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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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"Sir Percy Leads the Band" by Baroness Orczy

In the fourth novel in the Scarlet Pimpernel series (if one counts the prequels), Sir Percy spends much of his time in Choisy, France disguised as the leader of a band of musicians who entertain the French revolutionary masses at a seedy local alehouse. The fact that the French Commissary has placed a considerable price on the head of The Scarlet Pimpernel amuses, rather than deters, Sir Percy. He is in France to spare the aristocratic La Rodiere family, the Abby Edgeworth and Doctor Simon Pradel a trip to the Guillotine. Continue reading .

"The Black Moth" by Georgette Heyer

The Black Moth, first published in 1921, is Georgette Heyer’s first novel and is also the first novel in a four-part series including These Old Shades, Devil’s Cub, and An Infamous Army. The Black Moth is set around 1751 during the Georgian era and comes disguised as an amusing but uncomplicated romance. The story appears so straightforward that you may be inclined to read it with half a mind, but that would be a mistake. Continue reading .

"Clouds of Witness" by Dorothy Sayers

First written in 1926, Clouds of Witness is the second in Sayers’ series featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, after Whose Body?. Like Whose Body?, Clouds of Witness also offers up some complications arising from mistaken identity, albeit in a different context. As Sir Peter Wimsey sorts through the evidence, the clues incriminate one person, then another, until all the characters know who is dead, why this person is dead, and who is at fault. Continue reading .

"Rebecca's Tale" by Sally Beauman

Anyone who is a fan of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca would benefit from reading Rebecca’s Tale. Published in 2007, it is one of the best non-author written sequels I have read to date. The most interesting facet of this novel is that Ms. Beauman tells the story from four different points of view: Arthur Julyan, the confidante who fell in love with Rebecca; the orphan, Terence Gray, looking for answers as to his parentage and to his relationship to Rebecca; Ellie Julyan, Arthur’s overly protective daughter; and finally Rebecca herself. Continue reading .

Review: "Elizabeth and Her German Garden" by Elizabeth von Arnim


One of the beauties of reading well-seasoned literature is that we modern women forget what life was like for women a hundred or more years ago. How easily we forget that having the liberty to choose one’s own activities is a relatively recent phenomenon for women. For Elizabeth, an upper class woman who was not enchanted by cooking and sewing, her passions for such “wasteful” activities as reading books and garden planning could only be fulfilled because of an indulgent husband, but even then, only then with ever-present feelings of guilt. Continue reading .

"The First Sir Percy" by Baroness Orczy

The First Sir Percy could be called The Laughing Cavalier, Part II because it takes up where the previous book leaves off in the highly addictive Scarlet Pimpernel series. The story teeters on the brink of disaster, as again, we wonder just who can we trust, and how in the devil is Diogenes going to get out of this trap, and again, should he? If you have read The Laughing Cavalier, don’t stop there. After all, you’ve already learned the Dutch, you know the characters, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy The First Sir Percy. Continue reading .

"The Laughing Cavalier" by Baroness Orczy

The first of two prequels to The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Laughing Cavalier is set in Holland in 1623. It tells the story of Percy Blake, a foreign adventurer and ancestor of the Scarlet Pimpernel who goes by the name Diogenes. Unlike The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diogenes has not yet established himself as a man of sterling character or irreproachable moral integrity. Some of the fun of The Laughing Cavalier is that one is uncertain whether he will wind up in jail or on the scaffold, and whether he just might deserve such a fate. Continue reading .

"Whose Body?" by Dorothy Sayers

Meet Peter Wimsey, an English lord with a penchant for solving sordid crimes. Mervyn Bunter, Wimsey’s valet, plays Dr. Watson to Lord Peter’s skewed Sherlock. What makes this a unique detective novel is that before the crime can be solved, the investigators must decide if a crime has been committed and, more importantly, who is this dead man to begin with? And what is he doing in someone else’s bathtub wearing only a pince nez? Continue reading .

"Antarctica on a Plate" by Alexa Thomson

Wanted: Cook for remote camp. Location: Antarctica. Job Description: Cook meals at unspecified times for 7-100 persons. Duration: 4 months. Pay: Appallingly low. Facility: Scattered tents in the middle of nowhere. Entire facility buried sometimes for years when not in use. No Cuisinarts. No KitchenAids–no electricity. Stove sometimes belches fire and could burn down the camp. However, camp more likely to be blown away by storms. Continue reading .

"The Secret Adversary" by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie carefully weaves her story with clues that appear to be casually dropped, and which the reader may not take to heart. Her skill at foreshadowing marks her as a master storyteller whose stories endure nearly a century after they were written. Continue reading .

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