Virtually Yours: my review


Virtually Yours: Joanne Huspek


Ceiia, Laurel, Skye, Miss, Ally and Janna belong to an exclusive and tightly knit group on the net called Virtual Moms. Searching for friends, confidants and allies these women came together and formed more than just an online friendship. Each with this own unique backgrounds, divorces, kids and failed relationships they hesitate allowing someone knew and unknown into their midst. So, why would Janna Abraham, smart, bright and usually a good judge of character insist that Ashley MacDaniel be allowed to enter their club? With the information placed on the net by Ashley it would appear that she is a widow whose husband was killed in Iraq and whose blog summarizes her feelings, inner most thoughts and aspirations in her online blog. But, we all know that appearances or words are not always what they might seem and profiles are recreated by the writer and not everything that people write in blogs or in emails is necessarily true. Supposedly a novelist and just wanting some support for herself and her five-year-old son, Ashe as they referred to her just wants to be accepted into this group. Trying to appear as a sympathetic person or figure you might say that she manages to convince some of the group but not all. Fitting in usually takes time so why doesn’t she have any real roadblocks so to speak. Learning a lot about the other members and often agreeing with their insights and thoughts helps her to assimilate into the group with little difficulty, But, Celia is astute and smart and she is not buying her story. Asheley shares her thoughts, feelings and personal difficulties with Missy and Laurel but Ally and Skye are easily taken in and seem to have developed a relationship with her from the start.


A novel compromised of narrative, emails and blogs we learn more about each character, their backgrounds and how they came together. Skye just out of a relationship with a woman named Trina. Celia dealing with her teenage daughter, Laurel trying to rekindle and save her marriage, Greg and Ally in a tight relationship, Skye pondering her next move and Missy having to sort through what he husband might really be doing. Earl, never home and always disappointing his kids, Laurel constantly having to deal with her lack of funds and not wanting her friends to know the truth behind her life and much more these women are loyal, honest to a fault and really great friends. So, what will happen when they bear their souls to Ashley and learn the truth behind why she wants to join their group? Read her blog to learn more about her life with Mac and her frustrations and hopes for her future. What happens when someone in her family learns her secret? How does this person react?


The blog is quite revealing and she relates her feeling for Mac, her life now and what she hopes to accomplish but what is her real reason for befriending the Virtual Moms? What happens to each one is quite sad at times as Missy’s husband Earl decides to leave and she hides the truth from her two girls. One who realizes the lies and the other suspended from school. Ceiia fighting her own demons and her own struggles still quite leery of Ashe. Next, Laurel’s world seems to be falling apart in school, her auto accident and finances yet not admitting that to her friends. Ally and Greg seem solid, where Skye is forging ahead with her career and Janna might have met Mr. Right. Each one battling their own pasts, secrets that still are quite hidden and one member named Ashe that when the truth comes out might destroy more than just their trust. When the members related to Ashe they literally bear their souls. When asking questions in reverse she skirts around the issues and offers help for their problems never really revealing too much about herself. The blog is supposed to be about her life and editing for a self-publishing company where she makes money. But, her brother is her conscience trying to help her sort through her lies and deal with them in the present. Ashe is hiding something and it is obvious to the reader that it has yet to be revealed. Celia is smart, astute and does not understand when she phones her who the person on the other end of the phone is and why they won’t identify themselves.



Secrets have a way of coming out and some can ruin relationships while others might strengthen. Ashe has a secret and when revealed things will change the dynamics of this tightly knit group, opinions will be swayed and what Celia learns from the private investigator might create more than just a rift within this group. But, sometimes the truth rears its head in the form of an honest confrontation and revelation. Laurel and Joe’s relationship is fragile and when her father is taken ill they begin to reassess their lives and Joe decides its time to step up and take control. Celia meets a hot pool guy who takes the place of one who is doing a poor job and the dialogue between them ignites more than just sparks. Missy and Ashe become good friends and without knowing it helps her straighten out her life, teach Earl many lessons he will never forget and maybe wake up her two girls that change can happen and parents do not always get along and don’t cast blame when you don’t know the whole story.  Skye is unique and you fall in love with her son Rob and then we meet Dude. Just who he is I cannot reveal everything, as you will have to write to her or IM her to find out. Janna started something that was supposed to bring these women together, make them a second family and support group all because they were hunting for Beanie Babies online.


Friendship, honesty, trust, understand, betrayals, deceit, lies and open truths are part of the messages told within this book, each email, the blog that was created to tell about the life of someone Ashe cared about for so long and the honest truth that will allow Ashe to remain or not remain as part of Virtual Moms. Each character with her own separate story and each with her own successes, triumphs and failures. Each with their own story, their own needs and each linked to the others for support, understanding and just plain friendship. When Ashe does not send a picture of herself or her son to the group Celia becomes suspicious. When Skye and Ashe bond over emails they realize that Janna had another reason for hooking them up.


Author Joanne Huspek takes the reader inside the world of emails, online friendships, IM’s and meeting and cultivating friendships in what most might call the cyber world. Just how safe is it to tell strangers your innermost thoughts, give them your phone number and reveal where you live? Virtually Yours will test your viewpoint on online friendships, how far you will go to meet someone and just how special Celia, Missy, Laurel, Janna, Skye, Ally and you decide Ashe might really be. Whose friendships survive, whose lives remain the same and whose change?  Characters that are believable, credible and definitely down to earth. Will Celia give in to her feelings for the hot pool guy? Will Missy allow Earl back in her life? What about Skye and where do we see Laurel? These and many other questions you will have to learn for yourself when you read the book.  Virtually Yours: Virtually filled with humor, some mystery, some tears but definitely worth the read.


Fran Lewis: reviewer


Author of the Year: John Betcher: Beck series

Author of the Year-No Background

Healing Happens: Michelle Tate: My Review

Healing Happens


Life hands us many different situations and all too often some find it hard to cope. Author Michelle L. Tate takes the reader on a different kind of tour that most might miss if you don’t pay close enough attention. Insecurities, fear, loss of hope and the feeling of being all-alone are all part of what she describes in the first story poem that reflects her feelings or anyone’s feelings when someone needs to be healed. Starting with a kind and understanding doctor and then feeling alienated from herself, seeing someone that is afraid or insecure and wondering how she can help. The last line of the first poem is so powerful: hold some passion/show some emotion/real/ just a world She continues with the poem Remodel which allows the reader to get a closer look into her mind and her true feelings about herself and what she needs to change. Almost like she is watching her life from outside of herself and wondering if there is anyone like her. Tired of reaching and yet watching and wondering what will come now but in reality on she can decide her future. Emotions are powerful in this poem as she begins to realize that something about herself needs to be change, she has been living locked within herself and needs to unleash herself and finally release she must decide who will be close to her and who will not be. Enjoying her solitude and yet realize that she can be in the company of others but the isolation and aloneness she created all by herself. I wonder if this is what she wants or if she is afraid to break down the walls and let the wires fall.


The next poem is titles Barely Hanging One where she followed by Consumed. The poem that starts her journey back into the world and letting people know she is there is called To Be Heard. Short, to the point and yet a simple echo can allow you to hear your own inner most thoughts, the sound being loud outside and frozen. Hollow Space is begins her journey back as she realizes that he life needs to change, her body needs her and as she looks into someone’s eyes and asks how she should react.


Start: everyone needs to begin somewhere and this poem allows reader to know that it is up to her to begin her self-healing with herself. Homesick Simmered is the next poem and the author tells this story in rhyme as se get to hear her voice more closely, she reminds us of some amazing things that she heard and tells us of the memories of music she has not heard for so long, harmony of angels blending and the warming breeze that heats up the cold. Each poem deals with the speaker’s feelings of despair, hopelessness and the need to reassess her life and rebuild herself. In the poem Start the speaker tells of many things that are good in her life that she remembers such as music that she has not heard for ages, forests filled with life unending and beings living not pretending. It is almost as if she feels that her life is not real and that at times she is just going through the motions or living someone else’s life not her own. At other times you might think she is looking at her life through someone else’s telescope or eyes. Warrior Angel followed by a short and powerful poem Life Evolving where the reader begins to see a metamorphosis in the author’s thinking and she begins to feel like she is finally evolving like a caterpillar coming out of its cocoon and living its life as a beautiful butterfly. Memory Lanes and the Overhaul are the next two poems. Like a car or a home that needs a total overhaul or makeover she describes her life, her being the same way. As simple as needing new glasses to see the world better or listening to conversations and deciding what she wanted to hear. Like the worn out interior of a car that needs to be refinished or reupholstered her life seems to need many changes too. Next is Union where you might think she is talking about the frame of her body that needs to be rebuilt from scratch and the many ways she can renew herself. Heat, cold her body trembling and wondering what she might have missed as she sums it up on page 58 so perfectly. Taking all of the parts that she left in many different places and how she finally brought them back together. “Parts that I left on the railroad tracks come home.” “ Parts that I left in the river come home.” “Parts that fled from criticism come home.” All of the things that she let go of and could not handle will create a new her once she realizes that she can look at herself in a different light. The piece closes with “I am here,” I heard, “ because you called me home.” This poem is quite powerful as it closes with the fact she feels that she is living a dream but while awake ending with these works: “for perhaps for the first time, by my self.” Matter of Time and Across Stages are next followed by Feel and Belief. The poem Feel is quite revealing as the speaker seems to be assessing herself in a mirror and trying to figure out who she is and if the world will remain one huge puff of steam. Belief is followed by Boat Ride and then Council of Warriors, which remind me of when someone looks at you with such scrutiny that you feel like you need to rework or remake yourself from head to toe. Hearing someone tell what is in and what is out. What to wear and what not to wear and what is in fashion and continuing with not liking what she sees and the voices that she hears, maybe her own, trembling with fear. Lessons she learned on this planet and letting go of sadness round out this interesting poem. Heard in Silence and finally Healing Yet! This poem is quite powerful as we hear the voice of the speaker throughout and entire day and as her mood changes, her understanding of her life seems to become clearer and as each hour passes something different happens to her. Many harsh realties set in and she realizes that she has not really faced who she is, she has lied to herself and at times closes her mind and ears to what she should really listen to. Sitting on the floor of her office or anywhere and finally realizing that she should face who she is and stop being afraid. She has worn, “thistles, rockets, bullets, arrows, illness, heartbreak,” and much more but no one can help her if she does not rid herself of the things that do not belong to her in life. As the day closes and her final thoughts are spoken you hope she finds her own inner peace. To learn more and take the journey along with author Michelle L. Tate you need to read Healing Happens and learn the many ways that you can rebuild yourself too.


Fran Lewis: reviewer

Guardians and other angels: my review FIVE GOLDEN ANGELS AND STARS

Guardians and Other Angels: Linda Lee Greene


A young child is born into a family thinking that her parents would nurture her and take care of her at all costs. But, sometimes things happen that change a family’s dynamics as one member seems caught up in the deaths of two loved ones, cannot handle losing children and one young child is their replacement. Emotions run high, the child is sent to live with her grandmother part of the time and her parents the other part of the time as we hear her voice from the start and understand the unusual family dynamics that she endured. Told during the span of many decades Guardians and Other Angels is the inspirational story of two families that lived in Southern Ohio during both the Great Depression and the Second World War. Everyone comes here hoping to gain wealth, find their own form of the American Dream and even more know what the true meaning of Lady Liberty is as they come into our shores and see her holding up her bright light. As the author describes her home, a log cabin built by her family and her young father, Lee Greene. Imagine living in a log cabin built from stones, sticks and similar as she states to “the reverential structures of the early Hebrew worshipers.” The security within the walls that they built provided safety to him and enhanced their early lives. Living in many different places with his father and family, Lee Greene decided that he needed to set down some solid roots of his own and his father finally understood as they bought the Cedar Fork Property a prime piece of land. The author then relates some really interesting memories of her life there and how special the log cabin was for her and her family. But, things do not always remain as her parents separated when she was in her early teens. Next she describes the land, the trees and the scenery to help us picture more about her life and then imagine her father buying what would now be coveted Ford Model T.


Her father seems quite a character as he is a preacher, gets into a heated argument with a farmer and landowner, moves on and then we meet another family. Lena has a mind of her own and just wanted to be a carpenter and do more than just a female’s work. We learn more about her family, the children and then we come back to Linda’s family and we learn about the younger children, Roma and her amazing way of helping her mother, her father and Arthur who came out of nowhere and had been with them helping in the fields and cutting down the corn, plus the accident that costs one of the children the sight in her eye, the hardships they face and the fears are all brought to light. As we learn about how this family worked together when one member gets really sick and they use some old fashioned methods to cure a serious illness. As the family’s dynamics change and Arthur leaves to join a branch of the army and the author shares a very poignant first letter with readers as Bob leaves along with Arthur to join the military without telling his family. The letters are heartfelt, warm and express both a mother and father’s feelings towards their son. You can hear the pride in their voices as they share their thoughts in this letters with readers. We learn why Bobby went, why he did not tell his mother beforehand and we learn that Arthur is not with him in the same camp. Wanting to know more about where he is, what he is doing and of course as all mothers warning him to make the right friends, this book brings to light the struggles many families faced during the Great Depression and after the First World War. The author brings the plot into different time periods as she tells everyone more about Roosevelt, his Work Progress Administration and the death of Kennedy and Hurricane Katrina each devastating in its own way. At times by heart really goes out to Roma who seems to have been given too much responsibility to take care of her siblings and to poor Bussy who needs extra care.


The letters that the author shares allows the reader to get to know the characters in a more intimate way. You get to know the characters because what is conveyed really happened and the experiences are not made up and the history spans many generations.


The flood of 1937 was devastating and took its toll on the family and the Red Cross and the U.S. Army Corp engineers were involved in the rescue work as the family tried to stay afloat, the children returned to school and hopes to hear from Bobby were strong. Chapter ten shares some more letters that are really great revealing and you get to know more about Bobby his gun collection the war and their hopes for his return. Family news really makes a difference to those in the service and I can see where these letters from his sisters, brothers and parents will really bring his family closer. As we go back to get to know A.E. and his family better and Lee Greene. Getting to know Joshua the father of A.E. and the rest of the family we learn more about their background their link to the Civil War and her family’s visits to Kissimmee. The author includes stories about her grandparents, her uncles and Mommaw and Poppaw Greene or A.E. as she thought of him. She tells about a short trip to an empty house, which he hoped to purchase one day. Describing the trip can give you claustrophobia as they all packed into one car and it seemed they barely had enough room to move. Then we learn more about them in school and we hear each voice in Chapter 12 as more letters are shared but this time from Bobby.


The stories are strong and the times are difficult, reliving the war, their history and the hopes that their family would somehow survive.


With amazing and descriptive accounts of her real life history, her maternal and paternal families, where they began and where they wind up the time span covers many decades and the letters focus on the years of the Great Depression and the start of WWII. Born during the Second World War she experienced what many only read about in history books and related her experiences first hand. As the story flashes forward to when her parents and how they met. Chapter 14 the author shares more letters we learn about Bussy’s poor health, the letters to family and friends and the ones shared are to a friend, to his mother and from his father. The voices are so loud that you can almost see and hear them as they write the letters sitting at a table or desk and hear their every word as you read it and share their inner most thoughts. But, the truth about the war hits hard in Chapter 16 as Bob remains in active military service with letters coming from Africa where he was fighting against the German General Rommel and sharing his observations and the places he sees. Bob was handsome and looked like a Hollywood movie star and seemed to fit the image of a German soldier as he goes to war for America. In chapter 18 the author shares her story, her weaknesses and the way she was able to compensate. Loving to draw pictures she shares with the reader the many created, the photos she took and the many albums she created of her family history.


A mosaic picture of a two families and how their lives intertwined and they shared their personal letters or you might say diary with us in this outstanding novel that will keep you riveted to the printed page until you find out where they wind up and what might be next. At times you would think that there were special angels watching over each one of these special people in their own way and the way they cared for each other is more than just heartfelt you can feel it in every word as the author remembers her past and shares it with us in the present.


In the last few chapters we learn more about our author, her learning difficulties and successes and her excitement to be the one to announce breakfast when learning to speak in complete sentences. But, when she describes how she kept vigil in her dying aunt the account reminded me of doing the same last year for watching my sister leave this physical world and it really brought tears to my eyes. Many deaths, sadness and the loss of so many she cared for as the remainder of Chapter 20 shares more letters. The final chapter or what she shares you will have to read for yourself as she brings the story into 2007, the death of her mother and rest read Guardians and Other Angels and if you are like me you will read it in one day. I could not put it down. Thank you for sharing your past in the present.


Fran Lewis: reviewer








The Trouble in Tall Tree: My Review

Little Trouble in Tall Tree


Author: Michael Fertik



Imagine a group of infants living in a small quiet community deciding to take on the world of Tall Tree. Believe it or not there are gangs that are older and dangerous but this town is riddled with several that are more notorious, clever and definitely cunning. They are the Gangsters known as Squeeze the Cheeks and his archenemy Harry the Rash. Harry is very dangerous and he runs his gang with an iron rattle and definitely tough attitude. Harry the Rash is the head of the most dangerous gang: Poopypants and he is after Squeezy’s territory. However, Squeezy will not go down without a real fight and he enlists the star of our book Mama’s Boy to help him with taking back the sea of power from Harry the Rash and giving to his gang, The North Wood gang. Just how would he do this and why did he need Mama’s Boy’s help. Well you see our young man has some great moves and he used them when he was in dire need in the bank. With a soggy diaper, wet clothes and the need to be changed our Mama’s Boy used his strategic ability to divert his mother’s attention from banking business, stir up the patrons and definitely make himself known.

What was he planning? You just won’t believe it. How about trying to heist the Zero Day Breastfeeding Milk Supply from the Master Class. There are different strains of this great product as some mothers are in full production, some just trying out their new found technique and others spilling colostrums. This looked to be big business and would put this gang on top and their milk supply plentiful. But, how would this all play out?


First, we need to meet our guy at story time where he meets a hot red head that is in need of protection. So, just how would this heist work we meet Squeezy, Maggie and the gang his gang as he discusses the floor plan or blueprint of the Zero Day Maternity Store the mark in question. Even Squeezy has a main squeeze; you might say that is hot Maggie the Moll. As Squeezy tells all of the gang babies where and when they have to be on Saturday to get this done and how they will manage to extract the milk from the fridge. Now, all they have to do when the milk is stored is create some kind of diversion so that Soggy and Squeezy can get into the pantry and steal the milk from the mini-fridge. But, what would happen if they got caught? There is no room for mistakes, gurgles, burbs or any noises or movements that would ruin the operation. This mission people is crucial to the North Wood baby gang and author Michael Fertik, Soggy and Squeezy want to make sure that you the reader understand just how important this is, that you are reading and understanding every word that is written and that if you can’t read you can at least understand what is at stake and the story from looking at the great colorful illustrations. But, what happens next will either make you nauseous, crack up or hope that they go to the store and buy the cans or the formula rather than go through all of this trouble.


Story Time, Johnston Park and the Kids’ Zoo seemed to be where they met, had their gourmet baby food lunch of sweet potato vs. squash mash and hoped that their diapers would stay dry, but the babies were on edge, excited and you know what happens when little kids are hyped up But, let’s remember that the other gang members were there too and Soggy was there with his mom and several others named Ninja Spit whose drool was really more noticeable and yuggy for my taste. Poor Mama’s Boy had a more serious problem just take a whiff and you will understand!


Story Time seemed to be when everyone deliberated what the plan was, listened to one of my favorite books The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and new members were recruited in the gang. Daisy, the new girl that he liked was talking to Jamie the new guy and this bothered our baby boy. Imagine jealousy and boy wars before the age of five. But sometimes things get too much, you get overheated and the end result well you guessed it all over the kid in front of him. Let’s not forget Daisy the poor baby girl that is being harassed and stalked. This little fox really made him smile and he was going to help her out no matter what.


But, when you read Chapter 6 and realize that our Squeezy must have been in the military because he is ready, prepared and has the ear of his baby gang members, you realize that this is war!



Will these guys be afraid or will they succeed? What could stand in their way of getting the milk load? Arriving at Zero Day early and realizing that in order to make his mark in this gang he need strategy and smarts, our young baby gangster had the look of worry and fear on his face. What was the problem? Gang members in place: Sammy the Whine dealing with the infant supplement jars, Ninja Spit drooling, Squeezy their leader checking things out and let’s not forget Maggie the Moll was singing one note on the xylophone while Soggy the Load was bent over by the Shape Sorter. Not too bright but nonetheless there. Then, just when things were getting started Daisy cries out for help and who was she afraid of? Well! I can’t tell you that because I promised both gangs that I would keep some of their secrets and not tell their mothers what they were up to if they promised to not hurt anyone, behave as best as possible and definitely try and stay dry. But, will he go after the baby she was afraid of; will he help protect his turf from the other gang that was also there? Would the Poopypants Gang win the war? Will his gang they take a big hit just when his gang’s plan was about to unfold? But what happens is right out of a Laurel and Hardy movie, Abbot and Costello sketch or just maybe an episode of Lucy and Ethel. Imagine one gang going after the milk and the bottles, someone screaming and whining, another throwing a temper tantrum and poor Mama’s Boy with a fresh load. Just when you think it cannot get worse you have to see what happens when he’s under extreme pressure.


What happens at the end you have to read for yourself as one group of infants take on a really tough group of infant gangsters and what happens you have to read for yourself, look at the end result in the great pictures and illustrations and realize that some kids are smart, great planners, can execute things down to a T and of course prove to adults that kids can do anything they set their minds too. Of course: which gang wins and is stealing right? What lessons can be learned quite a few? As our young Mama’s boy learns the art of teamwork, cooperation and humility as well as that this is just the beginning of his career as a gang member in the first of the Baby Noir Mysteries by author Michael Fertik. Wait until you find out what their next caper is!




Fran Lewis: Reviewer  








The Angry Woman Suite: My review

The Angry Woman Suite: Lee Fullbright


The struggle to live your life and not be criticized, ridiculed and distance by others is often difficult for many people. Some are accepted unconditionally and others work hard at just receiving a simple hug from someone that is supposed to care and protect them. The three voices that you will hear throughout this novel are struggling for survival but not the same in each case. Elyse is the first voice and whose story the author shares as we learn about her early life, her close connection with her grandfather and the fear, turmoil and constant upheavals that marked her young life from the beginning. Growing up with loving grandparents, a mother whose past was quite different and who married a man who was anything but nurturing to her two small children, Elyse learned from the start that life did not hand her a clean and smooth deck. Her real father not in the picture yet wishing he was a stepfather whose personality was unpredictable, violent, abusive and cruel at times, we meet her in 1955 when her life was turned upside down when her family had to move away from her grandparents and her hope to return, Elyse lives her life in fear and hopes to protect not only herself from the whims of her stepfather and even her mother but hopefully her younger sister, Bean too. Each time she thought she made one step in the right direction she was pushed, shoved, beaten and hit many steps behind.


Francis is her stepfather who her mother demands she call Daddy. But, this father figure is not anyone you should want your child to emulate. The fighting the ensued between her mother and Francis was frightening and the hopes that she would protect her mother futile. The abuse the author describes from the onset is frightening, beyond tormenting a little child and claiming it did it out of love, but to him it was all a game.


The connection to her family was great to Elyse and when her Aunt Rose comes to visit she was thrilled. Telling her how unhappy they were without her made her feels better as the author introduces us to two other voices, that of Francis and Aiden. Elyse is quite perceptive in her description of Aiden and thinking that not only was she sizing him up but he was doing to the same to her. As the chapter closes we learn more about Aiden and his perception of Francis and the harsh realization that there was much more that we have yet to learn as it is revealed that there is a mysterious journal that will tell us more about the man named Francis.


We flashback to 1933 where we meet Francis for the first time in school and we realize early on that he is an angry young man and not someone that you can trust. Francis was disturbed, mean and always blaming others for his misfortune as we learn about his first day in school, his unusual relationship with his aunts, his true feelings about Elyse and the fact that he blames everyone for his misfortune. Born in 1928 and coming from a family that is anything but one cohesive group, he proves to the reader to be more than just a dominant voice in this story but a man whose tantrums come all too often, whose hate for his stepdaughter is apparent and without cause and his desire to be a success quite strong. With the help of our third voice, Aiden, born in 1880, we learn that he is a bandleader, curator at a museum and that’s when we learn about the paintings by Matthew Watterson. Throughout the novel the three voices intermingle, their personalities become more distinct and the end result is that the novel spans many decades as we see each character’s growth, changes, strife and their many relationships. However, the time spans vary and some move ahead and at other times they move backwards making sure that the reader knows the back-story of each character to better understand them in the present.





As we get to know Francis in depth we learn about his growing relationship with Aidan, his love of music and how he became involved in playing in his band and playing the piano. We also learn more about the abuse that he took at the hand of Lothian, the fears he faced everyone she was near, the fact that no one seemed to do anything about it and the anger that pent up within in all surround Francis and what finally breaks him. Trying to create a way to fix women who seem to be broken, the fact that he idolized Aidan and the harsh truth about his mother that would send him in a direction he did not expect. Added in we learn more about Matthew Waterson and Jamie Waterson and their connection to a journal that would reveal more than some harsh realities about his mother and her relationship with Aiden.


Next we fast forward again to Elyse and we hear her voice coming through loud and clear once again. As she relates how important it is to talk the truth which is one of his favorite things in the world added in are the amazing German expressions that allows the reader to get to know the man she loves and calls Papa and brings back some familiar expressions.


Creating illusions an artist can paint images, pictures, scenes and stories within his canvas that he wants to world to see through his eyes. A musician’s touch on a violin or the gentle touch on the keys of a baby grand can send the listener off into another world filled with sounds, music, joy and love. Aidan recounts for the reader his early life, becoming a schoolmaster and taking care of his mother. He allows us to learn about his relationships with the Grayson family and his need to protect Magdalene. Her unusual flavor and flare for life is explained in his own words and the odd group of other members in her family will add interest to this intricately weaved story.


Meet Lear and Elizabeth who have secrets of their own and we have yet to learn more about Jamie and Matthew Waterson and the faces within the Angry Suite Portraits. Stella and Lothian are quite unique in their appearances and their behaviors and behind it all we might as her Elyse’s Papa states learn the truth. But, remember you tell just so much but never tell an outright lie and you should not be insulting or manipulate to get your point across. Interesting philosophy!





Throughout the remainder of the chapter we hear Aidan’s voice telling about the Grayson family and it concludes with information about Lear, understanding that not everything is what is seems and truths will come out but remain to be seen. Lear is complicated and there is definitely a hidden mystery we have not yet come upon.  We hear more about Magdalene her relationship with Frederick Forsythe and his true feelings about her, which he states she “is evil and manufactures crisis.” The remained of the chapter will enlighten the reader further into this family’s dynamics. Next we refocus and Elyse and her relationship with her mother, which does not seem warm and the rest centers on her family’s perception of her and their feelings.


As Francis comes front and center, the fact that Lothian is out to get him for what he did to her and his feelings for Elena we learn about his compulsions, his desires and the mystery journal that Aidan wrote and hopefully Francis was reading. What is revealed is quite startling and will definitely shed some new light on many of the relationships within both families.


Francis became an overnight sensation and his life changed, as did his relationship with Elena become closer. Next we meet Stephen Eric who is Elyse’s real father and we learn more about him when we hear Francis’s voice. But, things would not always remain solid for him, as the journal would create a rift in his family and Elyse, as Francis states would use it against him. His perception and feelings about her are negative and his treatment harsh. As we learn more about the title of this complex novel The Angry Suite, the face within each canvas and the hidden secret of the person who posed for all of them. Within the paintings is a hidden truth and within the Waterson family a startling and harsh reality that Aiden learns but finds hard to belief.


Where will these paintings wind up and what will be the final chord played or the final pallet painted that will reveal the truth behind the faces in the Angry Suite? What is the connection to Leah Grayson? What other secrets will be revealed about Magdalene and why does this family find reason to hate? How does Francis feel about his real birthright and what will he do next? Moving years ahead to Elyse’s family moving back to her Papa’s house, Francis’s behavior, Grandmother Magdalene and her perceptions about her and whether she should confide in her Papa about the abuse she takes at the hand of the man she calls Daddy.


The hidden truth behind the Suite comes to light and where the paintings really were will surprise the reader and where they are now even more. Just who was the model, what did they want to do with the paintings, what is the fate of Jamie and the rest, you will have to solve that mystery on your own when you read this novel.


An ending so powerful and truths so startling you will not believe just who was behind the deceits, betrayals and illusions that many believed. Author Lee Fulbright takes us inside the minds of three major characters and allows us to get a real close up of the others too. Just who started the fire, what really happened to Jamie, what will the final family portrait look like? Read The Angry Woman Suite and remember: The truth is what you want to belief and sometimes what others impart. Read what Francis says at the end to learn even more.


One heartbreaking novel filled with so many unhappy characters whose personalities are so strong, different and one voice that remains constant: Elyse.
Fran Lewis: reviewer

Political Suicide: Michael Palmer

Political Suicide: Michael Palmer


Imagine being arrested for a murder that you might have witnessed but not sure whether you committed. Imagine drinking to the extent that you black out by the alcohol intake and you long term memory is impaired and your inability to recall the past or an event creates more than just amnesia but confusion and difficulty remembering the event in this case murder after it happened. What would happen if this happened if you were found unconscious in your car that was wrecked in an accident? What if you paid a visit to a patient and the patient was a powerful Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and this same Chairman was found dead in the same garage that you car was in and where your unconscious body was found? Dr. Lou Welcome receives a call from Dr. Gary McHugh one that would cause him to end a conversation about his own career and rush to his friend’s house. Dr. Lou Welcome is a recovering alcoholic and now works at Physicians Wellness and helps doctors regain their medical licenses. Some of the doctor’s clients are recovering from not just alcohol abuse but some from substance or drug abuse, mental illnesses or behavioral problems. While Lou is concerned about his lack of clients and the fact that the head of the facility seems to be sending clients in a different direction other than his, when confronting him he learns about his friend’s problem and what he finds out when he arrives there will definitely give him more than just pause for thought.


As we learn more about his relationship with the Congressman’s wife we also learn more about his relationship with his own. Cold, without any feelings emanating Missy McHugh enters, speaks and then leaves. As we meet Sarah Cooper the attorney that will handle his case and the clash between Lou and Sarah is evident from the start and her resentment quite apparent.


Hidden with this plot is a second one that deals with a unit in the military called Mantis. Mantis is the most decorated unit in the military and hundreds of marines want to be part of that unit and even more an operation that they are hoping to be qualified for after the many tests required to see which men would be selected for Operation Talon and two in particular Staff Sergeants Bucky Townsend and Fenton Morales would do anything to make sure they qualified. Would you go through a rigorous test, climbs obstacles and chance being shot at with live ammunition? What if you did all of this and did not get accepted? What happens if you are? How does this connect to the murder still remains to be seen?


Emily Welcome is a teen that has a definite mind of her own. Boxing is what she wants to take up and entering the gym where her father works out is just the beginning. Getting to know Emily the author brings to light what happens when divorce is in the picture, step parents are not that receptive to the other children and one teen struggles with where she wants to be.  How this is handled is quite clever, as you will learn when you meet Diversity. The rest you will have to read for yourself.


We meet more of the players at the funeral for the Congressman. Detective Christopher Bryzinski’s back-story is revealed and we learn more his feelings about funerals and the fact that he was there for one purpose. Taking pictures of those attending the funeral seemed like a waste of time to him when they thought they had the killer, namely Gary McHugh. But, the real story was not only the murder but also the affair Gary was having with the late Congressman’s wife. So, why when Lou meets with the Congressman’s wife does she think Gary killed him and what strategy would his legal team use to get him off? Why didn’t the police want to look any further than Gary? What if they missed something? What if his wife shot him? What about the ballistics data and would they come into play? Their job was just to supply any form of reasonable doubt to get him off. But, did they care if he was really innocent? When approaching Sarah who is supposed to be the lead counsel the senior partner is concerned about her ability to defend a doctor. We hear her inner most thoughts about Lou Welcome and the reader wonders if keeping her on the case is showing sound judgment.


Lou’s investigation seems to be heading in more a direct direction than the legal team’s or even the police. As he checks the garage where the body was found and then the Congressman’s office he uncovers something that just might tip the hands of justice or in this case injustice. But, what he uncovers on a CD will explain the link between the Mantis Unit and the Congressman. The Congressman’s son was killed in Afghanistan saving the lives of other marines. The Mantis Unit is the most powerful and toughest unit whose budget is being cut and whose manpower and weaponry are being cut. So, what is the message that was being sent to him by the Colonel in charge of the Unit? Just who are the Palace Guards and what happens when you go against what the head of Mantis wants?







Then we learn more about the Congressman, his relationship with the Secretary of Defense and the pressure being placed on one detective to make sure the Secretary is apprised of everything related to the Congressman’s murder. But, when Lou hands the police a solid piece of evidence and Gary’s lawyer learns about it what happens will or should surprise the reader and definitely make you wonder whose side everyone is on.


Cover-ups, deceit, lies and deceptions are just part of what’s attached to this murder and who’s behind it still remains to be seen. But sometimes we get too close to the truth and things take a different turn as Lou tries to help find the real killer, finds the police stonewalling him at every turn, the evidence he gives them purposely lost, and his apartment ransacked. Lou is persistent and will not give into to fear or pressure as the relates to the late Congressman’s wife the truth behind his first visit, what he found and the help he needs in order to exonerate a friend.


As the pieces in this tightly fit chain begin to solder together we learn more about the Congressman’s cutbacks, the pressure put upon him by the Mantis Unit and the message delivered to make him reconsider his decisions. When approaching Mark Colston’s best friend to find out more about the Mantis Unit and the Palace Guards the response he gets is anything but what he expected. How far will these men go to protect their unit? What happens when Lou meets with this man will he get the truth or will he become the next casualty? Just who can he trust? Even his boss Filstrap is weary of McHugh and although most people think it is innocent until proven guilty in this case the opposite seems to hold true. As Lou meets with someone named Papa Steve we learn more about Wyatt Brody, the Palace Guards and just how dangerous this man is and the studies that he conducted in neurochemistry. But, the meeting with Papa Steve was informative and his reasons for wanting to get Brody revealed as we meet Sarah next hoping to find out more about the connection to the murder and the robbery at Reddy Creek. Added in is the murder of Hector Rodriquez one of the members of Mantis who got too close for his own good.


When Lou decides to follow the major players involved what he learns clarifies why the Congressman was killed, who wanted him out of the way and what the trade offs with a drug cartel were. Then, the hidden truth behind the Mantis Unit is revealed and their mission: Operation Talon explained. This will not only give you chills and when you learn more from his discussion with Sarah you will find out about the link to what they have been creating for the soldiers related to his research and fear plus the extra added thing they are trading. No money changes hands but the two things exchanged are quite deadly. But, when the links start forming in a chain of sequential events where it leads is quite compelling. Just how high up in the government this goes you won’t believe. What is significant about the drugs for arms trade you won’t believe? Who killed the Congressman and who killed someone close to a reporter trying to investigate what happened at Reddy Creek?

An ending that is so explosive only author Michael Palmer can deliver it. Operation Talon just what is the rationale behind it? Whose career will go up in gun smoke if it’s stopped? What happens when two military men come face to face with one lawyer and one reporter that will stop at nothing to clear one man, get justice for many who were killed and stop a mission that would cost more than just many lives? Just whose political careers just might end and where will the final shots be fired? Political Suicide: in more ways than one. Deceptions, deceits, cover ups, terrorist plots, powerful drugs and arms at the root of one man’s desire to protect Americans. What will happen if Operation Talon succeeds? Find out when you read the surprise ending and learn who killed the Congressman, why and the final truth behind the most powerful conspiracy.  Dr. Lou Welcome is one man you definitely want for a friend and whose determination, honesty and creative ways of handling difficult situations make him a character you hope Michael Palmer brings back in his next novel.

Fran Lewis: reviewer



Lullaby: My review


Lullaby: Amanda Hocking


The bond between sisters is often so great that some can complete the sentences of the other even before the words come out. But, what happens when one sister is captured and her family threatened if she does not go along with her captors? How far will Harper go to find Gemma and return her to her family? How many risks will be taken and how many lives will be in danger? Can you hear the song of the sirens if you do they might wind up dead? But, before all is said and done only one song will be heard.


Gemma has no choice but to go with the sirens and adhere to their way of life. We meet her as she interacts with Thea, expresses her feelings about her condition, cannot seem to eat and the starkness of the house where she is being kept is almost as bare and stark as her new life. Each siren more evil and cunning than the next as Gemma is recruited by these three unusual figures that can transform into other shapes.  Penn, Lexi and Thea are the three sirens, violent, evil and dangerous and Gemma needs to become one of them. But, can she? The second in the Watersong Trilogy, we also meet Harper her sister, Daniel the man she seems torn about and Alex, Gemma’s boyfriend who is devastated about her disappearance but figures out where she might be.


As the author enlightens readers as to how Gemma came to be a siren we learn the affect it has on her body and why she’s fighting them. Unable to eat and hold down food, fearful that she won’t return home, her body has become part mythical creature and part mermaid. The song of the siren keeps her focused on their agenda and learning how and why she was chosen chilling. While her sister Harper, Daniel and Alex search for her add Facebook pages and hopefully get some hits and help, the history behind the sirens why one was killed and their goals are revealed.


We meet Alex, Gemma’s boyfriend who stands guard on her house and will not leave until he finds her. Daniel who has feelings for Harper but pushes him away because of her search for her sister, yet he does not give up. With Daniel’s help and guidance Harper finally opens up and tells him what she feeling and allows him to help find Gemma.


Gemma is miserable only leaving and going with the sirens because they threatened to harm her family. Three evil and wicked sirens can Gemma stand up to them or will she permanently change? The reason for her change and why they took her was for their own selfish purposes and the key was to find another siren before the next full moon. Her new body awkward at times having scales and not legs, dealing with Penn, Lexi and Thea Gemma had to find a reason to stay alive and remain that way. How far will Gemma go to protect the people she loves?


The author allows the reader to hear both Harper and Gemma’s innermost voices, concerns, fears and apprehensions. But, will both Alex and Daniel be able to help find Gemma and what can they do that Harper cannot? Enter Marcy, who works with Harper in the library and who covers for her so she can find her sister. But, each time we see Gemma she is tormented by Penn and the other sirens that her body begins to fall apart and if she does not swim and revitalize herself she and the rest will die. There is much more as Gemma tries to bond with Sawyer who at first seems naïve about his relationship with Penn but knows that she cast a spell on him causing him to react to her the way he does and submit to her every command. Imagine being turned, unwillingly into a siren, which according or our author is a mermaid that can enchant people with their voices, usually men. The song of the siren is quite powerful. As Harper, Daniel and Alex search for Gemma and we learn more about Nathanlie their mother who suffers for TBI yet seems aware that Gemma is missing. Knowing that these sirens are monsters and evil would Gemma do their bidding or will she stay true to who she is and rebel?


Choices are decisions we make and have to live with the good and bad of them. The consequences that we endure as a result of poor decision making will become part of what we deal with as Gemma relates to the reader in Chapter 12 telling us that she has made the choice to join the sirens, spend her life with them and needs to deal with it. Leaving behind her family, friends and boyfriend for their own protection was more than just a small sacrifice. Joining the sirens in watching a movie, swimming and spending her day with them would create conflicts within her for Sawyer as she too seemed drawn in by him. Realizing that she could no longer restrain herself she decides to take his car and blow off some steam. But, what would be her next step and will she ever return home as Harper and Daniel clean Bernie’s house after the funeral and his murder.


But, Gemma needs her space and what happens will place within the realm of the sirens as she meets an overbearing man in a restaurant and takes action when he follows her and becomes more of a siren than she would like. Not remembering the entire incident but the end result killing someone Gemma’s life would never be the same. Would this bond her with the sirens and what about Penn’s attitude towards her?


As you come to know Gemma even more you realize that she’s concerned about her actions, what is going to happen to her next. But, sometimes bad choices might bring unexpected results as Daniel makes a strong connection between the sirens and the murders of young boys and just might figure our where Gemma is and bring her back home. What happens next will surprise the reader and let you know that Harper will stop at nothing to protect her sister but what about the sirens and what will they do when they realize that she’s missing?


When the sirens come face to face with Harper, Daniel, Alex and Gemma what happens will surprise you, the twists and the turn plus the surprise ending will definitely make you want to read Tidal the next in the trilogy. Just what does Penn have in mind for Gemma? Will she figure out what went wrong and decide to destroy more people? Will Gemma’s family ever be safe from the sirens? How far or how much will she sacrifice to keep the people she loves safe from harm? What happens to Sawyer and what does Lexi try to do to Gemma?


Sisters forever and some will go more than that extra mile is one issue brought to light in this novel. Friendships, loyalties, caring and the love of two sisters just might outfox the sounds and music of the deadly sirens. Author Amanda Hocking once again pens a novel that keeps the reader glued to the printed page, wearing earplugs so you don’t hear the songs being sung, and hoping that someone will finally short circuit the songs of the sirens. Some lullabies can be deadly and others you just need to tune out.


Fran Lewis: Reviewer



Background Noise

Background Noise.

The Oleanders of San Leon

The Oleanders of San Leon


Author: Andy Upchurch



Did you ever think you would build your own house even though you have absolutely no skills in architecture or building? One determined man named Andy Upchurch shares his exciting experience with readers from start to finish as he takes us through the process of building his own house. An oleander is a flowering bush the author writes and you will find them in a rural area named San Leon. So, the author decided to use this flower as the name of his house that yes, you guessed it, that he built in San Leon. Explaining to the reader how you clear the path, mow the area and deal with the mosquitoes, you learn how he began his long project. But, first he allows the reader to get to know Andy the person by telling us about his childhood, his love for the piano, music, wind and the water. Practicing the piano was something he did but like any kid he would rather be outside. But, the piano would bring him more than just the ability to be part of music programs in school it would provide an outlet for him to have fun, make money and even create his own band. The second think that shaped his life is the wind. HE loved sailing and the water. In college he sailed with friends he loved sailing around the waters in Dallas and the fund they had was priceless. His music career was off to a great start and he was playing 12 to 14 times a week and saving money. But, a harsh reality set in and he realized that he needed a job where he could earn a real salary and make something of himself and have some stability. Why not a new career in software development and off to business school? With his feet firmly on solid ground his decision made but his love of the water equally as great he entered business school and bought a boat. Creating his own band at the Hoagie Ranch boosted his music career. Living on a boat which he named the Manana and just how he manages to live in a confined space on this boat you will have to learn when you read pages 37-40. The story continues with the author moving to Texas and describing his relationship with his boat and living on the water. Continuing with learning the rules of safety he even buys a Jet Ski, which he uses for fishing and exploring different places that a sailboat was too shallow for. But, before he tells us about how he built his house he continues with more adventures that you need to read for yourself and then shares how he lived on the boat for five years. When he realized he needed more room is when he began drawing his new home on paper. He wanted the house to have one large room to have multiple purposes. How about an all in one living room, bedroom, kitchen and enclosed bathroom. The way he describes it in detail on pages 64-65 and then he explains that you might say this is his practice house. Then, he would build a bigger one. But, once again he flashes back to his college years and his trip to Bermuda and seeing Chuck Berry and actually playing on stage with his band with Chuck Berry. Now, that must have been quite an honor and definitely quite exciting. Taking care of the cottage was first and then how do you build a house?


Persistent and definitely on a mission to get the job started and done the author meets with several bankers, is turned down by some and then receives an acceptance and is ready to move on with his project. Architect chosen, materials needed, and the land needing to be cleared he decided to settle in San Leon. Listen to his inner most thoughts and words as he beings clearing the land, his lawn mower at the heart of the project and hoping that the large amount of trees and jungle would begin to disappear. But, next time bring the Calamine lotion with you and put on bug repellent to avoid those nasty mosquitoes. The challenge was clearing all of the oleander bushes and just how he does it you can read on pages 96- 100. Forming his own construction company helped to organize him and allowed him to see where he needed to improve and where he might need some help. Realizing he formed the company to build his two houses he would offer: services in plumbing, roofing, landscaping, electric and much more. As you read Chapters 7-9 you can feel his excitement, the progress can be noted in the illustrations and the additional help he received from Chris and his carpenter named Gilberto.


Next, he tells how he went shopping for showers fully loaded with an MP3 player and sound system and much more. But, loan officers have no sense of human and he would lose the money and the loan if he did not complete the house on time. But, in the spirit of a true loan officer she wished him luck but hoped he’d finish in time before losing what he started and damaging his credit. The author really enjoys fishing and being on the water and you can enjoy his trips too when you read chapter 13 but let’s find out what caused his color conniptions in Chapter 14. As he contemplates the finishes, the wood and the many different colors and textures for the walls, and more. With the help of several other men he just might get it all done and in time. So, how does this all come together and does he finish on time? Wait until you see the kitchen and bathroom on pages 249-250. You won’t believe what this novice was able to accomplish. A checklist of all that needed to be done and the rest read the press release on page 259 and decide if you would have liked to have been invited to the party. The Oleanders of San Leon to learn just how this house turned out and what he was able to accomplish you need to read Chapter 16. But, Hurricane Ike struck the Oleanders and everyone in its vicinity and how he and his family handled what happened will remind you of what we just went through last week with Hurricane Sandy. The rebuilding and the rest you need to read and you have to give this author tons of respect and credit for wanting to accomplish something that most would have given up on at the first turn. Read the appendix and learn about the Flora and Fauna and learn about the mystery that comes with his house. Mistakes were made, measurements were off but one thing that held fast was his spirit of adventure and his determination to get it done.

Fran Lewis: reviewer