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Pork Chop McQuade
Looking for Pork Chop McQuade – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

‘My illicit love affair began with a jar of homemade pickles. The whole thing started the same day Uncle Faucett got arrested for indecent exposure. I’d gotten up before daylight to fix breakfast for Bob. Then like he did every day, Uncle Faucett pecked on my front door and, like I did every day, I opened it. “Damn fool chickens ain’t layin,” he muttered. “Where’s the damn fool chickens?” He leaned on two canes. His black-rimmed spectacles, like two magnifying glasses, made his gray eyes look too big for his body. “We sold them last Thursday,” I said. “Remember? Daddy took them off.” “Oh, I forgot,” he mumbled and shuffled away. I knew he would go stand on the edge of our lane and catch a ride into town with some local farmer. He had done that each morning since he had lost his license, the unfortunate results of an accident involving a cattle trailer. Every morning he asked about the chickens and every morning I told him Daddy had sold them on Thursday, because even though it had happened when I was a girl and Daddy was now long gone, I remembered clearly that my father had sold the last of our chickens on a Thursday.’

This was the day that Raspberry Cupcake McQuade and her twin sister Cookie Thompson found themselves visiting the local police station and coming face to face with Sheriff Daniel Ransom. Apparently Uncle Faucett had run across a box, took his clothes off and was walking around town wearing just the box. This also became the beginning of changes to come in the lives of Cupcake, Cookie and Sheriff Ransom.
Cupcake and Cookie both have their own problems. Cupcake is married to Bob ‘Pork Chop’ McQuade who has papered their trailer with tin foil in the attempt to keep the government and aliens from being able to penetrate their home with their spy technology. He is so paranoid that the government is abducting their own people that he has joined a militia and is storing arms to defend himself. So, when he comes up missing, was he abducted by aliens or his own government? Cookie is the total opposite of her sister Cupcake. She is pushing 500 lbs. and becomes depressed when any form of bad news comes her way. Then we have Sheriff Ranson who became sheriff after his wife was hit by a drunk driver. He wanted to do his part to prevent this from happening to anyone else. And of course there is Uncle Faucett who is approaching 94 and seems to be losing his memory as well as some of his facilities.

After reading the first page of this book I knew it was going to be good. What I didn’t know was that it was going to be more than good, it was going to be great! With names like Cupcake and Cookie, I found humor, but that wasn’t all. This book is filled with love, compassion, heartaches, and sorrow. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book that makes me feel so many emotions at the same time. And when you put all of these together you have Looking for Pork Chop McQuade in the form of a book that I didn’t want to put down.

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com

Yesterday’s Daughter – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Grace stared at the large stranger who filled her small apartment with his mammoth presence and suddenly felt very warm. She shook her head from side to side trying to dislodge the chaos that his words brought about. She couldn’t have heard him correctly. Had he said that he knew her parents? She didn’t have any parents. She was an orphan; that was the only thing she knew about her past. He had to be wrong! This was some kind of bad joke, wasn’t it? She started to interrupt Malachi, but he put up a hand and said, “I pled with you to listen. I know I have not handled this matter well,” he signed in frustration. “In truth, I thought I was better prepared, but I too find the situation to be most extraordinary and find myself at a loss for words.” Grace noticed how he spoke, the way he formed sentences. He spoke as if he were from a different time. Again, she started to interrupt him, but he said, “Listen please! I know your thoughts, what you must be thinking, that you grew up in foster care and that your biological parents were never found.” As he spoke, a look of great shock and bewilderment blanketed her face. No one knew that because no one knew who she really was. Who is he? How could he know so much? I ran away from my foster parents years ago. Is he a blackmailer? This is crazy, she thought. “Grace…Grace,” he said as his voice gentled even more to a smooth calming chant. “I know you are frightened and overwhelmed. But it is also true that I knew your birth parents, your real parents.”
Grace Stone’s memory goes back to foster parents and years of abuse, which she was finally able to escape by running away. Even as she lived in hiding she was still able to continue her education and had eventually acquired a job working in the morgue. She had always sensed that she was different from others. She couldn’t allow herself to be exposed to the sun. It seemed that her skin had no protection from the sun’s rays and exposure would cause severe burning of the skin. Therefore she worked nights only. Even though she was declared to be a beauty by everyone who met her, she refused to associate or become close to anyone. The strangest thing she noticed about herself was her lack of taste for normal food and her taste for blood which was easily acquired with her working within the hospital. So when she came home after a night’s work and found a total stranger in her apartment, she was more than shocked. Especially when that stranger admitted to knowing her real parents.
Malachi has been searching for his ‘life mate’ for decades. As a child she had been placed in an underground chamber to age to maturity before they were to be bonded. Due to a cave-in within the chamber, she was assumed dead even though there was never a body recovered. Malachi refused to believe that his mate had been sent to the ‘void’ so his search started and had never ended until he finally found Grace Stone. This he knew was his mate, alive and well.
Now that Malachi has found who he believes to be his ‘life mate’ he plans to take her home where she belongs. What he doesn’t know is that one of the Doctors she works with is a ‘harvester’ and wants her just as bad as Malachi does but for different reasons. Where Malachi wants her love, the good doctor wants her blood.
Yesterday’s Daughter is filled with: deception – there is a traitor among the clan; love – between two that were always supposed to be; mystery – who is the traitor?; and suspense that took me all the way to the end of the book. I thought for a while that I knew who the traitor might be but wasn’t sure until I made it to within the last few pages of the book. Was I right or wrong? You’ll have to read Yesterday’s Daughter to find out for yourself. This was an enjoyable book from beginning to end.

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com

The Devil’s Garden – Reviewed by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and a Dish

The conference room was full of police officers, social workers, and attorneys from the district attorney’s office. The staff psychologist, Dr. Coffee, was in attendance as well. Everyone was trying to piece together the night’s events. Officer Shelley was in a corner of the room on the phone with the investigative team in the field. “Alright, let’s go over what we’ve learned so far,” Detective Collier told his team as he tried to get everyone’s attention and get them to focus. “We have four dead men at the Colsons’ residence and two more dead mean in a plane that crashed into Calusa Harbor. All of which happened by Mr. Colson’s hand and by his own admission.”
Brandon Colson’s training had been extensive. He had served as a Recon Marine with extensive training in guerrilla warfare, jungle survival, desert survival, underwater demo, just to name a few, so when a group of Muslims attacked his family he took matters into his own hands and defended them the way he had been trained. Four never made it out of Brandon’s home, two made it to the plane but were shot down, two more did escape with one injured. Those two will forever wish they had died with their friends for Brandon would not give up until he found them.
Police Detective Samuel Collier has the duty of trying to make Brandon talk. Who were these men? Where did they come from? Why were they at Brandon’s home? Why did they want to kill him? Brandon’s answer is plain and simple… I killed them. Before charges can be brought against Brandon, Homeland Security steps in and Brandon is released. Sam is assigned by his superior to stick to him like glue, not knowing what this assignment is going to get him into. His first taste of the dangers come when Brandon and Sam embark on a mosque that Brandon feels will lead him to the two that escaped him as well as their reason for the attack.
The Devil’s Garden is truly a man’s book but I have to admit that I didn’t want to put it down. I can’t say it is an enjoyable book due to the graphics but I can say that it was an extremely interesting book. Brandon is a strong minded, God fearing man. He trusts in God to see him through all dangers while serving as a Marine as well as living as a civilian. He also trusts in God to help him do whatever needs to be done to protect the innocent and to not allow him to shed the blood of anyone innocent that he may come across. The Devil’s Garden is a very intense book written by an author that served as a Recon Marine and has written about something that he apparently knows a lot about with a lot of it probably being through experience. I can just see this being made into a movie with a strong actor like Mel Gibson being Brandon.

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com


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

While driving you’d pass many cow pastures, large corn fields, and farms to the left and the right of you, as you drove slowly to avoid the most worn down areas of the road. The further you progress, the more trees and beautiful wild flowers take over the landscape… Looking left you see a sliver of the lake, a big blue lake. There are campgrounds and a small bait and tackle shop situated right next to it… Continue on your slow drive down the hill and through all the curves, you pass children of the generation walking on the side of the road… The young boys are shirtless and some are white as white can be, while others have what were called “farmer’s tans.” This is where their arms and faces are tanned, but their chests and backs aren’t as they always wore t-shirts during the day… The aroma of fresh cut green grass and giant pine trees lingers in the background, while the special odor of the seaweed which gets pushed up on the shore makes me smile… This is when you see it off to the right… you can’t miss the boulders which line the front of it which proudly proclaims to everyone that “The Krons” reside here.

Philip had the kind of grandparent/grandchild relationship that every kid would love to be able to brag about. Actually his Gramps and Nana (Kron) were his mother’s grandparents making them his ‘great’ grandparents. No matter, he love spending as much time as possible at their lake house in Wisconsin. Gramps bought the lake property before he and Nana had their first child. They envisioned it as a place to bring the family throughout the generations and that’s exactly what they did. This two bedroom cottage housed parents, children and grand children for many years and the one thing it did, or should I say those in residence did, was create memories.
Over the years memories were passed on from one generation to another and by the time they reached Phil’s young ears they may have grown and may not be quite true but who was to say they were or weren’t. For instance, one of the cottage owners went by the initials of AC instead of his name. He was from Chicago and in the ‘produce’ business. When probation came he was there to help out by opening what was known as a ‘speakeasy’ with a bar and gambling in the back. It wasn’t too long afterwards that AC disappeared back to Chicago, never to return. That was around the same time Al Capone was locked away. Was AC the famous Al Copone? If not, how did a ‘produce’ man acquire alcohol, gambling equipment and some pretty mean looking guards for the ‘speakeasy?’ Then there was the story about Nana needing some type of container to carry her food to and from the pier. One of the residences, a Mr. Tupper, came up with the perfect container including a fitting top. Or how about the time one of the kids was hit by a baseball, which hurt like heck. A man from a nearby cottage brought out a ball, threw it as hard as he could and hit the kid square in the chest. Billy, expecting it to hurt was shocked when it didn’t. He picked it up and found it to be soft and light. When asked what it was called the man explained it didn’t have a name just yet. Billy suggested the name ‘Non-Expanding Recreational Foam’ ball or NERF for short.
Are these truths or fictions? Who cares. They are the stories that made a young boy’s life better. These stories, along with those telling them, helped to shape not just Phil but all of the family into what they were and are today. Reading Legends of the Lake kept me in a frame of a ‘wishing world.’ I wish I could have lived and experienced the history of some of these family members and also wish I could be one to help carry beautiful memories on into the next generation. I loved the feelings of love, peace, family, togetherness, and true life that Phil experienced while growing up. Don’t get me wrong, there were bad times too but the teachings of Gramps and Nana made those times a lot easier to live through. You have to read this one or you’re missing out on some wonderful emotional feelings.

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com


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

My parents are leaving in an hour for a visit and my little sister always sleeps late during vacations, I couldn’t wait anymore for them to leave. I looked at the spirits surrounding me and said. ‘Let’s talk’ I said, then closed my room’s door. ‘My name is Hassan what’s yours?’ They replied in turns. ‘Mine is Joseph.’ ‘Rodriquez, call me Rod’ Rod gave a wink. ‘Steven Chow.’ ‘Markus Reed, at your service.’ Mark took a bow and pointed at the female ghost to follow. ‘Nice to meet you Hassan, my name is Emma’, she smiled and waved. ‘Sorry for scaring you’ Emma said. ‘It’s ok’ I replied, then my eyes went to the one next in line. ‘Jack.’ ‘Mason.’ The last one to be introduced was a woman I had first seen behind the glass window, the one who had watched me sleeping when I was admitted. She looked different, they all looked military, and she was the only one who didn’t fit in the picture. And for some reason, she looked very familiar to me. ‘Sara.’ My eyes started to widen. ‘I am your mother dear.’

All through his life Hassan has felt there was always someone watching him. Now and then he would even see a quick movement out of the corner of his eye. It wasn’t until he came to the rescue of a woman and child being beaten by husband only to have the husband bring him near death that he realized his images were real. At least as real as ghosts can be. They had always looked after him but couldn’t communicate, until Hassan came up with an idea. Sign language. That would give he and the ghosts a way of communicating without actually speaking. But Hassan’s ghosts were not only his guardian angels, they became his teachers. Through them he was able to lead a 2nd life that would prove most valuable in years to come.
Adam, also known as Shark, was a Navy Seal that had been held prisoner for years. His capturers were of the worse type. Torture was used more as an entertainment than to acquire information they might need and since Adam’s strong hold was his hands, their first form of torture was to remove his arms leaving him with no method of self-defense. They may have destroyed his body but they never destroyed his mind, soul and determination to live. So, after 13 years of torture, Shark meets Hassan and the battle begins.

Psychs is a book that brings out the strength of mind over body in its desire to live, both through Hassan and Shark. The stories of both that lead up to their story together is one that may sound impossible but with the author’s ability to write, you can see, feel and picture each line as it happens. This is a very well written book and an extremely interesting story. I can actually see this one being made into a movie with someone like Bruce Willis being Hassan. Now I’m impatiently waiting on the next book in the series ‘The Remnant.’

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com


Can We Come In and Laugh, Too? – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds, A Book and A Dish

‘When I was very young the only transportation was street cars. There were o buses, elevated systems, or cars. Henry Ford was still working on his Model T. As for airplanes, I believe the Wright Brothers invented their first model in 1914. Also the only form of home entertainment was the Victrola. I remember that after my parents saved enough to buy a Victrola, every couple of weeks my brothers purchased new recordings and played them while dancing around the living room. As for radios, it was many years later when the first crystal set was invented. It wasn’t until around 1946 when my daughter Morgan was seven, and Phyllice was around two, that radios became very popular. We bought a very good radio set, encased in a lovely big mahogany cabinet, and after that we listened to many good programs. Don’t ask me why everyone clustered around that radio cabinet staring at it as thought there was something to see, but that’s what everyone did back then.’

Rose Schwartz was born November 18, 1909. She was the youngest of ten children born to her fun-loving Latvian immigrant family. She later became Rosetta after one of her sisters decided Rose just wasn’t classy enough so when she registered her for school she told them her name was Rosetta and that’s what she was known as from then on. Rosetta married All Shifrin in the 1930s and later Max Lachman. She passed on in 2006 just a few months short of her 97th birthday. In 1988 her daughter Morgan was able to convince her to write her memoirs so the rest of the world could share a laugh from the life of this beautifully, happy woman.

Rosetta lived through both WWI and WWI and gives us a few stories about the hard times created by war. She tells of the time she sold Al’s extra shoes only to find out that shoes were being rationed just a few weeks later. There were the blackouts that were mandatory in hopes that if the enemy flew over they wouldn’t be able to see Chicago in the dark. She tells us about her move to Florida and later to California where many of her brothers and sisters also ended up moving to. Her stories are all warm hearted yet cheerful. Whenever there was a problem, she looked at the bright side not the dark and always found humor in even the worse circumstances. She was truly a woman that anyone would love to know and call their friend.

At the end of Rosetta’s writings her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews all expressed their own feelings about this lovely lady. They added to the warmth by giving their memories of the woman that was never negative, always loving and always forgave whatever one might have done wrong. This is a very uplifting story about a very special woman. I personally wish I could have asked the question ‘Can We Come In and Laugh, Too?’

Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com


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

Because he wielded so much clout, the teachers in Gilmore’s department loved him. Even the new people, who were at the bottom of the totem pole, looked up to him. Mac even respected him until one day in his second year when one of Mac’s football players, Miko Magala, kept wandering by Mac’s room two or three days a week during fourth period.
“Hey Miko,” Mac finally asked him one day, “Where the hell are you supposed to be?” “Ah, coach, do I have to tell you? Can’t I just hang out here and learn some extra science from you?” Mad knew the kid was not Phi Beta Kappa, but he was a hard worker on the football field and was earning a C grade from Mac in his second period biology class. Miko could also be a smart-ass but Mac nipped that in the bud the first time they met. “Miko, you must have a fourth period class. Where is it?” “Ah, I don’t want to get into trouble, coach.” “Look, if an assistant principal sees you wondering around you will get into trouble, and I don’t want to see you get kicked off the team or worse, get kicked out of school. Where are you supposed to be?” “English, with Mr. Gavore.”

Seems that the beloved Mr. Gavore had a plan that would keep his classes up on the scales and rid himself of some of the problem students at the same time. In the case of Miko, Mr. Gavore would have him check in with him every day, he would then mark him present and have him go to the library or wherever as long it wasn’t in his class making a disturbance. Mac, who hadn’t been at Knoward long enough to accept this as the truth found it too bizarre so he took this information to his fellow teacher Frank Bottoms who confirmed it to be the truth.
Knoward High School, or ‘Nowhere High School’ as most of the teachers came to calling it, was one of those schools that seemed to attract most of the problem kids as well as the problem teachers. If you couldn’t make it in other schools you were sent to ‘Nowhere’ and if you were a teacher that simply couldn’t make it in the normal schools, you too were sent to ‘Nowhere.’ The teachers were just as bad as the students and in some cases worse and two of the worse teachers just happened to be Lizbeth and Sandy. Actually Lizbeth was probably the worse because she was able to lead Sandy around to do all of her ‘evil’ work. If she found a teacher she didn’t like, heaven help them. She would find a way to get rid of them before their 2 year tenure and her best tool was having Sandy spread rumors that the teachers had no defense against. Also, Lizbeth was known for providing ‘extra-curricular activities’ that would assure her control over the students.

Mac stepped into Lizbeth’s trap but was able to pull himself out before the door sprung causing her to hate him more than anyone else. It all boiled down to the fact that she couldn’t control him. But that didn’t stop her from going after a new teacher Mac had befriended and done his best to protect. And with Lizbeth, if downright meanness didn’t work a little kindness with meanness to follow did. So these were her means to remove Quentin from ‘Nowhere’ High.

As I read Passport to Nowhere I could see the beginning of a reality show for TV. Now it would have to be on the HBO channel due to language and some of the descriptive wording but still one that would be quite interesting. The Author Samuel Blessing is a retired school teacher and I really hope that these stories are all coming from his imagination and not real life experiences. Although, with the lack of discipline within the school systems today, I can see each event unfolding just as he has described it and it scares the heck out of me as a reader, parent and grandparent. So just to be on the safe side of education, I suggest you read Passport to Nowhere and draw your own opinion as to whether this book is fact or fiction. I’m calling it ‘fiction’… I think.
Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com