Archive for February, 2012

Subspecies – Guest Review by Matthew Morrison

In Subspecies, Mike Arsuaga suspends the readers disbelief in horrific mythical creatures by creating realistic settings, emotive characters (creatures, really), and a very compelling plot. The reader is initially lured into what appears to be a fast paced Action/Adventure/Mystery. Only too late does the reader discover that this is actually a classic love story of Vampire meets Lycan. Mike Arsuaga explores, in detail, the frequent and varied expressions of the couple’s monster love. Even after spilling the blood of innocents, he stuns the reader with a style that eventually evokes sympathy for the plight of these poor predators.

Author of “Subspecies, Inc.” Best Erotic Book for 2011 on the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Poll. The sequel “Children of Subspecies” won Best Cover. Both are continuations of award winning “Subspecies” about the deep love between two special beings as they shepherd lycans and vampires (The Subspecies) to their destiny within Creation.
Coming soon, episodes four and five, “The Tenth Legion” in February and “Lagrange Point” in May.

Check out the full synopsis and excerpts of all stories at http://mikearsuaga.weebly.com
or http://cynthiaarsuaga.weebly.com

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Vanishing Act in Vegas (A Silver Sisters Crime Caper) – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of A Book and A Dish, Think With Your Taste Buds and Stir, Laugh, Repeat.

Poor Torch. He finally lands a great contract as a special effects director in Las Vegas, bought a condo with a view of the strip and his grandmother and great uncle are planning on paying him a visit to help him ‘settle in.’ He loves them both but he also knows them very well. Both are retired magicians and trouble seems to be what they conjure up the most.

“Well, Mom, the last of my stuff is loaded. I just wanted to say goodbye before I take off.” She kissed him on the cheek, sensing her son couldn’t wait to hotfoot-it out the door and begin his life as a swinging bachelor. Sterling turned the sound back on, but Flossie grabbed the remote and turned it off again. She looked at her grandson and smiled sweetly. “So, tottelah, your Uncle Sterling and I will be there in two, maybe three days. You know your uncle is afraid to fly so we’ll just tune up the Caddy tomorrow and be on our way.” “Whaa-“ Torch stared at her blankly. “Torch, honey, you’ll need help getting things in order, and no one does that better than your Uncle Sterling and me. I’ll set up your closets and kitchen and cook some good Jewish meals for your freezer and Uncle Sterling can putter around and help you hang pictures and do little odd jobs.” Torch looked to his mother in desperation. Flossie jumped up and tweaked him on the cheek. “Look, Sterling, he’s so happy we’re coming, he’s speechless. Good thing you bought a three bedroom. I guess we’ll stay for three or four days. Who knows, maybe longer if we get lucky. Magic acts are big in Vegas again.”

Torch’s mother Godiva Silver DuBois and his mother’s twin sister Goldie Silver decide to take a trip to Vegas too. Godiva is a famous advice to the lovelorn columnist who’s column is called Ask G.O.D.’ She is also the millionaire widow of Max DuBois which gives her the time and money to do whatever she wants at any given time. Goldie is an over-the-hill hippi antique dealer from Juneau, Alaska and Godiva can easily afford to treat Goldie to the trip to Vegas.

Godiva loves to write her column but her favorite hobby is dabbling into the mysteries of crime with her twin sister. So, when Goldie flew to Vegas from her home in Alaska the two twins put their heads together to solve the murder of Mara the Magnificent. What the twins also discover is that Mara isn’t just a magician, she is also Torch’s girlfriend and she has a secret that blows them all away!

I fell in love with the Silver Sisters after reading A Corpse in the Soup. Their antics as well as those of their mother Flossie and their Uncle Sterling will keep you laughing along as you try to solve the murder that they always seem to step into. Vanishing Act in Vegas was one that really lost me as an amateur reader detective. Every time I thought I knew who had done what to who and why, I found myself scratching my head to come up with another solution because my original was all wrong. I couldn’t help but wish I knew these people. They were so much fun to be around even when they found themselves in trouble.

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The Confliction – The Dragoneers Saga Book III – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of A Book and A Dish, Think With Your Taste Buds and Stir, Laugh, Repeat

Jenka started looking at a charcoal sketch of a Sarax, with marks and carefully written text detailing sensitive and dangerous parts of the thing’s strange body. Then he saw something else and pointed it out to Lemmy. He was showing Lem a drawing of a bee’s honeycomb full of little tiny Sarax. The queen was larger, ten times as large as the Sarax. It was bulkier, too, formed like a larva, or a giant grub, with several long snaking limbs on each side of an elongated torso. I wonder if they really follow that thing, said Lemmy, as he took the parchment to study it closer. Jenka’s mind had moved on. He was searching for anything else they could use to more effectively destroy the beasts. He found a small wooden chest and forced it open with a sealing blade. Inside were several hundred golden coins with a strange feline animal on one side and two lines with a slash through them on the other. He wondered, for a long time, from where they had come. Then he pondered where the Sarax had come from and a certain fear of the unknown began to creep into him like a chill.

Jenka, Aikira, Zahrellion, Rikky and Marcherion, along with their dragon mounts, are all dragoneers. In books I and II, they have survived the Gravelbone and his magic as he waged war on their land. Through their own magic they have survived the threats of the Sarax that had escaped from their star ship. It was now their duty to guard the ship in hopes of preventing other Sarax from escaping.

But the Sarax was just the first metamorphosis stage of these aliens. They fed upon human met which gave them the strength to cocoon and later change into foul ivory-horned vermin masters like Gravelbone. After becoming aware of this, the dragoneers found themselves being faced with the threat that there was something even more powerful than the Sarax. With this knowledge also came the knowledge that the other being would be many times more powerful than the Sarax and the Gravelbones combined. Then came their job to destroy this being before it destroyed them as well as the people they have vowed to protect. But can they succeed before it’s too late. And will they all survive? The chances look pretty slim.

I’ve read all three of the Dragoneer books and as each came to an end I looked forward to the next. When I saw that this was the last book I felt a bit of disappointment. That is until I read the last line of the book telling me an new book and I hope series will be coming out in 2013. I have to say that Author Michael Robb Mathias has one strong imagination and knows how to put it into words. I look forward to reading any and all of his books.

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When Nothing Else Was Right – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds

The door to the back office was suddenly flung open and all three hundred pounds of Vinnie, the accountant, filled the doorway. “Marko, Jake, come in here.” Jake rose from his chair. He didn’t like the sound of Vinnie’s voice and his fat face was all flushed like he was upset over something. “What’s wrong?” Jake asked, trying to sound casual. “Just get in here,” Vinnie said. Marko stood at the door and motioned for Jake to enter Vinnie’s office in front of him. Jake shrugged and walked through the door ignoring the prickles of fear that were racing down his spine. Marko closed the door quietly behind them and looked at Vinnie who had moved back behind his massive metal desk. “Is this some kind of a joke?” Vinnie asked, directing his question to Jake. “What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “You don’t, huh? Well, The Silver Moon took in a hundred grand and change Saturday. Barney’s had some high rollers that stayed all night Friday and half the day Saturday, so their take was twice that much and Maury booked ten g’s on Saturday night. “Yeah,” Jake said, feeling the sweat beginning to drip down into his shoes. “How much is missing?” Marko asked before Jake could say anything else. “All of it.” “That’s impossible. It was all there when I put it in the safe yesterday.” Vinnie took the duffle bag and turned it upside down on the desk. Scraps of newspaper fell out. “Beth.” Jake spat out her name like it was a morsel of spoiled food. “Beth took it.”

Jake Carlson is a money runner for Marko Senese. The day before Jake was to turn in the weekend collections, his wife Beth disappeared. He had watched as she went into the convenience store but never saw her come out. How could a woman 6 months into her pregnancy walk out of a store and not be seen. Even his search of the store turned up nothing. All he could assume was that she either slipped past him and had gone home or she had left him again and was with her mother. He didn’t feel that she had any reason to leave him. He hadn’t abused her since she became pregnant. But again, the search of their home and a call to her mother had turned up nothing. Now Jake finds himself in real trouble. Marko’s money is missing and the only thing that could have happened to it was that Beth had taken it.

Dana Sloan is an investigative reporter. She and her boyfriend Al Bruno, a detective with the Crescent Hills PD, had stopped by the convenience store while Jake was searching for Beth. They both assumed she would make it home when she was ready. But when Beth’s mother asked that Dana look into her daughter’s disappearance, concern for Beth’s well being prompted Dana to do a little research on her own. And when Jake admitted to the police officers that came to interview him that he had killed Beth, Bruno decided he too needed to do a bit of researching.

Two murders and an attempt on Dana’s life seem to be connected to this case and send Dana all the way to Los Angeles as she follows her theories that Beth is alive and well, at least for now. She even voices her opinion to Marko himself after he pays her a visit and asks that she find Beth. It wasn’t until Dana heard a song being sung by an actress in one of her mother’s soap operas that she knew she was right. And the real clincher was when the credits rolled after the show and Dana recognized the name of an attorney’s daughter who had been missing for 19 years. Now Dana must get to Beth before anyone else does and bring her back to Crescent Hills.

Dana and Bruno actually work on this case together. In the past, Bruno has tried his best to keep Dana from becoming involved in cases that caused him to fear for her safety. Dana, on the other hand. stayed irritated with Bruno for withholding information in cases that she felt could be solved with a little help from him. He still wants to get married and settle her down. She wants to continue her career and hold off a bit. Who will win this battle?

When Nothing Else Was Right is, as usual, another Costa book that kept me guessing. I did come up with the right murderer about ¾ through the book but the situation with the missing daughter was a surprise to me. This was a real page turner.

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Ancient Memories – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of A Book and A Dish; Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds

What do you do with yourself when your life is over? I don’t know about everyone else, but when my mother passed away and I no longer had to be at her beck and call every minute of the livelong day, I started signing up for things. I took telephone calls at the local bottle museum… passed out juice and cookies for the semi-annual blood drive… joined single groups one week and un-joined the next. Mother had left me well, off, I can’t complain about that at all… After she was gone, I didn’t need to work unless I wanted to, but I had remained home most of my adult life, to cater to her endless needs and petty complaints. I was ready for some excitement. If not excitement, then perhaps, the next best thing – a little mental stimulation. “Creative Writing class offered by Adult Education.” I had been planning to begin the Great American Novel for the past forty-five years… Now that I had time I figured it couldn’t hurt to learn a little bit about the art of writing before I began.

Nancy Hunter signed up for the writing class that was being taught by Harriet Blake, newspaper reporter, prize winning author and aspiring novelist. The one point that Harriet pressed to install in her students was to write about something that you know something about. This just might put a damper in Nancy’s idea of writing romance novels since she had spent most of her life taking care of a mother who spent most of her life making Nancy’s life miserable with her demands and derogatory remarks. Love was something Nancy had never really known. Or had she?

To Nancy’s surprise and delight, Peter Allen decided to take the seat next to her. His lovely deep blue eyes, handsomely tanned face and a pair of wide shoulders were just what she needed. Maybe the class would turn out to work for her yet. Over after-class coffee with Peter, Nancy couldn’t help but feel that she knew him from somewhere. She believed in reincarnation, could he have been someone from another life? That thought was apparently all she needed to begin her novel of Ancient Memories.

As I read Ancient Memories I wasn’t sure that what I was reading was Nancy’s imagination novel or if she was remembering past lives. As Nancy inspires to become an author she takes you back in time to Ancient Egypt, then into the 1400s and on into 1800 Canada. The history within her stories are amazing, as well as savage. But how does Peter fit into the picture? Could he be someone from her past lives? Nancy seems to think so. Take a journey into Ancient Memories and see what you think. I know I really enjoyed my journey through time with Nancy’s and Author Terry L. White’s novel Ancient Memories.

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Another Bad-Dog Book – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of A Book and A Dish, Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds

‘I had found myself up, thinking about all the ways my husband and I weren’t best friends: how we had nothing in common (children don’t count), and how we were going to end up in just a few short years like so many other empty nesters who look at each other across the middle cushion of their corduroy couch and think, Wow. What now? Why am I with this person? I hate corduroy.’

‘my eight-year-old daughter…asked me if she could have an end-of-summer party… “I want it to be a water party,” my daughter said… Over the next couple weeks, my daughter winnowed down her guest list to six best friends and we loaded up on squirt guns and other water-party supplies. The morning of the event, she came downstairs already dressed in her bikini, and handed me a piece of a paper. At the top she’d printed – Mommy’s Dos and Don’ts. “What’s this?” I asked. It’s a list,” she explained, “so you know how to act at the party.”

These are just two of the many fears and ‘crises’ faced by the author as she, as well as her family, move on into the world of ‘getting older.’ While reading I couldn’t help but remember some of these very incidents in my own life. The story ‘The Boy of Summer’ reminded me of the boy who occupied, maybe not my time but my mind during my summer at age 13. Joni’s story ‘A Few Minutes of My Time’ reminded me that I’m computer blonde so when people talk to me about anything technical I have to ask that they speak English and not ‘computerish.” And believe it or not but we all go through ‘Identity Theft.’ It happens every year on December 31st when we make our New Year’s resolutions. We spot someone and decide we want to look, act and be that person. So we proceed to try our best to steal their identity for ourselves.

The stories included in Another Bad-Dog Book bring the reader both laughter and recognition. I have to recommend this book for both women and men. If you’re a woman I feel you will be able to relate to most of the events and feelings that take place as the author goes through her ‘midlife crisis.’ If you’re a man, this book can be a great tool in helping you understand why the women in your life have taken on a personality that is totally different from the one you fell in love with. Believe me, male or female, you can’t help but love this book.

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Fighting the Devil – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat, Think With Your Taste Buds and A Book and A Dish

I had to put a gown and mask on. Lou Ann and Debbie helped me do that and I walked in and I saw Jerry had some tubes, one running up his nose and I believed he had a little…uh…a hospital gown on. His hands and feet were tied to each side of the bed with some sort of restraint. Jerry raised his head up and looked at me when I walked in. He said, “Gamble!” I said, “Yeah, Jerry! What in the world are you doing up here?” He said, “Oh, I’m sick. They’ve been doing all kinds of tests on me.” I said, “Well, you’re gonna have to get well so that you can get out. You gotta get a lot of things going, you know.” He said, “Gamble, you gotta help me get out of here! They’re trying to kill me. I’m gonna die! I’ve got $35,000 missing. They took it. Those two women took it. They’re trying to kill me. They fed me … Lou Ann and Debbie, they’re trying to kill me. You gotta help me get out of here! You gotta help me! Cut me loose! Gamble, cut me loose!”

This was just one of many pleas from Jerry Sternadel after he had been admitted to Bethania Hospital, not once but for a total of 3 times before dying of arsenic poisoning on June 12, 1990. Most people ignored his pleas after talking to his wife Lou Ann and his company bookkeeper Debbie Baker. They assured anyone who asked that Jerry was getting better and would be coming home soon.

Arsenic poisoning creates one of the most horrible deaths as it eats away at the bodily systems until the body shuts down. Symptoms are severe gastric distress, esophageal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea with blood. The skin becomes cold and clammy and the blood pressure falls. If death isn’t immediate, the skin becomes jaundice and is unable to void. There may be moments of paralysis and if death is delayed by several days, the arsenic will hit the liver and kidney. Convulsions and coma are final signs and death usually comes from circulatory failure. This is a horrible way to die! A bullet to the head would be more humane.

But, this is the death that Lou Ann and Debbie chose for Jerry Sternadel. Now came the task of proving they were the ones guilty of administering the poison and how. Jeannie Walker, who is not only the author of Fighting the Devil, but also Jerry’s first wife and mother of Jerry’s only children, spent years working with the police and interviewing friends of Jerry. She even hired a private detectives, all to prove the two women were guilty of murder and have them stand trial. Will she succeed?

When I read Fighting the Devil, I was amazed at the court systems within Texas at that time. There was actually a law that would allow a jury to find a defendant guilty of murder but still be able to receive parole and a fine! Apparently the law was written for those who kill their abusers after years of abuse. But will it work for someone as cunning as Lou Ann and Debbie? This book made me aware of the trials the actual victims are put through. Yes…the victims are actually put on trial as their character is dissected and torn apart. Then there’s the jury. Spending time in a locked room with 11 other people trying to decide if someone is guilty or not and then deciding what sentencing they will receive can, I’m sure, get to you and make you actually rush through your decision just to get it over with.

The actual case of Jerry Sternadel’s death kept me reading even as my anger for the system grew. I have to admire Jeannie Walker for her determination to find closure for her children and their families. This case caught the attention of the producers of Oxygen channel’s Snapped series and was aired on February 17, 2005. The case is still open and justice is still being sought. I personally hope that for Jerry’s family and friends, closure will soon be found.

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