Bark's Book Nonsense

Stay chill, it's only a silly book review.

I read the good, the awful & all of the "meh" in the middle. Mostly horror & romance of all kinds.

Look who was waiting for me when I returned home from an endless week of work!  I've been eyeing him for weeks and my husband surprised me with him today. Who needs jewelry when you have The Creature?!

Bagged by the Groceries!

Bagged by the Groceries! - Fannie Tucker

Decently written monster-porn featuring . . . groceries! Hexed groceries that turn into a monster-man. There is no need for a review (and I'm lazy).

 

“What do you want from me?”Ashley’s voice sounded small and timid. The creature’s voice rumbled like fresh-tilled earth, as lush as rain-soaked melon vines. “To plant my seed. Rise, woman. Give me what is mine.”

 

LOL, that's all you get. You'll either want to read this or you won't.

Antique Dust: Ghost Stories by Robert Westall

Antique Dust: Ghost Stories - Robert Westall, R.C. Bray, LLC Valancourt Books

I’ve always believed that old things are haunted but I never realized that the quiet little world of antique buying and selling was so cut-throat!

 

I listened to this collection of eerie stories on unabridged audio. They’re all stories about antique dealer Geoff Ashton, except for one or two that are stories told to him or are about a close relative. My copy was narrated by R.C. Bray whose voice is wizened and quite perfect for this book about old stuff.

 

The Devil and Clocky Watson This first story introduces us to Geoff. He’s an honest dealer just trying to make a living but others, namely a shifty character named Clocky Watson, cheat the system. Geoff attempts to get back at Clocky in what he thinks is the most fitting of ways but things go awry. This tale, like all the stories that follow, is eerie and dripping with creepy atmosphere. 4.5 Stars

 

The Doll Geoff realizes that old dolls = $$ and buys a large collection of them from a boozy widow for a song but trouble soon follows. Creepy dolls will always be creepy and this story is no exception. There were two points here where frighteningly loud music was piped in and it nearly made me pee my pants and overrode the narration. Beware! This one was probably my favorite. 5 Stars

 

The Last Day of Miss Dorinda Molyneaux This story was about a creepy old church, desecrated graves, unnerving goings-on and Miss Dorinda Molyneaux.

 

The Dumbledore This one simply wasn’t meant for me and it more than likely comes down to a matter of taste and my lack of it. The Dumbledore was a watering hole for men during war times. It's about secrets, war heroes and a young boy named Little Tex. 3 Stars

 

The Woolworth Spectacles This one features Geoff’s cousin and was much more my speed. Shy Maude's always been told that "men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses". But then she finds a pair of spectacles at Woolworth's (that's an old department store for you youngin's) left behind by an old woman and puts them on her face.

 

 

And she can see the world in wondrous detail! Initially she’s pretty thrilled but then people start looking at her differently. Crude work-men leer at her and she is unsettled. Soon, though, she finds her power over men a little intoxicating and begins to use it even to her advantage even though she knows deep down that this is very unlike her. She revels in it anyway and it leads to disaster. I liked this story quite a bit and found Maude’s personality change both organic and frightening. 5 Stars

 

Portland Bill Geoff is on vacation with his wife, who has meandered off to do things without him. Before long, he finds a beautiful and distraught woman who begs for help. Her son has gone missing and Geoff being the dirty, old, and let’s not forget MARRIED perv that he is, has lustful thoughts about her even though she’s frantic to find her son.

 

“My bowels moved with lust for her.”

 

Oh Geoff, you sexy beast, however did you convince a woman to marry you?

 

 

Despite his pervy thoughts, he’s not so bad a guy and decides to help her out. When the townsfolk and police brush him off Geoff starts to have ominous feelings about the situation. Haunting and, like all the rest, beautifully atmospheric. 4 Stars

 

The Ugly House I listened to this one twice because when I sat down to write this up, I couldn’t remember a thing about it and figured I had sleep-walked through it. Now after the 2nd listen and writing all of the above, I still can’t remember much about it besides the fact that there was a building inspector and an ugly house that Would Not Be Demolished and damned if I can remember anything else about it.

 

 

Guess it wasn’t meant for me. 3 Stars

 

I’d easily recommend this collection to anyone looking for slower paced, old-style horror that crawls under your skin and creeps you out.

 

 

Audiobook #2: Audiobook Challenge

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things - Jenny Lawson, Jenny  Lawson

I liked this book. It made me laugh. Not all rolling on the floor and laughing my effing bum off but it made me laugh on the inside. I knew it. And that is all that counts.

 

This Jenny person has a skewed sense of humor that I love and adored. She is weird and she embraces it. She’s also mentally ill with a laundry list of disorders. She suffers from depression and crushing anxiety and a host of other disorders but she still manages to live a life that sounds fun and that is inspiring. She does get to navel gazing a wee bit here and there and not everything is laugh on the inside funny but it never, ever bored me. I can see why her blog is so very popular. She has a way of telling a story that drags you into her world. She talks about some serious issues but you never want to drown in a pit of despair. How she manages to do this is beyond me. I’m just thankful she has the talent to do so because I needed a little laugh after A Little Life.

 

I did not take notes and although there are many quote worthy tidbits in this book, you’ll have to go read the thing yourself because I was reading selfishly for joy and was too frigging lazy to be bothered to write any of them down. I think reading them for the first time is part of the fun anyway. So do yourself a little good and find yourself this audio. It’s read by the author whose voice is a little squeaky (she even admits this) but they're her words and I don’t think it would feel right to listen to anyone else voice them.

 

Audiobook #1: Audiobook Challenge

A Little Depressing Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life: A Novel - Hanya Yanagihara

*I am so behind with my reviews :(  I actually finished this in December. Good thing I took notes!

 

If you’re feeling a little too thrilled with your life and need to tone that shit down a bit then this book is the one for you. It’s basically 700+ pages of pain and anguish and intense self-loathing. Are you ready?

 

This is the tragic story of a broken man named Jude and his closest friends. Jude is a man surrounded by people who love him deeply but alas love never seems to be quite enough to help him completely overcome his horrible past. Jude’s early life was one of devastation. I’m not going to rehash any of the horrible things that Jude experiences in his childhood. I had to suffer through it all, bit by bit, as it was slowly doled out throughout the course of the book, so if you want to know what happens you’ll have to do the same! Just know that it never gets too graphically gross and it easily could’ve gone there.

 

I see lots of people calling this tragedy porn and such but I don’t feel that way but then again I’ve been reading dark fiction for far too long. Read for yourself something like The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum (which was based on a true crime) and you’ll see what I mean. This story deals more with the inner turmoil and lingering trauma of those earlier cruelties and how they’ve shaped Jude into the person he is in his adult life. It’s not entirely believable, especially the final tragic childhood event, but it’s a compelling character study nonetheless. Still, it is not a book I will ever wish to revisit. Honestly, if I hadn’t been listening to it on audio, I have no doubt that I would’ve DNF’d it because was way too long for my personal liking and I didn’t have the deep emotional cathartic release that everyone else has seemed to have experienced. But, you know, I have cats.

 

 

I persevered because I listened to it on audio and I can listen to almost anything if I am enjoying the narrator and the story isn’t completely deplorable. Oliver Wyman narrated my version and he did justice to the work and kept me hooked even through the sloggy, meandering bits. His voice oozes emotion and was calming to me for the 32+ hours he was in my head telling this sad, sad story.

 

Yes, you read that right. Thirty Two + hours!

 

It was a grueling exercise in self-torture and there aren’t any truly happy moments in this entire book. They are all tainted by Jude’s sorrow and inner torment. With that said, I didn’t think it was the most tragic story ever told as I’d been led to believe and I am disappointed that it didn’t break my heart. I was kind of looking forward to that. Perhaps all of the “it’ll break you” talk beforehand left me with too high expectations or perhaps it was because I forecasted too many of the reveals long before they were revealed? At any rate, I give the story 3 – 3 ½ stars and the narration 5, settling on an uneasy 4.

Horror Challenge



Yeah, yeah so I know I said I was finished signing up for challenges but I LIE. I saw this over on the Scifi and Scary blog and figured I'd join since it seems doable and also a good way to weed out some of those ancient horror novels in my TBR dungeon.

Eeeeeeek! And that's only one shelf.


Anyway, it should coincide nicely with the Horror Aficionados Challenges I've signed up for over at Goodreads. Anyone want to join me?

 

Here are all the details:

2017 Horror Reading Challenge

First of all are the Challenge Badges, which you will win by completing the highest number of books for that level. I will list them below and they will be e-mailed to you at the conclusion of the challenge.


CHALLENGE LEVELS:

Neophyte of Coolthulhu’s Temple:  Read and review 1-7 horror books

Initiate of Coolthulhu’s Temple:     Read and review 8-15

Oracle of Coolthulhu’s Temple:       Read and review 20-25 horror books

MYSTERY BADGE     Read and review 50+ horror books

There Are Rules to This Game…

  • This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2017-December 31, 2017. (Yes, we’re back-dating it so horror books you’ve already read this year count.)
  • You can join at any time before August 1, 2017.
  • Books must be read and reviewed in 2017.
  • Audiobooks, re-reads, short stories, and cross-overs are fine.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate! You can track your progress on Goodreads, Shelfari, Booklikes, etc.
  • Sign up on the designated link below with your post, shelf, etc. and leave a comment letting us know what your personal goal is.
  • Link up your reviews each month via the provided link. (We will be doing a monthly challenge update for everyone to list up on.)Come join the Coolthulhu Crew and see how brave you really are!
  • Use hashtag #CoolthulhuCrew on Twitter!
  • Remember, you do have to officially sign up before August 1, 2017 so link up below to sign up and enter the challenge.



Click HERE to go to the sign-up link @ Scifi and Scary.

Holy Crap We Can Post!

This is the year I face reality.

With each passing year I get another gray hair or thirty. Wait. Is it gray or grey? My handy thesaurus is not helping me out with this one so I guess I’ll use them both. Anyway, with each grey hair that I find, I fear I’m one day closer to croaking, or at least to losing my remaining marbles, before I read any of the books wilting away in my tbr dungeon.  So here’s what I’m going to do in 2017:

Whatever the hell makes me happy. 

Life is drifting away from me one previously dirty blonde hair at a time and reading makes me happier than most anything else.  I’m scheduling in reading time and to hell with the laundry, the cat boxes and dinner. That's why I had kids, right? I’m also going to stick headphones in my ears to drown out the siren call of the blaring tv which always magically turns on whenever I sit down to read.

I’m going to DNF like there is no tomorrow because there might not be!  

I struggled through so many books that weren’t worth the struggle in 2016. Just look at this wall of meh. Click on any book cover to torture yourself with my meh review.

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis ,VIP by M. RobinsonZoe Letting GoRiding Red19194550Night Film


I could have been reading more fabulous five star books like these. What the heck is wrong with me?

22465349  Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure 30334928All the Ugly and Wonderful Things


Enough of this utter madness.  I am determined to read more wicked awesome books and less sloggy ones. My naive goal of reading ALL the books is simply not going to happen unless I win the lottery and pay someone with the smarts to figure out how to turn back time. Until then, I'll be bringing down the DNF hammer with a vengeance in 2017.

Tackling the TBR

I’m going to tackle my tbr basement once and for all though I have no clue how I'm going to achieve it.  Any ideas?

I have books down there that haven’t seen the light of day since I bought my house in the late 90’s. They’re nearly antiques at this point. Here are a few . . .

 
 
 



Look at these things. Oh-so-sad, right? I know they’re slowly dying of loneliness. They used to be in some sort of order but now they’re completely messed up because Mr. Patrick is a dick and insists on reorganizing my shelves for me by knocking them down so he has more room for his ever expanding bum.

Good Kitty

 

My Kitty


No More Netgalley

I know. Did you just drop dead after reading that statement? This may be the thing that does me in if the ravenous family who must now clean the litter boxes doesn't get to me first. It is going to be a toughie but I have zero willpower and know I will never tackle the TBR if I continue to bury myself in ARC’s. I’ll probably pick up one every month but no more 6 books at a time. Look at me reneging on my promises to myself before I even finish this paragraph . . .  I may be doomed to die in a crush of books. I guess there are worse ways to go.

More Thoughtless Reviews, Less Agonizing Over Them

Last year I only read 65 books and that includes audiobooks. That is seriously pathetic for someone who listens to nearly one audiobook a week. That means I read 12-15 actual books the entire year.


I am so embarrassed. I checked back and I read over 120 books when my kids were toddlers and I wasn’t even listening to audiobooks back then so there’s no excuse now that they’re basically grown and can put on their own undies. I’m no longer going to waste any more time agonizing about spewing out a thoughtful review and my reviews will likely be shorter. This will be the year of the completely thoughtless review.   I know what you’re thinking, “Umm, weren’t you doing that already?” and, okay, you’re half right.  But sometimes I’d find myself putting off reading anything for an entire week because I had to finish up a review of the previous one and the more I agonized over the review and worried about saying the wrong thing or saying something that hadn’t surely already been said a million times, the more I dreaded sitting down to do it. It’s a vicious circle.  I also have this odd internal voice that would tell me I had to finish a review before I had permission to start another book or the sky would fall on me. Yeah, they’ll be no more of that. That line of thought is crazy-making. It’s probably too late for me at this point but there’s still time for you to learn from my mistakes.



So I'm going to do what makes me happy and screw everything else. How about the rest of you?

 

The Secret Life of Souls by Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee

The Secret Life of Souls: A Novel - Lucky McKee, Jack Ketchum

Having read Ketchum’s work in the past and watching a few of Lucky McKee's films (May is a must-see, btw), I pretty much read this book with my heart in my throat while I waited for the ball to drop on my head and I was not at all disappointed!

 

 

This is a not a feel-good story. Don’t let that lovely cover fool you. It is a story about two terrible, self-absorbed, materialistic people who never should’ve had children. But they did. Twins in fact. Now the twins are eleven and Delia, an actress, is their beautiful little money maker. Robbie is basically ignored while their stage mom drags Delia from job to job to keep up with their luxurious lifestyle and to keep herself supplied in alcohol. Dad stays home and buys himself expensive toys. Ugh, I DESPISE these people. You will too. But you’re supposed to, so don’t feel bad about it. I sure don’t.

 

 

Delia’s only friend is her beloved dog Caity who has her own point of view. Caity is an amazing, fully fleshed out character. Their bond is super tight and extraordinary. It is also beautifully written and completely believable. Terrible things happen, as they do in a Ketchum novel, and I’m not going to spoil any of them. Just know that you will cry even if you think you’re too tough for that and when the story ends you will feel raw, as if you’ve been turned inside out and all of your nerve ending are now exposed. But you will not regret reading through the tough bits to get to the unforgettable end. Trust me on this. I loved this book. Books like this are the reason I keep reading through all of the “meh” one’s. It is absolutely deserving of all five stars. Delia and Caity will forever be in my heart. Now I’ve got to go and hug my dogs before I get all weepy again.

 

 

We are here. We together. We are not alone. This one might require Daryl.

 

 

*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. Thanks Netgalley :)

Have a happy holiday BL friends.

Happy Holidays!

Status Update: 90 minutes in

A Little Life: A Novel - Hanya Yanagihara

This is one of the best character studies I believe I've ever read. People scared me away from it saying it was the most depressing thing they've ever read but I don't think they've read some of the depressing things I've read. Out, Geek Love, The Girl Next Door? This isn't so bad in comparison. Sure it has a shadow of darkness cast over everything and I know things will probably end badly for everybody but that's life sometimes. Of course, I'm only 90 minutes in and this book is 1980 minutes long!  That is not a typo, lol. So there is plenty of time for things to get much worse.

Status Update

A Little Life: A Novel - Hanya Yanagihara

So, I decided to listen to this feel good little book for the holidays.

 

I'm just going into it expecting the worst trauma out of every scene and relationship and so far it hasn't broken me. 

Day 2 and we're a little sloggy but mostly still okay!

Are we back?!!  Patrick's afraid to look :)

Baby Patrick
Baby Patrick

First the cute. Here's a picture of my evil kitty Patrick when he was only a few weeks old. Wasn't he the cutest little demon?

 

Now the not so cute. I'm leaving you Booklikes. At least for today. Perhaps a few days. Maybe until next year. I just wasted my entire break attempting to post a review. Now I can't comment, nor read my feed past the first few entries. People comment on my posts and I cannot respond. I feel like I'm ignoring everyone so I probably will no longer post.  I may be back here and there to check in on the first two entries in my feed and I will occasionally post my reviews if I can but I think I'm going to have to say goodbye to this lovely community for good very soon. I have been patient but man am I tired of this.

 

 

Stay well and keep in touch.  You can find me, PLEASE find me, at my blog, Bark's Book NonsenseI'm also still at Goodreads for those of you who are still there.  If you have been booted from GR and have a blog please visit mine, leave a comment anywhere and I will add you to my bloglovin' feed.  

 

 

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (audio)

Enchanted - Alethea Kontis, Katherine Kellgren

This story was as charming as it was frustrating. The narrator does a beautiful job with her lovely, lilting fairytale-like accent but the material has issues even a skilled narrator can’t overcome.

A beautiful young lady named Sunday falls truly, madly, deeply in love with a frog. A talking frog, mind you, but a slimy frog nonetheless. Now don’t get me wrong, I like frogs well enough. We didn’t open our pool this past summer and a frog moved in on the little pond that was created on our pool cover. He stayed the entire summer and he would croak hello at me every time I ventured out back with my dogs. He would then stare at me like he had more to say or perhaps he was secretly wishing me dead for invading his space. One day he left our “pond” without a goodbye and I kind of missed seeing him. But that was as far as things went with me and my frog. Now that I think about it, perhaps I’ve missed my chance at ruling a kingdom. Damn. Anyway, this beauty named Sunday falls in love with her frog so deeply and so truly that she breaks a curse with her love.

You know that shit is for real when it breaks a curse, right?

This is a kinda sorta retelling of The Frog Prince with a whole bunch of other things thrown in to confuse my tired brain. And I’m not kidding about the “whole bunch of other things". Back in ye olden times of reviewing we would call this type of thing a “Kitchen Sink” book because the author throws everything in but the kitchen sink. Here are just a few of the things:

1. The frog is a cursed Prince, of course, but the curse is a muddled and complicated thing that I can’t explain and he really can’t either. Something about Sunday’s deceased brother and two fairy godmothers who have it out for each other.
2. The prince awakens with fuzzy, partial memories so not only am I confused but so is he.
3. One day Sunday is madly in love with her froggy and I’m feeling for her because he suddenly goes missing without a goodbye. Tragedy, no? But then, oh but then, a scrawny prince asks her to dance and she is wooed and declares herself in insta-love with him! She has no idea he was her true love the frog at this point because he’s too chicken to tell her because of #1. Or something. Sheesh, I guess true love for her means if I don’t see ya for a few days I’m on to the next one!
4. Sunday is the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter and do you know what that means? That means that she is magical! It also means that there are hordes of siblings all with complicated but not very well fleshed out stories of their own going on here and I could remember none of them. Her sisters were all named for days of the week. I couldn’t remember who was who and often mixed up Sunday with Saturday. My brain was not up for this.
5. There are tons of pieces of fairy tales sprinkled in here. I enjoyed that at first but after a while it felt a little like overkill.
6. The King declares he is in insta-love with one of Sunday’s sisters (please don’t ask me which one) and will take her as his bride whether she wants him or not. But the prince discovers a dark and terrible secret that sets off another subplot.
7. At some point the prince is running around town with a shoe that will only fit his true love. Wait a minute. What? I thought he already knew who his true love was. They’ve been dancing at balls and he’s only had googly eyes for her. I thought that was truly the only thing he was sure about but perhaps I wasn't really paying attention.

I guess it’s here that my brain ran out of power so none of this may be right. Don’t count on this review for any kind of accuracy.

This story would’ve been adorable if it hadn’t become so overly convoluted that it’s nearly impossible to follow. I never felt any sort of emotional attachment to any of the characters. Terrible things happen to some of them and I felt a whole bunch of nothing because of the breezy way things were handled and because of the way things just keep speeding along. Why bother add in backstory if you’re not going to knock your readers out with the emotional impact? I don’t get it. It’s a real shame because the writing is lyrical in many parts and there was so much promise.

It just didn’t work for me and I have to wonder why I finished the audio at all. I guess my only reason is that I was too lazy to start something else and the writing was very lovely at times. I was also hoping that the confusing bits would eventually be fleshed out and explained. Some of them were but many of them weren’t and now I’m left feeling a little brain hurt.

Not really recommended.

Currently reading

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel