Caught in Quicksand – A Film by Marty Novitsky and Uladzimir Taukachou

Caught in Quicksand – A Film by Marty Novitsky and Uladzimir Taukachou

There isn’t much I can say about this beautiful film that my cousin Marty Novitsky made along with the talented cinematographer Uladzimir Taukachou.

It’s filmed in Israel and it’s about the Dead Sea and what happened to Marty while he was visiting one year. Marty narrates it and tells the story on how when he was walking along the Sea, he got caught in quicksand. Only with the help of a minor miracle was he able to get out of the dire straits he found himself in.

Filled with beautiful film clips of the Dead Sea and New York City, Marty talks of his inspirations that lead him to help everyone he meets.

The video run about four minutes and is spectacular.

 

cought in quicksand poster

 

Murder by Fireworks (A Kay Driscoll Mystery #3) by Susan Bernhardt

Murder by Fireworks (A Kay Driscoll Mystery #3) by Susan Bernhardt

It’s summertime in Sudbury Falls but the living is far from easy for Kay Driscoll. Her son, Andy, is getting married in under a week and the reception is being held at Kay’s home. Her husband, Phil, isn’t doing all that much to help with all the chores that need to be done. If anything, he’s adding on to Kay’s work load.

Phil’s cousin, Loren, is in the hospital and someone has to take care of his 12 year-old daughter, Janey, until Janey’s mother arrives in town to pick her up. Of course Phil agrees to take the girl into their home but Kay knows she will be the one watching her for the time she’ll be with them.

Janey is not the easiest of kids to like but then again most 12 year-old children are hard to deal with. But Kay is expecting two hundred people for the wedding reception and has to make sure the house is in good order, decorations are in place, and the catering will be perfection. All Phil has to deal with is rehearsals for his band because they will be entertaining.

A few days after the wedding Kay, Phil, Janey, and her friends are at the July 4th fireworks display when they they think they hear gunshots. A book club member, James, is found dead in the sand. The police think he killed himself but Kay believes otherwise.

No one loved James as much as James loved himself. He was having affairs with numerous women who adored him and he also just started a new job that he loved. Life seemed to be going his way. Kay felt that James had absolutely no reason to commit suicide no matter what the police thought.

But James was not well liked. He was rude to people, made crude comments, basically stole his new job from another man, and many of his love interests were married women and their husbands probably didn’t appreciate James showing that kind of attention to their wives. In other words, there’s a huge list of people who would love to see James dead.

Kay didn’t like James either but she did want justice to be served so she started investigating his death along with her friends Deidre and Elizabeth. Investigating came easy to Kay and she helped solve other murders in her town but asking questions made her a target to the murderer and put her life in danger.  

Between weddings, taking care of 12 year-old Janey, being a loving wife and mother, and watching out for her life Kay has her hands full this summer. It was summertime but the living was far from easy.

“Murder by Fireworks” is the third Kay Driscoll novel is this excellent series by Susan Bernhardt. I’ve read them all and each book is better than the previous one. This is my favorite of the three.

Ms. Bernhardt is becoming a wonderful mystery writer. Through reading all her books, not only the Kay Driscoll series, I’ve seen how the author honed in on her craft. It’s obvious that she takes her time thinking about story lines and how the plot leads to the bad guy. The stories are well-thought out and complicated. The murderer is not someone you would suspect by page 50 and her explanations for why the murder was done forms a near perfect murder/mystery.

Do not expect a simple cozy while reading this. “Murder by Fireworks” is up there with most any other good mystery novel. The book isn’t just for women and I’m sure it would appeal to any mystery lover.

The characters are wonderful and that includes the character of the Town of Sudbury Falls. It makes city dwellers, like myself, wish they lived in a small town where everyone knows your name, people you can share the joy of holidays with and are willing to help out with a crises at a moment’s notice.

While Reading any of Susan Bernhardt’s books you’ll find yourself engrossed in a good mystery and you won’t want to stop it reading until the mystery solved.

Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of any book in the Kay Driscoll Series and discover what a good writer this author is.

For more about Susan Bernhardt’s books please see Susan’s section on my blog.

murder fireworks

The House of Memory (Pluto’s Snitch #2) by Carolyn Haines

The House of Memory (Pluto’s Snitch #2) by Carolyn Haines

Raissa James is a very progressive woman living in the deep south during the early 1900’s. She can’t wait for women to finally get the vote, she smokes a little, drinks a little, knows how to drive a car, is a writer whose first story will shortly be published in the Saturday Evening Post, and she sees dead people. In fact, she owns a private investigation firm, Pluto’s Snitch, where she and her partner in investigations, Reginald Proctor, help people figure out why they’re being haunted.

Raissa’s reputation is so well known that Zelda Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s new wife, has asked Raissa to look into a problem that her friend, Camilla, is having.

Camilla is due to marry, David, the love her life. But twice when David and Camilla were alone Camilla turned violent and tried to kill David.

Camilla’s mother has sent her to Bryce Hospital asylum  and wants Camilla to have a lobotomy so she will be a docile wife for David. Zelda knows that her friend would never hurt anyone, especially David, and believes there’s a lot more that’s going on than meets the eye.

Raissa and Reginald travel to Montgomery, Alabama and discovers that for some reason Camilla turns violent because of the new house she will be living in once she and David marry. Now all Raissa and Reginald have to do is figure out what evil lurks in the house and why Camilla is being haunted by it. They also have to somehow keep themselves alive since someone is trying to murder them.

“The House of Memory” by Carolyn Haines is the second in the Pluto’s Snitch mystery series and it’s terrific. I thoroughly enjoyed the first Pluto’s Snitch novel, “The Book of Beloved” and if possible “The House of Memory” is better.

There’s a lot of evil beings, both dead and alive, lurking throughout the pages, not to mention a plot line that involves the people living in Montgomery and the surrounding area. The ghostly portions are intertwined beautifully with the reasons why Camilla, and other young women in the asylum, have to be silenced.

Ms. Haines definitely knows her history and all of the books in her different series are filled with historic events that make the stories very believable.

I’m a huge fan of Carolyn Haines and have read so many of her novels that I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count them all. She’s a talented writer that knows how to get her readers so fully immersed in her tales that you don’t want to put the book down.

Plan on meeting Raissa, Reginald, Camilla, Zelda, and actress Tallulah Bankhead who is also featured in “The House of Memory.” It is a little chilling at times because of the evil house and the evil people at the mental institution so keep the lights on as you read but do not miss this new installment of this ghostly series.

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

house of memory

Weight Rant

Weight Rant

I will mark this day in my calendar. May 12, 2017 – I am no longer “Morbidly Obese;” I am no longer “Obese;” I am no longer “Overweight.” For the first time in my life I am now considered “Normal Weight.” How long will this last? I have no idea. Maybe just for the next hour, maybe for a day or so, maybe a month, or maybe I’ll become “Underweight” some day, although this is highly unlikely. But the point is that I am now considered normal. Because, you see, if you’re even the slightest bit bigger than what society says you should be then you are far from normal.

For the past 64 years, 10 months, and two days I’ve been told that I wasn’t normal by the actions and remarks of family, friends, and total strangers. “Sharon, you have such a pretty face, you should lose weight and show it.” “Sharon, you should lose weight because your uncle doesn’t like fat people.” “Hey you fatso, eat a salad and lose weight you lazy bitch.” Those words and much worse were said to me throughout my life. My aunt said that thing to me about my uncle when I was 12 years old.

A cousin lectured me about my weight when we were both in our twenties. She said that losing weight was easy. Yeah, it’s easy when someone who weighs 100 pounds soaking wet is saying it’s easy. When she turned 45 or 50 she started putting on weight and became “obese” and then called me to tell me how hard it was to lose weight and no one understood what she was going through and all everyone did was lecture her. Really? I thought losing weight was easy.

I was working at a company that put out the Yellow and White Pages back in the 70’s. One day I had the nerve to put a hard candy into my mouth. A co worker, Maria, said, “I thought you were on a diet.” Why did she think I was on a diet? Because I told her? No. Because she was part of the diet police? Or maybe it was because I was fat and not allowed to have a piece of hard candy.
In the 80’s I was an editor at a big financial institution and was eating lunch at my desk and one of the secretarial supervisors looked at what I was eating and told me that I should think about eating better. I had the nerve to be eating some tuna fish. Guess tuna fish isn’t allowed to be eaten either when you’re fat. Let’s start making a list: no hard candies or tuna fish allowed. Another 100 pound when soaking wet person who ended up obese when she got older heard from.

Now I have to talk about my grandmother. My cousins are not going to like this because they never saw the grandmother that I will describe. She hated me and my sister and I suspect my mother too because we were all obese. She might have included my father on her hate list just because he married my mother. He wasn’t obese.

My grandmother would constantly make comments to my sister and myself about our weight and not the nice comments but evil ones. The kind of comments that made you want to stay away from her forever, which my sister ended up doing. When grandma tells you how ugly you are and how you don’t chalk up to the rest of her grandchildren because of your weight then you don’t want anything to do with grandma.

How about strangers? People who you never saw in your life feel they have the right, more like “morally obligated,” to lecture and call you names because you’re fat. They’d tell me how unhealthy I was because of my weight. Duh, yeah, I know, fat equals dumb and I would never know that being fat was unhealthy. Thank God some stranger felt they had the right to tell me this otherwise I would never have known.

My sister died from colon cancer. The last three months of her life all she could eat, when she could eat, was yogurt and ice cream. We were alone, our parents were dead, of the few family members who knew of her dying no one called or helped out at all except for one or two. I was a mess trying to figure out how I was going to survive after watching my sister die this horrible death.

One July day my sister asked me to buy her some ice cream, the kind that had chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. I was happy to do it and a little relieved that she was hungry for anything. I went to the corner grocery where the owners and people who worked there knew about my sister dying. The owner always gave me yogurt for her without charging me.

But this one July day I was online to pay for the ice cream when an older man looked and me, looked and the ice cream and started yelling at me. “You’re too fat to eat that. It should be illegal to allow people of your size to buy and eat ice cream. Put that back and do something about your weight.” I stared and this man and wondered if I could get away with hitting him. I wondered if I even cared if about the consequences of such a violent reaction, when the clerk who was ringing up the ice cream called over the owner and said something to him in Russian. The owner took the man aside and started yelling at him in Russian and kicked him out the store. Then the owner came to me, apologized profusely, gave me the ice cream for free, and handed me a ton of yogurt for my sister.

When I got home my sister saw how upset I was and asked what was wrong. I said everything was fine and that it was just hot out. I gave her some ice cream and she wanted me to eat some with her so I put some in a plate and sat on her bed with her and we talked. Yes, I ate the ice cream but I never told my sister about what happened in the store. She died three months later.

So I want to say to all you “caring people” who feel obligated to make remarks to fat people for “their own good” to mind your own business!

Back to this morning when I weighed myself and saw that after one year, nine months, and 12 days of struggling I’m finally considered normal weight and with the right BMI. I then slipped into my pants which is sized at an 8/10. I lost 176 on my own. No surgery. No real help except from my cardiologist who was my main cheerleader as the pounds came off. He’s prouder of me than I am of myself.

This isn’t my first time around the block with losing 100 pounds or more. It’s my third or fourth time around. For those of you who don’t know, which is most of you, losing weight can be easy, keeping it off is the hard part. That’s yo-yo dieting. You do well losing weight and suddenly you stop losing weight. The body is fighting the weight loss and the hard part is to keep going and not give in to the anger and hunger you feel as you still exercise, stay within your calorie limit, and still see no progress and sometimes even some weight gain. Yep, I have gained weight at times while maintaining an 800 calories eating plan.

You might say, “But Sharon, isn’t the struggle worth it? You must look great.” I don’t look good. I look like a walking clothespin. My face looks drawn, my skin is sagging, my shape is gone. No more curves at my hips or at my bust. My breasts hang on me like two flat pancakes. I looked better when I weight 30 pounds more than I do now. But I want my doctor to see me at this weight and let him decide.

Am I happy being a “normal” weight? Yes and no. Yes because I blend into society better now. No one feels the urge to stop me in the street and abuse me because of my weight. No one knows I’m there.

I’m not happy about this new “normal” weight because people who’ve lived in this neighborhood with me for years are now friendlier to me. “Hi, how are you?” they ask. Why didn’t they acknowledge me like that three years ago, or five years ago, or 10 years ago? I was friendlier then. Now I’m mean and my face shows it. I don’t talk to them, or anyone really because I’m in a perpetual state of anger, or is it hunger? I don’t know. But I do know that if and when, I gain the weight back they won’t give a damn about how I am and will go back to making nasty remarks.

Nope, losing weight has done nothing much for me except to allow me to become invisible in a world where invisibility might be best.

Signed – Hungry old lady

me dd

The Blue Virgin (Nora Tierney Mysteries #1) by M.K. Graff

The Blue Virgin (Nora Tierney Mysteries #1) by M.K. Graff

Nora Tierney is an American writer living in England. She’s single and pregnant but don’t feel sorry for her about that. Nora is a strong woman who not only has a book to finish but is also looking for a murderer.

Her close friend, Val Rogan, is the main and only suspect of a recent murder. Former model, Bryn Wallace, was found killed in her apartment. The police believe that Val is the sole suspect because she and Bryn were lovers and were about to move in together. The two had a small argument, more like a disagreement, that night but they solved the problem within minutes. Val left Bryn’s apartment but shortly after wards someone else came in and killed Bryn. Unfortunately, Val was the only person witnesses saw or heard with Bryn that evening so the police believe that she’s the killer.

Nora is infuriated with the police department and plans on finding out who the real murderer is. The police are not happy with Nora interfering, the new man in Nora’s life isn’t thrilled with Nora’s involvement, and everyone is concerned about the pregnancy but Nora is not going to allow her good friend to wind up taking the blame for a murder she had nothing to do with. Val loved Bryn and would never harm her and all Nora has to do is to prove that to the police which is easier said than done. But when more murders happen Nora has to do something to get Val off the hook so she plans to investigate on her own no matter the objections of her friends and the police.

The Blue Virgin by M.K. Graff is the first in the Nora Tierney Mystery Series and it’s a wonderful beginning. The plot line is well thought out and you will not figure out who the bad guy is until the very end.

Nora is a good lead character along with all her friends who are willing to help her out and protect her when she needs them. England is also a wonderful character. Author M.K. Graff knows the history of this country, especially Oxford, and takes readers on a tour of the magical land. Learning a little history within a murder mystery is always fun and gets me into the feel of the area.

I’d say that the novel is cozy-like but much more complicated than your usual run of the mill cozy. Nora is not an investigator by trade but is doing it, like all cozy heroines, to help out a friend in need. M.K. Graff is a  wonderful writer and adds so much more to the novel’s narration than the typical cozy writer, not that I have anything against cozy writers. I’m a true fan of the genre.

Visit Nora is jolly ol’ England, have a spot of tea and a few shortbread cookies and let yourself be swept away into this captivating series.

Humans, Bow Down by James Patterson

Humans, Bow Down by James Patterson

Robots have won the war against humans in just a few days and now the human race lives in despair and poverty. If they’re lucky, or really unlucky, they can make it to age 50. Many of them are put in prison for any infringement of the law like not bowing down to the Hu-Bots when they’re told to do so. But the human species never goes down without a good solid fight and even after ten years of the Hu-Bots ruling over them, humans are still determined to fight and get rid of the robots that man had created.

Six and Dubs are two teens who do whatever they can to get back at the robots including stealing a car from the Hu-Bot Elite Police. Soon the robots are after them, determined to kill the two teens. But Six and Dubs hide from the Hu-Bot Police and find a trusted friend in MikkyBo an Elite Hu-Bot Police Detective. Together they plan to somehow rid and reprogram the world of the robot tyrants so the world will be safe for humanity again.

“Humans, Bow Down” by James Patterson is a dystopian novel so I thought I’d enjoy it. I kind of didn’t care for it much. First of all it reads like a Young Adult book. I have nothing against YA I’m just not a fan of them.

In “Humans Bow Down” you have a teen girl, Six, who gets the best of adults and robots and knows more than they do too. Of the few adult figures in the book the closest one to Six is the Hu-Bot MikkyBo. At first MikkyBo is a strong adult character but eventually she ends up being almost child-like and acts younger than Six. The reasons for the change in the character is explained but I think the authors take the change too far.

I say authors because Patterson wrote this book with Emily Raymond and it’s illustrated by Alexander Ovchinnikov. Yes, there are pictures in the book. They’re nice but I have to wonder why an adult book needs a half page picture on every other page.

This is far from one of Patterson’s best stories. The novel ends too fast without really explaining how things occurred. I mean, how did the humans gain control over the robots? And worse yet, I think Patterson might be planning a sequel to “Humans Bow Down.” If that happens I doubt if I’ll read it.

“Humans Bow Down” is not a good science fiction book or a good dystopian novel. Not really worth the time to read.

Stick to Patterson’s earlier novels before he started writing with others.

Change of Seasons by John Oates – Needs Some Flavor

Change of Seasons by John Oates – Needs Some Flavor

I’m reading John Oates’ book, “Change of Seasons” right now. I was looking forward to reading it and was happy when I was the first person on the hold list for it at the library. I’ve since learned that I was the only person on the hold list. Guess Brooklynites aren’t into John Oates.

At the stroke of midnight on March 28 I downloaded the book and then dug into it. So far I’m not sure about what I think. Maybe John’s early life was too normal to be real interesting. His grandmother took care of him, he loved music, race cars, and wrestling. He went to Coney Island a lot to record Italian songs that his grandma taught him. That got my interest up since I live and have always lived within walking distance of Coney Island. Maybe I saw him there when I was a kid. Nah, I doubt it. What I’m trying to say is that so far this memoir is too bland for me.

Would any of you want to read stories about my life growing up? Well, actually some of you have already. The difference is I can kind of write. Wait, wait, wait, John can write too. He’s in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, or whatever it’s called, but there’s a difference in writing songs and writing a story. I can’t write a song to save my life and it kind of looks like John can’t write a story to save his life so he wrote his memoir with the help of Chris Epting. Chris is a writer but even with his help so far the book is lacking flavor, spice, entertainment, or something. John, if you’re reading this, and why should you be, I’m sorry.

I know this is not a book about him and his good buddy Daryl Hall. It’s John’s memoir and I do like John a lot. My North Carolina “sista” calls him “the other one.”  I guess she isn’t much of a John Oates fan along with Brooklyn. Maybe the book would be more inviting if John wrote about the Daryl Hall and John Oates story stressing John’s point of view of course.

So far, “Change of Seasons” is a little slow going which is why I haven’t finished it yet and am reading three other books along with it. The pace is dragging.

But Oates has included some nice pictures. I especially like the one with his parents.

I will finish this book and will post full review of it. Maybe it will perk up later on.

In the meantime, here’s a good video interview with John and Salon.com about “Change of Seasons” for your listening pleasure.

Oh, and if you want to borrow the book (e-book) from the Brooklyn Public Library they only have one copy and I still have it. But the good news is that the hold list is still empty so you’ll get it when I return the book.

What does Brooklyn have against John Oates anyway?

change of seasons