Thursday, 22 March 2018

Book ~ "T is for Trespass" (2007) Sue Grafton

From Goodreads ~ A miser and a hoarder, Gus Vronsky is so crotchety that after he takes a bad fall, his only living relative is anxious to find him some hired help and get back home as soon as she can. In an effort to help, Gus's neighbor, private investigator Kinsey Millhone, runs a check on an applicant for the job, Solana Rojas. Social Security, driver's license, nursing certification: It all checks out. And it sounds like she did a good job for her former employers. So Kinsey gives her the thumbs-up, figuring Gus will be the ideal assignment for this diligent, experienced caregiver. 

And the real Solana Rojas was indeed an excellent caregiver. But the woman who has stolen her identity is not, and for her, Gus will be the ideal victim.

It's late 1987 and Kinsey Millhone is a 37-year-old private detective in Santa Teresa, CA.  Her cantankerous neighbor, Gus, is badly injured in a fall.  His only living relative is a niece in New York and can't care for him so she hires Solana Rojas, a private nurse, to help him while he recuperates.  The niece hires Kinsey to check out Solana and everything seems okay.  But Kinsey becomes suspicious of Solana when Solana doesn't allow anyone to see Gus, is cleaning his place out and is rude.

In the meantime, Kinsey is investigating a case of possible insurance fraud involving a woman who drove into another car. The female passenger in the other car had serious injuries and she and her husband are suing.  Kinsey must track down a reluctant witness who can tell what really happened.

I thought this story was okay.  It was interesting to see how manipulative a person can be and get away with it.  It's written in first person perspective in Kinsey's voice but in third person perspective when it's Solana's voice.   As a head's up, there is swearing.

This is the twentieth in the "alphabet series" featuring Kinsey Millhone.  Though it is part of a series, it works as a stand alone.  I discovered this series in the mid-1990s and have read them all.  I started rereading them last year.  With the author's recent death, Y is for Yesterday will be the end of the series.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Book ~ "Damaged" (2016) Pamela Callow

From Goodreads ~ Haunted by the death of her sister and wounded by her ex-fiancé's accusations, Kate Lange throws herself into her new career at a high-powered law firm.

When the grandmother of a lonely private school student seeks her counsel, Kate thinks it's just another custody case. But then the teen is brutally murdered. And it isn't only Kate who wonders if her legal advice led to the girl's death.

How far are you willing to go to redeem yourself?

Put on notice by Randall Barrett, the firm's charismatic managing partner, Kate must fight for her career, for her reputation - and for redemption.

Unwilling to live with the damage she may have caused, Kate pursues the case on her own and unearths some chilling facts.

Facts that lead straight to the heart of a legal conspiracy.

Facts that lead Kate directly into the surgically skilled hands of the Body Butcher.

Kate is a lawyer and has just started working for a powerful law firm.  She's feeling frustrated because instead of giving exciting juicy cases, she's being handed boring ones.  Then one of the partners directs a client to her.  She's an older woman who is concerned about her teenage granddaughter ... her parents have split up and the grandmother feels she is being neglected.  Kate advises her to contact the authorities if she felt there was a abuse and sends her on her way.  The granddaughter turns up murdered the next day.  Kate feels like she has let the girl down and is determined to find out what happened.

In the meantime, Kate is still dealing her recent break-up with Ethan, a police officer.  She's moved on ... bought a house, got a dog, got a new job, etc. ... but keeps running into Ethan which keeps stirring up old feelings.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I liked it.  It is written in third person perspective with the focus on wherever the action is.  As a head's up, there is swearing and violence.  The author was raised and lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and that's where the story is set (I was born and lived in Nova Scotia until I was in my twenties ... my sister lives in Halifax).  I liked that the author set the story in Halifax and didn't make it look like it was Any Town, USA ... there are local references such as Kate's office is down by the water on Upper Water Street, she goes jogging in Point Pleasant Park and she visited the area of Dartmouth where I lived until I was ten.

This is the first in the Kate Lange series (so far there are four) and I look forward to reading the others in the series.

Harry Stone's Pizza, Burger & Ale House, Harriston, ON

I had a late lunch today at Harry Stone's Pizza, Burger & Ale House.

The bar side looked like fun

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Book ~ "The Summer of New Beginnings" (2018) Bette Lee Crosby

From Goodreads ~ Aspiring journalist Meghan Briggs has always been the responsible one in the family. So when her father passes away unexpectedly, leaving behind his at-risk business, she steps up to save his legacy - even if that means putting her own dreams on hold.

Tracy couldn’t be more different from her sister. She’s always been the rebellious type, without much direction in life. But in the wake of her latest romantic disaster, she finds herself moving back home as a single mother.

As Tracy experiences the difficulties of new motherhood, Meghan faces her own struggle: trying not to fall for the stray puppy she rescued. This is no time for attachments - not to the adorable “Sox,” whose owner is bound to turn up any day, and certainly not to the handsome new vet in town. But as the summer unfolds, she discovers that, like Sox, she may need rescuing, too.

As both sisters navigate unexpected challenges and exciting new relationships, they’ll find that putting the past to rest can make way for beautiful new beginnings.

George and Lila live in the small town of Magnolia Grove and have two daughters ... Tracy is the oldest and bit of a wild one and Meghan is the good daughter.  When George passes away suddenly, Meghan postpones her dream of going to journalism school to run his small-town magazine.  Rather than letting it go, she sees it as a way of keeping a piece of her father.  Tracy, on the other hand, heads off to Philadelphia where Dominic, her boyfriend, has gotten a job.  The relationship doesn't work out and Tracy moves back home with her infant son.  As Tracy tries to get her life together, Meghan finds a stray pup who she names Sox and hopes his owner doesn't turn up to claim him. 

I thought this book was okay.  It is written in third person perspective, though some chapters are in first person perspective ... they are short and italicized and the name of the person is at the beginning of these chapters so you know who the focus is.  This style worked for me as it let me get into their heads and know what they were thinking and feeling.

I wasn't crazy about Lila.  Considering all that Meghan had given up and taken on, she didn't seem very grateful and still treated her like a child (for example, initially forbidding her to keep Sox).  Dominic was a jerk who hadn't treated Tracy or their son very well yet she still waffled for years about going back to him.

If you are looking for a nice clean wholesome story, you will enjoy it.  It is the first in the Magnolia Grove series.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Chop Steakhouse & Bar, Toronto, ON

Gord and I had an early supper today at Chop Steakhouse & Bar (it's near the airport).

The lounge
We sat in the dining room

Humber Bay Park East, Toronto, ON

It was such a nice afternoon (chilly but sunny) so Gord and I went for a walk in Humber Bay Park East.  We like this park and hadn't been since July.

We did the loop around the park and noticed there were places where the trees, bushes, etc. have been removed so it's more open.  There were lots of people out with dogs and cameras.

Sunnyside across the water
Humber Bridge across the water
CN Tower across the water
Air India 182 Memorial

Book ~ "The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide: How to Find Your Ancestors in Archived Newspapers" (2018) James M. Beidler

From Goodreads ~ There are more historical newspaper resources than you think - and they're easier to access than you know. When researched properly, no other type of record can beat historical newspapers in "taking the pulse" of their times and places, recording not just the names, but also information important to the community. 

This comprehensive how-to guide will show you how to harvest the "social media" of centuries past to learn about your ancestors and the times and places they lived in. With step-by-step examples, case studies, templates, worksheets, and screenshots, this book shows you what you can find in online (and offline) historical newspapers, from city dailies to weekly community papers to foreign-language gazetteers.

"The Family Tree Historical Newspapers Guide" features: 
  • Tips and techniques for finding crucial genealogy records in newspapers, such as birth announcements, obituaries, and even news reports 
  • Step-by-step guides for using popular online newspaper databases such as GenealogyBank and 
  • Case studies that will put information found in newspapers to use

I track my family tree on Ancestry and books like this always interest me.  This one focuses on finding information about your ancestors through newspapers.  Surprisingly there were a lot more pages and information than I was expecting.

The chapters are:
  1. The historical role of newspapers
  2. Records in newspapers
  3. Vital records and life events in newspapers
  4. Obituaries and other death notices
  5. Understanding newspaper media
  6. Free newspaper websites
  8. Genealogybank
  9. Other subscription websites
  10. Seeking out other newspapers
  11. Ethnic-focused newspapers
  12. International newspapers
  13. Preserving, collecting and citing newspapers
  14. Putting it all together 

Throughout the book there are photo examples of articles, obituaries, notices (birth, marriage announcements, death and divorces), etc. from various newspapers from different times.  There are also worksheets you can use to record your information along with many links which take you to the sources described.

Though it's geared towards American sources (I'm in Canada), my father's family and my maternal grandmother's family were from the States so I'll probably find these sources helpful.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Topbox - March 2018

My March Topbox arrived today.

For only $12 a month, you will receive a Topbox with 4 carefully selected, indulgent, beauty products. Then test the products in the comfort of your own home.

 Here's what I received ...

Total value = $35.25 value

Book ~ "The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern: A Complete History" (2017) David McPherson

From Goodreads ~ Like the Queen Street strip that has been its home for seven decades, the Horseshoe Tavern continues to evolve. It remains as relevant today as it did when Jack Starr founded the country club on the site of a former blacksmith shop. From country and rockabilly to rock ‘n’ roll, punk, alt/country, and back to roots music, the venerable live music venue has evolved with the times and trends — always keeping pace with the music. 

Over its seventy-year history, the Horseshoe has seen a flood of talent pass through. From Willie Nelson to Loretta Lynn, Stompin’ Tom Connors to the Band, and Bryan Adams to the Tragically Hip, the Horseshoe has attracted premier acts from all eras of music. In The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, David McPherson captures the turbulent life of the bar, and of Canadian rock. 

The Horseshoe Tavern (aka "The 'Shoe") is a bar at Queen Street W and Spadina here in Toronto.  It opened in 1947 and though it has had different owners over the years, it's still in operation today as a music venue.  The building itself dates back to 1861, when it opened as a blacksmith shop.  It originally opened as a restaurant but soon became known for its country and western concerts, hosting soon-to-be superstars such as Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lyn, Charlie Pride and Ian & Sylvia Tyson.

Over the years, the music styles have changed ... blues, folk, reggae, mod rock, punk, new wave, alternative rock, ska, surf, swing, Celtic, alternative country and more.  Iconic Canadian bands played there when they were starting out ... Bryan Adams, Blue Rodeo, the Tragically Hip, the Watchmen, Big Sugar, Wide Mouth Mason, Great Big Sea, Stompin' Tom Connors, the Band, Helix, Prairie Oyster, The Jeff Healey Band and Our Lady Peace.  Surprise concerts include the The Rolling Stones, Bryan Adams, The ‘Hip, Melissa Ethridge, Sammy Hagar and The Blues Brothers.

I enjoyed this book as I like reading about the history of Toronto, I like music and I used to go to The 'Shoe.  When I moved to Toronto in the late 1980s, it was one of the places I went to hear live music as that was the time when Amanda Marshall, The Phantoms, Jeff Healey, etc. were just starting out.  It was a dive bar but it was a fun dive bar.  I haven't been to The 'Shoe in years.  Their music focus has changed and evolved and they are bringing in bands I haven't heard of.  After reading this book, though, I want to go back and check them out again.

I liked the writing style of the book and it brought back memories of bands and bars I'd forgotten about (like The Diamond Club [now The Phoenix] and Albert's Hall).  In addition to lots of interesting information and stories about The 'Shoe, there are interviews with those involved (like the owners, performers and even the bartenders) along with pictures.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

It's a must-read for anyone who is interested in the music scene over the years here in Toronto and/or has been to The 'Shoe.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Book ~ "R is for Ricochet" (2004) Sue Grafton

From Goodreads ~ Kinsey Millhone, employed by Nord Lafferty to drive his daughter home from her incarceration at the Californian Institute for Women, marvels at the simplicity of the task. But Reba Lafferty emerges feisty and rebellious, and Kinsey is soon fighting to prevent her charge from breaking the conditions of her parole. 

As she finds herself befriending the ex-gambler, ex-alcoholic and ex-con, Kinsey discovers that Reba had taken the fall for her boss, also her lover, when he conducted a highly-crafted money laundering scam. Alan Beckwith has so far escaped the clutches of the FBI. Now they believe he is laundering money for a Columbian drug cartel - they just need the proof. 

When Kinsey is asked by the police to persuade Reba to unveil crucial evidence guaranteed to put Beckwith behind bars, she doesn't expect cooperation. But when she hears of shocking new information about her lover, Reba is suddenly all too eager to do everything she can to ruin him. Embroiled in a cunning challenge of wits, and meanwhile bemused by her own blossoming romance, Kinsey must try to control the bitter, angry Reba as she launches her dangerous revenge.

It's the late 1980s and Kinsey Millhone is a 37-year-old private detective in Santa Teresa, CA.  She is hired by an elderly ill man to pick up his daughter, Reba, who is being released from prison, bring her home and ensure she gets to the meeting with her parole officer the next day.  An easy job!  They kind of become friends and Reba hooks up the next night with Alan, her former boyfriend and boss who she had embezzled money from, hence the reason she went to prison.  But Reba discovers Alan isn't as honest as she thought he was so considers turning evidence against him to the police and FBI when she's approached.

In the meantime, Kinsey is now dating Cheney, a police office, who she has been attracted to for a few years.  Things get hot and heavy very quickly.  Henry, Kinsey's elderly landlord, is having issues with his love life.  A woman he met on a recent cruise has been visiting but Henry's older brothers interfere in the potential romance.  Instead of telling his brothers to buzz off, he wimps out and backs off, which I thought was dumb.

I thought this story was just okay.  Kinsey was hired basically as a babysitter for a couple days and for some reason she, who has always been a loner, is interested in becoming friends with Reba.  She even looks to Reba for fashion advice, which seemed out of character for Kinsey (she's never cared about clothes and would trim her hair when necessary with nail scissors).  I found the Kinsey/Cheney relationship odd and unbelievable.  As far as she knew, he was married.  It turns out he was but it only lasted less than two months.  Kinsey and Cheney get together very quickly and he's all she seems to be thinking about.  It didn't seem like the Kinsey we've gotten to know.  It's written in first person perspective in Kinsey's voice.   As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.

This is the eighteenth in the "alphabet series" featuring Kinsey Millhone.  Though it is part of a series, it works as a stand alone.  I discovered this series in the mid-1990s and have read them all.  I started rereading them last year.  With the author's recent death, Y is for Yesterday will be the end of the series.

Ipsy Glam Bag - March 2018

My March Ipsy Glam Bag arrived today.
  • 4 to 5 beauty products in a collectible makeup bag 
  • Monthly videos showing you how to get the Look 
  • Win free products in contests and giveaways

Subscriptions are $10US a month or $110US for a year.  Shipping is free in the U.S. and $4.95US per month to Canada.

Here's what I received ...

Total value: $28.36US (without the make-up bag)

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill, Toronto, ON (Dufferin Mall)

I had a late lunch today at Swiss Chalet in the Dufferin Mall (Dufferin Street, south of Bloor Street W).  I live near the Dufferin Mall and have been there about a million times but haven't been to this restaurant before (I usually eat in the foodcourt if I'm hungry).

I was seated right away ... but then had to wait about ten minutes before my server acknowledged me and came over to see if I wanted anything to drink.  I knew what I wanted and ordered right away what I have been ordering lately at Swiss Chalet ... a half chicken dinner with corn. It's Weight Watcher friendly (just seven points!) and it was good. The corn was previously frozen but hot. The chicken was a large serving and hot and tender. The roll was warm and the sauce had a nice bite.

After my meal arrived, my server was quick to ask me if I wanted a refill on my pop (and yes, I did).

Swiss Chalet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Book ~ "My Days: Happy and Otherwise" (2018) Marion Ross

From Goodreads ~ For eleven seasons, Marion Ross was head of one of America's favorite television households. Now meet the lovable real-life woman behind the "Happy Days" mom.

Before she was affectionately known to millions as "Mrs. C.," Marion Ross began her career as a Paramount starlet who went on to appear in nearly every major TV series of the 1950s and 1960s - including "Love, American Style", in which she donned an apron that would cinch her career. Soon after came the fateful phone call from producer Garry Marshall that made her an "overnight" success, and changed her life.

In this warm and candid memoir, filled with loving recollections from the award-winning "Happy Days" team - from break-out star Henry Winkler to Cunningham "wild child" Erin Moran - Ross shares what it was like to be a starry-eyed young girl with dreams in poor, rural Minnesota, and the resilience, sacrifices, and determination it took to make them come true. She recalls her early years in the business, being in the company of such luminaries as Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Noel Coward, yet always feeling the Hollywood outsider - a painful invisibility that mirrored her own childhood. She reveals the absolute joys of playing a wife and mother on TV, and the struggles of maintaining those roles in real life. But among Ross's most heart-rending recollections are those of finally finding a soulmate - another secret hope of hers made true well beyond her expectations.

Funny, poignant, and revealing - and featuring Garry Marshall's final illuminating interview - as well as a touching foreword from her "TV son" Ron Howard, and a conversation with her real-life son and daughter, Marion Ross's story is one of inspiration, persistence, and gratitude. It's also a glowing tribute to all those who fulfilled her dreams - and in turn, gave us some of the happiest days of our own lives. 

Marion Ross was born 89 years ago in Minnesota.  She always had the dream of being an actress on the stage and studied drama in school ... her name was originally spelled "Marian" but she changed the spelling when she was young because she felt "Marion" would look better on a marquee. 

She met her husband, Effie, when she was still in university and they impulsively got married.  Effie didn't have a lot of ambition and it was Marion who worked and made sure everything was taken care of (she was okay with that).  Though Marion didn't realize it, Effie was an alcoholic ... everyone drank back then, though she didn't.  They eventually divorced and Marion by then had two children to take care of (Effie wasn't father material).

Marion found steady work in movies, TV shows and plays before landing the part of Marion Cunningham ("Mrs. C.") on Happy Days in 1974 until 1986.  After that show ended, she continued to work in show business.  She met the love of her life, Paul Michael, when she was in her sixties and he passed away suddenly in 2011.

I like reading bios/autobios as I'm always interested in people's stories.  I wasn't a big fan of Happy Days but watched it (as did everyone else) when it was on back in the day.  Marion seems like a nice person so I was curious to see what her story was and find out what was really going on behind the scenes.

I liked the writing style (Marion wrote this with the help of David Laurell) and she didn't reveal anything too scandalous.  She seems to be well-liked and respected.  There are interviews with various members of the Happy Days cast along with her children, Jim and Ellen, and her long-time assistant and they all had nice things to say about her.

Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill, Woodbridge, ON

I had an early lunch today at Swiss Chalet in Woodbridge (Hwy 27/Hwy 7).

I ordered what I have been ordering lately at Swiss Chalet ... a half chicken dinner with corn. It's Weight Watcher friendly (just seven points!) and it was good. The corn was previously frozen but hot. The chicken was a large serving and hot and tender. I had ordered a white roll and received a multigrain roll instead, which was a nice change.  It was warm and the sauce had a nice bite.

Wendy was my server.  She was friendly and took good care of me.

Swiss Chalet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 12 March 2018

Book ~ "Q is for Quarry" (2002) Sue Grafton

From Goodreads ~ She was a "Jane Doe," an unidentified white female whose decomposed body was discovered near a quarry off California's Highway 1. The case fell to the Santa Teresa County Sheriff's Department but the detectives had little to go on. The woman was young, her hands were bound with a length of wire, there were multiple stab wound, and her throat had been slashed. After months of investigation, the murder remained unsolved.

That was eighteen years ago. Now the two men who found the body, both nearing the end of long careers in law enforcement, want one last shot at the case. Old and ill, they need someone to help with their legwork and they turn to Kinsey Millhone. They will, they tell her, find closure if they can just identify the victim. Kinsey is intrigued and agrees to the job.

But revisiting the past can be a dangerous business, and what begins with the pursuit of Jane Doe's real identity ends in a high-risk hunt for her killer.

It's the late 1980s and Kinsey Millhone is a 37-year-old private detective in Santa Teresa, CA.  She is contacted by Con Dolan, a police officer and friend, to help him and his former partner, Stacey Oliphant, solve a murder from 18 years earlier.  A young girl had been found murdered and they couldn't figure out who this Jane Doe was.  Both men are getting old and aren't in the best of health and would like to have closure on this cold case.

With the few clues they have, they figure out who the girl was (lots of legwork and luck) and then start working on who killed her, which could have been many people in the small town the girl was from.

I thought this story was just okay.  It wasn't overly exciting and I found it hard to keep track of all the characters at times.  It's written in first person perspective in Kinsey's voice.   I found it ended rather quickly and would have liked a bit more of a wrap-up.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

This is the seventeenth in the "alphabet series" featuring Kinsey Millhone.  Though it is part of a series, it works as a stand alone.  I discovered this series in the mid-1990s and have read them all.  I started rereading them last year.  With the author's recent death, Y is for Yesterday will be the end of the series.

Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill, Toronto, ON (York Mills Road)

I had lunch today at Swiss Chalet at York Mills Road/Leslie Street.

I ordered what I have been ordering lately at Swiss Chalet ... a half chicken dinner with corn.  It's Weight Watcher friendly (just seven points!).  It was okay.  The corn was previously frozen and kind of cold.  The chicken was overcooked, seemed to be sitting around for a while and the wing was burnt and inedible.  The roll was warm and the sauce had a nice bite ... they were the best part of the meal.