Y is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone #25) by Sue Grafton

Y is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone #25) by Sue Grafton

After 35 years author Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series is coming to a swift end. There’s only one more book left and I feel bad about that. I’ve read most of this series twice and a few of the books I’ve read three times. I’m not sure I can let Kinsey go and I hope that Ms. Grafton will somehow continue with the alphabet series and maybe turning it into a numerical one. I can do with lots more of Kinsey.

“Y is for Yesterday” is not an easy book to read. I don’t mean that it’s too complicated or the words are too long and hard and you need a dictionary by your side. I mean the book is pretty dark and disturbing with a story that involves stalking, rape, murder, bullying, and violence against women.

Private Investigator Kinsey Millhone’s new client wants to find out who is blackmailing her family for $25,000. Ten years earlier the client’s teen-aged son was at a party where a girl was killed. The son went to a youth prison for the death of the girl and has recently been released and then a tape was sent to his family. The tape showed the gang rape of a girl at the same party he attended ten years earlier and the son was very much involved in the abuse. The blackmailer threatened to show the tape to the police if the family doesn’t cough up $25,000. If they refuse to give the money their son will go back to jail for rape.

The book travels back and forth between 1979 when the rape and murder happened and then to 1989 when Kinsey is asked to investigate. While investigating that case Kinsey is also being stalked by a man who almost killed her in the previous Millhone novel, “X.” The murdering man in “X” is back where his main and only objective is to kill Kinsey.

Two separate story lines packed into 500 pages and I have to admit I did like “Y is for Yesterday.” I liked it a lot. But not everyone agrees. I have a Facebook friend who was looking forward to this book as much as I was but when she started to read it the novel made her uncomfortable with all the stalking and what happened at the teen party. My friend put it down. She was also a little angry and I think she said she put a note in the library book copy warning the next person who borrowed it about the darkness of the novel.

Look, my Facebook friend was right. “Y is for Yesterday” is a tough one to get through and I’m sure it made a lot of women very uncomfortable and if that happens while reading a book then you should put it down. While at first I was taken a little aback by the subject I continued on because author Sue Grafton’s books are not happy, and sparkly,  filled with unicorns and rainbows and I expect a certain amount of darkness in her novels. Kinsey’s character is very troubled and has had, and still has, her share of problems. All 25 books in the series never backed away from this. Through the course of 35 years fans of this really terrific series has seen Kinsey at her worse and have read about some terrible people she investigated and had contact with. Some books just take on the darker sides of life.

The Kinsey Millhone series is well written. Sue Grafton has a way with telling a good story and creating some wonderful characters who have been with Kinsey all these years which is why I continue to look forward to each installment and I make sure I read it.

I do recommend “Y is for Yesterday” but like my friend who put a warning note in the library copy of the book I will warn you that this 25th novel can be very uncomfortable but bear with it if you can because the story is amazing.

Y is for Yesterday

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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.

thrill of haunt

 

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.