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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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"Cyberbooks" by Ben Bova

After reviewing women’s lit for two years for Girlebooks, I began to wonder when we might get around to publishing a review of a book written by a man. I had visions of something by Sir Walter Scott, as his books are revered and mimicked at least a dozen of our authors. However, Scott will have to wait while we point you toward a contemporary Science Fiction author–one of my favorites. We publish this review because the subject matter is especially relevant to our line of business: electronic books. Continue reading .

"Eight Cousins" by Louisa May Alcott

Eight Cousins is a series of vignettes that illustrate the affection of the cousins and their parents, aunts, and uncles for each other. The tales demonstrate that family members can disagree with, and even disappoint, each other yet still hold each other in the highest regard. Rather than a series of conflicts or problems to solve, the novel tells about the ways in which the family works things out before they become conflicts. In spite of its dearth of conflict or challenge, however, the novel does come through with many amusing and satisfying stories. Continue reading .

"A Strange Disappearance" by Anna Katharine Green

First published in 1880, this second novel in the “Mr. Gryce” series lays out two apparently unrelated mysteries to which Mr. Gryce assigns “Q” to investigate. Green introduced Q in The Leavenworth Case as rather a shadowy character who gets the job done in spite of, or more likely because of, his strangeness. The Leavenworth Case has been Anna Katharine Green’s best-known and best-selling novel. However, owing to the storytelling prowess of Q and a compelling story-within-a-story told by Holman Blake, A Strange Disappearance was for this reader even more enjoyable than the first. Continue reading .

"What Katy Did" by Susan Coolidge

Published around 1870, What Katy Did tells the story of a rambunctious, headstrong twelve-year old girl who is infinitely likeable in spite of (or perhaps because of) these unfeminine traits. Katy has a zillion plans for the future, and any efforts at gentility go out the window as she rushes headlong into her destiny. Unfortunately, her destiny is not exactly what she had foreseen. Continue reading .

"Captivity and Restoration" by Mary Rowlandson

Published in 1682 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson was one of the first books published in the New World. It became a best seller in the New World and in England and went through fifteen editions by 1800. In the literary history and review, A Jury of Her Peers, Elaine Showalter calls it the first American literary form dominated by Women’s experience. Continue reading .

"These Old Shades" by Georgette Heyer

In this quasi-sequel to The Black Moth, Heyer changes the names of the characters, although their personalities remain recognizable and their histories and relationships remain much the same. The story follows as an amusingly twisted romance, forcing the reader inside the skin of a young ward–admiring, yea, worshiping a character who has no right to be admired, much less worshiped. Georgette Heyer skillfully keeps the reader guessing how this story could and should resolve itself, and the joy of reading the story is that anyone who has read Heyer previously knows not to take anything for granted. Continue reading .

"The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel" by Baroness Orczy

If you have read the first four books of the Scarlet Pimpernel series, you now know how addictive this series can be. The fifth book in the series, The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel will not disappoint you. League is a collection of stories and testimonials, related in content and character, but each able to stand alone with a discernible beginning and ending. This format is especially effective in demonstrating Baroness Emmuska Orczy’s enchanting storytelling skill, as it often allows the reader to take in an entire episode in one sitting. Continue reading .

Antarctica: Life on the Ice

In Life on the Ice, each story describes some facet of life or work in Antarctica. Ms. Rogers includes contributions from a well-chosen cross-section of Antarctic workers: a dishwasher, a cook, a general assistant, a writer, a scientist and a bureaucrat. A decade ago, when I realized that I was never going to make it into the space program, I applied for a job in Antarctica. If I never get the call for placement in Antarctica, I can comfort myself with fantasies fulfilled by the stories herein. Continue reading .

"Youth and the Bright Medusa" by Willa Cather

Mix a liberal dose of Opera with a pinch of Art. Add a dollop of Wall Street and season with a few wasted lives. This combination comes close to the recipe for Youth and the Bright Medusa. The plots in most of the stories have more in common with a Picasso painting than the great American novel. I’ve read enough short stories to realize that authors frequently use this genre to break a few rules. However, several of the stories left me hanging uncomfortably, and the smile level of the story was not sufficient to incline me to forgive. Continue reading .

"The Leavenworth Case" by Anna Katharine Green

Horatio Leavenworth, Esq., a millionaire, is murdered in his library while he is engaged in reviewing a book he plans to publish. He was shot cleanly in the back of the head (with his own pistol), meaning that he did not turn his head when his assassin entered the room. This fact led detective Ebenezer Gryce to conclude that he recognized the footsteps of his assailant and felt he had nothing to fear from this person. Thus begins this first novel in the “Mr. Gryce” series. Continue reading .

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