book reviews (31)

Dead to Life - Mary Deal, Author

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Sara Mason and Huxley Keane are still on the hunt for proof that his brother Rocky, who turned up as a MIA during the Vietnam War, was indeed dead.  After receiving a box full of letters from Huxley's mom, the two sit down to read the letters in hopes that the information would provide some of the most defining clues leading to verifying that the key that was found in the Vietnam jungle did belong to Rocky.  The key was one given to Rocky by his fiancee, Emma Ellis.  It was to the apartment she shared with her sister Evelyn in San Francisco and would give him access to a place to stay if he were to return unexpectedly.  But shortly after Rocky became MIA, Emma's sister Evelyn took her own life and Emma may have moved to Hawaii.  With this piece of information, Sara and Huxley begin their search in San Francisco in search of information that will lead them to Emma in Hawaii and the possibility that she will have the matching key that will confirm the one found in Vietnam was indeed Rocky's.  

As always, Author Mary Deal takes you through page turning tunnels as you join Sara and Huxley in their search for Emma and the key.  You'll see the life changing events that put Emma into an investigation by not only the Hawaiian police but also the San Francisco Police.  You'll find yourself trying to understand how and why such a level headed person could turn into what Emma turned into.  

 

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Dear Sugar and Other Sorrows - Review by Martha A. Cheves

When I first started reading Dear Sugar and Other Sorrows I was captured by the first story which was made up of letters sent back and forth between to people who were very special to each other.  I couldn't wait to get to the end just to see how things came out between them.  Then I started reading the story about Lyzzie who was a recovering drug addict.  Would the person who got her there in the 1st place take her back down the same path?  And the stories went on with more stories of sorrow and heart wrenching pain.  Each one having me turning the pages just to see exactly how they would end.  

I will have to warn you, the reader, that the stories are 'dark' and somewhat upsetting at times, but they show us just exactly what life around us can truly be.  The stories are true eye openers to a those of us who are shielded from the gates of hell that some actually live in.

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`Forbes jumped, nerves getting the better of him, and in an instant the fear had returned. As a bolt of brilliant lightning rent the sky and lit up the room through the sturdy windows of my home, William Forbes shrank still further into himself. I watched, fascinated, as the well-built solicitor, a man whose entire life should have been built around logic, order, and the law, and who I'd have imagined to be one of the least likely to panic at the forces and sounds of nature, backed away from the window, until, his eyes once ore displayed the fear of one hunted by terror unknown, his back came to rest against the wall beside the fireplace. His body shook and his mouth opened in fear. His lips moved, but not a sound came from them. Though he remained in the room with me, I felt as though William Forbes were no longer with me, but had retreated to some dark place, locked away in his own private world of fear and dread.'

David Hemswell, a criminal psychologist and William Forbes, solicitor to the serial killer Jack Reid, have now been admitted into the world of Jack the Ripper. Forbes seeks the help of David to dispel the spirits that are threatening his own being. According to Forbes, David came recommended as the person to help. Question is, who recommended him and can he really help? After meeting Forbes, David decides to ask for the help of his old and dear friend Kate Gooddard who is a paranormal investigator. By combining their own knowledge and forces, the two hope to save Forbes from what he believes to be the spirit of Jack the Ripper.

A Study in Red, Legacy of the Ripper and now Requiem for the Ripper have been three books that held my attention through every page. Each book has its own distinctive ending, or should I say continuation but only a writer such as Brian L. Porter can give the whole story an ending such as the one in Requiem for the Ripper. I promise you, the ending will shock you as it did me. Great writing!

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'Does violent death have a name? Can evil truly be born into the world, evil so deep that it is bred into the genetic make-up of an individual? Until I came to this place and met the man who made me begin to suspect that such an evil could exist, I'd have been as dismissive as most of my profession at the prospect of such a possibility... Dr. Ruth Truman, Psychiatrist.'
 
Porter's book A Study in Red tells about the Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper. As the story goes, Robert Cavendish, who was a psychiatrist in modern day, received the journal from his father, who received it from his father, who received it from his father. The original Cavendish was also a psychiatrist who had a patient he found to be no other than the famous Jack the Ripper. Thus began the story of A Study in Red - The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper.
 
After Robert Cavendish's death the journal was passed on to his nephew Jack Reid.
Upon receiving his "legacy" Jack's life becomes twisted in what will be known by modern day London as the "The Brighton Ripper Case." Murders are taking place following the same pattern as those of the original Jack the Ripper.
 
Wright and Holland have worked the case from the first murder. With the help of Alice Nickels, who is a "Ripperologist," a plan is set to capture the modern day Ripper hopefully before he strikes again. This plan ends with the capture, trial and institutionalization of Jack Reid. But did he really commit these gruesome murders? If so, did he do it alone? He insists that there were others that actually set him up and committed the murders. He even admitted to having received the journal and to the effect reading it had upon him. The police believe the journal never existed but was instead a fixation of his distorted imagination. So after Jack's removal from society and the murders ceasing, it appears that the police really have found and caught their man. But what happened to the journal and legacy? Will the present owner, whoever it might be, pick up where Jack supposedly left off? Read Legacy of the Ripper and find out for yourself. I think you will be as surprised as I was.

 

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A Study in Red - Brian L. Porter, Author

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In reading A Study in Red - The Secret Journal of Jack The Ripper, I came across a passage written by Porter that explained why I couldn't put this book down.... "there was a thrill attached to all the horror I was exposing myself to, not a pleasant thrill, but a thrill nonetheless." To me the "thrill" was wanting to know the full story. With the available resources for research today it just might be possible for a writer to compile all of the evidence and form a conclusion that wasn't possible 100 years ago. Was the Ripper a man sick in body as well as mind? Did he seek help from others? Did he tell someone else what he had done and not been believed? And why kill just prostitutes? Were they to blame for his illness? Or was it his own father that was to blame? Yes Porter tells you the story is fiction, but is it really? I'm not really sure anymore.
 
I've enjoyed reading this book. It's a cross between a "fiction" and a "true crime." So if you enjoy either genre you will enjoy A Study in Red. Do keep in mind that this book is very descriptive.
 
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They crept up the stairs.  There were three apartments in the three-story building.  They wanted the one on the second floor.  It was an old building and the stairs creaked a bit.  He tried to step on the outside part of the step.  They were less likely to creak.  But it was the middle of the night and they had seen from the street that the lights were off in all three apartments.  Hopefully they were all sound sleepers.

The explosion literally knocked us out of bed.  But seconds after the explosion, we found ourselves on the floor, me on my side of the bed and Sabrina on hers.  What most likely happened was that we instinctively moved to safety at the thunderous sound.  In the couple of years we had been together, Sabrina and I had been shot at so many times, we were probably working on sheer muscle memory.  If you hear a loud noise that sounds suspiciously like a gunshot, chances are it is, so you move - fast - even when you're asleep.
 

Del Honeycutt and bestselling author Sabrina Spencer have just experienced a gunshot that will open their world to more mysteries and secrets they either could have imagined.  They will learn the full story behind the grouchy guy living in the building known as Seymour and the beautiful, gay, second-grade teacher known as Mo.  That one gunshot will take them through the Everglades as they try to solve the mystery of a plane crash that happened twenty years earlier, along with solving the mystery of what everyone was searching for then and now. 

I've read all of the "Lies" Mystery books and they just keep getting better and better.  This one really took me by surprise as I learned the secrets and the reasons behind the secrets.  So... looking for a real, on the edge book, I recommend, not just book 4 but all of the "Lies" books.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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What If? - Fran Lewis, Author

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What if? - Review by Martha A. Cheves

What if? - There were no more planes or trains.  All you needed to do was think about being somewhere and you were there.  There was only one race where your face may look a little different but your skin colors were the same.  Would the world be a better place?

What if? - You came to the edge of town and saw a sign that read "You are leaving the town of MUNDANE AND NO EXCITEMENT."  As you walk out of town you come across a crossroad.  One sign informs you that its road leads to the town of "NOWHERE - Keep Wandering."  The second road reads to the town of "Decisions.", The third to the town of "Surprises" and the fourth to a sign that tells you to "Just Walk in This Direction and You Will find Out..."  Which road will you take?

Through her short stories, Author Fran Lewis has given us a few situations to test our minds as we see where the stories lead to and end up.  Did the characters make the right decision?  Better yet, do we agree with their decisions?  What if?

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Butterfly Lake - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

Sam and Bill McCoy were from Southern Georgia.  Sam, the oldest, smartest and tallest, might have been considered plain-looking, were it not for his tangled mop of hair and his scraggly beard; Bill, on the other hand, was not too bright, albeit not from lack of trying.  He had always been slow - he just couldn't help it - but he was intelligent enough to follow his big brother and do whatever Sam told him to do.


Tex is from Texas.  In the Fall, he had invited his best friend Rob to his ranch for fishing and riding horses.  Rob has returned the favor by inviting Tex and his family to his lake cabin in the mountains of Pinecrest, PA.  The two men, both in their mid-forties, had been close friends since their days in the jungles and villages of Vietnam.  Rob was a decorated Army field medic, and Tex a decorated Marine sniper.  

 

When the unthinkable happens, Tex, Rob, Sam and Bill will meet and that's when the suspense begins.  Their travels will take them through the mountains in their attempt to bring justice to the little town of Pinecrest.  But their task doesn't come without life threatening events that may make them missing in action.

 

This book is full of twists and turns that kept me wanting more.  It gave me admiration for not only Tex and Rob, but also for the author.  Looking forward to his next book of adventures with these two guys.

 

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Suddenly Psychic - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

Glimmer Lake was a year-round vacation town.  In the summer, the cool waters of the lake attracted swimmers, boaters, and anglers from valleys at the base of the Sierra Nevada.  They came to escape the baking summers in the lowlands and to enjoy the crisp air.  In the winter, heavy snow made the lake town a destination for skiers, sledders, and those looking for the rare white Christmas in California.  The town that occupied the banks of Glimmer Lake had replaced the old logging and mining town of Grimmer, which had been flooded in the 1940s to create a reservoir that could serve the thirsty population boom in Southern California.  


Robin Brannon and her two best friends Val and Monica are on their way to Big Creek Lodge where they could enjoy karaoke and half-priced drinks.  The road leading to the lodge was narrow, twisted and had almost zero lights.  As Val and Monica sang "Always Be My Baby" Robin took her eyes off the road and looked into the rear-view mirror.  When Monica yelled, she glanced back at the road to see a massive white deer frozen in the middle of the road.  She swerved in the darkness to avoid the deer.  But her stomach dropped when she realized there was nothing.  No deer.  No road.  Nothing but the darkness and the moon over the water.

 

This book is more than a mystery.  It's a book of life both new and old, both dead and alive.  It's the life of 3 middle aged women who escape death only to find themselves with special 'powers' that they never had before.  One can see ghosts, one is a touch telepath and the other is a seer.  As they combine their powers, they're able to solve a murder that is half a century old, as well as give life to Robin's grandmother.  They also find that through their newly acquired abilities they find themselves and the lives they are meant to have.

 

This book is an enjoyable mystery but it's also a book that makes you stop and look at your own life.  A book well worth reading.

 

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Dylan: The Flying Bedlington - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

"I don't want Dylan's story to become a repetitive tale of loss and sadness.  I'll just say that each and every dog who has been a part of our family, some longer than others, has been a much loved, and now, sadly missed member of our rescue pack, and their presence in our home has helped to enrich our lives and our hearts, with their love, their faithfulness and their at times, hilarious antics.  Rescue dogs are definitely a special breed.  They seem to know when they've been given a second, often third chance of a happy life and they repay the faith and the love you give to them, a hundred times over."  Author Brian L. Porter

 

I agree 100+% to the statement above.  Rescue dogs are special.  Most of the dogs I've had throughout my life have been rescues.  I can only remember maybe 2 that weren't.  Every dog I've ever had was special but rescues just seem to have the knowledge that you are the one who saved their lives and you're the one they love the most.  My Jesse is a rescue.  He was due to be put down the very next day.  No way would I allow that.  He came home with me and we bonded from day one.  He shows me his love and faithfulness to me every day.  He doesn't want me out of his sight and when I do have to leave him, he lays by the door waiting for me to come home.  There aren't enough good words in the dictionary to express how special rescue dogs are.

 

I've read every one of this Author's series of Rescue Dogs and each one has made me laugh and at times cry.  I know how hard it is to watch your 'baby', and that is exactly what they are, start going downhill.  Jesse, like Dylan, has lost his hearing and most of his sight.  How old is he?  Don't know.  He was picked up on the streets before I found him, so there were no records of his age.  Best guess is that he's around 13-14 years old and I can only pray that he has many more years to go.

 

If you aren't a dog lover, read these books and I have a feeling you may become one.  If you are a dog lover, read these books and see what a difference rescuing a dog will make in not just their life but also in your life.  Either way, this is a group of books I highly recommend to everyone.  It's not only heartwarming but also educational.

 

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(I don't normally add the Author's recipe that I post on A Book and A Dish but this one is special due to what Mary did with these brownies.)

Kahlua Brownies


(Author Mary Kennedy sent 200 pounds of these 
to the troops in Iraq over a 3 month period)


½ cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup Kahlua

 

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan.

Step 2

In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder and kahlua. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Step 3

 

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.  16 servings


Dream A Little Scream - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

Ali and Taylor Blake are sisters.  Ali owns a candy Shop in Savannah, Ga called Oldies But Goodies.  Taylor arrived in Savannah a few months ago to find the vintage candy shop, just a couple of blocks off the Historic District, struggling.  Between the two sisters, changes were made, they invested in some marketing, added a cafe menu, and things were looking up.  They had bone from the red to the black and felt sure their changes would keep it that way.  That is until they agreed to host a book signing for cookbook author Sonia Scott.  The turnout was great and everything was going just as planned until Sonia starts complaining that her chest feels so tight she can hardly breathe.  Apparently she is allergic to cats, and Ali owns two.  But when Sonia's employee Olivia explains that it was something besides the cats, something much worse.  And when her EpiPen turns up missing, nine-one-one was called.  Apparently, Sonia is allergic to more than cats.  She is also allergic to nuts of any kind.  But everyone who made snacks for the signing knew this and would never have put nuts into their dishes, or would they.

 

Taylor and Ali are part of a group they call The Dream Club.  They meet weekly in the apartment above the shop, and they serve sweet tea, coffee, and a delicious array of pastries.  She calls the Dream Club members their "beta testers," and she adds the most popular items to the cafe menu downstairs.  With what has just happened to Sonia, it's time to call an emergency meeting of the club's members, which were all present at the signing anyway, to see if they could put their heads together and solve yet another mystery.

 

Dream A Little Scream had so many twists and turns that each time I thought I knew who the culprit was I found myself doubting my ability to determine the good guys, or gals, from the bad.  And I must say this is the norm for Author Mary Kennedy.  I've read just about everything she has written and am always hoping for more.

 

 

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Vegas Lies - Book 3 - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

Emma began to cry.  Lucy nuzzled up against her in an effort to comfort her friend, but there was no comfort, just abject fear.  If his hand being there had been so unpleasant, what would the other thing be like?  Slowly the crying subsided, only to be replaced with anger.  No, she wasn't going to let that happen to her.  It would be far worse than death.  She was going to find a way to escape, and if she couldn't, she was going to die.  

 

Five young teenage girls from the small town of Vista, Oregon disappeared in the same night.  At first it was thought that the five friends, who were coming home from a movie, had run away together, escaping the stifling atmosphere of small-town America.  But once it was determined that they were all reasonably happy, fairly well-adjusted young people, the focus shifted to the unthinkable.

 

Peep was Mo's partner.  Even though they didn't live together, they had been a couple for about five years.  Peep was in Las Vegas for a trade show.  Sabrina and Del are on their way to Las Vegas for a BookExpo.  Sabrina, a best selling mystery author, hates the publicity that follows her but had agreed to take the trip and had also promised Mo that she and Del would meet Peep for dinner the night of their arrival.  For some reason Peep never showed up.

 

As Author Andrew Cunningham combines the stories of the missing teenagers as well as the disappearance of Peep, the tension grows.  Where is the connection between the missing girls and Peep?  Can they all be found before it's too late?  And who is behind the disappearances?  These, plus many more questions popped into my head as I read, yet another, suspense filled book in this series.

 

So, if you enjoy a good page turner, full of twists and turns, don't miss out on this book.  It's one that kept me up late at night reading just to see what happens next.

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Death Orchid: A Sam and Jessica Novel (Hawaii Thriller Series Book 2) - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

Ivan Volkov's plan was for Jessica Kealoha to die a violent death while he watched it on his laptop computer in the air-conditioned comfort of his hotel room.  He had stalked Jessica for a week after he landed on the island.  The first thing he did was to attach a custom-built GPS track to her Jeep after he had followed her to the grocery store.

 

Fifteen minutes after picking up Aimee, Jessica turned off the highway and headed down the hill toward lower Keauhou.  Noticing her speed, she stepped on the brake pedal to slow down before the curve in the road ahead.  Nothing happened, except a sharp pang in her gut caused by the fear of not being able to stop.  She pressed the electronic parking brake switch with the same results, nothing.  They were headed down one of the steepest roads in Kona, Kam lll.  She and Aimee were most likely going to die if she couldn't get the jeep stopped before the bottom of the hill.

 

Jessica is a retired detective from California who has moved back to her home on the Islands.  She never expected to find herself in the position of having a hit put out for her by some of the most feared people in the world - the Russian Mofia. 

 

This book is full of action and will keep you turning the pages just to see what will happen next.  Plus, Author J. E. Trent writes with a quality that I rarely find.  He writes short chapters which, to me, makes reading much easier.  This book is also filled with vivid descriptions of the Islands, making you feel like you're there seeing them for yourself.  I've loved every book I've read by this author.

 

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Deader Homes and Gardens - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

I tried to make light of the gossip, hoping that with time I wouldn't care, but deep down it hurt that my greatest fear had come true.  I was the town oddball, the flake, and nobody understood that I was really just a good Southern girl aught up with a 1920s gangster ghost.  It wasn't like I wanted to be this way.  it had happened when I'd accidentally tampered with the funeral urn of a cranky prohibition-era whiskey runner named Frankie.  His urn looked a lot like a vase, and his ashes like dirt.  So I'd dumped him out over my favorite rosebush and rinsed him in good.  Not knowing the dirt was...him.  It hadn't helped that I'd filled his final resting place with water from the hose and inserted a fat red rose.  But that was before I realized my error.  Or what rinsing his ashes into the ground would do.  My actions trapped Frankie on my property.  He couldn't leave unless I brought his urn with me.

 

My name is Verity Long.  I moved back to my home time with the plans of marrying.  That didn't quite work out but I did find myself spending much of my time chasing ghosts and in the arms of my ex-finance's brother Ellis who is also a deputy sheriff with the Sugarland Police Department.  Breaking off my engagement found me not only broke but I also had to sell off everything but the house my grandmother had left me just to make ends meet.  Now I've just been offered my first paying job.   With Frankie's help the task should be profitable and a breeze.  I simply have to rid an 1886 estate called Rock Fall of it's ghosts.  An easy task.  Yeah right.  No one really explained to me how evil these ghosts could be nor that there was also a curse attached to the house.  After all the whole family had died within days of each other.  How dangerous could this curse be?

 

Deader Homes and Gardens is Book 4 in the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.  I've read the three before this one and have had a hard time putting them down.  They hold my attention with a combination of humor as well as my mystery and suspense.  It is a fun series of books and I'm now looking forward to reading Book 5 - Sweet Tea and Spirits.  Each book stands alone but I don't think you'll want to miss reading them in order to keep you up-to-par on who is who.

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Death in Paradise - J. E. Trent, Author

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Death in Paradise - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

As Jessica walked up the stairs leading to the front door, she could feel his presence.  Even though he wasn't there, she felt his spirit, and a warm feeling rushed over her as she walked through the front door.  Jessica felt the mana to her core.  The house was like he always kept it.  Neat, but nothing fancy  It was typical Hawaiian style, with rattan wicker furniture and a canoe paddle hanging on the wall in the living room.  The decor was an early vacation rental, except for the front door, which had a Mako shark carved into it.  Since the mana of the shark was important in Hawaiian culture, her dad figured it was a good omen for the place.

 

Mike Murphy had taken his plane out only to have it crash in the lava pits.  His daughter Jessica went to work for the Los Angeles Police after leaving the islands.  The death of her father had her, as well as her two sisters Pua and Jasmine.  He was always one for safety and checked his plain from end to end before flying.  So, how could this have happened.

 

After going home to the island Jessica found there were several reasons that may have caused her father's death.  The biggest one was a man named Mr. Lau.  He was a Chinese billionaire from Macau and he had been buying up property all over Hawaii in the hopes combining his property Ming with Murphy's Aloha Village and creating a gambling casino when gambling became legal in Hawaii.  Problem was, Mike Murphy refused to sell.

 

This book is a fast moving novel that is filled with VERY believable and possible happenings.  It digs into corruption of not only the police but those higher up too.  The characters are believable due to Trent making them 'human' with problems of everyday life.  It also give you some of the history of the islands.  I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading book 2 in the Sam and Jessica Crime Novels.

 

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Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction - Review by Martha A. Cheves


"But Squirt, the man had evidence.  He told me so, right before I killed him.  I laughed at him at the time.  Laughed right in his face; thought he was bluffing.  He said he took precautions and one day the world was going to know what a yellow-bellied coward I was.  It wasn't until after I killed him that I found the note in his pocket.  It said, 'Maye, if you're reading this I must be dead.  Look in the chest, Maye.  It's all there.' Of course I threw the note away and his woman never knew about it.  But I know he was telling the truth.  He had something, some kind of proof.  I'm afraid it's going to surface some day and ruin all y'alls lives.  Look in his house.  Promise me, Squirt, that you'll find and destroy the eidence before it destroys our family.  I don't want y'all saddled with my dirty deeds for the rest of your life.  Promise me...find the evidence John Hobb hid, and promise me you'll destroy it."  "I promise, Papa," the young man said, followed by a sob from his throat.

 

Tess Tremaine is a recent divorcee that was looking for a new place to start a new life for herself.  She found that new life in a small town called Goose Pimple Junction.  All goes well for her as she starts to get to know the people, with one exception and that exception is the language.  She found that just because you meet someone, which is called 'howdied' doesn't mean you've really met them until you 'shook.'  Or when someone tells you to 'get your straw out of my Kool-Aid' it means to mind your own business.  And you'll never guess what you ordered when the waitress calls out for the cook to 'Burn one, take it through the garden and pin a rose on it.'  That one is really quite simple.  It's a hamburger with lettuce, tomato and onion.  These are just some of the life changes Tess must get use to if she expects to find her life in Goose Pimple Junction.  She also has to solve a mystery that seems to revolve around a key that she found in her new home.

 

This book switches from the 1930's to the present with happenings way back then still taking a hold on the town and its residents.  The language, both past and present kept me laughing, as did some of the names but when I read the acknowledgements for this book I learned that the happenings from the 30's were actually true.  The present, not so much but both still made for a very enjoyable read.  I found myself hurting for some of the characters of the past but for the most part, laughing when it came to the now day characters.  Now I'm ready to read Book 2 in this series which is titled Heroes and Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction.

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Soul Food Spirits (Southern Ghost Wranglers Book 1) - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

"Blissful, you're suspended."

My heart popped out of my chest and hit the floor with a thud.  "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
Then Anita, the woman who had bested me for my dad's job by sleeping with his superior, who spoke to me like I was three years old, who had the audacity to put a picture of her with my father on her desk, slowly opened her mouth and enunciated every single syllable.
"Blissful.  You.  Are.  Suspended."  Her eyelids popped open.  "I've got the paperwork already filled out.  You are now officially not a member of the Ghost Team.  You have been suspended."

 

My dad's death a few months ago left an oozing wound in the establishment he helped create - The Ghost Team.  With the help of secret funding from the government, my dad, Vince Breneaux, created a crew of highly capable, clairvoyant agents whose single mission was to seek out rouge spirits, those hellbent on attacking and plaguing the living, and sent them on to the other side - the light, as we call it.  Naturally, since my father had been director of said team, when it came to promotion time, I was a shoo-in.  But, as I said, Anita got the job instead of me and she has had it out for me from day one.  Now she has decided to suspend me.  And the only way I can hopefully prove my worth is to the beautiful town of Haunted Hollow and bring in one of the most feared spirits ever - Lucky Strike.  Even my father couldn't bring him in and send him to the light.

 

Blissful's first day there turns out to be a disaster when she decides to have lunch at the Soul Food.  It seems that one of the spirits in the establishment takes a liking to her and starts up a conversation.  Since Bliss can see her but the other customers can't she decides to carry on a very 'light' conversation with her. But as it turns out, the more they talk the more visible the spirit becomes.  This causes everyone in the restaurant to see her with most of them taking pictures of both Bliss and the spirit with many being posted to the internet.  So much for trying to stay in town without being noticed.

 

This book was a joy to read.  It's filled with humor as well as tons of ghosts - both good and bad, or so they appear.  And the same can be said for some of the living residents too.  I enjoyed Book 1 so much that I can't wait to read book 2.

 

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Fatal Lies (Lies Mystery Thriller Series Book 2) - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

Sabrina, if you are reading this, I am dead, and it means they killed me.  I've spent my life having nothing to do with them, but if they finally put an end to this miserable existence they caused, then I want them to pay.  Maybe my last act in life will help provide Veronica with the life I was never able to have.  The key is for a safe deposit box in your name and mine.  The address of the bank is on the pouch the key is in.  The contents of the box will explain everything.  I'm sorry this is so cryptic.  I just want it far away from Veronica and her children.


Sabrina Spencer spent six years of her life in prison for killing her abusive husband.  After being released, she, with help from the love of her life Del, has become one of the nation's hottest mystery writers.  Her life in prison is the past and a life she no longer wants to relive nor deal with, but when the daughter of a woman from her prison days contacts her with a message that was to be delivered should she die, a whole world of deception and mistrust opens up for Sabrina and Del.

 

I have to admit that I read this book several years ago and loved it so much that I've just finished reading it again.  It keeps you on the edge of your seat as you try to determine who is out to kill Sabrina and Del only to find the plot twist like a winding road.  I loved it and am looking forward to reading Book 3 in this series Vegas Lies.  Author Andrew Cunningham has become one of my favorite authors!

 

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Murder on the Menu - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

She spent the previous few days preparing for her move and getting psyched-up for her new career.  In between filming her last Flirting With Food episodes, hours were spend researching vegan and vegetarian recipes that she could tweak and propose to Chef Jambon.  Little by little Godiva and the oldsters had come around as her departure time drew near.  Everyone, including Caesar, wished her the best of luck in her Oregon adventure.

 

Chili Pepper has been offered a chance to apply for the job of her dreams.  Seems a childhood friend from Juneau, Roscoe Bean, has moved to Portland and become friends Chef Jordan Jambon who has just made Bon Appetite's list of the Top 20 Chefs in the country,  and he wants to interview her for his soon to open restaurant Herbivore.  And that's isn't all.  Chef Jambon has rented a beautiful, old house that has the kitchen of every chef's dreams.  The house also has 4 extra bedrooms which he rents out and one of them could be hers.  Chili's knew that Roscoe was one of the renters but was surprised to find that another old friend from Juneau - Ozzie was also a renter.  So, when she passes the interview and is offered the job, all she has to do now is go back to California and break the news to her Aunt, Grandmother, Uncle and her boss Caesar.

 

Ah, the good life, so Chili thought.  That was until one of the roommates was murdered, which brought the Silver Sisters to the rescue.  And as it turns out, there wasn't just one murder but several.

 

I've read all of the Silver Sister Mysteries and have loved every one.  I know murder isn't supposed to be 'light hearted' but with the characters in this series, you can't help but feel a touch of humor in the writings of Morgan and Phyllice.  Their character names are priceless.  You've just met Chili Pepper but you'll also meet her mother and aunt - Goldie and Godiva, as well as her grandmother Flossie Silver and her uncle Sterling Silver.  And then there's Chili's TV boss Caesar Romano.  So, like I said, this is a light hearted mystery that will keep you lightly on the edge of your seat while you try to help the sisters solve the murders.  I myself found the ending to be a surprise.

 

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The Mersey Monastery Murders: The Habit of Murder - Review by Martha A. Cheves

 

"Right now, Nick, we really don't know where to look for the killer, because we don't know for sure when the he was killed.  We're pretty certain he was murdered by this Freedom Train organization, to allow them to insert the impostor in his place.  If we can put a rough time to his death, we can search for organization members active in the UK at that time.  If we find the person or persons involved in the murder, it will go toward shutting them down here.  They can't be a big group.  I don't think the Stasi were as big as the Nazis after World War Two, and Sam's contact at MI6 gave her the impression there are a limited number of former Stasi officers on the Germans' want list.  So, the number of those helping them to evade justice has to be relatively small."

 

When someone is killed at the Monastery it's up to Andy Ross and his team to find out who committed the murder and why.  Could it be one of the Brothers or one of the Nuns?  Not likely but not impossible.  As their investigation progresses Ross finds more hidden secrets than even he would have guessed.  Someone is not only murdering people but also replacing them with wanted war criminals.  So how do they stop them?

 

This makes the 7th book in the Mersey Murder Mysteries that I've read and I must say they just keep getting better and better.  I don't know where this author's imagination comes from but I'm glad he has it and hope it never quits.  Anyone that can write mysteries like this one as well as adopt and care for a dozen dogs, writing books about them too, is an Ace in my book.  Keep it up Brian Porter and I'll keep reading.

 

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