Bark's Book Reviews

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.

The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan

The Doll House - Phoebe Morgan

"The house surrounds us. I feel like it’s watching me."

This book isn’t really about a dollhouse. Nor is it about creepy dolls. It’s about family secrets and I love those almost as much as creepy dolls so I was good with that. Unfortunately, I guessed the biggest secret way too early and you probably will too.

Sisters Corrine and Ashley are being watched/stalked/terrorized by a third person without their knowledge. Corrine starts to catch on when someone begins leaving pieces of her old childhood dollhouse where she can find them. Everyone else thinks she’s starting to go a little mad. She’s always been a little jumpy, anxiety ridden and seen faces in windows that have spooked her. Recently, she’s been desperately trying to have a child through IVF and this is the conclusion her friends and family jump to – bunch of jerks. Ashley, the sister, has her hands full with a secretive husband who is spending far too much time at work, a baby who won’t stop screaming and who won’t sleep, a teen headed for trouble and mouth-breather phone calls. I felt for poor Ashley. Had I been in her position I might’ve got behind the wheel and just kept on driving . . . 

The heart of this story rests on its day to day family dramas so if you’re not into all of that you may find things a little slow going. I have to admit that I found it a struggle at times and too slow moving and I typically love this sort of thing. This is not a fast paced thriller, by any means. The stressful atmosphere is almost claustrophobic and there’s an underlying sense of dread but discovering that I was right about the “why” behind the big secret with still many pages left, took a lot of the thrill away for me. I was oh-so-wrong about the who though and I enjoyed that tasty little surprise.

This is a nice debut but it wasn’t quite compelling enough to grab and hold my attention, nor did I ever get fully emotionally invested in the characters. I’m giving it a three for those reasons.


PSA: I Might Not Like Your Book and That's Okay

Seriously, it is okay. I am but one person in a sea of readers. Most of who probably have better taste than I! There is no need to come on over to my review (or anyone's) at Goodreads and tell me how much of an idiot you think I am. It will not change my opinion about the book but it may change someone's opinion about you. A bad review is also never a reason To Start A Petition to force Goodreads to change their TOS to suit you.

I love books, I love authors, I love to read, to review and I love nothing more than to spread the word about books. But I'm not always going to like your book. In fact, I will probably dislike at least one thing about it because I'm a bit of a jerk like that and that's okay too. There are very few books that I think are perfect.The first one that comes to mind is Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. It is my comfort read. I have read it numerous times and it always makes me feel magical.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13872.Geek_Love?ac=1&from_search=true


I adore that weird book so much and, whoa, would you look at this!

Holy crap! Not everyone adores it nearly as much as I do. My favorite book in all the land has 1390 one star reviews. Bastards! Some of those one stars are even from my bastard friends who must not be following my review rules!! But I still love them dearly and respect the fact that they despise the best book ever written. We are all different and totally entitled to have our own opinion no matter how contrary or peculiar or inconceivable that opinion may be.

So here's a little reminder because some people out there in bookland seem to have forgotten this:

Negative reviews are NEVER a reason to freak out.

Mediocre reviews are NEVER a reason to freak out.

Five star reviews are NEVER a reason to freak out.

READER REVIEWS ARE NEVER A REASON TO FREAK OUT.  PERIOD.

Because some people take this all a little too seriously, I'm going to give you a little insight into a book crazy persons head. Or maybe just a crazy person. It matters naught. Most of time I read reviews after I've finished a book and written my own review because I'm nosy and only really care about the last book I've just read. I'm self-centered like that. I like to see what others thought and how my thoughts match up. I bet many readers do the same. Some folks give reader reviewers way too much power.

I also, as a rule, pretty much only read my friends reviews of books I'm considering buying. I trust no one else. I've been burned too many times and from my example above I noticed even my friends can't totally be trusted! So while reviews are great fun to read I do not think they are the end all, be all, final word on a book, on book sales and on book exposure. Also, one reader review does not have the ability to "ruin" an authors career. That's just someone being dramatic.

 

These books are classic examples of books people loved but that burned me bad. I was sucked in by the overwhelming positive reviews and the "you've gotta read" comments and wasted both my time and my money listening to people who did not share my taste. One stars. All of them. I don't care what anyone else says! (you can read my crappy reviews by clicking on a cover)
 
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/159409115?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1Dark Prince by Christine Feehanhttps://www.goodreads.com/review/show/86121449?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/80527099?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/87141714?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/81750749Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman


Perhaps there are people who have the time to sit around doing nothing but reading all the reviews written by everyone ever and being all judgy but most of us are not that person. We have books to read. This is what always blows my mind when an author has a meltdown over a reader review. A negative review is not a big deal to me, nor to most other readers. It certainly won't stop me from buying something (though ALL five stars might). We buy based on many factors. Here's some free advice and it's totally worth what you're paying for it, on how to deal with a not-so-great, maybe not-so-nice review: Keep it to yourself! Forget you read it. Walk away. It's highly likely that very few people will  even notice it! That's what I'd do were it me. Boohoo about it publicly, leave crappy comments on the review and maybe even threaten the reader with a lawsuit and you can bet we will all be running over to that review to rubberneck that trainwreck and we will remember your name and we won't touch your work with a ten foot pole. Why would anyone do this? But yet they do and it always ends, well, awfully for the offended party.

So I say leave that one star review alone. It can be a good thing! I kid you not. Here are some books I bought because a key word in a review caught my eye and I had to know more! For the record, I ended up five starring all of these books (clicking on cover will bring you to the gushy review).

                  

                           "Vile"   

                613605                              https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/130199982?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

                  I Want my $ back"                               "Too much sex"

Why am I posting this? Well there was a little kerfluffle on Twitter over the weekend that reminded me that a reminder is overdue! An author took up the Anne Rice mantle and wrote up a petition to have GoodReads change their evil ways. Demanding they stop allowing people to write whatever they want to write (no "nasty" comments - who determines the nasty?) and disallowing them the ability to star books without writing reviews amongst other demands. She later backtracked and deleted her #AuthorsRiseUp account as well as the petition. But I saw it and quite a few others did as well. It gave me the shivers! Oh also, here's another reminder that people sometimes forget. Once you post something on the internets, it is out there on the internets forever. Yes, even if you delete it You can read the text of the petition here if you so choose.

http://alexandrasadventures.booklikes.com/post/1631056/yet-another-petition-for-goodreads-to-change-to-suit-entitled-authors

And that story about the lawsuit threat? I wish I could say that I made it all up but it's real. Yep, someone did that. Over. A. Reader. Review.

http://www.happyindulgencebooks.com/2017/12/30/the-importance-of-the-book-blogging-community/

 

Please remember I might not like your book and that's okay because reader reviews are never a reason to freak out!
 

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory - Caitlin Doughty, Caitlin Doughty, Recorded Books LLC

“A girl always remembers the first corpse she shaves.”

 

I sometimes think I’ve missed my life’s true calling. That of being a mortuary worker.  But after reading this book I’m not so sure. I always thought the idea of working with people who didn’t talk back was a nice one, you know?  No office politics, no grumpy personalities to tip-toe around, no one stealing your lunch and there’s never a lack of business. Sounds like bliss to me. Until I read this book which shattered those daydreams. There are some unsavory, heartbreaking and infuriating parts of the job that I never considered like . . .

 

Incinerating Babies

Gushing molten fat

Cheap ass relatives

Moving heavy bodies into the incinerator by yourself

Heads. Yep. Just the heads.

 

But then again, no job is perfect, right?

 

Caitlin Doughty captures her experiences while working at a mortuary and later going to school to make it official, with humor, insight and horror. I loved every captivating word. She has an extremely fanciful imagination and morbid wit that keeps you listening even when things get really dark or really disgusting and believe me they get disgusting!

 

She delves deep into the history of death rituals and how it all evolved into the system currently in place today.  She doesn’t pull any punches and explains how embalming, though once a necessity on the battlefield, has morphed into nothing more than a money maker for the death industry. Fascinating! I always wondered why bodies weren’t buried naturally and given back to the earth and now I know the reason and it’s pretty damn depressing.

 

Doughty narrates this audiobook and she does a fantastic job. She knows her material best, after all, and her voice is clear and pleasant to listen to. She adds humor in all the right spots and it never feels forced. She has a strong grasp on the toll that being surrounded by death brings on those who deal with it day in and day out. She and her co-workers look at the world a little differently than most folks.  I guess it’s hard not to when you face down death and deal with the aftermath every day. Death happens to everyone sooner or later and there’s no point living your life fearful of it coming for you. And it is coming for you!

 

 “We are just future corpses.”

 

If you’re a morbid sort such as I, I highly recommend this book to you.

 

 

 

Hard Core by Tess Oliver

Hard Core - Tess Oliver

I haven’t a clue why this book is called Hard core because it’s not hard core at all and that’s not a terrible thing. Just don’t be misled by the title thinking you’re going into some gritty, taboo, murder filled read. You might be disappointed if that’s the case.

Hard Core is a sweet, slightly saucy little love story. Ledger has recently been released from prison for a stupid but rather harmless offense. He’s covered in tattoos but he’s nothing but sweetness on the inside.

He did not murder or harm anyone, if you were still wondering.

Jacy runs a coffee shop and is recovering from an abusive relationship and a devastating secret she doesn’t share with anyone when she meets Ledger. They soon fall in love but Ledger has a secret of his own. A secret which will come back to bite him in his perfect butt and possibly ruin everything he’s been living for the past few years.

This was a straight-forward, slightly predicable but pleasant romance with a likable, if sometimes misguided, hero and a heroine who didn’t get on my last nerve. I’d recommend reading it in paper as I wasn’t overly thrilled with either narrator. I love the idea of two narrators for this type of story but have to admit it threw me at first and took some getting used to. Lauren Sweet voices Jacy and her voice was so nasally at times that it made me cringe. Marcio Catalano does his best with Ledger but I felt his voice was too cultured and smooth for a man like Ledger. A little roughness would’ve made it work better for me. I’m not sure either narrator was the best choice for these two characters but they weren’t abominable so if audio is your only thing give it a go.

 

 

Saga Vol. 1

Saga, Volume 1 - Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

Why do I always wait so long to read the best things and instead read so many of the not-so-great things? Saga Volume 1 is one of the best things. The artwork is beautiful, the dialogue is snarky, the characters are stunningly gorgeous and it is jam packed with action, blood-shed and weird imagery. There is nothing not to love here in this beautifully unhinged space opera. Nothing!

Marko and Alana are warriors who are not supposed to be together. They are from different worlds that are at war with one another. Alana was supposed to be guarding Marko but instead they fell in love and ran off together. The story opens as Alana’s giving birth to their daughter who narrates the story. It’s gory and it’s earthy and super funny. The two species shouldn’t be able to breed but together they create a bewinged, behorned beautiful baby girl and their enemies want her baaaad and pay some frightful freelancers to track them down. 

The artwork is something else. There is a freelancer who is absolutely terrifying. I wish I had never seen what she hides beneath her voluminous skirt because I cannot get that image out of my head. And the lying cat is a thing of beauty. Who wouldn’t want to have such a beast as a companion?! But it’s the writing that makes it all work. The characters, even the villains, all have their own POV and little story vignettes on their journey to capture our young lovers and they aren’t completely horrible people. I love that. Alana and Marko’s back and forth is another of the great things about this installment. Alana is by far the stronger personality of the two, while he’s pretty sweet natured and easy going and together they’re so damn perfect it almost makes me weep. 

I just bought volume 2 brand spanking new immediately after finishing this one and moments after I said I would buy no more physical books until I finished up a few. Yeah, maybe that lying cat wouldn’t be such a good idea for me after all. . .


Isn't it lovely though?!


 (l

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel - Gail Honeyman, Cathleen McCarron

I listened to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine on audio and the narrator, Cathleen McCarron, was a perfect match for Eleanor and her escapades. She does beautiful things with the words and I could listen to her accent all day. If you’re an audio fan snap this one up!

Eleanor is a quirky lady. She lives a solitary life and follows the same routine day after day, week after week, and year after year. She goes to work, she comes home. She is blunt and says whatever comes to mind. Maybe because of this, she has no friends. She does not socialize. On Wednesday she receives her toxic phone call from “Mummy” which always leaves her feeling worse for it. And on Friday she gets takeout and 3 bottles of booze to help her get through the long, lonely stretch of the weekend. 

Then one day she has to call IT because her computer isn’t working properly and she meets Raymond. Now don’t worry it’s not what you’re thinking. This is not a romance and he is not there to sweep her off her feet and make everything all better with his dashing looks and wit. He’s disheveled, he’s average in looks but he’s friendly and, after they save an old man in the street, they become the most unlikeliest of friends and Eleanor’s social world expands just a little. Raymond doesn’t care that Eleanor is strange and blunt. He enjoys her company and she, much to her surprise, allows herself to enjoy his. But Eleanor has some deep dark painful things she must deal with before she is able to fully engage in the world. 

I’m not going to spoil another thing. Just go read this if you haven’t already. It’s ugly, it’s wickedly funny but never frivolous, it’s painful and sensitive and it’s such a lovely way to spend a few hours. It’ll leave you feeling a little better about the world when you’ve finished and who doesn’t want that?!


Yay, 2017 is Finally Over!

 

Have I told you how much I despise composing wrap-up posts? No, well I do. These things are work which is probably why I haven't done one since March! I love reading them but composing them, ugh, they are far too much work for my lazy self. Fortunately I had a snow day yesterday and had some time to get my act together.
 
Somehow I managed to finish up 72 books which was just three books shy of my original goal. I guess that isn't too bad since I hit a slump in October that lasted through December. I read a good mix of genres thanks to audiobooks but mostly stuck to my horror roots in the latter half of the year.
 
  • I read 59 new to me authors! That's not too shabby.
  • I had 8 five star reads! Also not too shabby taking into consideration what a grouch I am.
  • 33 earned four stars
  • 21 earned three stars
  • 5 earned two stars
  • 0 earned one star because I learned to DNF!
  • 5 of them were DNF's
  • My biggest disappointment would have to be The Bird Eater because I wanted to love so damn bad and I just couldn't.

 

The Best of the Best of My 2017 Reads
(click on cover to read my full review)
 
 
Bones Would Rain from the Sky by Suzanne Clothier
 
Bones Would Rain from the Sky
 
This is a book about our relationships with dogs. There are beautiful insights about animal and human behavior inside the pages and it basically comes to down to treating those you love with kindness, empathy and sharing all of your love in order to strengthen your relationship. That’s advice the world needs to hear. This book will be a yearly reread for me, for sure. 

 

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews
 

Garden of Fiends

 
I have a love/hate thing going on with short story collections because I usually have to wade through a bunch of dreck to get to the good stuff. But that was not the case with this one. It is a truly excellent collection of short stories all of them about the struggle of addiction. They all have a horror twist and there isn’t a dud in the bunch. 
 
Puss in Prada by Marie Jacquelyn
 
Puss In Prada
 
This novella was such a cute and surprising little romance about a finicky cat man and his ex-lover. I picked it up somewhere as freebie and honestly wasn't expecting all that much.  It has a spiteful witch, magic and a feisty little cat man. What's not to love?
 
The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman
 
The Lesser Dead

 

My friend Char @ Char's Horror Corner loved this book and she and I have very similar taste. I listened on audio and it was everything she said it would be. Sarcastic, imaginative, gross and so much bloodsucking fun. Honestly, how can you resist a book whose hero is named Joey Peacock?
 
Blanky by Kealan Patrick Burke
 
Blanky
 
I read this book for a book tour hosted by Confessions of a Reviewer. I don't participate in book tours often and only agree to do so after I research the author's previous work because I am truly greedy with my spare time and don't want to be forced into finishing a dud. This book was anything but a dud. It is gutting. If you like horror and are up for a grief drenched read, you must read it.
 
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
 
We Have Always Lived In the Castle
 
This was a re-listen for the Goodreads Horror Aficionados monthly group read. Merricat and her creepy old house and deep dark secrets were just as riveting the second time around. If you haven't read this classic yet it is a MUST.
 
Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco
 
Burnt Offerings
 
This is one of those books I'd been wanting to read for ages. I saw the movie as a kid and only had very fuzzy memories lingering around the edges of it being super creepy and maybe giving me a nightmare or two. I was a little worried it would be too old fashioned, slow and, dare I say it, boring because I'd read a few oldies prior to this (I'm looking at you Audrey Rose) and they didn't live up to the hype or my vague memories of scariness. This one, though, this one wasn't any of those things.It was fantastic!

 

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks
 
The Wife Between Us
 
I won this book from Bookish First after writing a mini review of the excerpt. Weird concept, I know, but I won a genuine book and it was amazing so you will hear no more complaints from me!  It's rife with secrets and lies and deceptions and the women were actually sympathetic instead of being complete and total hot messes. I've noticed now that many people dislike it but I it and nothing I hear will change my mind!

 

The  4 Stars

 

Furiously Happy by Jenny LawsonBagged by the Groceries! by Fannie TuckerAntique Dust by Robert WestallDisappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul TremblaySweetheart, Sweetheart by Bernard TaylorSwapship Troopers by Walker LongCan't Touch This by Tess HunterYour Soul Was Made for Mine by C.L. HunterDeath Before Decaf by Caroline FardigAs Luck Would Have It by Alissa JohnsonLittle Dead Red by Mercedes M. YardleyToken by Kelly GendronStrays by Garrett LeighThreshold by Jordan L. HawkRescuing Finley by Dan WalshThe Boyfriend Makeover by Marc BachmannHer Name in the Sky by Kelly QuindlenHell Cat of the Holt (a novella) by Mark CassellThe Fourth Monkey by J.D. BarkerConjesero by Carl AlvesBehold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders by Doug MuranoThe Well by Marie SextonDark Matter by Blake CrouchPrawn of the Dead by Dakota CassidyFidget Spinners Destroyed My Family by George BillionsIt by Stephen KingThe Halloween Children by Brian James FreemanGwendy's Button Box by Stephen KingYou Will Know Me by Megan AbbottA Man Called Ove by Fredrik BackmanDream Woods by Patrick LaceyHow Not to Run A B&B by Bobby HutchinsonWonder by R.J. Palacio

 

The Smack in the Middle 3's
 
The Turner House by Angela FlournoyNightmares by Ellen DatlowFive Stories High by Jonathan OliverCoco Butternut by Joe R. LansdaleLet Us Prey by Jamie Lee ScottThe Woodsman by Belle ScarlettHome Tears by TijanLast Night with the Duke by Amelia GreyThe Party by Robyn HardingKillers of the Flower Moon by David GrannDark Water by K.L. WhiteSouljacker by Yasmine GalenornPound of Flesh by Jessa KaneMrs. Fletcher by Tom PerrottaThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonAudrey Rose by Frank De FelittaHell House by Richard MathesonHalloween Carnival Volume 1 by Robert McCammonFunny Amazon Reviews by Jane LynchFitness Junkie by Lucy SykesBest Day Ever by Kaira Rouda



The 2 Star's

 

The Wrong Girl by C.J. ArcherNo Ifs, Ands, or Bears About It by Celia KyleEmphatic by Kaylee RyanAmerican Queen by Sierra SimoneThe Bird Eater by Ania Ahlborn



The Unfinishables

 

 
Fellside by M.R. CareySnow by Ronald MalfiThe Unhandsome Prince by John MooreThe Chemist by Stephenie MeyerMy Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
 
 
Now it's back to hibernating!

Spun by J.L. Merrow

Spun! (Shamwell Tales Book 4) - J.L. Merrow

I decided to take a mini-break away from the horror-fest I’d been on and finally read this way overdue Netgalley title. I think I may need to stick with horror a wee bit longer because I found Spun all too sweet for my current mood.

 

It was also very hard for me to stick to and when it starts there are so many characters from previous books I haven’t read popping in that I had trouble keeping track of who was who and who was connected to who. I’m not sure if it was the dialogue, the accents or just the sometimes overly wordy prose but I found myself going back and rereading many a paragraph for whatever reason and at times it felt a little too much like work to finish this book. It also has kid characters and they’re featured quite heavily and while it added to the characterization and connection between the couple, kids in a romance aren’t exactly my favorite.

 

The story opens with David getting fired from his job after he is discovered doing sexual things with the husband of somebody at a work event. Oops. He decides to move out of the city and rents a room from Rory. Rory is a divorced dad of two who has just been dumped by his latest girlfriend. Rory is straight or at least always thought he was until he starts thinking thoughts about David that he’s never thought before.

 

You can guess how it goes from there right? Okay, good.

 

So I liked David. He is a bit of a nut. He’s quirky, flirty and flamboyant and carries around a teddy bear he’s named Gregory. It is impossible to dislike David even when he’s making poor decisions and doing the whole jumping to conclusions sort of thing. This brings me to the main issue I had with this book, the misunderstandings and lack of talking about those oh-so-pesky feelings! Rory and David talk about everything else but jump to conclusions and listen to outside forces and get themselves all hurt up for no good reason except maybe to make the book a little longer. It kind of wore on my last nerve and made me want to grab them both and clang their skulls together if I’m being completely honest. I also liked Rory. He’s a quite a few years older than David and he is a kind, sweet and open-minded guy. Their attraction and slowly developing romance felt genuine. But again it was too slow for my tastes.

 

I liked this story but not enough to give it more than a three.

I Spy A Tentacle!

Celestial Breeding Auction - Lori Dawn

I don't know WTF is going on here but you can bet I will soon be finding out!

 

Free today, don't miss out, lol.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder - R.J. Palacio

Well, I didn't finish this book in time for my real life book meeting which is nothing new. I actually didn't even make the meeting due to exhaustion but I did finish the book because I couldn't not finish it once I began.

 

4 ½ Stars

 

Wonder was pretty much exactly what I thought it might be and sometimes that’s a good thing. It’s a tear-jerker, very sweet and a little evil and a wee bit little manipulative with the emotions and I very much enjoyed it. There was one chapter that really hurt my heart. One I saw coming from the very beginning so I hardened my heart waiting for it happen and when it did it may me all teary anyway. Be warned.

 

I enjoyed the way the story was told from various viewpoints which helped you get a bigger picture of Auggie and the way he affected the lives of others around him. Had it been told only from his perspective, I doubt it wouldn’t have been nearly as well rounded or enjoyable.

 

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Best Day Ever: A Psychological Thriller - Kaira Rouda, Graham Halstead, Amy McFadden
Paul and Mia have been married for ten years and have the perfect life. If you’re on the outside looking in, that is. From the inside, things aren’t looking so great.

The bulk of the story is told by Paul who is a complete dick on the level of Joe from YOU by Caroline Kepnes (haven’t read YOU? You must, it’s awesome). Paul thinks ugly thoughts about women who don’t fit into his narrow view of beauty and he treats his wife like some sort of totally dependent on him 50’s housewife. The two are currently on their way to their second home for what Paul repeatedly declares “The Best Day Ever”. It turns out to be anything but as little things are eventually revealed that lead you to believe something is very wrong with this marriage. 

I have a soft-spot for these kinds of books which is why I keep picking them up but this one won’t go down as one of my favorites because I hated Paul. Not in an I love to hate you sort of way like Joe up there. No, it was simply hate. Paul is a completely despicable character. I can get behind that kind of character if they make me laugh or keep me amused but Paul is not funny and never, ever amusing. He is slimy, narcissistic and completely unredeemable. We spend nearly the entire book in his head so everything is viewed through his shitty eyes. The writing is engaging, I cannot lie, but also very enraging. I also saw most of the reveals coming from the get-go and not a one of them came as a surprise. Maybe I’ve read too many of these books but I really don’t think so. Perhaps I’m just becoming really smart with figuring these things out but, nah, I don’t think that’s it either. It fizzles out with an unnecessary epilogue that I wish hadn’t been there and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

On the plus side, narrator Graham Halstead is pretty good. His voice fits Paul perfectly. If you’re going to read this I recommend listening to the audio. That way you can do other things while listening and you won’t have wasted too much of your precious reading time with this same-old, same-old story.

 
 

 

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza

Fitness Junkie: A Novel - Lucy Sykes, Jo Piazza, Susan Bennett

This is a book about wealthy people wasting their money on fad health crazes and one 40ish successful woman’s descent into it all after her business partner who is her childhood friend tells her she is an embarrassment and can no longer be the face of the company she helped build because she’s too fat. And no, very much to my disappointment, she does not stab him to death.

 

She owns 49% the company and though she’s hurt by his rejection and horrible insults, she silently slinks away and embarks on all of the fad fitness journeys that money can buy. And, apparently, money can buy you a lot of useless diet aides (clay eating?!) and retreats and painful over-priced workouts. Thankfully, I’ll never have enough extra money laying around to throw away on a $50 topless yoga class!

 

Janie wasn’t too bad as the main character. She’s dealing with a double whammy of betrayal and humiliation and manages to keep on plugging away instead of falling into a fit of “poor me” despair. Despite being a little insecure and very dumb about her business partner, Beau, she’s pretty likable as far as these types go. She knows these things are ridiculous but she goes along with them anyway; drinking strange juices, spending $15,000 on a retreat, eating a little clay, taking her top off and buying a fitness watch thingy that embarrasses her at every turn.

 

This book does poke fun at Gwyneth Paltrow and her silly Goop-iness but other than that I found it all pretty shallow and only vaguely entertaining and though it promised to be “outrageously funny” it really was not. However, you may have a better sense of humor than I.

My weekend read.

Wonder - R.J. Palacio

I have to read this for my RL book group on Monday. Wish me luck because I am very afraid to crack it open. It is going to turn me into a crybaby. I just know it.

Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco

Burnt Offerings: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Robert Marasco, R.C. Bray

Marian is a 70’s housewife and she is tired of city life and coerces her husband, Ben, into checking out a summer rental with a beach that is far from the sweltering heat, stink and noise of the city. He says it sounds too good to be true and whines, “but honey, we can’t afford it”. But he caves. Should’ve stood your ground, man!

 

The rental turns out to be a giant estate on 200 acres. There are 30 rooms and all they have to do is pay $900 for the summer and leave “Mother” sustenance three times a day. Ummm, what? Yes, Mother is staying! Apparently, Mother doesn’t leave her room and will be no trouble at all as long as you keep to the feeding schedule or so say the weird brother and sister who are renting the place and who skedaddle out of town leaving no contact information as soon as the couple agrees to rent the place.

 

Marian immediately takes to the home as if it were her own, obsessively preparing meals for Mother and cleaning and fretting (which sounds like a vacation in Hell to me) while Ben, his aunt and their young son fritter away their days in the sun. But that doesn’t last long. Soon enough eerie events start to occur and Marian’s obsession with the house intensifies. They can try to escape but the house wants what it wants!

 

This was an unnerving listen that allows the dread to slowly build. It is read expertly by R.C. Bray who is perfect for this kind of old-timey story. His voice is so serious and wizened just enough to set the scene and make the words even creepier. But, folks, it was written in the early 70’s and its 70’s roots are definitely showing in some of the dialogue.

 

“I’ll do the talking. Just look pretty and keep your mouth shut.” Ben says this to Marian and she doesn’t punch him the face.

 

At another point Marian says (out loud, mind you) to Ben, “You know I’m the dumb one.” He accepts this as fact and again does not get punched in the face and they move along with their day.

 

Ahhh, the 70’s. I am so very glad I was too young to have to deal with this WTFery!

 

If you like haunted houses and haven’t listened to this story on audio, what the heck are you waiting for?

Rereading/listening

We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson, Bernadette Dunne

Re-reading for the Goodreads  HA Group Listen. Come and join us!

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

“Even when I’m not there, I’m always with you.”

 

 

Ladies and gents, if a lover ever says this to you, this lover is CREEPY and you should take it as a warning, not as a sweet nothing. So, I read an excerpt of this book over at Bookishfirst when they were first launching the site and reviewed the excerpt in order to be placed in a raffle for the actual book. Strange way to get a book, right? I’m not a fan of reading excerpts because I’m greedy and I want the whole book but I’m also nosey and wanted to see how this program worked and it really only took a few minutes. Fortunately for me, it worked out pretty good as I “won” a copy of the ARC and they sent me a really nice hold in your hands ARC and the story turned out to be pretty damn good. It’s twisty and turny and I did not actively dislike the main character when I fully expected to.

 

When we begin Vanessa is a mess on par with the level of that mess of a woman from The Girl On The Train but Vanessa is intriguing. She’s lost it all; the outwardly perfect hubby, the extravagant house and lifestyle, all of her friends but mostly she’s lost herself. She drinks too much, she looks and feels terrible and she is working a retail job she does not love. She lets out enough little tidbits that you know she is hiding a lot of somethings and I was dying to know what all of those somethings were. She starts to truly lose it when she learns that her ex-hubby is engaged to a much younger version of herself. Nellie is beautiful, sweet and she works with children. Vanessa cannot allow this to happen!

 

This book had me glued to its pages whenever I could sneak away with it. Since I was reading a paper ARC, I could only read it late at night after tucking myself away for the day. This also means I usually fell asleep after a few pages and it took me ages to finish it.



Anyway, I love me nothing better than a good, juicy marriage/ love story with secrets and surprises simmering in every crevice and this book overflowith with them. It was joyous for me to read about people in so much misery and made me realize that perhaps my slump wasn’t me and my crabby mood at all but the fault of the books I was trying to read.

 



My best advice on this one which isn’t coming out until January 9th is to go into this book ice cold. Do NOT read reviews (besides this one, ha, because it’s too late for you) because this is a book that you do not want to spoil for yourself. It’s one with twists and turns that slowly reveal themselves and to know too much will ruin it all for you. Don’t even read the blurb or the accolades on the cover.

I truly enjoyed this book and really dug the female leads and the way their story was revealed in bits and pieces. I was in a high state of anxiety as I read it, dying to learn all of the secrets and also dreading what might be revealed. I thought the characterization was exquisite and if I had one complaint it would only be that the book took things maybe one twist too far. Even so, everything tied in together perfectly and I didn’t feel like a dummy left wondering what I had just read.

I hope this book makes a big splash. It deserves it!

Here's my book and my chubby Patticakes.

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