Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Book ~ "14th Deadly Sin" (2015) James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

From Goodreads ~ Detective Lindsay Boxer and her three best friends are back and recovering from the events that pushed them all to the edge. 

 After her near-death experience, Yuki is seeing her life from a new perspective and is considering a change in her law career. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Cindy has healed from her gunshot wound and has published a book on the infamous serial killers she helped to bring down. Lindsay is just happy that the gang are all still in one piece. 

 But a new terror is sweeping the streets of San Francisco. A gang dressed as cops are ransacking the city, and leaving a string of dead bodies in their wake. Lindsay is on the case to track them down and needs to discover whether these killers could actually be police officers. Maybe even cops she already knows.

There are four members of the Women's Murder Club ... Lindsay, Cindy, Claire and Yuki.  In this book, Cindy gets very little airtime and Claire is non-existent.

There were lots of stories going on in this book.  Three people dressed as cops are robbing money mart stores and shooting the workers.  They are also suspected of robbing drug dealers and killing them too.  This story went throughout the book and when it was resolved, there was no reason given as to why they did it.

Yuki quits her job to become a lawyer for a non-profit organization providing guidance to those who can't afford it.  Her first client is the mother of a 15-year-old (but mentally a five-year-old) who was arrested for killing some drug dealers and then got murdered in jail.  Once the case is over, her storyline is done.

Cindy has written a book about one of the cases from a previous book and is touring.  She and Rich are back together.  That was it for Cindy.

One of Claire's brief appearances is that she's mad at Lindsay for leaving her birthday dinner because a woman has been stabbed.  Claire comments that Lindsay always has to dash off during Claire's birthday has Lindsay and her husband, Joe, investigating whether there is indeed a serial killer who only kills once a year.  I could have done without this storyline.

This is the latest (the fourteenth) in the Women's Murder Club series (and I've read them all). Though it is part of a series, it does work as a stand alone.

I liked the writing style and it went at a good pace. I liked the short choppy chapters.  I thought this book was okay ... it was a bit over the top, though, with so many crazy storylines.  I had a hard time keeping track of who every one was and what story line they were in.  Plus Lindsay and Joe, who is a former Director of Homeland Security, make some rookie moves when they let their guard down around some crazies, which I didn't find believable as they should have known better.

The point of view shifted ... it was first person perspective when the focus was on Lindsay and third person perspective when the focus was on everyone else ... but it was easy to figure out.  As a head's up, there is swearing, adult activity and violence.  It ends with a bit of a cliffhanger.

Yes, I'll read the next one when it comes out.

Bar Fancy, Toronto, ON

I had supper this evening at Bar Fancy (Queen W/Dovercourt), which is in our 'hood.

The entrance is down the alley, on the right

I sat by the window.

I took advantage of the Fancy Hour special and got chicken pieces (just $2 a piece from 5pm to 7pm).  I've had it there before and enjoyed it.  It was really tender and juicy! The coating was yummy. There were spices (salt? cinnamon? sugar? cardamon?) sprinkled on afterwards.

Frankie's Bar & Cafe, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had breakfast this morning at Frankie's Bar & Cafe (Ossington/Queen W), which is in our 'hood.

We both ordered Frankie's Original Breakfast.

I had mine with ham and home fries.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Book ~ "Good Mourning" (2015) Elizabeth Meyer and Caitlin Moscatello

From Goodreads ~ In this funny, insightful memoir, a young socialite risks social suicide when she takes a job at a legendary funeral chapel on New York City's Upper East Side.

"Good Mourning" offers a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most famous funeral homes in the country where not even big money can protect you from the universal experience of grieving.

Elizabeth Meyer stumbled upon a career in the midst of planning her own father's funeral, which she turned into an upbeat party with Rolling Stones music, thousands of dollars worth of her mother's favorite flowers and a personalized eulogy. Starting out as a receptionist, Meyer quickly found she had a knack for helping people cope with their grief, as well as creating fitting send-offs for some of the city's most high-powered residents. 

Meyer has seen it all: two women who found out their deceased husband was living a double life, a famous corpse with a missing brain and funerals that cost more than most weddings. 

Elizabeth, the author, comes from a rich family.  She is especially close to her father and when he passes away, she plans his funeral exactly how he would have wanted it ... having her mother's favourite flowers, playing Rolling Stones tunes, etc.  She knew that she was good at party planning so thought she'd like to work at Crawford Funeral Home (where her father had his service) and help others plan funerals for their loved ones.  She gets a job as a receptionist but soon is assigned other jobs because of her willingness to do anything and her ability to work with the more wealthy clients.

This book is her story of her experiences (like planning the funerals for a famous singer who had ODed, for a man with two wives and even for a childhood friend who had ODed who she was supposed to meet for supper that night, etc.) and finding herself (her family thought she was crazy to work for $30,000 at a funeral home).

I liked the writing style and found it to be an easy read.  It was at times amusing.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

I liked Elizabeth ... I think her heart was in the right place.  It was a bit much, though, to hear her talk about how privileged her life was ... she often namedropped what shoes she wore, who designed her clothes where she bought her coffee, her friends who jetted off to London at the drop of a hat to party, etc..  Even though she sounded like a hard worker, I can see why her co-workers (who were less privileged) didn't like her.

It was interesting to get a behind the scenes view of what happens in a funeral home.  Surprisingly it wasn't too morbid or gory.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Garmin vívofit 2 activity tracker

On Wednesday I got Gord and I Garmin vívofit 2 activity trackers (our bands are black).

The vívofit 2:
  • is a watch showing the time and date
  • tracks the number of steps taken (you set your daily goal ... mine is 10,000) and distance (mine is in kms)
  • tracks calories (you can link it with MyFitnessPal)
  • monitors your sleep
  • if you buy the attachment, monitors your heart rate (I didn't get this)
  • has a red move bar alert (it beeps if you haven't moved in an hour [and every 15 minutes after that] to remind you to get up and move) - the Fitbit doesn't
  • has an activity timer (a stop watch)
  • is water resistant so I can wear it in the shower (so I won't take it off and forget to put it back on)  - the Fitbit isn't
  • allows you to connect with other users (I'm connected to Gord) and join groups
  • has different colour bands so you can accessorize with your clothes (I've ordered a couple colourful ones) - you can't change the band with a Fitbit

I can sync it to my laptop (and smart phone) whenever I want.  Despite what their website says, it doesn't auto sync.1

I find that syncing is a problem at times.  I've had to uninstall and reinstall the Garmin program three times already to make it sync (maybe it doesn't like Windows 10?).2

There are lots of reports and here are the ones I have on my dashboard (what I care about):

If I want more details, I just have to click on the top right corner and it opens up to a full page report.

I can check my progress.  This morning I went for a long walk and hit my goal by noon.  Yay!

By hitting the sleep function when I go to bed and turning it off when I wake up, it monitors my sleep pattern.  I went to bed this morning at 1:13am and woke up at 8:07am and I got 6 hours and 54 minutes of sleep.

This shows my movement during night ...
the biggest peak was about 6am
because I got up to use the washroom
My sleep levels ... the thicker pink line is when I got up to use the washroom

As you progress to different levels, you get congratulatory badges to reward milestones and encourage you to keep going.

KC's tree, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto, ON

I went for a long walk this morning around our 'hood (I ended up walking about 6km).

I headed first to Trinity Bellwoods Park and checked on KC's tree.

Looking good!
A couple of the leaves are starting to change colours

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Book ~ "Open and Shut" (2003) David Rosenfelt

From Goodreads ~ Whether dueling with new forensics or the local old boys' network, irreverent defense attorney Andy Carpenter always leaves them awed with his biting wit and winning fourth-quarter game plan. 

But Andy prefers the company of his best friend, Tara, to the people he encounters in the courtroom. Tara, a golden retriever, is clearly smarter than half the lawyers who clog the courts of Passaic County. 

However, just as it seems Andy has everything figured out, his dad, New Jersey's legendary ex-D.A., drops dead in front of him at a game in Yankee Stadium. The shocks pile on as he discovers his dad left him with two unexpected legacies: a fortune of $22 million that Andy never knew existed ... and a murder case with enough racial tinder to burn down City Hall. 

Struggling to serve justice and bring honor to his father, Andy must dig up some explosive political skeletons-and an astonishing family secret that can close his case (and his mouth) for good. 

Andy Carpenter is a lawyer.  He and his wife, Nicole, split up six months ago and he's living alone with his dog, Tara.  He has recently started dating his investigator, Laurie.  Nicole wants to get back together and he's honour-bound to give it a try.

His dad, who is a former D.A., convinces him to take on the case of Willie Miller.  Willie is on death row with less than two months to go for the murder of a young woman eight years ago.  Andy's dad tells him to file an appeal to have the case reopened and Andy does.

Then Andy's dad suddenly passes away and Andy discovers that his dad had $22 million in an account and he has no idea where the money came from.  He also discovers an old picture from more than 30 years ago with his dad and three other men, each denying they are in the picture.  Does the picture have anything to do with the mysterious $22 million and if so, what?

This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  Though the story lines were serious and intense, I enjoyed the writing style as it was funny and sarcastic.  It was written in first person perspective in Andy's voice.  As a head's up there is some swearing.

I liked Andy.  How can you not like a guy who who loves his dog?!  I liked that he uses non-traditional ways to defend his clients.  I also liked Laurie.  She's smart and doesn't take any sh$t from anyone.

This is the first in the Andy Carpenter series (there are 13 as of July 2015) and I look forward to getting caught up on them plus read other books by this author.

Sunny Morning, Etobicoke, ON

Gord and I had brunch today at Sunny Morning on the Queensway (near Canadian Tire).

It was busy and we were in line for about ten minutes (but it's worth it).  There was always a line-up while we were there.

Gord felt like breakfast (he loves breakfast!) and ordered Bacon 'N Eggs with fresh fruit as his side.  He cleaned his plate off!

I've only had breakfast there but felt like lunch today so I ordered a Club Sandwich (minus the lettuce) with home fries and it was delicious!  There was a lot and I ended up taking some home.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Book ~ "Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway" (2015) Peter Zheutlin

From Goodreads ~ The extraordinary story of one man who has driven more than 1 million miles to rescue thousands of dogs from hunger, abuse and neglect and give them a second chance at life and love.

For years, Greg Mahle struggled to keep the last of his family-run restaurants afloat in Ohio. When it finally closed, he was broke and unsure what to do next. Then a stranded van-load of puppies changed his life forever.

Join journalist Peter Zheutlin as he travels with Greg from Ohio to the Gulf Coast on his Rescue Road Trips to bring hard-luck dogs from the deep South to loving "forever families" up north, with the help of many selfless volunteers along the way. From Houston's impoverished Fifth Ward - where thousands of strays roam the streets - and high-kill shelters in Louisiana, to joyous scenes of adopters embracing their new pups in the Northeast, Rescue Road is full of heart: an inspiring story about the unique bond between dogs and humans, and how going the extra mile can make a life-changing difference for these loyal canines-and for us all. 

Greg has the most rewarding job ever!
Greg Mahle runs Rescue Road Trips ... he has a huge truck that every two weeks he drives down to the southern states to pick up dogs that have been rescued and drive them back up to the northern states to be adopted.  Apparently the southern states have an overpopulation problem of dogs.  People there don't value them as part of the family like we do and treat them as property.  Dogs are abused, abandoned and/or left to wander around to take care of themselves.  It's heartbreaking.

Author Peter Zheutlin accompanied Greg on a couple of his treks, meeting and interviewing the angels who volunteer to walk the dogs at pit stops as Greg heads back up north and the people who work and/or volunteer in animal control centres, dog rescues, etc. where the dogs are picked up.  Plus at the end of the book, there are updates on the owners who have adopted some of the dogs Greg has transported.

As an animal lover, I have so much respect for people who dedicate their time to rescues and helping others save animals and find homes for them.  I couldn't do it ... I would want to take them all home.  Plus it would break my heart knowing that some dogs are lucky to be given the opportunity for a better life while others who aren't so lucky are euthanized.

At the end of Greg's trips, as he is heading to the distribution spots up north for Gotcha Day, he puts messages on Facebook to let everyone know his status and that of the dogs to get everyone excited.  You can check him out here and follow his progress.

This is a must read for all dog lovers!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Book ~ "Rescue Me, Maybe" (2015) Jackie Bouchard

From Goodreads ~ If you lost both your husband and your dog to cancer within weeks of each other but you were sadder about the dog, would you tell anyone? Maybe your closest friends. 

Unfortunately, Jane Bailey’s closest friends are on the other side of the country. That’s where Jane plans to go now that she’s free to leave Philadelphia, the too cold, beachless, street taco-deficient city her husband dragged her to six years ago. 

But with no job prospects in her hometown of San Diego, Jane is roped into helping out temporarily at her uncle’s southwestern small-town B&B. En route to her new role as innkeeper and breakfast chef, she finds a stray at a rest stop. With her heart in pieces from the loss of her dog, she’s determined not to let this mutt worm its way into her affections. She’s also determined to have next-to-no interaction with the B&B’s irritating guests and the even more annoying handyman who lives next door. 

Can Jane keep her sanity - and her secret that she’s not really a grieving widow - while trying to achieve her dream of getting back to the place she thinks is home? 

Jane's husband, Ryan, had recently died of cancer.  Her dog, Barnum, passed away two weeks later of cancer.   Jane is in mourning ... for her dog.  She had fallen out of love with Ryan but before she could leave him and move back to San Diego, he got sick and she stayed to take care of him.  Once Ryan was gone, she still had to play the part of the grieving widow in front of her mother and his parents.

She hates Ryan's hometown of Philadephia so makes plans to move back home to San Diego.  Her uncle and aunt own a B&B in Arizona so she agrees to help them out for three months while her aunt recovers from surgery.  On the drive to Arizona, she comes across a stray dog at a rest stop.  Rather than leave her there, she takes the dog and drops her off at a shelter when she gets to the B&B.  Working in the kitchen of the B&B is perfect for Jane because she hates people but loves cooking and baking.  She's counting the days, though, 'til she can head to San Diego.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style and found it well-paced.  Jane is a self-professed curmudgeon and story is written in first person from her point of view.  I thought the narrative was snarky at times and funny.  It sounds like it would be a depressing book but I found it humorous.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

Though Jane doesn't sound like a likable character, I liked her.  I found her funny and sarcastic.  She's tall and slim and doesn't care how she dresses ... her mom is always trying to get her to dress better.    She has names for the people who stay at the B&B that aren't usually flattering.  As much as she isn't a fan of people, she has a huge heart for dogs.

I look forward to reading more by this author.

The Wheat Sheaf, Toronto, ON

After the Blue Jays game, Gord and I walked to the Wheat Sheaf (King Street W/Bathurst), which is one of Toronto's oldest pubs (it opened around 1850) for supper.

Toronto Blue Jays 5, Tampa Bay Rays, Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON

Today was the Blue Jays' last home game of the season.  It was sold out (as have the last 15+ games) ... it's a good thing that Gord and I bought our tickets for it a couple months ago!

The names of the Jays' players are on the sidewalk outside the Rogers Centre.

We got there a bit early (as did most attendees as they were giving away hoodies ... they ran out about five minutes after the doors opened so we didn't get one).  We watched the players stretch and get ready for the game.

Here are Gord and I with our "rally towels".

Here are the starting pitchers ...

Here are the starting Jays players.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Oktoberfest, Gladstone Hotel, Toronto, ON

Gord and I went to Oktoberfest at the Gladstone Hotel this evening (it started at 5pm).   Tickets were only $10.

You don’t need to go to Munich to experience the beer-fueled joys of Oktoberfest because you can find it all at the Gladstone Hotel with the help of the good people at Mill Street Brewery.

Eat, drink and dance like a German with live, traditional, knee-slapping Bavarian music, bartenders in lederhosen and all the pretzels and bratwurst you can eat.

There were samples of Mill Street Brewery's Oktoberfest and Nightmare on Mill Street as we came in.

There was Bavarian music until 8pm.  These guys were awesome!  They were fun and friendly.


The ticket included the first beer in a huge stein (but not the stein).  Abby was bartending.  A full stein after that was only $10!