Pretty Poison – Joyce and Jim Lavene, Authors

November 28, 2009 at 10:48 am (Crime Novels) (, , , , , , , , )

Pretty Poison – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘The man was face down in one of her attractive wicker baskets filled with anemone bulbs. It was part of the autumn scene she’d created, complete with scarecrow and pumpkins. He’d obviously fallen forward, dragging the scarecrow from its perch on the oak rocking chair. The straw figure looked forlorn, lying half under the man’s weight like some bizarre teddy bear.’

Peggy Lee is the owner of the Potting Shed and when she walks into her shop to find a man face down in one of her arrangements she’s beyond words. Part of her wanted to turn around and run, screaming for help. But after being a cop’s wife for years as well as a researcher, she pushes her emotions aside and does the right thing. She calls the police.

To Peggy’s relief, the Detective that took the call was her deceased husband’s partner, Al McDonald. He had been her husband’s partner for twenty years and there wasn’t a man alive she trusted more. But his questions, as well as hers, was who is this man with his face hidden in the plant, how did he get in a shop that was locked up and what happened to him. It definitely wasn’t an accident. There was blood on the shovel that he had been hit over the head with.

One question was answered as soon as the body was turned over. It was Mark Warner, one of the wealthiest men in Charlotte. Peggy had seen him around the shop lately with a woman and the woman wasn’t his wife. Could she have killed him in a rage of jealousy? Maybe he decided to break up with his new girlfriend and she struck out in rage. Some speculated that it might be the homeless man who hung around the shop. There were as many reasons for his murder as there were suspects and Peggy was determined to find the killer.

I became hooked with the Peggy Lee series after reading A Corpus for Yew. There are a total of five books in this series and I intend to read them all, starting next with Fruit of the Poisoned Tree. The Peggy Lee series has to be one of the most light hearted murder mysteries I’ve ever read. The situations Peggy finds herself in will make you laugh as well as keep you on the edge of your seat as you try to solve the mystery. Joyce and Jim Lavene, I really hope you will continue the Peggy series. And please don’t forget to write in Shakespeare the Great Dane rescued by Peggy.

Permalink Leave a Comment

The Whittaker Family Reunion – Shirley A. Roe, Author

November 22, 2009 at 8:44 pm (family, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

The Whittaker Family Reunion – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘The boy stared straight ahead aware of the other’s interest. His young mind was reeling. Can I trust this doctor? Will those men find me and possibly kill us both? Can I tell him that the men are after me an why? He watched the doctor through his peripheral vision; the doctor was handsome and older than he was. The clothes were of good quality, but appeared to be several years old; he was a puzzle.’

The Whittakers are having a family reunion for Martha Whittaker’s 40th birthday. Martha and her husband Jeremy can’t wait for the arrival of their sons.

Isaac, the oldest, lives nearby with his wife and family. When his father Jebediah married Martha he hated her and stood his distance inflicting as much pain through his evil deeds as possible to make her sorry she married his father. But after the death of his father he realized what a blessing Martha actually was. They were now close and he was proud to call her his mother.

Ezekiel lived in England. He took quite well to Martha as she taught him to read. Reading and learning were his passion and he later grown up to become a teacher. He couldn’t wait to see his mother.

Abraham was the doctor in the family. His respect for his mother grew when his father beat him and Martha stepped in hoping to stop the brutal beating. Instead, she too was given a beating by his father. After being locked in the barn for hours, their closeness grew and he became the first one to call her mom.

Jeremy was the brother of Jebediah. He had been sent by Martha’s father from England to America to rescue Martha from his evil brother. After the death of his brother, Jeremy found himself loving Martha and the boys enough to stay in America just to be with them and eventually marrying Martha. Jeremy and Martha’s marriage made the family complete. And with the birth of their daughter Anna, who could ask for more.

After the abuse and beatings Jebediah inflicted on herself and her sons led her to treat her daughter Anna with a soft hand. Most agreed a too soft hand. Anna was spoiled, selfish, self-centered and held no respect for anyone other than herself. She became a constant burden to her parents. After sending her away to boarding school only to have her return unexpectedly, they agreed to give her hand in marriage to Martha’s bookkeeper. For Anna, this was exactly what she needed to free her from her mother. She happily agreed to the marriage but had her own plans in mind as to how she would treat the marriage.

And then there is Red who is determined to destroy the Whittaker family. How will he do this? He will start with the women in the family which will bring the men to their knees. Then he will destroy them.

I read Of Dreams and Nightmares and thoroughly enjoyed meeting the characters, following them through their travels from England to Wyoming with death and destruction along the way and their final escape from the evil Jebediah Whittaker. I’ve also enjoyed The Whittaker Family Reunion which takes their lives and stories into adulthood. Now I’m looking forward to reading Back to Whittakerville in hopes that Anna will realize the hurt she has created for those that love her and straighten out her life. The story, as well as the history written into these books, make them unforgettable.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Gyspy Escape by Florida Author Bobbie Altschul

November 18, 2009 at 5:53 pm (Crime Novels, mystery, Suspense Novels) (, , , , , , , )

About the Book

Beth and Alex Frey both leave their jobs in Michigan on a sabbatical to travel around the United States for an undetermined time.  They try to pretend that they left their jobs for the fun of adventure but the underlying reason was that Beth had been stalked by a mad man and Alex wanted to get her away from the threat.

Leaving their jobs and family behind does not eliminate their problems or fears.  The stalker seems to be following them on their travels.  How does he know where they are?  Why does he think he has to pursue his harassment of Beth now that she is no longer involved with his case?

Each time the couple thinks the past is behind them and they get involved in their travels, something happens to shake their peace of mind.

As if they didn’t have enough to worry about, their best friends, Joyce and Kevin, seem to be bringing their own problems into the Frey’s life.  There is also an underlying secret that Alex and Joyce share that could rock the foundation of his and Beth’s relationship.

The threats start escalating and where there were just innuendoes before, now the threats are getting physical and deadly.  Putting the pieces together it finally dawns on Alex that the stalker is not who they were so sure it was.  By the time he figures this out he knows that Beth is alone in a remote place with the stalker who he now knows intends to be a killer.  Can he get to her in time?

About the Author

Bobbie Altschul has published short stories in the past but Gypsy Escape is her first published novel.  She has traveled extensively in order to research the locations in the novel.  As well as all of the travel to give her book credibility she was also involved with the Michigan Circuit Courts for over fifteen years and was herself harassed by a mad man as was Beth in Gypsy Escape

After experiencing the 2004 Hurricanes in Florida, Bobbie and her husband, Hank, have been living and traveling in their motor home with their animals:  a dog, a cat and a parrot.

Bobbie is presently preparing a second novel, Delusional, for publication as well as being in the midst of writing the second novel in the Gypsy series.

Bobbie has dedicated this novel to her beloved Jacques Cousteau, the inspiration for the Hootmaan character.  We love you and miss you.


Gypsy queen: Adventure everywhere for traveling


By Peg McNichol

Holland Sentinel contributor

Posted Aug 18, 2009 @ 08:58 PM

Bobbie Altschul sees stories everywhere

she looks. No surprise, given the adventures she’s had

over the last decade traveling to 41 states in a recreational


But Altschul, 60, did more than have experiences. She kept

journals and sent lively notes to friends. Some of those

notes went into Altschul’s first book, “Gypsy Escape.” The

new novelist is hoping to convince area book shops to host

events where she can read, sign, and most importantly, sell

her first book.

“Gypsy” tells the story of a couple, Beth and Alex Frey, who

embark on their own RV adventure — but they are running

away from trouble: Beth’s dangerous stalker. Altschul

thought of the story 10 years ago. She worked

intermittently to craft the tale, struggling over dialogue.

“They can’t talk like me,” she said. But the Freys visited

many of the RV campgrounds the Altschuls did.

A voracious reader (at 14, she devoured “Gone with the

Wind”), Altschul tried her hand at writing decades ago,

when she wasn’t busy raising her three daughters.

“In high school, whenever there was a contest, I entered,”

she said, smiling and shaking her head.

In 1986, the Christian teen magazine “Alive!” published her

first short story. In 2001, she had a second short story

published in “True Love” magazine.

Her then-husband wasn’t impressed. The couple divorced.

She married second husband Hank Altschul nearly 20

years ago. He’s a former truck driver, and beams when he talks about his wife’s foray into the publishing world.

“She’s always on the computer,” said Hank Altschul, grinning. “I wake up and hear the ticking of her computer keys.”

She kept the novel under wraps at first, but let him read the final draft. He encouraged her to find a publisher, so

Bobbie mailed the manuscript out, again and again. Sometimes the rejection arrived within weeks; others took as

much as six months.

“Hank got more upset about it than I did,” Bobbie Altschul said. “He’s the one who said I should publish it myself.”

They paid “around $1,000,” Bobbie said, to AuthorHouse, an online publishing company. That basic package did not

include editing or marketing.

“All the typos are mine,” Bobbie said, laughing.

She has worked hard promoting “Gypsy Escape,” its sequel, and “Delusional,” which Bobbie Altschul wrote while

working on “Gypsy.”

The Altschuls understand business and printing. They co-owned Litho-Tech Printing in Holland, but sold it 10 years

ago. They’d planned on boating through the river systems to the Atlantic ocean, then to the inlet separating Port

Charlotte and Punta Gorda in Florida. They planned to live on the boat for about two years, buy a business and

eventually buy a home. Some plans didn’t work out.

The boat sold just days after they put it on the market. The Altschuls quickly bought a home and a shop specializing

in interior design and silk flowers.

In 2004, just after they’d expanded the shop inventory, along came three major storms: Hurricane Charley, which

destroyed their shop; then Hurricanes Francis and Jeanne.

The Altschuls bought a used Winnebago, sold their house and moved what furniture they wanted to keep to Bobbie’s

parents’ Florida home. In 2005, the couple hit the road with a talking Quaker parrot named Chickadee Charlie for

company and a red 2004 Saturn in tow. Along the way, they rescued a small dog, named Scuba; domesticated a feral

cat, which may be part bobcat, named Snorkel. The Altschuls visited 54 national monuments in 41 states. Bobbie

wrote her observations about each one.

“Every campground has its own personality. You meet a lot of interesting people at an RV campground,” she said. “I

wish we could have done this with the kids, when they were little.”

She jotted down some memories of her 15 years as a deputy Friend of the Court in three West Michigan counties,

Branch, Ottawa and Allegan. She saw the best and worst in human behavior while helping sort out divorce and

custody issues. From time to time, she’ll get a phone call or note from someone who wants to thank her. One

unhappy client, however, expressed his displeasure by stalking and threatening her. He landed in jail. Altschul said

some of her court experiences helped add authentic drama to “Gypsy” but the story is not based on any specific

people or situations.

“The character in the book is not that person. No. Some of the minor things have happened,” she said. “Obviously it’s

not him.”

But every spot the Freys stop is a place the Altschuls visited.

For the next two or three weeks, the Altschuls will be camping in West Michigan, hoping to sell a few more books —

the Winnebago sports a poster-sized version of the “Gypsy” book cover. When they return to the road, taking turns at

the wheel, they’ll head west. Maybe Utah. Maybe Oklahoma. Bonnie Altschul can’t wait to write about wherever she

goes, weaving each location into her characters’ adventures.

“Gypsy Escape” is available in electronic, paperback and hardcover versions from Authorhouse, Amazon, Barnes and

Noble and other booksellers, or can be purchased directly from the Altschuls by e-mailing or

by calling (941) 286-1203. Prices range from $3.95 to $13.70.

An excerpt from “Gypsy Escape” in which

Beth and her dog, Hootmaan, confront a stranger

The rustling in the trees sounded closer with each passing minute. Sweat broke out on

Beth’s brow as she rounded a bend that she thought was not too far from the

campground but was closer to the tree line. Her heart skipped several beats when from

around a huge tree a shadow emerged and a large deer leaped in front of her and

plunged into the river and began to swim across. Beth had to laugh out loud as she put

her hands on her knees and tried to catch her breath.

She had calmed herself, slipped (her gun) back into her waistband and her heart rate

was back to normal when she felt a huge rough hand on her shoulder. Hootmaan let

out a yelp as she spun around to be face to face with the largest man she had ever

seen. He was taller than Alex so he was over six feet tall. She looked into the

menacing grey eyes and the thick beard and seemed to be frozen in place. She had

forgotten for a moment that she had the gun behind her back and she spun around

and away from the hand that rested on her shoulder, her hand searching for the


Almost tripping on Hootmaan’s leash she brought the gun up and pointed it at the

man. “Back off,” she yelled.




Permalink 2 Comments

The Fall of Augustus – Sarah Wisseman, Author

November 17, 2009 at 11:09 pm (Crime Novels, mystery, Suspense Novels) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

The Fall of Augustus – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘Victor stepped into the elevator shaft and looked up. “This should make a good shot,” he said motioning to the video tech. The elevator light gleamed on his distinguished sweep of dark hair touched with gray. The cameraman, standing just outside the shaft for a better angle, pointed his camcorder up. Ellen moved closer and craned her neck.’

‘The Emperor Augustus hurtled down, crashing against the side of the shaft as he went. Victor, Susan, and Ellen vanished in the maelstrom of smashed plaster. There was a bone-jarring thud… then an awful silence.’

‘Victor’s crumpled upper body was partially hidden under the wreck of the cable car and chunks of plaster. One dead museum director.’

Lisa Donahue is the Senior Curator at Wigglesworth Hall. The museum is in the process of being moved to a new facility and with the death of Museum Director Victor Fitzgerald she now finds herself in complete charge of the move. But, what Lisa and police Sergeant Bruce McEwan want to know, ‘was the breaking of the cable used to lower the statue of Augustus through the elevator shaft an accident or murder?’

Lisa’s problems with the move are increased when a former boss Valerie Albrecht is hired to replace Victor. Valerie is a vicious woman who steps on anyone and everyone to make herself look good. She enjoys inflicting fear in her employees and is known by those who have dealt with her in the past, to make last minute changes to exhibits knowing it will be almost impossible to accomplished. And she is happiest when she can belittle those who failed her orders, especially if there is an audience present to hear her raving.

But Valerie isn’t the end of Lisa’s problems. Artifacts are starting to disappear and Lisa believes they are being taken by someone in-house. But who and how are they getting them out of the museum?

I’ve enjoyed following Lisa as she solves the mystery of Victor’s death and as she discovers the identity of the museum thief. The Fall of Augustus turned out to be a real page turner that I very much enjoyed.

And oh yeah, did I mention that Lisa is also faced with determining who has been taking bodies and attempting to turn them into mummies?

Permalink Leave a Comment

Author Cynthia Parker Reviews Silent Scream

November 17, 2009 at 5:08 pm (Books by Yvonne Mason, Crime Novels, True Crime) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Another must read is Silent Scream by Yvonne Mason. Yvonne skillfully chronicles the unmerciful ploys of serial killer Gerard Schaefer. He was deceptive, manipulative, vicious, and inhuman. He preyed on the innocent women who trusted him. These stories are told in full and heartbreaking detail. Their voices are heard through the voice of Yvonne who used her incredible insight and skill to write this book. Their killer will never terrorize another soul. I believe it took great courage, empathy, and strength to write a book of this magnitude. Yvonne also talks about the people who assisted her in her research and includes their profiles in her book. I deeply respect her for her work and for adding her own personal thoughts at the end. Yvonne’s book is a labor of love and of justice for these girls who endured horrific and indescribeable torment. May it help to give them peace.    


Cynthia Parker, Author

Permalink Leave a Comment

If You Can’t Get Enough of The Holy G-Rail By Author Michael Schuessler Well You Are In Luck

November 16, 2009 at 12:17 pm (Blog Talk Radio, health, love, romance, Self Help, social science) (, , , , , , , , , )

GrailListen for Michael Schuessler and The Holy G-rail
 Monday, Nov. 16th on WTF Radio:
6:30pm Pacific, 7:30 Mountain, 9:30pm Eastern
with Host Jim and the WTF Crew

Also Michael will be on the Sex and Intimacy Show
Thursday, Nov. 19th
9:00pm Pacific, 10:00pm Mountain and 12:00am Eastern
With Hosts Dr. Neil Cannon and Elaina McMillan

Permalink Leave a Comment

Bertha Fights Back – Fran Lewis and Jr. Author Dani Nicole Miller, Authors

November 15, 2009 at 2:22 pm (children, faith, family, love, Self Help, social science) (, , , , , , , )

Bertha Fights Back

Bertha Fights Back – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘Walking into my homeroom class, I realized that something was definitely going on and I was beginning to think that I might not want to know what it was. One of the boys, Dan, looked at me and then at his cell phone and burst out laughing and almost fell off of his chair. Since the teacher was not there, which seemed odd, no one stopped what was going to happen next.’

‘As I was just about to sit down, I turned around and saw that all of the kids in the class were using the internet on their phones. Some were sharing the information they found with other kids. Some were on Facebook, My Space or YouTube. Others were looking at pictures sent from one phone to the next. Everyone was staring at me.’

Someone had posted pictures of Bertha in the girl’s bathroom changing into her gym uniform on Facebook, My Space and YouTube. Other pictures showed her throwing spitballs and wads of toilet paper all over the walls and floor of the girl’s bathroom. On the door someone had written “Bertha Rules.” Not a very nice thing to do to a 13 year old who has always been overweight, not very good in sports nor dancing and has definitely never been very popular with kids her own age. But she is smart and always makes her parents proud with her grades.

In Bertha Fights Back, Bertha decides to find out who put these pictures out there in cyberspace and to get her revenge. No more nice girl Bertha. But revenge doesn’t come without a price. Bertha decides to join a gang but finds out that being a gang member gets her into more trouble than she expected and trouble comes with a price. In Bertha’s case, community service.

When the school band room is broken into, Bertha is called upon by her principal to do a little detective work. She and a group of other students start looking into the destruction and theft of the musical instruments. Along the way the group encounters students who are upset about foreign students attending their school to the point of not only writing graffiti on the walls but also physically harm some of the students.

Bertha Fights Back brings to life what all young people need to be taught. One of the lessons Bertha learns through her experiences is that being a gang member is not the answer. She also learns that being a Bully is not the answer. I thoroughly enjoyed reading as Bertha grew up and took on the responsibility for the things she did whether they were right or wrong. To me, this is a good book for both young people as well as adults to read.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Review for Dream Catcher, Failure Was Not An Option

November 13, 2009 at 10:15 pm (Biographies, children, family, love, spirituality) (, , , , , , )

dream catcher for poster“This is a true story written by a prolific author, about her own younger brother who suffered Encephalitis when he was not more than a newborn. It entails his strength of personality and will to overcome an illness which left him with a so-called, mental handicap as well as physical.

I was filled with admiration for this man, Stanley Robinson and by the time I finished reading, I was in awe. I would recommend reading to anyone but for those who have known or had a person like Stanley in their lives, it will tug your heartstrings. At the least it is a lesson to the rest of the world…Souls come wrapped up in many different packages..all are a wonderful gift.”

This review was written by Sandy

Permalink Leave a Comment

Places to Hear Michael Schuessler Author of The Holy G-Rail

November 11, 2009 at 6:43 pm (Blog Talk Radio, romance, Self Help) (, , , , , , , , )

GrailMichael and The Holy G-rail will be on “The Sex and Intimacy Show” Thursday, Nov. 12th

9:00pm Pacific time, 10:00pm Mountain and 12:00am Eastern time

If in Denver, Colorado you can listen in at 1510 AM Radio

 Michael’s interview with Amy Rubin of “Amy’s Heart” is now up.

 Michael talks about finding that “perfect” partner. I highly recommend it.

Michael is the new Denver Sex and Sensuality Expert for Please check out his Q&A column “Ask Michael”

Pamper yourself with The Holy G. The Holy G Wear clothing will be premiering just in time for Christmas!

” All women are The Holy Grail!”

Michael Schuessler Author of  The Holy G-rail

Permalink 2 Comments

Author Cindy Parker Brings Her Readers Two Books of Poetry For The Soul – Spectrum and Origins

November 5, 2009 at 9:37 pm (faith, family, health, poetry) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

OriginsCindy Parker grew up in Clarklake, Michigan and currently lives in the downtown Jackson area. She has two collections of poetry that were recently published (2009) titled Spectrum & Origins. Spectrum is her first book of poetry and is a collection of 74 poems written and compiled over a ten-year period that reflects a spiritual journey across a spectrum of themes. Her inspiration comes from nature, the world around her, her faith, people who have influenced her life, the struggle for redemption, and how Christ answers her deepest longings. Origins is built around similar themes from nature, creation, and spiritual hope, but she also draws from her personal past, growing up, and exploring her family history, and themes of shared humanity. Origins has 32 poems written more recently plus some nature haiku. Both books are largely free verse, but in addition to the few haiku, she has an occasional prose, quatrain, or tetractys. Cindy has enjoyed the language of poetry for many years and continues to write. Grateful for all the people who have helped her fulfill a dream, she wants to encourage others to find their voice and creativity as it will begin a journey of discovery that will continue to unfold. You can visit her at:




Permalink 2 Comments

%d bloggers like this: