Sad Day in America – January 20, 2017

Sad Day in America – January 20, 2017

Sad day for America today.

I’m reading “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson. It’s a historical novel about Nazi Germany from late 1932 through the Nazi years.

The family of William Dodd, the US Ambassador to Germany during those years, moves to Germany, At first they thought that Germany was fine and that maybe the Jews “deserved” what Hitler was doing to them. But as the story goes on they realize how dangerous Hitler was and how his supporters just followed behind him without thought and not questioning all the terrible crimes he committed.

We never learn from history. Today Trump will be taking office and his followers refuse to see the possible dictator this man can become. They are being led by their noses. In Trump’s word, “Sad.”

I’m not saying that Trump is a Nazi or should be compared to Hitler and what he stood for … but I’m thinking it.

Horrible day The first day of some terrible times. History books will be filled with this. Comparisons will be made.


Thumbprint: A Story by Joe Hill

Thumbprint: A Story by Joe Hill

Mallory (Mal) returns from the Iraq War with some blood on her hands. She was never what you could say a “nice” person but the war brought out a special kind of evil in her. She worked in a prison where Iraqi soldiers were held and did her share of atrocities against them. She enjoyed the crimes she and her fellow soldiers committed there. It was just pure luck that there was no evidence that proved her actions which is the only reason why she left the war without handcuffs on her.

When Mal returned home she got her old job back working at a bar but was just as mean there as she was at war. One night she stole money and a wedding band from one of her very drunk clients, split the money with another bartender who was with her, and kept the wedding band.

Shortly after, Mal starts finding pieces of paper with thumbprints on them. A different print with every note she received. Whomever was sending her these thumbprints were getting braver and braver. The first one was in her mailbox, the second was slid under her door, and another was taped to a mirror in her home. Someone is sending her a message and Mal knows she better be on guard.

Thumbprint” by Joe Hill is a short story that can easily be read in under an hour. I’m not sure how I feel about it. The story shows some terrible things that were committed against the Iraqi soldiers by American troops. Even though I heard about these horrible acts it was something else to read about them and how the American soldiers felt about what they did. I’m not judging anyone here it was just disturbing to read about these actions.

The story was good enough and got me thinking a bit but it kind of ended abruptly for me. I’m not sure what more Mr. Hill could have written to conclude it so maybe it was best that it ended the way it did. The author let the reader know what was going to happen next so why bother going through it all?

“Thumbprint” is not Hill’s typical “horror” story like his novels. No ghosts, or goblins, or zombies running around only the real horror of what people can and do to others. That’s far scarier than running from a zombie.

If you’re a fan of Joe Hill then definitely spend an hour reading the story but just remember that it can be quite upsetting.

Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index by Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index by Kathy Griffin

I’m not quite sure why read this book. I don’t much care for celebrities and I honestly don’t even know the names of half of them in this book. All I can remember is watching TMZ Live one night and Kathy Griffin was on it talking about the book so I thought I’d take a look at it if I could find it at the library. It was there so I borrowed it.

It’s obviously about all the movie, television, reality stars, and such who the comedian has met through her long career. The book is an alphabetical listing of them with little vignettes about Kathy’s celebrity run-ins.

Cher, Gloria Estefan, Rosie O’Donnell, Joan Rivers, and Jane Fonda are undoubtedly her friends and the stories she tells about them are kind of interesting but most of the others are nothing more than a brief meeting that Ms. Griffin had with others.

Most of the time Kathy relates how she kind of forced herself on celebrities, like Leonardo DiCaprio, just to get their attention and I have no qualms with that. That’s what Kathy Griffin does and I kind of give her kudos for being brave enough to do those things. But these stories aren’t all that interesting.

I met Abe Vigoda (Fish from the television show Barney Miller) on the D Train in Brooklyn quite a few years ago. He told me he was going to Kings Highway to see his mother who was in a nursing home there. He was very nice and talkative. I’ve also met Raul Julia a long time ago when he was in the Broadway Musical Nine. Well, my mother kind of intruded on his meal at Sardi’s and told him how we just saw his performance. I was mortified at my mother but the actor took it in stride. He was charming, hugged my mom, gave her a kiss, and signed her Playbill. I guess you can say my mom was like Kathy Griffin, pushy.

The reason why I mention these encounters, and lucky for you I won’t bore you with details of other celebrity meetings I’ve had, is to say that many of Ms. Griffin’s celebrity run-ins weren’t all that special. Many of us have had run-ins with celebrities that were just as plain and ordinary as some that Kathy had.

For instance, she and Kendall Jenner were waiting for their cars at a restaurant in Los Angeles. Kendall’s car arrived right in front  of Kathy’s. Kathy made some remark, like calling Kendall “Candle.” Kendall threatened her with death with a smile on her face, backed up nearly hitting Kathy’s car, and then roared off. All I’m saying is that many stories in this book are ordinary.

True, most of us will never get a chance to meet all the celebrities Kathy has and many of us don’t care one way of the other if we ever do meet them.

What I was disappointed mostly in was with the writing. I was expecting and hoping to see more of Kathy’s humor. She’s a pretty funny comedian and just wish some of that funniness was included. Mostly, the book was rather bland.

If you like celebrity gossip this is a fun enough book and very easy to read. I breezed through it in a little over a day. The stories are very short, usually just a few pages long.

Try to borrow “Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index” don’t spend money on it. Nothing too terrible here but nothing worth $25 either.

The Christmas Surprise (Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop #3) by Jenny Colgan

The Christmas Surprise (Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop #3) by Jenny Colgan

Okay, I ask myself multiple times just why I read any books by Jenny Colgan. Her novels are contemporary women’s literature with a love story mixed in. I don’t like books like this except for novels by Anne Rivers Siddons, Dorothea Benton Frank, Dorothy Allison, and, and, and then it occurs to me (the horror of it all) that I do kind of like contemporary women’s fiction that has a small love story involved. When did this happen? I’m almost appalled at myself for admitting it.

So now I told you about my secret love for this genre which of course explains why I’ve read every book that Jenny Colgan has written. What happened to me? I’ll blame it on old age.

“The Christmas Surprise” is Jenny Colgan’s third book in her Rosie Hopkins Sweet Shop novels. Basically the novels center around Rosie who moves from big, busy, bustling London to the little village of Lipton to help care for her aging great aunt Lillian. Lillian owned a sweet shop (candy store for us Yanks) when she was younger and had to let it go to disrepair when she got too old to work. Lillian lives in a small cottage right next door to the shop. As Rosie was helping her aunt she thought about fixing the shop up and reopening it.

That’s the basis. You get the idea and can probably figure out that she did reopen the candy store and how it became a huge success. No big secret there. But during the course of the three books you meet the many characters who live in Lipton and how they took Rosie in as if she’s lived there for many years. Sounds boring to you? Sounds predictable? Yeah it is but I keep reading the Rosie Hopkins books because there is something very appealing about them. You see all the problems she encounters, how she fights for what she wants, how she met her boyfriend, and her friends, and how she gets along with her family who lives in Australia.

Honestly, if I read what the series was about I wouldn’t go near it. Thank goodness I didn’t read anything about the books or Jenny Colgan and just picked up the first book by accident, or luck. Ugh, in a whispered voice I’ll say that I’m happy I did. Don’t tell anyone, I have a reputation to maintain  of being a mean old lady.

In “The Christmas Surprise” we read about Rosie’s further adventure in Lipton and how how her life grows even more. No big tragedies here, happy endings all around, and an easy read. If you think you might like to give the series a try you have to read them in order so start with Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop of Dreams (Rosie Hopkins’ Sweet Shop, #1). Yes, I do recommend this series and all of Ms. Colgan’s books.

Passion Fruit Punch Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery – Book 34 by Susan Gillard

Passion Fruit Punch Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery – Book 34 by Susan Gillard

Another week has begun in Hillside, Texas and you know what that means. Yes, another murder for donut baker/police consultant Heather Shepherd to investigate.

Heather and her best friend, Amy Givens, visit Col Owens at his tea shop to check up on the joint venture between Donut Delights and Owen Tea Shop. Owen’s neighbor, Freddy Mars, comes in for some tea. He wasn’t looking too good to Heather and after sipping some of the drink Freddy falls to the ground. Oh, no, did the tea have some hidden poison in it?

The man is still alive when the ambulance gets him to the hospital but within a day or so he dies. The doctors explain that Freddy was hit on his head but not the day he collapsed in the tea shop. Freddy had a  Subdural Hematoma and it was was a slow bleed which is why he was walking around with it for a day or so without any ill effects.

Heather and her police detective husband, Ryan Shepherd, started investigating the incident right away but when Freddy died they knew it was urgent to find out who killed him and and why.

Of course there are many suspects and Col Owen from the tea shop is one of them. Heather and Ryan found out that Freddy had an argument with Col a day or so earlier. But Freddy had arguments with quite a few people recently. Another person he fought with was Hilda Groates, a member of the board of Hillside Children’s Shelter where Freddy worked as a volunteer. For some reason the two didn’t get along and Hilda didn’t want Freddy working there any more.

Heather also discovered that Freddy had a very loud argument with his sister, Gertrude Mars.

Julian Dunkle, another neighbor of Freddy’s, told Heather about all the verbal arguments  he overheard but Julian also had a broken arm in a sling. Heather wondered if Julian could have hit Freddy on the head during an argument that they might have had.

Too many suspects and too many arguments are just making matters more complex for Heather but she knows with lots of determination she can solve the mystery of Freddy’s death.

“Passion Fruit Punch Murder” by Susan Gillard is the 34th installment of her Donut Hole Cozy Mystery Series. Yet again Ms. Gillard brings an almost kind of pleasantness to murder, if that’s even possible. Heather and her friend Amy are a good baking and investigating team who work well together with donuts and with murder alike. All the inhabitants of Hillside, Texas are friendly in a donut-loving kind of way. Heather’s personal life is close to perfection with husband Ryan, daughter Lilly, Dave their dog, and Cupcake the cat. How can anyone hate a cat named Cupcake no matter how ornery the cat is?

This 34th story in the series is as enjoyable as the previous ones and I always look forward to reading about Heather and her escapades. If you never tried reading a cozy mystery this series is perfect to start your cozy-loving adventures with.

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.”

Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) by Janet Evanovich

Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum has a pretty nifty job. She’s a bounty hunter who works for her cousin Vinnie Plum. Well, she does get into a lot of trouble and has nearly been killed quite a few times but who cares when she has Trenton, New Jersey’s hunky Detective Joe Morelli who she’s engaged to be engaged with to help sooth her nerves. And since she’s only engaged to be engaged to Joe there’s nothing wrong with spending some time with the mysterious, Latin, good looking, Ranger who helps get Stephanie out of some tight situations.

Another murder has happened in Trenton. Stephanie and her side-kick, ex ho, Lula, are in pursuit of Larry Virgil who skipped his bond hearing. They found him driving a stolen truck from Bogart Ice Cream. Larry runs out of the truck, steals Lula’s car and drives off to the local chop shop. Lula and Stephanie take the ice cream truck and drives after him. But a police car gets in their way and Lula stops the truck by smashing it into the police car. Don’t worry, the cops were safe and not even all that angry at Stephanie and Lula since the two women have a reputation of sorts in the Trenton police community.

The police and the two women open up the back of the ice cream truck expecting to find just ice cream but and a frozen man falls out of it too. The man is dead and covered in chocolate and nuts.

It so happens that the Bogart ice cream factory has been running into a lot of problems and hired Ranger for security. Ranger asks Stephanie to go undercover for him to scope the place out.

Even though Ranger, Stephanie, Lula, and Morelli are keeping their eyes on things more problems occur which leads the awesome foursome afraid that everyone working at Bogart might either be in danger or involved in illegal activities themselves.

Fans of the Stephanie Plum books will get a kick out of this 23rd installment. Look, nothing new goes on in “Turbo Twenty-Three.” Stephanie is still in love with Joe and Ranger, Lula is still her always hungry trusty side-kick, and Grandma Mazur is still one of the best characters ever.

In between finding out who froze the frozen Bogart Man Stephanie and Lula have other people to find who skipped their bail hearing and bring them to justice. Nothing new at all. But I keep reading these novels because they are fun and quite a few times cause me to laugh. The characters are great, I love that it’s set in New Jersey, and the books are super easy to get through.

To be honest, I am getting a wee bit tired of Stephanie trying to decide between Joe and Ranger and her jumping from one bed to another but I also think that many of author, Janet Evanovich’s, fan base like the soft porn aspect to the stories. I could do without it but it isn’t offensive so, what the heck.

My favorite scenes are with Stephanie’s family. Grandma Mazur a wonderful character; I think her dad, who doesn’t say much more than “Pass the potatoes” and growls a lot is a great characterization of a husband who knows his place in the family ladder is on the lowest rung and enjoys being there; and her long-suffering mom is constantly worried about Stephanie and the doings of Grandma Mazur, and concerned about what the rest of Trenton thinks of her family. Sounds like a typical family to me.

If you’re a regular to the series don’t miss “Turbo Twenty-Three.” If you want to start reading about Stephanie and the gang you should start with the first book to give yourself a chance to understand the dynamics of the characters.

Janet Evanovich has another winner here.

Dummy of a Ghost (A Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery #4.5) by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Dummy of a Ghost (A Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery #4.5) by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Kelly Whitecastle has a different type of gift, she can see and speak to dead people and the spirits seek her out when they need help.

Chris May is one of Kelly’s old friends. While she went to college he became a fairly good ventriloquist. His two most popular dummies are Shirley and Doug. Chris had the dummies made to look like his dead grandparents, Shirley and Doug Pearson.

While at a mutual friend’s party where Chris was entertaining with Shirley Kelly noticed a glint in Shirley’s eyes. Since most dummy’s eyes are made of wood and don’t tend to glint Kelly realized that the dummy was haunted. When she was finally able to get some alone time with the dummy Shirley appeared and said that she and her dead husband, Doug, was afraid that someone was out to hurt Chris, their grandson.

Chris owns a company with his boyfriend, Edgar. Edgar made the dummies and was slowly becoming the person who ventriloquists sought out so they could order custom-made ones.

Where there’s one ghost there’s sure to be another in the form of Ish Reynolds, Kelly’s great, great, great, great grandmother. Ish is better known as Granny Apples, Granny for short. Granny and Kelly decide to get Kelly’s mom, Emma Whitecastle, involved. Emma has been seeing, hearing, and helping lost spirits for quite a while and is much better at discovering what the ghosts need.

When Kelly and Emma go to visit Chris at his home they discovered him in the back yard laying on the ground. He said he fell and hit his head but neither Kelly nor Emma believed that. When Edgar comes home he said that “Snoop Dog” who is really, Sylvia Doxson, their elderly nosy neighbor who lives across the street, told him that an ambulance was at his house. Edgar wanted Chris to go to the hospital but Chris refused. Kelly and Emma are suspicious when they see a look that the two men gave each other.

Mother and daughter then visit “Snoop Dog”, whoops, I mean Miss Doxson. The woman said that someone has been breaking into Edgar and Chris’ home and that she thinks there has been a murder there too but no one believes her, not even the police.

Everyone, ghosts and live people alike, think that Edgar and Chris are hiding something and in order to protect them everyone plans to help Emma and Kelly investigate.

“Dummy of a Ghost” by Sue Ann Jaffarian is a novella in the Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery Series. It’s a short fun read that includes all the usual characters from the longer novels. Even Phil, Emma’s boyfriend is involved.

The book is only about 100 pages and can easily be read in a few hours or less. This series is violence free and a harmless read.

I enjoy all of Ms. Jaffarian’s books and series and always waiting for the next novel she’ll release.

Read my other reviews of Sue Ann’s books on her page on my blog.