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Review: Skewed by Anne Mcaneny

24982697Since narcissism is fueled by a greater need to be admired than to be liked, psychologists might use that fact as a therapeutic lever – stressing to patients that being known as a narcissist will actually cause them to lose the respect and social status they crave. – Jeffrey Kluger

Jack and Jane Perkins never had a chance at privacy, even before they were born. The story itself has been described before, in the blurb and in the reviews. What is most interesting to me are the personalities involved. While Jane prefers to put the past behind her, dreaming of the sort of quiet life she has always wanted, Jack, her twin, becomes a politician – the perfect life for a totally self-obsessed narcissist who has lived his life in the limelight.

McAneny has a deft hand with characters. From the twins themselves to Grady, the man who went to prison for their mother’s murder to Jane’s beloved grandfather (I really don’t see Jack as caring about anyone other than himself, as he proves over and over again . . . though he does show the occasional thought for his sister – when he isn’t ridiculing her), The fact that my brother now worshipped that phony murderer-cum-jail hero was the sharpest edge of the wedge driven between us. There is a level of ‘quirky’ that drew me into the story. I could see many of the police officers and crime scene analysts I used to know in the qualities of the characters.

Wexler rubbed his chin. “Who were the Haiku Killer’s Other victims?”

”A priest, a philosophy professor, and a doctor,” I said.

“Religion, philosophy, and medicine,” Wexler said. “Renaissance killer.”

What is just as interesting to me is how McAneny explores the phenomenon of Hybristophilia, blending it with the types of political paraphilia inherent in the mindset of the public. It slides beneath the storyline, twisting and turning through and across a story of madness, murder and skewed social truths.

The serial killer story is well written overall, though I did find some glitches that made me scratch my head a bit. But overall, the story is tight. Sophia is probably my favorite character – her personality and particular thought process makes me want to read a book about her!

I received the book from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Happy Birthday, Gammy Rose

img034It is my grandmother’s birthday today. Rose Walker Cooper. She was born on July 25, 1895 and was quite as an unusual lady. She was a nurse who worked at Levi Hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas for many years, and was a private nurse for the private practice of one of the hospital doctors by the time I came along. You can’t tell from the photo, but her hair was so bright red it was nearly orange, and she had skin like alabaster. She was a gentle, quiet woman. Of course, she was so quiet because her husband was a complete and total bully.

I didn’t get to see gammy Rose a lot, the Crazy Bitch had me working from the time I was tiny, putting me on the wildest horses she could find – she came very close to getting her wish and having one of them kill me, but it just never quite worked out that well. Although I got all sorts of broken bones, concussions and once got my right arm torn nearly all the way off (over 600 stitches before the doc stopped counting) and the left side of my head ripped off as well. Glad they found my ear, LOL!!!

I think that is the longest I got to stay with my gammy, as she liked to be called, was after that incident. The yelling I heard was no doubt her trying to get the Crazy Bitch to leave me with her and Arch, but that didn’t happen. I did, however, get to stay a few weeks, which was awesome. She was a sweet woman. She was on duty one night when a Quapaw woman was brought into the hospital. The woman was pregnant with twins and died in childbirth. Gammy Rose decided she wanted those babies, a boy and a girl. The Crazy Bitch was the girl, of course. So her loving husband, Arch, bought them for her. Hey, they were just savages, right? Bought and paid for, and brought them home to her, handed them off, and then went back to work. As the Chief of Police he could do things like that. Especially since he also owned businesses with some of the various mafia bosses who called Hot Springs their home away from home.

I really wish that I had of had the opportunity to take down their stories before they died. They would have been fascinating, I have no doubt. His especially, of course, as he was Chief during the period when Scarface, Lucky Luciano, Al Capone, Bugs Moran and Frank Costello were known to vacation in The Spa City. And from my second-hand stories, gramps was quite happily involved with the whole thing. Well, that and burning down black people’s houses, hanging people under overpasses, and generally terrorizing the populace.

Of course, being a nurse at the ‘swanky’ Levi Hospital during the same time period, I have no doubt Rose had stories of her own to tell. I wonder how many shootouts, bar stabbings and other various and sundry Mafia related wounds she was involved in healing?

A nice woman named Constance Peck sent me information that she found on one of the genealogy websites a few years ago, and I was surprised to learn that gammy Rose was married before. I knew that she married Arch when she was 34 – quite a late marriage at that time. However, Ms. Peck pointed out in her documents that Rose was actually married at 17 to a man named Weekly. And she divorced him! Very scandalous!

Through it all, gammy Rose was the only person to ever show me kindness. And I miss her more than I can say. Happy Birthday, Gammy Rose. I miss you.

It’s Here! Bitter Chocolate by Dawn Greenfield Ireland – Book Giveaway!!

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I held off on my review of Hot Chocolate as I waited to post the Bitter Chocolate Tour! But now that it is here, you will see my post for Hot Chocolate on the next page. Enjoy!

And now, with no further ado, my review of Bitter Chocolate!

Publisher: Artistic Origins Inc (June, 2014)
Category: Cozy Mystery
Series: Hot Chocolate Series- Book 2
Tour Date: June 30-July 30, 2014
Available in: ebook, 400 Pages, With Recipes

I admit it, as I have admitted it before. I grew up in the South. And yes, that does include Texas. Oh, I most definitely didn’t live the “gold spoon in my mouth” kind of Southern, but still, I know the voice of the South. And the voice is in full cry in this, the second in the Alcott Family Adventures series.

I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults. – Molly Ivins

How can you look at the Texas legislature and still believe in intelligent design? – Kinky Friedman

If you got the money honey I got the time and when you run out of money honey I run out of time. – Willie Nelson

When we left the Alcott ladies at the end of Hot Chocolate Madge, Lila Mae and Dorothea had been through a rough time. When the husband of Bambi, the hotty blond bombshell nurse for their 92-year-old father, Bernie, was murdered the ladies found their lives turned upside down.
Now, in their true “Southern Lady” style, the girls have gone into seclusion, resting, relaxing (well, as much as three high strung Southern Ladies can relax!) And things are, of course, “interesting” again, in the “May you live in interesting times” way, as ‘baby’ Dorothea finds herself pregnant at 55 years old. Hey, aren’t you supposed to be dealing with hot flashes at 55, not morning sickness? Needless to say, Dorothea and her hubby, Henry, may be happy about the babies (!), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot to take in!

Twins? How wonderful!

Are you crazy? Vonnie and Charlie are in college! By the time the twins get that age, I’ll be in my seventies!” Dorothea said.
And then, of course, there is Bambi, pregnant by the selfsame 92-year-old father of the Alcott girls, (Hey! I did say in my review of the last book that Daddy was “grabby handy” right?) Now enjoying the wealthy passed on to her by her murdered husband, the disreputable Jimmy Ray Chaline, she has become close with the girls, and spends lots of time coming to grips with her new fortune and new family. So, there is a lot of baby talk going on in this newest installment. But not all is babies and butterflies, of course, and what happens next is funny, complicated and a book which could only be found in the southern climes. . .

This is a “yummy” mystery, as was quite apparent in Hot Chocolate as the girls toured Houston’s high-class restaurants, as well as the offerings of their own household cooks. And you will find recipes on the back of this volume as well – yum! And the whole funny, quirky cast returns in Bitter Chocolate as well, though a few new Houston socialites appear as well, including mute Cousin Benny, uh, make that Teddy, a victim of PTSD and yet another quirky, odd-ball character thrown into the gumbo pot of the Alcott family. And now Bernie has decided he can’t live without his Bentley.

Where’s my Bentley?

Daddy, we sold your Bentley ten years ago.

So, we add Chewie, Lila Mae’s houseman’s cousin, as Bernie’s chauffeur. Well, we never said the whole cast were WASPs!

Then there is Tilly, niece of Zoe, the wife of Alcott family attorney, Walter Branson. We first met Tilly, of course, in Hot Chocolate, when the hard drinking, coke snorting thirty-two-year-old came for a visit, and was subsequently accused of murdering the unctuous Jimmy Ray. Now, cleared of forking over Jimmy Ray, she is being forced by the family to dry out and get a life real life. But the whole “getting a real life” thing runs into a wall when Tilly’s gangster daddy is found murdered. What’s a rich, entitled, chocolate loving family to do?

Ireland’s characters, setting, and attitude are purely River Oaks Houston Southern. Mansions and food, shopping in the best boutiques and food, oh, and chocolate and food, let’s not forget Alcott Chocolates! I will admit, I found this a more refined and readable volume of the Alcott Family Adventures. I still found the constant references to just how much money these people wallow in to be rather, well, snobby I suppose you could say. A half-dozen Bentley’s at $276,000 a pop, all by themselves could feed poor families for several years. Be that as it may, the wealth is the backbone of the storyline, and I was able to put it aside as being important to Ireland’s tale.

I received this book from Ms. Ireland in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.


The characters you loved in Hot Chocolate are back with more escapades of life in Houston’s wealthy River Oaks.

Lila Mae is in a tizzy over the Chocolate Ball – a huge event that she and her sisters, Dorothea and Madge, host every year. But due to unusual circumstances, Dorothea and Madge dump everything in Lila Mae’s lap. If it weren’t for Julian Gillespie of Event Is King, the Chocolate Ball would have melted.

Bernie, the Alcott sisters’ 92-year-old father, decides he wants his Bentley back. The sisters and Bambi are horrified. They hire Joseph’s cousin Chewie as Bernie’s new chauffeur.

Wolfram, Lila Mae’s new astrologer, gives clues of things to come. This leaves Lila Mae and her sidekick Amelia with brows furrowed.

On her day off, Amelia decides to bake a chocolate blueberry pie. She discovers she needs to make a grocery run. When she returns home, she discovers her kitchen door is slightly ajar. Arms loaded with groceries, she toes the door open.

Three things catch her attention: a vase of flowers on the kitchen island that was not there when she left the house, her marble rolling pin covered with blood… and a dead body on her kitchen floor.

Amelia’s eyes drift toward the dining room and beyond – is the house empty, or is there a murderer inside? She backs up, turns and hurries outside. After setting the bags on the ground, she slips back into the kitchen and snaps a picture of the dead guy. Then she calls Detective Chance Walker, Lila Mae and finally… 9-1-1.

Praise for Hot Chocolate:

“This cozy mystery is a raucous romp.  A light, quick read, it is laugh-out-loud funny all the way through except maybe for the scene when the murder victim is discovered and the scene when the murderer declares themselves tho even those two scenes have elements of slapstick visuals incorporated into them.

The plot is quite masterfully constructed and kept me guessing right up to the moment the culprit was revealed and that is not easy to do as I’ve read or watched so many mystery stories I often figure it out well before the halfway point.

Where the story truly shines though is through the characters of which there are many yet each one is fully rounded and uniquely eccentric.

Food itself is nearly a character in the story and several of the recipes featured in scenes are included in full at the end of the novel.”-Joy Renee Davis, Joystory”

“Hot Chocolate is a captivating tale with vivid and fun characters. I could almost visualize myself socializing with them, and I definitely enjoyed their interactions with one another. They felt like real sisters, albeit high-society ones.

All the players are in place, and we think we have them figured out. So when something unexpected happens one night at the bowling alley, the Alcotts, Bambi, and countless others are caught up in a mystery that had me turning pages rapidly. Who or what could be responsible for the shocking events? What will Bambi discover when she starts searching through her husband’s dresser drawers and files? And what other surprises await the Alcotts?

Through all the excitement and intrigue, we are gifted with wonderfully descriptive moments in the lives of the characters, including the delicious food they enjoy. The dishes are presented so realistically that I could almost taste them. As a final pleasing treat, there are several wonderful recipes at the end of the book. A five star read.”-Laurel Rain Snow, Chocolate and Mimosas

“Hot Chocolate is a light-hearted Southern comedy. The Alcott sisters are the epitome of Southern culture. They are each other’s fiercest enemy and closest companion.

One of my all-time favorite shows is Designing Women. The Alcott sisters, Dorothea, Lila Mae, and Madge could be the Sugarbaker women. Picture Suzanne Sugarbaker every time you read something about Dorothea and you’ll be rolling on the floor laughing every time she hollers and faints. It doesn’t get better than this.

The plot is well written and from the very first page there is no doubt these women live chocolate as much as the company they own makes chocolate. From the cocoa colored Bentleys to the hot chocolate they start their day with, this book is full of chocolate – what could be better than that?! The characters were dazzling creatures and full of spunk making the book an enjoyable read. I found no grammatical errors and the book ended with a surprise you won’t see coming, a definite plus in book world.” – Donna McBroom-Theriot, My Life, One Story At a Time

“I never read anything by Dawn Greenfield Ireland before, but she definitely knows how to write mysteries the way I like them. The story is filled with twists, turns and eccentric characters that are essential in writing a cozy mystery. It’s fast-paced and keeps the readers on their toes. There are also some giggles and a dash of romance thrown into the mix. At the end, she includes some yummy recipes that are featured in the book. Suddenly I’m in desperate need of a hot chocolate with some marshmallow fluff.

This book is delicious!”- Yvonne, Socrates Book Review

“I love reading a good cozy mystery and when it’s paired with good old fashioned southern charm and whit well I’m sold! “Hot Chocolate” by Dawn Greenland Ireland    gave me that plus a plenty of offbeat characters,along with a fast moving plot with a murder mystery woven in,  sprinkled together with a liberal amount of humor in to make this a book that I just couldn’t read fast enough!

As I read this story I couldn’t help but think that it would make an awesome movie. Set in the south with more than a few quirky characters that had me laughing out loud on several occasions.As I read the story I found the characters getting stuck in my head and could just imagine their southern twang.

If you enjoy reading a fast paced mystery that has more twists than a winding country road, along with vivid descriptions of people, food and places that will grab your imagination and hold on tight until the final page your certainly going to enjoy “Hot Chocolate.” I loved this author’s storytelling ability and look forward to reading more of her work.”-Brenda Casto, VW Stitcher

About Dawn Greenfield Ireland:

Dawn Ireland is the CEO of Artistic Origins Inc, a 100% woman-owned publishing and technical writing service company that has been doing business since 1995. She’s an award winning independent publisher and author of The Puppy Baby Book , Mastering Your Money, and Amazon Best Seller Hot Chocolate (the first in the series, and her fifth novel). The Hot Chocolate audio book was awarded the AudioFile Earphones Award on Valentine’s Day 2014.

Her family feature film screenplay A Girl and Her Dog was awarded a Kids First! Endorsement by the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media in October 2012 and optioned by Shadow Cave Productions in February 2013.

Originally from Feeding Hills, MA, Dawn migrated to San Antonio in 1968, then when her first son was one years old, her family moved to Houston where work was more plentiful. After 40+ years of heat and humidity, she has her sights on the Pacific NW.

Dawn is the co-author of the animated screenplay Memoirs of a Dog which won the Spirit Award of the Moondance Film Festival (children’s category) September 2011. Her dark comedy Plan B was a finalist in the Table Read My Screenplay script competition in 2010 and years before that, Standing Dead won the Women in Film and Television (Houston Chapter) screenplay award.

Stay tuned for The Last Dog (futuristic/sci-fi 2015), and Spicy Chocolate (2016).


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