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Archive for May, 2011

When Serpents Die – Laura Kate Plantation Series Book One – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
“Why call me?  Did he have some last instructions about the estate?”  “I’m sorry Mr. Royce is gone, but we’ll do fine.”  “Oh, I’m not worried about that.  I’m concerned why a man goes back and forth between two women for years, until one day he ups and shoots himself.”  He rubbed his chin.  “I think Mr. Royce’s charm and wit hid a deeply distressed person.”  “And we can guess what the distress was about.  Last I heard he was back with Sammie, and Hannah was loose on the town again.”  “Mrs. Tower was bad for Mr. Royce,”  Brewster said, his jowls heavy with pessimism.  “Poor Miss Sammie had to put up with her all those years.  Now this.”  “Yes, now this.”  Her thoughts lingered on Royce’s wife, Sammie – Samantha – a Southern Bell bordering on parody, and the toast of Roston when little Laura Kate was riding ponies.  “Well, Mr. Brewster, I aim to find out why he called, and what made him go crazy.”  He crossed his arms, accepting something he couldn’t forbid.  “Watch yourself, Miss Laura Kate.  I don’t need to tell you there’s mean spirits out there.”  “Is Hannah a mean spirit?”  “She has a powerful hold on Royce Lee that nobody could figure.”  “Who knows with men and women?  Royce changed in the years I was overseas and I wonder, can a woman change a man that much?”  “Some can.  With the evil eye.”  She laughed at his rare departure from common sense.  “And what do you know about the evil eye, Mr. Brewster?”  “There are those who are born able to put spells on people, even strong people like you are, Miss Laura Kate.”  She studied his wary brown face and cocked an eyebrow.  I’m going to interview your mean spirit, Mr. Brewster.  And, believe me, I know what to do when I encounter the evil eye.”
Attorney Royce Lee has been found dead in his office.  Cause of death…apparently suicide with a shotgun.  Laura Kate doesn’t believe her long time friend and attorney of her aunt’s estate would take his own life.  She knows in her gut that it wasn’t suicide…it was murder.  The questions she now has to find answers to: Why would anyone kill Royce?  Possible answer – he had been married for years to Sammie but still continued to publicly see his long time lover Hannah.  Who would kill Royce?  Possible answer – just about anyone that knew him but especially Hannah herself or Hannah’s husband Bobby.  Could also be his partner Jack but there is no apparent reason other than the fact that he didn’t like Royce.  There is also Guy who has some dark hidden secrets that Royce has uncovered.  But are they so bad that he would kill to keep them quiet?
When Bobby ask Laura Kate to visit Hannah and help her get through the death of her lover, she starts having doubts that Hannah could have killed Royce Lee.  She did love him and hate him at the same time but when she told her story leading up to her finding the body, Laura Kate believed her.  Then Sammie’s sister Johnnie and her husband Clay step in insisting that the death was a suicide and if the sheriff wanted to win another election he might better agree with them.  When this news reaches Laura Kate she realizes that the whole incident is in the process of being covered up and again comes her question – Why?
When Serpents Die takes the reader to the real “southern” south.  It brings to light the small town politics and small town upbringing.  The town of Roston is the perfect southern town where everyone knows everyone and the town’s hobby is to know everything there is to know about everyone.  Coming from the south myself, I can actually see and relate to a lot of the events, dialect and feelings of these characters.  And believe me, When Serpents Die will keep you turning the pages trying to determine who killed who.
171 pages
2009
Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN# 978-1-936000-13-5

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A Love Rekindled – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
 
‘Jane and Joan’s sobs mingled, and they ran out of the room, tears gushing down their cheeks.  Ovie came in soon after.  “What is this I hear?  I saw the twins on my way here.”  “Kevwe may have broken up with Efe…”  Efe looked up to her.  “Is there any doubt about it?  His father told me.  I’d been hoping he would call, but he hasn’t.”  “So he couldn’t face you to tell you himself?”  Ovie demanded as she sat.  “I saw him today, and he wouldn’t talk to me too…”  “You saw Kevwe, today?”  Efe sat straight. Time seemed to move in slow motion, and she felt dizzy for a while.  “Yes.  On my way to First Bank, I saw him at UBA Akpakpava, near the roundabout.  When I said hi, he ignored me.  Maybe he thought I knew about the break-up…”  “Are you sure it was him you saw?”  Efe clutched her chest.  The ache in her pounding heart was real.  “I’m sure.  You know how I complain about his habit of  jangling his keys all the time as if he’s the only one who has a car.  It was the sound that caught my attention, and he was with another girl.”  Efe stopped thinking, her breathing also seemed to cease.  All the blood in every single part of her body drained to her heart, making it expand, and it pushed against her ribs as if to burst loose.  Efe sprang out of bed, screaming in fear.’
Efe Sagay grew up and went to school in Nigeria.  While attending school she met the love of her life, her soul mate, the person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with…Kevwe Mukoro.  And the feelings were duplicated by Kevwe.  As soon as Efe graduated, they would be married.  This was the dream and this was the plan.
But real life doesn’t always see things the way we do.  The perfect future can always be destroyed by unforeseen circumstances.  In Efe and Kevwe’s case, one of their biggest obstacles came in the form of his father.  Nigeria is made up of tribes and with the tribal wars that had been going on for years sometimes lead to hate between the different tribe members.  This was the case with Kevwe’s father when he found that Efe was from the tribe he hated the most.  He was determined that there would be no way Efe and Kevwe would ever marry.  And with the events that followed the announcement of  their engagement, he may have gotten his wish.  Through deceit on his part, the couple separated with Efe going to America to finish her education and Kevwe putting his life into the company he had started.
But then again, fate steps in and seven years later the couple will meet again.  Can they rekindle what was so perfect for them?  Will family again put a stop to their relationship?  Or has there just been too much time lost for them to reunite?
A Love Rekindled is a beautiful story of true, 100% love.  The hardships and heartbreaks that were bestowed upon Efe and Kevwe are heart wrenching.  And their struggles to understand and accept what happened to them and what will become of them is painful as well as healing.  This is one great story of complete love.
2011
ISBN# 978-1456516864

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The Last of the Good Guys – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘Julie read the note and then the article.  “I don’t understand,” she said from across her kitchen table.  “What does this have to do with Ben’s suicide?”  Alec looked at her.  “I was hoping you might have an answer.  Did Ben ever talk about these guys, any of them?”  She shook her head.  “They weren’t his close friends, that’s for sure.  I vaguely remember a couple of the names, Rudy Johnson and Roy Harrison.  But that was when Ben was still on the force.”  “Stuart’s widow didn’t remember them at all.  Didn’t even know if Stuart had maintained contact with any of them.”  “So what next?”  “Well, I’d like to talk to the others, the ones mentioned in the article.  I know Roy Harrison died of lung cancer about eight years ago and both Conway and Johnson had resigned, which means I’ll first have to find them.”  “You really think there could be a connection?”  Alec shrugged.  “I don’t know, but it’s worth checking out.  In the meantime why don’t you go through Ben’s papers and stuff and see if you come up with anything that might show a tie-in.”
Alec Santana had been best man at his friend Ben Brody’s wedding.  Now he sits with Ben’s widow Julie as they try to make sense of Ben’s apparent suicide.  The only clue Julie is able to give to Alec is that Ben did start acting strange after receiving a letter that he refused to share with her.  When Julie asked about the letter, he blew it off as a bill he forgot to pay.  Yet less than two weeks later he commits suicide.  Alec sees no reason for such a desperate act which makes him even more determined to get to the bottom of his friend’s fatal actions.
As Alec digs deeper into Ben’s death he uncovers the deaths of a couple other ex-policemen.  And as the pieces start coming together, he discovers that not only did each of the men, including Ben, work the same case 15 years earlier where a young boy was rescued from a fire, but that all but one of them had committed suicide.  WHY?  What is the connection between the fire, the boy and the officers?  I’ll give you a couple of clues…illegal behavior and money.  But could Ben have been tied up in something illegal?  Alec just can’t believe this to be true and is equally determined to prove his innocence.
The Last of the Good Guys kept me guessing throughout the whole book.  I had my suspicions about half way through as to who was causing the “suicides” but there were a lot of doubts that went along with my reasoning.  In The Last of the Good Guys, Ernesto Patino has done what he has done to me in the past…kept me guessing until the end.
2011
180 pages
LL Dreamspell
ISBN# 978-1-60318-272-0

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A Pirate’s Daughter – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
 
‘There came a cracking sound, then the sound of whistling.  Something crashed violently into the ship, making it shudder from stem to stern. Then another.  Charity scrambled up the ladder and threw the hatch open, climbed out onto the main deck and saw Queen Anne’s Revenge firing cannonballs into the Mary Catherine.  She looked around and saw bodies of strangers and shipmates alike strewn about on the deck in attitudes of death.  They must have fought each other hand to hand and the merchant crew had lost.  She had never seen so much blood before, and the smell of it and the stench of urine came up from the deck and assaulted her nose.  She covered her face with a coat sleeve to blot it out as she searched frantically for her father and Jonathan but did not see them among the dead.’
The Mary Catherine, captained by Joshua Makepeace Rakham, ran the waters along the Gulf Coast, picking up cotton in Louisiana and receiving rum for the return voyage to the Caribbean Sea.  Rakham’s daughter Charity had lived aboard ship since the death of her mother and due to her being the Captain’s daughter she was treated with respect by the crew.  But as time went on and Charity grew into a lovely young lady, there were crew members who began seeing her as more than a child.  This soon lead to the cry of mutiny by two such crew members.   However, this was soon put to rest when word reached Rakham and the two were handled in the ways of the sea…they were stripped and whipped.
This became just the beginning of the problems Charity finds herself facing.  Her survival while in the possession of a man known by the name of Franz Joseph Rosenthorne becomes impossible to deal with and the only way out is through escape.  But with no money nor means of acquiring money, escape seems impossible.
A Pirate’s Daughter is yet another book in the Children of the Dragon series and my 5th to read.  And I have to say that I’ve yet to read one that I haven’t enjoyed.  Each has kept me spellbound with the mystery and events as they unfold with both good and bad creatures of the night.
2010
Atellus

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The Fashion Police – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘This was going to be a piece of cake.  I would just sneak around, posing as an inconspicuous shopper, and snap a few pictures of Clark stacking shelves.  Why had I been so worried about this job?  It was ridiculously easy.  I heaved through the horde of shoppers, scanned the crowd for signs of any shelf-stocking activity.  There was nothing going on in the fruit and veggies aisle, so I picked up a bag of bananas and wandered off in search of Clark.  The bakery section was quiet and boring, except for the yummy smell of freshly baked bread.  Ditto for the condiments aisle, the dairy isle, and the cereal aisle.  Maybe there was a special time of day when all the shelf-stockers were let out in a frenzy, and I’d missed it.  I stood in front of the toiletries with the idea that if I stood there long enough, Clark would come to me.  I could wait until closing time if need be, no problem.  As it turned out, I lasted about ten minutes.  I was reading the directions on a box of teeth-whitening strips when I heard a rustling sound coming from my bag of bananas.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bananas begin to move.  Wait a sec, bananas don’t move.  I stared at the bag as my hands shook.  Nope, the bananas weren’t moving at all.  It was a ginormous tarantula inside the bag that was moving, tapping on the plastic with its hairy foot.  I froze, hardly daring to breath.  Omigod!  Spider!  In my mental world, I was screaming my head off, but in the real world, I think my mouth was just wide open with no sound coming out.  I threw the bag on the floor and rocketed out to the parking lot faster than the speed of light, probably warp factor ten at least…Paul Clark and Brad would just have to wait.
Amber Fox is a former Detective Sergeant who was given the choice by Detective Chief Inspector Janice Skipper to either resign or be “resigned.”  This all took place after Amber accidently shot Janice in the rear while both were on the firing range one day.  Janice said it was intentional, Amber said it was an accident.  Either way, Amber resigned and went to work for her former fiancé Brad who was owner of Hi-Tec Insurance.  Brad hired Amber to do check out some of the insurance claims he had received by a few clients that weren’t exactly reputable.  One claim was by Paul Clark who insisted that he had hurt his back and could no longer work.  That’s when Amber discovered him working as a stocker at the local grocery store.  Through her surveillance she also discovered that she probably wouldn’t be buying bananas from this store in the future.  Added to her work load was the job of planting “bugs” hidden in pens throughout the offices of fashion designer Umberto Fandango.  This job turned out to be a bummer too when it was discovered that the pens weren’t working correctly.  And Amber’s decision to go back to the offices to replace the pens, she discovers that Fandango is missing and due to the amount of blood at the scene, he just might possibly be dead.
The Fashion Police is one of the funniest murder mysteries I’ve ever read.  Amber isn’t a klutz but she sure finds herself in some really dangerous but funny situations.  Amber finds her dad, recently retired from the police force, dressed in women’s clothes.  His former drug sniffing police dog has some really strange commands.  And when she runs into a couple of goons named Sally and Tracy, she inflicts problems on them that will have your laughing out loud.   But I didn’t tell you the best part.   Her former ex Brad and her policeman boyfriend Romeo are both in love with her and want her for themselves.  Amber has decided that she actually loves both and just in case one doesn’t work out she might better hang onto both.  Oh yeah, Janice has made it known that she will stop at nothing to wreak havoc on Amber’s life and see that she loses everything, especially Romeo in the process.
So, if you like a good laugh along with your murder, The Fashion Police is a book you don’t want to miss out on.
2009

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The Strangers Outside – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘After walking quickly along a winding sidewalk toward the outermost building on the left of the complex, the sisters arrived at their holiday cottage.  Louise already had her key in hand and quickly unlocked the door, gesturing for Jennifer to go inside first.  Before closing the front door behind her, Louise cast another look at the strangers standing outside on the far side of the parking lot.  They stood in the same spot, staring in her direction.  A shiver ran down her spine and she quickly closed the door, locking it behind her.’
Louise believes that no matter what happens, you learn from it and it will always be better the next time.  Her younger sister Jennifer believes that nothing will ever work out no matter how many times you try.  Their discussions on this matter never changed even though Louise always tried to encourage Jennifer to believe in the positive.  So, when their vacation was interrupted by strangers surrounding their cottage, Jennifer knew what the outcome would be.  Was she right?
Again Vanessa Morgan has gotten to my sense of security after dark.  Her short story The Strangers Outside has one problem…it’s too short.  I would love to see this made into a full length book.

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Becoming Mommy…Becoming Me – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘During the ultrasound the technician was happy showing me the heartbeat and telling me that the baby looked normal size for about a 9 week pregnancy.  I have to admit it was a little exciting seeing the baby on the screen.  After the technician wiped all the jelly off my stomach I went to use the bathroom because my bladder was about to explode.  When I came back in the room the whole atmosphere in the room had changed.  Now the technician was telling me that the baby wasn’t really a baby yet, it was only a bunch of cells at the moment.  I could feel the irritation in me building, because 5 minutes before this guy was showing me the heartbeat and explaining all the other features the “clump of cells” had.  I looked at Luke and I knew that he was having this guy feed me a bunch of bologna so that I would feel better about having an abortion.  After that my trust in Luke was broken.  I knew that the security that I felt before no longer existed.  I was still completely in love with him, but I knew that in order to make my own decision I would have to get away from him.’
In Becoming Mommy…Becoming Me, Alisha Williams tells her own story of becoming pregnant by someone she loved and thought loved her.  She exposes the pressure often inflicted by the father to have an abortion.  She also brings to light how naive young girls are when they find themselves in the position of being unmarried and pregnant.
But Alisha Williams doesn’t stop with just her own story.  Through the help of others who aren’t afraid to voice their own stories she tells us about Victoria who is only 14 years old and puts her baby up for adoption.  We hear from Madison who ends up with 2 children while with an abusive man.  Laurel who’s best friend actually talks her out of having an abortion.  And my favorite…Peanut who has 11 children ranging from age 2 to 18.  Six of which are adopted.
There are many other stories about young girls/women who have become pregnant while unmarried, as well as married.  Their situations that led up to this unexpected news and their situation during and afterwards.  Each girl has their own unique story and each has their on ending.
When I was a teenager, if a girl became pregnant while unmarried, she was tagged as being a really bad influence.  As for the boys/fathers of these babies, they weren’t given a second thought.  It was always the girl’s fault and the boys were innocent.  Back then, having an abortion was simply out of the question leaving keeping the child or placing it up for adoption as the only other answer.  Plus, the pregnancy was kept as quiet as possible to protect, not necessarily the girl, but the girl’s family from the embarrassment.   The girl was not judged by everyone, no matter what the circumstances might be.
Reading Becoming Mommy…Becoming Me has opened my eyes and helped teach me not to judge.  No matter how right or wrong we feel keeping a child, giving it up for adoption or even having an abortion might be, before we bring our own judgment upon others, we need to know and feel their individual situations first.  And even then, we may still never understand the decisions they made.  Becoming Mommy…Becoming Me is a very enlighten book that needs to be read by anyone with children or anyone who might be planning, or not, on having children.
124 pages
PublishAmerica
2009
ISBN# 978-1-4489-9979-8

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