Outstanding Memoir

White Sails Become Me:  Memoirs of A Seafaring Heritage

Author: Nicholas Starace II

Legacies get passed down in many different ways. Some in the form of antiques, letters, money or anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor. Close your eyes, listen to the wind blow, feel the breeze and the smell of the salty air: Journey me as we take a journey along with our author as he takes us to the many places around the world. His legacy, his passion for the sea, creating model ships and his maritime career are all part of his heritage and legacy that he is passing down to his family and now his readers. Welcome aboard and enjoy the seafaring journey as author Nicholas Starace II, invites you into his life.

Sharing his life, his memories and his beginnings with the reader and describing his feelings towards his father, grandfather and his upbringing that made him the strong-minded, hardworking, humble man he is today.

The story begins with an incident that would frighten and dissuade many from flying. Terrorism is not new to us. It has been around for more years than we care to think. Planes are hijacked, bombed and towns are fire bombed and cars are blown up all over the world. Every time you go overseas, or even to a shopping mall you take the chance of coming in contact with such horrors. Our author reminds us at the start of his memoir of an incident that would forever change his perspective on life, his marriage and his goals. Pan American Flight 80 was bombed as he sat just a few rows ahead of the man who did it. A man who thought nothing of putting explosives under the seat of a young Japanese child and killing him and injuring so many others. But, with all of the snags on our justice system it took forever to sentence him. Even more frightening is this same man will be released in a little over two years and deported hopefully not going to try and do this again.

Memoirs always start at the beginning so let’s take a journey back in time with our author and see where his life began and learn where it started and how he came to the present.

It all begins in Brooklyn and his life growing up getting to see the Dodgers play, Jackie Robinson and my favorite place to go every Sunday, Coney Island. I never saw Luna Park because that is before my time, but I loved the boardwalk, play miniature golf and watching my sister and mom go on the rides. I love and still love Coney Island as the author describes his memories there I smile and think about mine. He moves on to tell how he became so interested in a maritime career and the many disappointments along the way. Parents often preprogram their children with what they expect of them as a person, respect, honesty and hard work, plus what they want them to be. I should know since my mom chose my career when I was four and I never regretted it.

Being doctor was what his father wanted for our author, but sailing the seas and learning how to man ships, tankers and more was his dream and heart’s desire. Finally entering the right school and going on many journeys, the reader enters the world of travel and learns the many hardships, dangers and exciting experiences he endured until her finally graduated and fulfill his dream. Encouraged at a young age by his grandfather, Nicholas learns how to create and build ships by hand and the power of the sea.

The author recounts many experiences away from home on different ships and his love of England and living in the United Kingdom. Each event described every journey he takes on each ship allows the reader to understand more fully his love of the sea, maritime work and why serving our country in the navy was so vital to who this man became. Yet, some things remain the same and others change as the months apart put some strains on his marriage. Ronnie became the head of the household and took on more responsibilities for running her family than most women would. As the author and his family return from the life in England you can feel the strain on him and his desire to reunite with the sea and his uneasiness with life as it presented itself.

Traveling to the four corners of the world and back many times you can feel the excitement in the author’s voice as he undertakes each new job, every new opportunity and learns the secrets of each foreign country and enjoys engulfs himself and his family in their history and culture. Families need more than luxuries, wealth and important jobs, They need understanding, quality time spent together understanding of each others needs and differences which was definitely lacking in many instances involving the author and his relationship with his wife and his son Nicky. Many tragedies befell this family starting with a slow deterioration of his 34-year marriage to Ronnie when circumstances and instances that could not be rectified ended in their getting a divorce. But, no loss is greater than losing a child. His eldest son Nicky dies at age twenty- six after living with schizophrenia since the age of 14. Understanding the author’s mindset and his life awakening tragedies you need to read for yourself in order to understand how he comes full circle with a true understanding of how precious life is and what is really important. Too many losses follow that of his son and one that befalls him is a true turning point in his life as you experience the sadness, the frustrations of a man battling a deadly illness hoping to win.

From Normandy to the many sites he visited that reminded him of the many wars we fought and the countries that were involved, the people he meets and the tours he takes, the author realizes that life is too precious and he would rethink his priorities and learn to live his life, volunteering, teaching his grandson’s how to make model ships and much more that life’s journey can offer.

Life sends us many messages when we least expect them. From his journeys around the world and return trips Japan, England and many other places that he holds dear the one that stands out for him is his visit to his mother’s home town and visiting her old oak tree and feeling her warmth and presence. Take the trip, visit the places, close your eyes and envision the detailed descriptions of war torn cities, countries and the majesty of the world and read this memoir of one man who definitely fulfilled his dreams in many ways. Seafaring naval officer, miniature ship creator, model, actor, award winner, volunteer and much more which would make his mother proud of what her son accomplished and his father’s words of praise. Read this informative and historically filled memoir and take the trip that I have already traveled along with author Nicholas Starace II Families are precious and life is too short to only focus on your career, your wants and your needs. The one thing I think the author learned and came full circle with is time. You can’t get it back was its gone. Dedicating his life to the maritime industry and proud of his accomplishments after graduating from Kings Point, he learns that there is still so much more to his life that is just as meaningful. Welcome to your beginning as life still holds even more for you: Nicholas Starace II.

This is a great memoir for anyone that enjoys reading about the sea, naval experiences and wants to relive the past and enjoy learning about the present.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer









The House by Anjuelle Floyd

The House

Author: Anjuelle Floyd

Divorce is final. Two people separate and decide what happens to their assets. Assets can include material things, houses, insurance polices and funds to care for their children and former spouse when all is said and done. Anna Manning has been waiting to finally her divorce from her husband Edward. The final meeting was amiable. The house they lived in was now hers and the papers were going to be finalized. Why was she suspicious of Edward’s change of heart? Why did he finally acquiesce and sign the papers? What was behind his change of mind? As you read my review of author Anjuelle Floyd’s outstanding and heartbreaking novel, The House, the answers to these and many other questions will be answered.

Many people measure their life’s worth by the material things they have and their value. People equate their status in a community by the cars they drive and the houses they live in. But, when tragedy strikes and your health is in jeopardy, all the treasures and jewels in the world cannot fix or pay for what you need in order to remain alive and live out your years in good health. One man and one woman who wanted the things we all do. One man who felt the way to provide for his wife and family was not with his time and presence but with a HOUSE= material things and a home that was truly just a shelter from the cold and not filled with love and warmth. So, why keep it and hold on to it?

Edward Manning was anything but a stellar husband. Frequently away on business trips, disregarding his marriage vows, he enjoyed the pleasures of other women while his wife Anna cared for and brought up their four children. Anna’s only desire and wish was to finalize their divorce, sell their home and move on with her life with another man. Inman really loves Anna and wants to create a new life for them. But, circumstances do not always allow you to get what you want; things happen that will change your life, and forgiveness and understanding come into play when you least expect them too.

Edward Manning has been dealt a bad hand. He has 6 months to live and is frustrated, angry and feels betrayed by his doctor. Unable to save his life and give him the time and years he so greatly desires, he pushed aside his words, disregards his wishes and lashes out at everyone in his wake. I really can’t blame him. Edward is no different from anyone who has been given the death sentence by a physician or has a family member given the same. I learned that doctors are not infallible; they definitely do not know everything. Most, if you are lucky can diagnose an illness; few can find a cure or fix the problem. Anna has a huge decision to make. After having her home signed over to her and her divorce papers signed, she rescinded having the house sold and tells her lawyer to forestall processing the final papers. Would you take care of a spouse that treated you poorly, was loved by his children, and sacrifice your own needs for a dying man? Author Anjuelle Floyd puts these questions to the test as we learn more about Anna and Edward and their past relationship and what will happen to both in the future.

The family drifting apart even further and many other tragedies added to this group of people with diverse attitude, personalities and opinions of their own. Added to this is the fact that Anna’s son David is married to someone out of his race and her daughter Serine seems torn between two men: both of different races. Anna is set in the middle of her daughter’s arrogance, feelings of neglect and disregard for her status in the family and her own personal conflicts dealing with Edward and the rest of her children. This makes for an intriguing and very eclectic plot. When Anna confides in her priest yet another perspective is given and things about herself, her true feelings are brought to light and now she must face many more emotional obstacles while caring for a husband who is dying but provided little or any emotional support for her in the past.

Edward was unfaithful to Anna throughout their marriage as her mother was to her father. Her children seem to follow in Edward’s image as Serine; the youngest is playing the same game with two men and her son’s wife with him. Edward spent his entire married life looking past what was in front of him, pretending to provide for his family, but money is not the only thing a wife needs. David, Theo, Anna all lacking the true love and commitment they signed on for when getting married. Trusting their spouses and having faith in their marriage was not in the cards for all three. Anna’s marriage turned into a mirror image of her parents. Millicent’s reasons for marry Theo the same as Anna’s for marrying Theo.  Heather has drifted away from David. Four children that are different yet the same. Two very self-absorbed and into their own needs and wants. Two learning life’s lessons from following in other ways. Mirrored lives and mirrored images that were clear in the glass before and cloudy and tarnished over the years. What will the final outcome be after Edward is gone? What will the final images that are seen in that huge mirror look like when all is said and done? What about Inman, the one person who truly cares for Anna? What about Serine? So many lives changes because of one man. So many lives torn apart by blaming one woman who just needed love, caring and her husband’s attention. Children do not always see things like adults too no matter what their age might be. David, Serine, Linda and Theo each had their own vision, thoughts and opinions about Anna, who needed to rebuild her own self=worth and self=esteem to continue to fight to become the person she needed to become.

Anna has spent her entire life seeking the acceptance of others. Her mother cold and distant never really accepted her or her marriage to Edward. Edward, a carbon copy of her mother and Millicent’s dad, concerned themselves with their own superficial needs, work devoid of any real family commitments. Anna learned the rules of hard knocks from her mother and how to deal with love and marriage be becoming cold, distant and unfeeling. Anna escaped her life with her parents by marrying Edward and Millicent by marrying Theo. How far can you run and escape the truth about people and not face the realities?

Surprises and twists to this plot that you will never forget. One man whose life created much unhappiness, uncertainty and distress to his wife and children. One man whose dying wishes will astound and surprise the reader. One man who felt that one house was his life, his legacy and more. A house is not a home unless the people in it love and care for each other. You cannot make a home with bricks and mortar alone.

To appease Anna or to compensate for his guilt he turns over his company to her, which she reluctantly accepts. Undergoing to scrutiny of the shareholders and investors Anna learns more than a lesson in business acumen. As the meeting gets out of her control in walks Inman and things begin to change. What follows is not unusual when shareholders and stockholders uncertain about the qualifications of the new President and hasty moves are made.

Boxes kept two men in business. Boxes that can be tightly shut and taped so that their contents will not spill out when delivered. As the tape wears off and the edges of the boxes fray eventually you retape it or get a new box. Edward Manning’s life frayed at the end and the glue that kept him together withered from use and the true meaning of his life came full circle upon his death. With a mother who had to invent ways to stay afloat and a husband who was not there for her, Edward became a mirror image of something who truly was not: cold, distant and hurting. He spent his entire life searching to find his mother and then back to Anna. Unfortunately, some things are too late for words. One man whose family was holding on for dear life as the edges of the box frayed and began to fall apart. Rediscovery is vital and Anna with the help of one man learns the true meaning of forgiveness, loyalty and understanding. Sometimes what we think we see is a veiled truth that hides are true selves from others in order put up a protective shield preventing us from getting hurt. Like a vaccine that allows us to become immune from a disease lives journey needs its shots, its shields and its hugs and love too.

Take this journey along with Anna and her family and find out the true meaning The House. Some people live life dealing with work, their accomplishments and alone. Others like Anna, David, Serine, Theo, and Linda learn the true meaning of life and family.

Misconceptions, secrets revealed, lies that unfold and misunderstandings and a family that needs to heal their unseen wounds that will bind them together and make them stronger. This is a heartfelt, heartbreaking and enlightening novel that brings to mind what happens when people don’t listen, when voices are not heard and the strength of one woman to bring it all together. What happens to this family you will have to read for yourself? What happens to Manning Ventures and Anna you will learn as you turn each page shed your tears and allow this family to come into your life and remain with you even after you turn the last page and read the last word.

This is a must read for everyone who wants to learn the true mean of The House and the value of it contents.

Fran Lewis: reviewer













Purple Heart Broken Heart by Carol Huff

Purple Heart Broken Heart

Author Carol Huff

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Decisions that we make will often change the course of events in our lives. In Purple Heart Broken Heart the author relates the story of her uncle Harold Huff whose decisions changed not only the course of events in his life but that of others too. Fighting for our freedom during WWII and deciding on his personal fate thereof, Harold Huff is not only a true American Hero but also a man of integrity. Our young adults today need to embrace the freedoms that are so readily afforded to them and the education they are afforded here in America. Read the story of Harold Huff and learn the meaning of family, patriotism and much more. I dedicate this review to the family of Harold Huff, his memory, his life and to our freedoms. I am proud to have been asked to review this book and I hope my review will honor his memory.

As a soldier if you are wounded the military often awards you a Purple Heart for being injured in action. But, Purple Hearts are not the only ones that people receive when hurt, broken ones can often be just as painful and leave the same everlasting scars as the wounds inflicted by an enemy. In this riveting novel based on many true events, author Carol Huff brings to light the effects that a war has on a country, families, people and the world as one man’s story is told and others that follow into a war that took many lives, but made one man stronger in both mind and spirit as Sergeant Ross Huphrine takes us into the trenches with the 79th division, its men, its officers and with Ross. This is his story: Purple Heart Broken Heart by author Carol Huff.

Each day as we open the newspapers we read about many young men who are killed on the battlefields of foreign countries helping to fight for the rights and freedoms of those that live in these far off places. Whether they are in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else, American soldiers, hold their heads up high and fight with pride and dignity.  The attack on Pearl Harbor pulled America into the war. The Japanese thought that they would win the war and leave us to lick our wounds. But, this is America and we are Americans and the soldiers that went overseas to fight against the many enemies that allied themselves with Japan soon learned just what American soldiers were made of and never to underestimate them or our leaders.

In a tribute to her uncle Ross, author Carol Huff takes the reader and the world back to a time when America had to fight for her freedom, where many young men left their wives, families and loved ones to fight for their country knowing full well they might never return. Ross Huphrine was one such brave man who enlisted in the army and fought his hardest to protect and defend his country and his fellow soldiers.

Author Carol Huff brings the reader right up to the front lines vividly describes each battle, the fate of those fighting and the fears within the hearts and minds of the men in the trenches and foxholes as one day ends and another begins.  Each battle, each battalion made up of young soldiers and a wonderful Captain that befriended Ross and respected his men, the reader becomes enmeshed and immersed in each battle, each setback, each victory and becomes endeared to each of the characters so brilliantly portrayed in this novel.

The research, the journals and stories and the events that are depicted bring back a time in history that students today need to remember and fully understand. As each battle is described the reader enters the pulse of the war and can visualize each regiment as they push forward to fight the enemy and suffer the losses and experience the victories bringing the war to an end. Reading the accounts of the battles reminds us of the newsreels and short documentaries that would precede the many movies we saw when we were younger.  My mom would tell me that instead of coming attractions there would be newsreels showing the war, the leaders, the President and the horrors faced by our soldiers. These descriptions and these accounts will help keep the memories of the war alive in the minds of all Americans and hopefully work to remind us that we are still at war and need to find an end to the fighting overseas.

Added to this is a wonderful love story between Ross and Freda. As Ross enters the war within six days he is injured and can no longer hold a gun. His right thumb is severely hurt and he requires many months of therapy and several surgeries to repair the damage. It is in the hospital in England that he meets Nedra and her husband as well as her best friend Freda. But, wars tear people apart. Ross delivers many messages of hope and doom when writing home to his family. Knowing that they are safe and keeps him inspired to move ahead. But, as with war there are many other casualties and his romance with Freda might just be another one.

Freda’s father would not allow her to marry him and move to America for personal reasons. Ross, loyal to his family, his country and this war, would not abandon either and went right back onto the battlefield to finish what he started. Ross and his division push to cross the Rhine. They invade Germany and conquer and question the Nazi enemy and more. As the war draws to a close and the men of the 79th, 314th, 313th and other divisions are about to go home, Ross and his men set up camps for the prisoners, detention centers for displaced people and interrogate the Germans and glad to have finally brought down that mad man Hitler and awaiting for a Japanese surrender so that everyone can return home.

As the war comes to a close and friendships change and others remain Ross returns home to his family with a broken and heavy heart. What will happen to his life now that he is home? Will the bonds and friendships he made during the war remain? A man that fostered allegiance to his country and would not stop until his unit won that final battle, helped create humane conditions for the prisoners and displaced people and knew that the time was right to start over, Ross Huphrine made his family, the world and his battalion proud.

With a family that embraces his return, but an empty hole in his heart that seems to forever fester with pain, Ross embarks on a life as a bachelor, son, brother, uncle and more in order to come to grips with the nightmares of the war and the split in his heart from leaving Freda behind.

Life does not always give you what you want. Ross lived his life wanting someone he knew he could never really have. With a closely-knit family and a love of the land, he passed on much of what he was taught to his nieces and nephews. What you have to admire is his loyalty to his friends and family. With friendships that would be lifelong, author Carol Huff brings the story of her uncle Harold Huff’s life full circle as the ending will surprise the reader and the realization of his past comes to light. What will Ross find when he returns to England with his army friends for a two week tour? What will finally give him the peace he so rightly deserves? Read this book and take the journey along with Ross, Freda, Nedra, his family and his army family to understand that some bonds will never be broken and the horrors of war never die in the minds of those that live it.

I can feel the tension, the fear of the men as they embark on each battle and I really can’t wait to see what happens next. My uncle fought in WWII and my dad was in the merchant marines. I understand the anguish and the heartache that families go through and feel until their loved one comes home. My nephew is fighting in Afghanistan and I worry every day. This book is a great tribute to Carol’s uncle and a reminder of what we went through as a nation during WWII.

This book is a must read for everyone that has someone fighting in the wars today or that wants to be reminded of what a great country we live in and how so many gave their lives and much more to protect our freedoms. We need more Harold Huff’s today to remind our young people how lucky they are to live in America,





I Know You By Heart

I Know you By Heart

By Linda Spear

Your family is gathered around your mother who is about to take her last breath and as she does she speaks the name of a man who is not her husband. In her eyes you can see the frustration and in her face the sadness and anguish as she calls this man’s name. Who is this man and what was his relationship to the mother of both Sarah and Tessa?

Andrea Fielding was 58 years old when she succumbed to cancer. With her family around her she closed her eyes but not before making a startling revelation to them in her own way. She spoke the name of a man named David, professing to those present, her feelings for this unknown man. A tightly knit family whose background is Jewish and whose ancestors came here from Poland, we learn much about Andrea’s youth and the hardships and difficulties both she and her mother endured with a father who was an alcoholic and mentally unstable due to the horrors he could not come to grips with in Poland. Many people that have lived through the nightmare of being in the camps whether in Poland or Germany often relive it in their dreams, their thoughts and fear that they will be sought after and returned at any time. Andrea’s father was one such man who changed his name, refused to tell his family his true identity and lived his life in fear of being deported something that would never happen. With a wife who did her best and a daughter who cared for him, when he finally died the circumstances surrounding his death were needless to say suspicious.

Sarah and Tessa are Andrea’s daughters who are total opposites in many ways. Both are married to amazing men, but Sarah seems more centered and more in control and able to handle difficult situations without shying away from responsibilities. It is after the funeral that we learn more about this family and Andrea’s sister, Cynthia who appears distant and Carly her closest friend who relates a story about Sarah at the funeral that seems out of place and inappropriate.

Sharing with the reader the past, her sister’s past and how they met their individual spouses helps to set the stage to understand the present. As Sarah sits at her mother’s computer she opens one folder that will forever change her life the one with email’s from the man whose named she called: David. Reading their emails and learning of their relationship causes the reader to have many questions about why their relationship did not last and what was the event that David alludes to that Andrea need to handle due the their breakup.
Everyone has one first love and hopes that it will last a lifetime. Some people think that person is their soul mate. Many times relationships between two people are manipulated and destroyed by others. What really happened between Andrea and David? Was Sarah ready for the truth? Understanding and reading Andrea’s words brings to light many parallels in the lives of so many people. What caused David and Andrea to part ways is not uncommon. What caused her to decide to find him and finally express how she felt about what happened and after their breakup will enlighten the reader and help you understand that this strong woman who endured enough as a child taking care of her father and dealing with a cold mother, had to deal with something similar again. Why should social class matter when two people love each other? Hard question, not really. There are many people who feel that education and intelligence does not make the person, money, social status and economic standing is the benchmarks for measuring a person’s worth. I disagree and I am sure that Sarah does too.

As the author reveals the truth about David and Andrea’s relationship and the one secret that infuriates her even more, she decides to contact him telling him of her mother’s death, the fact that she has read their emails and wants answers to many unanswered questions. David is a cardiologist who never had to worry where the money for medical school and his education would come from. Nor did he have to worry about the funds needed to begin his practice. How far would you go to get what you needed if it meant giving up the one person who you really cared for and loved?

As Sarah learns more about her mother’s relationship with David and reads their emails she learns more about the true man and what he lacks as a person and someone who skirted adversity and did not face his own truths. But, Sarah and her family would have to face and endure much more within the week of her mother’s passing. Relationships would change, family members would be betrayed, others would be angered when they learned and had to face certain truths.

A close friend who explains who shares her mother’s past with her. A man who would not stand up to his mother and fight for the woman he truly loved. Misunderstandings, a father’s need for love, two secrets that must never be revealed, two sisters that finally become best friends and learn to deal a parent’s death and a father’s love in their own way.

There are many events that the author recounts that really strike a loud chord with me. I truly understand how Andrea felt and how devastating it must have been to have to cope and deal with what David did to her in the past and realize that her unrequited love for him would never die, even in death.

Read this heartbreaking, true to life, heartfelt, and yes made me cry and use up two boxes of tissues before coming to the last page, novel and learn what happens when one true love is replaced with another.

Sarah and her husband Ben and Lester, provide the glue that keeps everything together, for she truly can say to Ben: I Know you By Heart as Andrea did David.

I give this book Five Perfect Hearts

Fran Lewis

Author of the Bertha Series of Books and Memories are Precious

The Garden of Ruth

The Garden of Ruth

By Eva Etzioni Halevy

The Garden of Ruth is a novel about a young girl named Osnath who is torn between her need to find out and uncover the mystery and details behind the woman the in the Bible’s Book of Ruth. Osnath is the granddaughter of Pninah and has decided to make it her life’s journey and goal to learn more about Ruth.

Beautiful, clever, persistent and educated a really strong combination for a woman of her time. Osnath, a scribe, like her grandmother, Pninah visits Bethlehem with her grandmother and uncle, the prophet Samuel and finds herself torn between two men. Wanting to visit the scroll room of this house she was visiting, she comes across a piece of parchment. As she continues to explore her relatives scroll room, she learns that the parchment was addressed to Ruth the Moabite, who was the great-grandmother of the man she fell in love with, the next king of Israel, David. As Osnath begins to learn more about Ruth and wants to delve into her life and her secret past, her efforts are waylaid and thwarted by David’s older brother, Eliab. Eliab intimates that Ruth’ s past is secret and too shocking to reveal.

Osnath is in love with David. David is a smooth talker and convinces her that he will marry her in due time. However, upon being anointed the next King of Israel he meets with King Saul and any hope of Osnath becoming his wife is lost as he is to marry King Saul’s daughter.

David and Eliab, two brothers who would not want Ruth’s past uncovered for fear of losing their inheritance. Although, Osnath wants to uncover the reasons why they want her life to kept a secret, there is a second story or plot that comes into play. Osnath is in love with both David and Eliab. She feels connected to Ruth, and they share the same joys, sorrows and heartaches. When reading this book you learn of Ruth’s first born not living and many other areas where she and Osnath’s live appear to mirror each other’s.

When there is information to be had or a mystery to be solved I will delve into the subject or persist in finding out what I need to in order to solve the problem or find out what I need to for my research or for anything else. Osnath is a persistent young and intelligent girl who has an advantage over many other girls her age. She can read and write and understands the importance of having the skill. I love the fact that she does not back down and has managed to get Eliab to give her the information about Ruth in order to learn more about her past.

If Ruth could speak she would tell you how she met the man called The Unnamed and how she developed a relationship with him. The piece of the missive that she found had his name on it and information leading to the fact he and Ruth were close. But, it would not be until her husband died of a serious illness and she met him in the market.

Ruth Speaks:

“Today the Unnamed from Bethlehem comes to me

It was from the gods

It was marvelous in my eyes.

Just what this means and how they come together you need to read this for yourself.

“I met with him many times. I went to his house. We stayed in the bedchamber and my need for love was aroused. The only regret that I have is that these months of encounters with him flew by so fast. Disclosing our lives to each other. I told him about my father and my childhood. He told me about how his brothers made him fend for himself and they did not afford him their protection. But, then the unthinkable happened. He told me he had to leave and go back to his own land. Something inside of me froze. He did not seem concerned with my pain and the one thing I needed to tell him, I never did.

Stating that I would always be in his heart were meaningless words. The fact that I was carrying his seed, made me feel even more betrayed by his words and actions.”

What was she going to do? How would she deal with her betrayal to her late husband? What would her decision be about having this child?

Naomi, her mother –in-law was a wise and wonderful woman whose advice Ruth valued and whose opinions were strong and mindful. Naomi was leaving her land and going back to Israel. Ruth decided to make the journey with her.

But, as we get to know Ruth we learn of the sorrow of losing her first born.  Osnath’s attempt to mend the ways between her and Adah her husband’s first wife, do not  succeed . Both women struggling to find a place for themselves in the lives of the men they loved. Ruth worked along side the people of Israel and met and related to her late husband made Ruth feel welcome.

Defying Torah Law, both Ruth and Osnath are naïve in the ways of men, intelligent in their knowledge of the laws of the Torah and fall prey to the wiles of the men they both love. As Ruth becomes more enmeshed in her new live, she becomes involved with a man named Boaz, and what happens next will defy all of the conventions of Torah law and let you know that women in Biblical times are no different than they are today. But, Ruth did ponder her thoughts and even though she went with the ways of the flesh, as did Osnath, you have to respect both women for pursuing their goals and never giving up.

Boaz is her next of kin and goes to the man called the Unnamed to find out his intentions toward Ruth. Learning that he will honor his feelings for her and now has a wife, Ruth attempts to dissuade him again, succumbs to his advances, but fails. Boaz shuns her for a while and then recants.  Finding out the truth behind her lover and what transpired between him and Boaz, enlightens Ruth to just what kind of man her lover really is. Will she find happiness with Boaz, what happens next?

Osnath reads what really happened to Ruth’s lover and the circumstances for why he fled his land the crime he committed. The final piece of the puzzle will surprise you and helps Ruth to understand the mystery she wanted to uncover, with the help of Eliab. The real truth as to why he never married or honored Ruth comes out and how Boaz convinced him and why to give her up.

Osnath learns the truth and does write the story of Ruth the way Eliah and her uncle Samuel request. The scroll was placed in the House of the Lord and copied many many times. Ruth’s life as Osnath was closely intertwined. The history related by the author, the disappointments, the hardships, the feminine and the descriptions of the people and the land are so graphically depicted, allows the reader to become one with the story and enter the lives of both of these great women.

To understand and learn what did happen and why to Ruth’s true love and whether she finally does find happiness and more, you need to read this novel, from the author of The Triumph of Deborah and the Song of Hannah.

From beginning to end you learn some much about the struggles of the people of during Osnath and Ruth’s times. But, what does not change is their faith in finding love.

As I read about Ruth, I smiled as my mom’s name is Ruth and so much of her and Osnath remind me of her growing up. My mom is and always was a strong and persistent woman who left no stone unturned. Her true love was my Dad and when she met him there was no turning back. Unrequited love is something that dreams are made of and everyone hopes to find.
Osnath, thank you for honoring the memory of Ruth.  Ruth, you deserved to have your memory honored.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

Author of Memories are Precious and the Bertha Series of Books

Backwards Buddhist

A Great Book For 2010

The Backwards Buddhist by Barbara Fleming

In the Backwards Buddhist, Barbara Fleming searches for a path to freedom. Retelling her own spiritual journey from basic meditation to the practices of the highest Dzogchen of Rushen, Trekchod, and Togal this reviewer learned a lot about the author, her journey and her many destinations. In creating her own path to freedom and beginning a new journey away from her old beliefs, the author formulated a plan of her own: first she had to decide what path to follow. Next, she had to pursue the path until enlightenment or until it was no longer appropriate. Third, she had to reassess while proceeding on the journey in order to measure her progress. Then, not micromanage course corrections and finally evaluate additional major spiritual shifts thoroughly. She decided on Meditation as the start of her journey.

Meditation is the conscious cultivation of attention and awareness, often referred to as mindfulness. When you develop mindful awareness it purifies, illumines and frees the mind. It helps to free the person of habitual conditioning, compulsion and attachment. It clarifies and helps to resolve inner conflicts and untangles what is tangled. It helps to sharpen and enhance powers of observation and sharpens the mind. Meditation often brings the person inner peace, calm, centeredness, concentration, relaxation and more. This is something that anyone, regardless of his or her spiritual beliefs can benefit from. Our author decided to take the path of learning Dzochen, which teachings concern the true nature of the mind. Dzogchen is a Tibetan word meaning Great Perfection. It refers to a method of meditative practice that enables the person to recognize their true nature. Ultimately, great perfection is that very nature: the natural.

The meditation practice described by the author is that of the Great Perfection and is designed to break up obscuring mental habits of mind and revealing at that moment what is really there. When you meditate you relax and rest in that true nature. You can observe how thoughts spontaneously arise, abide and disappear. In meditation you can discover that there is no effort required to dissolve thoughts and that the very same ones that cause your problems actually arise by themselves and then dissolve by themselves.

Beginning her journey at a two week retreat in 2002, our author, allows the reader to join in her journey and experiences and enter the new world of silent retreat along with her. Learning new vocabulary, simple mediations from the teachers, chanting simple mantras and immersing herself in the teachings of Dzogchen.  Describing her first days at the retreat you can feel and understand her frustrations, her successes and her determination to learn about Tonglen, the many of the philosophies taught in Buddhism. I am going to summarize the ones that I think the reader would really like to learn and understand and then I will describe some of her experiences at the retreats that she participated in. Starting with the Four Boundlessness or Four Immeasurables. Understand that the premise behind the book is not to convert the reader or convince you to change your beliefs but to go along with her on her journey to change.

The premise of her book as she stated is finding the answers before formulating the questions. As with most people this author, like myself, would rather know where you will wind up and the end result and not just the questions or the roads in between. Here are the Four Immeasurables and Tonglen that she learned and followed during her retreat. These are practices that she incorporated in her daily life when she returned home and that anyone can understand and even might incorporate in their lives too.  Briefly, in Buddhism there are some basic tenets that are common to all sects or schools. These are the Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Four Mind Changers and the Four Immeasurables, which I will now explain. The others you will have to read and learn about yourself. In her retreat experience is where she learned these. The first is empathetic joy, which means sympathy or understanding. This might evoke a different meaning other than the one that is intended. In other words having empathetic joy was the basic idea and behavior it means to develop, the ability to rejoice in the good fortune of others. For example: If a child receives a special present or a job promotion you should be truly happy and feel joy for that person. The next immeasurable is Loving Kindness which begins at home. This immeasurable helped our author learn to put her ego in the backseat and realize that everyone is the same when seeking happiness. Compassion is third and she learned this on the retreat too. Showing compassion for others is not as hard as showing it for yourself. Compassion in this sense is to be able to show it for yourself in a situation that calls for your understanding of you. Finally, the last immeasurable is Equanimity which is defined as mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper in difficult and different situations. In order to learn how these impacted our author and her life, you need to read about her experiences yourself.

Every road has its bumps or in this case hindrances that need to be addressed as the author finds out along the way. With the help of her teachers and asking questions, she learns to understand more about herself and the philosophies,

She goes on to tell about the main forms of Tibetan Buddhism. They are Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Each are also referred to as the lesser, greater and diamond vehicles. The first path focuses on achievement of personal enlightenment and is gradual. The second focuses on compassion for self and others and the third is the path of transformation of life’s experiences, mantra, visualization and deity practice leading to enlightenment. The author’s journey and what she learned are really interesting and informative and should be read by the reader in order for you to learn what I did reading this insightful book. You want to go along with the author on her journey and feel a part of it in order to truly understand her message in writing this book.

Finally, I will discuss Dzogchen, which is taught in three sections. The first is Rushen, the second Trekchod and third Togal. These three whether together or separately provide the structure for constructing a practice leading to full enlightenment. Rushen is the preliminary practice and devoted to self-inquiry. Trekchod is translated as cutting through a person’s self-generated delusional perspective of reality. The last, Togal, is a visionary practice. In order to truly understand what leads to the Natural Great Perfection you must read Chapter 9.

Implementing this into her life the author states that she dislikes and has a strong resistance to rules and regulations. She also has difficulty sitting from 30 or 40 minutes at a time to meditate and she knows that specific times should be set aside. She does practice various kinds of meditation depending on her state of mind. Meditation as she states is personal and how she worked it into her daily life is described in Chapter 12. There is so much more that I learned from reading this book that you will have to explore and learn for yourself. At the end of Chapter 12 the author defines the basic precepts, concepts and preliminary teachings not included in the rest of the book. The Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path, The Six Paramitas or perfections, Refuge Vow, Bodhisattva Vow, Vajrayana practices, Lojong, the three kayas, shunyata, emptiness, which she follows to one degree or another.

In conclusion I will say that whether you believe in these philosophies or not, you need to keep an open mind as this reviewer did and read and learn about Buddhism, Dzogchen and the many concepts and precepts involved in the teaching and decide for yourself if any, some or none can be incorporated in your life. Chapter 13 will help you learn the situations that the author created for herself or encountered where her teachings and lessons helped her through.

Thank you for allowing me to go on this journey with you and thank you for giving me the honor of reviewing this book. I learned about many things and teachings as well as the philosophies and understandings of Buddhism and Dzogchen. This book should be read by those who have open minds, want to explore new avenues of learning and want to learn how to be more loving, kind, compassionate, empathetic, and more to others.

I never give stars to books that I find above the rest. I try to give five of something related to the text and that would be meaningful: I give this book: perfect teaching, perfect teacher, perfect student, perfect time, and the perfect place: the Five Perfections.

I reviewed this book for the author. My review just highlights what I think most people will understand. I feel that you need to decide for yourself whether you would read this book. The author wrote it to share her journey with the reader and not to try and convert, or change your beliefs.

Namaste  (that means I bow to the best in you).

Barb F

Flying at Your Own Risk: Freight Dogs How Brave!

Fly the Unfriendly Skies,

“Hauling Checks” by Alex Stone is a humorous, yet very enlightening novel that brings to light a profession that so many people have probably never heard of, or would ever be brave enough to try.  The occupation of Freight Dogs is unique and dangerous.  Flying small airplanes in storms, fog, lightning, ice, and snow; Freight Dogs transport their cargo wherever and whenever, no matter what the conditions may be.  This interesting and humorous novel kept my attention from the start.

In “Hauling Checks” the pilots of Checkflight Airlines persevere, risking life and limb every minute they are in the air, carrying canceled checks that have to be delivered to banks.  Their boss (The Chief) does not care about the lives of his pilots, only the money he needs to keep his business afloat.  The fact that the engine might be on fire, the wings might be so iced up that the plane may not make it off the ground, or the fog so dense that the pilots cannot see does not seem to faze him, nor does he care.

Resorting to unethical and shady business practices, The Chief is thoughtless, unfeeling, and mercenary.  He cuts costs, salaries, pilots, and more in his final resort to save Checkflight when it becomes apparent that his airline might go under.  In order to compensate for his lack of management skills, he decides to resort to some unsavory business practices such as having his pilots make drug runs, money laundering flights, and transporting people who he claims can sit on the floor of the plane without seatbelts or a seat, just a rope to tie around them to keep them from falling out of the plane.  The situations will make you laugh, and keep you on the edge of your seat dying to see what happens next.

With a cast of characters so ill suited to their profession, the pilots create havoc wherever they go, and rarely make their destinations on schedule.  This novel really keeps you laughing and yet it’s a little frightening to think that these things could really happen.  The narrator flies with one co-pilot that is always plastered and another who is depressed over two failed marriages and is just a drop delusional, which makes flying with him quite an experience.

These underpaid, unappreciated pilots of Checkflight Airlines clock an insurmountable number of hours flying for a company that gives them no perks, no bonuses, and certainly no help when trouble arises in the air.  On one run they leave a door open and the checks fall out of the plane.  Before you know it reporters are televising pictures of these bank checks raining all over downtown Cleveland.  It is like an Abbot and Costello movie but even funnier.

Also part of the mix are Checkflight’s two dispatchers, who are totally unfit for their positions, and have no clue as to what they are supposed to be doing.   One of the dispatchers is senile, and barely remembers where she is, or her own name, and the other lives in her own imaginary world.  You never know what is going to happen, and yet the situations that are described are so far out, you just have to laugh or stop and say: “You have to be kidding.”

The pilots fly planes that are poorly maintained and in terrible disrepair.  Fixing and repairing planes is out of the question.  Mechanical failures arise constantly and the people who own Checkflight airlines do not care.  The safety of the pilots is not their concern, only the timely delivery of the cargo.  I would not exactly call them Checkflight airlines, maybe No Budget Airlines or High Jinks Airlines.  But, whatever you call them, this book is great.

For those men out there who are Freight Dogs, you deserve a lot of credit.  This book, although humorous, shows the seedier side of flying.  As a pilot who has experienced a lot of situations in the air, and as someone who was a Freight Dog, the author writes from experience making the novel more realistic to the reader.  “Hauling Checks” is so funny that I could not put it down.  The stories, the incidents, and the characters will keep the reader astounded until the very end.


Selfless by David Michael Slater



Selfless by David Michael Slater

David Michael Slater: Selfless

Publisher: Abbey &Co.


The definition of a person who is selfless is one that puts the welfare and interests of others before their own needs and wants. But, how does this fit in with this unique and poignant book about a totally dysfunctional family with members who are so outlandish you begin to wonder how they all managed to live together even for a day. This brings me to my review of David Michael Slater’s book Selfless.

As the story begins we meet Jonathan Schwarz and his three friends who are up to the usual games boys age 12 and 13 play. However, Jonathan’s two sisters are rather unusual and lure both boys up to their rooms for some more adult like fun that is totally inappropriate for them to be engaging in, but nonetheless quite comical in its outcome.

Nadia the older of the two sisters has a fixation with the bizarre, the occult and behaves in a fashion that is bold, outrageous and odd. Olivia the younger sister is into porn and does not hesitate to show off her adult apparel to Jonathan’s two friends.

However, this is just part of the unusual and definitely non-conventional family that this young boy belongs to. His mother Deana is greats ads for an advertising company. Her ads are totally over the top and often offensive to their intended audience. Michael, his father is a writer and has no use for the Judaism, its customs, beliefs or anything affiliated with organized religion. Yet, we learn that he is secretly meeting with an orthodox Rabbi at all hours of the night and has his own private agenda dealing with these issues and more. Add to that two grandparents that survived the Holocaust but are not exactly your typical overprotective and overbearing grandparents, but who have their own quirks, beliefs and odd ways of acting in with family and company, and you have a novel filled with many layers, many themes and different characters who appear to be anything but Selfless.

The author uses a unique technique of writing to draw the reader into the world of this family and their lives. Each character seems self -absorbed in fulfilling their own wants and needs divorced from those of their family members.Most authors use italic print to relate facts that happened in the past bringing the reader the events that occurred before in order to understand the present. But, David Michael Slater uses italic print to let the reader know that the events being read are really happening in the mind of Jonathan and that these thoughts and ideas are what he wished could have happened.

As you learn more about this family an unsettlingly reality comes to light and the lies that were left hidden in their pasts will not come to the forefront and ruin the future but forever change their lives. Deena learns upon the death of her father the harsh reality of the torment her father endured before and after her birth and the truth behind who she really is and is not. Added to that Michael, her husband left to find himself in Israel and possibly convert to become an orthodox Jew even though his beliefs were much farther away. Why this was happening you would have to read to understand the reasoning behind his actions and more.

Getting a SOS to come home while at a party with his friends, Jonathan learns that someone has accused his father of stealing the manuscripts for all of his books and not really being the author. At the beginning of the novel Jonathan finds a picture or as he calls it a doodle and proceeds to make a replica of the drawing. Not thinking that this drawing had anything to do with his father’s writing until much later on when his mother received an anonymous letter in her mailbox claiming that the four books were written by someone else and after destroying her entire family room coming across the exact drawing that related the event that was written in the mysterious letter. The picture was of a wreckage of a boat and linked to an accident related in this letter that changed would change the way he looked at his father forever. But, the secret behind these manuscripts and the truth about wrote them and why will shock you and will not be revealed until you read the last chapter and turn the last page.

Throughout the book the author refers to his illness and seeing his father and thinking that he was visiting him while recovering. Traveling in his mind to many places in search of the truth. The reality of what really happened you will have to learn by reading the book.

All they wanted was to be loved and accepted for who they were. Nadia, with serious problems divorced herself from her family and pretended she did not need them. Olivia wanted to be something she was not. Jonathan just wanted to be accepted and loved and wanted to emulate his father by being a writer. A father who tried to find his true identity in order to be a better father, husband and help others do the same.

Lies and deceptions often come back and smack you right in the face. His grandmother had her own secrets of how she really escaped the gas chambers. A mother who felt she was to blame for not allowing her son to have a religious education. Family and friends thought Jonathan understood the complexities of the world and had the ability to listen and help others solve their problems and not ever complain about his. What are the truths and what really is the fate of all of these characters you will be astounded to find out.

It is about trust, love and four friends that had their ups and downs in school and in their own relationships. It is about Cory, Jake, Milo and Jonathan who are four friends, each with their own family problems and hardships. Finding yourself and who you are does not come easy. But, true friends that are there for you throughout the good time and bad and a family are priceless.

Jonathan spent his life trying to please everyone but himself. His father just wanted to find who he was. His mother sacrificed a lot to be the person he wanted her to be and lost some of who she really was.

There are different degrees of Selflessness. Someone who thinks about the wants and needs of others fits this definition. Read this outstanding, thought provoking and mind-stimulating book and you decide whether all of these characters are in someway Selfless or none.





I taught in the NYC school all of my life as a reading and writing consultant and staff developer. I loved helping the teachers, new and seasoned with developing meaningful and interesting lessons that would keep their students highly motivated and enthusiastic about what they are learning. I have published 2 children’s books which are on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com as well as many other online sites. The first is My Name is Bertha and the second is Bertha Speaks Out. If you have ever had a weight problem or have gotten picked on by bullies in school you and your children need to read how Bertha handles these situations in a positive and funny way.


Check Out my Two Kids Books

Anyone that has children or grandchildren who have a weight problem and need some encouragement to either lose weight or be happy with the way they are should read My Name is Bertha and Bertha Speaks Out. Bertha is a ten year old girl who is struggling with her weight and being a total klutz. She falls on her ice skating instructor in Rockefeller Center in front of hundred’s of people. She cannot stand up on toe shoes even when five people try and lift her up. She even splits her pants in half while trying to bowl but not before swinging the ball and sending the ball three lanes down getting a strike for someone else. She is even sent to weight loss boot camp but not without her snacks. To learn more about this sassy, funny and quite intelligent young girl you need to get my two books and see how she handles things in a positive and humorous way.