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Joyce McDonald

Joyce McDonald

After a courageous struggle with brain cancer, Joyce McDonald passed away on February 23, 2016 at the age of 68. Among numerous accolades and titles, her most prized accomplishment later in life was earning her black belt in Kung Fu. She was always a fighter but also knew when to surrender gracefully, and she went peacefully in her home surrounded by her immediate family. Joyce was born on February 1, 1948 in Dorris, California to Bessie and Ron McIntyre and older sister Jean. After moving to San Antonio, she attended Jefferson HS and later The University of Texas at Austin where she earned a B.A. in Russian and M.A. in Educational Psychology. She married fellow-Longhorn Robert L. McDonald on November 22, 1969. After college she worked as a high school teacher and counselor and later served the technology sector as a programmer, technical trainer, network administrator and documentation specialist. She and Robert lived in San Antonio and raised three children, Heather, Laura and Scott. Joyce is preceded in death by her mother, father, and sister. She is survived by her husband, Robert, three children--Heather Lotts (Gary Lotts), Laura McDonald (Mauricio Portasio) and Scott McDonald, and four grandchildren--Josie Lotts, Gavin Lotts, Braden Lotts & Mei McDonald.

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Review: "Rearview Mirror" by Lorene Haupt


Elise Brody thought that her college fling with Drew Wilkins would always remain part of her past. But thanks to Facebook, they have been electronically reunited. Unfortunately, they are both married. Their online flirtation feels safe until Elise finds out that Drew will be coming home. How will she react when he becomes more than just a reflection in her rearview mirror? In this romantic comedy novelette, author Lorene Haupt poses some scenarios that will whet the appetites of women who remember the guy that got away. While introducing us to a romantic story that captivates our interest, Haupt weaves in fun pop-culture references, from Pretty in Pink to Pearl Jam. She also broaches some unexpected topics such as diabetes, Weight Watchers, Facebook, and–ahem–Chlamydia. Continue reading .

Review: "The Scarlet Pimpernel" by Baroness Orczy


Based on the 1903 play of the same name, the novel was published shortly thereafter and was an immediate success. The Scarlet Pimpernel follows the story of Marguerite Blakeney–a beautiful French actress–and the anonymous hero who rescues condemned aristocrats out of France during the Reign of Terror following the French Revolution. The book’s anonymous hero of dual identity is a precursor to latter heros and superheros such as Superman, Zorro, The Lone Ranger, and Batman. Continue reading .

Review: "They Say Love is Blind" by Kate Halleron


This sequel to Portrait of the Past follows the story of Henry Johnson, a man blinded while fighting in the Civil War. Deserted by his young wife, he spends the next twenty years chasing a dream – to establish a training center for blinded adults. When he meets and befriends wealthy widow Beatrice Palmer, his dream seems on the verge of fruition. Unfortunately, a shocking revelation threatens to destroy not only his dream but also his budding love for Beatrice. Will love endure when faced with an uncomfortable truth? Continue reading .

Review: "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" by Agatha Christie


In this first novel by Agatha Christie, published in 1920, she introduces the inimitable Poirot, who would go on to appear in 33 Christie novels and 54 short stories. The plot of The Mysterious Affair at Styles deals with a straightforward case of an old woman poisoned with strychnine for the obvious reason: her money. The way Christie handles a plot, however, nothing is ever straightforward. The story spirals round and round, leading the reader in one direction, then another, convincing the reader that first one character, then another is the guilty party. Continue reading .

Review: "Rutledge" by Miriam Coles Harris


First published anonymously in 1860, the narrator of this novel (who remains unnamed) is an orphan who is sent to live with her aunt. During the journey, the narrator and her companion, Mr. Rutledge, are injured in a train wreck and are thus moved to a nearby parsonage to recuperate before continuing the journey. At the parsonage, part of a large estate called Rutledge, the narrator enjoys the kindness and caring of Mr. Rutledge and the parsonage’s occupants. When the narrator finally makes it to her aunt’s house, she is caught in the flippant social whirl and to a certain degree comes to enjoy it. Drama and tragedy ensue before our narrator determines where her place place of real joy and love should be. Continue reading .

Review: "The Butterfly Dress" by Miranda Koerner


The Butterfly Dress is a Cinderella tale retold in modern times. When not in design class, Flora Oak works as a seamstress for a mother who closely approximates Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother. Flora works hard, eats large, and is so accustomed to her superiors calling her a failure that she accepts those opinions without question. One day, she is asked to create a gown for Eleanor Nottingham, the duchess of local society. Mrs. Nottingham sends a horse-driven carriage to take her to the Nottingham estate where Flora meets a possible Prince Charming, but complications abound before she can reach her happy ending. The story’s conclusion drifts more toward Fractured Fairy Tales than the Brothers Grimm, and more power to it! Continue reading .

Review: "The Hawaiian Archipelago" by Isabella L Bird


Published in 1875, The Hawaiian Archipelago depicts a far different Hawaii than the one we see in travelogues or the one made famous by Pearl Harbor. Ms. Bird’s work is significant because of the historical as well as personal perspective she offers. During Bird’s time, one primary concern about Hawaii was its dwindling population and abandonment of once-thriving communities. Her love for the islands and the personal healing she experiences, both physically and psychologically, leaves her in its thrall. Continue reading .

Review: "Portrait of the Past" by Kate Halleron


Since this year marks the 150th year since the United States Civil War began, Portrait of the Past is an appropriate offering for our ebook catalog. Author Kate Halleron demonstrates a firm grasp of the storytelling process, and her studies into the psychological aspects of the storyline are intriguing. The year is 1880. Marguerite is an artist and former slave who is hired to paint a wedding portrait for a wealthy family. She soon finds that the family has close ties to her past from which she has constantly fled. Instead of fleeing again, she stays to paint a portrait of her former family, and in so doing she begins to understand the difficult choices her loved ones were driven to make. Continue reading .

Review: "Alaskan Healing" by Lana Voynich

Fans of the television show “Deadliest Catch” will recognize the setting of this novel. Drake Richards is a commercial fisherman who doesn’t trust women. Shawn Nilsen is a strong-willed woman who has just been jilted by her fiancé. Shawn flees to Alaska and is hired by Drake’s father to work on a crab fishing boat. There’s plenty of tension as Drake and Shawn come to terms with their preconceived notions of one another. Continue reading .

Review: "An Altered Ending" by Megan Trennett


Ellen Mitchell did not picture her life ending up this way. She did not imagine that she would be nearing thirty, dealing with her mother’s terminal cancer and taking life day by day with nothing to look forward to. This all changes with an email from Simon Avery, her former professor, who offers to help get her dream of writing off the ground. Their relationship had never been simple, and now she wonders if it’s time to tell him everything she never could. Or will she let the one who got away slip through her fingers again? Continue reading .

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