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Posts Tagged ‘teens’

WGR is excited to welcome author, educator, and talk show host, Fran Lewis.

WGR: Fran, welcome to Working Girl Reviews. I understand you were a New York City teacher for many years. Tell us about that.

Fran: I taught in the NYC public schools for over 30 years. Working with students in grades one through six for the first part of my career. My Principal felt that I had a special skill and expertise when working with students with learning difficulties and encouraged me to go back to school for my second Master’s Degree in Reading and Learning Disabilities. I am glad that I did. As the reading and writing specialist and later Staff Developer I was able to reach many of the students who came from other countries and help them to read, understand and speak our language and excel in school. Before leaving, when my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I was the Dean of Discipline and helped create a Peer Mediation program that worked in our school.

The arts and music are two of my greatest passions. I play the piano and the violin and directed and created all of the holiday shows for the school including the ones on Black History and Women’s History. For many years I directed the orchestra and choral groups at Graduation.

I mentored many of the new teachers, was test coordinator for the school and eventually went back for my degree in Administration.

WGR: Tell us a little about Bertha. Did your experience as a teacher inspire your Bertha stories or was it more from personal experience?

Fran: I based my stories and my titles in my own experiences growing up in the South Bronx. I was always the outcast when it came to sports, dancing and was overweight. I spent my life battling with my weight and got ridiculed a lot in dancing school and when participating in many activities. I did however excel at punch ball and can still knock one out of the park. Bertha is me. Everything that I wrote in all three books if true. Many children in the schools today are subjected to the abuse caused by bullies in their schools or being overweight as I was all my life. Having difficulty walking up the stairs or not being able to participate in activities in the gym made it difficult for me to fit in with many of the other kids.

As an educator and a teacher who did spend time working with the gym teacher when my time was requested to assist him, I learned that this issue was still front and center and I refused to allow it to continue.

My Bertha stories are all true. Every one of the stories in My Name is Bertha and Bertha Speaks Out are true. The third book, Bertha Fights Back deals with September 11 and is dedicated to one of my students who died in the first tower. I wrote these stories to help teachers, parents and children of all ages learn to embrace their differences and understand that it is not what you look like on the outside that makes the person, it is the inner you and your kindness and understanding of others.

WGR: Do you have any books other than the Bertha series?

Fran: I wrote two other books dealing with Alzheimer’s. The first is Memories are Precious: Alzheimer’s Journey: Ruth’s Story. It is my mom’s story and her words when she was diagnosed with this dreaded and horrific illness. It is also a resource for anyone that needs home care, senior care or wants to really understand the illness. It has family memories, author’s memories and pictures to help bring the book and the stories to light.

My second book is titled Sharp as a Tack or Scrambled Eggs Which Describes Your Brain? This book will help the coach potato in everyone and give you ways to keep your mind and body active and alert.

WGR: You’ve been writing for a while now. Tell us what you like least about the writing process and what you like most.

Fran: I really do not like editing my work. I love when someone else reads my stories or my novels and gives me the feedback that I need. I have trouble reading on my computer because I get eyestrain. I often wonder at times what I am going to write and where my plots are going.

The best part is completing that manuscript and seeing your book in print and of course having tons of people buy it. The Alzheimer’s books were written to raise funds for research and a cure.

WGR: I know you review books for several review sites. What types of books do you enjoy reading most and who are some of your favorite authors?

Fran: I love reading a well-written mystery, thriller and historical fiction novel. A novel that grabs my attention from the first word forcing me to complete the book in a day. I love reading Paranormal and fantasy too. Children’s books are my favorite. Giving positive and great reviews to a new author and having them tell me they love my review is the best payment and way to say thank you in the world to a reviewer.

WGR: As well as being a writer and reviewer, you host a radio talk show. Please tell us more about that.

Fran: I now host two radio shows. The first is Book Discussion With Fran Lewis, which is the third Wed. of every month at 1 Eastern on Red River Radio. Authors throughout the world, usually two on each show are featured. I read their books and create questions to ask them along with my book club members who have to read the books too. The author tells our listeners about his/her writing career, short bio, answers our questions and can promote their sites, next projects and tell us where we can purchase their books.

The second show if for children’s authors and will focus on books geared for all levels. The primary focus of the show is to have authors whose books teach a positive lesson and will help children and teachers in the character education programs. These are books that should be in classroom and school libraries. There are five authors on my first show and I will ask the questions that I have created and we will discuss the books as a group. This show is the fifth Tuesday of August and November 30th so far. 

WGR: For those readers interested in being a guest on your radio show, where would they find information about that?

Fran: If anyone would like to join me on my November children’s show they can email me at riffyone@optonline.net. That show will be devoted to YA authors and books for teens. The show in August will be for early learners.

WGR: When you aren’t busy writing, reviewing, and doing your radio show, what would we find Fran Lewis doing for fun?

Fran: I love to walk, go to museums, and play basketball with my nephews even if I lose, go shopping, go to the Bronx Zoo and make people laugh with my wild sense of humor.

WGR: Fran, thank you so much for spending time with us today. Please tell all our readers where they can find more information about you and your work.

Fran: My website for anyone that would like me to review their books:

www.gabina49.webs.com

www.franlewis.webs.com

http://gabina49.wordpress.com you can read my blogs and my reviews

I review books for http://Ijustfinished.com under the name Gabina

I review for book pleasures and manic readers too.

Thank you so much for interviewing me.

Coming soon: Wrongly Accused and Bertha’s Revenge

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eyesofinnocenceThe Eyes of Innocence

By: Tika Newman

ISBN: 978 0 9821507 0 2

Thistlewood Publishing, October 2008

Fiction – Paranormal

Buy Link: http://www.thistlewoodpublishing.com

The cover of this book is stunning. It is a wonderful preview of the story within. Readers will be drawn to this cover and intrigued even more once they read the synopsis of the story. Orphaned at the age of three Kalina Weston is raised by her Aunt Jessie and Uncle Jeff. The story picks up when she is 15 years old and the family is on their way to a new home. Readers find out early on that the family moves frequently to keep Lina’s strange abilities a secret. These abilities include seeing the future, communicating with animals and the ability to heal. The powers seem to come and go and Kalina doesn’t always have warning ahead of time nor memory of her acts afterwards. This leads to some interesting twists and turns in the story. In an effort to give her a normal life, her aunt and uncle not only relocate frequently but also try to help her hide her “gifts” and downplay the healings. Kalina doesn’t always agree with their assessment of a situation, but seems grateful for all they do for her.

As she reveals Kalina’s special powers, the author creates several descriptive scenes that are well written. Readers will learn of the special gifts little by little and scene by scene. Readers have special insight into her dreams and await the time they will play out in Kalina’s life. This makes the story compelling. The author obviously researched various facts before presenting them. Often the “Gypsy” or Roma culture is presented stereotypically in books. The author wove them into the story without leaning on stereotypical misrepresentations of this people group. In addition to her miraculous rescues (which I won’t describe for fear that it would spoil the story for new readers) the book is filled with teenage ups and downs, friendship, crushes, homework, hobbies and a slice of betrayal.

This story draws the reader into the life of the main character and several minor characters. Readers may not like Tarrah the drama queen or her awful antics, but will be drawn to Cory the friendly neighbor boy. Cory shares a love of horses with Kalina and plays a large role in Kalina’s rescue after a mishap in the woods. As the story goes along Cory is close to figuring out the secret. Will he fit all the pieces together? If so, will he reveal what he knows? You will have to read and find out. On a side note, Cory’s family has a horse farm and this reviewer was most surprised to spot her own name Pearl in the book. I won’t tell you too much, but I think Pearl was the perfect choice for a new addition to the family farm.

The Eyes of Innocence has an interesting story line. I found myself eager to read to see what would happen but to be honest, I became bogged down in trivial matters. I feel the author went into a little too much detail about food, drinks and snacks the characters ate, as well as too much discussion of chores being done around the house. It got to the point that these seemed like page fillers to me and the book would have been just as interesting without them. Additionally some of the banter back and forth between characters didn’t seem realistic for the setting or time period.  I am giving the book a 3-½-shoe rating because much of the story deals with teenage drama that may not be of interest to older readers. The book is very well suited to teenagers and those that enjoy that age group may rate the book even higher. The storyline itself is interesting and readers will enjoy getting to know Kalina and her special abilities.

The author knows how to keep her readers coming back for more. As her sixteenth birthday approaches Kalina begins dreaming regularly of a white horse. Oddly, she actually sees that exact horse at the edge of her property the day of her birthday. She just knows it is a gift for her, but who gave her such a gift and how did that horse get in her dreams?  Not all questions were answered when the last page was read and this reviewer was left wondering about the next book in this unique series.

The book is full of short chapters that are easy to read. If you enjoy the paranormal and are looking for a quick summer read this may be the book for you. The eyes of Innocence is book one in a planned series of three.  My guess is that the unanswered questions will make many readers eager to read Forever in Her Dreams, which is book two of the series.

–Pearl

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