Monthly Archives: May 2013

Giveaways – An ABC Book of Loanwords from the Americas by Linda Boyden


Giveaways is a delightfully illustrated, wonderfully informative book by Linda Boyden. Hours of research and creativity went into this colorful book about words the Nagiveawaystive Americans have ‘given’ to the English language.

Want to know a good way to protect sheep? Read about a llama. Where did the idea of a barbeque come from? Ask the Taino people of the Caribbean. There are even legends about why the opossum’s tail is hairless and how the Fanilusa Bayou got its name.

Each page is lavishly illustrated with Linda’s magnificent and imaginative illustrations, showing that she is a talented artist as well as author. Linda tells about each word she’s chosen, as well as adding a bibliography in the back full of more fun facts.

I love Giveaways and have now added it to my substitute bag of tricks. I know it will thrill and delight the elementary children I work with.

5 Colorful Acorns

© 2013 Dellani Oakes

Ghost in the Mirror – Chantal Boudreau


Sonya is a lonely, lost soul of a woman. Battered and downtrodden by her life, she’s turned to drugs and alcohol. No matter how low she sank she always had Ole Nan.

Ole Nan, her grandmother, helped pick her up and dust her off. When Sonya’s life was falling apart, Ole Nan did her best to help her granddaughter.

Now, that prop of her life is gone, Sonya has nothing. Ole Nan passed, leaving Sonya alone. However, Sonya finds strength in an amazing and unusual place—an image in her mirror. She sees the face of an old woman who smiles at her, giving her strength to get through.

Ghost in the Mirror is a heart touching tale of a one lost woman’s journey to redemption. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves a story of faith and hope. (Tissues recommended)

5 Golden Acorns

Ghost Dance – Rod Marsden There’s Trouble Down Under


ghost danceHercule Gibbs Morgan is a sorcerer. Evil doesn’t begin to describe him. He uses the blood of the innocent to keep himself young. It is his desire to harness great power and rid the world of the plague of inhabitants—humans. To do this, he needs a werewolf because no other being has the necessary power in its blood.

Frank Burkhard is a werewolf. His family has lived with this secret for generations. Cursed for the deeds of an ancestor, Frank has just experienced his first transformation. When he escapes from the stronghold of his parents’ home, his family is kidnapped. It’s up to Frank to find and rescue them, but he can’t do it alone. He and his parents must complete a quest to break Frank’s curse.

Petra Card is a vampire. She’s stalked the night since the 1920’s. Coming across Frank in a nightclub, she finds a source of energy that assuages her hunger far longer than a mere human’s. For that reason, and the dreams she’s having, she decides to follow Frank and help him where she can.

Two organizations exist to keep the world safe from supernatural trouble, The Secret Compass and The Rising Sun Group.

Helen Kiln works for The Secret Compass. She uses her psychic abilities to find vampires, werewolves, etc. In a vision, she is warned that Frank Burkhard needs her help. Since he hasn’t killed humans or done anything evil, she agrees to help him.

Danny Broom and Mike Evans are Secret Compass agents sent to aid Frank and his parents in their quest.

Ghost Dance is an interesting blend of fantasy, action and mystery. I found myself caught up in the tale as it blazed through Australia, England, France, Italy and Germany. Ghost Dance explores the question: If the world faced a great enough evil, who would protect us? Author Rod Masden answers that question well.

I recommend Ghost Dance to anyone who likes a good action story, a cunning mystery or lives to gobble up any story with werewolves and vampires.

**Warning** These vampires don’t sparkle.

5 Golden Acorns

© 2013 Dellani Oakes


Frosty – The Adventures of a Morgan Horse Ellen F. Feld


frostyHeather is a teenage girl who loves horses. She enjoys the freedom of riding and feeling at one with her horse. She’s got a stallion she adores named Blackjack (Blackjack – Dreaming of a Morgan Horse). When the story begins, Heather is at the horse auction with her friend Laura. Her parents have given her permission to buy a second horse. As she looks around, she finds a shaggy, timid mare with whom she feels an immediate attraction. The mare is obviously a Morgan, though her coloring is unique.

Unable to resist the shy animal, Heather purchases her, little knowing how badly the horse has been abused. This becomes apparent when she takes her home and tries to train her for show riding. When that proves unsuccessful, Heather decides to make Frosty a trail horse instead.

Frosty” is a wonderful book for young readers. The story is compelling, urging the reader to continue. The relationship between Heather and Frosty becomes one of mutual love and trust as they share a grand adventure together.

Ellen F. Feld, herself a lover of horses, brings a tenderness and unique perspective to the relationship between Heather and Frosty. She also portrays the affection Heather has for her stallion, Blackjack. She characterizes both the humans and the horses well, showing their different personalities.

Frosty – The Adventures of a Morgan Horse” is a winner of Children’s Choices from the Children’s Book Council. It is well deserving of the award.

“Frosty” is a great read. It’s fun, compelling and enlightening, bringing people unfamiliar with the world of horse shows and training, into this interesting world. I very much enjoyed reading “Frosty” and hope to read other books by Feld.

ISBN 9780970900272

illus. Jeanne Mellin

Willow Bend Publishing

Children’s Book Council Award

Morgan horses, horse riding, Ellen Feld, Children’s Book Council Award, Jeanne Mellin

Amazing Authors Stirrin’ It Up!


I feel very fortunate that I was chosen to be among the amazing writers with Second Wind Publishing. We have some fantastic authors and I am still working through my “to read’ list. Below are some reviews from these fabulous folks!

Images of BetrayalImages of Betrayal by Claire Collins initially seems like a romance novel. Tysan meets Walker, a handsome photographer, who shows her an alarming secret. His pictures show the future! Dubious, until events start coming true, Ty clings to Walker for help and support. But can those pictures hold something else more sinister?

This book is amazing. The plot has more twists and turns than a corkscrew. I thought I had it figured out, but every time I thought I knew the outcome, Collins gave me another twist. Fast paced an exciting, this story seems like it’s going one direction. In an unexpected twist, the story goes 360, then about another 180 degrees, spinning nearly out of control. An amazing thrill ride from start to finish. An amazingly thrilling mystery/ love story. A must read for anyone.Fate and Destiny

Fate and Destiny Like Collins’ other book, Images of Betrayal, Fate and Destiny blends a little romance with a whole lot of crime! Someone dropped Destiny out of a truck and into the snow. If Andrew hadn’t found her, she would have frozen to death. Who dumped her and why? Was it Fate that brought them together? If so, what else does Fate have in mind?

A wonderfully well crafted book that’s a delight to read. It charms and thrills from start to finish. An excellent choice for anyone who likes love and crime mixed together.



Carpet Ride coverCarpet Ride – Norm Brown

Someone left a roll of carpet in the road. Did it fall off a truck unnoticed? Or was it on purpose. Whatever happened, Sam and his new wife, Lynn nearly crash their rented RV as a result of running over it. This accident triggers a series of events that nearly cost them their lives. If not for the help of Sam’s good friend, John, the story would have had quite a different ending.

Each step of John’s investigation gives him more questions and fewer answers. Finally, between the two of them, he and Sam discover the truth, but is it too late for Sam and his family?

The story takes Sam and his family from a narrow mountain road in Oregon, back to their home in Texas. Meanwhile, clues lead to Colorado making Sam and John wonder what exactly was in that rolled up carpet and why is someone now trying to kill Sam, Lynn and their son?

Carpet Ride is a wonderfully intricate plot with more twists and turns than a narrow mountain road. Every time I thought I had it figured out, Norm Brown threw me a curve ball and I realized I didn’t have it figured out until he told me! It’s an excellent book and a Must Read for all mystery lovers.

Murder in Winnebago County – Christine Husom is a great mystery story. MurderWinnebago_thSgt. Corky Aleckson takes a routine call for a missing person that turns out to be not so routine. The death of Judge Fenneman is only the beginning of the bizarre sudden deaths around the county. Can Corky figure out “who done it” before the killer strikes again?

This is an excellent murder mystery with a twist. It gives us a poignant insight into the mind of a disturbed and grieving woman and her attempts to ease her pain. A must read for all murder mystery lovers.



ALOT_bookcover-148x223A Love Out of Time – Mairead Walpole — Little does Olivia Vernon know that evening that she’s about to step into a whole new world. Or, more accurately, have an old one come calling. Alden Scott hardly can believe that he’s come from the distant past into the future. Compelled by forces greater than they are, the couple finds one another.

Mairead Walpole has crafted a wonderful paranormal, love through time novel that truly unites two kindred souls. Walpole weaves a tale of romance and intrigue in this imaginative novel. I’ve read it twice, and will read it again for years to come.



Night & Day by Sherrie Hansen is a lovely romance about two stubborn, set inNIght_and_day_cover-148x223 their ways people who meet quite by accident on the Internet. Though one lives in America and the other in Denmark, they find they have a connection that transcends location. Knowing they are right for each other isn’t enough, though, when neither is willing to compromise. Can the two find love, or are they destined to be apart?

I greatly enjoyed this book. Hansen captures the unique qualities of the characters, making them come alive. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a true romance.



Badeaux Knights – Suzette Vaughn


badeaux knightsSonja Mitchell is running from an abusive boyfriend. She returns to the one place she feels really safe, the home of Nick and Kaleb Badeaux. She hopes to escape, only to have her ex redouble his efforts, threatening her and the two men she loves.

Vaughn’s story immediately draws the reader into a world that’s a mixture of modern and arcane. The Badeaux brothers are two of the sexiest romantic heroes of all time. This novel leaves the reader breathless, wanting more.

This story is an atypical love triangle between Sonja Mitchell, a young woman in an abusive relationship, and two brothers, Kaleb and Nicholas Badeaux. Running away from her abusive boyfriend, Sonja seeks refuge with the Badeaux brothers, embroiling them all in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with her sadistic ex. Badeaux Knights is exciting, seductive, terrifying! I couldn’t put it down!

5 Golden Acorns

© 2013 Dellani Oakes


From the Ashes – Jo Ramsey


from the ashesShanna Bailey has had a horrible life. At the ripe old age of 14, she’s had more pain and abuse than many three times her age. Her mother, a mean and wicked woman, has beaten and belittled her for years. With the help of her new friend, Jonah Leighton, Shanna is able to get away from her mother. Now, living in a loving foster home, life has stabilized – or has it?

One thing that most people don’t know about Shanna is that she’s battled spiritual evil and survived. Jonah has taught her a lot about spiritual healing, how to combat demon possession and how to find enlightenment. It’s all new and extremely odd to Shanna, but she’s finally embraced Jonah’s beliefs. She’s found that she is spiritually strong and is learning to manage her new strength and skills.

Jonah Leighton is a unique young man. Considered weird by his peers, Shanna considers him a godsend. He befriends her early in her freshman year, delighted that an older boy finds her the least bit interesting.

Their adventures together fill several stories. “From the Ashes” is book five in the Reality Shift series. The other books in the Reality Shift series: “Connection”, “Filtration System”, “Cutting Cords” and “Taking Control”.

In one of the prior books, an entity from another reality, wants to enter ours. Jonah and Shanna learn that if it passes into our world, it will destroy everything. They manage to prevent it once, but can they do it again? Join them as they embark on their fifth exciting adventure.

The story is well crafted, the characters interesting and realistic. Jo Ramsey handles the relationship between Shanna and her mother well, showing the fear of a child from an abusive home. She brings an element of tenderness to the relationship between Jonah and Shanna, of a friendship established in mutual interests and shared danger.

Even though “From the Ashes” is written with young adults in mind, it’s a great story for adults too. I highly recommend this book to any readers of paranormal adventure.

5 Golden Acorns

© 2013 Dellani Oakes



Shedding Light:  On the Hollywood Blacklist

Stanley Dyrector



Blacklists contain the names of people that have been placed on individual lists and that have been singled out in order to be punished or denied employment. Organizations are not exempt from these lists. Sometimes a person can be blacklisted for simply disagreeing with their employer. Some can be blacklisted for having a different political or social viewpoint. When someone is blacklisted they are no longer able to seek a job or any type of employment in that particular field. Just how legal is this and what will be revealed by Stanley Dyrector in his open and honest interviews and conversations with so many that have endured this fate? Is this legal? In some cases yes and others you might think view it as discrimination. Just where did this begin and how do people wind up on these lists?

Merchants can add someone to these list by denying him or her credit especially if someone has declared bankruptcy. These lists are made public and the person faces more than just simple embarrassment. Imagine having your image permanently tarnished? These lists are used to determine whether someone is denied the right to belong to social clubs, dine in a particular restaurant, act in a play, and go to a store and many other places. Some as you will learn when you read this book are blacklisted for what others have stated as illegal activities. Companies can be blacklisted too. A strong comparison can be when many of us block private calls from our home phones or refuse to answer calls listed as restricted. Some of us even block specific callers or numbers from our phones. There are many reasons why someone is blacklisted. Let’s start with the first conversation in this book and learn more.

The author brilliantly introduces the reader to ten writers, movies stars, Hollywood figures and others that were blacklisted. He begins with three shows that focus on four specific people as we hear their voices, their stories and understand what they endured we also hear several audience members voice their opinions and dissension. The people who were focused on during this period by McCarthy were suspected and these people readily do admit to having ties to the Communist Party. Hollywood was hit hard as many actors, screenwriters, directors and producers were blacklisted. He begins with The Hollywood Blacklist Part 1 with guest Jean Rouverol, Bernard Gordon, Oliver Crawford and Robert Lees each presenting the reasons why they were blacklisted but first sharing their back-stories and what led them to join the Communist Party and their experiences on the black list.

The first ten to be black listed were called The Hollywood Ten and refused to cooperate with the investigation that was forged against them invoking their First Amendment. Some were successful where others were not. The Waldorf Statement issued by Hollywood executives would change the dynamics greatly as these ten were fired. Eight sent to prison for one year and the other two six months. Compared to the Salem Witch trials this time period and what you are about to learn from reading their stories was equally as volatile. Added in the author shares information before we begin our journey into the past with these artists about a pamphlet called Red Channels, which focused on broadcasting. In this pamphlet 151 members of this industry were named and referred to as “ Red Fascists and their sympathizers.” The United States government concerned itself with finding links between Hollywood and the Communist party. They created The House Committee on Un-American Activities or HUAC, which released a report in 1938 stating that communism, was strong in Hollywood. More than 42 movie professionals were named as communists including Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney and Fredric March. Much of this information is related to readers in the Introduction. The blacklist began in 1946. William R. Wilkerson founder and publisher of The Hollywood Reporter published Trade View a column titled: A Vote For Joe Stalin in it naming many sympathizers dubbing this list Billy’s Blacklist. What happens as a result you will be surprised as his son apologized for the paper’s role in the blacklist article and stating that his father’s reasons were revenge when his own ambitions did not pan out to own his own studio.


Robert Lees story continues on pages 22-23 as the author and Robert share how and why he was blacklisted and his experience. Sterling Hayden named him. On the stand for quite some time he left knowing that he was blacklisted and working in the industry was over and jobs would not come his way. The Hollywood Ten were find by the Committee and sent to jail. He took the Fifth and the First Amendment. Forced to cooperate by the producers they had no choice but if blacklisted he and the others knew they could no longer work. The sad part is that the committee did not punish them as Robert states “the industry did.” So, how did he survive quite compelling. He went into something entirely different and then many writers realized they could work if they changed their names. Actors could not do it because they would be recognized. He change had four names. His story continues and he relates what happened to Fred Rinaldo his partner and then we find out more about Bernard Gordon and his involvement with 55 Days At Peking and then we hear more from Oliver Crawford.

So many amazing actors and writers were fired and the impact on so many lives changed the complexion of the time period. The government went after them and the end result you will read in this book as you hear every voice and you understand their experiences, their reasons as each one is interviewed, questioned and allowed to voice their side of a very sad story.


To really understand what Jean, Oliver, Robert and Gordon endured I listened to the shows aired in 2001 and heard their voices, their opinions and their intuitive and insightful comments about the government at that present time, how they survived and where they were at that time. The author states that his book: “Shedding Light on the Hollywood Blacklist: Conversations With Participants”.is the result primarily of transcriptions of my guest interviews’  with blacklisted screenwriters and actors from my cable television show over a decade ago, (with the exception of the audio interview I did with actress Marsha  Hunt, a few months back in 2012). Several of the shows won WAVE AWARDS for  Excellence in local programming.” He wrote this book in order for readers to hear what happened to his friends that had been blacklisted.


We then hear the voice of Abe Polonsky and we learn what films he wrote such as Body and Soul. Listening to the interview, hearing why his father named him Abraham Lincoln Polonsky and finding out why he was blacklisted and how he managed to become one of the highest paid writers in the industry is truly great. He is interview was compelling and I am going to relate more about the next ones too. He was an American Film director, screenwriter, and essayist and blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studios during the McCarthy era. During these interviews he relates information about the novels that showcased his career, becoming a Marxist and joining the Communist Party. He even tells readers about how he participated in union politics. He created a paper called The Home Front and he signed with Paramount Pictures. He served in WWII returning to Paramount after his tour of duty. His first film that he directed was Force of Evil. He was blacklisted and called “ a dangerous citizen.” To learn more you need to read his interviews for yourself. His sense of humor will bring smiles to your face and the courage he shows even more.

Next the author includes Norma Barzman and Joan Scott and we hear their stories, learn about Joan and Norma’s careers, their husbands and Adrian Scott’s time on the blacklist, when he decides to return to face his sentence and then how they survived. Richard Powell is next and he created some of my mom’s favorite shows like Topper, Life of Riley and one for the other Dick Powell. The interviews are extensive and the cast quite varied as he interviews Robert White/ screenwriter and author along with author Norma Barzman. Talking to Robert about a book he co-authored titled Hollywood and the Best of Lost Angeles Alive. He talks about why he wrote it and many of the stories within the book. The author then talks to Norma about her novel Rich Dreams and why she was blacklisted. The story and account is shared on pages 108- 109 along with one about Marilyn Monroe. The remainder of the book is quite revealing as the author devotes on complete chapter to Oliver Crawford, Robert Lees why he became a writer, his work, movies and much more followed by his time on the blacklist and he lived and survived. Next, Jean Rouverol is heard and we learn more about writing and her work. The author once again talks about her life with her blacklisted husband, Hugo Butler and their friendship with Waldo Salt who was the primary reason they joined the Communist Party. We learn more about the Freedom of Information Act and how she and many others obtained their FBI files with the information that they were allowed to see. Some pages were blacked out. She talked about the trial, the Fifth Amendment and the end result. The reader is even enlightened about Hugo’s condition and the drugs he needed to stay alive.

The final chapters are devoted to Bernard Gordon, Jeff Corey and the interviews conducted in 1999 and 2001. The final two interviews are John Randolph and Marsha Hunt. John was a great actor and he talks about his time in the service, being blacklisted and why he could not work in Hollywood. He did work on Broadway and wrote a book titled Naming Names and you can guess what the theme of that book was when you read his interview and learn more about this great actor for yourself. Marsha Hunt is last and we hear her as the final voice and the final interview. Asking her about the blacklist she did not want to discuss it. She talks about Stanley’s book and realizes he discusses where it all began and how it spread. She even talks about HUAC and then about McCarthy. Marsha Hunt devoted her time to fighting for civil rights and working with The March of Dimes and The Red Cross. She wrote a book in 1993 titled The Way We Wore. Flashing back remember that she went to Washington to support 19 people in order to testify at the U.S. Capital in 1947. She believed that what was happening was unfair.  Supporting her friend Anne Shirley and her husband as well as producer Adrian Scott. She was one of the 151 listed in Red Channels and wrongly accused of being a communist sympathizer. The rest is really quite compelling as author Stanley Dyrector takes readers back to a time when freedom of speech was halted or non-existent some might say and when defending those that you felt were not guilty would cast guilt upon you. A great book with outstanding interviews and books that I would love to read and interviewees if alive  I would love to have on my own radio show. This is a must read for everyone. As you read each interview you can literally hear the voice of Stanley and the person being interviewed. Listen closely: this book gets FIVE GOLD LISTS and so does the forward by Edward Asner.


Fran Lewis: reviewer



Faces Behind the Stones – Fran Lewis


faces behindFaces Behind the Stones #1 is an eerie collection of tales told by the dead themselves. Each of the seven stories reveals what events brought them to their final resting place – an obscure, neglected corner of a graveyard.

Each character tells his or her own story. Often, the reader is left wondering—murder or suicide? All the people are forgotten, their graves ignored by the living, their graves overgrown. Why did these people have to die?

Sadly, none of the dead seemed to matter to the people they left behind. There is no one to grieve for them except a lone stranger who picks her way through the deserted cemetery.

Faces Behind the Stones is an incredible collection of stories, each more eerie and spine tingling than the last. Fran Lewis’ style is chatty and easy to read. The reader feels drawn into the characters as if they really are the ones speaking.

I highly recommend this creepy compilation and look forward to the other books in the series.

Below is a short review of the first tale in the collection: “Murder Through the Eyes of a Dead Woman”

MJ, a beautiful and successful woman in her 60’s, has a secret past that only she and a handful of people know about. She works for a doctor’s office and often goes in early and stays late. One day, she thinks she’s being followed. The feeling of being stalked doesn’t go away, it worsens. She wonders who’s following her and why. Has her past caught up with her? Or is something more insidious awaiting her?

Five Golden Acorns

© 2013 Dellani Oakes