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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: "There Must Be Murder" by Margaret C. Sullivan


There Must Be Murder features Catherine’s triumphant return to Bath, adding some pleasant emotions to memories of her trip just a year previous. Now a bride of two months with Rev. Henry Tilney by her side, Catherine is ready to revel in the romantic triumphs of others, sincerely believing that those others are as earnest and deserving as herself. Ms. Sullivan adds a lighthearted touch to the story by prominently featuring MacGuffin, the Tilney’s affectionate and enormous Newfoundland dog, as well as Lady Josephine, a tabby cat belonging to Lady Beauclerk. Another delightful touch is the presentation throughout of exceptional drawings by Cassandra Chouinard. Continue reading .

Review: "Jo's Boys" by Louisa May Alcott


Jo’s Boys, and How They Turned Out: A Sequel to Little Men was first published in 1886. This final book in the unofficial Little Women trilogy follows Jo’s children into adulthood. Franz and Emil, Tommy Bangs, Dolly, Stuffy, Nat, Dan and Daisy appear, along with the almost-grown-up Bess, Josie, Rob and Teddy. If Little Men was a wonderful fantasy of childhood, Jo’s Boys is a lesson in the cold, hard realities of adulthood. Continue reading .

Review: "Little Men" by Louisa May Alcott


First published in 1871, Little Men the sequel to Little Women. It continues where Little Women left off set at the school established by Jo and her professor husband, Fritz Bhaer. Jo is the catalyst moving the education process along, the glue holding the school together and the engineer studying and solving the human problems that surface when a multitude of students with widely divergent backgrounds come together. Continue reading .

Review: "I Will Repay" by Baroness Orczy


First published in 1906, I Will Repay was the second written but sixth novel in chronological order of the Scarlet Pimpernel series. More than any of the other books in the series, it captures the ominous side of the French Revolution and the ever-present threat of betrayal by one’s acquaintances, friends, loved ones or political bedfellows. The author’s detailed descriptions of mob psychology and political intrigue dovetail notably with her impressive knowledge of Parisian geography and the sartorial preferences of both revolutionaries and “aristos.” Continue reading .

"Nachtstürm Castle" now in paperback, review by Joyce

If Northanger Abbey was a little confusing for me, Nachtstürm Castle was not. Author Emily C. A. Snyder describes this work as a Gothic novel in the style of Jane Austen, and it exhibits a visible Austen imprint in the style of prose and in the charming imitation of that author’s habit of addressing the reader. Having read only one novel by Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, and having read it as a preparation for reviewing Nachtstürm Castle, I can see the resemblance in style and, of course, subject matter. However, the story takes us beyond Austen, where I perceive (rightly or wrongly) snatches of Dorothy Sayers, Mary Shelley, and even Edgar Allen Poe. Continue reading .

Review: "Celebrities for Breakfast" by Shelley Stout


Judith Collington lived in Hollywood and made excellent money as a personal shopper to the stars. For the casual observer, her life might be the stuff that dreams are made of, but Judith was itching to get herself and her pre-teen daughter away from all the glitz and phoniness of the entertainment trade. She longed for a job that would allow her time to connect personally with daughter, Shannon, before the latter’s souring attitude went permanently south. Continue reading .

"Northanger Abbey" Review by Joyce

A Northanger Abbey Cliff’s Notes version might have helped me understand the intricacies of the ending, which came tumbling at me so fast I scarcely knew what hit me. No ending has taken me as much by surprise since I read Georgette Heyer’s The Black Moth. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy my first venture into Jane Austen. However, it got me wondering how a laundry bill could become such a pivotal symbol in the progress of the story and wishing I had paid more attention at its discovery. My real issue with the ending was that I understood on some level what happened, but the dénouement was not spelled out for me as I expected it to be. This is not so much a fault of Jane Austen as it is of my inexperience in reading Jane Austen. Continue reading .

Review: "Underlying Notes" by Eva Pasco


Hot flashes, a 25-year marriage, unfulfilled career ambitions, a restless retirement, a large stash of amber liquid hidden in the basement, and a husband whose life work involves garbage collection all set the scene for an unlikely romance. However, Eva Pasco has managed to weave all these elements into an amusing story line that wanders here and there at a steady clip—a story line as enticing and unpredictable as the heroine, Carla Matteo. Continue reading .

Review: "The Return of the Soldier" by Rebecca West


First published in 1918, The Return of the Soldier is the First World War I novel written by a woman. It might also be the first novel that explores the psychological aspect of the casualties of war. The story centers on a British officer who returns home from the front physically sound but suffering from amnesia brought on by shell shock. His memory loss wipes out the past 15 years of his life during which he married a society beauty, Kitty, and had a son who died in infancy. The story asks more questions than it answers, but the reader can infer what happens and whether the ending is indeed the best possible scenario. Continue reading .

Review: "The Happy Medium" by Janice Tarver


Although she has sometimes been referred to as a clairvoyant, author Janice Tarver prefers to describe her abilities as those of a medium. Her gifted abilities are derived from her Christian heritage for she is neither a fortune teller nor a card or chart interpreter. The Happy Medium centers upon Janice’s interactions with clients, the clients themselves having submitted many of the experiences described in the book. Janice has a gift, albeit one she has not always been comfortable possessing, much less using. Her journey through acceptance and actualization of that gift comprises another facet of the story. Continue reading .

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