Laughed ‘Til He Died – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
Jean’s harsh sobs brought Max’s secretary, whose heart was as big as her beehive hairdo, to his office door. Summer-bright in a yellow tunic and white caprice, Barb looked at him questioningly. As awkward as most men in the face of feminine meltdown, Max cleared his throat. “How about some iced tea, Jean? Hey, Barb, bring us some of your special fruit tea and good lemon pie.” Jean using a handkerchief provided by Max, wiped her face, leaving purplish smudges atop puffy redness. She looked shyly at Barb when she returned. Barb placed a try with two big tumblers and two plates on the desk. “Goji berries and guava, my own private blend. Guaranteed to refresh. And lemon pie made this morning.”
Jean Hughes had just stepped into Max Darling’s office at the Confidential Commissions. Jean, who is the director of a youth recreation center called the Haven, came to seek Max’s help. One of the directors was in the process of acquiring enough votes to have her dismissed and she didn’t want to go down without a fight. Since Max’s specialty is in solving problems, he takes her on as a client.
Annie Darling, Max’s wife, owns a mystery bookstore called Death on Demand. At first, she’s not comfortable with Max taking Jean as a client. But that changed with the death of a young member from the Haven and the death of one of the Haven’s directors with Jean being the police’s number one suspect.
I’ve read both of Carolyn Hart’s Bailey Ruth books and loved them. I’m patiently waiting for her to write a 3rd. This is the first of her Death on Demand books that I’ve had a chance to read and I have to say I love it too. Carolyn Hart holds you in suspense until the end. She gives no clues throughout the book allowing you to guess at who the killer really is. In fact, she actually had me believing that the killer just might be Jean Hughes. Did Carolyn Hart lead me on a wild goose chase throughout the whole book? I’ll never tell. Read Laughed ‘Til He Died and find out for yourself.
Dracula Doesn’t Live Here Anymore – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
“Look at me Dexter, look at my eyes.” He did as she asked, and for the first time, he noticed the redness. Her eyes were like two ruby red pools and they were growing deeper with every passing second. She moved closer to him, took his hand in hers for the first time, and he was aware instantly of an energy, a sort of electricity flowing between them.
Brian L. Porter has done it again and I have to admit that he really messed with my mind in his short story Dracula Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. The two main characters, Dexter and Christina are both investigative reporters, attempting to uncover the truth regarding the deaths of five people in Dracula country. All victims have been completely drained of their blood. Vampires? A “Crazy” at large? I think you will be as surprised as I was when you discover the answer to that question.
Ghost at Work – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
“He’s dead!” Her voice was a whisper. “What am I going to do?” “Call the police.” I clapped my fingers to my mouth. I hadn’t intended to speak. “I can’t.” It was a moan. The moan turned into a strangled gasp. She looked wildly about. “Who’s there? Where are you?” Skirting the body, she hurried to the back door, flung it open, clattered down the steps. In an instant she returned to the porch, dashed to the rectory back door, yanked it open, seeking the source of the voice.
Bailey Ruth Raeburn is dead and living the the glories of Heaven, but there are times when an “emissary” from Heaven needs to be sent back to earth to help out those in trouble. Bailey Ruth has never had the honor of being returned to earth as an emissary so Wiggins, who is in charge of this Heavenly task, must teach her the rules and prepare her before letting her depart. Unfortunately, there is no time for preparation. In Bailey Ruth’s own home town of Adelaide, someone has murdered Daryl Murdoch right on the steps of the rectory. It becomes Bailey Ruth’s job as an emissary to protect Kathleen, who just happens to be the pastor’s wife, and hopefully find the real killer.
As Bailey Ruth approaches Kathleen, she knows that before she can help her she must first gain her trust without scaring her half to death. This isn’t an easy task since Kathleen can hear Bailey Ruth but not see her. The solution to that is to appear but that is frowned upon in the Precepts, which are the rules an emissary must follow.
After Bailey Ruth and Kathleen finally get a grip on the real situation, it’s decided that the best thing to do is to move the body away from the rectory. And where would be a better place to deposit a dead body in the cemetery. But doing that will take some imagination from Bailey Ruth. She can’t just snap her fingers and have the body moved, so she must find a mode of transportation and the wheel barrow seems to be perfect vehicle. As she and Kathleen wheel Murdoch’s body to it’s destination, they discover that the cemetery is occupied by a couple of teens who are attempting to remove the greyhound statue that watches over the Pritchard mausoleum. She accomplishes this by grabbing the crowbar away from one of the boys and flinging it out into the darkness. But, Kathleen has already dumped the body on the steps of the mausoleum where it’s discovered by the two frightened teens.
Ghost at Work is the first book written by Carolyn Hart in the Bailey Ruth series. In Ghost at Work, Bailey Ruth is an emissary in training and on probation. Following her antics as she tries to follow the rules of not appearing, speaking, nor scaring the living half to death unless completely necessary, I’ve found Ghost at Work to be humorous and creative. Hart’s characters are not only believable but you find yourself completely wrapped up in them, not wanting the book to end. And fortunately, Bailey Ruth is carried forward in Hart’s second book in the series titled Merry, Merry Ghost. I’ve had the enjoyment of reading both of these light hearted books and can’t wait for the next.
I’ve read many series books which spotlight the same character and have found that after a while, the character becomes predictable and over years “aged.” Bailey Ruth is one character that I feel that can never happen to. After all, she is a “ghost.”
A Lesson in Murder – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘George Wheeler sat in the driver’s seat, looking as lifeless as the car in which he was sitting. On the seat next to him, was a stuffed animal which looked like Walt Disney’s Pluto. A large, flat, hardback book lay open in his lap. Wheeler’s usual black horn-rimmed glasses had been replaced with large, bright yellow-framed spectacles. Barnum again peered in the window quickly. Wheeler’s tan, healthy-looking face had been smeared with what appeared to be charcoal ashes.’
George Wheeler usually met with his advertising agent at 6:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for their jogs in the park. During this time, Wheeler who was in the pharmaceutical business would pitch ideas to Barnum as they ran. But as Barnum soon found out, Wheeler had performed his last job and pitched his last idea. Someone had murdered him.
Maxwell Hunter is an English teacher for Eastern Friends School in Pennsylvania. Eastern Friends School (EFS) was originally a private school for the wealthy but had started adding a few students, through grants, that were exceptionally intelligent. Hunter has a passion for mystery solving and is a stickler for details. That and Hunter’s familiarity with the people involved prompted Lt. Frank DiSalvo to ask Hunter for his help in solving the murder of George Wheeler. But, as it turns out, Wheeler wasn’t the only one to be murdered and each murder is in some way connected with the school.
As I read A Lesson in Murder I found myself second guessing my own ideas as to who the killer was. And I have to say that I was surprised with the ending. I had several suspects in mind but never really narrowed it down to one. I really enjoyed reading A Lesson in Murder and recommend it to anyone who would like a quick read mystery.
‘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?
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Type of Cook Book – Highly Recommended!, October 13, 2009
By CFH “chillnhill” (Blue Ridge Summit, PA USA) – See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)
“Stir, Laugh, Repeat” is more than a just a great collection of practical recipes. In many cases, Martha Cheves has added personal comments and stories relating to the dish and has is also populated helpful tips after each recipe.
The structure of the book is different than I am used to seeing since there isn’t a Table of Contents and the recipes are all mix up, with no real order. This was done to encourage the reader to actually read through the whole the book. Thankfully there is an Index so you can find the ones you like later.
Since I work from home most of the time and my wife works at our shop, I have been trying to make a few meals a week. This book has a lot of recipes that can actually be followed by someone with my limited skills. Also, since I am not an expert in the kitchen, the included hints are very welcome and have taught me some very handy cooking tricks.
An enjoyable and practical cookbook! Highly Recommended!
The recipes in this book are the treasured kind of American home cooking you find in regional church cookbooks. (Artichoke chicken, fried pickles, chikin’n’dumplins, chicken-fried beef tips.) Note; not diet food. But these are great for covered-dish events or when nothing but “mommy-food” will soothe your jagged nerves.
The humor is genuine, the anecdotes are fun (my fave, using horse corn to make creamed corn.)
This book could be your secret recipe horde to impress the potluck crowd.
Joanna Daneman – Amazon Reviewer
I received your book –it’s great!! I love the cover–its got a beautiful energy and the colors, title and subtitle all work really well together!
“I grew up in a restaurant that my grandparents owned. When I received Martha’s book my mom was visiting; she picked it up and proceeded to read every story to me while we both belly laughed. Stir, Laugh, Repeat is filled with delicious, simple recipes all topped off with Martha’s secret ingredient-her amazing sense of humor!”
Author, New York Times Best Seller, I Love You More
Uncle Si’s Secret – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
Creating Cedar Valley Residence was a dream come true for Belinda Jones and her brother Bernard. They had spent five years making sure each room and suite was perfectly decorated to create a feeling of comfort and welcome. Now it was time to add a new addition, which would create space for more residents and allow Belinda and Bernard to start turning a profit in the near future.
Cedar Valley residents were a hodgepodge of ages and personalities that had all become family to Belinda and Bernard. One special resident was Miss Shirley, who had appeared a year before with a bewildered look on her face, broken glasses perched on her nose, no identification and a pile of cash in her purse. Even after putting ads in the newspaper, talking to the police and tacking fliers on telephone poles, no one knew who she was nor where she had come from. The doctors assured Belinda that Miss Shirley had temporary amnesia and that she would probably come out of it at some point in time. So when Miss Shirley asked for a meeting with Belinda to inform her that her money had run out and she would be moving, Belinda was rightfully concerned. Miss Shirley also told Belinda that she was missing her favorite Chinese print scarf, which Belinda felt had probably been misplaced and would turn up later. But as more residents informed Belinda that they too have missing items, her concern started to grows. Does she really know her residents? Could one of them be a thief? She had to get to the bottom of this thief mystery before it really started hurting business.
Belinda had always thought she would enjoy becoming a detective and had actually helped solve a few minor crimes in the past. So to add to her task of catching the person responsible for items missing from Cedar Valley, she’s approached by Olive Norris. Mrs. Norris comes in hope that Belinda will find enough evidence to free her son Kirby who was arrested for the murder of his wife. The case against Kirby appeared to be an open and shut case. Items of clothing and the gun used to kill Lana Norris were found in Kirby’s car. After meeting with Kirby and hearing his story, Belinda believes in his innocence and decides to take the case. But after another murder is committed, plus an attempt on the life of someone dear to Kirby, Belinda begins to wonder if she has taken on more than she can handle and can she solve this case before anyone else has to die.
Uncle Si’s Secret is full of secrets. M. M. Gornell kept me guessing throughout the whole book. Every time I thought I knew the identity of the thief and the murder, Gornell would surprise me with a new twist proving my theory to be wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Uncle Si’s Secret and I think you will too. I will give you a small clue. The thief will really surprise you. It sure did me.