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Archive for April, 2011

His Mistake – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
“Are you alright?” she said.  Her body was shaking.  “I’m so sorry, I couldn’t see.  You’re not hurt, are you?”  She waited for a response.  When none came she quickly reached for the door of the car.  A hand then came up and squeezed her shoulder.  He again spoke in German.  His foul breath was like a slap in her face.  “I-I don’t speak German,” she stammered.  Without a word, he grabbed her and threw her face down against the hood of the car.  She felt the motor running beneath her.  He then turned her over.  Even though she was facing him now, she could not make out the details of his face.  He ripped her dress from her body and pushed her harder against the car.  She punched at his stomach.  When he did not relent, she dug her fingernails into his neck, which prompted him to hit her in the face.  She let out a muffled cry as she realized that it was all over.  Over for Frances Thompson, formerly Briggs.  Her life, from this moment on, was to be forever changed.’
Frances Thompson, originally from London, had met and married Reginald Thompson who worked for The Times as a war correspondent. As World War I began, his profession ended up taking him to Germany where he later took Frances to live.  As the war progressed, Frances found “Reggie” away more times than home.  This left her doing her best to be the perfect wife for her perfect husband.  And she succeeded, until she met Derek Jacobs.
His Mistake has got to be one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve read in a long time.  I found myself wanting to hate some of the characters along the way, only to find myself loving them even more as their lives took them through World War I and into the beginning of World War II.  Ladies…this is a must read book.
106 Pages
2011
Virtual Tales
ISBN# 978-1-935460-34-3

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Erich’s Plea: Book One of the Witchcraft Wars – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘Two months ago he had arrived at Ostland’s Zeaburg prison complex and been taken to this subterranean dungeon with its smooth stone walls, mazes of corridors, little or no lighting and the constant smell of death, blood, waste and decay in his nostrils.  He had been alternately beaten and tortured for hours on a daily basis.  His own screams blending with the cries, screams and moans of the other, unseen, sufferers in Zeaburg’s nightmarish torture chambers.  The horrors here were so great that even the rats eschewed Zeaburg, although the fleas showed no similar scruples and were an additional constant torment.  His body was covered head to toe with tiny bites from the multitudes of the awful creatures.  Slade would not have believed it was possible for a place like Zeaburg prison to exist if he had not seen it with his own eyes.  It well deserved its evil reputation.  Zeaburg also had a reputation for being inescapable; no one, in all its long history had ever escaped from its confines, except in death.  Slade had never believed half the rumors that had surrounded Zeaburg before, now he saw clearly they were all true and worse.  He also knew why so many of those imprisoned here died and, it was said, were glad to, death being preferable to daily life in Zeaburg.’
Einreich Gudmundson is the second son of the High King Erich.   Much to the disappointment of his father, he has renounced his life as the Crown Prince of Vestland and now calls himself Slade.  He will now be a member of the druids of the Sacred Grove, dedicating his life to serve Freyita.  That was all before he was captured and taken to Ostland’s Zeaburg Prison.  His committed crimes are still a mystery to Slade but the punishment is completely real.  Only when he sleeps is he able to find peace from the pain of the beatings he has endured in his two months of imprisonment but even sleep becomes disturbed by the dreams of his father begging for his help.
How can Slade possibly help his father the king while stuck in this hole of hell?  He can only try to keep his mind as clear as possible and practice the training taught to him by the warrior-monks of the Black Lotus and pray for some form of help along the way.  And help does come in the form of a being that calls himself ‘Trunk.’  In his dreams his father told him to follow the trunk and Slade is sure this is who he was referring to.  So with the help of this larger than life ‘trunk’ as well as help from a few other unlikely allies, Slade finds himself attempting the impossible…an escape from the inescapable prison of Zeaburg.
This book is full of mystery, suspense, witchcraft, magic, dishonesty, espionage…I could go on and on.  The characters are colorful not only in appearance but also in character.  Author Tracey Alley has written a very enjoyable book and I really hope that Erich’s Plea:  Book Two is just around the corner for me to read.  I’ve gotten into the story and characters and can’t wait to see what will happen to them next.
315 pages
2010

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Deception Past – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘Growing up, Sand was confused by the two recurring nightmares.  The dream about the house with the black cloud was vague and what preceded and followed it changed each time, but the other nightmare was a vivid memory that repeated itself exactly the same way each time.  She was in an adult body, naked and being dragged by men in black uniforms toward a brick building.  To the right of it next to the wall was where they let go of her, and she sank to her knees onto the ground with her head tucked under her body.  There was a loud bang.  She felt even more pain searing through her upper body and neck, and she knew she’d been shot from behind, but she was still conscious.  Then the uniformed men picked her up and carried her into the brick building toward the left side of the room.  It was a room with the ovens.’
Sandra Strasberg, called Sand by her friends, was born the day after Thanksgiving in 1953.  She was born to normal, southern parents who showed very little affection between themselves much less Sand and her older brother Jody.    Due to her mother being Catholic, she attended the local Catholic school and live went on smoothly, but the times were on the verge of changing.
At the early age four Sand would dream of living in another life during another time.  For most of her life she had no idea of what could possibly be causing this disturbing dream.  As Sand will later learn, her dreams seem to follow the life of Nadia Narim who was arrested in 1943 by the Nazis.  Could she possibly have been reincarnated?   I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Being born as a baby-boomer, Sand grew up with many changes going on throughout, not just America and the south but throughout the world.  She lived through segregation in the schools, Alabama governor Wallace being shot, Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, the Viet Nam war, and even a few disasters involving the race to the moon.  What made Deception Past so interesting to me was that I too lived through these times and events.  Reading Deception Past was like reading the “cliff notes” of American history from 1953 to 2006.  I found myself pausing with each new occurrence to remember where I was and what I was doing at that time.  It was a sometimes very enjoyable sometimes not so enjoyable walk down history lane for me.
If you’re a baby-boomer, like myself, I feel sure you will enjoy following the life of Sand, her family and friends as they travel through this time period in history.  I have no doubt that you too will be sent down a road of memory.  If you aren’t a baby-boomer, give our history a try to see how it stacks up with your own.
2010
213 pages
iUniverse
ISBN# 978-1-4502-1473-5

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Excelsior – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘Semminex wondered how many tazer shots Radifen had taken today, since the older Denarian was definitely developing a tolerance to them.  He lost count of how many times Radifin stood against the guards, shouting his blistering sermons that reverberated through the walls of the prison, catching the attention of the men and women around them.
Even though Semminex couldn’t see them, he could hear the cacophony of the prisoners banging metal and flesh against the cell doors, as Radifen’s voice penetrated through the walls of the prison.  Radifen would declare that the days of the Krunations’ perversion of their planet were coming to an end.  The Krunations’ emperor, Nocterar, would fall to their protector Excelsior, who would return to his people and destroy this monstrosity of a castle that these prisoners were forced to create.
The guard noticed that Radifen was quieter than usual, so he was only given a mild tazing before the door was opened and he was shoved back inside.  The Denarian prisoner limply fell inside the cell.  Before the cell door shut, the guard looked over his shoulder and saw where he had to go next.  Grannik’s cell.  The guard drew a deep breath, slid his key back into the lock, then turned around and looked to his left and his right to see if another guard was nearby.  Nobody was there.  As the guard looked down to activate his communicator on his wrist, Radifen slid under the cell door as it was closing and slipped out of sight.’
Matthew Peters is a high school student who has an uncanny knack for writing and drawing his own web comic, which he publishes on his own internet site.  His popular series “Excelsior” is now starting to gain a broader audience. His characters from another world far, far away must be perfectly written and illustrated, and his list of followers is quickly growing.
Matthew started having dreams and visions of his Excelsior characters and stories after visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art when he was a small child.  On display there was a sword that had been discovered during an excavation in Greenland.  He had slipped past the guards and actually touched the sword before being caught.  Little did Matthew know but his touching the sword would change his life forever.
Not far from where the sword was discovered, another discovery was made.  A body was found that was believed to be thousands of years old.  What baffled the archeology team the most was the lack of decay showing on the body.  And when Dr. Katherine Sierra was able to view this “ice” man, she knew who he was and where he came from.  And when she spotted the glowing gem held in one of his hands, she knew she was running out of time before mass destruction would take place.  It was up to her to find the one person who would save not only Earth but also the planet of Denab IV.  And that person could be none other than Matthew Peters.
Excelsior took me through a few “fiery” loops.  This book is filled with adventure, action and addiction.  I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see how the characters would not only live through but also flourish into the next event.
2010
ISBN# 978-0741460882

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Web of Lies – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘The feelings of guilt and inadequacy came all too often.  Of course, I considered ending the marriage.  Thoughts of breaking free were frequent, usually at night when I was lying alone in my bed.  But they’d quickly be replaced by the guilt.  I genuinely believed that many of the problems we were experiencing were down to my own shortcomings.  I’d get angry and frustrated with Bill, and I’d let my feelings show.  I’d be grumpy and ratty.  I’d nag him and complain about things.  He would then feel ‘put down’ and ‘unappreciated’, which in turn lead to more self-reproach from my side.  I’d often question him about his past, and this visibly frustrated him.  To him, my questions showed that I didn’t trust him.  And without trust, he’d said, we had nothing.  I had to trust him.  I had to put my faith in him, or we’d never get out of this mess.  If I wasn’t standing by him, unquestioning and loyal, then I was exacerbating the situation for him, by undermining him.  This in turn meant he was unable to ‘solve the issues’, and so the problem perpetuated itself.’
I don’t know the stats as to how many marriages end up in divorce but I’m sure they are extremely high.  But there are still those marriages that probably should have ended in marriage and didn’t.  I feel that most of these “sick” marriages are due to the wife and I’m sure sometimes the husband feeling that some, if not all problems have been caused by them.  If I had only done this.  If I had only been a more loving person.  If I had only been more understanding.  The ifs go on and on.
Even if divorce seems to be the only solution, many still have problems accepting the inevitable.  They still feel they must take the full blame.
‘I’d been stripped bare.  There was nothing left.  I was functioning for the sake of my children, yet I was barely there as a person in my own right.  I was losing control, and I saw no way of regaining my life.  I wasn’t worthy of my children.  They deserved better.  I had brought this all on myself.  I was being a victim.  I lived to be a victim.  I could never be a strong and beautiful person, because I was weak and pathetic.  I’d allowed this to happen to me because of the type of person I was.  I was looking for misery.  I wanted misery.  I must be craving it, and now the universe had delivered it.  Misery.  It was no more than I deserved.’
May of us go through bad marriages.  I’ve been through a couple myself and as I read Web of Lies I found myself relating to Sarah’s life, feelings and self-disgust.  If those of us who have been there will be honest with ourselves we can honestly say “been there, done that.”  We find reasons to keep us in a “sick” marriage…kids, money, even not wanting to be accused of being a failure.  But in the end, we are very possibly become a victim of a form of mind control.
In Web of Lies, Author Sarah Tate puts her own life out for public view.  Throughout the book she expresses her self-loath and sees herself as a weak, pathetic person who deserved everything she went through.  I personally see her as an extremely strong person.  I can’t say how much I’ve enjoyed reading Web of Lies, not as one would enjoy a novel but as one would find while reading a book that seemed to really hit home for them in so many ways.
292 Pages
ISBN# 978-1456516680

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The Spruce Gum Box – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
“Jedediah!  You and your bastard had better run like the wind and don’t look back!” screamed Benjamin Wingate as he picked up the bench and tossed it into the growing inferno.  The baby started to cry, adding to the turmoil of the scene.  Jed stumbled a bit, but managed to swing the pack onto his back as he ran for the door.  On his way past the little table he grabbed the lock and key and stuffed it in with his mittens.  He hesitated for a second to trace his hand over the carved memories of his childhood; the teakettle just missed his head as it flew out the door.  He ran north to the woods, doing his best not to slip on the scattered patches of snow and ice.  When he reached the bend in the river, he took a breath and looked back at his cherished cabin, fully engulfed in flames, sparks reaching the top of the tallest pines.  He could still hear Mr. Wingate screaming obscenities and raving, “Don’t you ever come back!  No owner will hire you; count on it!  Don’t you ever tell anybody about that bastard!  Don’t you ever break our secret!  Don’t you ever link that child to my family and me!  Do you hear?”
This was the scene that played out as Jedediah Smythe took his son and fled for their lives as they escaped the wrath of Adelaide Wingate’s father.  Jed was a walking boss for Wingate as he harvested the timber along the Aroostook River in a land that was claimed by both Canadian and Maine.  He had met Addie and the rest of her family upon his arrival from England.  Wingate had met young Jed while visiting his own home in England and saw his knack for numbers and business and talked his parents into letting Jed accompany him to this timber wilderness.  He just didn’t anticipate he and his daughter Addie falling in love.  He especially didn’t expect her to present him with a grandson and shortly after the baby was born he delivered it to Jed and sent Addie back to England.
After the delivery of Benjamin Wingate Smythe to his father, the story takes us to a settlement of Micmac Indians.  Jacob and Jed had met some time before when Jacob served as a cook for Wingate’s crew.  They hit it off and Jed had no doubts that he would find comfort and help for himself and his son if he could make it to Jacob’s settlement.  And as he had expected, he was greeted by everyone with open arms and a promise of protection.
The Spruce Gum Box is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read.  The love between Addie and Jed was beautiful but the love between Jed and Ben was so strong that nothing could separate nor pull them apart.  To top it off, the love and friendship between the Micmac Indians and their two new found family members became a bond for life.  And this bond will continue and strengthen as it goes into hardships and even into death.
In school we are taught the basics in history.  We aren’t taken into many of the hardships that were involved in creating what we now have.  Author Elizabeth Egerton Wilder, through The Spruce Gum Box, has given us a lesson in history that has me wanting to know more.  I want to learn more about the Micmac Indians who I’ve never even heard of until now.  I want to learn more about the treaty and land grants that took place between the squatters, England and the US.  She has made this part of history very interesting and fun to learn.
2010
Red Dobie Press
269 Pages
ISBN# 978-0-9815954-4-3

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The Butcher’s Boy by Michael Robb – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

“The prosecution has sickened us with grizzly photographs of the crime scene.  They have brought in experts and skilled technicians.  They have dazzled us with their qualifications and then had us listen to their various opinions as to what happened to those three children and their living mother.”  He heaved in a sigh and then began pacing slowly as he drew the jury in.  “They have produced lab findings, coroner’s reports, officers’ testimonies and arrest documentation.  They have paraded witness after witness before us but not one of them could say they saw who murdered the Buxly family, or why.  Why did they bore us to tears with all of this irrelevant information and then tear out our heats with those photos of young Elizabeth Buxly?”…  “I’ll tell you why.  It is because they have no evidence that the defendant did this.  This has all been a smoke screen.  There is so much reasonable doubt here that I cannot believe we are even having this lengthy trial at all.”

This was part of Defense Attorney Richard King’s closing statement to the jury in the murder trial of William H. Buxly who has been accused of brutally murdering his wife, two daughters, son and then setting fire to the house.  Along with the massacre at his home, many believed him to be responsible for the attack on a couple of young girls that were assaulted and had their throats slashed.  One hard enough to cause decapitation.  But, with witnesses that placed Buxly at various places that would make it seem totally impossible for him to have committed the crimes against his family, he was sure to be found “Not Guilty.”  That just wasn’t to be.  Buxly was found “Guilty,” sentenced to death, and five years later was executed, still claiming his innocence.

As part of his defense fee, Richard King acquired the home where William Howard Buxly, better known as “Buxly The Butcher,” supposedly butchered his family.  A year after Buxly’s execution, King was found dead in the home.   Years later the house was bought by Janet Hale for herself, her son Michael, and their dog Lucy.

Their first scare came when they found a local bum called Willie Tee hanging around the house.  Willie lived part of his life down by the railroad tracks, and the other part at Hope House, which turned out to be a shelter run by Steve Duncan.  When Janet met Steve, the sparks between them flew and they soon became an item.  But as it turned out, Willie was only the beginning of the problems they were soon to deal with.  It turned out that the house was haunted by none other than those who had been murdered there, and they were visiting Michael in the attempt to get their message across that he and his mother were both in danger.  This, as well as his discovery that the murders of young girls had started back up again, leads Michael to believe that someone that was supposed to be dead wasn’t really dead, and he was determined to find out who that person might be.

The Butcher’s Boy kept me wanting to read more and more.  I had my ideas as to who was actually committing the murders, but couldn’t quite come up with the why nor how.  My suspicions turned out to be correct, but his punishment was something I would have never guessed happening.  All-in-all, The Butcher’s Boy became an on the edge of the seat read, keeping me glued to every page.

230 Pages
2010

ISBN 978-1-4524-1365-5
Publisher:  Michael Robb Mathias Jr.
aka  M. R. Mathias
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