Dead Air – Mary Kennedy, Author

March 11, 2010 at 11:33 pm (Suspense Novels) (, , , , , , , )


Dead Air – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

“Bomb, Bomb! Ohmigod. We’d just gotten a bomb threat. My thoughts
scurried through my head like a manic squirrel as I tried to deal with
the reality of the threat. Was it a joke? Was it serious? And if there
was really a bomb, where was it? Would there be time to evacuate the
station? Should I dial 911 or alert the switchboard first? Or the
station manager? Was there some procedure I was supposed to follow? I
looked over at Vera Mae, and now her eyes were ballooning, her mouth
open, frozen in horror like the subject of one of those Edvard Munch
paintings. I thought about my mother and my friends and the fact that I
was way too young to be blasted to kingdom come. And then an explosion
rocked WYME and suddenly I didn’t have to think anymore.’

Maggie left her Manhattan practice as a psychologist to take a spot as a
radio psychologist in Cypress Grove, Florida. Her show consists mainly
of call-ins with an occasional guest speaker. Maggie’s upcoming guest,
the famous Guru Sanjay Gingii, has become the talk of the town. Guru
Sanjay is highly respected by his followers and the anticipation of
Cypress Grove being honored with his presence has starting bring the
crazies out of the woodworks. And one of these crazies makes a call to
station with a bomb threat.

After the air has been cleared and the station employees are allowed
back inside the building, Maggie holds her interview with Sanjay. But
later when Sanjay turns up dead, the police go straight to Maggie
looking for her roommate Lark. It then becomes Maggie along with the
help of her mother Lola to clear Lark and find the real killer, of which
there are many suspects to choose from.. ex-wife, ex-girlfriends,
ex-partners, ex-friends and on and on.

Mary Kennedy has given her readers humor with a touch of murder in her
book Dead Air. As I met each character/suspect I assured myself
that I had this story “figured out.” I knew who murdered Sanjay. Then
the next character came into play and proved me wrong making me believe
that this character must be the murderer. This went on throughout the
book. Dead Air is a book that will truly hold you in suspense
until the end.

Penguin
313 pages
January, 2010

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CEOs Don’t Cry – Joselyn Vaughn, Author

December 13, 2009 at 7:18 pm (romance, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )



CEOs Don’t Cry – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘”Could this day get any worse?” Leslie Knotts muttered to herself, eyeing the watermark-circled hole in the ceiling tiles above her head. Thudding and muffled expletive rumbled from the hole. She yanked her cashmere scarf from her neck and stomped the slush off of her Prada heels. She took one look around her new office in the Carterville branch of Hanston and Boyd Accounting and gasped. This place was a mere phone call away from being condemned.

How can a city girl from Chicago be expected to take an office that is in such a rambling mess and be expected to turn it into a profitable branch? This is only one problem Leslie faces after being passed over for a junior partnership with Hanston and Boyd. Her dreams of becoming a CEO are pushed into almost non-existence after being transferred to a small town called Cartersville which exists out in the middle of nowhere. She had spent her whole life climbing the corporate ladder just to have one of her co-workers, Chuck, went behind her back and had her moved to this destitute town. Things couldn’t get any worse.

Oh but they can and they do. Leslie meets Mark, the nephew of the lady who owns the bed and breakfast where she will be staying while she brings the branch into the 21st century. Mark is a handyman who wants to start his own construction business. Leslie decides to hire him to basically revamp the full interior of the office, and she needs it finished before tax season starts in full force. Again, in steps Chuck to destroy her plans and dreams.

On top of all of her other problems, Leslie learns that there is a group in town called the Library Ladies and Mark’s Aunt Minnie is one of the ring leaders. Their purpose in life is to match unmarried men with unmarried women and their success rate is 100%. So, with Mark being single and Leslie being new to town as well as single, they make a perfect match. At least that’s what they think but Mark and Leslie have their own plans for their futures and marriage isn’t one of them. How do they fight the Library Ladies 100% success rate? You will have to read the book to find that answer.

CEOs Don’t Cry has everything needed to make an enjoyable, lighthearted romance novel. The humor provided by the Library Ladies will keep you smiling and laughing throughout the book. Leslie’s method of overcoming the obstacles bestowed on her are quite ingenious. Once I started reading CEOs Don’t Cry, I didn’t want to put it down. So what will Leslie do when the chance comes for her to have her life long dreams come true? You’ll have to read CEOs Don’t Cry to find the answer to that question.

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Cheater BBQ – Mindy Merrell & R. B. Quinn, Authors

December 5, 2009 at 8:05 pm (Cookbooks, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )



One of my favorite recipes from this book

1 bath of brine (recipe in book)
One 3 lb. pork loin
vegetable oil
2 Tbl. Cheater Basic Dry Rub (recipe in book)

Brine the loin for 4 – 6 hours in the refrigerator.

Heat oven to 500 degrees

Drain loin, discarding the brine. Rinse and pat dry. Place the loin in a large roasting pan and brush with a light coating of vegetable oil. Sprinkle all sides of the loin with the dry rub. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Cook for 1 hour or until a meat thermometer reaches 155 degrees. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Cheater BBQ – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

This has to be one of the best indoor BBQ cookbooks I’ve ever read and used. In the recipe above I used the Apple Cider Brine, which I choose from a total of 4 simple recipes. Out of the twelve rubs and sauces to choose from I decided to use the Cheater Basic Dry Rub. The combination of the brine and rub gave my pork loin a wonder taste and a tender, juicy texture. I’ve served this to 4 of my “food testers” so far and they have given this dish a 10+. So this is a real winner.

As I’ve read through the other recipes in Cheater BBQ and have marked at least 10 more dishes to make. I miss grilling during the winter months and with the use of the bottled smoke that is applied to each dish, I can now enjoy the same taste year round. This is a must have cookbook for winter grilling as well as those summer days when it’s simply too hot to fire up the grill.

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It’s in the Eyes – Charles Toftoy, Author

December 4, 2009 at 10:22 pm (Crime Novels, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )


It’s in the Eyes – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘”Please get him.” Lars looked down at her and flashbacked three years, as if he was seeing his own daughter at the morgue. Candance Hawthorne, the fourth rape and murdered coed, was almost an identical twin of Lars’ daughter, Lisa. As he looked at Candance’s face, he recognized some of those facial features. And the blue eyes seemed to be staring intently at him. A tear stung Lars’ eyes. Even though the temperature outside the Lubber Run Nature Center was a warm 62 degrees Fahrenheit, he felt a chill.’

Lars Neilsen is a West Pointer who served three tours in Vietnam as a ranger/paratrooper, Special Operations. He was awarded the DSC, three Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts and many other awards while serving his country. He knows the streets, is clever and has good instincts. He also believes in justice for the victims and has no problem in carrying out whatever needs to be done to acquire that justice. But most important, Lars heads a team he created called the Alpha Team. The Alpha Team takes their position seriously and won’t stop until their job is complete.

Nathan Green, called ‘Tiger’, originally from New Orleans, served with Lars in Vietnam. Tiger was a sergeant in the military and was very accomplished in the Special Ops by performing top secret missions. He, as well as Lars, has a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and won’t hesitate to use this art of defense when needed.

Doris Wagner was a former FBI profiler and recognized as their best. Her husband died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, draining her emotionally. She now does part-time work for the FBI. She’s clairvoyant, into astrology and develops clinical psychological leads to uncover criminals.

Brenda Little is a journalist who helped break a big murder case in Richmond. She was hired by the Washington Post but burned out after six years and now does freelance work. She studied criminal justice at the University of Maryland, her father was a metro cop killed in the line of duty and she has a black belt in Tae Kwo Do.

Now you know the Alpha Teams. When Candance Hawthorne was raped and murdered the Alpha Team was hired by the family to find her killer. This case turns out to be the toughest case the team has encountered.

I’ve enjoyed following Lars and his team as they search for the ‘Coed Killer’, only to find out that there is not one killer but two, bringing even more excitement to the story. Charles Toftoy created 4 characters, dedicated them to justice, but still give the reader the feel that these 4 characters are normal everyday people. He does this through the jokes and humor of ‘Tiger’, the compassion of Brenda, the confused lifestyle and childhood memories of Doris and the pain felt by Lars due to the death of his wife and daughter. I couldn’t help but enjoy It’s in the Eyes and look forward to reading it’s sequel Eyes of Cold Case Killers.

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Moments of Mine – Jerry M. White, Author

December 1, 2009 at 12:26 am (poetry, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )


Moments of Mine – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

The Trouble with Trouble

The trouble with trouble
Is it takes so long
To make things right
That once were not wrong

To forget and move forward
To put out of our mind
The mischief that hounds us
We can’t leave behind

The trouble with trouble
Is that it’s so hard to see
It happens to others
But certainly not me

I have friends who love me
That truly love me and care
But they cannot help
If my troubles aren’t bare

Please God give us strength
To ask for our needs
That those who love us
May be blessed by their deeds

Your love surrounds us
Through our friends we are sure
They fill our lives daily
With a love that is pure

I now know that you care
Your love for us all
Is shown through tough times
If we would only call

We know that sometimes
Life is certainly not fair
That You will settle our troubles
When we Truly Believe You are there

As I read the poems written by Jerry White, and the stories behind each poem, I couldn’t help but feel the love and devotion flow from each word. Mr. White has a way of taking any circumstance, both happy and sad, and turning it into something beautiful. The poem above was one of my favorites and I think you too will be able to feel his love for God, family and friends as you read this piece of word art.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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To Hell in a Handbasket – Beth Groundwater, Author

October 30, 2009 at 11:52 pm (Crime Novels, mystery, romance, Suspense Novels) (, , , , , , , , , , )


To Hell in a Handbasket

To Hell in a Handbasket – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
What will a wife do to protect her husband? In A Real Basket Case Claire sets out to prove that she didn’t sleep with her physical trainer and her husband didn’t kill him when he found him straddling her in bed. There was nothing she wouldn’t do to prove her and his innocence.

What will a mother do to protect her only daughter? In To Hell in a Handbasket Claire again refuses to let anything nor anyone stand in her way to prevent her daughter Judy from being , or worse… murdered.

Claire, Rodger and Judy Hanover are on a much needed ski vacation in Breckenridge, CO. Judy’s boyfriend, Nick Contino, his mother, father and sister Stephanie have joined them. What was supposed to be a relaxing couple of weeks went sour quickly when Stephanie has a skiing accident that takes her life. Was it really an accident? Claire believes not. And to prove her theory she tracks down the only person that actually saw what really happened. The information given to her by this young man not only puts herself into danger, it also makes Judy the killer’s next target.

I stayed on the edge of my seat as I followed Claire and Detective Owen Silverstone as they uncover the mystery of Stephanie’s death. As they uncover what really goes on behind closed doors in the Contino’s study. As they fit the puzzle pieces together after finding that the Russian mob is heavily involved with everything that has taken place, which includes a plan to kidnap Judy.

I loved Beth Groundwater’s style of writing when I read A Real Basket Case. After reading To Hell in a Handbasket I can have to say that “what I thought couldn’t get better did.” For a real mystery teaser, I recommend both books, in the order they were written… A Real Basket Case and To Hell in a Handbasket.

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