Bark's Book Nonsense

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

Blood Secrets - Audiobook

Reblogged from Valancourt Books:

New Release


Our first audiobook, Robert Marasco's BURNT OFFERINGS, has been such a huge success that we're excited to unveil our second: Craig Jones's masterful modern Gothic chiller BLOOD SECRETS, narrated by Caitlin Davies. Once again we have 10 *FREE* downloads to give away (US only, sorry)! The first 10 people to comment below will receive a copy. Thanks!






Free Audio

Boy Meets Boy - David Levithan, Nicholas Robideau, The Full Cast Family

This audiobook is free @ SYNC for the next week. I've heard good things about it.

Sorry I've gone silent but

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I put my back out again and moving even a wee little bit set off back spasms so I've mostly been curled in a ball of misery wishing for death. I broke down and saw a MD this time and was given some muscle relaxers. Those things? They don't work. They only make me sleepy and useless.  Ah well.  Now I'm broke and still in pain but I'm all caught up on my sleep.  Lesson learned. 

Easy. Whole. Vegan. Cookbook Review

Easy. Whole. Vegan.: 100 Flavor-Packed, No-Stress Recipes for Busy Families - Melissa King

I am not vegan but I usually cook a few vegan meals every week because I love the beasties and I like to pretend I’m healthy. I’m always looking for new, tasty and easy recipes because, honestly, standing on my feet in the kitchen for endless hours after working all day is not my idea of a good time. I’d much rather be sitting on my butt reading a book. But I don’t want us eating crap either so the simple title of this book caught my eye.


It starts out with an intro about the authors’ sick babies which was a little too TMI for my liking. I kept seeing the word feeding tubes and vomit on the page and had to start skimming – sorry, I’m heartless, I know this, but I wake up to enough grossness every day in my own house and just don’t want to read about these kind of nitty gritty details in a cookbook.


There’s a list of kitchen equipment and pantry items you’ll want to have stocked, if you don’t have them already. Some of the kitchen equipment will require a little investment (dehydrator, slow cooker, ice cream maker, spiralizer) but they’re worth buying if you do a lot of home cooking. The pantry stuff is pretty much all the basics; applesauce, baking soda, flour, hemp & flax seeds, nutritional yeast, beans, stuff like that. There’s nothing too weird or hard to find here, especially if you’ve ever cooked vegan or vegetarian. I’m thankful that the author has mentioned how to easily make some of the harder to find items like chickpea flour or oat flour or the pricier items like jarred roasted peppers and tomatoes. I always thought I had to buy them but if you have a high speed blender and an oven you can do it for yourself on the cheap. She also gives some handy tips for saving cash in other areas and ideas to save time. You probably already knew that you can extend the life of your cut herbs by placing them in water but I had no idea! I usually let them rot in a dark corner of the fridge.



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UPDATE: I’ve successfully managed to kill those pretty herbs in three days time. Perhaps this tip is only for those without a black thumb.


Now, if you’re anything like me, before you spend some hard earned cash on a cookbook you probably want to know that the recipes have actually been tested by real people. It’s easy to look at the pretty pictures and ooh and aww over them and write a half-assed review. I can’t do that. I want to know these recipes aren’t going to make me call the call the pizza guy in a panic because I just made shit stew. There is nothing worse than spending money on a cookbook and ingredients only to have the majority of recipes end in disaster due to errata in the book. So, being the kind soul that I am, I am bravely putting a few to the test for you and will update this review as I work my way through the book (skipping the things that sound gross to me).


Here’s what’s happened so far.


Apple Cinnamon Quinoa This is made in the crockpot and smells amazing when it’s cooking. My daughter said the house smelled like Fall. I set my cooker to high while plopped myself on the couch to catch up on Preacher for an hour or three. Apparently, my small crockpot was made in Hell and is not to be trusted because after 3 hours all of the liquid was long gone and everything was burnt on the bottom. I’d recommend keeping an eye on this unless you don’t mind eating bitter burnt bits.



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Here it is after I picked out most of the burned bits.



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I have not cut sugar out of my diet so, to me, this tasted a wee bit bland. If I ever were to make it again (and honestly, I probably won’t), I’d add in some maple syrup and more liquid and lower the temp. I tried it cold this morning with a little agave syrup and it wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t too great either. This was kind of a dud for me, truth be told, and most of it is still sitting in a container in the fridge days later.


Cilantro Lime Cauliflower “Rice” This was so good I almost ate the entire thing myself. It also fooled both my kids and my husband into thinking they were eating some fancy rice from Chipotle. But this is much healthier. It didn’t last the night and it made a whole bunch. If you’re thinking this sounds rather disgusting (ewww, cauliflower!) try it anyway. I think you’ll be very surprised. This is no faux mashed potato cauliflower dish, trust me on this. 


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Crockpot Corn Chowder This time I used my trusty, ancient, not made in Hell slow-cooker and had great results. The only mods I made were putting it on LOW for 10 hours instead of HIGH, adding an additional cup of veggie broth (I feared the burn again) and using a full can of coconut cream instead of a can of whole fat coconut milk. It’s all I had and I was too lazy to run to the store. This was fantastic, slightly sweet and very hearty. I’d make this again and again and would always use the full fat coconut cream from Trader Joe’s. That stuff is heavenly (and good for making ice cream too).



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I will update this review as I cook more of the recipes but so far, so good. The recipes are also very easy to make, as promised, and I feel safe in recommending it.

Yep, I think I'm good for a while now. Maybe forever.

It looks like we're all having a very craptastic week. Here's a little calming interlude with love from Patrick.

Hello, I am Nora Roberts

So, I am perusing the new hot horror releases on and I see that #20 is a new story by Stephen King called "The Leaden Man". Why aren't my friends talking about this?! Have I finally spotted something first? It's only $1.99 so I click to see what this is all about, thinking I have just discovered something newsworthy.


And then I read a few lines.


What kind of f*ckery is this? If this was written by Stephen King, then I hereby declare myself Nora Roberts!


I picked a snippet at random. Is it just me or does someone have a weird lips fetish? Hmm, I think I would've noticed this in a King novel before now. Anyone reading my reviews knows that I am no grammar queen but this was so riddled with weird grammatical abominations that I felt the need to share my pain with the rest of you. How is this allowed?! And a small number of people are actually buying & praising it!



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I feel another rant coming

i am so tired of being nice and polite when people infect my reviews with shitty comments. I would never crap all over someone's review in the comments. Why do people think this shit is ok? I'm so sick of playing nice and shrugging them off. 


A rant

Easy. Whole. Vegan.: 100 Flavor-Packed, No-Stress Recipes for Busy Families - Melissa King

So, as I bitched about earlier, this book comes from Netgalley as a protected PDF. I have to screenshot to print anything which is a major pain in my butt. I just tried everything available to me, short of doing something really shady, to make it printable. Nothing worked :(  I can't risk setting my laptop/tablet on the counter because I am a klutz and my cat is a jerk. All I want to do is copy & paste the recipes into a word file. Waaaaa.


It gets worse. I have to enlarge the text 1.5x on my laptop so it's readable (ugh), then ss, then open, then crop, then print on multiple pages and waste 100 innocent trees. Could they possible make this any more difficult for me to review? Why on earth would you send out a cookbook as a PDF? WHY?! 


But the topper on this craptastic cake is when I go into my Adobe Digital Editions, I realize this PDF will expire in 54 days. So I go through all of this work of cropping, formatting, printing, losing my mind, cursing at the world (I'm starting to feel like Slippin' Jimmy from Better Call Saul at this point), cooking, reviewing and the book goes "poof" as a fine thank you very much SUCKER. WTH, I may as well have borrowed this from Overdrive (which I would never do because it's a freaking cookbook!).


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I am so annoyed right now.  I'm tempted to copy & paste this and send it as my review to the publisher. There are several reviews there now and it is clear none of them actually cooked any of the recipes. How is that helpful?!!!


I guess this is all my fault for clicking on over to Netgalley and breaking my promise to myself. Sometimes it's just better to buy the book.

Please Help

Easy. Whole. Vegan.: 100 Flavor-Packed, No-Stress Recipes for Busy Families - Melissa King

Well, crapola. I requested this cookbook from Netgalley, managed to get approved only to notice it's available as a locked PDF only. Ugh, so I can't print out the recipes or cut and paste, how the hell am I going to make these recipes?! I am far too busy wasting time on GR and BL to type them all out. Either I'm too dumb to figure this out (probably) or it's not possible. If I leave the laptop on the counter one of my asscats will surely knock it on the floor because . . . well, asscat isn't an asscat for no reason.


Please help.


This is the #1 asscat, btw. Those mitts of his do NOT help me in the kitchen, I'm sad to say.


Esther the Wonder Pig by Steve Jenkins

Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time - Walter Derek George Blundell, Caprice Crane, Steve Jenkins

*I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley after seeing it in Yodamom's feed. Thanks Yodamom!


Esther is a 600+ pound pig who is internet famous. She has more followers than most people. If you google “Esther the pig” you’ll find her everywhere. This is the story of how it all happened.


Steve is a sweet young guy, living with his partner Derek, two dogs and two kitties in a 1,000 sf apartment. Pretty normal, right? He loves all creatures, always has, so when an old friend he hasn’t heard a peep from in 10 years gives him a ring, begging him to provide a home for her “micro-pig”, he agrees to meet her. He, of course, ends up going home with the cute little piggie - without consulting his partner. And my husband thought he had it bad when a kitten suddenly appeared in our bathroom one night. Being sneaky NEVER pays off because that evil cat loves him and only him and I guess it serves me right.


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As Derek and Steve are adjusting to life with a pig in an apartment where livestock is not allowed, they both come to the realization that Steve’s long-lost “friend” is a big, lousy liar. The cute little piggie they name Esther grows and grows and grows.



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But she has a name and a personality and she has become a part of the family.



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Uh oh! Now, what are they going to do?!


The book documents the quirks and events that happen when one lives with a full grown pig. Things are broken, food is snatched and rivers of pee are unleashed but somehow they stay strong and make it work. Derek and Steve’s eyes are opened to the horrors of factory farming and realize they can no longer eat bacon without seeing Esther’s face.



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It’s sweet and warm and funny and never gets preachy. There are even a few vegan recipes at the end for anyone interested in trying it out. If you want a feel good, true story with a happy ending this is a good one.


Also posted to my new blog, come by and say "hey" at Barks Book Nonsense.

American Housewife Review

American Housewife: Stories - Deutschland Random House Audio, Rebecca Lowman, Dorothy Dillingham Blue, Lisa Cordileone, Helen Ellis, Kathleen Mcinerney

I grab almost every audio available to me and prefer to go in blind when I can. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t and I end up with nightmares (I’m pointing at you, Daddy Love by Joyce Carol Oates). When I started American Housewife I had some vague memory of someone somewhere saying it was a memoir and I started reading it with glee because these people were horrid and I love nothing more than reading about horrible, snooty people doing horrible things to each other (and, if true, all the better!) but alas my brain failed me once again. I soon realized it’s actually a fictional collection of short stories, vignettes and “lessons” – mostly sarcastic lessons on how to be a proper southern lady. Lessons I obviously have no use for! None of them are true stories either. Ah well.


I’m not going to rehash all of the stories and such with a plot synopsis because I am lazy and mostly because I did not take notes. So off the top of my head, I’ll tell you a little about the stories that stuck with me long enough to be written down here.


“The Wainscotting War” was the first real short story in the collection and I thought it was the best. It should’ve been stuck somewhere in the middle because I kept expecting the rest of the tales to have the same snarky magic and, except for brief glimpses, they didn’t. It’s about two housewives who go to great lengths to out insult the other in an email war over redecorating a hallway. It’s wickedly dark and funny in the evilest of ways and I LOVED it.


“The Fitter” is about a woman who is married to the most wanted man in all the land. Wanted by the woman-folk, that is. He can look at a woman’s chest and instantly find her the perfect bra, one able to perk up the saddest pair of droopy breasts without surgery. He’s been able to do this since he was a kid which is kind of creepy, if you ask me, but he’s managed to make quite the living off of his magical skills, yet another reason the ladies are all after him. His current wife, also his assistant in the business, has to fend off the hussies vying for his attention. I felt for her, I truly did. It was a little sad but I’m not going to tell you why (unless you send me some chocolate).


“Welcome to Book Club” mostly annoyed me, truth be told. I thought it was trying just a little too hard to be witty and obnoxious and mostly succeeded in just being obnoxious. To be a part of this exclusive “book club” means you must give up your identity and . . . other things. The narration was good but the story didn’t work out for me.


“Dead Doormen” was ghostly, morbid and a little ghastly. That I can work with.


“Dumpster Diving with the Stars” nearly bored me to death. It was about some ridiculous reality tv show. It was overly long and not at all interesting or witty to me. Not helping matters was the monotonous narrator. I never thought it would end but fortunately it did. Did I mention the stories are read by alternating narrators? That’s a very good thing in this case.


“Pageant Protection” is a twisted little story about a woman who makes it her mission to give pageant girls a lifestyle “do-over”.


“I Sold My Soul to Tampax” is the last story and I don’t think this is the title but it’ll have to do. My brain has shut down for the day. It’s about a writer who apparently didn’t read the fine print on her contract and faces what is probably every writer’s worst nightmare. It was pretty much all over the place and felt a little rushed and the protagonist seemed like a dimwit for allowing any of this to happen at all.


Most of the stories fall into the “entertaining at some point” category with only one that really stood out which is unfortunate seeing as it was the first actual story in the book and set me up to expect the rest to be even better. The others weren’t as nasty as I’d hoped and weren’t really “laugh out loud funny” but maybe my sense of humor has skedaddled off with what’s left of my memory. If you want to read about a bunch of awful ladies that have ugly thoughts, dark edges and haughty ways give it a go. You probably won’t like any of these people but you might like reading about them. If nothing else, I learned that:


“Taxidermy is the new decoupage."


Who knew? Perhaps I’ll have to take it up in my old age. Looks like it could be useful!




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Reading progress update: I've read 30%.

American Housewife: Stories - Deutschland Random House Audio, Rebecca Lowman, Dorothy Dillingham Blue, Lisa Cordileone, Helen Ellis, Kathleen Mcinerney

There is most definitely something wrong with me because I am finding this book hilarious.



"My life coach says taxidermy is the new decoupage."


It's so nice to have an extra day off. This is how we're spending the rest of it!  

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

Hidden Bodies  - Caroline Kepnes

If you haven’t read “You”, stop right here and get to work on that. Hidden Bodies is a direct sequel to “You” and they really must be read in order. This review is a little spoilery so I'm going to add in the spoiler tags for anyone who doesn't want to know too much before digging in. Here again we catch up with Joe who is as nutzo, murderous, hateful and lovable in his own weird way, as ever. He is just living his life, working in a bookstore, minding his own business and occasionally worrying about a mug of urine he accidentally left behind after doing something terrible. One fine day a lovely, leggy blonde named Amy walks her way into his life and they fall in love. She is perfect. She gets him. But then, as will happen – especially if you’re Joe, she

betrays him. He rages. He gets those murderous feelings again and follows a trail to Los Angeles to get his murder on because his heart is BROKEN.



But he gets sidetracked.


He starts dating, he gets an apartment, he makes friends, he even logs onto Facebook. All of this is done simply to look legit, of course, not because he has a secret dream to become a normie. Eventually more terrible things happen, people piss him off and he contemplates murder, sometimes following through with it, sometimes fumbling. It is so hilarious to me that Joe always comes to the conclusion that murder is so much easier than dealing with (or ignoring) someone’s shit.


How can you not like Joe? Or is it just me?


Anyway, during all of Joe’s pretending to have a life and to care about things, he meets Love, who actually turns out to be the woman of his dreams and he seems to forget all about his plans for Amy. He pals around with rich folk and writes screenplays. I’m not sure how I feel about this part, an enormous part, of the story. Wait, yes I am. It bugged me. It bugged me a whole bunch. The Joe I knew from "YOU" had a one track mind. He was obsessed. He was the master of obsession. He was so good at it. The Joe here is a super forgetful fellow and easily thrown off track. Joe, remember Amy? Amy MUST PAY. I wanted Amy to pay but Joe was too busy finding love. Ugh.


In the end, though.



And I, for one, am thankful for that.


(show spoiler)


Because Joe is a sarcastic bastard and promises that he would never hurt an innocent animal, I’m giving this book a 3 ½ and I’ll be reading the next one. 

Reblogging: Why I’m suggesting you should NOT buy these books by Em Petrova

Reblogged from Nemo @ Young Adult At Heart:

This is shameful! Publishing companies that cheat authors out... 



Why I’m suggesting you should NOT buy these books


Book store

photo purchased from Depositphotos





You might be gasping at the title of this blog post, and it almost makes me cringe to even type it. Because I’m suggesting that you do NOT to buy some of my books.




Here’s a little story:



There once was a young, naive author who signed contracts with not one publisher but two who have screwed her out of money and rights. Unfortunately this author didn’t know what the future held. With publisher #1, at least she got recognition and a name. It was a chance at being published that others hadn’t taken on her.



But publisher #2 was a good publisher (at the time). They were at the top of their game, doing every conference and book function in the industry. Some huge names were published there, so this stupid author signed a CONTRACT FOR FOREVER RIGHTS. Yes, you read that right–rights will never be reverted (except under a weird little clause, which I’ll tell you about later.)



This publisher has cheated hundreds of authors. Their big ship was the Titanic with a huge gouge in the side but unlike the Titanic, this motherfucker won’t sink. They keep floating along–how is anybody’s guess. They’re wanted for thousands in back taxes and they’ve been attacked on Dear Author and many other prominent blogs. Still, they’re still kicking. Ain’t no Raid bug spray that takes this vermin out.



They’ve gone from paying monthly to quarterly, but for some authors, they stopped paying them altogether. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m one of these authors. The last check I got was in December 2015 and it was for books sold around March 2015. Now, in this industry, this is complete and total bullshit, folks. Holding onto funds is not right.



Say you work at McDonalds and one day you stop getting a paycheck. They say you’re getting paid ASAP. That day never comes. YET THEY TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN’T QUIT UNLESS YOU GET YOURSELF AN ATTORNEY AND FIGHT THEM FOR IT.


Yep, that’s what I was told. You can’t have your books back. You can’t get paid either, so here’s the big fat middle finger. Sit and spin, Em. I told them they’d breached contract by failing to pay quarterly as per their terms. Their response was, and I quote:



Breach of clause 16 regarding royalties payments (or any other contract clause) does not void the contract nor revert book rights to you. When a contract is breached, the party claiming breach has the option of waiting for the other party to correct the situation or may pursue legal action to gain correction of the situation. In such case, the court would typically set a deadline by which time the situation must be corrected (“cured”), and if not corrected the court would decide on further action.

The only conditions set forth in the contract for reversion of rights are in clause 1.1. If your book qualifies (meets all the conditions listed), you may send a request for reversion of rights, stating it is based on clause 1.1.

Therefore your request for reversion of rights is not granted. Ellora’s Cave  Evil Publisher continues to hold all publishing rights to the contracted books. The author has no rights to distribute or sell these books in any format or channels.




So basically, they’re saying:



Nananananana! Get a fucking lawyer. Pay for it out of the grocery fund that feeds your 4 kids, Em. And good fucking luck to you, because chances are, you’ll be wrapped up in a legal mess forever. And we still won’t pay you. Oh yeah, we won’t give your books back either.




Oh, and Evil Publisher has also sold our rights back to us in many cases. Authors were mortgaging their fucking houses to get enough money to buy their own books back! I asked the price of my own books and was quoted $25,000 for my fireman series and $10,000 for each of the other titles.




Can I get a big FUCK NO?



Fans: Fans Boo a Play on the Field




Okay, here’s the real meaning behind my post today. If I get no sales on these titles, I can have rights back. I’ll let you make up your minds whether or not to buy these:







If it were me, I’d see these titles, close my eyes and flick on past them. Because buying them is equivalent to knowing little Asian toddlers are sewing your underwear 12 hours a day and losing fingers in the sewing machines.



With poor sales, I have a CHANCE at getting the rights back. Evil Publisher will return rights for poor sales (after they scratch their asses for undetermined amounts of time).



I feel like I’ve been silent long enough. Many other authors have come out about this bullshit, and it’s my turn. I’ve been waiting for the right moment when I could be heard and make a difference. If not to other authors, then dammit, to my own livelihood. As a single mom of 4 I want the money I’m owed. And if they won’t pay me, then I want these books back in my control so I can earn from them.



Instead of me asking you to help me shoot a book to the top of the charts, I’d like to see these rankings drop to 200 squillion on Amazon. WHEN I get these rights back (yeah, I’m gonna fight till the end of my days–or likely theirs), I promise to offer them all #FREE just because I can!



As for Publisher #1, they aren’t a concern to me. They gave me a start when nobody else did. To me, it’s like saying I got 5 beautiful kids out of my shitty marriage. What concerns me right now is a publisher who can say screw you, get a lawyer, we won’t help you at all.



I hope you’ll continue to buy my MANY other titles. You can see them all on my website.



Thanks for listening to my rant and for following me and my books. Each and every fan is important to me, just as every author should be important to publishers. Overall, the publishers I’ve worked with have been amazing and gone above and beyond for me. I will continue to write for several publishers as well as indie publish. Don’t worry–I’m not lying down and waiting for the experience to end me.




Em Petrova





Amazon Author Page

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