How To Lose A Marathon: A Starter’s Guide to Finishing in 26.2 Chapters by Joel H. Cohen

How To Lose A Marathon: A Starter’s Guide to Finishing in 26.2 Chapters by Joel H. Cohen

The closest I’ve ever come to running a marathon is the seven block walk to my library, sitting in the library for an hour or so, and then walking the seven blocks back home. Does that count as running a marathon? How about if you consider I’m holding at least a book or two as I walk not to mention my Kindle? Does it count as running a marathon now? No? How about of I say that I kind of walk fast and it only takes a “short” ten minutes to walk the seven blocks; a little longer if there’s snow and ice on the ground, or if it’s summer and it’s too hot out (I hate the heat), or if I stop and window shop a little? Okay, I never ran a marathon or even thought about running one. Why would someone torture their body into doing something like that? Why run 26.2 miles when there are buses?

Apparently, Joel Cohen, author of “How To Lose A Marathon: A Starter’s Guide to Finishing in 26.2 Chapters” felt the same as I do until one day, in the midst of some kind of fever I assume, decided he wanted to start running. Here’s this pudgy Jewish guy (his words not mine) who loved his couch and cushy job as a writer for The Simpsons where his biggest concern was which of the many snacks to choose from at the job. Sounds like a good deal to me but Joel ruined it all by wanting to run.

In this pretty funny book, Joel takes readers on his step on step journey explaining how he got himself out of the house at 5:00 AM and started running. Let me say what I like about this nonfiction book is that Joel did run a marathon but he did not win it. Don’t expect a winning “Rocky” moment here although Mr. Cohen trained just as hard as Rocky did.

He had his inspirations to keep him training like vowing to beat Oprah’s marathon’s race time. I’ll keep you guessing instead of telling you if he did or not.

Now, I know not everyone wants to train for this torture or even partake in an adventure like this but it was fun and pretty interesting to understand what goes through someone’s mind when a decision like this is made.

Mr. Cohen tells readers how he decided on which marathon to run and why he didn’t want to partake in most of them. There’s quite a few marathons including one that has to do with burrows. He also tells us what to avoid while training like not to fall and get embarrassed by a good soul who keeps asking, loudly, if you’re alright.

His favorite part of training was when he finished running for the day. Joel hated getting up in the morning but felt like he achieved something when he ran his ten miles a day. Heck, if I could walk ten miles a day I’d also feel as if I achieved something. Have no fear fellow couch potatoes, I’ll never walk more than a mile, maybe two miles a day at most, unless the zombies come and I’m forced to walk further. Even then I might not. I’m pretty sure I can hide from some slow poke zombies. I think.

Anyway, Joel also tells us that you have to eat while running to keep your calories up. Apparently you use up a lot of calories running. I have to take Mr. Cohen’s word for that because I’ll never know if that’s true or not. If you do want to run and eat the author will inform you about some “yummy” gel like substance that you can pin to your running shorts and just squeeze the gel into your mouth and you run along.

If you are considering training to run a marathon I ask you to please tell me why but if you are actually thinking of running “How To Lose A Marathon: A Starter’s Guide to Finishing in 26.2 Chapters” is a pretty good book. Mr. Cohen tells you that it isn’t easy to do and most likely you won’t win, but I guess it can be fun to try.

But if you’re more like me who rolls their eyes at runners asking them as they run past you, “Hey bub, what’s the rush? Where’s the fire? You have somewhere important to be in the next five minutes?” the book is enjoyable and you will get a chuckle or two out of it. Oh, and there are pictures in it, sketches that the author drew himself. A Picasso he isn’t, he’s better at writing than drawing.

It’s short enough to get through in a day or so, about 170 pages. It wouldn’t be wasting your time to read it even if you sit on your couch eating some chips. I’ll never tell Mr. Cohen about your love for the couch.

Kneaded to Death (A Bread Shop Mystery #1) by Winnie Archer

Kneaded to Death (A Bread Shop Mystery #1) by Winnie Archer

Ivy Culpepper returned to her home town of Santa Linda, California after living in Texas for a while. Her mother, a school teacher, was run over by a car in the school’s parking lot and Ivy wanted to be back home with her father and brother to mourn their loss. Things weren’t all that great in Texas where she divorced her cheating husband and the death of her mother was more than she could stand.

For six months Ivy didn’t know what to do with herself. All she thought about was her mom until she decided to take a bread baking class at Santa Linda’s best Mexican bread bakery, Yeast of Eden. There she found a good friend in the bakery’s owner and the rest of the women who loved bread as much as she did that they also wanted to learn the secrets of baking it.

But as she became more involved in the community she also found out some secrets. One husband and wife were trying to bully the people on their street to make changes in their houses to suit the historicalness of that block. This couple has also been breaking into houses looking for something but no one knows exactly what.

Ivy has also met a man who co-owns a shop across from Yeast of Eden and is threatening the bakery’s owner.

And she’s also met her first true love who left Santa Linda when he and Ivy were dating when they were teens thus breaking her heart. He has returned to California to help his mother in running their family restaurant after his father died.

At the first bread baking class one of the women gets a phone call and excuses herself to take it. A few minutes later she is found dead in her car, poisoned according to the police. Everyone is devastated with their friend’s murder and Ivy, the bakery owner, and another women, decide to investigate. But the investigation makes a big turn when Ivy discovers that somehow the death of her mother, six months earlier, is connected to this recent murder. Was Ivy’s mother intentionally killed to cover up something? No one knows for sure but now, more than ever, Ivy is going to find out the truth no matter what anyone says, even if it puts her life in danger.

“Kneaded to Death” by Winnie Archer is the first in the Bread Shop Mystery Series and let’s just say I’ll be reading the second. This is a good cozy with a complicated murder mystery. The plot line is well thought out and the characters are great especially Yeast of Eden’s owner and her sisters.

Ms. Archer did a terrific job in making readers to first not trust some of the suspects and then having us change our minds about them. And even when you find out what actually happened you don’t hate the murderer.

I’ve read my fair share of cozies and have seen main characters baking cakes, cookies, and donuts but never a bread baker. I liked it. Who doesn’t like bread? Author Winnie Archer knows her bread and describes the bread and the baking techniques so beautifully I wanted to run out and take a bread baking course while stuffing my face with a crispy baguette.

“Kneaded to Death” is one good story and shouldn’t be missed especially if you’ve read your share of cozies like me. The story is good, the writing is excellent, and the plot is complicated enough to keep you wondering what happened and why. Don’t miss out on this novel.

Peaches and Cream Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy – Book 41 by Susan Gillard

Peaches and Cream Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy – Book 41 by Susan Gillard

Heather Shepherd and her baking assistants from her popular bakery, Donut Delights finally got home after their vacation in Florida. All of Hillside, Texas is happy to have the bakery open again so they can once again dine on Heather’s donut delights. No one is happier than long time client Eva Schneider who has brought her friend Carly LaFonte.

Carly is not in a good mood and Eva explains that Carly has lost her  favorite sterling silver necklace. But Eva’s friend is not a nice person and even Eva says that she doesn’t trust her.

But before Heather can think much about mean Carly her husband, Police Detective Ryan Shepherd, calls and tells Heather that yet another murder has taken place in their home town. This time the victim is Shane Price who owns the Tourism Depot. Heather leaves for the store to investigate the murder as she is hired by the Hillside Police Department to work with them as a consultant.

There is a broken window at the back of the store and Heather thinks that this might be the place where the murderer entered but Ryan tells her that the spray pattern of the glass proves otherwise. He also believes that the crime scene was tampered with because there is no evidence at all. It’s almost as if the killer cleaned up after himself.

Shane’s wife and ex beauty queen, Hannah, is on the suspect list because she doesn’t seem all that upset over the death of her husband, is more concerned about his will, and she had a quick alibi for the time he was killed.

Tristan Turner, who worked for Shane and found his body, is also on the suspect list as is another of Shane’s employees, Jean LaFonte, who supposedly had been having an affair with Shane. Making things more interesting is that Jean is also the granddaughter of Eva’s friend, Carly.

Heather and her friend, Amy Givens, investigates and finds out a few things. Shane and Tristan argued all the time; others also believe that Jean was having an affair with her Shane; and Carly is getting very defensive about her granddaughter and is loudly warning Heather to stay away from Jean.

So many suspects but Heather and Amy will help the Hillside Police find the killer while still creating some luscious donuts in their free time.

“Peaches and Cream Murder” by Susan Gillard is the 41st installment of her Donut Hole Cozy Mystery Series and of course it’s another good one. All the usual characters are present and accounted for and ready to help Heather in any way possible.

This is a cute series and each book can be read in a day. The murders are interesting and easy to follow. No wonder Ms. Gillard has such a huge fan base. Yet another Donut Hole Mystery not to be missed.

“I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.”

To see other reviews of Susan’s books see Susan’s section on my blog.

 

Guru Bones (A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery) by Carolyn Haines

Guru Bones (A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery) by Carolyn Haines

Zinnia, Mississippi private investigator, Sarah Booth Delaney, is not thrilled when her friends coerce her into going to a spa and a lecture by health guru, Priya Karsan. Sarah Booth likes her sugar, salt, and all things not healthy so this was the last place she wanted to be. But off she unhappily goes to The Club where the event will take place.

When she and her friend, Cece Dee Falcon who is the society editor for the Zinnia Dispatch, get there they see The Club manager, Jasper Pew, running outside asking anyone to call the police because someone was killed in the kitchen. Sarah Booth runs in and sees a woman hanging upside down with some kind of chemical on her and she’s told that the dead woman is the food guru herself, Priya Karsan.

Priya has been lecturing about the dangers of some foods and campaigning against the herbicide NoRoots that has put Gyndrex Chemical Corporation in the red. Could this chemical corporation be so angry that they would have her killed? It’s possible because Cyrus Angler, a farmer and opposer of Gyndrex, had a crop duster crash into his pumpkin field that very same day. The plane was spraying a herbicide made by Gyndrex. Since food crops weren’t treated aerially Sarah Booth find the crash to be very suspicious.  

Cyrus asks Sarah Booth and her partner in the Delaney Detective Agency, Tinkie Bellcase Richmond, to investigate what happened in his field. There’s nothing that Sarah Booth and Tinkie like more is to investigate, get into trouble, and with the help of their pets solve every murder. So off they all go ready to get to the bottom of these events.

There’s also a nice little twist towards the end that was very interesting and great for for the story.

“Guru Bones” by Carolyn Haines is a 72 page novella and is just as wonderful as the previous 15 plus books she’s written in this series. Yes, I’m proud to say that I’ve read every one of them. Sarah Booth and Tinkie are just as wild and crazy as they’ve always been and their pet dogs and cat are right there by their side making sure the humans don’t do something silly like having the bad guys murder them.

I do want to mention something about author Carolyn Haines. She’s very interested in history and all her books all have some historical background in them. Usually the readers learn the history by the ghost, Jitty, who haunts Sarah Booth. Jitty appears as as historical figures to Sarah Booth thus helping her to figure things out.

Ms. Haines is also a true animal lover which is why, I suspect, all the pets in the Sarah Booth books are almost like super heroes. The animals don’t have any special powers and the things they do to help is just what other pets would do out of love but with a touch more. I like these little guys.

You’ll enjoy “Guru Bones” if you’re a fan of the Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery Series already and if you haven’t started the series yet  I strongly suggest you do so as soon as possible.

To see other reviews of Carolyn’s books go to Carolyn’s section in my blog.

 

The Haunted Library

The Haunted Library

The library is haunted. Why is that such a shock? We all know it, we even talk about it in whispers. It’s never been a secret. But what’s really interesting is that 60 plus years ago the library was located about three blocks away from where it is now and it was haunted then too. When the library was moved to this new location the ghosts came along with it. The spirits followed the books and silently watched as different librarians took control.

The library watched as patrons entered the new building and the rules and regulations became lax. Sixty years ago you weren’t allowed to speak above a whisper and even then the stern librarian would glare at you. Now talking is allowed, beverages are allowed, ringing phones are allowed, screaming kids are allowed. No more are patrons shushed for uttering the lowest of sounds, anything goes at the library in this new age of technology. An age that the library spirits never imagined.

The library doesn’t like this change. It doesn’t like that the silent respect for it is gone. It isn’t happy so it allows its ghosts and spirits to haunt the new building especially after closing time. And sometimes a very sensitive person, like myself, can hear the library whisper to itself about the changes telling the wandering angry library spirits to be prepared for when the library closes for the day. Because when the last librarian leaves for the day it’s time for the ghosts to take control.

The library was closed for over a year. “Restorations,” the city said. “It will be better when it reopens,” the city said and when it reopened, over a year later, there was no difference. The chairs were the same and the tables were the same, but the setup was a little different, and there were less books. The library was not happy.

Everyone was welcome to the library grand opening. The crowd sat and lightly applauded as councilmen gave speeches and apologized for the six-month delay of the opening.  “New heating system, new cooling system, more computers,” they bragged. All of that might be true but the real reason the library was closed was because the city knew about the ghosts living there and these spirits had to be exorcised. The ghosts knew too much and they were getting much louder than they were in the previous century. Pretty soon non-spirits would be able to hear the complaints.

The library is still haunted. I’ve been there at least ten times since it’s reopening and the ghosts are still haunting the shelves. I saw my friend Janet there today. But not the 65 year old Janet, who might or not still be alive. She was very sick the last time we spoke seven years ago. Instead of the older Janet I saw the five year old Janet, the one who was wearing her school dress with patent leather shoes and her little white socks. The Janet who ran around the card catalogs at the old library, the one who was interested in the Dewey Decimal System by the time she was ten years old.

Five year old Janet spotted me, smiled and ran over and took my hand. “Where have you been, Sharon? We’ve been waiting for you to come.” “Who’s been waiting for me?” I asked. “All of us.” Janet said indicating a corner of the room which on first glance appeared empty but then I saw them. I saw some other patrons from 1960, people who I haven’t seen in decades.

I also saw Madeline who lived in all the Madeline books I read as a kid; and there was the Phantom Tollbooth with Milo and Tock standing guard; I saw the three children from “Half Magic” and remembered how one of them, while sleeping, wished that his dead father would come back. I remember how I felt when I read that part as a child thinking that I would wish that too if my dad died. I have wished that many times as an adult. I saw the little child knight I read about in a book who had the mumps and his cheeks became so swollen that he couldn’t get his head gear off.

I saw Stephen King’s clown laughing in the back showing his sharpened teeth holding his dangerous colorful balloons. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight were there talking with some other knightly characters. And trying to take control of the situation was a librarian from 60 years ago who was hushing everyone.

My mother was there too looking up from her book to smile at me. I’m pretty sure my sister and father were there too along with some of my cousins and long gone friends.

“See, Sharon, we’re all here. Your friends, family, and characters you’ve loved to read about. Stay with us Sharon, we’ve been waiting for you.” It was tempting, I wanted to stay but I turned to Janet and told her that I had to get home. It was 5:55 PM and the guard was making the announcement that the library would be closing in five minutes and to proceed to the checkout machine to borrow books. Janet looked up at me  and said, “Check out machine. The librarians used to check out our books. You remember when they did that and now you have to do it yourself.” Yes, I remembered.

“Please proceed to the machine to borrow your items, shut off your computers, and please log off all devices you have connected to our WiFi” the guard stated.

“WiFi, computers, devices, do you really like this better? Wouldn’t you rather stay with us here in 1960?” Janet asked. “No. No, not really. I do prefer 1960 but my cousin is coming by tomorrow and I promised him I’d be home. I can’t stay today but I’ll come back for a visit on Saturday. But one day I will stay here with you in 1960. We will play again, Janet, and maybe all our other childhood friends will be around too. Then we all can talk with the book characters and be happy all together again. But I can’t stay now, maybe in ten years, maybe in 15 years maybe within a year, I don’t know but when the time comes I will stay here and haunt the library with all of you.”

Janet dropped my hand and gave me a small wave as did the little knight and the clown, “It.” “I’ll be back to visit day after tomorrow” I sadly said because, the truth is, I would like to stay with them and see my old childhood friends, and maybe seek out Robert Frost and Herman Melville and other authors. They have secrets to tell me, dangerous secrets that the city tried to silence by the having the new “renovations.”

It would be nice to stay but that won’t be for a little while. Until then I will visit my old friends, books and people, at least three times a week.

Yes, the library is haunted and everyone knows it. The renovations didn’t get rid of the spirits living there. They will always be there, forever, and one day so will I.

To see more of my childhood memories go to  S.A.K. Remembers on my blog.

lib outside

lib inside 3

 

 

Kiwi Lime Surprise Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy – Book 40 (Donut Hole Cozy Mystery) by Susan Gillard

Kiwi Lime Surprise Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy – Book 40 (Donut Hole Cozy Mystery) by Susan Gillard

Everybody needs a vacation every so often and Heather Shepherd surprises her baking assistants with a vacation after all their hard work baking donuts. Off they went from Hillside, Texas to sunny Key West, Florida to swim, sail, eat a lot, have lots of fun, and maybe think of some new kinds of donuts to bake.

Florida is one steamy state but Heather and her assistants are used to the heat in Texas but Florida’s weather seems to be worse. So one night Heather leaves her hotel room to get a breath of steamy air when what does she find but a dead body. No matter where she goes there’s always a murder that she needs to investigate.

This victim is a woman lying beside a pool with blue-gray jelly blobs next to her. The woman,  Daphne Wilder, is a waitress from the hotel and it looks like the murder weapon of choice was jellyfish. She went into anaphylactic shock after being stung several times. But how did these potentially deadly jellyfish get to the pool? Obvious someone wanted Daphne dead. But who and why?

Key West police Detective Smith is sure that he and his department can solve this murder without Heather and her her assistant Amy Givens’ help but Heather and Amy aren’t so sure about that. Heather has been working with the Hillside Police Department for quite some time helping to solve murders there and she knows that she can help Detective Smith. After all, Heather is really good at finding bad guys. She’s also a witness of sorts in this murder because she’s noticed a dangerous looking strange man hanging around the hotel.

Even though the detective doesn’t want Heather’s help that isn’t going to stop her from investigating just the same. She’s already discovered where the jellyfish came from and has even found a suspect or two. Nothing will stop Heather until she finds out who the killer is.

“Kiwi Lime Surprise Murder” is the 40th book in author Susan Gillard’s Donut Hole Cozy Mystery Series and of course it’s another winner. Like all the previous installments it’s chock full of fun and likable characters. The story line is short and sweet and easy to follow. Another good book to hunker down with on a snowy cold winter’s day and read about Florida, a good murder mystery, and a new yummy donut.

To see other reviews of Susan’s books see Susan’s section on my blog.

“I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.”

 

Clown Moon by Alex Jameson

Clown Moon by Alex Jameson

Okay, clowns frighten me. I don’t like clowns, they creep me out. When I was five years old my dad and I were walking when a parade came by. Maybe it was some holiday, I don’t remember. Anyway, suddenly I saw a clown walking towards me and I started to cry. My dad tried to tell me not to be afraid and the clown tried to give me a lollipop. I loved candy but even that green lollipop didn’t stop my tears. The clown felt bad and gave my father a balloon to give to me for when he left. Clowns still frighten me and “Clown Moon” by Alex Jameson showed me how right I am about not liking or trusting these painted horrors.

The book follows brothers  Sam and Jake Asher as they  seek revenge on a killer clown who murdered their nephew. The clown is having a good time going on a killing spree and the public is battling down the hatches hoping that they and no one in their family spots a red nose because seeing a clown means a sure death.

The book drew me in and Sam is a good character especially if you need a hero. This is a thriller and not to be missed if you enjoy something like it. But, let me say this, I still do not like clowns and my mind will never change but the book is a good one.