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Learn more about the Real  tom Sawyer

learn more about the real tom sawyer head writer of Murder She Wrote
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Fran Lewis's curator insight, May 1, 2017 5:43 PM
THE ADVENTURES OF THE REAL TOM SAWYER
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14 lives that will never be the same

Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongly Convicted The justice system was created we thought to provide a legal arena for lawyers, prosecutors and defendants to present their case to a jury of their peers in order to decide whether they are guilty or innocent. Innocent: the person never committed the crime and yet what you are about to read within the pages of this book, as told 14 people wrongly convicted and accused, as you witness their incarceration, see their faces at the start of their stories and you the reader will look into the eyes of people the system failed. The statistics don’t lie, but often the arresting officers will create their own form of interrogation, disregard whether someone else committed the crimes, and hopefully get an arrest that will stick. All too often as you will learn when you read these accounts of what these people went through, the police and the prosecutors look no further at times when making a case stick and sending someone in one case to death row. Listen carefully as they relate their stories all 14 exonerated inmates as they are told and narrated to some have the most infamous and high profile mystery and thriller writers. Each one dictates their words, emotions run high and the end result you will learn as you read their stories as told to Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Phillip Margolin, Jan Burke and many others. How did these people survive what abuse, injustices, indignities and violence that each one endured in some way and come out able to move on with their lives. Many are still haunted by their experiences, others as you will learn when you read about Kirk Bloodsworth used his release and moved on to help others and those that have the courage to tell their stories reminding us that the criminal justice system is flawed and things need to be revamped, looked at and people should be given the chance to express their thoughts and words and someone needs to listen carefully. But, without the advent of DNA testing these people at the time of their arrests at no recourse at all. With Scott Turow and Barry Scheck writing the Forward and Introduction, each author tells the story in the voice of the wrongly accused as if it is an episode of a mystery/thriller with the wrong ending. The one common denominator that I see is the way the police handled each one of these people. The indignities were enormous, the abuse quite widespread and the type of questioning asked someone needed to really listen hard when they said: I know you committed this murder or crime and it will go easier on you if you confess. The badgering and the belligerent behaviors of those enforcing the law are inexcusable. As I read each case and heard the voices of those wrongly accused I had the decision to make as to which cases to spotlight when they all deserved equal time. Kirk Bloodsworth’s story is the first one that I would like to spotlight. He read quite extensively about the DNA testing and hoping that it would help free this innocent man. Imagine what went through his mind when he was sentenced to death. Imagine what he went through to get freed. Lee Child tells this amazing story so vividly you relive it along with Mr. Bloodsworth. How do you life your life knowing that you won’t be around to bring up your own children? What do you do when a child is placed in your care, you realize that something is wrong with the child, you call 911 and then you are arrested for the child’s murder? How do you raise your children miles away and what happens when your husband does not want to bring them to visit you anymore? Gaye Lynds shares the story of Audrey Edmund’a heartbreaking arrest and release. The lives of these people were saved by the Innocence Project, founded in 1992 by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck at Cardoza School of law. Those that are wrongly accused and convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. Their mission is to free, release innocent people who are still in jail and to bring reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment. They are a network a group of independent organizations that exonerate, and support the innocent, and redress the causes of wrongful conviction. Their mission is to free the huge number of innocent people who are still in jail, incarcerated and living their lives within the confines of a cell. Some with little air, no air conditioning, poor health conditions and the food at times not fit for anyone to eat. Added in the abuse taken by those that are supposed to protect them namely the guards and other officials who seek to win a case at anyone’s expense. The photos of those released says it all but the anguish, the cruelties, the indignities and the evidence that was fabricated, not released and hidden to allow these people not to spend years of their lives in prison can only be described as you look into their faces now that they are free. Statistics are to blame and the justice system is not in favor of those accused even when as you will learn when you read these 14 cases that most were innocent, the evidence and eyewitnesses were in their favor, but DNA was not done, in some cases witnesses and snitches were paid off with money or a shorter sentence and innocent people suffered till this very day or minute. These men and women were housed in their cells for more than a decade and the crimes they supposedly committed dealt with murder or rape and murder. Sara Paretsky tells the story of a man threatened and tortured by Chicago PD and convinced, brainwashed and coerced into confessing and living in jail for 11 years. David Bates was the Illinois Exoneree and how can anyone imagine the circumstances whereby you would confess to a crime you did not commit. False confessions happen often as we learn more about this case and how interrogators are trained to keep suspects off balance and under the current rules, there are few restrictions on the lies that they tell their subjects, so all the following are entirely permissible, your companion confessed. There is physical evidence liking you to the scene and the most heinous lie of all if you say this, you will go home. Torture, tormenting and even using physical and psychological torture changes everything for the person wrongly accused. The crime was said to be committed by David Bates. Forced to go along with the police to the station to ask him some questions they assumed his guilt in the murder of Leon Barkan. Left alone for a long time, handcuffed and not understanding why the two officers thought he killed this man, he never saw it coming as they set up a ring in the wall as part of an organized setup for committing torture by Area Two detectives. The scene is graphically described as the placed a bag on his head, and the reaction of one of the officers reprehensible. Leaving him alone all he wanted to do was save himself but that was not to be. Within pages 22-24 you will witness what he endured and the powerless feeling he had. Twenty two or more detectives took part in torturing people in custody over a period of about 19 years. The explanations and how it changed is explained on pages 25-26 and the fact that he is a survivor and was finally released did not give him back the 11 years he lost. The Editor’s note dealing with DNA and many other explanations clarifies his predicament and explains how things needed to be changed and why. An army veteran was convicted of raping a child and even though he was misidentified by witnesses the terms racial discrimination and prejudice ring out loud. Author Laurie King explains even more. Ray Towler is an Ohio exoneree as the preface sates at the start of this case called The Evidence Closes in Trial by Laurie King everyone has seen trials on television, movies and read about them in books or newspapers where the truth is supposed to be discovered and justice dispensed. Ray Towler was in prison for a very long time this is his story. A young child points her finger at ray and it’s all over. How can they be so sure? Jennie and her boy cousin and two adults fingered him in the park. Each one pointing to them and the jurors cam and were sword in and the prosecutor gets up and relates what he states as the truth. The details are graphic and what it did to Ray cannot be described as he felt pain all over his body. By the time the third day came the results and answers that the witnesses gave would not change. When Ray came to have his picture taken after the traffic stop, he went along not knowing this would be the start of his downhill ride. The photo they took was shown to the kids but the end result is something about it did not match. When the judge speaks to him alone and convinces him to sign a plea nor did he have to testify in his own defense the end result is he lost. But, eventually DNA testing and the help of the Ohio Innocent Project teaming with Ray helped him to get the testing and be released. Twenty-eight years for a did not commit and a victim of several false witness identifications as poor legal representation. Read his story and the editor’s notes. From the estate of Arthur Miller we read an essay about Peter Miller. This is a compelling essay where Miller presents argument against the death penalty using this case against Miller, a teenager wrongfully convicted. Read pages 147= 153 and hear the voices of so many until Peter Reilly regains his freedom in Lichfield County because a prosecutor died at the right moment and because his neighbors believed in him and outsiders came to his aid. Read the reaction of his friends and what reporter Donald > Connery said in his article in 2013 in the Hartford Courant as he relates to what lengths his community went to bring him back home. The next story will get you cheering, clapping and high fiving when you read Staying on Track the Ginny Lefever story and finally the story told to Phillip Margolin by William Dillon titled The Bloody Yellow Shirt. How do you keep it all together and not lose sight of yourself and who you are? Listen to her voice and realize that her will to survive, use a simple walking track to bring her direction and help her get back in better shape, helped Ginny deal with the isolation and despair of being wrongly convicted. Accused of killing the husband she divorced the events are chilling the end result even more as he was taking antidepressants and when in the hospital the effects decreased. Using every motion, enlisting the help of the Ohio State University Alumni association’s website and a lot of ingenuity she was released in 2010. Read it and how she did it on pages 147-169. A chance meeting and fate or blind luck helped William Dillon. The body of a 40 year old man named James Dvorak was found in the brush near Canova Beach, Florida. On the day he was killed, John Parker picked up a hitchhiker near the beach. His description of the man sounded like William’s. But, he was not guilty and his casual girlfriend said she was with him but late but recanted her testimony less two weeks later because of a threat made to her. John Preston was broad into testify and help with the investigation but he proved to be a fraud and his reports were too. Learn more about DNA testing in Florida, learn what happens when an older man working as a law clerk in the prison guides Bill by explaining the forms needed to be filled out toe get DNA testing and the hope for freedom. With the aid of the Innocence Project of Florida officials determined that all of the physical evidence had been destroyed except for the yellow-T-Shirt. Learn why and how when you read this outstanding account told to Phillip Margolin. Every story describes to be spotlighted and every one of these 14 people deserves a lot more than just their freedom. Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine .
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Empty title WHEN SHADOWS COME

What happens when Nick realizes that Grace is missing and he feels helpless being blind . What happens when the shadows are so strong and he loses more than just his sight.
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Eeny Meeny

Eeny Meeny Miny Mo is a mystery/thriller that you will want to read.

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Eeeny Meeny: M.J. Aldridge

 

Murders can happen anywhere. Killers choose their victims sometimes at random and other times with precision and planning. The killer within this novel has a unique, sadistic and sick way of dealing with her victims. The killer or murderer is a woman and her game or goal is having her victims choose the real victim by playing a sick game of Eeeny Meeny. Eeeny Meeny miny Moe you choose the victim and what happens next I only will know. Leaving her victims as she does the first two Amy and Sam in a deserted diving pool without any food, water, air or anything to sustain them but a gun and a cell phone. The phone is pin protected and the gun has one bullet. Challenging them to choose who lives or who dies by pitting friends, boyfriend and girlfriend, colleagues and co-workers pitting them one against the other. The winner is freed but at what expense and the reason behind the killings has yet to be revealed.

 

Detective Inspector Helen Grace is the lead and needs to find the victims before it’s too late. But, Helen herself harbors a dark past as the author allows readers to understand her need for pain as she meets with someone named Jake who inflicts the pain in order for her to sustain herself. Amy and Sam were planning on getting married but when they ran into trouble and her picked up by a stranger little did they know what was behind what looked like or appeared to be an act of kindness. Disguised and not easily recognized the killer offers them a drink and the next thing they know they are all alone in this diving pool. Living there for over 2 weeks, emaciated, sick and more someone has to decide who lives and who dies. A gun and a cell phone and a pre-recorded message stating that the one who lives and pulls the trigger will be freed. What would you do in Amy and Sam’s place? How do you play God over someone’s life?

 

As the victim count rises and more bodies are found the end result will startle readers as a link to Helen is found. Some survive and are released where others are tortured and one will die. But, Helen learns more about someone close to her from a man named Simon Ashworth and what he reveals will change things drastically and let Helen know that someone she thought she could trust well:
Eeeny meeny miny MO

Helen better watch out

The killer is targeting people you know

 

Why are these victims targeted and what his is the link to Helen? After analyzing the reason she now has to figure out how the killer was able to know where Amy and Sam were and that they were in need of a ride. She had to follow the Ben Holland’s schedule and then Marie and Anna who never left their apartment and were buried alive within the walls of what they thought were their only sanctuary. What about the transgender and what about Martina? Did the killer hack into their phone records? As the victims are taken suspicion falls on two detectives that are close to Helen. Questioning Charlie was brutal but proved that she was innocent of what Helen thought she leaked. Next is Mark her right arm and her partner so to speak and when firing off her questions she felt she had not choice but to fire him. Lies, betrayals, deceits and a very crafty, clever and devious killer just might get the revenge she seeks as the author allows readers into the mind of the killer as she endures the abuse and torture of those who were supposed to protect her. But, why is she after Helen? Who on the force can she trust?

Each victim that is finally found is disoriented, filthy and often can barely speak. Amy cannot function after killing Sam. But, what has her mother to do with this? With a reporter on her tail and relentless hoping to discredit her she has no choice at one point but to open up and hope that what she reports will be accurate and hopefully catch a killer. Relationships are broken and some take on a new turn while others are terminated. As Mark deals with his divorce and his ex-wife’s harsh ways his once again turns to the bottle and finds himself at odds with Helen. So, why does she try to help him and what happens between them that changes it all but for how long?

With a description provided by each of the victims that survived and the tenacity of DI Grace, her team and those whose help she enlists she comes face to face with her past, her own fears and we learn more about her relationship with her counselor named Jake and the reasons why she seems to want to punish herself.

When the final pieces come together you won’t believe the end result. As Helen learns the harsh truth about someone that she is supposed to trust whose relationship with one of the victims might mean his end as this person leaked information used someone as his scapegoat and causing Helen to wonder:
Eeny Meeny Miny Mo

Who can I trust I really don’t know!

 

The final nail in the coffin comes when the killer takes Charlie and Mark. Who lives? Who Dies? Who will be next?

 

Author M.J. Aldridge masterfully creates a plot so complex and so intricate keeping the reader as it did this reviewer glued to the printed page from start to finish. Beware: Once you start this book you won’t be able to put it down until you learn the truth behind the killer’s motive, the reasons she targeted Helen and:

Eeny Meeny Miny Mo

If you want to learn more

You have to read this five star novel you know!

Helen Grace is smart, astute, has flaws, has to deal with her past and hopefully move on in the present as author leaves you wondering: Who is the really winner? Will she make peace within herself? The only way you will find out is when you read the next novel titled: Pop Goes the Weasel.

 

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THE SECRET SISTER

THE SECRET SISTER | reviewer's suggestion | Scoop.it
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Join the pre-order campaign for THE SECRET SISTER, which I just reviewed and loved, and help unlock FREE bonus content. Have you ever read a Brenda Novak book? If not, this should be your first!

 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1IVYVkx

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Barnes & Noble Paperback: http://bit.ly/1d6HTDh

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The Secret Sister: Brenda Novak: A Starred Review

 

 

Imagine living in a world where your opinions and thoughts were programmed and had to match that of your mother’s. Imagine living in a house where your whereabouts, your life and your daily undertakings were controlled, orchestrated and designed to live up to the standards of someone else. Imagine not measuring up! What happens when everything in your world centers on the opinion, thoughts and desires of someone else who feels that only her opinion matters, your choices are beneath her and you resulting in conflicts that may never be resolved? A mother who feels that her children will never measure up to what she hoped they would be? A mother who was jealous of her own daughter and the attention her father gave her. Maisey returns to her hometown after a bitter divorce and the loss of her child. Having difficulty dealing with her daily life, placing her career as a children’s author on hold, she returns to Fairham when her brother, Keith calls her asking for her help. Keith is bipolar and uses drugs to escape the world, his mother’s wrath, criticism and life. Dealing with him will prove more than just difficult but confrontational at times. But, he is just one stumbling block that Maisey encounters before meeting with her staunch, stoic and hardnosed mother, Josephine. This is a book about secrets, betrayals, a loveless childhood, two children who had to withstand the brutal punishments meted out by their mother and the same but in a different way as adults.

Before Maisey returns home she decided to not remain in her childhood home but to live in one of the rundown cottages in Smuggler’s Cove. This is where things heat up and get really interesting as author Brenda Novak expertly weaves Maisey’s past into the present. Rafe Romero is a young man that she had a physical encounter with as a teen. Now in the present for some reason she cannot resist his charm and one night will tell it all.

 

Maisey and Rafe seem to have an instant connection and his daughter Laney adds to the mix. A young child who is blind yet never falters or complains about her lack of sight, she is endearing, smart and can sense that Maisey might just be what her father needs. But, Josephine Lazarow her mother is coldhearted, difficult and when learning that she and Rafe might be more than friends the threats come through loud and clear. When Maisey learns about a mysterious box that Rafe finds in the wall of one of the bungalows an investigation of a different sort ensues and a family secret comes to light. The Secret Sister: A box filled with pictures triggers what might cause the downfall of her family as she learns about a young girl named Annabelle and has to figure out what really happened to her. Did she have a sister? What happened to her? Did someone really push her and cause her to fall? Was it really an accident? Small towns have lots of people who enjoy talking about others and the town of Fairham, North Carolina provides the setting and the gossip. After the death of her father, Malcolm, Maisey had no one to be her champion and her relationship with her mother became tighter than a the tautness of a tightrope. Finding a young man to marry and not meeting her mother’s standards she moved to New York hoping to find some happiness. But, not everything turns out as happily ever after and after Jack cheated on her she decided to make a clean break but will he let her go? With the revelation about her sister revealed, approaching her brother Keith what happens is a hailstorm worthy of any severe downpour as Keith erupts and her mother makes her threats about her relationship with Rafe. With the evidence that she finds in the box, talking with her friend Dinah, and Ranger Phillips who is close to someone named Gretchen we learn that blackmail was involved, money changed hands and there is much more to the story than Maisey has learned. But, where will she get the answers? Why didn’t they find her sister’s body? Who is covering up the truth and why?

 

As Rafe and Maisey begin to learn more about what happened to her sister, Josephine becomes more irate and what she does next will change the dynamics of their relationship even more. Author Brenda Novak brilliantly teaches the reader what happens when someone is too controlling, has no empathy for anyone else and presents a front or façade that makes you wonder if she is afraid to show emotions for fear of getting hurt. Barriers are set up, walls are in place and Maisey is determined to learn the truth about her sister’s death at all costs even if it means getting fired from her job and losing Smuggler’s Cove as a safe haven.

 

Some secrets might just turn out not the way you expect and some answers might surprise you. Author Brenda Novak brings to light what happens when lies are told, a young child’s life changes, deaths were fabricated and a family is torn apart. An ending that will bring tears to your eyes and a mother who just might learn the true meaning of love and family if she opens her eyes and sees what is right in front of her.

 

Can Josephine become the mother she should have been? Can the starling truth about Annabelle bring them closer together? Will Keith ever get out from under her thumb and become his own person? Will Maisey realize that Laney and Rafe are her future or will she run back to Manhattan? A heartfelt gripping story that engages the reader from start to finish as author Brenda Novak neatly weaves all of the threads together as Maisey needs to find the truth and will stop at nothing at all costs until she does. She is persistent, tenacious, obstinate and definitely a match for Josephine. Read The Secret Sister and learn the hidden truth. Sometimes when things change the world you live in might be brighter!

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Boardinghouse Stew

A story based on real life events of the author

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Boardinghouse Stew: E.E. Smith

 

Some events in a person’s life are easily forgotten and others remain forever. As a child Eileen learned early on that she was going to have to work hard and fend for herself. With parents that could not provide everything she needed, she was sent to work at the age of 11 at Mrs. Mumson’s Boardinghouse. But, this was not just any boardinghouse and the people living there would provide their own special touch of amusement, history, education and friendships that Eileen would never forget. What 11 year old would pretend to be 13 just to work her hands and body off to keep a group of adults from starving, killing each other, petty jealousies and much more.

 

 

The time period is WWII and there was a serious shortage of labor. The evacuation of all Japanese as well as many domestic employees that did housework, cooking and other tasks needed to run any household, caused many to have to look to young sources for help. So, poor Mrs. Mumson had no choice but to hire Eileen or Smitty as she was called to run her entire household. Maid, cook, laundress, peacemaker and much more this young child had to not only managed all of the work required but the people living there too. The residents were quite diverse from a shy doctor, to two men that never seemed to see eye to eye as we meet Teddy and Howard. Added in the beautiful Patsy and the crass, brash and definitely tough hardnosed Iris and we have our own melting pot or stew filled with many different flavors, aromas and scents.

 

Somewhere within this group is a timid and shy woman named Margaret whose presence at times makes you wonder what secret she is hiding and why she seems so fragile. As we get to know more about Howard and Teddy and Howard’s hope to room alone away from Teddy. But things change and conversations are overheard as one young 11 year old learns more than she should living in a house filled with strangers. As Eileen learns more about the art of cooking, the various ways to prepare dishes using the ration books and ingredients available to her, we learn more about Mrs. Mumson, Iris and her military background making sure that air raid drills are followed with the proper protocol, tea is served according to Mrs. Roosevelt not coffee and the many idiosyncrasies

Indicative to each of these living there. But, things change when Mrs. Mumson has to leave and care for her daughter who is expecting a child leaving Eileen to care for not only the needs of all of those living there but the household chores, the shopping and the squabbles that ensue.

 

As Eileen relates the story we learn more about Iris and her prejudices towards the Japanese, her feelings about Roosevelt and her political views in general. At times you might say she goes way overboard in her words and actions but that’s what adds to the humor of the story as one young Japanese refugee decides to escape from the internment camp and what happen when Yukie shows up will remind readers as to what many Japanese endured. Eileen introduces readers to Miss Kitchen and her wartime recipes which will remind those that lived during that time period of what happens when you make meatless Meatloaf using soybeans, beets to replace strawberries and other ingredients including prunes and figs for dishes that you might never eat again. In the center of it all is Eileen who overhears conversations that she never repeats but then realizes at times only the truth will set certain situations free as Margaret and Howard’s conversation are overheard, things happen so fast and poor Margaret attempts to take her life and Eileen finds herself in the middle of a situation that she wishes she never overheard. Behind the swinging doors of this kitchen that never fully closes, many things are heard not just the noises from the rusty hinges.

 

 

The weather is hot and the rooms are steamy and one little 11 year old girl works herself up into a frenzy and the four months that she’s supposed to work there go fast but something happens that will change the way the residents interact as Eileen collapses, needs medical care and Doc, the shy and always there for everyone doctor comes to her aid. What will happen to those living there is Eileen does not prepare the meals or do the cooking and cleaning? Will they ban together and become a unit or will they continue to fight and bicker?

 

Each character is unique and has his/her own personality like Patsy, the stenographer who has caught Doc’s Eye. Iris, the air raid warden and welder, Margaret the timid, shy and sickly telephone operator are just the girls. The guys are Doc the doctor, Howard who claims his job is classified and important and in reality works as a supervisor in a cannery, Teddy, who Eileen hears talking in code and no one really knows what he does but has a new car at every turn. Eileen our main star and character who claims to be 13 but is really 11 and is hired to do just about everything.

 

Rationing, creative cooking, culinary delights and the info from Miss Kitchen that she really should have ignored, this is one story that will bring smiles to your face and wonder just why all of the characters after eating her dishes especially the ones prepared for breakfast did not weigh 300 pounds or more. There is much more to this story as we hear the talk about the war, the hated opinions and prejudices against the Japanese and the Germans and then when Yukie appears at their door things really heat up but what they do to protect him will definitely endear you to Mrs. Mumson and Patsy and of course make you more than just laugh.

What happens when she overhears Margaret and Howard? What happens when an 11 year old child decides to work as a maid and cook rather than picking peaches in a field for the summer. Rationing, displacement of the Japanese, interment camps and the bonding of individuals that were so disjointed, dysfunctional yet you have to love them. So, enter Mrs. Mumson’s guest house, never say boardinghouse, and meet Mumsy and the residents and learn what happens when poor Margaret has an accident and loses a child, learn what happens when Eileen gets really sick and there is no one to replace her and find out how one group of boardinghouse stew residents protect a young escapee, do not turn him into the police, join forces to care for Eileen and just might become a family.

 

Added in the author includes so photos of her family, different places that she encountered, the air raid uniform that Iris wore that scared her half to death, pictures of her parents and much more that brings the story to life as the author relates that this story, this book made it on stage as a play. First hand experiences told in the author’s own words just as if she was experiencing it all over again in 2015.
Author E.E. Smith in the last part of the book lets readers know what happened to specific characters and one in particular that still holds a special place in her heart. To find out who and why you have to read this wonderful story for yourself and get to know the six residents and of course Eileen. Boardinghouse Stew: Stew: A dish of meat and vegetables cooked slowly in liquid in a closed dish or pan or a group of people in this case with different backgrounds, ideas, wants and needs all thrown into one big melting pot called: Mrs. Mumson’s Guest House.

 

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Free Air

A collection of unique poems
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Free Air: Joe Wenke Messages come in many different ways and often transcend our feelings, hopes and innermost thoughts. Within this collection of poems the author takes us on a journey in time, space and provides different perspectives, reflections and commentaries on life, the world, people, simple situations, objects and love. “I Talk When You Talk,” is the first poem as the author tells us a story about listening to someone when they speak, hearing their words, why a relationship failed and why talking when the other person talks does not allow you to hear their words or understand where they are coming from.” How true! The next follows suit as the writes “ I Think Without Thinking,” focusing on the fact that he does not think for himself but his brain does for him. Lament of an Old Man I am sure hits home with so many. Feeling like it’s the end of his life, waking up to the end of his life. Everyone feels like that I guess when they get older and he follows with Self-Diagnosis, which is one of my favorite poems in this collection. How often do we all hate going to the doctor and take stock of our ailments one by one. He relates that he’s got the heebie-jeebies and of course his lower legs tingle, tinnitus, going deaf in his right ear and other ailments that are either real or imaginary. But, most of all he’s waiting for one that well you figure it out because he won’t have to worry about anymore after that. Nothing Free let’s readers know that there is little that we have that doesn’t cost something. Just what is not free like your will, girls that charge and the rest you just won’t believe until you read it and allow your brain to make all of your decisions and realize that he seems to feel as he did in the poem before this one that’s the beginning and the end of freedom. Nothing in life is free and your brain he says is in charge but whose in charge of it? “The Religious Right,” is next and he relates why people judge others if they are gay, they won’t budge in their viewpoints, stuck in their ways, God’s view on gays and that hate which is a powerful word is their ticket to “get them to heaven.” Is it? “I Love to Lie,” is really great because it rings true on so many levels. Everyone tries to fudge the truth to get what they want or as he states sets him free from so many and from life. But, does it really? How many of us say whatever is on our minds and have no regard for others or what they think? But, the last sentence is priceless when you read it you’ll know why! “ I Used to Drive My Car,” brought a huge smile to my face. I would love to have a car that does what the writer of this poems car does: drives him wherever he wants to go by just instructing the car to head in the right direction. Wouldn’t it be great to have a car chauffeur you around! Talk about being free! You want to read “I Feel Guilty,” and of course Free Air which sets this book apart from so many others. Each poem has its own message and relates its own special story that the author presents as you read Free Air you will understand and appreciate just walking outside, taking in a deep breath and breathing in the amazing fresh air that everyone takes for granted. “Do the Opposite,” is amusing and will make you smile followed by “Out to Lunch and The End.” I loved the poem “Autumn Tree,” you can feel the heat of the flames, the smell of the fire and the sadness when it envelops and destroys nature’s beauty. “What’s the Difference,” is quite unique and the message allows readers to understand that not everyone is the same. Just reading the first line sets the stage for the rest of the poem: When everybody’s one way and you’re the other. Add in that the writer is not like his parents, feels like an outsider, what could cause this feeling he lists many reasons. So many people just want to be accept for who they are and have others embrace their differences. As author Joe Wenke brings this to light in this powerful poem. “Family Restaurant,” will make you wonder why you ever go to a restaurant with kids or eat fast foods. The ending will seriously make you smile. The final poem hits home with me as I often worry about someone I care about who leaves and I wait for that phone call or simple text letting me know they are safe. Each poem focuses on a different life issue. Some deal with family and friends, others with love, hate, friendship, the end of life and careers or people that impact your life. Each poem whether long or short is emotionally charged, you can feel the author’s anger, frustration, fear or just humorous side as you take the journey from start to finish and learn what’s free, what’s not, that that as he says on page 43: You’re the one who won’t go along. You’re the one who’s always wrong. You’re the one who’s different.” Being different is okay and guess what: It’s Free! Being free is your right and how you feel and respond to others is your ability to exert your own free will in any situation. So, Free Air: Air is free, your visions and freedom of choice is free and what’s really great is that I am free to say that this book of poems sets the bar will high for others. Each one tells its own story and believe it of not Free Air: Go outside and take some in! Read the poems. Hear the stories and allow author Joe Wenke to take you on a journey to discover the many intricacies of life! Fran Lewis: Reviewer
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Timeshifter

What happens when your dreams become nightmares and your life belongs to something or someone else?

Fran Lewis's insight:

Unelmoija: The Timeshifter: Elle Boca

 

What would you do if you could shift back and forth in time from the past to the present instead of in chronological order? What would you do if when you went back in time you relived events in your life that brought created dangerous situations and your other talents or skills were frozen and you could not control the outcome until the event was over? Amy has always been able to control her Dreamshifting and Spirtshifting but at the present she is being stalked and followed. Stopping her to show her a photo and realizing that this has to be some type of trap, Amy finds herself at his mercy but is this real? As the scene continues Amy learns just why she has been captured, the relation to her mother and the next thing she knows she is waking up in her bed with the alarm clock going off. Recalling several incidents and the death of a good friend named Ernie at the hands of a rogue Elder, Amy begins to analyze what is happening to her but comes to no conclusion as yet. Amy might appear to be human and live with humans but she and her family are Weeia with abilities that most humans would love to have. She can dreamshift and control her dreams and the outcome most of the time. She can Spiritshift, she can mentally speak to someone and communicate without words, she can feel someone’s emotions and she can even heal someone wounded.

Finding herself having lunch with her friend Krissa she begins to wonder if she has not gotten another talent similar to her friends that of being able to have an Emotional Henki. Asking if her friend controls it or is it anything you touch that she can get impressions of someone’s whereabouts or actions. How amazing! Krissa explains that she can pick up emotions people leave on objects they own or touch. This allows her to understand people, her enemies and much more. But, Amy’s powers are out of whack and she begins to wonder if she did not touch something in the Council Chamber when questioned in the past about the death of her friend at the concert, if it triggered or set off something in her Emotional or Mental Henki! But, things continue to spiral out of control and the dreams turn into nightmares and she finally explains the situation to her mother.

 

Dreamshifting allows her to have dreams allow them to become realities and then decide when they ended. She can create or change the objects used. Thinking of what happened in her present dream and how it related to her father really shook her up and the only way to resolve the issue would be to discuss it with her mother. Each time she had a dream it would lead her back to the present and although she focused on her daily routine Amy realized that something was off.

 

Amy and her mother discuss the many possibilities of what happened to her and when they narrow it down to something that one of the Elder’s might have injected her with which cause could cause her death if an antidote is not found. But, first they need to find the source, which is a Centurion Plant, which in this case is poisonous and has overtaken not only her body but also her brain. Centurion Plant according to Dictionary.com is: any New World plant of the genus Agave, requiring many years to mature and blooming once before dying, especially the widely cultivated species A. americana, having leaves in a basal rosette and a tall flower stalk. Agave americana, native to tropical America but naturalized elsewhere, having very large spiny greyish leaves and greenish flowers on a tall fleshy stalk. It blooms only once in its life, after 10 to 30 years (formerly thought to flower after a century) also called American aloe.” But, can they find it and where it is grown and who might have it before it’s too late? One more dream about living alone, her mother missing and being thrown out of her living quarters brings it all to light as she realizes that something from the past is controlling her present. Spiritshifting might be good but what happened when she was questioned might have allowed them to inject her with this plant. MRI’s, scans and tests revealed the truth.

 

With the help of her mother, her sister Kat and the appearance of her boyfriend Duncan, Amy just might be able to put the pieces together but first they have to decide where to begin and how.

 

With her mother traveling to find out what the cause of her problems are and with Duncan and her sister Kat at her side Amy hoped that she would be safe. Beaches, museums, diversions and hoping to find a way to control her timeshifting, her mother spoke with her grandparents and the answer seemed to be mint tea or at least for now. But, when things begin to spiral even more they realize that they might have to travel far and wide to another country to find the centurion plant, where it is grown and who might have it and why.

 

As Duncan, Kat and Amy decide to go on an Organized Swim to try and relax and rid her of the tension Duncan recounts for readers that there are four Weeia Henki, that most of us would like to have: Emotional, Material, Mental and Temporal. Amy has all four and they are stronger than most people’s. So, would they neutralize the centurion and just how would the mint tea help as a temporary fix? Centurion from another plant or another batch would not blend. Amy needs to be injected with the right protein or she would lose the delicate balance she found. This was really frightening to all of them and they needed to find the exact batch and the right color, which is purple. Each of the strains of this plant has its own specific color based on the color of tits flower. Their problem is they do not know which one is in Amy! As Amy recounts what happened when she was questioned by the Elders they realize answer might be in Asia.

 

Cambodia was the destination and the author takes readers inside this country, the museums, temples, the hotels, restaurants and more giving readers a guided tour throughout this country. Visiting the nurseries was first on their agenda and then going to the capital Siem Reap, their cultural capital was part of their itinerary and because Kat could communicate with them in their language made it easier for them to get around. The author relates that the capital was quite a tourist attraction and hoping to find centurion their top priority. Meeting different families, staying with one in particular and sharing their customs and the food helped to bridge the gap and prove that people of different cultures and with differences can get along. The history of the country is quite interesting and the many places the author relates to makes you want to visit on your own. But, when Amy senses Weeia and they find out who and why they are there, the answers they hope to find might not be the ones that will help them with centurion.

 

As their time in Cambodia draws to a close and the disappointment sets in they find their way back home and just where and how they find the plant will surprise readers as author Elle Boca creates a twist and unexpected surprise that no one will see coming. Added in before they leave the head of this family or Weeia family gives Duncan a special pendant that he is supposed to wear all of the time not stating what will happen if he does not.

 

But, the past is about to come into the present and just when they think they have the centurion and are home free the harsh true is presented and their rate of survival diminished. Shots, injuries, danger and someone just might not make it out alive. Will Amy be able to use her healing powers to save someone close to her? When the final count is assessed who will be left to carry on? Will she become Unelmoija and at what cost? An ending so explosive and powerful you just won’t believe the end result.

 

Once again author Elle Boca brings to light the issues of family loyalty, friendship, honest, power, greed, revenge and hate in order to create a plot that will keep you riveted to the printed page and wondering: Is this the last we will hear of Amy, Duncan, Kat and Mom or is there more to come?

 

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

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Return to Sandara

What happens when two brothers go on vacation and find themselves in serious situations that they might not survive?

Fran Lewis's insight:

Return to Sandara: Mark Rubinstein
Guilt is a powerful and destructive force and can play on a person’s brain and be just as deadly as a gunshot perfectly placed symmetrically between the victim’s eyes. Sometimes a simple innocent can lead to a tragic mistake and all of the recriminations and regrets in the world will not change the end result or the outcome. Living with his burden for over forty years, Gabriel recounts his visit to the village of Sandara on Spain’s Costa Brava, as author Mark Rubinstein takes us inside the mind of a 20 year old college student that finds himself riddled with pain, sorrow and a reoccurring nightmare that will haunt him his entire life. “ I will go to my grave filled with remorse for what I did to my brother.” But, forty years later he is going back to where it all began to either reconcile in his own mind what happened, to decide if circumstances intervened in what would finally be everyone’s fate or whether he could have done something else to avoid what the reader will learn at the end. Filled with suspense, a touch of the unknown and mystery author Mark Rubinstein gives the reader all the information needed to decide whether Gabriel’s guilt, remorse and heavy heart are founded or not! Get on the plane along with him, hear that phone call from Rome that would change his life and others forever and land in this hot and dusty place and Return to Sandara along with Gabriel. See the magnificent beaches, the cheap motels and the outdoor cafes. Meet Luke so charismatic and a female magnet and enter a place where corruption, graft and deception reigns and hopefully you and Luke and Gabriel will find your way out!

Gabriel is our narrator who expertly relates his journey from start to finish as he and his older brother, Luke visit this beautifully described and vividly depicted village for a summer of fun, excitement and reconnection. But, things spiral out of control from the start as they enjoy the beaches, meet some really beautiful girls and befriend some of the locals. Strange occurrences and unusual alliances as both brothers who are so diametrically different in appearance, countenance and demeanor realize that having fun might be want they want but something within Gabriel’s vision within the parameters of the beach leads him to believe that a storm is brewing.

Characters that fill the 100 pages with their many different personalities, their motives and their behaviors that might make readers wonder why anyone would go to Sandara. The beaches, the cafes the people and the ambiance alone made it worth if for Luke and Gabriel to spend their time there and get to see past the façade of the scenery and get to know the real Sandara. With a heavy heart Gabriel relives his time and only you the reader when everything is said and done will decide if what he feels and has felt in his heart is justified.

Loyalty, friendship, love, deceit, lies, betrayals, corruption and greed are just some of the issues that are brought to light in this outstanding novella. One man’s haunting guilt will plague him until he comes to grips with the past, the place where it all began and Returns to Sandara to make peace with not only what happened but also himself. Once again author Mark Rubinstein has great a story that will give readers much pause for thought as we enter the mind of a young man who just wanted to bond with his brother and return home to his studies. Influences and upbringings might be the same but sometimes two brothers joined together by the same parents are really separated in more ways than one.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer



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Book Discussion with best selling author : Cym Lowell

Book Discussion with best selling author : Cym Lowell | reviewer's suggestion | Scoop.it
Welcome to The World of Ink Network show on Blog Talk Radio. Our goal is to bring informative and entertaining shows to our listners.The mission of the World of Ink Network is to share resources that introduce tips, products and services to help strengthen, support and challenge those who love writing and the written word. The World of Ink Network hopes not only to bring authors, illustrators and publishers together, but also help them reach their readership. Join Fran Lewis Thurday at 11am Eastern -10am Central - 9am Mountain - 7am Pacific Book Discussion welcomes author Cym Lowell. In JASPAR'S WAR (Rosemary Beach Press; April 2014; $12.99), author Cym Lowell takes readers on a thrill ride to the most unexpected and dangerous of locales to uncover secrets that could bring down the U.S. government. This is more than just about another book getting published. It's also about giving back, inspiring others and providing a bridge to healing for those wounded warriors who have put their lives on the line for the freedoms we all enjoy. As Lowell was completing Jaspar's War, he heard about Soldiers' Angels, a nonprofit organization with thousands of volunteers who provide aid and comfort to the men and women of the armed forces, veterans and their families. He was told there is a waiting list of approximately 200 wounded warriors, who, because of injuries sustained in fighting for our country, are in need of voice-activated laptops. That's all he needed to know. 100 percent of any proceeds from the sale of his book will go directly to Soldiers' Angels. His initiative is called: OPERATION: NEXT CHAPTER. As a Vietnam vet, Lowell knows all too well the results of what war injuries can do to the human spirit.
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A GREAT RESOURCE

How would you like to be pain free?

Fran Lewis's insight:


 

Beating Arthritis: Alternative Cooking

 

Author: Baker Dan LLC

 

 

Having to deal with food restrictions has become part of my everyday life. But, for many people it creates serious problems. Frustrated that you cannot partake in spicy foods, sugary treats or even enjoy your favorite fruits and vegetables can make eating not a pleasurable experience. However, when your health is at stake and you want to feel better adjusting to your new diet and learning how to make changes just might be a good way to start. Author Baker Dan focuses on a topic that many adults and even young people face: ARTHRITIS! There is no cure but it’s not fatal and after reading this informative guide to learning how to eat properly and reduce your pain you just might find your joints smiling, your bones clapping and your whole body screaming HURRAY!

 

The purpose of the book or resource is to help everyone learn how to “ prevent and reduce the inflammation of chronic disease and an attitude of never giving up.” The book suggests a different or alternative way or approach to cooking and an alternative or different way of using ingredients. Questions will be answered and solutions given but remember there is no magic cure and what works for one person might not work for you. Questions such as what happens if you cannot eat certain fruits and vegetables or how do I deal with being gluten free? The author shares his experiences starting in his early forties when diagnosed with Palindrome Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Written from the point of view of a patient the reader gets a first hand knowledge of how this author focused on his problem, assessed what needed to be done and found a viable solution. Included for readers the author sites several resources that include information on Nutrition Facts and food labeling. (Page 10). For those that have further dietary restrictions let me state the recipes in this book are all Kosher.

 

Creating a diet with fewer ingredients is the first step because as Baker Dan states fewer ingredients are more. On page 13 the author discusses Understanding nutrition facts and includes many sites and resources. Choose my Plate and Dietary Guidelines are two valuable resources. On page 14 there are more resources discussed as the author begins with the plan. The recipes in the book are his and are original and include substitutions for many other foods that some would normally eat. He does not include diary products and all of the recipes are gluten-free. The first thing he explains is what he defines His Safe List!

 

The author does provide important declaimers within the four steps of this program. First and foremost before anyone attempts this program of starts any new diet plan you need to get a medical checkup to make sure that you are getting, “all of the necessary nutrients.” Step two guided by your doctor or nutritionist he suggests you try a cleansing diet. Keep a record of your experience, sensations and responses. Step three along with your medical team you need to gradually introduce foods. You will need to be rigorous and strict about this process as described in detail in page 15. Understand that I am just explaining and sharing the program with you not stating whether it works or if you will succeed. This you will have to decide on your own if you choose to follow this plan. Added in the author explains how keeping a journal and eating this way might help you reduce or eliminate the need for taking meds. Keeping track of the occasional outbreaks of arthritis is important to tracking your progress. The entire program is mapped out in step 3 on pages 14-16 followed by the all important Step Four which includes how to finalize your Safe List and includes the authors to help you understand what components are needed. His safe list is in the Appendix at the back of the book. Before getting started on these great recipes the author explains and shares some very vital information that everyone can use when preparing food. Different techniques for cooking such as boiling, baking, grilling and frying and the type of heat that should be applied are shared with readers. Another step to varying your cooking is to, “mechanically treat the ingredient in different ways.” As any mystery thriller author will tell you in order to uncover the mystery you need to read it for yourself. The mystery of how to change it up and vary ingredients and finally how to combine them in different ways can be uncovered if you read pages 18-19. A final word deals with measurement and this section is quite interesting and includes information about Nutrition Facts. There are tons of great recipes and mouth-watering photos accompany some. My favorite since I love salad is the recipe for Green Salad and the great picture on page 23. Since my diet is limited and I cannot eat seeds or spicy foods I might have to find a way to replace zucchini with another food. Next a yummy recipe for Yams & Sweet Potato Green Salad followed by Soups. Each recipe has what I found invaluable Calorie count, sodium mg, sugars and other nutritional facts. Vegetable Soup sounds great and check out the recipe for my favorite soup on page 38. Section three has Vegetarian Dishes such of Yams and Sweet Potatoes, Brown Rice Empanadas and Tortillas. Notice that I picked recipes that I could eat and with ingredients without foods with seeds. Yummy Quiches are next such as Yellow fin Tuna Quiche and tons more such as on page 82 Broiled Tilapia or my choice Flounder Filet. I am not saying that this is going to work to reduce your inflammation. You will have to create your own Safe List and decide which foods work and which do not. But, what I will say this is a great start and the recipes are healthy and contain no Trans Fat and the sodium levels are manageable and the rest you need to read for yourself. The pictures are great and make you want to start cooking. One final share: Broiled Chicken Breast, which happens to be my favorite food. This recipe is great. I tried it before I reviewed the book. For those that eat beef or red meat, which I do, not there are great recipes for meatloaf and other beef dishes plus side dishes such as baked corn on the cob and baked yams and sweet potatoes. The rest check out for yourself. The final chapter will really spice up your culinary juices as the author shares everyone’s favorite part of a meal: DESSERT! Dan’s fruit salad works for me and so does the Pear Smoothie. So, check out the recipes, learn about the program and eat your way to less pain!

 

This is a great resource and whether you have arthritis or not it will help you to learn how to eat healthier, understand portion size and try some incredible recipes.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

 

 

 

 

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Special Interview

Special Thoughts

Fran Lewis's insight:

 

Interview Questions for JUST REVIEWS

 

How did you create your main characters? How did Amy Hunter come to handle cases with Luke Bowers? Tell your readers more about each character’s strengths and weaknesses.

Luke Bowers is in the good and evil business, as he says early in the book. And in a sense, Amy Hunter is too, in a different way. Luke is head pastor at Tidewater Methodist Church, Amy is the state police’s lead homicide investigator for Tidewater County. Both are independent-minded and somewhat unorthodox in how they approach their jobs, which is part of what draws them together. Hunter is young, smart and relentless (“kick-ass,” as my editor aptly calls her). Luke has a wry and more patient view of things. A student of human behavior, Luke has seen some of its darker corners over the years (although none quite as dark as what he encounters here).

They team up after an unidentified woman is found dead in a pew at Luke’s church. Hunter is assigned the case, although not everyone in the close-knit community of Tidewater is pleased that a young,

female outsider has the job. While the local sheriff tries to undermine her, Hunter looks for allies in the community and finds one in Luke – particularly after he discovers that a series of numbers left at the crime scene may be a reference to the Book of Psalms. With Bowers’ help, Hunter eventually learns that the motive for the murder extends far beyond Tidewater County.

Over the course of the story, Luke and Amy seem to find something in each other that is missing in their own lives. There’s an attraction between them, although it’s not a romantic one (Luke is married to the wonderful Charlotte; Hunter’s less-than-successful love life is on hold). They’re not literally a team, but they’re good foils and sounding boards. Their relationship will continue to evolve.

 

Where does the novel take place and why did you choose this setting?

The novel is set in Tidewater County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. This is a fictitious setting, although it bears some resemblance to the real Eastern Shore – an older and perhaps slightly idealized version. I chose this setting because it’s a place that’s deeply ingrained in my childhood memories. The Shore was where we used to go boating and water-skiing when I was a kid growing up in the D.C. area, a charming place with its own mysterious rhythms and accents. It was a land of oyster-shell roads, cattail swamps, meandering tributaries, working fishing harbors, wooden crab houses along the waterfront, and surprising views of the Chesapeake Bay. There are still many quaint corners to the Eastern Shore.

The Tidewater County setting complicates the crime in a way for Hunter because she has to contend not only with a killer but also with the ghosts of tradition there (a common conflict in many old communities haunted by their own histories). At the end (without giving too much away) the county itself plays a role in stopping one of the antagonists.

 

What are the reasons why this killer cannot seem to be caught?

The killer has an ability to inveigle himself into the lives of ordinary people. He does this by making them believe he is just like them – and then hides in those lives as he pursues his ends. As the plot unfolds, we begin to learn that he sees himself as a protector of these so-called ordinary people – against what he believes is a predatory society and government. Fueled by dark obsessions, he operates under his own laws, and his own ideas about good and evil, outwitting his pursuers by creating scenarios that seem to be one thing but are actually something quite different.

 

Did you use any of your journalism experience when writing this novel? Tell people about your journalism career.

I worked as a journalist for many years, in Florida, Maryland and California, covering everything from crime to politics to science to the arts to sports (I was boxing correspondent for Cable Guide magazine for a couple of years). For about 10 years, I was a newspaper editor on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and some of the small-town sensibility of THE PSALMIST comes from that. I think Luke’s sense of curiosity, too, is similar to that of a journalist. And the larger storyline, about the way gambling has affected the American psyche, was a subject I researched and wrote about as a journalist.

 

What’s next for you?

The second Bowers/Hunter book is THE TEMPEST, which will be out in early 2015. In this book, the seemingly accidental death of a summer tourist has unexpected repercussions when she's linked to one of the world’s most famous, still-missing stolen paintings – Rembrandt’s 1633 The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, the artist's only seascape, which was taken from Boston’s Gardner Museum in 1990. The “Psalmist” character also makes an appearance in this book (and will return in the third book in the series, tentatively set for late 2015 or early 2016).

 

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The Reach of the Banyan Tree

When two cultures collide tragedy wins

Fran Lewis's insight:


Mark Sasse:  The Reach of the Banyan Tree

 

 

Like star crossed lovers Chip Carson reflects on his past as he sits in a dark, dang and dirty prison cell going through the motions of life as if he’s living outside of his body. The novel is complex and takes place during two separate time periods. As we meet Chip aka Charles Regal Carson III who divorces himself form his father’s empire and decides to travel to Tan Trao, North Vietnam and begins a journey that will take him back in time to WWII and living a nightmare in the present. Charles Regal Carson II is an oil magnate and a very controlling and manipulating figure. As we get to know more about the reasons why Chip decides to veer out on his own we learn about his connection to his paternal grandfather, the Flying Dutchman. The Flying Dutchman said to be an American soldier on a mission out to foil and stop the Japanese.

 

Chip is hard working and has created a foundation to help people in Vietnam. Along with his girlfriend Thuy the begin climb mountains, reach huge heights and withstand obstacles to explore the Phuong Hoang Cave which revealed information about his grandfather when he comes across in the cave a carving in stone. His grandfather is linked to a woman named Mai who Chip immediately wants to learn more about. But, things change and as Thuy’s family embraces Chip as a friend for their daughter and allows him to befriend their young son, Quat, they shun and discount him as a marriage partner for their daughter. When Chip asks for Thuy’s hand and Thuy asks her father for his blessing, what happens will enlighten readers to the greed, prejudice and injustices that Thuy faced living under her father’s roof. Her mother deemed helpless and her father constantly drunk, would not relent until something changed it all. When commenting about Americans and stating the Chip had really nothing to offer, he relents and tells the truth about his heritage and parentage and that sets him up for a big win he thinks as her father changes his mind since he daughter is now going to marry a rich American. Things progress until one night when Chip leaves, jumps on his motorcycle and young Quat tries to catch up to him to return the sunglasses he borrowed. Not wanting to let Chip go home without them what happens tragic, an accident but Thuy and her family do not see it that way and Chip winds up at the hands of the Vietnamese Police and place in prison for a murder that he did not commit. No one listened. No one realized the pain that he felt and the remorse when Quat was tragically killed. But, it is this tragedy that will link him to his past. The Chief of Police shows no compassion for him but someone comes to the prison and presents him with a journal that takes readers back in time when it all began. Meet Long as he relates to his son how Charles Regal Carson saved his life and how it was his turn to do something for Chip.

 

Mark Sasse takes readers into the villages of Vietnam and back in time as we meet Long as an eager young 14 -year old boy who meets Charles Regal Carson and in five minutes after his arrival makes him his best friend. Two-time periods and yet one story that will link both the present and the past. Cultures that are different and although Chip planned to marry Thuy, the accident that landed him in prison changed it all. For she no longer wanted anything to do with him, sided with her family and left him alone. When this stranger or Long appears at the prison and hands him the journal that houses the information about his grandfather who parachuted into French Indochina at the close of the second world war, Chip takes the journal, its words and learns about his grandfather, his past and what some would do for love. As we go back in time and meet Vinh, his nephew Long, Charles or Ch Le as they call him and Mai and hear their stories, learn their struggles as Long’s brother is the catalyst for part two or the flashbacks in time as he is sent out to pick up a shipment of rifles and goes missing. Within the scenes that follow as they search for his brother, they enter the village but not before encountering some Frenchman that intend to rape Mai and kill the rest. But, the tables turn they wind up dead and Charles and Mai bury them all but Vinh has so much hate within him that what happens when they reach the village will change everything. His parents killed, his family gone and his sister about to marry a Frenchman and Vinh wants revenge. What happens will bring harden Long and bring more tragedy as the end result is another death. As Chip reads and the author relates the story we learn just how far someone will go for love. Just what will Charles in the present do to have another chance with Thuy? Will she ever forgive him for what happened to her brother?

 

Throughout the novel several issues come to light as prejudice, hate diverse beliefs and cultures clash leaving broken branches in their wake. Learning more about the past we understand the true meaning of the Banyan Tree as the author relates its meaning. So majestic a window to the past he states reminded of Mai and her relationship to his grandfather. The is almost magical and it knows all and “keeps many secrets.” Remembering that the French came to Indochina and it even knew a time of peace and freedom. Almost human in some respects as it grows, expands and develops regardless of obstacles of difficulties. It holds your destiny and hopefully with the aid of the banyan tree everything will work out in their favor. But, what about Thuy and Chip? What will their fate be?

When Chip’s father arrives in Vietnam and demands an audience with the Deputy Minister, you can feel the tension in the room, the fear in his employee’s eyes as he demands meetings, results, phone calls and will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

As the Chief of Police and Minister Dung conspire to free Chip yet want to find a way to pronounce justice even if it means doing something illegal, the end result will surprise readers as someone from the past comes forward in the present. The village of Tan Trao holds many memories and when Chip is finally freed from his cell, reunites with his father and hopes to escape unharmed his heart is still heavy without the love of Thuy and what he finally does will not only jeopardize his life but others too.


But, there is much more as Chip reunites with Long and finds his way to his house even though he is finally free. What he learns about Long and his past changes his perspective of his grandfather as he learns Mai’s fate, where she wound up and her relationship with Long. Long joined the forces and fought for the revolution with Mai at his side almost like a mother. Relationships change and things between them developed and the end result was something special for them both. Follow your Heart his grandfather would say! But why didn’t he?

 

A father whose power was worldwide and who would do anything to help his son. A country so riddled with war and hate that at times they could not see past it . A father who wanted justice and revenge and did not see that Chip drank with him and that perhaps part of what happened to Quat might have been his fault. Anger, fear, frustration and hate wreaked havoc in Thang’s mind and body until he could not take it anymore. So, why does Chip decide to come back for Thuy? Why won’t he leave without her? A scene so compelling and tragic you have to read it to understand the depth of his love and her blind loyalty for a father who rejected her as a daughter, abused her mother and did not deserve her love.

 

What happens at the end when we meet Chip 14 years later and now the head of his company will surprise you and the subtle twist at the end will let readers know that sometimes the power of the banyan tree just might win over hate. “ I’m not leaving without you.” Would he if given another chance? Read The Reach of the Banyan Tree: join Chip as he sits under the tree, learns its meaning and defines his fate.

 

As story so vividly depicted, scenes graphically related and two cultures that clash, societies that are so different, loyalties that are misplaced and two young people at the center. When prejudice, hate, lies, betrayals and fear are so powerful only tragedy wins! Once again Mark Sasse pens a novel so poignant, with two loves so powerful and filled with hope that only he can bring it to light. Charles and Mai/ Thuy and Carson: Which ones will find happiness under the Banyan Tree?

 

 



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Learn more about the Real tom Sawyer

learn more about the real tom sawyer head writer of Murder She Wrote
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THE ADVENTURES OF THE REAL TOM SAWYER
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Empty title In the Clearing: Robert Dugoni

Two murders forty years apart; Will they be solved
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Danse Macabre: My review

Scary stories you don't want to read alone

Fran Lewis's insight:

Danse Macabre: Fran Orenstein

 

Within the world of fear, science fiction and of course the unknown there lives many who will terrorize, frighten, torture and give you chills all the way down your spine. Each of these people you will meet when you open the pages of this book, read their stories, hear their thoughts and words and know that Tales from Beyond, The Twilight Zone and even Alfred Hitchcock presents are not as scary, frightening or creative as those being shared by award winning author Fran Orenstein.

 

Newlyweds are supposed to spend their first night in a romantic hotel but Julie and Jordy have another experience. Almost out of gas they decide to pull into a place called the Destiny Café. What they experience when inside this café, the person who serves them and the menu will astound you. Enter the Destiny Inn that the owner of the Destiny Café suggested they try. But, sometimes what you think you see and where you are just part of your vivid imagination or is it something that someone wants you to believe? The walls of this Inn are paneled in dark wood as described by author Fran Orenstein. Candles that flicker and an inn with people dressed in costumes from the 18th and 19th centuries as you look at their portraits on the wall. Some look like they were alive during the Civil War. Just where is this Inn? The hotel seemed like it was also from that era and the amenities were not from our century. The room was filled with antiques and the white mist that appears in the far corner of the bedroom is scary as it appears to drift and billow. Julie is frightened thinking she sees things that just might not be there. A portrait of a woman wearing a white gown. What does this have to do with the woman in the café? Why was this place gibing them the willies and whom would they find their way back down to the lobby to get out? But, what happens will make you wonder just what these two experienced and when arrive at their next destination and tell the gas station attendant about staying at the Destiny Inn and Café you won’t believe what he tells them. Would you want to go back there? Did it really exist? Destiny: Not always the fate you want!

 

If you think Destiny Inn was spooky wait until you find yourself at the next hotel and the 13th floor. But, Mr. &Mrs. Gordon are slated for a room on the 14th floor but what they find when they get there will scare the wits out of you and the lack of guests and the one they meet will send you running for your life! Heading up to their room they realize that there are no other guests in the hotel and just like in the Destiny Inn a strange white mist appears. But, what else appears is a boy about 10 years old who appears to be alone but why? Eric and Bella are about to experience something they will never forget and will change everything. The hotel is the Wyndham which had a fire in the year 1909 and this young child was there with his family but why? Winston Holmes III was celebrating his birthday with his family at the hotel and he lost his temper. Why and what he does you won’t believe? Was it an accident that lives were lost? Was it murder? Why did he lose his temper and what happens to Eric and Bella? Take the elevator to the 13th floor and find out! But, beware! Danger lurks in every corner!

 

Vampires and duel personalities take center stage in Moonlight Escape a haunting song created by some named Vanette. The song is haunting as it is played and the audience becomes transfixed and the applause is deafening. Vanette flashes back to another life as someone in the audience is watching her. But, who is Vendome and what is his relationship to Vanette and what is she really? Leon Dumain is dangerous and the end result of what happens to Vendome him to insanity. The story focuses on vampires, men together and the love that two have for each other but for a short time. When Vanette/Vendome meets a man named Jeremy why does she fear him and what do they mean to each other? Scary, eerie and an ending you won’t see coming.

Blood Red is really quite sad as a young man finds out that his parents literally abandoned him or did they. Wanting their love and attention he comes home to find his house empty in a story of lies, deceit, betrayal and a mother who hid the truth about her past and his father’s in order to protect him. A letter stating her intentions leaving him money for his education and to live on Billy is heartsick and heartbroken when reading her words. The author brilliantly flashes back to his mother’s story, how she met his father and the man named James Plant that he called dad all his life. When trying to tell the sheriff that his parents were missing he would not take the time to really listen or take him seriously. The story spans many decades and goes back to the year 1468 where we meet James. Just who is he and what really happened to his parents you won’t believe nor will Billy until he decides to read a letter from 1993 written by his mother and what really happened to her. Fast forward to 2008 and hear the voice of someone from the past and learn what Billy’s future might be.

 

Journey Home and Mutant I will let you read for yourself but the Grandma from Hell well this one you just won’t believe. A young woman is waiting for a realtor to show her an apartment. But someone appears and seems to know more about her than she should. A complete stranger. A woman that is elderly, short, round and when she describes her to the elevator operator he describes a woman who has been dead for quite some time. Would you want to live there? What does poor Cara do? Where was Annie the agent and what about the property she was going to show her? Find out when you read this eerie and scary story: THE GRANDMOTHER FROM HELL

 

The last story is one of revenge and retribution as John decides to take a train ride, changes his identity and gets new cards with his new name but finds himself on the Silver Bullet Express with a conductor and engineer from well you can only guess where. With what he thinks will be his final destination within less than a half hour John Melton boards the train, irritates the conductor with the way he places his ticket in the wrong slot and finds himself in a car all by himself. Riding he wonders where the other passengers are and thinking about his past hoping for a better future. But, this is not just any ordinary train and the images he sees looking out of the window and the nightmares that come within his realm of consciousness would frighten anyone. Trying to find the conductor or engineer well where are they? When he does you won’t believe what he finds out!

Dinah Templeton was the woman of his dreams and his friend Billy wanted her too. But, as the author flashes back to his relationship with her, why he even sought her out the shocking results will allow readers to know just how far someone will go for money and status. But, what happens when he confronts his friend and Dinah becomes the object of both their wants and lust? The ending is right out of a sci-fi channel movie or Stephen King Novel as John winds up somewhere but not where he thinks ! Just who are these two that are running the train and who is going to take the next ride on the Silver Bullet express to? Stories that will give you the chills make you crawl under the covers and an author whose imagination is quite extensive. Who knows what author Fran Orenstein has planned next for anyone but be assured: Danse Macbre is just the beginning. A dance of death! Do you want to take the floor? “Dance of Death, also called Danse Macabre (from the French language), is an artistic genre of late-medieval allegory on the universality of death: no matter one's station in life, the Dance of Death unites all. The Danse Macabre consists of the dead or personified Death summoning representatives from all walks of life to dance along to the grave, typically with a pope, emperor, king, child, and labourer.” Wikipedia

 

Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine

 

 

 

 

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Stinking Rich: my review

How far will you go to get rich?

Fran Lewis's insight:

Stinking Rich: Rob Brunet

Some sons will work extra jobs or find someway to make life easier for their parents. Danny Grant wanted to make sure that someday his mother would be able to live in a warmer climate. But, school was not his thing. Hard work not really so Danny Grant decided to target his energies in a vocation that he thought was lucrative and would make him solvent: SELLING POT AND OTHER ASSORTED WEED! Pulling scams, stealing, making a few quick bucks he never expected to get the dream job of a lifetime getting hired to be the overseer you might say of a big wade of marijuana for a biker gang. Not caring or knowing who hired him made little difference since using his cell phone to get his orders would make it easier. How hard could it be to make sure that the weeds or plants that were growing in a huge barn in the country were watered and cared for until harvest time? Well! Let’s hope that teens will not think this is a great way to make money because he got thousands of dollars a week for his efforts but Danny wanted more and instead of banking his stash he took it to an Indian Casino and lost it. Shows you how frugal he is not! Not really caring about anyone and finding his way to someone named Lester’s trailer he is confronted by a dangerous dog and what happens next you just have to be there to appreciate to believe. With his mother a waitress at a local watering hole and his gambling partner and free loader Lester Freeden the story opens with a big fat bang, laugh and well unusual death of his friend as the dangerous dog I just mentioned would like nothing better than to eat part of Danny’s foot or anywhere else. Danny leaves his cigarettes at Lester’s and wants them back but Shooter the dog refuses to let him by. Using a baseball bat he accidentally or at least it looks like an accident kills Lester. But, this is where we learn just how ridiculous Danny is and how desperate his actions as he enlists the help of his friend to bury Lester. With the help of his friend Terry he hopes to bury Lester and continue on as if nothing happened. But, after burying the body poor Danny has to run from the police and the biker gang that comes after him when his so called friend Terry sends the cops on his trail when a drug deal goes sour and the smell of the marijuana crop is so strong that as the deal is about to be completed you guessed it they are caught. But, Danny has a pet iguana that he talks too and actually takes advice from as another character whose voice the author interjects. It is hilarious just listening to the conversation as the Iguana puts his owner in his place!

Perko is the man who Danny works for and who is paying him tons of money to act as a marijuana and weed sitter. Perko’s goal is to move up in the pecking order of the Libido biker gang who is behind the huge drug deal that went sour. Danny seems to think that the only way to make money is to sell drugs. Regardless of any of his other talents this one rivals them all. Perko on the other hand is running the show but with rival gangs at his door and dealing with Mongoose another rival gang you just don’t know what will happen next.

 

The author flashes to the fire that enabled Danny to hurl out 750 thousand dollars while the barn went up in flames. But, when Officer Ainsley with Perko in toe decides to bring down the entire operation what happens is right out of an Abbott and Costello episode followed by a touch of Lucy and Ethel as the poor guy ate the wrong foods that night and the end result is Montezuma’s revenge. Danny slept though the entire thing did not hear the cops cars coming or the fire truck until it was too late but since the scene was filled with so much noise and no one really had it under control he managed to find a sack with 750 thousand dollars which he decided belonged to him. Going to Ernie’s shack he helps him escape but somehow in between he was arrested when Lester’s body was found. Hearing his voice in the jail and knowing he received some extra incentive from the Libido’s who probably paid off the guards to take care of business he finally gets out of jail. When he returns to the scene of one crime he learns that the friend that had the money hidden in his place died. Humor, sarcasm, slapstick, the ridiculous and the unthinkable are part of what author Rob Brunet creates in this hilarious and fun filled romp. So, just when Danny feels sorry for himself that his cash stash and his bank roll would no longer be filled he finds the money but at a big price. Never thinking to go straight. Never realizing that to help his mother he was going about it the wrong way. Loyalties do not exist. Betrayals run high and Danny has many lessons to learn.

 

Terry learned nothing from what happened to him getting caught by Officer Ainsley who cleverly foiled the operation almost singlehanded. But, greed, money and tons of weed were definitely in his horizon as Terry is doing something else if you can read through the smoke when someone close to Danny lost his life in the fire. As an informant, firefighter, woman magnet and definitely hot on the trail of a lawyer who he was with when the fire started and the neighbor died, we learn that no one learns their lesson even the second and third time. But, my favorite character is the Iguana named Piggy who tries really hard to keep Danny on the straight and narrow almost like his conscience but who listens to an Iguana?

 

Just when you think that all of the antics have been revealed we meet a lawyer who is not so honest and wants a piece of the pie too as she attempts to talk to a woman who is bent on cleaning up the property of the man who burned in the fire and talking to her dog Wort. Imagine that but even more this lawyer wants to get her hands on the property while the drug dealers plan revenge. From exploding toilets, to an Iguana that talks and stolen vans plus kidnappings this story is filled with the unexpected and the surreal at times. So, where is the money? Is it still where Danny buried it under the outhouse of the man who lived there before dying in the fire? But, let’s not forget the unforgettable scenes in the prison where Danny is asked to have some afternoon delight and what he cleverly does to well you have to read it for yourself. So, Linette, the public defender who wants the money Danny found for herself or something else, Officer Ainsley who well unwittingly becomes her mark and wants him to help her find it this story is hilarious but it also reminds us that people will go to any lengths for money, power and serious greed!

The chase is on to see that can find the money first: Danny, Mongoose, Perko or even the Skeletons. The prime factor is who gets there first and who gets well you can guess what happens to those who cross the gang who seems quite disorganized in their planning, Perko who seems to think he can get away with anything and a corrupt lawyer and volunteer fireman whose hose needs watering too often. Just where is the elusive duffel bag with the money and who has it? The setting is Kawathas and the cash or stash is open game.

What happens when Danny kidnaps an old lady along with her bus? What about Judy Jackman why does she want to help him? Why does he really feel bad about what happened to Ernie and what secrets have yet to unfold? Right out of an episode of Saturday Night Live the comedy does not cease and the ending well you have to be there and experience it yourself.

 

Truths come out and secret you won’t believe and a lawyer whose allegiance comes into question, a police officer who might not be so innocent and a gang who fumbles, jumbles and well you have to read it for yourself to find out what happens at the end. Explosive, charged with shots, someone confesses to the fires as someone’s past comes front and center in the present as the ending will make you wonder: Who’s on first? What’s on Second and I Don’t Know on Third! But, what I do know is that I hope the author is planning a sequel so that we can find out what happens to Danny, why someone decided to stick with him and just who survives and who winds up Stinking Rich! The characters are unique and the plot is fast paced and the book deserves: FIVE GOLDEN DUFFEL BAGS!

Fran Lewis: Just Reviews

 




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Radiant Angel: Nelson DeMille

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Radiant Angel: Nelson DeMille

Images of 9/11 haunt the dreams and nightmares of many until this day. No matter how many times you try and block out what happened the moment you pass where the Twin Towers were memories of that day flood into your heart and mind. But, what would happen if someone decided to replicate that day again? What would happen if someone decided that exactly at the same time on a given day at 8:46 in the morning New York would receive more than it did on September 11th? This time it would be a nuclear blast that would kill millions of people and destroy a city that so many loved and adored. What would happen if New York received a Radiant Angel? Not an angel that would radiate over you protecting you but one that would light up the world with its deadly glow. Radiant Angel: Nelson DeMille


Three men would enter the home of a very wealthy Russian man hoping to hide the true reason for being there. Vasily Petrov, Victory Gorsky and Arkaday Urmanov enter the home of George Tamarov along with 12 women who are there for their pleasure, caterers serving decadent food and drinks, security guards and many other guests. But, within the walls of this estate these three men appear to be oblivious to what is going on around them as they prepare to leave, find their way to a black Mercedes and head for a Yacht owned by a Saudi Prince in order to carry off a mission so heinous, so horrific that 9/11 will pale in comparison. With an arsenal at hand, nuclear suitcases stashed and innocent lives at stake these three men will carry off an operation that just might bring America down.

The planning was absolutely foolproof and no one caught on as the Russians left the party, found their way to a ship called the Hana and went off the radar and could no longer be found. As the members of the crew greeted these three dangerous men and the Prince who owned the yacht afforded them every courtesy, 12 young women would enhance their fun but no one realized the end result. Without any means of communication for those on board, any weapons or way to escape these three men would orchestrate a plan that would cost many lives.

Little did the Russians know that John Corey and his team were right at their front door watching their every move. No longer part of the Anti-Terrorist Task Force and now part of the Diplomatic Surveillance Group, his job was to watch, observe and follow Russian Diplomats working at the U.N. Thinking this was going to be no problem and create no real stir little did John know that this would change the course of many lives including his own. Lies, betrayals, deceits and cover-ups are at the heart of the novel as John infiltrates the party, manages to get inside along with his new partner Tess Faraday. Posing as an FBI recruit and having to pretend to learn the ropes from John, it becomes apparent early one that she is really not who she says she is and that there is someone else she is working for but who? As Tess and John watch those going into the party a plan is formed to become part of the catering team. Posing as a Russian Foreign Intelligence Service diplomat, Vasily Petrov has created a plan that would mirror September 11th. Watching him and thinking he was still at the party he gives John and his team the slip finding his way to another party and a yacht called the Hana. When things begin to come together using his contacts he learns more about what the Russians have planned, realizing that this is more than just a party and that they just might plan a nuclear threat of inflict a “Radiant Angel,” nuclear bomb on New York City.

John is determined to find Petrov at all costs as he is sure that he has escaped by boat and possibly will use an amphibious land craft to find his way to safety and return home. Vasily Petrov was a killer and he was headed for the home of George Tamorov to party. But, what was the real reason and what did he plan as John Corey, Tess Faraday and his team follow his path? . Pavel Fradkov also know as Arkady Urmanov is a nuclear physicist once working on the Soviet nuclear weapons miniaturization program or Suitcase nukes. His job is to activate the bomb. These devices are temperamental and dangerous and need supervision. But, questions are asked and few answers are given as they wonder by Petrov, Gorsky and Urmanov have an amphibious craft to take them to this Russian ship. With the FBI now aware of what they have planned and the truth about who Tess Faraday is coming to light will John be able to continue, will he be pulled off or will something bigger happen?


Thinking about The Hana, Petrov recounted the fact that this ship was unique unto itself and the builders had designed a small float in dock for the owner, the Saudi Prince so the “garage could be flooded and a small craft could sail directly out of the hull without the daily of discomfort of a ramp and winch. One serious problem was solved of how to hide and mask the nuclear device and the radiation. Imagine being able to shield and hide these nuclear devices using thousands of liters of water along with a lead shield the radiation device and the end result he hoped with destroy many. The research is extensive as the author shares the history of suitcase nukes within the pages of chapter 16. Added in Petrov explains in his own voice why it is necessary to replace the captain of the ship with someone he felt he could trust and the importance of having the nuclear device detonate in New York Harbor destroying Manhattan, and evidence pointing to another country and blaming them for the attack. Throughout Chapter 17- 23 the plan comes to light, the members of the crew are taken out, the women are disposed of and anyone that stands in his way meets the same fate. Imagine a craft that is mechanized and used for landing. Within this landing craft machine guns and other weapons can be hidden and mounted in order for use to defend troops or those within the vehicle. Imagine what would happen is this vehicle housed nuclear weapons. Imagine what they had in mind!


As Petrov and his men take over the ship and the fate of those on it is cast, John Corey, Tess Faraday and their team are working to find the Hana and hopefully convince the FBI, the police and the Suffolk County Marine Headquarters and its counterpart in Nassau county to come aboard and help them find the Hana and stop what has been set in motion before it’s too late. But, John is relentless and working with Tess puts a definite strain on both of them as events spiral out of control, things do not always turn out how they are planned and eventually the powers that be request that John be relieved of his position and no longer on the case. But, what happens will not surprise readers that know John Corey. John Corey narrates most of the story and you hear in his own words his assessment of the other members of his team and his quips and humorous jokes and sayings when referring to Vasily or Vaseline. Added in we have Buck Harris the one man who John hates after what happened in Yemen and is forced to work with him along with Tess. Buck was the one person who was assigned to the Russian Mission and his role and job was to vet people like Vasily and Fradkov. Trying to convince him of what was about to take place took all of his powers of persuasion and help from Tess but Steve Kalish and his team, following protocol and wanting to help demanded assurance that this was above board but you know John.

When John and his team found Petrov’s driver and questioned him the answers were not what he expected. Prostitutes, lack of cell phones, drugs, immigration status and whatever John could dredge up in order to make sure those attending the party did not leak anything and were confined was requested of those in charge. But, John had befriended one of the women named Tasha, her phone no longer active and her fate decided because of her friendship with him. Coast guard alerted, the driver finally giving them something they could use, remembering the North Tower and flashing back to his marriage to Kate, author Nelson DeMille takes readers on a bumpy ride both on land and in the water to stop a nuclear disaster. Saudi Prince Ali Faisel is the owner of the Hana as George Tamorov tells John about the Hana.

The race is on and clues are sparse and just where the Hana is no one knows. Radar and communications off, no chance of finding the bomb and three men determined to complete what one man started. But, which one will pay the price for just being apart of the plan? What will the final fate be? “ The code name for a radiation detection operation is Radiant Angel and this angel is not ethereal and is not watching over you. An ending quite explosive and the unexpected happens as John races the clock, Tess risks it all as they come face to face with a killer but can he be stopped? John Corey has to not only face the events that happened what decide on the next phase of his life and where that will take him.

An ending that will provide many answers and questions that still need to be addressed as John comes face to face with his feelings for Kate, his thoughts on his marriage and his decision as to where he winds up next and hopefully he will find a real Radiant Angel in his life. One outstanding novel, one thought provoking story one event that should make America aware to always stay alert!

Fran Lewis: Just Reviews

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Free Air

A collection of unique poems
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Fran Lewis's curator insight, December 22, 2014 3:49 PM
Free Air: Joe Wenke Messages come in many different ways and often transcend our feelings, hopes and innermost thoughts. Within this collection of poems the author takes us on a journey in time, space and provides different perspectives, reflections and commentaries on life, the world, people, simple situations, objects and love. “I Talk When You Talk,” is the first poem as the author tells us a story about listening to someone when they speak, hearing their words, why a relationship failed and why talking when the other person talks does not allow you to hear their words or understand where they are coming from.” How true! The next follows suit as the writes “ I Think Without Thinking,” focusing on the fact that he does not think for himself but his brain does for him. Lament of an Old Man I am sure hits home with so many. Feeling like it’s the end of his life, waking up to the end of his life. Everyone feels like that I guess when they get older and he follows with Self-Diagnosis, which is one of my favorite poems in this collection. How often do we all hate going to the doctor and take stock of our ailments one by one. He relates that he’s got the heebie-jeebies and of course his lower legs tingle, tinnitus, going deaf in his right ear and other ailments that are either real or imaginary. But, most of all he’s waiting for one that well you figure it out because he won’t have to worry about anymore after that. Nothing Free let’s readers know that there is little that we have that doesn’t cost something. Just what is not free like your will, girls that charge and the rest you just won’t believe until you read it and allow your brain to make all of your decisions and realize that he seems to feel as he did in the poem before this one that’s the beginning and the end of freedom. Nothing in life is free and your brain he says is in charge but whose in charge of it? “The Religious Right,” is next and he relates why people judge others if they are gay, they won’t budge in their viewpoints, stuck in their ways, God’s view on gays and that hate which is a powerful word is their ticket to “get them to heaven.” Is it? “I Love to Lie,” is really great because it rings true on so many levels. Everyone tries to fudge the truth to get what they want or as he states sets him free from so many and from life. But, does it really? How many of us say whatever is on our minds and have no regard for others or what they think? But, the last sentence is priceless when you read it you’ll know why! “ I Used to Drive My Car,” brought a huge smile to my face. I would love to have a car that does what the writer of this poems car does: drives him wherever he wants to go by just instructing the car to head in the right direction. Wouldn’t it be great to have a car chauffeur you around! Talk about being free! You want to read “I Feel Guilty,” and of course Free Air which sets this book apart from so many others. Each poem has its own message and relates its own special story that the author presents as you read Free Air you will understand and appreciate just walking outside, taking in a deep breath and breathing in the amazing fresh air that everyone takes for granted. “Do the Opposite,” is amusing and will make you smile followed by “Out to Lunch and The End.” I loved the poem “Autumn Tree,” you can feel the heat of the flames, the smell of the fire and the sadness when it envelops and destroys nature’s beauty. “What’s the Difference,” is quite unique and the message allows readers to understand that not everyone is the same. Just reading the first line sets the stage for the rest of the poem: When everybody’s one way and you’re the other. Add in that the writer is not like his parents, feels like an outsider, what could cause this feeling he lists many reasons. So many people just want to be accept for who they are and have others embrace their differences. As author Joe Wenke brings this to light in this powerful poem. “Family Restaurant,” will make you wonder why you ever go to a restaurant with kids or eat fast foods. The ending will seriously make you smile. The final poem hits home with me as I often worry about someone I care about who leaves and I wait for that phone call or simple text letting me know they are safe. Each poem focuses on a different life issue. Some deal with family and friends, others with love, hate, friendship, the end of life and careers or people that impact your life. Each poem whether long or short is emotionally charged, you can feel the author’s anger, frustration, fear or just humorous side as you take the journey from start to finish and learn what’s free, what’s not, that that as he says on page 43: You’re the one who won’t go along. You’re the one who’s always wrong. You’re the one who’s different.” Being different is okay and guess what: It’s Free! Being free is your right and how you feel and respond to others is your ability to exert your own free will in any situation. So, Free Air: Air is free, your visions and freedom of choice is free and what’s really great is that I am free to say that this book of poems sets the bar will high for others. Each one tells its own story and believe it of not Free Air: Go outside and take some in! Read the poems. Hear the stories and allow author Joe Wenke to take you on a journey to discover the many intricacies of life! Fran Lewis: Reviewer
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The Woman With A Gun

A photo sparks
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THE STORY OF JINGLES

A heartwarming story of survival 

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The Story of Jingles: Told by Jingles the author and Penned by Laurie Brown- Nagin

 

 

Illustrated by: A. Ottenberg

 

Operation: ResCUTE

 

Walking alone in the street with no place to go and no food to keep you nourished. Imagine living outside in the cold and being tossed from pillar to post because you do not have a family that loves and nurtures you. What happens when a child is cast aside and sent to an orphanage because the parent does not want that child or cannot provide to the child’s care? What happens to so many that are lost in the system? But, imagine the fear, the sadness and the despair when you cannot speak for yourself and you are placed in situations that could be dangerous and can only hope to survive. This is a special story that I was asked to read and review. A story of hope, survival, love and despair as well as a story that teaches young children and even young adults never to give up on the power of LOVE! The story is about a special dog named Jingles who relates the story in her own words. From the moment you meet her you will fall in love with this amazing dog. So, I will let her explain and tell you her story but not all of it because he does not want to spoil your joy and your fun in finding out where he is now and is final destination without reading this for yourself. The greatest part is if you purchase this book via the Operation ResCUTE website ( www.operationrescute.com) or Amazon, you get your own special stuffed animal or Jingles to hold and cherish yourself.

 

“ My name is Jingles and this is my story. This is a true story of what happened when I lived on the street and wandered the city of New York searching for food, companionship and a place to call my own. Check out the pictures on the first two pages that helps make the story come alive.

Walking for hours I realized that I had not eaten, my stomach growled and I had to find food. But, I was sidetracked by the amazing sight of the moon and became distracted and accidentally crashed into a metal garbage can. The pain was really bad and the bruise on my cheek was huge. Now, what was I going to do? Instead of feeling sorry for myself I decided to track down some food and found a garbage can that was just the right size for me to explore its contents and I was lucky to find some great food. But, now where was I going to sleep? My cheek really hurt so I decided to crawl inside this garbage can and rest. Little did I know that this would be the turning point of my life and miracles do happen at least I hoped so! I heard a voice and then saw a kind face looking at me wondering why I was in the can. Lifting me up I did not struggle. His arms seemed warm and inviting and I wanted to stay with him forever. But, that feeling ended when he took me to a place with other dogs that were in cages and introduced me as JINGLES! What a cool name! I was scared and afraid when placed in my own cage. I just wanted to get out! I looked around and realized I did not want to be here I was better off on the street all alone. But, that was not to be as I soon found out. Introducing himself as an officer from Animal Control he took me to the doctor to be checked out and told me he hoped that a family with a big HEART would rescue me from this place and take me home.

 

You never know what could happen and riding in his car with the big light on top I felt so special. At the Animal Hospital something wonderful happened. A beautiful lady was passing by and looked at me and the rest you won’t believe! She came by quite often but if you want to know if she took me home, where I am now and if I am happy you have to read the rest of my story yourself.”

 

It takes a special family with a huge heart to adopt an animal from a rescue shelter. But, think of the joy and love you will give that animal when he/she feels safe, loved and nurtured. This is a story of hope, survival, understanding and miracles that happen when you least expect it! So, read The Story of Jingles and if you are considering getting a dog why not rescue one as my family did. We have a beautiful dog named Bella Bella who belongs to my brother and his family. She loves her Auntie Fran. So, I am proud to be a part of Operation: ResCUTE and I am really honored to have been asked to review this great book. Filled with colorful pictures that are expressive and help the story come alive, meet Jingles you will fall in love with him too. I did.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer 

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The Mathematician's Shiva

Did Rachela solve the mysterious equation

Fran Lewis's insight:

The Mathematician’s Shiva: Stuart Rojstaczer

 

 

Rachela Karnokovitch has invited everyone to her hospital room to pay their final respects. Her son Alexander “Sasha” Karnokovitch is relating the story along with our creative author whose voice and opinions we hear throughout the novel. Rachela just want to pass on with love, dignity and her own way. Living her life in Poland, soaring at math and becoming a famous Polish mathematician after defecting to America and leaving her husband and son behind, Rachela is a force to be reckoned with in life and in death. A professor at the University of Wisconsin the author shares the history behind her having possibly solved the million-dollar; Navier Stokes Millennium Prize but not before he explains its relation to himself and his job as a hurricane hunter. With the formula in tact and the explanation at hand readers learn about this equation, how it might be solved and the fact the she might have taken the answer to her grave. So many have come to pay their respects to her at the hospital and even more at the Shiva but poor Alexander needs to understand much to his dismay that most are there for only one purpose: to find the answer to the mathematical problem, search her notes, even pry open the floorboards and rip everything apart in order to find the answers. But, all Sasha wants is to mourn and remember his mother the right way for seven days and seven nights. How she solved this problem and why she took it to her grave is the primary focus of this novel. Imagine even thinking that her African Grey Parrot might help.  But, first the author takes readers back to Rachela’s childhood, when at an early age her teacher realized that she was a math genius which not only helped her succeed in school but because times were hard and food was scarce she was able to help provide for her family.

 

The Navier Stokes Equation named after Claude Louis Navier and George Gabriel Stokes deals with and describes the motion of fluid substances. Applying Newton’s second law to fluid motion, along with the assumption that stress in the fluid is the sum of a diffusing viscous term and pressure term- therefore describing viscous flow. These equations were useful since they describe the physics of many things of academic and economic interest and may be used as we learn from Sasha they may be used to model the weather, ocean currents, water flow in a pipe and air flow around a wing. These equations helped to simplified forms with the design of aircraft cars, study of blood flow , the design of power stations and even the analysis of pollution. Together with Maxwell’s equations they can be used to model and study magneto hydrodynamics. But, Rachela was a mathematician of her highest order and solving these equations were of interest to her in the mathematical sense. Imagine being offered a one million dollar prize if you can prove that in three dimensions solutions always exist or called existence, or that if they really do exist, then they do not contain any singularity and are smooth. These are called the Navier-Stokes existence smoothness problems and the Clay Mathematics Institute call this one of the seven most important open problems and offered one million dollars for a solution or counter problem.

Navier–Stokes equations (general)

 

where

is the flow velocity,

is the fluid density,

is the pressure,

is the (deviatoric) component of the total stress tensor, which has order two,

represents body forces (per unit volume) acting on the fluid,

is the del operator.

 

 

In order to understand what these mathematicians were trying to do I thought seeing the formula and understanding what the equations mean might help readers grasp what Rachela was doing. Explaining in chapter 20 titled Story Hour how his mother worked equal to her mentor on the many different equations and hearing in her own voice in chapter 21 about her life, hunger, working with Grozslev who was interested as Rachela relates in the greatest “unknown in the world of physics turbulence.” Throughout the chapter she explains how Grozzlev introduced her to the field of turbulence in 1940 and how he was managing to work on “defining the essence of fluid mechanics in a mathematical sense.” Reminding readers that we all want to live our lives in an ordered environment or that if mistakes are made we can correct them as simply as changing a battery in a radio. But, the chapter continues in depth as the author through Rachela explains turbulence and what would happen if we lived in a world where we could “Understand these destructive forces fully and we weren’t either blindly scared of turbulence more commonly , blindly optimistic that we will avoid its affect. As you complete reading this chapter you will understand more as the author brilliantly illustrates how this is related to the famous Pythagorean Theorem with diagrams that I completely and you the reader will understand. She continues with the most compelling description of how she truly learned at 11 years old the definition and meaning of turbulence just by seeing the ocean and experiencing the movement of the waves, the taste of the salt in the air and the water and living it first hand.

 

When the mathematicians decided to attend the funeral and some the Shiva, Sasha faced many difficult decisions regarding the procedures to be followed. Making it clear that he would not allow any of these people to speak or come near the casket in order to open it and it would be sealed let to a discussion he did not expect. Thinking about what this one person stated caused him to allow several of these people to attend the Shiva as guest just to pray and leave at night. Following them came a group of young women that attend Rachela’s classes and they too were invited to the Shiva in respect to Anna.  Flashing back to when Rachela was growing up, her journey living in poverty and her rise to becoming one of the best mathematician’s in the world we also learn more about Sasha, his fading relationship with his wife, the child he would never get to know and the reasons why his marriage failed. When Catherine failed her prelims for her Doctorate and could not deliver her dissertation, Rachela aptly explained that although she was smart she did not as we might say, think out of the box and her sense of originality did not exist. She went on the state many of her other flaws and rather than deny or refute what his mother said, Alexander distance himself further from Catherine and buried himself in his own work and hope for his own degree. A family of intelligent and super smart people whose goals were academic and whose allegiances and feelings went just so far as to help some, not all and respect those that fit into their sphere of intelligence. So, hoping to solve the Navier Stokes Problem was her goal and finding the solution and her notes the primary reason everyone came to her funeral and wanted the chance to search around her home to find  the secret that she might have hidden.

 

Bruce the cousin who handles the funeral, Shiva and the arrangements for the Mayor’s memorial, Uncle Shlomo who everyone will love and adore and let’s not forget Pascha the African grey parrot As we listen to Alexander take us back to Russia where it all began hearing Rachela tell the story of her youth, the lack of food and how her family would not give up and just how they survived.

 

 

But, as we listen to the mourners and get to know each one as they start to rip up the floorboards, hold séances and tried to find out if this parrot has any hidden secrets beneath his wings, the flashbacks to her childhood and fleeing Poland during the second world war, the reader is privy to her thoughts directly from her memoirs. But, Sasha and the others talk about Kolmogorov, work completed by his mother and credited to him and others, plus someone who stole Rachela’s papers on Hilberts’s 13th problem? Arguments ensue, words are spoken and accusations hurled. Each day the author through Sasha relates more from her memoirs to keep mourners and readers interest during the seven-day Shiva period.  

 

  Author Stuart Rojstaczer takes readers from the present to the past and helps us unravel and unfold the mystery that was Rachela helping readers find out if she really did solve the equation. Who benefits and what lessons might be learned. Day 3 of the Shiva the author describes The Ski Trip that Rachela and her husband took every winter. Even comparing the cold climate of where the trip took place to the cold during the Shiva. The entire chapter seems to center around that trip, the coldness during the Shiva period, the air so frigid it made Sasha often feel numb both inside and out and the significance of snow angels. Day four or chapter 24 is titled Kabbalove and continuing with the ski trip and the reader will note that the chapters containing her memoirs have a different font which is smaller than the other chapters. But, Sasha learns more about himself as he finally meets the daughter and granddaughter he never knew in the hope of developing some type of relationship even at this late date. With a granddaughter named Amy who seemed to be following in Rachela’s footsteps and a family that wanted to know where her pages and secrets were hidden what happens next will alert readers to just how these mathematicians think, to what lengths they would go to uncover what one woman wanted buried.

 

Seven days of Shiva and definitely not your typical Shiva with some coming for one reason, others to pay respects, some just missing their sister, wishing as I do, to just talk to that person one more time or just tell them how much they mean to you, the Mathematician’s Shiva: Seven Days that you the reader will experience along with Sasha, his family and all of the mathematicians to learn. What does Yakov learn and what is his triumph? What lessons in life does Sasha learn as he tries to develop a relationship with this daughter and granddaughter? Did Rachela solve the equation? Find out when you experience the 7 days of Shiva, the funeral, the mathematicians and their antics, the séance that changed on man’s life and hear Rachela’s final words as she expresses them so beautifully: Focus on what is beautiful and purse that beauty. We are not perfect vessels, certainly, I am not an exception.” From the indignities many suffered at the hand of the Russian soldiers and government to the Polish Pogroms, to the many who came to America for a better life, go back in time and take the journey with Rachela, learn the importance of math and why she was so passionate and sit with her family for seven days and truly understand the meaning of The Mathematician’s Shiva.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

 

 

 

 

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This House is a Home

Learn the true meaning of success

Fran Lewis's insight:

This House is  a Home: Philip Nork

 

Creating the history of your family takes work, having people to talk with and listening. Wanting to find out more about his family’s past, the people that he never met and create a report on the history of his family Peter Jacob Borden III, would take on a huge venture and at the end it would not only change his life but many close to him too. What if the history of your family took you back to a town where people lived each day just taking care of their family? What if money, luxuries and things were not their prime concern? Could you live without air conditioning, computers, cell phones and even a washing machine? Take a trip back in time with the Sengers of Stiritz and learn the true meaning of family ties, friendship, love and just what the definition of a home really is.

As Peter and his family discuss the report that he has to do for school his father finds his own and this is the start of an adventure not only for Peter, his family who is reading his thoughts and words but for readers to understand the rationale behind those that chose to work in the dangerous coal mines, the effects of the air quality, the soot and the residuals resulting in Black Lung for so many and the oneness that you can feel as we all take a trip to Johnston County and meet Aunt Maddy, Uncle John, Grandpa Vern, Uncle Bill and a family just like yours and mine but with one special difference. That you will find out after you read this very compelling memoir or history of a family that anyone would want to be apart of.

 

Peter’s grandfather was a proud man thought living in the big city was better than the small town his family came from. The house he resided in with his wife was a normal sized home with the main floor, a living room his orange chair, a basement and second story. But, his grandfather had not been back for years and Johnston City had just about 7000 people living there. The Sengers were coal miners but not his grandfather. As we learn more about Peter’s family on his mother’s father’s side readers will be engulfed in a story that will keep you glued to the printed page, entering the coalmines, living the job with the miners and understanding their plight.

 

Vern Senger was a cantankerous and feisty older man whose favorite sandwich was liverwurst and onions. The foods that you will learn about might not bring a tantalizing desire to eat them to your pallet but after learning more about this family you just might try some of them.

The job of a coal miner is dangerous and hazardous to the person’s health. Performing many task depending on the type of mine the person is employed in, despite any safety improvements, this area of work is dangerous. Regardless of what this person does, he/she must be both physically and mentally fit and alert, cautious and attentive at all times. Getting to know the family is how Peter begins writing his report. Enlisting the help of his parents, his grandfather and Uncle the solution as they all decide to attend the annual fourth of July celebration in Johnston and what Peter will learn will stay with him forever. What is in important to you: Money, Power, material things or family? Learn the true meaning of the simple phrase: This House is A Home after reading this compelling story.

 

 

A family that appeared to be disjointed and a young boy that just might unite them and bring harmony. A grandfather who divorced himself from the primitive way his family lived and a sudden awakening to the important things in life. Imagine doing laundry by hand, my grandmother did. Imagine picking blueberries I did with my grandmother when I was younger. It was more fun than buying them in the market. Imagine not having indoor plumbing and sleeping in one room. This was the way Aunt Maddy lived and so did many of her children as each house was given to another family member of another generation and as they said so many times throughout the story: The sun never set on a Senger house. So, Peter’s journey into his family’s history began at 6 one morning as Aunt Maddy got him up and the story begins with her recounting the marriage of Henry and Margaret Senger. An arranged marriage that would change Margaret’s life and a story that will endear you to them both as we learn that Margaret would never forget William her true love but was loyal to Henry. Thinking marrying her would help advance his career in the mining industry, he consented to the arrangement. A story that Maddy would tell in her own way and a young boy that never thought that coming home to learn about his roots would be so exciting and wonderful. More than just a learning experience as the author expertly treats readers to the history of each family member, their migrations to many different places and their lives within the dangerous confines of a coal mine. As Henry would dig a hole in the wall of the coal using his pick, put a stick of explosives in the hole, light the wide wick at the end of it and take cover. As the author relates more readers might become tense, feel the smoke, the acrid smell and understand why this was so dangerous. Women would cook, some would sew and others would create gardens. Each family would provide something for the others and they would trade their products for what they needed from others. Imagine using the barter system and not having to worry about money! Working in many different coal mines we get to know more about Henry and his family. But, Henry’s family had one slight advantage over the others when they moved to a specific block of houses. Being the first ones there they were able to build shelters for all of its male members. Within 3 months each of his sons had his own house and the only one living at home was their daughter Joanah. The rest of Chapter 5 includes information about Vern his grandfather as Aunt Maddy says: A family’s tradition and background are things worth preserving.” How very true!

 

Chapter 6 focuses on Thomas Senger and his family as he led the way as a hunter for his family. Adventurous and wild he was able to bring back fresh strawberries and mushrooms for his mother and hunt rabbit and other small animals allowing his mother to use the skins for clothing in the winter. Each family member would continue with more of the history and the journey as Uncle John was next and this part of the story is really my favorite as he takes both Peter and cousin Emily, to different mines to get a first hand experience of what a real coal miner did. Read Chapter 7 and learn about a typical day of a coal miner from Uncle John along with Peter.

The head of each family made sure that each member knew the importance of family, family loyalty and values. Read pages 102- 105 and learn what Uncle John called their system of living. Join them as they enter a shaft mine, learn the definition of cutters, diggers and tracklayers and get the firsthand experience along with Peter. Find out what Peter finds and the importance of the artifact and what happens when he and Emily experience something they will never forget. As Peter tells his story from the past his son in the present is hoping to use what he learns and is reading to get his own A+. The hardest thing was for Peter to adjust to the food and trying dishes that most people might not want to take a taste of brought him closer to his family. Imagine having a food tent with so many dishes that it required an entire family to prepare for the event. Raccoon, rabbit, squirrel and even cow hearts: Want some!

 

As Peter learns more about his family grandpa Vern opens up to him about his own past and learns more about himself. What happens when his time there is finished? Will he ever see them again? Will his grandfather reunite with his brothers and sisters? What is really important to you: Things, material worth, money or family and love?

 

Meet cousin Madeline at the end and learn just how she managed to keep the family heritage going in the present. But, first learn about a new way of playing horseshoes using washers. Some mysteries require that the detective uncover the answers and in this case you will uncover the mysteries beneath the ground, enter a coal miner’s shaft, learn about the dangers and come out just maybe wanting to be a member of the Senger family and wearing their famous orange tee shirt at special occasions. A definite must read for teens, young adults and for anyone that has forgotten the true meaning of what family means.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer

 

Let’s give this title: FIVE GOLDEN DELICIOUS LIVERWURST SANDWICHES FOR GRANDMA PA VERN!

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Poisoned Reviewed By Fran Lewis of Bookpleasures.com

Poisoned Reviewed By Fran Lewis of Bookpleasures.com | reviewer's suggestion | Scoop.it
Author: Steve Shukis
ISBN-13: 978-0991193813
Publisher: Titletown
Publishing, LLC
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The Reach of the Banyan Tree

When two cultures collide tragedy wins

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Fran Lewis's curator insight, June 28, 2014 7:24 PM


Mark Sasse:  The Reach of the Banyan Tree

 

 

Like star crossed lovers Chip Carson reflects on his past as he sits in a dark, dang and dirty prison cell going through the motions of life as if he’s living outside of his body. The novel is complex and takes place during two separate time periods. As we meet Chip aka Charles Regal Carson III who divorces himself form his father’s empire and decides to travel to Tan Trao, North Vietnam and begins a journey that will take him back in time to WWII and living a nightmare in the present. Charles Regal Carson II is an oil magnate and a very controlling and manipulating figure. As we get to know more about the reasons why Chip decides to veer out on his own we learn about his connection to his paternal grandfather, the Flying Dutchman. The Flying Dutchman said to be an American soldier on a mission out to foil and stop the Japanese.

 

Chip is hard working and has created a foundation to help people in Vietnam. Along with his girlfriend Thuy the begin climb mountains, reach huge heights and withstand obstacles to explore the Phuong Hoang Cave which revealed information about his grandfather when he comes across in the cave a carving in stone. His grandfather is linked to a woman named Mai who Chip immediately wants to learn more about. But, things change and as Thuy’s family embraces Chip as a friend for their daughter and allows him to befriend their young son, Quat, they shun and discount him as a marriage partner for their daughter. When Chip asks for Thuy’s hand and Thuy asks her father for his blessing, what happens will enlighten readers to the greed, prejudice and injustices that Thuy faced living under her father’s roof. Her mother deemed helpless and her father constantly drunk, would not relent until something changed it all. When commenting about Americans and stating the Chip had really nothing to offer, he relents and tells the truth about his heritage and parentage and that sets him up for a big win he thinks as her father changes his mind since he daughter is now going to marry a rich American. Things progress until one night when Chip leaves, jumps on his motorcycle and young Quat tries to catch up to him to return the sunglasses he borrowed. Not wanting to let Chip go home without them what happens tragic, an accident but Thuy and her family do not see it that way and Chip winds up at the hands of the Vietnamese Police and place in prison for a murder that he did not commit. No one listened. No one realized the pain that he felt and the remorse when Quat was tragically killed. But, it is this tragedy that will link him to his past. The Chief of Police shows no compassion for him but someone comes to the prison and presents him with a journal that takes readers back in time when it all began. Meet Long as he relates to his son how Charles Regal Carson saved his life and how it was his turn to do something for Chip.

 

Mark Sasse takes readers into the villages of Vietnam and back in time as we meet Long as an eager young 14 -year old boy who meets Charles Regal Carson and in five minutes after his arrival makes him his best friend. Two-time periods and yet one story that will link both the present and the past. Cultures that are different and although Chip planned to marry Thuy, the accident that landed him in prison changed it all. For she no longer wanted anything to do with him, sided with her family and left him alone. When this stranger or Long appears at the prison and hands him the journal that houses the information about his grandfather who parachuted into French Indochina at the close of the second world war, Chip takes the journal, its words and learns about his grandfather, his past and what some would do for love. As we go back in time and meet Vinh, his nephew Long, Charles or Ch Le as they call him and Mai and hear their stories, learn their struggles as Long’s brother is the catalyst for part two or the flashbacks in time as he is sent out to pick up a shipment of rifles and goes missing. Within the scenes that follow as they search for his brother, they enter the village but not before encountering some Frenchman that intend to rape Mai and kill the rest. But, the tables turn they wind up dead and Charles and Mai bury them all but Vinh has so much hate within him that what happens when they reach the village will change everything. His parents killed, his family gone and his sister about to marry a Frenchman and Vinh wants revenge. What happens will bring harden Long and bring more tragedy as the end result is another death. As Chip reads and the author relates the story we learn just how far someone will go for love. Just what will Charles in the present do to have another chance with Thuy? Will she ever forgive him for what happened to her brother?

 

Throughout the novel several issues come to light as prejudice, hate diverse beliefs and cultures clash leaving broken branches in their wake. Learning more about the past we understand the true meaning of the Banyan Tree as the author relates its meaning. So majestic a window to the past he states reminded of Mai and her relationship to his grandfather. The is almost magical and it knows all and “keeps many secrets.” Remembering that the French came to Indochina and it even knew a time of peace and freedom. Almost human in some respects as it grows, expands and develops regardless of obstacles of difficulties. It holds your destiny and hopefully with the aid of the banyan tree everything will work out in their favor. But, what about Thuy and Chip? What will their fate be?

When Chip’s father arrives in Vietnam and demands an audience with the Deputy Minister, you can feel the tension in the room, the fear in his employee’s eyes as he demands meetings, results, phone calls and will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

As the Chief of Police and Minister Dung conspire to free Chip yet want to find a way to pronounce justice even if it means doing something illegal, the end result will surprise readers as someone from the past comes forward in the present. The village of Tan Trao holds many memories and when Chip is finally freed from his cell, reunites with his father and hopes to escape unharmed his heart is still heavy without the love of Thuy and what he finally does will not only jeopardize his life but others too.


But, there is much more as Chip reunites with Long and finds his way to his house even though he is finally free. What he learns about Long and his past changes his perspective of his grandfather as he learns Mai’s fate, where she wound up and her relationship with Long. Long joined the forces and fought for the revolution with Mai at his side almost like a mother. Relationships change and things between them developed and the end result was something special for them both. Follow your Heart his grandfather would say! But why didn’t he?

 

A father whose power was worldwide and who would do anything to help his son. A country so riddled with war and hate that at times they could not see past it . A father who wanted justice and revenge and did not see that Chip drank with him and that perhaps part of what happened to Quat might have been his fault. Anger, fear, frustration and hate wreaked havoc in Thang’s mind and body until he could not take it anymore. So, why does Chip decide to come back for Thuy? Why won’t he leave without her? A scene so compelling and tragic you have to read it to understand the depth of his love and her blind loyalty for a father who rejected her as a daughter, abused her mother and did not deserve her love.

 

What happens at the end when we meet Chip 14 years later and now the head of his company will surprise you and the subtle twist at the end will let readers know that sometimes the power of the banyan tree just might win over hate. “ I’m not leaving without you.” Would he if given another chance? Read The Reach of the Banyan Tree: join Chip as he sits under the tree, learns its meaning and defines his fate.

 

As story so vividly depicted, scenes graphically related and two cultures that clash, societies that are so different, loyalties that are misplaced and two young people at the center. When prejudice, hate, lies, betrayals and fear are so powerful only tragedy wins! Once again Mark Sasse pens a novel so poignant, with two loves so powerful and filled with hope that only he can bring it to light. Charles and Mai/ Thuy and Carson: Which ones will find happiness under the Banyan Tree?