The Thrill of the Haunt by E. J. Copperman

The Thrill of the Haunt by E. J. Copperman

I’m a reader. I’d read all day long if everyday things like shopping, doing laundry, and cleaning the apartment didn’t get in the way, not that I clean my apartment all that often. My home is filled with books, thousands of them. I also have a regular Kindle and two Kindle Fires filled with books, thousands of them. So why do I end up trolling my library for something new to read when I have have so much reading material at my fingertips? I troll the library to find that one in a million author who I’ve never read before and who will remind me of why I love the written word so much. This is how I discovered author E. J. Copperman.

The first book I read by this author was “Spouse on Haunted Hill.” The book cover said it was a part of the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series. I like ghosts, it kind of sounded like a cozy, kind of, so I figured I’d borrow it and give this author a try. The book wasn’t the first in the series but I’m rather smart so I was sure I could figure out what happened in the earlier novels.

I read the book and found myself obsessed with the series and the characters. Just this morning I finished reading “The Thrill of the Haunt.” This is the fifth book in the series and I’ve yet to read the first. No big deal, I’ll get to it.

Let me tell you a little something about the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series. It follows Alison Kerby who owns a guesthouse in New Jersey, right by the shore. It’s not a bed a breakfast because Alison doesn’t cook but she can steer you to a great nearby Jersey diner if you feel the need to eat.

Alison was married to “The Swine” until he took off to California with his young tootsie leaving Alison to care for their daughter, Melissa. Alison’s mom, Loretta, lives nearby and comes to the guesthouse to show Melissa how to cook since Alison can barely boil water, although opening a carton of Edy’s ice cream is a breeze for her. A gal after my own heart.

Paul and Maxi live in the guesthouse with Alison and Melissa. Paul was a private investigator hired to protect Maxi but Paul was new to the game and failed miserably when both he and Maxi were killed in the house. Alison then bought it and Paul and Maxi came along with the mortgage. They are live-in ghosts.

Not everyone can see and hear ghosts. Can you? Alison can, and Melissa can, and Loretta can but not too many others. It’s all in the genes. Alison is known as “the ghost lady” in town since she advertises her guest house as being haunted but no one really believes that. Paul also persuaded Alison to get her P.I. license so he can, in a roundabout way, still be a private investigator.

Alison’s father, who died, also visits the guesthouse to make sure Alison, Melissa, and the house itself are in fine working order. Every so often there are other non living visitors. Paul summons the spirits when Alison needs some ghostly advice. Alison calls it using the “ghosternet.”

That’s the background in a nutshell. In “The Thrill of the Haunt” Alison has two cases. In the first case a wife hires her to follow her husband to see if he’s cheating. The wife doesn’t want a divorce just some leverage to hold over his head but she needs proof.

In the second case Alison has to figure out who killed, Everett, the town’s homeless man. Everett’s body was found in a locked gas station bathroom. Word on the street has it that a ghost killed Everett so who better to find the murdering spook than “the ghost lady?”

This is a wild and wonderfully funny book. Author E. J. Copperman knows exactly how to write as a person living in New Jersey. New Jerseyans can be very sarcastic. I know since I have a good friend living there and, being a Brooklynite, I know quite a bit about the art of sarcasm myself.

When I started the series I was floored at how good the author was able to weave in a great murder/mystery with lots of humor. The writing had such a nice female touch that I thought the author was a woman. Silly me. E. J. Copperman is a man. Definitely fooled me there.

The murder mystery story is top notch. I didn’t figure out the ending to either case until the last 25 pages when the author basically spelled it out. I love when I can’t figure out who done it within the first 50 pages and if I’m still wondering close to 300 pages in I’m in heaven.

The author weaves a terrific mystery with a good deal of humor and sarcasm and best of all each book in the series is a stand-alone. Start with any novel in the series and you won’t be missing out on a thing. Okay, maybe in one book you meet a ghostly character and then in the next one you read, an earlier book, the character is alive and kicking but that’s no biggie. The author does a good job in filling you in.

E.J. Copperman has quite a few series out there and I’ve started reading a book in one of his others and I have a hold at the library for two books from yet a third series. Thankfully  a new installment in the Haunted Guesthouse series will be out in January of 2018. When can I preorder it?

Like every book in the Haunted Guesthouse series “The Thrill of the Haunt” will leave you trying to solve a terrific murder/mystery, laughing at Alison’s narrative, and kind of wishing you had your own live in ghostly friends. If you like cozies this series fits the bill too although its story line is more complicated than your average cozy and there are no recipes included.

E. J. Copperman’s books will grab you from the first page.

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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

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

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?

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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.

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Green River Blend by Armand Rosamilia

Green River Blend by Armand Rosamilia

I don’t know about this book. The concept really had me. A small town in Florida, not much going on, and everyone knows everyone else. Small town life. Then a new coffee shop opens up on Main Street and the residents can’t get enough of the shop’s Green River Blend coffee. Soon not only are the residents are hooked on this coffee but tourists are too. People wait on line for hours just to get their coffee, multiple cups, and they wait on the line for hours, multiple times a day, just to get this new blend. It comes to a point that nothing else is sold in the coffee shop; no food, no other coffee blend, no other drinks, nothing just the Green River Blend coffee.

The coffee is almost magical. If you want to be a writer you’re suddenly able to write novels, short stories, novellas, all within a short time. Heck, just put your hands on the computer’s keyboard, close your eyes and before you know it a few hours have passed and you’ve typed half a novel.

If you like to drink alcohol but don’t like that nasty hangover the next day Green River Blend helps you drink all the beer you want without the pesky after effects.

Maybe you’re kind of lonely, shy, and frumpy and want to do a little something something to enhance your looks. Well, the coffee will make you brave enough to do just that and lots more.

Sounds like some good coffee, eh? But there’s a downside. There’s always a downside.

Dead bodies are showing up. Residents are being killed, tourists are being murdered. I don’t mean one or two bodies, let’s start with 33 bodies buried in 33 shallow graves. Is there a serial murderer around? Are there several serial murderers around? Maybe, just maybe, Green River Blend coffee is not just addicting as a coffee but maybe, possibly, the coffee is also making people addicted to the new powers the coffee gives them.

If you want to drink without getting drunk you now drink all the time. If you want to write a novel now all you do is write and think of nothing else. And if somewhere deep inside you makes you want to kill, well, the coffee helps you achieve that dream too. Heck, even if you aren’t a closet murderer drinking enough of this coffee brings out quite the killer instinct in everyone.

I liked the premise of “Green River Blend.” I was hooked until the prude old lady in me came out when lots of sex appeared in the story. Okay, I get it, sometimes you need some sex for whatever reason but for me it takes away from the story line. Armand, wasn’t there another way to bring your point across? Three-ways, trips to the bathroom for some “sexual relief”, sex between sisters (stepsisters), strangers, and other ways that I just didn’t want to read about. Yes, I tried to skip these areas but it was happening pretty frequently.

And the violence level was bit too much for me too. I’m pretty careful with the authors I read. For instance, I enjoy a good Dean Koontz book but not when he writes about sewing the eyelids shut of some recently murdered woman who was arranged in a strange position after she was killed.

I like horror books. A good zombie novel always appeals to me. There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good dystopian book but if too much sex and other gratuitous things happen, it kind of leaves me cold.

On the whole, I kind of liked “Green River Blend” even though some of it was not my cup of tea, or cup of coffee for that matter. I think there’s a “Green River Blend 2” but I don’t know if I’ll read it but I do want to explore more of author Armand Rosamilia works. I read that he wrote about zombies. I’ll check on those novels.

If you don’t care much for violence or you’re as much as a prude as I am, and I admit to it, maybe I’d suggest you not read this book. But if you’re okay with sex and violence ”Green River Blend” is a good horror tale.