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Barks & Bites

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

Currently reading

NOS4A2: A Novel
Joe Hill
Crazy, VA (Lil & Boris #1) (Lil & Boris Mysteries) (Volume 1)
Shannon Hill

Which Horror Movie Slasher Are You?

I got Jason Voorhees.  Lol it's scarily accurate but I was hoping for Pinhead.


You are Jason Voorhees. You enjoy nature and the outdoors, and have a love for the arts. Some may consider you the strong, silent type. You wish for peace, but when someone trespasses on your territory you may just have to kill them in the most creative and original way possible. 

Would you read a looooong book online?

Indulgence - Jack  Llawayllynn

Seeing as how I haven't worked up the urge to visit the website and finish this book in months I'm going to leave it a DNF for now. I hate sitting in front of the computer when I don't have to.  If it's released as a finished ebook I may revisit it but reading it online is a real PIA for me.


NOS4A2: A Novel - Joe Hill

And today I learned something. Like what that vanity plate means . . . 


I just thought it was a random blood-splattered plate, you know, like you see everywhere and paid it no mind.


How embarrassing.

Mispronunciation. Does it drive you nuts or is it just me?

NOS4A2: A Novel - Joe Hill

I've been looking forward to this one for so long and have been saving it for a time when I needed a guaranteed good read. I think that time has arrived. 


So I started listening to this on audio and though the narrator is pretty good she keeps mispronouncing Haverhill (it's not Hav-er-hill all proper-like, it's Hayv-rill say it with me in a Boston accent folks). I grew up in Lowell, MA (very close to Haverhill)  and this is quickly driving me mad. Just a dumb quirk that most people will never notice but it's bugging the hell out of me.


The story though? It's wonderful so far. This man can write.

Shopgirl by Steve Martin (audiobook)

Shopgirl: A Novella - Steve Martin

I read and really enjoyed Martin's book "The Pleasure of my Company" a few years ago. It was quirky and sweet and I found it very funny in parts. I was hoping for more of the same with Shopgirl when I stumbled across the unabridged audio but for some reason it's not working for me.


At all.


I'm finding myself bored and annoyed. It's about a 28 year old woman who works in a shop selling "gloves no one wants to buy" (I guess that's a job?) and lives like a newly graduated college student. She's lonely and shy and wants to meet a man she'll fall head over heels for. Meanwhile she dates Jeremy, a slacker who doesn't seem to ring any of her bells, and now there's a 50ish divorced millionaire entering the picture. Ugh. On both counts.


I'm not finding this charming or quirky or even slightly interesting and may give it up very soon. Instead I'm finding it all rather shallow and too focused on clothes and expensive meals and endless, unfunny descriptions of things I just don't give two craps about. The characterization is incredibly flat. Steve Martin's reading of the words is very disappointing. I guess over the past few years of steadily reading professionally narrator works I've been spoiled. Martin reads the words but adds no life to them. All of the characters have the same voice. The whole tone of the book so far been rather dreary when I was hoping for a laugh.


Damn, looks like I just talked myself into another DNF. 

Dog Gone, Back Soon by Nick Trout

Dog Gone, Back Soon - Nick Trout

I was tempted to grab this from Netgalley when they sent me an email that included this cute cover. I hadn’t a clue about the plot or the writer or even the genre and especially that it was a SEQUEL to another book (grrrr) but I’m a sucker for cute dogs so here we are.


Cyrus is a veterinary pathologist who feels comfortable dealing with animals after they’re deceased. He enjoys solving medical mysteries and looking through a microscope. Cyrus does not have good people skills (more on that later) but at least he admits it early on. We all can’t be charming extroverts now, can we? But, for some reason which still confounds me after finishing this book, he has decided to run his recently deceased father’s failing veterinary clinic and is now forced to deal with pet parents and pets who still breathe. He and his dad were estranged and it would’ve been oh so very helpful to me if the reason was stated somewhere in this book. It wasn’t. It might’ve been stated in book one but I’m reviewing this one. Thus, with all of the little clues tossed about, I was forced to think that maybe Cyrus was just a jerk who left his sweet dad and never looked back and was returning out of some sense of guilt, perhaps? I was left to work up all sorts of scenarios in my head and none of them had me thinking kind thoughts about Cyrus.


This was a problem and Cyrus’s interactions with people throughout this novel didn’t have me changing my mind.


But I kept reading because when the book focused on the pets and their ailments and their attached and often kooky owners I couldn’t turn away. Those cases and visits were so interesting and I loved Cyrus’s relationship with a “doodle” dog that grew on him and took a piece of his heart. That was heart-warming and believable writing but his relationship with people, especially female people? Just no. Unfortunately all of the goodness is sandwiched between an annoying relationship/obsession Cyrus is having with a woman named Amy. This romance only shined a painful, migraine inducing light on all of Cyrus’s faults (namely jealousy and immaturity and being an all-around boob when it comes to women).


I’m giving this one a three because I enjoyed and despised it almost in equal measure and some passages were just so amusing like this one:


“Margo eases herself down, pinches both of Tallulah's doughy cheeks and plants a drawn-out kiss on the dog's snout like the creepy aunt children try to avoid at family outings.”

Book Group

Crazy, VA (Lil & Boris #1) (Lil & Boris Mysteries) (Volume 1) - Shannon Hill

I  just realized I have a RL book meeting with my friends tonight and I haven't even started this book.  My girl child told me to go online to some website that has all the books and read the cliff notes (except she called it something else). I can't remember the site because I was so aghast at her next words. I told her that's cheating and I'd rather admit that I forgot than LIE and fake my way through it. She argued that it absolutely is not cheating or lying because their teacher tells them to do it all the time.




What world am I living in and how is this child mine?

Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon (audio)

Some of Your Blood - Theodore Sturgeon

This is an older short story that GR says was first published in 1956. Admittedly, I haven’t read much in the way of classic horror and I wasn’t sure the story would work for me. I guess I was expecting it to be dry and slow. What I found instead was a deeply disturbing story with many images that will linger with me for months to come.


This story is about a soldier who calls himself “George”. George is being held in a crowded military psychiatric ward for assaulting a superior. It seems he’s been forgotten there though and they really need his bed for another patient. Psychiatrist Dr. Phil is tasked with going over his case before his release. What he discovers is bizarre and chilling.


George’s story is told in various ways. He writes his own biography for the doctor which takes up a large chunk of the book. This part explores George’s sad, desperate childhood growing up poor with a sick mom and a mean ass drunkard father. I listened to this on audio and narrator Malcolm Hillgartner does an amazing job with these characters, especially George. Initially, I found George’s section sad but as he revealed more tidbits about his past, I could see that he was developing some very dangerous tendencies and a simmering anger that turned my feelings of sympathy into repulsion. The narrator gives him the perfect backwoods voice that wasn’t over the top but yet remains vastly different from the more cultured tones he gives to the psychiatrists. The rest of the book consists of interviews with the doc and George and letters between the doctors as they pick and prod into George’s past in order to figure him out. These two doc’s are quite the characters. The witty back and forth banter between them added some much needed humor and I found them both highly amusing despite the dark subject matter they were discussing.


George’s affliction is bizarre, to say the least, and I refuse to think about it too much because it freaks me out. I highly recommend listening to this on audio, if you can, because the narrator adds so much life to the words.


I will leave you with my favorite quote from George:


“The world would be a whole lot less trouble for everybody if most people would just not talk so much.”


And with that I am shutting up!


*Thanks for recommending this Char!

Example of Handling Honesty with Grace

So I was checking out the freebies on Amazon and skimming reviews when this one caught my eye.  The plot sounded interesting but I was iffy on the book after skimming the mixed reviews but after reading this comment I changed my mind and downloaded her book.


Innocence by Dean Koontz (audiobook)

Innocence: A Novel - Dean Koontz

I never quite know what I’m in for when I start a new novel by Dean Koontz. He’s written some books that I love to death and a few others that put me to sleep. He was also one of the first authors I read as a young teen so I always grab his new books hoping for the best but bracing for the worst. This time it worked out and it didn’t turn out to be another “Your Heart Belongs To Me” or “Velocity” with jerky protagonists who annoyed me from beginning to end.


I read this on audio and took all kinds of notes but I’m feeling lazy so I’m going to ramble out onto this white page whatever comes to mind and I’ll do my best not to spoil anything.


Basically this is a book about a young guy named Addison. Addison was born with some sort of affliction that makes people fly into a murderous rage when they see his face. Seriously. They want him dead. Thusly, he cannot allow himself to be seen and must hide in the shadows and live underground. Don’t bother asking me to reveal what that affliction is because I won’t do it. I spent most of the book wondering what the heck was so wrong with him and you’ll have to do the same. Be careful about reading spoilerific reviews because I feel it will ruin the book for you. All is revealed in the end and I thought it was quite beautiful. But that’s me. You might be annoyed.


After Addison’s heartbreaking childhood is revealed in flashback you’ll want to give him a big hug. Despite it all, he’s grown up sweet natured and, yes, rather innocent as the title says. He finally makes a friend named Gwyneth who is able to look past his aversion to being looked at and she honors his wishes. Gwyneth has some major quirks of her own. She’s lived her life in seclusion due to “social anxiety”, she can’t abide being touched and has been protected and doted on by her wealthy father. But he’s been murdered and Gwyneth is hell bent on exposing his evil murderer, thus forcing her out into the world to fight evil with the help of Addison. The two make a great pair and become insta-friends. I believed it. There is much more going on here (but not too much for my tired brain) and I loved all of it. There are packs of dogs (yay!), there’s a plague brewing (yay!!), and there are sinister marionette’s (evil dolls! Yay!!! You can't ever go wrong with evil dolls). These are a few of my favorite things and they’re all wrapped into one book, how could I not love it? Well, that’s easy. The story could’ve tanked due to Koontz’s penchant for excessive wordiness and lame characters with unrealistic dialogue. But there was none of that here. Or if there was it didn’t bother me. I haven’t liked a Koontz book as much as this one since I read Odd Thomas.


That’s not to say it’s perfect. The murderer is a Koontz classic, a one-note evil guy, cursing worse than me when I run out of chocolate and spreading his evil wherever he goes because he feels like it. The story is almost perfect though and that’s more than good enough for me. I found only one of the plot elements a little unclear (pun alert, if you’ve read it) but Koontz may be setting this up as another series. Anyway, it read that way to me which was slightly annoying because I never follow through on reading series. But that’s my problem.

I read this as an unabridged audiobook and the narrator took a little getting used to. He reads at a very leisurely pace as if he and I have all the time in the world, but he does vulnerability oh-so-well and the story was so compelling that I quickly fell into it, rather than falling asleep.

Innocence was lovely and sweet and has an interesting, twisty plot that kept me guessing and reading until the very end. If you read it, I hope you love it as much as I did.

This is my life

Not kidding. Wish I was. I have 4 cats, 2 big dogs and this is how it goes. Whenever I put my mat down one of the six decides to be a royal pain in the ass (or, eh, other spots) just because they can.


Inspired by Char's efforts to give up smoking and guilt from my daughter who is vegan and a crazy fitness nut, I have decided to give up my slovenly ways and restart my exercise routine. I was feeling sluggish and starting to get depressed and I know it's because I've been surviving on a diet of caffeine, dark chocolate and red wine with a little oatmeal and protein thrown in. So Monday I dusted off those Focus T25 DVD's we bought for Christmas (and barely used), subscribed to Blogilates and am following the 90 Day Challenge plan along with her beginner 30 day routine. This means no chocolate (god help those near and dear to me) and no red wine and no sugar at all.

I'm on Day 3 and so far I haven't killed anyone.
The 3 exercise routines each day seem to be taking my mind off the chocolate (ok, not really) but I haven't caved.

Moan for Big Foot by Virginia Wade

Moan For Bigfoot (The Monster Menage Series) - Virginia Wade

Hey, don't judge. I needed me some truly brain dead reading and boy did I ever find it in this "Moan for Big Foot" collection. You can probably figure out what it's about from the title and the young beauty in the nightie who is lost in the woods. She moans for bigfoot and his disturbed mom who wields a vibrator, her two friends do too. She also moans for an older married man. Chick likes to get her moan on. There really isn't much more to say here, now is there?


It's silly and ridiculously gross and filled with rapey horror and TSTL cliches and the writing is very, very basic but you know what? I kept reading it . . .  Totally worth my $3.99 haha.

HWA Discussion

Finally there is some interesting discussion going on about the HWA's letter to Amazon between some of the members. Link leads to facebook, scroll down to the post about "a story following our release". 

Thanks GR for pointing out the oh-so-obvious. It's only April and I'm already falling down on this, my one and only, challenge! This is why I don't join challenges. Seriously though I like that GR points this out because it keeps me motivated. Unless it's December and then I panic.


And  how are you all doing?


Instead of moving books out this Monday two arrived in the mail from paperbackswap. I set books to auto ship on my wish list and it's always a nice surprise when they arrive, sometimes years after making the request.  Do any of you use them? It's a cheap way to get books if you're patient. It's also a good way to get rid of some too.


Ah well, I guess I'll have to start fresh with the TBR pile culling tomorrow . . . 

The Woods by Harlan Coben (unabridged audiobook)

The Woods By Harlan Coben - -Author-

I accidentally started reading the abridged version of this book last month. It wasn’t very good and I thought it was me, my mood, something . . . Like most abridgments it left me confused, it moved too fast and it seemed to be missing the best parts. Characterization was not really there and Coben’s snarky humor was nary to be seen. After wasting four + hours I realized my stupid mistake and managed to track down the unabridged version at my library. It was read by the same narrator too, Scott Brick. Why on earth they would chop this version up and cut out some of the best parts is beyond me. If you’re getting this on audio be careful!


This unabridged version was much more readable but in all honesty it definitely wasn’t the best book I’ve read by this author.


I liked it well enough in the beginning. Paul “Cope” Copeland, the protagonist, was a decent enough fellow. He’s a single father who lost his wife to cancer and he works very hard as the county prosecutor (I think that’s right) putting bad folks away with his sidekick Muse (I liked Muse, she was a tough girl who was good at her job). When they were busy finding evidence to nail a bunch of rich, entitled rapists, I was glued to the story. Even the bits that take place in the courtroom were interesting and I don’t usually enjoy courtroom dramatics. Unfortunately, at some point that plot drops off the planet for a while and the space is filled with an assortment of other sub-plots that made the book feel a little overstuffed. There’s a past mystery about Paul’s dead sister that’s come back to haunt him, an ex-flame that may or not be rekindled, then there’s a trusted and beloved relative who may be up to a little shady-ness and one of the rich boys daddies is having dirt dug up about Paul. There might’ve been even more going on but I started to tune out a little due to disinterest.


This book got a bit too tangled up by the end for me because there was just too much going on. I probably would’ve had a better time with the book if I hadn’t listened to as an audio. Then again I probably would’ve set it down and never picked it up again. The narration was good. Brick has a strong voice made for a hard-boiled mystery. The characterization is pretty good too but I found Paul a little too bland to carry the book (sorry but it’s true). He was a nice guy who stood up for the down-trodden wee man but he just wasn’t compelling enough to grab me and keep for the duration. There was some memorable humor though and it’s definitely worth a read if you enjoy this type of mystery/suspense.


Here’s Paul talking to a client and her shifty, stinky attorney:


“Oh I understand. They’re offering money if you recant. The sum has now reached a level where your attorney here, Mr. Who-Needs-A-Shower-When-There’s-Cologne, thinks it makes sense to do it.”


 “What did you call me?”


I looked at Muse. “Open a window, will you?”


“Got it, Cope.”


“Hey! What did you call me?”


“The window is open. Feel free to jump out.”

Hahahaha, I love some good snarky sarcasm and Coben does it just right (I just want more of it!).


Coben is a great writer, there’s no denying it, but The Woods just won’t go down as my most beloved of his work.