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Archive for November, 2010

Destiny’s Forge – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘A small space craft rushed toward a planet orbiting a pair of white stars, trailing a plume of sparking fire and rapidly dissipating smoke. The meteoroid had done its work well when it smashed through the hull of the craft at a critical point, tearing through the main engine pod and disabling it in an instant. The pilot was clad in an eva suit when it happened, but this would be no comfort when the air supply in the suit ran out and the ship’s systems began to fail…. The pilot struggled with the controls and managed to coax it to pitch the nose upward as it began its inexorable spiral toward the surface…. The pilot was able to bring the retrothrusters back on line and controlled them manually. The craft bucked and jostled as its descent fell back to something less terrifying, but it was not designed for a surface landing. The pilot aimed the craft toward a patch of desert just beyond the forest crowding the shore of one of the larger lakes…. The craft crumpled and bounced and set fire to the tumbles cribs growing on the desert floor until the nose came down suddenly and buried itself…. A hatch exploded outward and landed a few yards away. The pilot dove out above the flames and sailed a fair distance, hit the dirt and rolled clear. Exhausted with pain and nearly out of air, she struggled to unfasten her helmet, tossed it away and took a gulp of dry heat into her lungs as an awful consuming darkness claimed her mind.’

The pilot is Antonia Bellero. Origin? Unknown. Destination? Unknown. Quest? Unknown. Only Antonia herself knows the answers to these questions and to survive she must keep it that way. She has just crash landed on a planet called Corelli’s Planet. The planet’s namesake, Vince Corelli, is destroying the planet and the people living there through his mining for its beryllium. As circumstances take form, Antonia will do whatever she can to save both the planet and its people. But this won’t come without a cost to her and her plans. She must join the Interstellar Federation as an intelligence agent which will result in her being stationed on the Destiny’s Forge in the capacity of an Ensign.

While on the Destiny, Antonia finds herself helping to fight the creation of a Star gate which is being financed by a being known as Julian Bridge. As Antonia will soon find out, Bridges is not only known by many other names but he is one who could destroy and control space and it’s planets as they are know.

If someone told me a year ago that I would be reading a book like Destiny’s Forge I would have told them “I don’t think so, not my kind of book.” Again, I have to admit that I’m wrong. Destiny’s Forge is the first book in a series called Children of the Dragon and it is about “vampires.” Vampires have never been one of my favorite reads. When I commit to a book review I do it with an open mind. I don’t read reviews others have written. So, when I took on the commitment to read and review not 1 but 7 books in this series I really had no idea that they were about vampires. I struck out reading the 1st book Destiny’s Forge and found myself hurrying to turn the page. And now that this one is finished, I can’t wait to read the next.

I know that there are several vampire type shows on television but Destiny’s Forge could easily be made into a series that would blow them all out of the water. Yes, it’s that good!
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A Case of Accidental Intersection – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘A twisted piece of fiberglass stuck in the dirt along the side of the road.  A rear view mirror the color of cherry-red lipstick had busted off the wreckage and landed some fifty feet away, along the center line marking the do-not-pass zone.  Firefighters, EMTs and policemen huddled around the still-turning belly of a cement truck that had mowed over the top of something but was itself undamaged.  The realization hit me with horror.  The mirror belonged to a car pinned under the orange and white girth.  It now looked like an octopus with jagged sheet-metal legs protruding in all directions, rather than a fancy sports car from a showroom.  I moved in the direction of a woman pacing and wringing her hands.  I pulled out my ever-present small digital camera and snapped a couple of shots of the wreckage.  Then one of the woman who clearly showed the magnitude of the scene without any words needed.  I slipped the camera back in my breast pocket.  “I’m Mitch Malone with the Grand River Journal.”
Mitch Malone has just run across a wreck that will be the basis of his biggest story of his career, so far.  The “accident” took place just as the elderly Elsie Dobson was looking out her window.  The little red sports car seemed to just pulled out in front of a cement truck.  The passengers – Dominique Pewter, heiress to Herman Steel Designs and her long time best friend Ashley Albanese.  Dominique had just purchased the car as a graduation gift to herself and as the papers would soon report, was killed on impact.  The passenger, Ashley, was taken to the hospital with a broken arm and head injuries.  Her chances of surviving are hopeful at best.
After seeing the wreck, talking to Elsie and then to a friend from the police department, Mitch isn’t convinced that this was an accident.  After another death occurs and is tied to a bar Mitch has been staking out, he’s sure it wasn’t an accident.  And this turns out to be the same bar where Mitch has been observing his new editor Neil patronizing.  Could there be a connection?
In reading A Case of the Accidental Intersection I knew the why and came up with 3 possibilities as to who wanted Dominique dead.  I finally realized that I was wrong about 35 pages from the end.  I really enjoyed reading A Case of Accidental Intersection.  Its filled with memorable characters, good cops, a rear end cop, as well as a touch of humor.
2010
Oak Tree Press
232 pages
ISBN# 978-1-892343-70-3

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The Health Farm Murders – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘On re-entering my room, I saw a man going through Zapata’s things.  At first I thought one of the other guests had got wind of Taylor’s chocolate hoard and was helping himself.  “Hold on there!”  I expected the helping-hand guest to wheel around and offer some feeble excuse.  Imagine my surprise when he pitched Zapata’s bag right at me!  The bag knocked me over but as the guru made to rush past I lashed out at his shins with my foot, tripping him up.  As he fell forward on his face, I threw myself on top of him.  He tried to roll sideways, kicking out with his feet, but I was too heavy for him.  I grabbed his head with both hands and forced it on to the floor; but he arced out his left arm and caught me a glancing blow on the chin, – not forceful enough to knock me off.  I knelt the more heavily on top of him, and burying both my knees into his arms, pulled his head back and forth by the hair, smashing his forehead repeatedly into the floor.  “Enough! Enough!” he cried out.  “You and I are going along to see Sister Susan.”  We both stood up.  He preceded me into the corridor.  He was a thickset gent, maybe thirty-five or forty, wearing black slacks and a black jumper.  It was just beginning to dawn on me that he didn’t seem like a fellow guest at all, when there was a sort of gurgling sob from the next room.  The door opened and one of the Seabrook brothers wobbled out, his face ashen, his normally bulging eyes now wide as saucers.  “It’s Mr. Payne!” he cried out.  “He’s dead!”

Good old “Happy Valley.”  Located near Sydney, Australia and the perfect place to take a break to rejuvenate your body while taking a refresher course in living the natural way.  Run, owned and operated by Sister Susan who promises to clean out your system, revitalize tired cells and set you on the road to health, happiness and low self-hostility.  This sounded like the perfect get-away for police Sergeant Merryll Manning of the Miami Police Department.  Little did he know that his trip would be quite the opposite.

The characters in The Health Farm Murders are of quite a variation.  You have a minister, a movie critic/numerologist, a movie theater owner and an old sea captain, just to name a few.  With the 1st murder I started looking at the possible suspects.  I had my felon picked out only to have him murdered.  I picked another suspect out of the guests visiting Happy Valley but soon found that person to have an alibi which appeared to make it impossible for him to be the murderer.  So I changed my suspect choice and he too ended up being murdered.  This went on throughout the WHOLE book!  The Health Farm Murders turned out to be a book that completely stumped me as a “who-done-it” reader.

The Health Farm Murders

2008
Lulu Press, Inc.
230 pages
ISBN# 978-0-557-01006-6
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The Innocent – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘I was their warden.
I was their keeper, their mother and their father.
Which is why, for me, the matter of Eduard Vasquez’s escape was such a serious offence. I had signed the release form allowing him to visit a dentist on the outside.  As the keeper of Green Haven, I was directly responsible  It was my decision and my decision only.  What I mean is, I could have said no.  But then, I couldn’t just deny a prisoner his right to proper dental care if that’s what he wanted.  That was the rule in New York State.  As the keeper, my job was not rehabilitation.  My job was to see that society was protected from its prisoners.  But get this:  It was also my job to see that a man who’d shot a New York City cop at point-blank range maintained a pearly-white smile.’

Jack “Keeper” Marconi is the warden at Green Haven Prison in New York State.  For some time now he has been faced with the problem of an increase in drugs and contraband inside the prison, the Commissioner demanding a decrease in correction officers manning the prison and now the escape of Eduard Vasquez.  The escape took place on the way back from a dentist visit, putting one of the officers in the hospital.  His condition.. coma.

As the story regarding what actually happened starts to be told, Keeper notices a few loopholes.  His investigation takes him before the Commissioner with an offer to take the blame and everything will simply blow over.  He’s really surprised to hear this offer coming from his long time friend Commissioner Washington Pelton.  Twenty five years ago Keeper, Wash and another CO named Mike Norman had gone through hell during the Attica up rise.  They saw and experienced more than any human beings should ever have to see or live through.  But something had changed Wash and not for the best.

I’ve never been fond of movies nor books that were prison related so when I started reading The Innocent I knew from the beginning I was committed to reading a book that I really didn’t want to read.  I decided I would just read and hopefully I would be able to turn the pages quickly and just get it over with.  Boy was I ever wrong!  I did turn the pages quickly but not due to wanting to finish quickly but to see who was behind the corruption, drug dealings and murders of the various characters.  And how Keeper was going to find enough evidence to save his own life as well as the life of Vasquez’s girlfriend Cassandra’s life.  I found Vincent Zandri to be a very descriptive writer allowing you to see the events as they take place.  I found myself feeling as if I were on the outside looking in.  In my opinion, The Innocent (formerly written with the title As Catch Can) could easily become a hit movie.

1099
Dell Publishing
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Murder at Cuyamaca Beach – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘We settled in water up to my waist and turned to face each other.  Hands intertwined, we jumped up and down in the waves like idiots in a Monte Python movie.  I relaxed a bit.  Moving around definitely made me warmer.  “Oof.”  Something hit me, sending a sharp pain into my side.  I released Mike’s hand and turned, wobbled slightly and then righted myself.  A red surfboard bobbed beside me.  The top sported a black mountain log.  My heart skipped a beat, then another.  Sereno Cellars used a black mountain against a red background on their wine labels.  “What the hell?” Mike asked, staring at the board.  I grabbed it, uncertain of what to do next.  I squinted toward the beach.  Even with limited sight, I could see that a restless, unsettled feeling hovered over the beach.  Onlookers huddled in small groups.  Lifeguards leapt from their stations.  Whistles shrilled as they bolted toward the water.  “Shark!” The lifeguards shouted, and then again.  And again.  “Everyone out.  Now!”  Sirens erupted from the patrol boats stationed beyond the breakers. ‘

Bella Kowalski and her husband Mike spent New Year’s Eve working a fund raiser for the homeless.  New Year’s Day has taken them to the beach where the Polar Bear Club will take their 1st plunge of the year into the Oacufuc;s icy waters.  But Bella will not only find herself facing her 1st body of freezing goose bumps, she will also find herself coming face to face with the death of a friend.

Loreli Sereno died 5 years ago.  The police had originally suspected foul play but later ruled the death as an accident.  Now, with the death of her sister, the case has been reopened and Bella’s husband Mike, an ex-policeman, will be handling this “cold case” for the Tolosa County Sheriff’s Department.  Is there a connection between the deaths?

Bella finds her plate full as she tries to determine who killed both of her friends, what is really going on at the homeless ranch run by Marcus Daniel and his foster son Jeremy?  What is Father Burton hiding?  To add more pressure to her spinning life, Bella finds herself taking in her 18 year old nephew and an increase in responsibility at the local paper where she’s in charge of writing the obits.  Oh, did I mention that she also has a friendly ghost that lives in their windmill home?  Never a dull day in the life of Bella Kowalski.

I know murder is serious business, but Author Sue McGinty’s style of writing in Murder at Cuyamaca Beach puts suspense, a little drama and a hit of humor in her story.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and know you will too.  It’s so down to earth and human.
2010
Aberdeen Bay
263 pages
ISBN# 978-1-60830-037-2

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

‘A long, narrow building, beyond the small shed, blocked her view.  Valerie inched past a rusty engine leaning against the hut and peeked around the corner.  Two men in black tee shirts and black pants stood at the stern of the sleek cabin cruiser docked at the wharf.  Three more men stood on the pier:  One young, one old, one dangerously attractive.  Facing her, she could see he was perfect, in fact.  Except, why was he wearing a long, tan raincoat?  Maybe she wasn’t the only unprepared foreigner.  No way would she interrupt their business.  Two of them walked way.  Mr. Perfect, the handsome Latino in the tan raincoat, smiled after them.  His sensuous, slightly accented voice broke the silence.  “Gentlemen, please. It has been my experience that even in times of indecision, a solution exists.”  His arms spread wide as if to embrace them.  The two men stopped and turned back.  Still smiling, the Latino reached inside his raincoat and pulled out a gun.  Valerie gawked at him.  She heard a pop.  The older man fell backward onto the wharf.  Pop.  The younger man’s head exploded.  The man in the tan raincoat leaned down and fired a third bullet in the older man’s head.  The body twitched, then lay still.’

Valerie McCormick is the mother of 3 beautiful daughters and wife to Ed.  Ed owns a timber business in their home town of Prince George, Canada.  In the process of trying to secure the business he runs across a possible client who has his eyes set on a boat docked in Seattle, Washington, so when Valerie wins a trip to Seattle, what better time to take pictures of the boat with hopes of scoring brownie points with the client.  But when Valerie witnesses the murder of 2 men she decides she must do her duty and report it to the police.  To her relief, the police ended up arresting Miguel DeOlmos on a traffic violation and now had him in jail.  To her disappointment, after the American FBI talked her into testifying against DeOlmos, he ends up escaping during his trial.  And to make matters worse Miguel DeOlmos is the leader of one of the largest drug cartels in the both North and South America.  DeOlmos will stop at nothing to keep from being tried in the US due to its death penalty  and it’s not beyond him to kill the only witness the FBI have against him.

Author Joylene Nowell Butler took me on a ride from Canada, Seattle, Nevada, California and then to Baja as FBI agent Mike Canaday chases DeOlmos while still doing everything in his power to keep Valerie alive.  Valerie comes up with her own ideas of how to capture DeOlmos and ends up in the clutches of his psycho brother Vincente.  Dead Witness is a superbly written murder mystery that has everything from greed to murder to deceit and of course love.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading Dead Witness.

2008
Published by Joylene Nowell
278 pages
ISBN# 978-0-9810-3050-0

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Jobless Recovery – Second Addition – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

Dear David R. Griffin:
By now you are aware of the unprecedented opportunity Markham-Hook Conglomerate has encountered.  I am sure you rejoice at our good fortune and wish us every success in our leap forward into the global future.
Unfortunately, David R. Griffin, you have not been selected to continue the journey with Markham-Hook Conglomerate.  Your position with the company has been eliminated and will terminate on May 1st of this year.  As part of your duties before you depart, you will be required to engage in knowledge transfer, making sure your replacement from India knows how to perform your job in a satisfactory manner.  In addition, you must successfully complete all projects on your current work list.
Can you imagine receiving a letter like this, or maybe you have or know someone who has.  The letter is clearly a form letter with the name of the recipient inserted.  And the company has the audacity to inform David that he must train his replacement before leaving.  As I read Jobless Recovery I started recognizing things that I really had taken for granted.  I knew that whenever I needed tech support for my computer, phone or just about anything electronic I would end up talking to someone who I assumed was from a foreign country, not really knowing if the help was actually being processed here in the US or from another country.  As the story of David and later Joe and Lark continued I started wondering how much of this was based on facts so I contacted the Author.  Below is the answers to my questions to her.

Martha,

The part in the book about American tech workers losing their jobs to cheaper tech workers imported from India is absolutely true. Have Americans had to train their replacements? Absolutely true. Are the imported workers paid less than the Americans? Absolutely. Outsourcing is bad–jobs go to other countries, or wherever. But insourcing, bringing workers to the United States on work visas to undercut wages and take jobs from Americans right in this country, is far worse. It is absolutely true that this is happening. I have firsthand experience and I can promise you it’s the truth.
Please go here for all the facts, statistics, and information you may need. I can vouch for this site as being honest and telling the facts. It’s a real eye-opener:
I have called Washington (many times) and I was told this is legal and there’s nothing I can do about it. I even have it in writing from the U.S. Department of Labor that the H-1B law is full of loopholes and there are no protections whatsoever for American workers. The worker importation laws were signed into law by President Clinton. Since then, you can see what’s happened to the economy. I have called senators and representatives, the White House, The U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. I received absurd answers very much like those given to my main character in the book. The line where a staffer tells Dave that since workers have their money in the stock market, anything corporations do to increase profits is good for workers even if they lose their jobs was actually said to me by someone at the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. I’ve paraphrased and that isn’t an exact quote, but it’s pretty close.
For so many years Americans have been expected to drive the world economy with consumerism, but how are we to do this without jobs? Every company wants the benefits of doing business in the U.S. with its stable government and relatively affluent consumer base, but they don’t want to hire Americans and pay American wages and adhere to American labor laws. At the same time they expect Americans to fight and die in the U.S. military to protect their interests. First they told us we didn’t want service jobs, so when those went away we were told to upgrade our skills and get manufacturing jobs. When those went away, they told us to get an education and get tech jobs. Now those are gone to outsourcing and insourcing and we’re told that it’s globalization and we are supposed to “deal with it.” Anyone with half a brain can see that we’ve been lied to you and thrown by the wayside. It’s all due to the sickness of greed. Time for Americans to wake up, get mad, and vote out the people who have sold us out.
Jobless Recovery is another well written book by Author L. C. Evans.  She has added humor to help us process the truth behind the fiction in the story of David, Joe and Lark, but at the same time she opened my eyes to what is really going on in our country as well as other countries, with most of us being totally unaware.   Jobless Recovery is a book that I highly recommend we all read.
2010
ISBN 9781453792711
226 pages

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