Archive for August, 2010

It’s Murder, My Son – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

A noise outside made her jump out of the recliner.  She glanced at the clock.  Almost nine.  Could Chad have decided to come out when I mentioned my appointment with the divorce lawyer?  Maybe he does love my money more than he loves Rachel.  She listened.  Nothing except the wind signaling the blizzard’s approach.  Maybe I should call David?  No.  It wouldn’t look good if Chad found him here.  He’s already suspicious.  The German shepherd began scratching at the back door.  Not again, you damn dog!  When you aren’t wanting out or in, you’re digging up the back yard.  With a groan, she pulled herself out of the recliner and let the dog out onto the patio.  As long as she was up, she poured herself another martini and admired her reflection in the mirror behind the bar before returning to her seat for another sitcom.  Her mind sucked in by the television, Katrina was unprepared to fight when her killer attacked and pinned her down by her throat.’
“Did you really think I was going to let you leave?” she heard through the roar in her ears while gasping her last breath.

The front foyer of Spencer Manor stretched up two stories to the cathedral ceiling paneled in cedar.  Granite slabs made up the floors throughout the home, including the three steps that led down to the dining room which opened up onto the deck overlooking the lake.  Colorful afghans were draped across leather furniture in the living room, which was twice the size of the one in the home Mac’s ex-wife had won from him thirty days earlier.  Stone fireplaces commanded every room.  Every window and door provided a view of Deep Creek Lake.  This was just a small portion of what Mac Faraday, policeman and illegitimate son of mystery writer Robin Spence, inherited at her death.
When Robin’s solicitor tracked Mac down, he was just getting over a divorce where the court awarded his wife, who was having an affair with the assistant district attorney, their home as well as everything else of value.  Now Mac finds himself with more money than he could ever imagine.  He has become a retired policeman and multi-millionaire overnight.  But that’s not all he has become.  Mac also finds out that he has a ½ brother who not only lives in Spencer but who is also a policeman, as was their father.  And then Mac finds himself to be the owner of Gnarly a German Shepherd retired from the military with a dishonorable discharge.  Oh yeah, he also finds himself working with the police to solve several murders, both old and new.
It’s Murder, My Son was a hard puzzle to put together.  It starts out with one murder which leads to another then another and so on.  But are they all connected or individual crimes?  About half way into It’s Murder, My Son I just knew I had determined who committed at least 2 of the murders.  My suspect had no alibi where everyone else did.  I will tell you that I was wrong.  Author Lauren Carr took this book all the way to the end before allowing you to see the who, the why and the how.  Great Book and I hope to read more Mac Faraday Mysteries.

286 Pages
ISBN# 9781452819433
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The Accident – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘In the space of only a few seconds, Michael Fitzpatrick knew that impact was inevitable.  His heart rate accelerated and his breathing became shallow as he used his hands on the steering wheel of his sports car as a brace, pushing his upper body into the driver’s seat, anticipating the opposite forces to come.  He was able to see the driver of the Mercedes he was about to strike for only a moment and, if asked, would only be able to say that the driver was a woman with blond hair.  The event, in his opinion, was moving at warp speed as first the bumper, then the hood of his car, made impact with a force that broke the morning stillness with metal bending metal, rendering the type of noise where one knows for a certainty something bad has just happened without having to have witnessed it. ‘  Michael Fitzpatrick is the son of Francis Fitzpatrick, Congressman from the 9th Congressional District of Massachusetts.  Congressman Fitzpatrick is also the author of a bill referred to as “Faith for Life”.  The bill states the right of the unborn to the full protection of the Constitution to include every federal law related to every US citizens to the extent that no state law can override it.  In short – abortion is murder.  The lady in the Mercedes that Michael has just driven his car into is Jessica Billington-Bracketon, wife of John Brackton, one of the largest political backers in the city.  To top it off, Jessica is pregnant and loses her baby during the wreck.   Was the wreck an accident caused by the possibility that Michael had been drinking?  Was it due to there being black ice on the roads and Michael simply lost control?  No matter the reason, John Brackton is determined to have Michael prosecuted for the death of his unborn child.   As the real “facts” come out in the story of The Accident, I find myself being torn between who should really be on trial.  There is the reporter who lies to get whatever he needs to make an exposure.  There is the Representative Sullivan who wants the congressman’s seat and will do just about anything to acquire that seat, as long as his own skeletons stay in the closet.  And there is Jessica herself who was actually heading for a very confidential appointment when the accident occurred.  So, as the truths are exposed, how will the jury vote.  Will they find Michael guilty or innocent in the murder of the Bracketon’s unborn child?   This book is a real page flipper.  I wanted it to end but wanted it to keep going too.  2010All Things That Matter Press228 pagesISBN# 978-0-9846154-5-2
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Be the Star You Are! For Teens – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘The three tools for being a star and living your dream:

1. Smile – When you smile, you can’t be sad. A smile brightens the lives of those you meet, and their joy bounces back to you.

2. Have Fun – Every moment is more satisfying when you decide to be playful Having fun is adjusting your attitude so even life’s emergencies can be met with style and seen in perspective.

3. Be Wild and Whacky – Taking measured risks and putting yourself in potentially uncomfortable situations could be beneficial. Ask for what you want and don’t be afraid of failure. Remember that failure is fertilizer.

I could actually sit here and write a 10 page review for Be the Star You Are and still not cover everything. This book is one I plan to keep within reach at all times. The short stories are actually life experiences of not just the author Cynthia Brian but other that have contributed as well. The topics range from Achievements and Adapting to Dating and Letting Go. This book is written for teens but I’ve found them useful for all ages.

As I read the different stories, I found myself relating to most. Some from my younger years and some from my “older” years. I also found myself wishing there had been a book like this around when my own children were growing up. Be the Star You Are is actually more than stories. Author Cynthia Brian has included exercises that will help teach through action. In the chapter “The Gift of Affirmation” story author Davis Lunsford talks about his pastor sending a handwritten letter and a dollar bill every time Davis’ name appeared in the paper. To Davis, the letter was more important than the publicity and the dollar bill combined. In the exercise, Cynthia Brian suggests you write a letter to someone who encouraged you in the past. She suggests that you write a letter to someone you would like to pat on the back and then write a letter to yourself picking out something positive you’ve been doing.

One of my favorite chapters is called “The Gift of Financial Literacy” by story author Heather Brittany. Heather talks about allowances and how they were not a part of her and her brother’s lives. Instead, their mother allowed them to earn points. Instead of paying them to do household tasks, their mom created a point system. They made up a list of the things they both really wanted. Then there was a number of points attached to acquire each item. They listed things like movies, backpacks, special meals, bicycles, skateboards, skis, and even trips. When they saved enough points, they could cash them in for the items they wanted. Their mother even kept a bulletin board which showed the weekly tally of their points. They were being taught to work, earn and save their own money and spend it with care.

I could go on and on about the stories and lessons taught in Be the Star You Are. To me, this is a book that needs to be read by everyone with children. Actually it would benefit everyone to not just read this book but to listen and learn as you read. If my kids happen to read this review, you can bet that you will each be receiving a copy for Christmas this year in hopes that you too will find the stories and exercises helpful during the growing up stages of your own children.


Morgan James Publishing

289 pages

ISBN# 978-1-60037-632-0
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Quantum Earth – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘When the two women form the hotel reached the tenth and top floor they went to the beach side where there was a balcony overlooking the scene.  “Oh my God!” said one.  Words failed the other, for in the distance, about a mile out they could see a giant mountain of water the size of which their brains couldn’t comprehend.  And it was building larger as it headed for the coast.  They could still see several people way out who seemed oblivious.  They began shouting at the top of their lungs, knowing even then that they wouldn’t be heard.  But maybe there was a chance still for those on the beach below.  Many of them looked up at them and tried to understand why they were screaming.  But some of the people had already seen the big wave coming fast and hurried away from the beach. Some were screaming themselves as they ran.  But they could see many small children looking lost.  Nobody was taking them away.  They would surely be crushed by the oncoming waters.  All at once the two women stopped their entreaties and could only watch as the horrific scene played itself out.  The wave had already reached those who were the furthest out.  Of course they couldn’t hear the screaming, but they did begin to hear the low rumbling sound as the water came closer.  It sounded like a freight train if you put your ear to the ground near the tracks.’

Dr. Mel Hawkins (Hawk) and Shauna Troy have formed a group that will study the sudden increase of natural disasters, and as 2012 approaches with the predictions that earth will no longer be, the team find themselves running out of time.   Hawk and the whole team have agreed that there is the possibility that people are bringing the destruction on themselves with their thoughts and wishes.  With this possibility, the team relies on its member Noah Meade, who is a medium, to contact some of those killed in these mass destructions.  During one of the group sessions with victims of a major flooding, Noah is working through his “crossed over being” Jackson.  As the team listen to messages from people on the other side, Jackson is suddenly taken over by a voice that isn’t earthly.  This voice blames humans for the conditions of earth.  It is the belief of the team that this voice may be from an alien.

Discovering that there may be a chance of contacting aliens that have passed on, Hawk and Shauna decide to have Noah try to contact them to see if they can shed light on what might be done to stop earth from being destroyed.   Fortunately for them, Noah is able to get through, but unfortunately for them and all of earth they are told that earth is in the process of cleansing itself and to do this, humans must be destroyed so it can start over again…. Just as it did with the destruction of the dinosaurs.   These aliens feel that no animal is a plague to the earth like the humans are.  So, with the increase in earthquakes, floods, and even medical epidemics, the task before this small group of 7 is to do whatever they can to stop the destruction of the world?

Quantum Earth took me on quite a ride.  If you listen to the predictions and theories for the year 2012 you will hear:  there will be increases in earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes, left will be right and right will be left, just to name a few.  Are we really creating these changes with our own minds?  I think I’ve read somewhere that “thoughts attract” so only think good thoughts.  I’ve for one have decided that, just in case this is true, I’ll think as many positive thoughts as possible.
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Crossing Oceans – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘Remember that night in the car, David?  I started to tell you, but you broke up with me first.  You said things could never work for us.  You told me our fathers would never get along.  You told me you didn’t share my desire for having a family.  How could I tell you you were going to be a father right after you said you never wanted children?  When she was born, I called you from the hospital as I held her in my arms.  I couldn’t wait to show you what we’d created, but your answering machine picked up and I heard “David and Lindsey Preston aren’t here to take your call…”  I didn’t know you’d gotten married.  It had been less than a years since we broke up.  You wouldn’t believe the shock I felt, the betrayal, the pain… I didn’t want to cause trouble for you… I couldn’t….’

Jenny Lucas is the Prodigal Daughter returning home after walking away six years ago.  David Preston had thrown her away when she needed him the most.  When she was pregnant with their daughter Isabella.  Now she’s bringing her daughter home to meet the family she’s never met, including her father.  But Jenny isn’t renewing the relationship with her own father as well as David for old times’ sake.  She’s doing it out of necessity.  She must find a home for Bella because she is dying with cancer.

The Lucas’, as well as the Preston family, have a lot of baggage to overcome.   Jenny’s dad insists that David’s father killed her mother by misdiagnosing her illness.  And her death is something that he’s never been able to get over making it difficult for him to get close to Jenny.  So, hating the Preston family as much as he does, he insists that Bella should be raised by him.  David, as well as his family, have to overcome the fact that Jenny has done something that he and his wife Lindsey haven’t been able to.  She has given him a child, which has made him determined to have full custody of Isabella no matter what it takes.  Bella, on the other hand, has to learn to give to others something she has only had to share with her mother… love.   And while wading through these obstacles, everyone has to accept Jenny’s dying.  Can they all put aside their differences and help Jenny and Bella make their transitions as comfortably and positive as possible?

I’ve never read a book quite as touching as Crossing Oceans.  The characters are all written very strongly.  Their courage, and sometimes lack of courage, is something that I think will stay with me for a long time in hopes that if I’m ever put into either of their positions, I can remember their strength exposed in Crossing Oceans It is one beautiful book.

Tyndal House Publishers2010390 PagesISBN# 978-1-4143-3305-2
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Flashing My Shorts – Review by Martha A Cheves, Autor of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
When I picked up Flashing My Shorts I had no idea of what to expect.  What I found was the creations of a man who can take any word, object or feeling and turn it into a short story.  Reading Buttaci’s writings was almost like reading poetry.

In Two Worlds, Will Dennison lives two lives, one in the real world and one in the nightmare world.  In Invitation President Clayton Powell is invited to be transplanted to Mars. Doomsday. We’ve been warned, now the world is dying around us.  I Wish I Wish – be careful what you wish for.   And then there is my favorite:

Saturday at the ZooOnly a tall iron fence separated the two families.  “That girl is wearing a red dress, just like mine!” said Missy, then made a move to get closer to the fence.  “Behave,” said Mrs. Jackson.  “Keep your distance from the cage or we’ll go home this minute.”  She took her daughter’s hand and held it tightly.  “Go ahead and read the sign, Missy.  What does it say?”  Mr. Jackson looked at her sternly.  Missy had no trouble reading the official zoo plaque with its overdone list of synonyms, Do not annoy, badger, bother, disturb, harass, harry, heckle, irk, provoke, peeve, pester, tease, tantalize, or feed zoo creatures.  Strict penalty for violators.”  The caged little girl with Missy’s dress stared back at them. She too had a mother and father who held her hands and seemed to be warning her to stay clear of the fence.  “Oh, the smell!” said Mrs. Jackson, pulling Missy back.  “Why can’t the zoo attendants give them a shower now and then.  They’re filthy, Quentin.  I think we’ve seen enough,” though Quentin nodded his head, he seemed in no hurry to leave yet.  He watched his daughter staring bit-eyed at the other family.  “Aren’t they amazing?” he asked her.

Missy heard him, but was busy now playing a game with the other girl.  Missy would put her hand on her head and the other girl would do the same.  Then Missy would stick her tongue out and wait for the caged girl to follow suit.  “They are so smart!” said Missy.  Her mother scowled, but her father smiled.  Other zoo visitors were gathered in front of the lion’s den, the elephant swamp, the monkey’s tree, the cawing, chirping, whistling birds behind the very tall aviary fence.  Only the Jackson watched the caged family in front of them.  Quentin Jackson didn’t allow the smell inside the cage to upset him.  He inhaled the air and knew it was good to be on this side of the fence.  Free.

“They look like us, don’t they, Mommy?” said Missy.  “That little girl with the blond hair has a mommy and daddy like me.  They need new clothes but they look a lot like us.  I wish my hair was blond instead of this old black!”  Then Quentin Jackson began explaining about the family in the cage in that deep voice of his which he usually saved for his students at the university.  “A long time ago, believe it or not, we were the families in the cage.  Oh, maybe not a cage in the zoo but in a cage nonetheless.  The little blond and her parents belonged to the free families who kept the zoos, the churches, the governments.  Civil war came many years ago; even before my own Granddaddy was born.  Civil war raged between the True-pers, holding up their red-white-blue, and the Usur-pers demanding their rights by virtue of fairness and the injustice of slavery.  “Who won, Daddy?”

Now is when I tell you you’ll have to read the book to see who won, who are the True-pers and who are the Usur-pers.  The ending took me completely by surprise.  I never saw it coming.

158 pages2010All Things That Matter Press
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Deadly Lucidity – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘If only she could remember her true real life and what had happened in it to cause her to be stuck in her dreams.  Was she even a writer?  That thought struck her hard.  She could have just created that fiction from her imagination, too.  She was having an identity crisis.  Who was she really?  Was she any more real than any of the other dream images that played through her mind?  Then she focused on one of the main themes of her recent dreams – the bad man who had kidnapped her.  Maybe that kept popping up because it had a grain of reality to it.  Maybe she had truly been kidnapped.  Maybe she was still unconscious in this guy’s basement.  Oh, God.  That must be it, she thought.   But she had gotten away from him in every dream scenario, too, hadn’t she?  Maybe she had escaped, but was brain dead.  No.  She wouldn’t be able to dream if that were the case.  The only other possibility was that she was in a coma?  If so, for how long?  Her intuition said that felt right, that she was in a coma.  If only she could remember what happened.’

Dreams take us to other worlds and dimensions.  But what brings these dream about?  Are they pieces of memory from our past?  And how much do we actually contribute to what happens when we dream?  Are we able to add and delete characters.  Even during a nightmare, are we able to defend ourselves by conjuring up defense weapons?

In the case of Marie, where is she?   Who is she?  Who is Murphy?  How did he get into Marie’s dream?  Is everything really a dream or is she simply lost in another world?  How will she find her way out of her dream and back into the real world?  Can Murphy go with her?  What is she trying to accomplish and why is everyone telling her she has to wake up?

They say you dream nightly but only remember a few.  I have no idea if that’s true but I do know that after reading Deadly Lucidity I’ve found myself wondering more and more about the dreams I do have and do remember.  And as with the character Marie, wouldn’t it be nice to start a dream, wake up, go back to sleep and restart that dream?  Sometimes yes.  Sometimes no.
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