Archive for January, 2012

The Tranquillity Initiative – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds

According to his records in the administration office, the young man, dressed in the color-coded coveralls of a porter, was a civilian who had been recruited by an independent contracting company from the Philippines. In reality, he had been raised in the suburbs of Astrakhan and had traveled to the Philippines to live with a distant cousin in hops that he would be recruited to work in the American action. Because he was wall-eyed, and darker than most of their local recruits, he appeared unintelligent to the Americans. They never looked at him twice. In the far corner of the Quonset hut, near the exit reserved for garbage collection, the young man unobtrusively removed the two red, white and blue Tranquillity bombs from a regulation canvas shoulder bag. It was a familiar bag, one that he – like the other native workers – used for picking up garbage around the base. Quickly and skillfully, he transferred the flag-colored bombs to the ragged native carrying case in which he stored a warm jacket and his lunch. It was a tight fit getting them in, but he managed. Stealing from the U.S. Air Force was a well-organized activity at this base. The young man and his friends had been taking bits and pieces of armament for months. To date, he had been most proud of the small surface-to-air missile he had managed to spirit off the base. He had believed that a theft of such gigantic proportions would probably remain the high water mark of his life. He had not counted on the portability of Tranquillity.

When it appears that the war with Astrakham had no end, a group of men inside the high loops of the US Government took it upon themselves to re-up the Tranquillity Bomb. They all agreed that this would be the best way to end the war as well as show others that the US would prevail no matter what. The group had no doubts as to the destruction that would be inflicted upon Astrakham if the Tranquillity Bomb was used. This particular bomb was designed to silently disburse the deadly disease known as Anthrax. The one thing the group didn’t count on was theft of two of these deadly bombs.

The bombs looked like bowling pins and decorated in red, white and blue were easily smuggled out of the country and into New York City by a group of young people posing as bowlers that carried their own balls as well as their own ‘lucky’ pins wherever they went to compete. What they didn’t expect was to find the real threat of the bombs. This came when one was opened in the attempt of removing the explosives, which were non-existing. When they realized their mistake, it was too late. Their fate and deaths were sealed. The only thing left to do now was to take revenge on the US by dropping the 2nd bomb from one of New York’s highest buildings. This will be payback for the destruction inflicted upon Astrakham.

Senator Richland Powell and CDC doctor Cassandra Williams find themselves in a race for not just their own lives but the lives of millions as they attempt to find who has the second bomb. In a city the size of New York, their chances are slim. Powell feels there is a connection between the Anthrax in Astrakham and that in New York but can’t quite prove it. Cassandra feels the connection too, especially since it was her own grandfather who invited the Tranquillity Bomb. His interest in Anthrax flowed down to Cassandra as well as her own father, making them two of the most renown experts in the field. With that, Cassandra knew the two cases were connected. She just had to prove it and find the other bomb before time runs out and the terrorists have a chance to seek their revenge.

This book will scare the heck out of you because it’s possible. It will scare the heck out of you because it’s typical. It will scare the heck out of you because if it happened the people of the US would most likely receive no warning. This book has the making of a great movie! It’s simply so real that you find yourself actually seeing the events as being possible. I really enjoyed this book.

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com Stir, Laugh, Repeat


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The Master Plan – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts

Carmen and Cathy both stared at Casey. Finally Carmen spoke. “What is going on in that devious mind of yours Casey?” Casey laughed. “Forget it. It probably won’t work.” “Let us be the judge of that,” Cathy told her. “Okay. We pool our money and one of us joins the country club. Once she’s a member she starts socializing with the rich guys and snags herself a wealthy mate. She can also bring her two friends to the club for some of the activities and introduce them to her husband’s rich friends.” “That’s absolutely brilliant” Carmen exclaimed. “Let’s do it.” “Wait a minute,” Cathy said. “Where are we going to
get twenty-five thousand dollars?” “From your bank,” Carmen answered. “We’ll take out a loan and after we marry the rich guys they can pay it off for us. Only I’m not the one who is going to join the club. Casey has to do it.” And that is exactly what the ‘three Cs’ (Carmen, Cathy and Casey) did. They took out a loan to pay the application fee and Casey became the country club’s newest member.

It didn’t take long for her to hook up with Anthony (Tony) Hunter while Carmen and Cathy both found catches for themselves. It also wasn’t long before Tony asked Casey to run off to Vegas with him to be married, which she did. But all good things must come to an end so after returning home, Casey decided to tell Tony about ‘The Master Plan,’ which is what the 3 Cs had named their plan. While hoping for his understanding, Casey instead was asked to leave. Casey gave Tony some time to calm down and then went back to the apartment in hopes of talking to him and making him understand. What she found when she got to the apartment soon became her worse nightmare.

Dana Sloan is an investigative reporter who seems to find herself mixed up in more than the usual ‘who’s ripping off the consumer’ investigations. She seems to somehow stumble into a murder now and then. In The Master Plan she ends up being involved in three murders with a friend, Judy, and a co-worker, Casey, being involved in two of them. Her detective boyfriend Al Bruno is handling two of the cases and really doesn’t want Dana involved. He has his own plans for Dana and they don’t include risking your life to complete an investigation. His ideas for her are more on the line of her becoming a soccer/PTA mom.

The biggest conflict in their relationship is when Dana steps into Bruno’s investigations or when Bruno withholds information Dana needs for her investigation and she is now involved in two. From what Dana has learned, she has come to the conclusion that all three murders are related. Bruno can’t see it. He still feels that the wives of his 2 cases just might be guilty and since they don’t know each other, the cases have no connections.

So… are they related? Will Dana be able to solve one, two or all three without getting herself killed? Will Casey and the 3Cs be able to pull off their little plan without being discovered? These were questions I carried all the way to the end. I usually have a list of my own suspects but with The Master Plan, I had none. I was really surprised to find out who killed who and why. I think you will too.

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com Stir, Laugh, Repeat

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An Opulent Tableau of Essence – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir,
Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds

(Sharon Hays, 2010)

Reflections from an antique mirror
A face I do not know
When I leaned closer in to see
It was not me, oh no
I examined the stranger closely
She stared right back at me
I gazed into the antique mirror
Our eyes locked decidedly
Could this be the face of a long-lost friend
So familiar, the face in the mirror
This cannot be the face of me
A face that I am not aware
I tried to imagine how time could steal
A face that was once my own, oh my
But when I leaned much closer in
I knew the face was I

“I have to say that I’ve done this myself more times than I want to admit. I’ve looked into the mirror and see not myself as I see myself in my mind’s eye, but instead I see a face looking back at me that has developed lines and sags that simply can’t be. I look at that face and see so many others. My mother’s face is there, my dad’s face is there and even my daughter’s face. That just simply can’t be me looking back at me. But of course it is.

Author Sharon Hays is known for her mystery books Mysteerie Manor and Mysteerie Manor II as well as her children books The Tumbleweed Family and Adventures of Sadie Ladybug. Hays has now ventured into the world of art and poetry.

The poem above is one of her own and one of my favorites within her book An Opulent Tableau of Essence. Her poem A Homage to Veterans Lost and Forgotten is simply beautiful as is Time of Change. And the art work that she’s paired with her poetry is just as beautiful. A couple of my favorites being Clouded Sunset by Dana Gage and Pale Rider by Kerri Pestana. But in honesty, I love them all and would love to have them hanging in my own home so I could just sit and stare.

And Hays doesn’t stop there. She actually gives a bio of each artists included within the book. Some local within the US and some as far away as India, Australia and even Uzbekistan. This is one book that when placed on the coffee table, will be picked up and not just thumbed through but read and enjoyed, time and time again.

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com Stir, Laugh, Repeat

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A Dangerous Harbor – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts

‘Katy leaned over and deftly nudged the weedy raft around so that its reluctant passenger was facing her, and then ever so gently, pushed back the wet strands of black hair. Dark wings of brow stood out in stark relief on pale olive skin. It was a girl, maybe all of sixteen, she guessed. “Where’d you come from?” She wondered to no one in particular. As if to answer at least part of her question, the ocean swelled, lifting up the maiden’s bier until Kate was looking into slightly open eyes. There were no petechiae, the telltale red dots freckling the cornea and typical of strangulation. “Not strangled, but still…” A frothy red bubble clinging to the nostril and a few more at her mouth said drowned, but not in the water very long as the limbs were still pliant and the skin wasn’t bloated or damaged by fish or sea birds.’

Detective Katrina Taylor Hunter, of the San Francisco Police Department, was forced to take a sabbatical after shooting her sister’s stalker. While the investigation was going on, she decided to take sail down to Ensenada, Mexico to clear her head and hopefully return to her position on the force. After discovering a floater Katy has doubts about the head clearing part of her trip. Her doubts are confirmed when after spending hours at the Ensenada Police Station she bumps into Gabriel Alexander, a former ‘love of her life’ who is being investigated as a possible connection to the dead girl found by Katy. And to make matters worse, she meets Chief Inspector Raul Vignaroli. Her reaction to him is immediate attraction. One problem…he wears a wedding ring and Katy has no desire to become involved with a married man. So will she be able to handle being around him after he cons her into helping with the investigation? Also, how will she handle her feelings for Gabe, the man she loved so deeply in her younger days?

Following Katy as she uncovers what appears to be a sex slave market being run by not only one of the boat captains but also the drug cartel, will keep you on your sitting on the edge of your seat, biting your nails and guessing. I had several ideas for who the killer(s) would turn out to be but found myself wrong most of the time. I have to say that the real killer, whom is not exposed until the end, surprised me. A Dangerous Harbor has turned out to be just as good as the Lalla Bains books A Dead Red Cadillac and A Dead Red Heart, both written by RP Dahlke. All three will keep you on the edge.

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com Stir, Laugh, Repeat

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The Shape-Shifters – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts

He withdrew deep into the recesses of his very being and got in touch with his actual, living soul, as he had learned, quite by accident, so many years ago. He withdrew from conscious thought and into the core of self, where the ego and the subconscious mind peacefully co-exist, at least when they are not at war. His mind became a warm black pit, swirling with stars, galaxies, and everything in the cosmos, and he subsided into it, floating on a blood-red sea, where he contemplated the three most abstract objects, the red box, the blue sphere and the four-sided yellow-golden pyramid. His mind focused on the most universal of all abstract forms until he could pick them up and feel the weight of them, touching the hardness, the smooth-polished surfaces… His head started to cave into his body. Proceeding slowly at first, the transformation accelerated. His feet withdrew and retracted up and out of his boots and into his pant legs. His hands disappeared up into his sleeves. His grimy clothes were seemingly half-empty now, writhing and twisting in and on and of themselves as if taking on a life of their own. A sock fell to the cold, wet floor beside his boots. A thin wisp of blue vapor rose up in curlicues and arabesque shapes in the dim light of the single forty-watt bulb. The clothing squirmed into a new shape on the chair, as the ropes fell limp and slack all around what remained of Jean Gagnon.
Jean Gagnon is released from prison after being found guilty of robbery. Throughout his whole imprisonment Jean declared his innocence, all to no avail. Needless to say, his feelings for the system and the people that convicted him are filled with anger and resentment. Now he is a free man and can start his life anew. Or can he?

Janet Herbert is a widow with two children, Jason almost nine and Ashley 3 1/2. Her husband Don was killed in a construction cave-in four years earlier, before Ashley was even born. The town of Scudmore had lost the mill and jobs were almost non-existent so her struggle to keep a roof over kid’s heads and food on the table was becoming almost impossible. Then she met Jean.
Jeff McCabe, Harry Morden, Slick Wilson and Ted Hiltz are hunting buddies. Their hunting isn’t always legal but it kept them going. Then they met Jean. After finding out that he had been convicted of stealing half a million dollars, they had an idea. They would abduct him and do whatever it took to make him tell them where the money was hidden. This would be easy to pull off and they would all be rich enough to get out of Scudmore for good. What they didn’t bargain for is the fact that Jean is a shape-shifter, and not the only one in town.

‘The Shape-Shifters’ will take you on a hilly ride as Jean tries to put his life back together. He has inherited an old mansion that will cost him a fortune in upkeep, which he doesn’t have. It seems his only way out will be to sell and move on. He just didn’t expect Janet to step into his life and totally change his life. He also didn’t expect the four hunting buddies to take him in at the same time a child had been abducted. With his history of prison and the accusations of mental illness, the whole town turns against him. He is accused of taking the child and murdering her. Jean’s future looks hopeless.

The Shape-Shifters is a book that I hope readers will enjoy. I also hope Louis will continue with future stories. I totally enjoyed this book.

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com Stir, Laugh, Repeat

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Three Trailers Down – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat & Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts

‘Sammy collapsed on the bed. The girl was next, with a shot under her exposed chin. The young man…the magnum hollow point destroyed his brain stem and nervous system. All three were dead in less than ten seconds. What Will had to do now was get away without being recognized. He unhurriedly walked back out the front door, locking it before pulling it firmly closed. He was sure it would take a couple of days before anyone was interested enough to check or notice that no one from this apartment had been seen for a while. He opened the trunk of the car and was putting his equipment back in the case, separating the silencer from the pistol. After putting the case in the canvas backpack, he took off the gloves and threw them in the trunk. Someone behind him said, “Hi there.”

If you’ve had the pleasure of reading Smoke and Murders, you may have been left wondering what happened to some of its characters. Well, wonder no more. Vinyard’s corrupt police Lieutenant Bill Kenny is still up to his tricks. When his wife Camilla takes up with mob connected restaurant owner Louie Russo, Bill decides to add a bit more corruption to his already full plate and free himself of anything or anyone that doesn’t fit into his plans. He just didn’t expect State Police Inspector “Bear” McNutt to take notice of his activities and everyone knew what a pain Bear could be. Especially after what he had done to Adam Brackett. Remember him? He was the one Bear insisted had killed his best friend and family in Smoke and Murders.

If you remember, Judge Roy Ragland took in the drifter Harry as a handyman but the Judge’s wife Lillian has her own agenda for Harry but has a loose end or two to take care of first. Can she turn this orphan into a silk purse? She sure hoped to and decided the best place to give it a try was the exclusive Bondurant Lodge. And that is where we meet a few more characters as the stories continue.

Amanda Bondurant, 16 and bored, had just met the man of her life. He was older but that didn’t matter. He had a car and he would get her out of this hick town where her life had been so ‘perfectly’ dictated. She would just leave her family and their money behind and start her new life with Will. Little did she know, her new love had just completed a paid hit on one of the mob’s most feared men…Sammy The Shark.

Newberry Suggs decided to settle down on the outskirts of Vinyard so he purchased a trailer park. Other than the traditional fighting between spouses, the usual drunkenness and the occasional discipline of the kids, Suggs Trailer Village was fairly quiet. That is until a beautiful young lady driving a Cadillac convertible moved in. It seemed to Newberry that she was running from someone or something and when people came around asking about her, he knew there was a problem. But who is this beauty that lives Three Trailers Down?

Three Trailers Down can be read as a standalone book but I really recommend you read both books – Smoke and Murders 1st and then Three Trailers Down, to get the full benefit of the story. So come on Graham and update us on what has happened to our surviving characters since Three Trailers Down.

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com Stir, Laugh, Repeat

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Tunnel – Lost Diary Tunnel – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts

“He stopped walking for a moment, beginning to wonder what the officer had brought in and where he had hidden it. Whatever it was, it was not so small that he could have missed it on his way in. He recalled that the wagon the three men were pushing was on the incoming rail, on the right hand side of the tunnel. He also figured the wagon could not have been driven any further than the next stationary wagon he could barely see in the distance. That meant the officer might have hidden his treasure somewhere near it, the contents being too heavy to carry by hand. He began running toward the next wagon…he was getting close to it when he noticed a grey iron door on right wall. He stopped running and walked over. It was fairly rusted, flush with the wall, and shaped like the opening of a dog house, three to four feet height and equally wide. There was a handle on the door and he tried to turn it, but it wouldn’t budge, going neither up nor down. He looked around the floor and found a half of a brick next to the wall…
“What are we doing here, boy? Hunting for State property?” a man’s voice boomed from behind him.

Ben Kalninsh was just a kid when he watched the Soviet soldiers hide their stash in the tunnel that had not been used for several years. He just knew it had to be guns and he sure wanted one for himself. What he didn’t expect was to be caught by one of the soldiers who had decided to steal the stash for himself and go AWOL. And with the help of Ben’s father, he had a plan that would keep him safe while getting himself and his stash of gold out of the country and into America.

Ben had virtually forgotten about his encounter in the tunnel as well as the man he knew as Andris. Everyone seemed to have forgotten Andris, or so it appeared. But he was brought to light when Ben’s father and their friend and neighbor were both brutally murdered for what seemed like no apparent reason. It seems that there was more than gold hidden in the tunnel that day and the Soviets wanted that extra little find which turned out to be a diary. It also appeared they wouldn’t stop searching and killing until they had their hands on it. Why was that diary more important than gold?

The Lost Diary Tunnel takes you into the world of espionage, betrayal, lies and a lot of agents working both sides of the fence. What these people will do just to keep the Americans from knowing what’s really in the diary will scare the hell out of you. At least it did me.

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com Stir, Laugh, Repeat

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