The Joker Journal – A Video by Josh Venkataraman

The Joker Journal – A Video by Josh Venkataraman

Give me a good horror book or movie and I’m happy. I know I can defend myself when the Zombies come – and they are coming. Vampires don’t bother me one bit. I’ve read all of Stephen King’s books so I know how to slay a Vampire – Sharon The Vampire Slayer. Buffy watch out. Okay, ghosts do frighten me and I’d rather not deal with any ghostly disturbance. If my apartment ever told me to “Get Out” I’d run like heck.

Then there’s psychological horror. Dean Koontz taught me about this and I usually stay away from this type probably because it frightens me more than ghosts do.

Knowing my love for all things horror, a friend of mine sent me the link to the video, “The Joker Journal” by filmmaker Josh Venkataraman. It’s a representation of the month that actor Heath Ledger spent in a hotel room trying to discover “The Joker” within him. He would portray the character in the movie “The Dark Knight.”

John Corby plays Ledger and he does a nice job in showing what the actor was going through. As I was watching I wondered if Ledger might have had some kind of  psychological something or other going on. This is just what the film made me feel. I have no idea if this is true so please, no emails telling me how far off base I am.

There are few scenes that have some blood in it. Nothing terrible but be prepared if the thought of blood makes you weak kneed.

Josh Venkataraman created and directed this 16 minute film and it was directed by Sean Cutler.

Josh is only 22 years old and graduated from the University of Florida. The “Joker Journal” is his only horror film and has one other film called “I Art NY.” In it he interviews several different artists living in New York City. The film has been accepted to five film festivals and won for best documentary in one of them. I’ll be watching and reviewing “I Art NY” in the very near future.

Take a look at this really interesting and thought provoking film. It gives great insight in what actors, and really every creative individual goes through to be the best at their craft.

I’m still thinking about this film’s portrayal of Heath Ledger and wondering if “The Joker” was almost a part of him that he had to get out.






Spooky Choc Orange Glazed Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery – Book 23 by Susan Gillard

Spooky Choc Orange Glazed Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery – Book 23  by Susan Gillard

Everyone’s favorite time of year has come to Hillside, Texas. It’s Halloween! Who isn’t looking forward to Trick or Treating, Halloween parties, costumes, lots of candy, and especially donuts from Heather Shepherd’s donut shop, Donut Delights?

Sarah Kenny, the most popular socialite in Hillside, is hosting a party so of course she orders donuts from Heather. Heather and her best pal, Amy Givens, deliverer the donuts to the party. Sarah is not one of the most liked people in Hillside and brags to Heather and Amy about the 10 living rooms she has in her huge house.

As Sarah is inviting the two donut makers to stay for the party Georgia Summers walks into the room. Georgia is a socialite who’s very rich and wants to invest in businesses in the town.

The two women obviously do not like each other and Georgia starts some shady talk to Sarah. She implies that she’s had an affair with Sarah’s husband, is investing in a business with him, and refuses to leave the party saying that she can liven things up.

In a manner of speaking the party, which was very nice to begin with, suddenly became much more interesting when, as Amy and Heather were wandering around the house, tripped over Sarah Kenny’s dead body. Heather immediately called her husband, Police Detective Ryan Shepherd.

After investigating, Ryan tells Heather that there were signs of a struggle on the balcony and on Sarah’s body. There was bruising along the neck area. The woman was definitely killed but by whom?

Georgia Summers is an obvious suspect since she and Sarah argued and seemed to be enemies. But maybe Sarah’s husband murdered her. He was out of town during the party but he could have hired someone to kill her.

Heather and Amy also saw a strange woman lurking around the grounds just after the murder. She was dressed like a maid but was really one of Sarah’s maids or someone in a maid’s costume, and is she the murderer?

Then there’s also Sarah’s teenage daughter, Tatiana, who came right out admitting that she hates her mother and didn’t care that she was killed. James Little, Tatiana’s boyfriend could also have been the culprit. Sarah hated James and didn’t want her daughter seeing him. James had to sneak in and out of the house to see his girlfriend like he snuck in during the Halloween party Sarah threw that night.

And let’s not forget all the guests that were invited to the party that night. Anyone of them could have killed Sarah. Who is the murderer?

Once again the Hillside Police Department has hired Heather to help investigate and help catch the bad guy, or woman.

“Spooky Choc Orange Glazed Murder” is the 23rd installment of A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery  by Susan Gillard and once again readers visit Hillside, Texas and watch as Heather solves another murder in this small, quiet, but kind of dangerous town.

All the residents are in attendance in this murder/mystery including Geoff Lawless, who is trying  to again destroy the reputation of Heather’s donut shop. He says he too wants to study and become a Private Investigator. Geoff is a Heather wannabe!

A new cozy murder mystery in Hillside is always a fun read and author Susan Gillard knows how to show her fans a good time not to mention yummy new donuts. “Spooky Choc Orange Glazed Murder” is yet another winner is this long, enjoyable series.

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

New Giveaway – Win a Copy of Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection: Box Set Books 1-3 by Barbara Venkataraman

New Giveaway – Win a Copy of Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection: Box Set Books 1-3 by Barbara Venkataraman



The three winners of the Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection: Box Set Books 1-3 by Barbara Venkataraman are:




Congratulations to all three of you. Barbara will be contacting you on how to receive your book.

Barbara and I want to thank everyone for participating in this giveaway. Please keep watching for more contests to come.

Author Barbara Venkatataman would like all cozy-lovers to meet divorce lawyer, Jamie Quinn and she asked me to help her do it. Barbara will be giving three lucky winners an e-book copy of “Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection: Box Set Books 1-3.” Barbara will send each winner this collection that has the first three books in this wonderful series. The rules are easy. All you have to do is read my review below and answer a simple question. Post your answer and I’ll randomly select three winners. Please remember to add your email address in your answer so Barbara will be able to send you the e-book. The contest is open to everyone and you will have to be able to receive a gift from Amazon and if you can’t Barbara will send you a mobi or a PDF file.

The giveaway starts, officially, on Tuesday, October 25th but you can start posting your answer whenever you like. I’m flexible. On Monday, October 31, I’ll choose the winners and post their names here. I’ll also email you but please remember to include your email address in your post.

Read the review below, look at the question, and then post your answer. And most importantly, HAVE FUN!


Jamie Quinn is a divorce lawyer living in south Florida and doing whatever she can to just stay at home and never go back to work. Haven’t we all felt this way at one time or another? Jamie’s mother just recently died and she’s depressed and even though she has the money to pay her bills this won’t last forever. And there’s her her cat, Mr. Paws, that Jamie inherited from her mother. There’s nothing more that Mr. Paws likes to do than to eat and feeding a cat costs money. The cat doesn’t even appreciate Jamie and what she does for him what with all his hissing at her. It would be an understatement to say that they do not get along.

So off Jamie goes back to work thinking that she’ll soon be back in court helping unhappy married couples divorce each other. But suddenly Jamie is defending murder suspects, like her cousin Adam who was accused of murdering his music teacher, a former rock star. And she’s defending her family law client whose soon to be ex hubby is found dead and the wife is the suspect. Jamie also finds herself searching for her new boyfriend, Kip Simons the director of Broward County parks, who disappeared after they found a dead body.

What is going on here? This isn’t family court, this isn’t divorce cases, this is murder and all of a sudden Jamie has to deal with the state’s District Attorney, Nick Dimitropoulos, who’s the son of a state senator. Well, Nick is kind of cute so there is a good side.

At least she she has some help from a former client Marmaduke (Duke) Broussard, the Third, a charming, beer loving, woman loving, cheating scoundrel  who also happens to be one terrific private investigator. Duke is ready, willing, and able to help Jamie get all the information she needs, not to mention giving her things she doesn’t want, at least not from him.

Grace Anderson, Jamie’s best friend and an in house counsel for a large securities firm, is right by her side helping with legal advice that might be needed.

But just in case Jamie doesn’t have enough to do with her family law practice and helping people accused of murder, she’s also trying to get her father, Guillermo Franco, into the United States from Nicaragua where he was exiled to from Cuba. It’s a long story.

Jamie Quinn is going through a lot and all of this is told in the “Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection: Box Set Books 1-3” by Barbara Venkataraman  and it’s a fun book. Or rather, fun three books.

This is the kind of novel that embarrasses you because you’re laughing out loud if you read in public. Ms. Esquire, as Duke likes to call Jamie, hopes that all the hours she spent watching “Law and Order” marathons, “Castle”, and “The Mentalist” will help prepare her for cases, even though she doubts it. I think most of people, including myself, believe that they can be good lawyers for those same reason, which is why I like Jamie so much. She’s down to earth, watches television and proud of it, has strange family dynamics, nutty friends, and would rather stay home than work. Sounds like me and almost everyone I know.

Female readers, just like the female characters in the book, will fall in love with P.I. Duke Broussard, a man as non perfect and charming as a male can get. He flirts too much, he drinks too much, and practically lives at a bar, what’s not to love?

Jamie is surrounded with some good friends and now that I’ve read three books in this series I consider myself her friend too. Author Barbara Venkataraman has created funny, interesting, and unique characters and I suspect that Jamie is really Ms. Venkataraman in disguise. You can’t write characters like these unless you’re just like them. And that’s a compliment.

The “Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection” three box set is a wonderful way to introduce yourself to a new cozy series. Worth every cent and it isn’t even expensive. There is no price for some good reading fun.


QUESTION: How did Jamie get Mr. Paws?

Please post your answer along with your email address where it says “Post Comment” at the bottom of this page. Winners will be chosen and contacted on Monday, October 31, 2016. Good Luck!



Engaged in Danger: A Jamie Quinn Mystery (A Jamie Quinn Mystery #4) by Barbara Venkataraman

Engaged in Danger: A Jamie Quinn Mystery (A Jamie Quinn Mystery #4) by Barbara Venkataraman

Divorce attorney Jamie Quinn, living in Hollywood, Florida, is finally finding herself smiling every so often. Her family law practice is doing well, she has a great boyfriend named Kip, and soon her father will be getting his visa to come to the United States. What could possibly go wrong? Well, since it’s Jamie Quinn we’re talking about, let’s just say everything!

Boyfriend, Kip, is a little bored with his job working as Director of Broward County Parks in Florida and will be going to Australia for three months to work with an environmental scientist to save the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombats from extinction. For real, Kip? Jamie knows Wombats are cute but cuter than her? So cute that Kip would rather spend time with them than with Jamie? Ugh, men! Jamie can’t even go and visit Kip because she has to be in Nicaragua the next month to be with her dad for his immigration interview. Life is so unfair sometimes.

Jamie might be unhappy with Kip leaving but her law practice is doing quite well, that is until Nan Glasser comes in telling Jamie she wants a divorce from husband, famous big time lawyer, Marvin Glasser. Jamie was Nan’s last choice for a divorce lawyer because Marvin threatened all the previous attorneys from representing his wife. No one knows better than Jamie that she isn’t really qualified and can’t take the case. Jamie does promise Nan that she will try to find her another attorney.

Grace Anderson is Jamie’s best friend and is a great lawyer working at big time law firm. Grace and her firm agree to take on Nan’s divorce as long as Jamie works as Grace’s co-counsel. Every part of her being is telling Jamie not to do it but Nan is willing to pay a lot of money for the divorce so Jamie agrees. She should have listened to herself and turned the case down.

Meanwhile, Jamie’s next door neighbors, Sandy and Mike, have been caring for their little niece, Katie. Katie’s dad and her mom, Sara, who was also Sandy’s twin sister, were killed in an accident when the private airplane they were on crashed a few months earlier. Sandy and Mike want to sue the airline but they’re having a hard time finding out who the owner is and who owned the private plane. Jamie and her Private Investigator pal, Marmaduke Broussard III decide to help Sandy and Mike find the information they need. How hard could this be?

Jamie should have just stayed in bed because somehow Nan’s divorce from her lawyer husband and Mike and Sandy’s wrongful death lawsuit are connected and investigating the two cases is getting very dangerous indeed.

And making things just horrible is that Jamie and bestie Grace had a major argument and aren’t speaking to each other. They communicate through Grace’s assistant.

No best friend, no boyfriend, and going against a hot-shot lawyer who doesn’t want his wife to leave him and believes he’s going to be killed by Russians is way too much for Jamie to handle but cope she will. What else does she have to do, sit in the house with her unappreciative cat?

“Engaged in Danger: A Jamie Quinn Mystery” by Barbara Venkataraman is the fourth in this truly entertaining series.

Everything is thrown in this book; love, hate, Russians, lawyers, threats, bars, humor, picture painting dogs, and cookies! The perfect recipe for fun. Heck, to say that I adored these books would be an understatement. Once I start reading one of them I can’t put it down.

The relationship between Jamie and and all the other characters are near perfection. It’s as if Ms. Venkataraman is writing about herself and the experiences that she’s gone through, although I doubt if the author ever had someone trying to murder her.

The story is top notch and well thought out. The two cases Jamie’s dealing with, the divorce and the wrongful death lawsuit, are complicated with a lot of interweaving of characters and plots. The author could have easily become confused with the jigsaw like pieces causing problems with the timelines and characters and worse yet, readers could be easily confused but that didn’t happen. Not at any point did I ever wonder who a character was and the relationship that character had to others and to the plot itself.

“Engaged in Danger” is a superb novel. I like all the characters and really enjoyed seeing how they’ve evolved and developed from the previous three books. Try this series, I’m sure you’ll agree.

I can’t wait to read other books that Barbara Venkataraman has written.

Oreo Sprinkled Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery – Book 22 by Susan Gillard

Oreo Sprinkled Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery – Book 22 by Susan Gillard

So many wonderful things has happened to Heather Shepherd since she married Hillside Police Detective, Ryan Shepherd. She expanded her bakery, Donut Delights, is now an investigative consultant to the police department, and has adopted preteen Lilly. Amy Givens is still her “bestie” and one of her assistants in Donut Delights, and Heather also has some wonderful friends in her town.

One day Heather and Amy took Lilly to the Hillside Museum of Heritage to see the Goose’s Egg. This is a 5 inch gold nugget found south of the Bosque River and weighs about 3 pounds. The Goose Egg is the last significant discovery of gold in Texas and everyone in Hillside wanted to see it.

Henry Boddington, the curator of the museum, has a dream to bring Hillside’s heritage to the forefront of the minds of everyone who lives there.

While Heather, Amy, and Lilly were visiting the museum Heather went to the curator to ask him a few questions about the Goose Egg. As they were talking Sara Hines, a jewelry store owner, interrupted them and started screaming at Henry about a meeting they were to have about the Goose Egg. Henry said that he would meet with Sara later on and the two then went their separate ways leaving Heather with her mouth hanging open.

The next day Heather goes to Donut Delights to welcome her newest baker, Emily Potts. Emily is a quiet person but Heather is sure that she will fit right in with everyone else who works there. But soon Emily’s brother, Jabby Joe, comes storming into the bakery complaining that Emily didn’t make him breakfast and shouldn’t be working. Emily asks her brother to leave and explains that Jabby Joe is “quirky” and she’s been caring for him.

Soon Heather finds out some shocking news. Henry Boddington, the curator of the museum, has been found dead, poisoned, and the golden Goose Egg has been stolen.

Heather is asked by the Hillside Police Department to investigate yet another murder. She and Amy start asking questions of potential suspects. Could the murderer be Sara Hines who Heather saw arguing with Henry; maybe it was Henry’s wife, Kerry; or could it be someone not involved with Henry at all like Emily’s “quirky” brother Jabby Joe?

Have no fear because Heather will find the murderer, with a little help from the Hillside Police Department, and will bring that person to justice.

“Oreo Sprinkled Murder” by Susan Gillard is book 22 of this cute Donut Hole Cozy Mystery series. I’ve read all of them and always find the books interesting and fun to read. Author Susan Gillard has created some well-written characters that readers can identify with and best of all they’re all recurring.

One of my favorite characters is donut lover Eva Schneider who turns up at the beginning of all the books sitting in Donut Delights enjoying Heather’s newest donut creation with a cup of coffee. I think I’d like to see a story featuring Eva. She reminds me of someone – me!

Fans of this enjoyable series love finding out about Heather’s next murder investigation and discovering her newest donut delight. This is a fast-paced, non violent series that everyone would enjoy reading. Do not miss them.
“I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.”


The Dead Sea and Cousin Marty – Video

The Dead Sea and Cousin Marty – Video

There’s a lot I can say about my Cousin Marty. He’s generous, thoughtful, cares for everyone, respects women, will go out of his way to help anyone even complete strangers, and Marty has had some interesting things that has happened to him during the course of his life.

A few months after Hurricane Sandy hit New York Marty was out walking in a park and a tree branch fell and hit him on his head. His head now has an indentation in it from the branch. Newspaper articles were written about the incident. Marty was determined that something like this would never happen to another person so he fought to get all those loose tree branches cut down.

But this is a story about what happened to him in Israel. He was walking along the Dead Sea like many others do. There was no one around in the desert when Marty was taking his stroll but he did find a tree branch that resembled a staff. For some reason he picked it up and resumed his trek.

Did you know that there’s quicksand by the Dead Sea? I didn’t until Marty told me how he stepped in some and started to sink. He was alone, the day was about to end, the tide was coming up and there’s my cousin with one leg in quicksand and the other leg on sturdy land. He couldn’t get out, he couldn’t move. He then realized that he was holding that tree branch that looked liked a staff and with its help he was able to pull himself out of the quicksand. Whenever he tells me this story he always says, “Sharon, without that staff that I happened to find in the desert you wouldn’t be talking to your Cousin Marty now.” Very true, Marty, very true.

Marty is a filmmaker and I’m very proud to say that his films have been up for awards at various film festivals. Here’s one he made about the Dead Sea. It only runs about five minutes and Marty gives a lot of information about this beautiful area. There’s also a picture of him with a tree. Not the same tree that held the branch that helped Marty get out of the quicksand but a tree near the Dead Sea.

To see other videos by Marty Novitsky see Marty’s section on my blog


The Second Street Playground and the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Second Street Playground and the Cuban Missile Crisis

When I was growing up the second street playground was about four blocks or so from where I lived. My dad always called it the “measles, mumps, and chickenpox” playground claiming that everyone who played there always got sick. I think he just didn’t like going there because he preferred the playground on Ocean Parkway. The Ocean Parkway one was beautiful, surrounded by trees, and it was much larger than the one on second street but that’s another story.

My cousins Donna and Susan and I always went to the second street playground, chancing all those measles, mumps, and chickenpox germs. It was always filled with kids playing on the swings, the monkey bars, playing basketball, and sother tuff. It was a nice enough neighborhood park.

The swings for the older kids were in the back of the park, closer to the street and the baby swings for toddlers were in the front, closer to the boardwalk.

Donna, Susan, and I hung out on the older kids swings, after all we were 10 years old. Well, Susan and I were 10 Donna was 11. My cousins would take to the air on their swings, flying up high while standing on the seat. Me, nope. I sat on the swing, making sure one foot was always touching the ground. Heights frightened me, heights still frighten me. Let’s face it, I’m a born coward.

That summer of 1962 my favorite pair of shorts were my white ones. I had three pairs of white shorts and wore them everyday during the warm season. Granted, one pair was a little snug on me because not only did I like my white shorts I also liked ice cream which caused one pair of shorts to become a bit snug. I was lucky all my shorts weren’t snug.

Anyway, picture this – late summer beginning of fall in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York – the year was 1962. Donna, Susan and I were commenting on the political problems of the world. Ha, hardly. Ten year olds didn’t really care about politics back then but we knew something big was going on. Our parents were nervous and in whispered voices kept talking about war, President Kennedy, Cuba, and Russia. Donna, Susan, and I didn’t know what was really going on but we were frightened because our parents were frightened. All the adults tried to cover their fear to the kids but kids know when adults are worried and we were worried because they were worried.

One warm afternoon we were sitting on the swings, I’m not sure if my snug white shorts were on or I was wearing a pair of jeans, but we were sitting on the swings. Donna and Susan was swinging like I was, foot on the ground just going back and forth a little.

I remember looking at the boardwalk and the beach beyond figuring that I was staring to the south. Wasn’t Cuba south of us I wondered. Having an active imagination I was able to visualize Cuba hurling bombs directly at Brighton Beach. The missiles flying over Florida, the Carolina’s, the Virginia’s, DC, and New Jersey, aimed right at my New York community. Cuba wanted to destroy Brighton Beach. I knew it like I knew I’d have to get a larger pair of shorts the next year, if I survived the Cuban missiles that is.

The second street playground would be nothing but ashes; all of Brighton would be a towering inferno; Brighton Beach Avenue would be gone, and so would I and my parents, my sister, my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmother, friends, and neighbors. This is where my history of panic attacks started. In the second street playground, in October of 1962.

Yes, I was afraid and even though I didn’t voice my fears to Donna and Susan they had the same panicked look on their faces.

Of course, as we all know, Kennedy got us out of that mess. Brinkmanship they called it when I studied the crisis in college.  

So today I took a walk to the second street playground. It’s still there but looking far different than when I was a kid. There weren’t any children playing probably because they were in school and it was cloudy, windy, and cool out. But I was there. My 10 year old self was there too carefully  swinging on the swings, watching for the Cuban missiles to take us out. I could swear that I also saw Donna and Susan swinging right by my side even though they were both taken out a few years back from another sort of missile called breast cancer.

Exactly 54 years later I found myself standing on the boardwalk, looking at the second street playground remembering what went on over five decades earlier. It’s very strange that whenever I think of the many years I swung on those swings all I can really recall were those days in late October of 1962 when I thought that Brighton Beach wouldn’t be around for much longer.

No, I luckily did not live through a war but the threat of possibly living through one is still nagging at me and the memory of it is still alive and kicking. I guess some things you never forget.