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Barks & Bites

Reading the good, the awful & all of the "meh" in the middle. I'll read most any horror, romance, erotica & M/M novel that comes my way but that doesn't mean I'll like it!

Currently reading

Rise of the Thing Down Below
Daniel W. Kelly
We Are All Completely Fine
Daryl Gregory
Jeff Strand
The Dark Servant
Matt Manochio
Circus of the Damned
Cornelia Grey
Fashionably Dead
Robyn Peterman
Happy Herbivore Light & Lean: Over 150 Low-Calorie Recipes with Workout Plans for Looking and Feeling Great
Lindsay S. Nixon
The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks' Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Progress: 5 %
The Silver Chain
Primula Bond

It's Nearly the Weekend! What are you up to?

I plan on seeing Gone Girl even though I know it will piss me off (read the book, hated the characters) and I hope to get a good chunk of the Krampus book finished to get me in the holiday preseason shopping spirit.


Have a fabulous weekend all. This week has been filled with suckage of the sort I hope we never have to encounter again. Go forth and read something fun. Or scary. Or literary. Or romantic. Just read. Blog about it. Or not. Do what makes you happy. 



The Woman Next Door by Barbara Delinsky

The Woman Next Door - Barbara Delinsky

I plucked this audio out of the bag I keep in my car. It’s been in there a while but I figured now was as good a time as any to finally give it a listen. I’ve been on a horror binge lately and needed a bit of a breather from all of the bloodshed.


At the midway point, I have to admit, I was hoping for some bloodshed that would put an end to one, two or perhaps all, of these insufferably miserable people. It didn’t happen but I hung in there and things did improve a little. Not a lot but enough to keep me from DNFing the thing.


This is the story of what happens when three well-to-do married couples spend too much time navel gazing and poking into each other’s business but mostly it’s about what happens to a marriage when three unhappy wives fear their spouse has impregnated the pretty widow across the way. They’ve shunned the woman (even before the pregnancy) and she won’t reveal who the daddy is when they finally spare her a few moments of conversation only so they can get all nosey. Hahaha, serves you right you cliquey witches!


I have to admit that some dark part of me thoroughly enjoyed watching these women work themselves up into a jealous tizzy when Gretchen evades their questions. And it says much about this book that the most sympathetic character, for the majority of the story, turns out to be the young, widowed trophy wife. I felt terribly sorry for her and her loneliness and grief and feelings of exclusion were written very well. About a third of the way in, one of the wives, who is having a helluva time conceiving (and we get a first row seat to every tedious detail and moment of angst), turns a corner and I ended up enjoying her story but she took a little too long to get there.

The audio was capably read by Laura Hicks. She does a good job with the narrative and the voices (even the males) with the noted exception of one of the wives named Karen. She made her sound like a nasty, bitter hag but perhaps that was intentional?


If you like reading about marital woes and real life troubles, you may adore this book. I think I need to go back to fantasyland because this was too “real” for my liking.


Important Disclaimer:


I figured it was time to come clean. This is the guy who ghost writes my reviews. Don't let his goofy looks deceive you, he is slightly smarter than he appears but his taste in books is questionable and he DNF's all the time because he thinks he has better things to do than read lousy books. If you don't like something he writes, I don't recommend sneaking up on him unawares to give him a talking-to because he may eat your face off. He's a little nutzo. You can, however, try bribing him with treats to put him in a better mood. It's likely he'll only eat the treats and leave you with a slobbery hand. In that case, be thankful you still have the hand and slowly back away.


Coming Clean

Important Disclaimer:


I figured it was time to come clean. This is the guy who ghost writes my reviews. Don't let his goofy looks deceive you, he is slightly smarter than he appears but his taste in books is questionable and he DNF's all the time because he's kind of full of himself and thinks he has better things to do than read lousy books. If you don't like something he writes, I don't recommend sneaking up on him unawares to give him a talking-to because he may eat your face off. He's a little nutzo. You can, however, try bribing him with treats to put him in a better mood. It's likely he'll only eat the treats and leave you with a slobbery hand. In that case, be thankful you still have the hand and slowly back away.


Five Book Review Rules Which Will Make Authors Want to Stalk You Less

In light of recent disturbing (#NoHale) events and yet another author blog on "Suggested Etiquette for Fair Book Reviews" (click at your own peril) I feel a reblog of the rules is in order because apparently we are all obviously still doing things very wrong! Pay attention this time dearies.


In all seriousness this business is making me sick to my stomach. This is suppose to be a fun hobby but most days it's not much fun at all. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I'm kind of feeling like "why bother?" Perhaps I'll just adopt two more very big dogs.


1.  Buy all the books.


Yes ALL of them. Spend a good part of each and every day buying all the books. You don't need to worry yourself about reading them.  As long as you keep buying You Are Doing Your Part. Don't work for The Man (that was so 90's), work for The Author. Buy a few extra copies to toss around town, just for fun. You don't need to eat or clothe your kids. Am I right?  


2.  If the book sucks write a review but lie your freaking ass off.


Remember exclamation marks are your best friend!! Use them and abuse them. Be sure to wax poetic about how the prose inspired you to be a better person or some other lame BS. The casual reader won't notice your fibs, they'll be too busy hitting that "buy it now" button. Now you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around because selling books for authors, yeah, that's what it's all about!


3.  Remember kiddies always, and I do mean always, keep the author in mind when composing your review.


I find it helpful to print out an 8x10 poster of their glamour shot to remind myself of who exactly I'm writing the review for.  I tend to be the forgetful sort and sometimes write them with my friends in mind and then I have a moment of clarity and have to write the whole thing all over again. Don't be like me, it's a pain in the bum to do all that work twice.


4.  Post your review right away.


Don't stop to smell the roses, notice the grammatical errors or godferbid waste time pondering the plot holes. Post that sucker ASAP before you have time to think about any of it. The sooner that five star review is out there, the better the odds are that the author will survive in this cruel, cruel new world. And if that's not incentive enough just remember to do it for the children. Their children. Yours are more than likely desiccated from neglect and starvation since you're so busy doing such important work for the betterment of the planet.


5. Use Your Real Name. Pen Names Are For Fools Who Don't Deserve Author Love (and who are too obsessed with their own personal safety)


I saved the most important rule for last. Feel free to ignore the rest (at your own peril, of course) but trust me, you really don't want to be a silly gangsta and should heed this one if you expect any author to trust you with their book babies. Always sign the review with your real name, home address and your social security number. This way authors can send you lovely presents and even stop by your place for some tea and crumpets! Wouldn't that be grand? Isn't that why we all do this? Never mind the children, be selfish and do it for the crumpets!


And PS for all of those without any sense of humor and who are here on booklikes only lurking for blog fodder THIS IS A JOKE.  This is supposed to be fun people. Stop with all the silly rules already!

Reblogged from Barks & Bites

Blue Moon by Alyson Noel

Blue Moon - Alyson Noël

Still cleaning up my database one old review at a time.


This is the sequel to Evermore which I loved so much I gave it one star. This sequel picks up where the last left off and tells the continuing saga of the newly immortal Ever and her immortal soul mate Damen as they struggle with teenage inanities and an evil nemesis.

I listened to this on audio and over two hours go by without anything of interest happening. There is plenty of bitchery and immaturity to go around, however, as we listen in on Ever and her small circle of self-involved friends as they natter on (and on) about inconsequential things. Eventually the book picks up when we, the reader, are invited on a shopping spree to Victoria’s Secret with Ever to watch her pick out the perfect pair of matching underthings that she’s going to wear as Damen finally deflowers her (oh but will he?!). I’m just kidding about the book picking up here but not about the VS trip unfortunately.

Most of the book is a snore fest but I had nothing better to do as I folded laundry, made dinner and then cleaned the kitty boxes. The narrator does a fine job of bringing these characters to life and I could clearly discern one from another. The problem lies in the fact that I didn’t like any of the characters and that Ever grates on my last nerve. She is shallow, insecure, annoying, unkind in her thoughts toward others (Ava especially), a wee bit pathetic and very ugly on the inside. It’s only towards the end of the story that I actually started to warm up to her and then she goes and does something so idiotic I’m back at square one again. Sigh. But it allows the big question of “Will they ever really do it?” to be strung out for several more books. If my teen daughter smuggles this series into the house to read I am going to lecture her on never, ever acting like an Ever.


Very Important Disclaimer:  I figured it was time to come clean. This is the guy who ghost writes my reviews. Don't let his goofy looks deceive you, he is slightly smarter than he appears but his taste in books is questionable. If you don't like something he writes, I don't recommend sneaking up on him unawares to give him a talking-to because he may eat your face off. He's a little nutzo. You can, however, try bribing him with treats to put him in a better mood. It's likely he'll only eat the treats and leave you with a slobbery hand. In that case, be thankful you still have the hand and slowly back away.



Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror

Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror - Edward Lorn

Looking for something to read on Halloween night? I don't think you can go wrong with this one.


The Riggle Twins by Gregor Xane


I had so many questions when I stepped into this story because the characters and the setting were so unusual. What are they? Where did they come from? What is going on?! Soon enough I just went with it and followed the odd Riggle twins as they headed out for their Halloween adventure to find two tributes before midnight. And it’s imperative they do so because “they don't want to die again . . . The first time was bad enough.”

This was a bizarre, horrifying and completely unpredictable little tale. As much as I love having my questions answered, in this case, I enjoyed the fact that we weren’t spoon fed all of the answers. It made things much more ominous and mysterious.


Pumpkin Head Ted by Evans Light


Poor Ted lives a miserable existence. He is neglected and abused at home and ruthlessly tormented by his peers. Halloween is the one night Ted can blend in and almost feel like he belongs. He dons a mask and people don’t notice his deformities and treat him like any other kid. Feeling brave, he visits the home of his biggest tormentor and starts a terrible chain of events that children will be whispering about for decades to come.


This is a story filled with rage, hate, pain and revenge and it was a gut-wrenching read. Don’t let hate infect your soul kiddos, that’s all I have to say.


Ghost Light Road by Adam Light


Billy was planning on spending Halloween avoiding trick or treaters, watching horror movies and drinking beer but his little sis calls and screws with his plans. Now he and her two friends are off to Ghost Light Road so they can spy a ghost, despite the rumors that people often do not return from their little visit.


These four dummies decide to drink some concoction of booze which may or may not be laced with some magickal mushrooms and, as young drunkards will do, proceed to make some truly dumb ass moves that have them discovering the reason why some folks never return from their trip to Ghost Light Road.


The twist was surprising. The story takes a bunch of horror clichés and mashes them together into something new. It was fun and a little gory and left me pretty happy with the outcome.


Easy Pickings by Jason Parent


Trevor is a big bully and Halloween us his favorite time of year, a time when he can terrorize his younger, weaker neighbors and steal their candy while cowardly hiding behind a mask. When he and his side-kick happen upon a young boy, without a parent in sight, the two make their move assuming he’ll be easy pickings. They were oh so wrong.


The true monster in this story gets what he deserves and I loved the gruesomeness of it.


The Scare Rows by Edward Lorn


A seasonal attraction called "The Scare Rows" has popped up in a small town, seemingly overnight, and all of the townsfolk are abuzz with excitement for the big show.


The big show isn’t anything at all what they could’ve concocted in even the darkest, dirtiest of minds. This one is down and dirty and darkly humorous so of course I loved it. Most of the characters are revolting which makes the outcome that much sweeter.


“Her lips and tongue seemed intent on polishing every individual kernel of starchy goodness.”


Pass me some of that popcorn!


Halloween Cats Have No Fear



love notes from Annie Wilkes











And stay out, sucker!

FREEBIE! Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha

Beyond Shame - Kit Rocha

This book is FREE @ Amazon (at least for today 10/21/14). Grab it if it interests you. 


An erotic dystopian novel? You have my attention. The world, ravaged by “solar flares”, has split off into “Eden” where the wealthy live in luxury and thrive beneath puritan rulers as long as they follow the rules. If they dare break them, they are cast out and forced to make their own way in one of the less desirable “sectors”. The sectors are ruled by gangs who live on the wild side; boozing it up, cage fighting for fun and screwing each other with no inhibitions.. Their lives are very different from the sheltered, stifling rules of Eden.

Noelle has just been booted out of Eden for being a naughty girl and wanting to indulge in some sex and drinkies. Despite the fact that her dad is one of the biggest big wigs in Eden, she’s shunned and spit out and now has to find a new life. She’s very lucky that she happens upon Jasper and Lex who take her in and immediately make her a part of their gang which is ruled by Lex’s lover Dallas. Noelle soon learns there is little luxury and no free rides in Sector 4. You strip, suck dick or wait tables. She ends up doing all three and pretty much loving the freedom and sexuality she’s finally allowed to experience without guilt and shame.

I liked this book and will definitely read the next one but unlike a lot of people I didn't love it. I wanted to love it. I tried to love it. I honestly don’t know why I couldn't love it. It was violent and sensual and the characters were decently drawn but for some reason I just didn't find it Amazing, you know? It was only Pretty Good and I kept putting it down to do other stuff or play Dragonvale.

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Rejar by Dara Joy for .99 at Amazon

Rejar - Dara Joy

.99 @ Amazon today (10/20/14) but the lovely cover on the left was replaced with this leering Alec Baldwin hybrid. Since I had to look at, so do you :)



Caveat: I wrote this review sometime in 1997 back when I was nicer, used words like "magnificent" and "spectacular" and was much more tolerant than I am today. Damn, I've been doing this nonsense far longer than I thought!  I wonder if I'd still feel the same today? I'm guessing no.

In Dara Joy's 1996 release Knight of A Trillion Stars we were introduced to the lovable and very arrogant Rejar. KOATS ended with quite the cliffhanger and after waiting for what seemed like an eternity we finally learn the sexy Familiar's fate in Rejar.

Rejar, after tumbling through space for several months, finds himself tossed into a strange place called Regency England where he lands nearly in the lap of a most luscious female specimen. He decides this smelly world that offends all of his senses might not be quite so bad after all!

Lilac Devere was minding her own business when a handsome cat enters her carriage and settles in like he owns it. Despite her Aunt's warnings she takes this arrogant creature home and gets much more than she bargained for.

Rejar is a familiar from the futuristic planet Aviara. He's a descendent of a race of people who can change into the form of a cat whenever they wish. Along with their shape changing abilities familiars also have heightened senses, telepathic powers and extraordinary sensual appetites. However, once they meet their life mate and become bonded familiar's have an unshakable sense of devotion and never stray (remember this is a fantasy, folks :).

Rejar observes life on this strange planet and quickly learns that the only way to survive the brutal scrutiny of the ton is to create a persona they will fawn over. Using his powers of suggestion, he convinces Lord Byron that he is a Russian Prince and quickly becomes the most sought after man in Regency England. He's a man all of the women want but he is only attracted to the one whom he curls up with each night. The one who believes he is nothing more than a cat. But, arrogant fellow tha the his, he knows once she meets him in the flesh she'll fall head over heels in love with him.

Needless to say he's in for quite a shock when Lilac gets rip roaring mad and slaps his handsome face when he innocently states his intentions to "have" her. This only makes Rejar all the more determined to make her his. After all no woman has ever refused him! Just what kind of planet has he landed on?

When he realizes that Lilac is fated to be his life mate and he comes to the realization that he isn't winning her over with his stunning sex appeal he tries every trick he can think of to win her love.

Dara Joy has created a magnificent hero with Rejar. Anyone who has ever been owned by a feline will certainly understand and laugh out loud at his arrogant demeanor. His compassionate nature won my heart and while I didn't always agree with his tactics I realized he just couldn't help his sexy self.

The only problem I had with this story was the heroine. While Rejar was a well rounded character I found Lilac to be rather self-centered and uncompromising. The girl also had no curiosity. I think a hero as wonderful as Rejar deserved better. But, hey, maybe I'm just being catty. In Lilac's defense, I did enjoy her openness which made for some great laugh out loud scenes.

I really enjoyed REJAR for its bawdy and tender humor, scorching sensuality and unique storyline and highly recommend it to those searching for something a little different from the norm. Although this is a sequel it is not necessary to read the prequel, Knight of a Trillion Stars, first (although it is a spectacular book!). I'm looking forward to the next installment in this series when we will hopefully learn more about Rejar's brother Traed and the planet Aviara

Oh my heart. I just heard this on the radio and my 14 year old self cried in joy.  

Fair Game by Josh Lanyon Now .99 Cents @ Amazon

Fair Game - Josh Lanyon

I read this book a while back and it thought it was fantastic. You can grab it now while it's on sale for .99 over at Amazon.


4 1/2 stars Elliot is a former FBI agent, injured on the job, and now reluctantly working as history professor due to his bum knee. He doesn’t realize just how much he misses his old life until he gets involved in a missing person investigation and finds himself consultant to the FBI and his ex-lover Tucker. Their relationship simply ended when Elliot was injured and neither has ever resolved it. Seeing each other is drudging up uncomfortable memories for Elliot, who insists the two had nothing in common anyway. Except sex. Mindblowing sex. Elliot really misses the sex. Tucker apparently was very good at it.

This is a mystery with solid writing and strong sense of place. The romance is there, slowly building in the background but it’s first and foremost an intriguing murder mystery. I wasn’t expecting that because I’ve probably been reading way too many m/m erotica novels. I’ve gotten comfy with the main focus being (often) 100% on the relationship, the sexing and the conflicts within that relationship. Fair Game follows its own path and was a nice surprise.

Tucker doesn’t welcome Elliot’s interference on the case and isn’t at all shy about letting him know it. Working together is difficult for them; they have unresolved, unsaid stuff between them. Stuff neither wants to talk about. Both are resentful and have feelings of abandonment but talking would mean facing their feelings and these guys aren’t the type to have a big emotional row.

Elliot and Tucker seem like men most of us know (albeit probably much better looking). They think like guys, they act like guys and it was such a nice change of pace for me, having read more than my fair share of books that featured gay men who were, ahem, so fem and saccharine sweet I felt as if I were reading a fairy tale or someone’s idea of a dream man. Fair Game seemed less of a fantasy and more of a reality about two tough, stubborn men who have a connection and whether they’re willing to admit it or not want each other but can’t communicate. Instead they brood and let things simmer until it all spills out in the form of hot kisses and near sex. It was so real it was touching. Seriously, who doesn’t know a man afraid to talk about what he’s feeling and would much prefer to clam up and get naked?

I’m not a big mystery girl but this one never had me daydreaming or wishing I was reading something, anything, else. It was interesting; the characters well developed and there were more than enough suspects to keep me guessing and, yeah, the romance was lovely. If I didn’t have so many other books to read right now and a crazy busy weekend I would snatch up the rest of Lanyon’s work and hide away in my room until I’d read myself into a stupor.

Carrie by Stephen King (audio review)

Carrie - Stephen King, Sissy Spacek

This was the first Stephen King novel I read. I remember grabbing it from my dad’s nightstand and claiming it as my own. I was eleven. Eleven. It is the book that fueled my desire and lifelong love of reading. But eleven?! Reading it now I’m a little horrified that I read it at such a young age. It has quite a bit of sex and disturbing scenes but I turned out relatively normal so I guess no damage was done ;)

This is your classic bully revenge tale and it is as relevant today as it was back in the day. Carrie White was drawn with such painful vulnerability that it’ll make you ache for her and cringe at many of the scenes. Carrie’s an innocent, abused by her religious wingnut of a mother who never consoles but is quick to mete out punishment for the most ridiculous of offenses (such as talking to a neighbor).


“Go to your closet and pray!”


When Carrie doesn’t want to eat her pie.


“It makes me have pimples, Momma.


“Your pimples are the Lord’s way of chastising you. Now eat your pie.”


Can you imagine growing up with a mother like this? How can you not feel for Carrie?


Anyway, there isn’t much for me to say here. I remembered it being a straight-forward tale told by Carrie but I think that’s because I’ve seen so many of the movie versions between reading the book and now. It wasn't written that way at all. I enjoyed the flashbacks, news reports, victim on the spot interviews and such that composed the story and I’m glad I finally got around to rereading it. It held up incredibly well and the audio version that I listened to was skillfully read by Sissy Spacek who really knows the part.

666 Followers Just in Time for Halloween!


Welcome my fellow lunatics!


thanks for catching that Moonlight Murder.

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter - Megan Shepherd, Lucy Rayner

This is a young adult novel with a love triangle. You have been warned.


“Edward and Montgomery were suddenly both by my side, each taking an arm.

My face burned as I looked between them. Two boys, two sets of hands on my wrists. One rough and calloused, the other strong yet smooth. My emotions knotted tighter, threatening to cut off my circulation.”


Meh. Have 'em both. See if I care.


I picked it up knowing this and expecting the above because I was seduced by the plot. The “madman” is actually Dr. Moreau. Yes, that Dr. Moreau. The one who, in my dreams, creates these lovelies:



Dr. Moreau was basically run out of town and his reputation ruined after his nefarious experiments came to light. He abandoned both his wife and young daughter and high-tailed it to an island. Flash-forward a few years and Juliette is now a teenager eeking out a living as a maid. She stumbles across some evidence to the location of her long-lost father and, though she is haunted by memories of him, he is the only family she has left so she sets off an adventure to track him down. She may wish she had never found that first clue before it’s all said and done . . .


I really enjoyed most of this book. It has a very well done sense of place and maintained its creepy gothic “what the heck is going on” atmosphere throughout. The love triangle was unnecessary and I didn’t give a rats patootie about it but I’m too old to care about teen crushes and flip flopping between handsome boys. I wanted more gruesome surgery scenes but what is here was enough to make me happy.


“To me, blood smelled like home.”


I liked Juliette. She fears she is too much like her father; cold, a little blood-thirsty, perhaps, maybe even a little mad. She is very honest in her thoughts and I found this realistic as well as refreshing. She was the only character who really captured my attention.


There are many twists and turns and secrets to be revealed and I was surprised more than once at a few of the reveals but if I’m being honest it was way too long. Probably 80 or so pages too long. The backdrop, the horror (quite repulsive at times) and the evocative writing elevates this above most of what’s out there and the ending was perfect. If this interests you check it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


Oops, almost forget to mention the narration. This copy was narrated by Lucy Raynor and her voice was lovely and well suited to the material. No complaints from me.

Lookie What I Found On Netgalley!

Rise of the Thing Down Below - Daniel W. Kelly We Are All Completely Fine - Daryl Gregory Circus of the Damned - Cornelia Grey Facial - Jeff Strand

Oooo, that first one, I cannot wait! Now I sit and wait with bated breathe for the approval/refusals to come rolling in. In the meantime, I'd better get reading my other books! 


What have you requested lately?


And, Char, this is all your fault. Your post inspired me to click over there and have a look and this happened in the span of 5 minutes. I had to click away.


Update: Got the Strand book. I love you Darkfuse :)

Amazon Prime is Giving Back $1.00 for "Non-Rush" Shipment

I know a lot of you dislike Amazon for very valid reasons but I still order from them because I despise shopping & it makes life so much easier. My husband has Prime and as I was leaching off of his account Sunday night, ordering a few early holiday gifts, I noticed a new Prime shipping offering. It said something like this (but don't quote me on it) "choose this option 5-7 day shipping & get a $1.00 credit towards a book or ebook."


What? They're going to pay for shipping & give me a little ebook present if I can have a little patience? I was skeptical, thinking I was reading something wrong, but no. In my email today was this notice. I don't know how long they'll be doing this but you might want to jump on it if you're a Prime member and doing some non-rush shopping.



Amazon.com Logo


Thank you for purchasing from Amazon.com.


Your recent order entitles you to a promotional credit which we have added to your account. This credit can be applied to your next qualifying purchase.


Promotion details:

Additional information on this offer can be found here.


You are receiving this credit because you selected No-Rush Shipping on your recent Prime order. To use your $1 credit, log on to Amazon.com or browse your Kindle device. Find the book or ebook you want to purchase and we’ll automatically apply the credit at check out. To view the selection of books at Amazon.com visit www.amazon.com/books.


The promotional credit must be used by December 31, 2014. This offer is subject to Terms and Conditions.


Thanks again for shopping with us.

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