a world where in reality she is an outsider. The discussion at dinner is about the Cairn that their father wants to erect. In order to create some type of monument to the family’s heritage and name he asked his children to return to decide what to inscribe. Defined as a  mound of stones erected as a memorial or marker S.D. their father wants their input as to how to create this memorial and why.

 

Then a startling revelation as Stanley manipulates his father into tearing up his will after he explains how he wants his estate divided. Stanley is cunning, mean and cruel as he reveals something to Maude about her parentage and she learns a harsh truth sending her off into another world of her own. Waking up the next morning and finding Kathryn looking after her she seems disoriented and unsure of where she is and what transpired. Enter Muriel and Evelyn and things take on a different complexion as Stanley marries Muriel and Evelyn is now uprooted to another town and a new school. Stanley is different and as a stepfather controlling and demanding. Evelyn is astute and realizes that something is off about him. While Maude leaves her parent’s home and leaves her secrets buried in the cellar along with her thoughts. The truths that she reveals to her mother are permanently locked away for a while. Then Evelyn meets Clarence her stepfather’s brother and is put in charge of his bird: His Majesty. What happens would rock the world of any young child as a tragedy occurs and Evelyn is inconsolable. Evelyn disappears and does not appear for dinner one evening and Stanley seems unnerved and Muriel upset. Ida was their child and he seemed unsure of how to deal with her but still she was his own not like Evelyn. Stanley had his own perception of Evelyn thinking she would take advantage of him and want his money. Returning home she states she left a note but Stanley convinces her mother she is lying. Moving ahead three years we meet Evelyn again and get to know her connection to the notes on a piano and seem to connect to her and Clarence. Feeling out of place and not really a part of anything or anyone. Mean, controlling and not really making her feel wanted Stanley took his place as the head of a very cold and unhappy family. Just what Muriel sees or saw in him is baffling except for his money. He reminded Evelyn of a cold stone that she would like to kick. Moving ahead we realize that her mother tried to get her some help when thinking something was wrong with her and next we learn that she had taken to drinking leaving Evelyn in serious trouble. An incident in school would really change things for Evelyn as she wanted to find out who her father was and a picture that she held dear and she ran for life to save it. Evelyn finds herself in a difficult situation and feels like she buried deeper within her own thoughts and mind. As she stands up to the teacher and the principal her mother arrives and takes her home. What happens next is quite compelling as she’s led away and taken home only to be sedated by a doctor. Finally we learn that Evelyn is shoved off by Stanley wanting to control not only her but his family in general. Then Evelyn is sent away to school and finally has some type of life but still feels alone when it comes to the girls in the school. Muriel speaks out to Stanley and the end result she realizes will only give her grief. Never speaking about Maude or anyone that makes him angry she agrees to send her child away and then feels she is happy. Then we move ahead to 1958 and her grandfather S.D. passes away and she is summoned to come home.

 

Author Leslie Hall Pinder takes the reader inside the minds of the Rathbone family allowing us to hear the voice of S.D. before he dies and understand just how much Stanley is like him. Added in the fact that the author mirrors him after his father and Kathryn seems to be a weaker link as time goes on. What happens when Evelyn and Maude meet steps up the plot bringing it to a strong conclusion. Evelyn gets her second or you might say first wind when she invites Maude to their home after the memorial service for S.D. Stanley and Muriel taken aback do not want to embarrass themselves yet do not want her there. Stanley in his crude way informs her that the will has nothing to do with her and she will collect nothing. Mercenary and heartless totally concerned with his  wants and needs he tends to alienate himself from anyone that does not benefit his him. Maude has no idea who her father is and neither does Evelyn as this will bond them together. Then Evelyn decides to run away with Maude and together they piece S.D.’s torn will and she enlists the help of her favorite teacher who gets then legal help in case it’s needed. Stanley has phoned the police as she ran away and is trying to cause more trouble for Maude. As the story draws to a close and the courtroom scene unfolds the author takes us up close into the mind of Stanley as we watch his dreams fall apart and the lies and deceits unfold. Just where everyone winds up and what happens in that courtroom in Saskatchewan you have to read for yourself. What does Isabel reveal in her diary at the end and what will be the final outcome be: That still remains to be revealed. Under The House: That’s where all the secrets are buried and much more. As Maude and Evelyn team up together to learn the secrets that have left them feeling isolated, alone yet becoming stronger author Leslie Hall Pinder leaves the reader wanting to learn more about this family, the women and what’s next for the Rathbones. What is Stanley’s final decision and what happens when a truth is revealed that he does not expect? Maude will always be that overprotected little girl trying to live her life without any discord. This is one book that will leave you wondering just how far will one man go to get it all.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

 

My Life with Cancer: My review


Life with Cancer: Frank Terrazzano and Paul Lonardo

 

 

There are some people that write stories that are just superficial and deal with facts and figures. There are some that write stories and give the public what they think they want to hear and know. But, rarely do you find a reporter that delves deep within the soul of a situation and digs so deep and so far that the reader understands the inner most thoughts of not only the reporter but of those he/she is writing about. There are many stories that fledgling reporters get and try to create good stories about. But, sometimes those stories are stark, cold and just stories. From the moment she was born and could write a simple story Lauren Terrazzano could find the inner core of what a story should be. But, let’s start at the beginning or you might the say the end as Frank Terrazzano her father and Paul Lonardo takes us on a long journey back to where it all began and who she learned that she had to live her life with cancer and still go on. A special day to be remembered was her birthday March 28 and her father wanted to share with readers his special celebration of her life. As he goes to a special beach and flies a special kite that has not only her picture on it but so much more. Lauren: In Life Reached the Stars written at the top of the kite and Lauren: Love: Miss you very much. A father’s voice is heard and Lauren leaves her more than just her legacy as a reporter with everyone she leaves her love of life, her love of family and her love of reporting.

 

Lauren had many close friends growing up and many throughout her life that both authors share with the reader. Katy from an early age was her best friend and encouraged her to speak out and be heard. Many times she would shy away from events and with the friend’s encouragement she would soar. From the moment she wrote her first story as a child and created her own newspaper in her school, Lauren’s special journalistic qualities far surpassed most. Her first column and article picked up by Newsday dealt with the causes of abuses of children, the neglect by parents and the system when children were forced to go to court with their parents, unfed, poorly cared for and some just forgotten. Learning about the elderly, writing about those in homes and in facilities that neglected their patients and left them to wander on their own, Lauren made her mark and championed many causes. So, what happens when she learns her fate and how does she deal with it. With hope, fear, love and support of so many but cancer knows no boundaries and has no limits in its devastation and reprieves are few and last only a short time. Leah, Ritchie and Lauren were friends growing up and went to school together. Leah was a lifelong friend and Lauren came to her defense when she was being bullied. Deciding to share her voice with the world she created a weekly column titled Life With Cancer sharing the entire experience with her readers and endearing her to the public even more. Lauren not only wanted to be the voice of those who could not speak for themselves but she wrote about issues dealing with individual families, people and global issues. How often can a reporter get the government and the public to change their viewpoints and take action? Lauren had a way of enlisting the trust and faith of those she interviewed and would never betray it. With people she was sensitive and caring with her editors she was tough and aggressive. She loved the world of journalism and just hearing her voice and reading about her tenacity to get a story you can feel the energy that radiated in her whole body when looking to find the story that most would ignore. From the time she fell in love with a dog that was quite sick, to other stray animals she felt the need to care for you learn from the onset that she loved to help others.

 

Lauren was someone you wanted as your friend. She was loyal, caring and her friendships were lifelong. There were many that the authors share and so many that were with her when she passed. Learn as you read this memoir of her life about Jessica, Leah, Monica, Brian and many other reporters at Newsday and Robin Reisig her instructor at Columbia that not only taught her the essence of reporting but worked together with her on many stories too. Imagine being asked to become the editor of the Bronx Beat the school paper. Although she really did not want to do it she did it for Robin and brilliantly. The story that captured the hearts of many was one that focused on an apartment building with riddled with dirt, unsafe and signs that said Lead Poisoning. Imagine learning that the landlord did nothing to fix the problem and the building run by the Housing Authority went unnoticed. Lauren would not let it pass and she wrote about it. Added in her amazing changes and reforms at the Bronx Beat you know from the beginning she would make more than just a slight mark in this field. Each story she wrote was filled with her own brand of journalism and passion. So, how did a non-smoker get lung cancer? This question that might never be answered. Lauren had many mentors, friends and family but one man made a difference for a while in her life and that was Peter. He was perfect for her and then one incident; one tragedy would change it all. TWA Flight 800 left her breathless, on edge and changed. The interviews with the family members and those involved in dealing with the crash left an indelible mark on her. Lauren became more serious, more intense and more focused on her job, the story than her marriage. It was as if the story, the paper and her need to find the truth and write about it took over her life like the cancer, which riddled her body and decided her fate. Life, with Cancer, was her weekly column and she shared her daily thoughts with readers about living with the inevitable. Added in she alerts the public about the underlying dangers of smoking, the need for more funding for research for lung cancer and the many chapters the authors devoted to her quest to find out why this illness targets women, dealing with Camel and hoping that someday women and people would think twice before lighting up. Cancer is deadly and it knows no bounds, has no boundaries and is merciless and relentless in its quest to take lives. Frank Terrazzano and Paul Lonardo wrote this thought provoking, compelling and true story of one woman’s life to open the eyes of everyone to this deadly disease and share the world of someone so special that touched so many lives. Lung cancer kills more women every year than any other cancer. With a forward written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Anna Quindlen you learn about what drove Lauren, the articles she wrote about dealing with meds, the indignities many faces and the doctors who passed the final sentence of verdict on her: 2-3 months to live. How do you deal with that?

 

The voices of her friends are shared and heard, her co-workers, the doctors and even her college professors. But, her life is like an unfinished painting, picture or portrait that never found its final strokes, final place on the wall as her life ended too fast. The power of words is amazing and as her father states: she used her words, her pen her typewriter her computer to light up the world with her thoughts and her words. Throughout the memoir the authors share her early life, her schooling, her rise to becoming a great journalist and much more. The final three years dealt with her treatment, her illness and her final moments. Added in we learn about her mother’s illness, the fact that Lauren did not always share her results or grief with her parents in order to shelter them for a while. After you read this brilliantly written memoir you will understand the journey and the struggle that many go through, understand the need for funding, and hopefully doctors, nurses and health care providers will come to grips with the fact that we need more money for research and hopefully understand the seriousness of lung cancer.

 

As you read the blog and hear her voice you smile, you cry and you laugh at her humor, feel the pain and the anger coming through and the frustration at knowing that she could only fight so much and not more. What endeared me to her even more is her blog thanking those that take care of so many: Let’s not forget the caregivers. The doctors that took care of her at Memorial Sloan Kettering and at St. Luke’s Roosevelt will remain in the hearts of her family and friends as they did everything that could possibly be done to save Lauren. Readers all over the world wanted to read her blog and learn her progress. Added in we meet a man named Al who played a short role in her life, a special co-worker named Brian and a father who never gave up, was at her side along with her mother, Ginny and whose faith in as he refers to her: My Lauren will live on forever. I want to thank Paul for asking me to read and review this book and want everyone to listen to my interview with both authors on November 1, 2012 at four eastern on the World Of Ink: This is one memoir everyone needs to read.

 

Fran Lewis Reviewer

 

Blog Talk Radio: Fran Lewis and Marsha Cook will host this show and we hope you will join us in the chat room.

 

 

True or False: You decide


Passport to Nowhere: Samuel Blessing

 

It is often been said that if the inmates ran the asylum things might not be so messed up. Imagine what would happen if teachers, more educators like the author and myself had been given the respect, power and authority to educate, handle and even appropriate funds, create curriculum, design programs and actually teach according to the guideline and standards real educators set up and low and behold students successes would rise. Imagine actually teaching students what they need to succeed in life and not worrying about their scores on a test! Sorry if you think politicians, the government, not all or district superintendants are ever going to hear the voices of the mainstay or backbone of any school: THE TEACHERS Principals (not all) sit in their ivory tower offices, pass judgment over their staff members, rate them accordingly (based on their definition of productivity and test scores) and never really make too many appearances in classrooms to assist struggling new teachers but often chastise them for handing in a document or lesson plan late. Such is the premise or main theme of a creative, innovative and quite revealing book titled: Passport to Nowhere, which presents the inside, scoop to what really goes on in one high school but in reality could be any school right in your own backyard.

 

Knoward High School is barely making the grade. Just a tad short of being taken over by the state. So, why would any want to send their kid there or even work there? As author Samuel Blessing allows the reader to enter the hallowed halls of this school you will hear many different voices as they explain their lives, their relationship with other staff members, and why so many turn a blind eye to what is really going on in the schools today. Welcome to Passport to Nowhere: AKA: Nowhere High School where those entering students and teacher alike cannot assume that they will rise to greatness or even be a success. So, let’s meet the staff and find out more about the inner workings of this school.

 

Bob McCloud is a staff member who seems to have it all under control. Understanding the curriculum, able to control the students and yet knowing that hiding from the department chair was definitely a necessity since she has only one quality: Domination and total control of those working for her. Added in she has a dimwit assistant that threatens others, brow beats teachers and enjoys gatherings with students at the chair’s home. Lizbeth Gleem is the not so honorable chair of his department. She hates men and people in general. Her skills not the best but sometimes you settle for what is there. The assistant is Sandy Cooper whose behaviors are questionable to say the least followed by Frank Bottoms a really smart guy with an IQ of 180 and friends with McCloud. Next we meet Lenny Lake and Kelly King the Principal of this school.

 

Lenny Lake is opinionate and loves to get under the skin of Frank Bottoms. Discussing politics, the Gulf War and very old school when it comes to respect for teachers and being the head of the classroom, he was calm, creative, reasoned with difficult students and called parents when more assistance was needed. Guidance support was there but did not really help and the Assistant Principal along with others would pass off the problem. Honest, trusting and open that’s where the rest went to find out what was really going on. Rich Gillette was flamboyant, loud and loved to gamble. Rich and Mac had some things in common. Both have a sense of humor and both a sarcastic view of life. Finally, let’s get to the head honcho of the school, Kelly King the Principal. The author describes her early life in Chapter 8 and you get to know where she came from and her reasons for staying at Knoward High. She knew how to run the ship but the mass among of inept Assistant Principals made her job harder and placed the school in danger of having the state take it over. Let’s not forget the miserable Lizabeth Gleem. Hiring Mac to Frank with the football team was smart. Lizabeth is the head of the science department with Sandy Cooper who knows very little about anything. The classes run about 50 minutes and the rest is described on page 27.

 

Next the author gets down to the nitty gritty. The ASC committee and the politics involved in getting anything done. ASC: Accreditation of Schools in California) arriving to put the school under the proverbial microscope. Hearing the discussions at these meetings learning the ins and outs of the politics and the truth behind what is covered up and what is revealed you being to wonder just who is running the schools and for whose benefit. As the team met they pretended to agree on some things and the committee told them what needed to be improved. But, somehow they managed to skate by. Next we learn more about the deceit and betrayals caused by one member of the faculty to ruin the football team and their lack of wins, and finally we meet Mac when he first started, Lenny when he first started and the inner workings of the mind of an inept head of the science department and how she used her treachery to blackmail not just the principal but teachers too. Lizbeth was relentless and after three years of dealing with her she decided to go after more staff members at full speed. Imagine having one teacher or head of a department have a group of students decide which teachers measure up and which don’t. Unprofessional to say the least but for some reason she got away with it. Why? Added in are several incidents involving Mac and Lizbeth that you have to read for yourself to appreciate just how devious she is and what she gets away with each day added in we learn how the teachers deal with parents and the reign of King Blump the new principal. Net we meet Quentin Harris the latest addition to this dysfunctional staff and soon to be Lizbeth’s next victim so why were his first few weeks uneventful and just what was she up to? Wait until you find out and learn what she and her lackey do next? Part Four brings us to Traveling through Nowhere and begins with some interesting and humorous chapters dealing with the antics of Sandy and Lizbeth followed by Attrition and Very Special Ed that focuses on students with learning problems. Since Mac was good with these students and treated them like everyone else, she became the dumping ground for students with learning problems and much more. Quentin gets the lazy award, Lizbeth started to take interest in Mac’s work. Why? Let’s not forget the interaction between teachers and students that should not have taken place, teachers pitted against each other and a new principal with no leadership skills. But, let’s not forget the bureaucrats who deal with finding out who is qualified and who is not. Credential Coordinator whose job it is to keep records on each teacher. Read what happens when she collides with Mac and her totally unprofessional remarks. It is hard to believe that so many get away with so much. Think about the fact that district personnel never got fired, were allowed to mess things up and certainly never enter a classroom, which would be beneath them and definitely not in their job description. Throughout the book you begin to get frustrated, understand the points of view of the staff that has survived all of the inconsistencies within the system and the reasons why so many leave. The end result of Chapter 25 will send any real educator over the top and reeling. Imagine not being able to hold back students that do not make the grade. Failing students would have a way out. Imagine cost cutting and no campus suspensions. Let’s not forget tenure and those who get it and those who do not. The end result of what happens when one staff member goes off and what he does you have heard before but how it is handled you won’t believe. Cover-ups, lies, deceits and where they all wind up you have to read the Epilogue for yourself. Passport to Nowhere: Sad that so many never got anywhere. Just what the end result is for this school you have to read the book to decide if the end justified the means. Passport to Nowhere is a sad commentary on the educational system in America but not really so far from the truth. I was lucky for most of my career and fortunate that my students had great respect for me. Working with children with learning disabilities in reading and writing I can take pride in knowing I made a difference. But, what the author describes and the truths behind the administration and their lack of interest in some cases, not all, it’s too close to the truth. This is one book you want to read. Why can’t the educators have a louder voice? Why are students not accountable and why are we to blame for the failing grades? Why are principals and administrators so far removed from the classroom? Why don’t they spend some time modeling lessons? Passport to Nowhere: A must read!
Fran Lewis: reviewer

Seconds Away: Harlan Coben: My review


Seconds Away: Harlan Coben

 

Magicians create illusions when they want people to see things that are not really there. Sometimes events in our lives happen and what we think is reality is not. As you think about an incident that caused tragic results you often remember the details the way you want them to have happened? But, what happens when someone jogs your memory in another direction? What would you do if an odd or strange lady told you that what you believed happened to your father really did not? What if a photograph of a Nazi war criminal held the key to your father’s past and present?

 

Mickey Bolitar might be 16 years old but he’s smart, astute and understands more than most think. Becoming a junior sleuth along with his two friends, he managed to solve one crime and becomes embroiled in another. After meeting with the strange Bat Lady he calls he sees his friend Ema and shares what happened with her. A photo of someone who looks like the paramedic who tried to save his father at the scene of an accident is really a war criminal that killed this lady’s husband. When she tells him they are one in the same he cannot believe her? How could some 90 have been a paramedic just a short time ago and the same man who tried to save his father? But, there is more as he texts his two other friends and then something happens. Two good friends Spoon and Rachel. Rachel and Mickey have a school project done the following day but something happens and the police for questioning for a shooting take in Mickey. Who shot Rachel? Mickey will do everything in his power to find out. As the police questioned him Myron became more agitated and the accusations against him in the past come out. But, why would someone shoot Rachel and kill her mother? So, Myron, Ema and Spoon decided to do their own form of a covert operation to find out what really happened to Rachel and why. But, when they attempt to get into the hospital they need they need to be resourceful, smart and definitely try to get something over on the nurses. What Spoon does is hilarious and how Myron finds Rachel quite clever. But, the mystery has yet to be solved as the Chief of Police enters her room and the conversation seems quite odd.

 

As more facts unfold we learn about a link to the Holocaust as one of Myron’s teachers puts it all together for him in an interesting way. What does a survivor of the Holocaust have to do with the Butcher of Lodz? The odd part that connects not only Rachel but also the Bat Lady is butterflies, which are seen in more places than one and linked to the story his history teacher tells him about children being led to safety by butterflies. So, why would the Chief of Police tell Rachel it was okay not to talk to the homicide detective until she speaks to him? What about Myron trying out for the basketball team and learning more about the Chief and the leading all time scorer who happened to be his Uncle Myron?

 

When Myron decides to explore on his own and visit the Bat Lady’s house what he learns about her will put him in danger, surprise the reader and reveal her true identity that will link back to the war. A tombstone in her garden whose inscription is familiar to Myron. A resistance fighter hiding in plain sight. Staring into a room what and whom he saw would give him more than the chills and calling for help would be his next step. Locked doors, a fire started and all of the photos caught in the flames. Portraits going up in smoke and Myron enveloped in flames. A strange reaction by the Chief of Police, an arrest, a rescue from an unusual source as a famous actress linked to his uncle and once friends with his mom comes to his aid and things are going to heat up even more. With the help of one teacher he just might learn the truth about this Nazi war criminal and bring him to justice. Author Harlan Coben brings to light many issues that kids face today. Bullying, hate crimes, distrust, lack of parental guidance, prejudice and isolation all issues that teens including Myron face. As he talks to Angelica Wyatt who tries to explain adults to him, Myron still feels alone and distrustful of everyone but is two friends Ema and Spoon. Just what is Ema’s story and why is she so secretive about her home life has been touched on but not totally revealed? Just why is Rachel texting Myron and hoping to enlist his help in whatever caused the shooting and who might have been behind it? Why didn’t she tell anyone her mother was visiting?

 

As the pieces of the puzzle come into place we learn a hidden truth about Ema and just what her roots are and where she lives. Added in we learn more about Rachel and her relationship with her mother and why she feels responsible for her death. Her father’s behavior odd, her mother claiming he caused her breakdown and a stepmother who left town. Implying that her father might have caused her mother’s death, then the truth about Rachel and the Abeona Shelter and the children that had to be saved the links are filling in but there are some spaces in the puzzle or the chain of events that have yet to be revealed. Added in are Myron’s feelings about his own mother in rehab and his lack of trust in adults. Added in the coach decided to take him off the team.

 

Closure comes when a situation is over and you find or learn all of the answers. But, after hearing the words that Bat Lady said Myron needs to learn more about his father’s death and makes a strange request of his uncle. What is drawing him to her house? What drew his father there too? Why did Rachel’s father associate with hoodlums? What about his friend Tyrell’s father whose an investigator? Why is he warning him to stay out of whatever is going on? What are the pieces that will link all of the events together? Could Rachel’s father have something to do with Tyrell’s father’s investigation into a drug ring in their town? What they find in the house will link it to the shelter and Myron learns where to find another piece of the puzzle.

 

Then, a trip to the high school turns tragic and the end result puts one of his friends life’s on jeopardy. What really happened to Rachel’s mother and who shot Rachel? When will the deceits and cover-ups end and will the truth come out? What will happen when he pushes to learn the truth about his father’s death? What is the connection to the shelter and who really killed Rachel’s mother and who shot Rachel? An ending that will change things for Mickey and his friends filled with many surprises and unusual twists. One 16-year-old boy has to make a decision that will change the life of a friend forever. Do you keep a lie or do you reveal the truth? Author Harlan Coben brings this and many other issues to light in Seconds Away and outstanding YA novel. What is the truth behind the Abeona Shelter and what really happened to the Butcher of Lodz? Who is the mysterious Bat Lady? Find out when you read this book that both YA’s and Adults will love.

Seconds Away: You never know when your life will change in a flick of a match or just a simple second.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer : Let’s give this book: FIVE GOLDEN SECONDS