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Archive for October, 2009

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 kidnapped, 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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Letters from Heroes
‘Dearest Ruth,
I am working tonight until midnight and will be thinking about you and wishing I could be by your side. To me it seems like eternity since the last time I saw you. Can’t help but remember what a soldier told me once, “This is a lonesome war.”
I’m a baby boomer so I was around during the Viet Nam war. Many of my friends were drafted, went off to fight this war and some didn’t come back. And many of those that did come back live to this day with the nightmares of what they went through and saw. With the problems going on in today’s world, many of us have friends and family serving in the military or know someone who does. We’re constantly seeing news reports about roadside bombings that have taken the life of one or more of our brave soldiers. We feel their pain as they deal with being miles away from family and friends. We also feel the pain of the families and friends knowing their loved ones are in such grave danger.
Letters from Heroes is exactly that… letters written to loved ones by soldiers fighting to help keep the world safe. As I read these letters I felt as if I was the one receiving them. Most letters were fairly upbeat but if you read between the lines you find feel the loneliness, hunger, sickness and fear. You also feel the dependency that each soldier places and accepts from their fellow soldiers who have become both their closest friends and protectors.
Letters from Heroes is a very touching book that will at times make you smile and cry. Read this book and you will read the true feelings of soldiers around the world as they do what they feel must be done to protect. These men and women are truly the real HEROES of the world.

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Dispel The Mist
Dispel The Mist – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘Her next dream was a nightmare. Tempe knew she was on the reservation, but it was different looking as familiar places often are in dreams. The buildings all seemed dilapidated and badly in need of repair through she couldn’t see them clearly because of a swirling grayish-yellow mist surrounded everything. Jagged black mountain peaks poked through the clouds. Though she was alone a feeling of menace was so prevalent, she could almost smell it.

Without warning, a large man who resembled Cruz Murphy stepped out of the fog. He held up a hand, palm out. “Stop. Danger ahead.”‘

Lilia Quintera is a Tulare County Supervisor who won her election due to her being a descendant of both Mexican and Native American. She was a big help in bringing a casino to the reservation, allowing jobs and a better life for those living on the reservation as well as the city. But when she is put into a position to support the proposal of a new hotel with a golf course and all the amenities that go with it, she refuses to conform to their plans without more research on it’s effect on the community. So when Lilia Quintera dies from what seems to be natural causes, Tempe Crabtree is brought in to help gather clues and evidence pending the autopsy.

Who would want Lilia dead? Her husband Wade, who is several years younger as well as a ladies man and may gain from her death through inheritance is a suspect. Her sister Connie, who’s daughter Suzy at the advice of Lilia, will be moving to a residential facility called Shadow Hills, Shadow Hills will house young ladies who are mentally challenged. Plus, feelings of jealousy for all of the decisions as to the welfare of Suzy might make Connie want to see Lilia dead, making her a suspect. There is Duane Whitney who lives in the neighborhood where Shadow Hill will open. He feels it will bring down the value of his property, so with Lilia publicly supporting the facility may make him want her dead, making him another suspect. And then there are the Native Americans who feel that Lilia should support the building of the Hotel, feeling it will bring more opportunities for the reservation. Many of them can be considered suspects.

Follow Tempe as she sorts through the facts and gossip, as she encounters the hostility of those on her on her list of suspects, as she sorts through the clues hidden in her own dreams and as she tries to understand the role that Hairy Man plays into it all . Is he real or just a fable?

I’ve enjoyed this book so much, with it’s mystery as well as history, that I find myself wanting to learn even more about the myths and fables of the American Indians.

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Golden Conspiracy – Robert James Glider, Author
Golden Conspiracy

Golden Conspiracy – A Jacsen Kidd Mystery – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘After hearing our account of the gruesome events, the seamen aboard the Santa Ynez were convinced, along with their captain, that the devil’s minions had possessed the Solitario. Their captain decided the Solitario had to be destroyed at once, before the demons could escape to the Santa Ynez. We objected since the hold was filled with gold bound for Queen Isabella. But fear was on the face of every man – fear that this malady would transport them to hell if they dared touch the gold. They were convinced that the gold carried the evil. We could object no more, for fear of our own lives. So the captain ordered the crew to burn the Solitario. They kindled wood and pitch torches and threw them onto the Solitario, where the sails and rigging caught fire immediately. We watched as the Solitario burned quickly. We shall never forget the last screams of the damned. It was as if the demon’s own hand reached upward from the depths and grasped the flaming ship to thrust it into hell.’

The cargo of gold, mentioned above, had an estimated value of thirty million dollars in 1502 with it’s value being well over a billion today. Jac Kidd, who is a distant off-spring of the famous Captain Kidd, was determined to find the gold and learn what really happened during it fatal transport to Queen Isabella. So, when a gold cross dating back to the 1500’s is found on a beach in Hawaii, he and his best friend/partner Pericles Schmoond strike out to solve the puzzle of the missing gold.

In Golden Conspiracy, Glider takes you from Hawaii, the Caribbeans and on into South America as they follow the clues. But they aren’t alone in their quest. As they will soon find out, ex-KGB Garth Moska, who Kidd thought was killed when a ship he and Moska were on blew up off the coast of England, is right behind them.

When I first started reading Golden Conspiracy I had my doubts as to whether I would like it or not. But the more I read, the harder it was for me to put down. The turn of each page increased my desire to read the next. This was truly a very enjoyable book.

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cookbook small

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!

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A Corpse for Yew

A Corpse for Yew – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

As you read the excerpt below, picture a group of elderly ladies, all members of the Shamrock Historical Society due to their ancestors and proud of it. Picture these ladies standing in the middle of a cow pasture as they search for a grave that has been long forgotten. And now listen as they reminisce about another outing that took them in search of a grave from the past.

“It doesn’t really matter,” Geneva said. We’re within our legal rights to visit the grave since Mrs.. Waynewright is a direct descendant. MCWhirter can’t keep us away.”

Dorothy grimaced. “Remember that time we had to sneak into that abandoned cemetery out by Salisbury? Those terrible dogs! I’m not sure what w would’ve done if Mr. Hawkins hadn’t been with us. He took that bite like a man.”

“After that, the dogs seemed fine with us being there.” Annabelle shrugged.

“But poor Mr. Hawkins had to have rabies shots. He was such a gentleman about it.”

Peggy is the owner of a garden shop called the Potting Shed located in Center City, Charlotte. She’s also a part-time forensic botanist for the Charlotte Police Department. When her mother, Lilla, talks her into joining the Shamrock Historical Society and their quest to rescue bones that have been buried under Lake Whitley for years, she didn’t expect to discover the body of one of the Society’s own members, Lois Mullis, who also turns out to be the Aunt of the Police Chief. Was it accidental or murder? The Chief believes it was an accident. The members of the Shamrock Historical Society believe it was murder and they put their faith in Peggy to prove them right and to find the killer.

A Corpse for Yew is a book of humor and mystery, as well as a book that spiked my interest in plants. Joyce and Jim Lavene provide a description of the plants as they are introduced into each chapter, giving you a little history of the plant’s origin and it’s uses. As they introduced each member of the Shamrock Historical Society, I found myself picturing each lady perfectly. When I put the mental pictures of these ladies together to form the full group, I could see their every move as they persuaded Peggy to help them find the killer of their friend. And with my living in Charlotte, NC, I knew almost every location visited by Peggy and her group of ladies.

A Corpse for You is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in some time. It became a real mystery as I tried to decide who would want to harm the late Mrs. Mullis. But with it’s humor, it was a very relaxing book to read.

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Death of a Perfect Man

Death of a Perfect Man – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘The pump was indeed antique, and it would be a miracle if it functioned. An old beat-up white station wagon with several flat tires sat dejectedly by the office entrance. “Red Rock Inn Limousine” had been painted on its side ages earlier; now the words, in faded black letters were barely recognizable…. Someone tapped on her car window… “Gas?” A thin-faced middle-aged looking woman with longish brown hair pulled back in a tight ponytail appeared from nowhere… Finally the woman said, “You should stop driving now. I have a vacancy. I’ll fix you a sandwich.” Then she added. “I’m psychic, sometimes.”‘

Jada Beaudine’s husband was lost in a boating accident leaving her with a large insurance payout. The insurance company doesn’t buy the death of Terry Beaudine and sends their best man Lyle Elliott to follow Jada and be present when she connects with her still living husband.

After putting up with police and insurance investigators for a year, Jada decided to move from Seattle to Atlanta in hopes of starting a new life for herself. While driving into the Mojave, Jada stopped for gas at the an old resort called the “Red Rock Inn & Cafe.” Due to the lateness and her being physically tired, she decided to check in for the night. But as morning approaches, Jada is drug into the murder of Nick Williams, “the Perfect Man.” For Jada, the nightmare begins again as she helps to solve this murder as well as the murder and murder attempts that follow. Plus, in the wake of these new mysteries, Jada still has to contend with the insurance investigator, a white car that’s following her and whoever is responsible for the attempts on her own life.

M. M. Gornell has done it to me again. As I read Death of a Perfect Man, I found myself being convinced that I knew who the murderer had to be and why, only to find myself doubting my theory. It wasn’t until the last few pages that I was able to understand who the murder was and why. Gornell is truly a “Perry Mason” writer!

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