Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Friday, 9 June 2017

The Inner Life of Cats - A Review

Subtitled “the science and secrets of our mysterious feline companions” this book should be a must read for every self-proclaimed cat-person.

THE INNER LIFE OF CATS by Thomas McNamee

On a freezing cold and snowy night in Montana Mr. McNamee notices some tracks in the snow of the laneway leading to his barn.  Investigating some mewling he discovered a very small, very cold and hungry looking black kitten.  Realizing that this little bundle of fur was too young to be out on her own – probably too young to even be away from her mama – he bundles her up and takes her into the house.  Named Augusta, because Mr. McNamee and his wife counted back and thought she was probably born in August, this was the start of a 15-year loving relationship.

The book follows Augusta through the stages of her life with the McNamees and as he describes each milestone Augusta passes Mr. McNamee also shares his meticulous research about cats pertaining to the same subject matter.  Mr. McNamee wanted to be a better cat owner and to understand Augusta as best he could and he shares everything he learned with his readers.  He wrote about his own relationship with Augusta so touchingly that I had to close the book for a little while when he was describing when the time came to let Augusta “go”.  The author also discusses many other topics such as the feral cat communities around the world and the timely (and touchy) subject of the impact of both feral and outdoor “house” cats on wildlife.

Mr. McNamee has definitely done his homework to write this book.  In my current business venture in cat-sitting I have been asked many questions by clients, some – as a life long cat owner I had answers to, others I had to call my vet-tech daughter to answer.  I have made it a mission to become more informed about the “science” of cats and this book fit the bill.  There were things in this book that I had not read in any of the other “cat” books I have explored.

If you want to have a better understanding of the enigma that is the cat, this is one of the better books to start that journey.

“The Inner Life of Cats” surpassed the reasons I had to read it and was at the same time an easy and entertaining read. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his website)

Thomas McNamee was born in Memphis and grew up there and in New York City. At Yale he was a Scholar of the House in Poetry under the tutelage of Robert Penn Warren. In his early career he produced the double LP Music to Eat by the Hampton Grease Band, said to be the lowest-selling album in Columbia Records history but now considered a classic. He then wrote the book and lyrics of a musical play, Sirens, under the guidance of Leonard Bernstein, but it never made it to the stage. His poems, essays, and book reviews have been published widely.

He served as a board member and as chairman of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He has also served as a board member of Rare Conservation and the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. After two decades in New York, he lived on a cattle ranch in Montana for eight years. He now lives in San Francisco.


In 2016, in support of The Inner Life of Cats, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Orphan Island - A Review

When the bell rings it signals “the changing”.  One child arrives at the island and the eldest leaves.  It’s always been the way …

“Nine on on island, orphans all,
any more ...
the sky might fall"

ORPHAN ISLAND by Laurel Snyder

The children on the island do not know why they are there or why they must leave when their time comes.  That’s just the way things have always been.  The green boat arrives with a young child and the eldest must leave, always a boy for a boy and a girl for a girl.  Then the next eldest moves up to take care of the new arrival, teaching them the ways of the island and how to be as self sufficient as possible until it is their time to leave. 

The island is an idyllic place to live; nothing there would ever hurt you – even the wind would not let you fall off a cliff, the snakes do not bite, the bees do not sting and the fishing net is always full.  Really, the only thing to remember is not to take the last of anything.  If you pick the last fruit then no more will grow.  It’s the way of things on the island, the rule to follow – like the changing. 

But what would happen if one of the children decided not to leave?  Would the sky really fall?  Jinny didn’t think so and she knew that she was not ready to leave the island for the unknown fate the green boat represented, not even if it meant being reunited with Deen, who left the year before.

This was an enchanting and captivating story that had me turning the pages until I got to the end.  I don’t have too many one-day reads these days and this was such a lovely book to read on a quiet, overcast afternoon (and I have to confess to a bit of cover love as well).  Ms. Snyder captures the voices of various children on the island with perfection, ranging in age from (I’m guessing) three to just pre-pubescent, that in itself is admirable.  I had fun trying to figure out some of the terms the children has come up to name common objects.  Just what are “poms” and “sweet snaps” exactly?  I did manage to figure out “ersters” and “ink fish”!  She also gave me a totally believable community of children living in isolation on their own mysterious island.

This is a YA novel and possibly because of my jaded and decidedly not YA mindset I kept looking for a lesson in the pages of this book.  I am sure there is a wise lesson in there somewhere, I just couldn’t put my finger on it because I was so busy enjoying the story … I think I didn’t want to look too deeply.

When I came to the end the story felt somehow finished and not at the same time.  It wasn’t a cliffhanger but there was so much more I wanted to know.  What happened to Jinny in particular and on the island in general?  Who was Abby?  What’s the deal with the green boat?  I am hoping there will be a sequel – or better yet, a prequel, but if not – a little mystery in life is a good thing.

Loved this one so definitely 5 stars.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)

Laurel Snyder is the author of six novels for children, “Orphan Island,” “Bigger than a Bread Box,” “Penny Dreadful,” “Any Which Wall,” “Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains OR The Search for a Suitable Princess,” and “Seven Stories Up.” She has also written many picture books, including “Charlie and Mouse,” “The Forever Garden,” “Swan, the Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova,” “Inside the Slidy Diner,” Good night, laila tov,” “Nosh, Schlep, Schluff,” “The Longest Night,” “Camp Wonderful Wild,” and “Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher.”

In addition to her books for children, Laurel has written two books of poems, “Daphne & Jim: a choose-your-own-adventure biography in verse” (Burnside Review Press, 2005) and “The Myth of the Simple Machines” (No Tell Books, 2007). She also edited an anthology of nonfiction, “Half/Life: Jew-ish tales from Interfaith Homes” (Soft Skull Press, 2006) A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a former Michener-Engle Fellow, Laurel has published work in the Utne Reader, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Revealer, Salon, The Iowa Review, American Letters and Commentary, and elsewhere.

She is an occasional commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered, and she teaches in the MFAC program at Hamline University, but most of all, she is a mom.

Books on Books


“Back at the fire circle, Jinny opened the book, cradling its worn spine in one hand as she turned the soft, crumbling pages with the other.  All the kids knew to be careful with the books.  They were swollen, faded, eaten by the salt air and the grit of sand, not to mention so many grubby, grabbing fingers.  When a book died, there was nothing to be done about it.  The kids could only bury it in the sandy earth beyond the book cabin door and try to remember the story.  They marked these little graves with the biggest shells they could find.  It made a funny sort of garden.”


Orphan Island
by Laurel Snyder

Loved, loved, loved this book so review to follow later this evening.


Emma in the Night - A Review

One night, after an argument about a cheap necklace, two sisters disappear – three years later one returned.

EMMA IN THE NIGHT by Wendy Walker

Cassandra and Emma never had things easy growing up with a mother who displayed classic signs of narcissism.  One day they were loved and the next could be frightening in the neglect they suffered.  They soon learned how to keep their mother happy but in turn she learned how to play them against each other.  Then both girls disappeared on the same night.  Emma’s car and shoes were found on the sand by the ocean, but no signs of Cass could be found and nothing was missing from her room.  Could the girls have disappeared together or were they the victims of two random, but coincidental abductions?

The FBI psychologist assigned to the original case suspected something else was at play but trying to convince others almost caused her to lose her job.  When Cass returned demanding action to find her sister, Dr Winter saw her second chance to set things right.

This was a twisty-turny tale of a severely dysfunctional family.  It was obvious from the time that Cass returned that things were not as they seemed.  As I read more and more of the story I developed plausible outcomes … and then changed my mind again and again.  Despite my multiple guesses I still got the ending wrong but that’s a sign of a good psychological thriller, right?

While I enjoyed this book there were times I felt it could have moved along at a slightly quicker pace; the story is told from multiple points of view so some of it was repetitive.  When I got to the end I couldn’t get past the feeling of “well that could have all been prevented with one phone call”

Emma in the Night releases on August 29th, 2017 and while I certainly would not hesitate to recommend this book to friends, I cannot quite rate it among the top books I’ve read in this genre.

I’d like to thank the publisher, St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley for my copy of the book, sent in exchange for an honest review. *

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)

Wendy Walker is a former family law attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller, All is Not Forgotten. Her second thriller, Emma In The Night, will be released August 8, 2017.

Wendy earned her J. D., magna cum laude, at the Georgetown University Law Center where she was awarded  the American Jurisprudence award for her performance in Contracts and Advanced Criminal Procedure.  She received her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Brown University and attended The London School of Economics and Political Science as part of her undergraduate studies.

Prior to her legal career, Wendy was a financial analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co., in the mergers and acquisitions group. She has also volunteered at the ACLU, Connecticut Legal Services and Figure Skating in Harlem where she served on the Board of Directors for over twelve years.


Wendy is currently writing her third thriller while managing a busy household.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Only Child - A Review

The story of Frankenstein’s monster has captured the imagination of readers of almost two centuries, not only because of the story itself but also it’s back story.  It has also been retold in many forms.  With this one Mr. Pyper hits it out of the park.

THE ONLY CHILD by Andrew Pyper

Lily Dominick was six years old when, as she looked on, her mother was brutally murdered.  The trauma caused her recollections to be hazy … she recalled only a monster knocking on the door to kill her mother and her six year old self being rescued by a white creature.  The incident still haunts her dreams and may well have led to her career choice as an adult where she is Dr. Dominick working as a psychiatrist with the worst of the worst criminals in New York’s Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Centre.  At work it sometimes seems to her she can read the mind of the incarcerated.  One morning she walks in to interview a man known only as Client 46874-A and claiming to be 200 years old.  For Lily he is an enigma; she can’t get a read on him and she feels as if he is looking into her mind instead of the other way around.  Then he throws Lily totally off balance when he claims to have known her mother and what happened to her so many years ago.

The next day Lily awakens to the news that Client 46874-A has escaped.  Driven by clues he leaves for her and the need to discover if he can truly help her solve the riddle of what happened on the night her mother died Lily sets out to find him and hopefully the truth.

Mr. Pyper takes his reader along on Lily’s quest as she travels across Europe picking up more and more information about not only “Michael”, as she named the mystery man, but about herself as well.  And for Lily the truth does indeed turn out to be stranger than fiction.

“The Only Child” is a well-written page-turner.  I would expect nothing less from Mr. Pyper.  This book is not only a psychological thriller with it’s share of the paranormal but is extremely entertaining in it’s explanations of the basis of not only “Frankenstein” but also “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Dracula”.  Within the context of the story it had me nodding my head and thinking “Oh yeah … makes sense”.

As I read closer and closer to the end I began to formulate my own theory about Lily and Michael so I was quite pleased to discover that I was at least half right.  Despite that, the reveal caught me by surprise.  I had hoped for a different outcome but the ending suited the story.  Not wanting to have to include a “spoiler alert” I do want to mention that there was one scene at the end of the book which wrapped up the story so extremely well that I still pause to think about it a few days after I’ve closed the cover – so well done Mr. Pyper.


* I’d like to thank the publisher, Simon and Shuster, and Netgalley for providing me with the book at no charge in exchange for an honest review.*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his website

Andrew Pyper was born in Stratford, Ontario, in 1968. He received a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature from McGill University, as well as a law degree from the University of Toronto. Although called to the bar in 1996, he has never practiced.

Andrew’s creative writing teaching experience includes terms at Trent University, the University of Toronto, and, currently, Colorado College. Last year he won the Grant Allen Award for contributions to Canadian crime and mystery literature.


He lives in Toronto.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

He Said, She Said - A Review

This is one of those books that sort of meanders along as story good enough to keep you reading … until page 300 … when you get an OMG moment that changes the pace of the whole thing.

HE SAID, SHE SAID by Erin Kelly

Kit has been an eclipse chaser since he was a child and it’s a hobby that he carried into his adult life and his girlfriend, Laura as well as sometimes their friends followed along more to keep him company than because they were also eclipse chasers.  While attending a rather disappointing eclipse festival (the weather being such a big factor) Laura and Kit are walking back to their tent after the non-event when Laura happens upon a rape in progress.  Of course, they report the crime and Laura feels a strong connection with the victim.  She and Kit go through the whole trial process ensuring that the rapist, despite his protests of “misunderstanding”, ends up in jail.  But that is hardly the end of the whole situation when the victim shows up at their doorstep and Laura begins a tentative friendship with her, much to Kit’s disapproval.

Fifteen years later Kit and Laura are married, she is heavily pregnant with twins and they are living under an assumed name.  No good deed goes unpunished!

That’s all I can really say about this book without giving away the aforementioned, brilliant, page 300, twist. 

I enjoyed Ms. Kelly’s writing and the way she was able to pull me into the story but truthfully this would have been a 3-star read until I came to “the twist”.  It caught me completely by surprise and I raced through the rest of the book to learn how things would play out and the last quarter of the book was certainly a page-turner.  However, I can’t quite bring myself to give it 5-stars because it started off a little slow, because of the flashback sequences it was at times a little repetitive and the ending left me feeling a little … well … unsatisfied.

So 4-stars for this one.  It’s still a good read that I would recommend and I will definitely pick up something else by Ms. Kelly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website

I was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Essex. I read English at Warwick University and began working as a journalist in 1998.

My first novel The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama and a Richard & Judy bestseller, and was longlisted for the 2011 CWA John Creasy Award. The Sick Rose, The Burning Air and The Ties That Bind were all published to critical acclaim and my books have been translated into 19 languages. In 2014, I wrote the novelisation of the BAFTA-winning Broadchurch but sadly did not get to meet David Tennant.

As well as writing fiction I continue to work as a journalist and also teach creative writing.  I live in north London with my husband and daughters.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Friday, 14 April 2017

I'd be doomed

This is a list of acceptable reasons for commitment to an insane asylum for women circa 1864 to 1889.  There are a few on here that would get me locked away ... but especially "reading novels".  Hmm ... I wonder if they let you read in the asylum?  Probably not!


Origin: Unkown
Source: Facebook

Monday, 10 April 2017

Elvis the Gunslinger - A Review

It’s a Wild West tail tale with a twist – baseball and cricket have not been invented, nary a human to be found, dogs instead of horses and cats rule.

ELVIS THE GUNSLINGER by Romey Connell

According to the book blurb if you were to cross John Wayne and James Bond you would get Elvis the Gunslinger.  To all appearances he is a gentlecat rancher but the truth is he is a government agent – the best of the best.  After a night spent putting out a mysterious fire in his dog barn and chasing down the feline culprit Elvis’ partner Frank shows up announcing they are leaving on the train ASAP to take on a case.  The son and daughter-in-law of millionaire cat Morris Pusserschmott IV have been kidnapped and Fatscat, the meanest, smelliest outlaw in the west is the prime suspect.  Elvis and Fatscat have history so who better to get to his hideout compound and see that justice is done.

Elvis is a hard drinking, hard loving lawman but that never gets in the way of his clever clue solving skills.  And like any good G-man he always gets his man!

This fun read got off to a bit of a slow start for me.  I found myself rolling my eyes at the beginning – you really need to suspend reality for this book – but soon enough I was caught up in the elaborate kidnapping scheme, the witty repartee between Frank and Elvis, the twists and turns of the case and the very creative characters Mr. Connell has written about. 

I enjoyed the case, the chase and the resolution of the story but one of the dangers when anthropomorphizing cats is walking the fine line between making them too true to their feline nature or giving them too many human qualities.  In this case Mr. Connell leaned a little to the latter.  I was expecting more of a “cat tale”.  This would have been a good read if the characters were human and, granted, replacing them with cats made it imaginative and often humorous but it would have been more fun (for me) with a few more cat-like moments and behaviours.

Overall, once I got used to the cat characters, this was a fun read.  Definitely intended for a late teen to adult audience.  3.5 stars for this one and if pushed would lean towards rounding up to 4 because it was creative and the story picked up in the last half of the book.

* I won this book in a contest by the Purrington Post, so would like to thank them for sending me this book at no charge with no expectation of a review *

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his Amazon author page)


The oldest of four children, Romey Connell grew up in a suburban waterfront community in the Baltimore/Annapolis area, and moved with his family to their nearby horse farm at the age of 14. He graduated from the Auburn University School of Business in 1985 and the Cornell Law School in 1988, whereupon he moved to Atlanta, Georgia.

Romey has been married to his lovely wife, Gretchen (an extremely talented artist and photographer), for fifteen years and they are blessed with two wonderful children, Jerry (13) and Jamie (11). In 2010, after EyeWonder was sold, Romey left the working world for a while, so that he could spend as much time as possible with his family. They live in the Lake Claire neighborhood on the east side of Atlanta.

Though spending time with family is foremost these days, Romey’s interests include travel, sports, the outdoors, beer and food, not necessarily in that order. He firmly believes that you should be wary of persons who do not get along well with children or animals. Romey is a fan of nearly all genres of music, although he is partial to those in which the artists actually play instruments, and he considers dancing all night to be the greatest form of recreation.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A Change of Heart - A Review

Urban fantasy is not my usual go-to genre, but tempt me with vampires and I can be convinced to give one a try.  The bonus is that the vampires in this one are bloody and brutal – just the way I like ‘em.

A CHANGE OF HEART by Mark Benjamin

Gabriel Harper could be the poster boy for the fellow they kick sand on at the beach.  Smart and nice doesn’t always cut it and the bullies soon found he was an easy mark for their fun.  Escaping from one such attack by diving behind a dumpster Gabriel never thought it would change his entire world.  That’s where he came across the dying Lucas, one of “The Royals” in the vampire community.  Lucas had never procreated but with his dying gasp he decided to turn Gabriel.

Alone and not knowing what was happening to him Gabriel navigates, with the help of a strange voice in his head, what it takes to be a vampire and the reader is introduced to a very unique world of vampires and the Silver Legionnaires – those who hunt them.

When Gabriel and three of his friends are unexpectedly yanked from their everyday lives and into the fortress of the Legionnaires life becomes very uncomfortable for Gabriel.  Although he is a “hybrid” no one knows his secret, so how does a new vampire live among those determined to eradicate them.  As the story progresses the reader realizes that things are not happy in either camp and, while each community is determined to rid themselves of the other, a little extra spice was added because each community also had traitors within their midst.  Would the vampires and the Legionnaires destroy each other or would they be destroyed from within?

This was a fairly lengthy book and just as I thought things could be moving ahead at a little faster pace Mr. Benjamin threw in a twist I was certainly not expecting.  Well done as it certainly gave me my second wind.

This book starts out with a bang.  Mr. Benjamin definitely drops you right into the middle of the action and then just as you feel you need to catch your breath he the reader back to the norm … Gabriel’s world as a college student.  From that point on the book follows a pretty straightforward time-line.  While the book is written in the third person each short chapter is headed with the name of the character that the chapter features.  I have no problem reading in this manner but the book has an overabundance of characters to keep straight and, rather than helping, the chapter headings seemed to make it more difficult to keep the minor characters straight.

I did enjoy this book.  It was, in my opinion, a very original take on the vampire tale while still staying true to the nature of the beast.  It also gave me a vampire protagonist I couldn’t help but like without making him too “twilighty”.  I did feel that some of the characters had rather juvenile reactions to certain situations considering their twenty-something age bracket but this is book one in “The Royal Blood Chronicles” so I am going to assume the characters mature as the series progresses.  I am also going to assume that I received an ARC because the book could have benefited from a last fine-tooth-comb edit.

I would definitely pick up the next one because I am curious as to where the story is going to go.
3.5-Stars for this one.

I would like to thank the author for providing me with the book at no charge to read and review.
This in no way influenced my opinion.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his amazon author page


Mark Benjamin is the author of two books - one, in an adult urban fantasy series, The Royal Blood Chronicles; and the second, a short story. Devouring all books he could get his hands on from an early age, he managed to ruin his eyesight by reading (when he should have been asleep) under his bedcovers with a torch (video games had no say in his bad eyesight...okay, maybe a little). His love of books translated to a passion for writing, which he began aged ten (he still has his first juvenile novel to this day).

Currently working for a national bank, his dream job is to be a full-time author, a path he fully took when he sent a sample of his work to a ten-week introductory fiction course funded by an American foundation and conducted worldwide in 2010. Out of the 15 available slots, one was his out of hundreds of thousands of applicants (okay, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it was advertised in the national dailies).

When not writing his third book or planning literary world domination, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife, entertaining his under one-year old daughter, playing on his Playstation (AnnA) and reading (obviously).

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Farfel and Bob - Two Reviews

Sometimes you just have to read something light and fun, and if that something is told by two absolutely charming "talking" cats, well – all the better.  This was my first introduction to Bob and his best buddy Farfel and it was cat-love at first read.

FARFEL AND BOB’S SUMMER BROMANCE by Kendra Carmichael

Bob lives with Marcia who adopted him when she decided a cat was a better relationship than some of the boyfriends she had had.  Needless to even say, she spoiled him thoroughly.  One day Marcia came home and told Bob that she would have to be away every Wednesday evening for several weeks because of a new project at work.  Hmmm – this was going to be a bit disruptive to his life because Bob like to spend his evenings on the fence with his best friend Farfel.  Farfel’s life was a little more stressful than Bob’s because he lived with Mr. and Mrs. Gregson, Teenager, Bird and his nephew kitty, Rooster.  Farfel liked to “unwind” during their time on the fence so he was quite shocked when
Bob announced the change in plans.


"Having a busy family to care for, Farfel relied on his evening with Bob for much needed
down-to-earth cat companionship."

Now, Farfel was an awesome hunter so he decided that on his, now unoccupied, Wednesday evenings he would patrol the perimeter of Bob’s house.  When he caught a mouse he would deposit it on Bob’s doorstep as a gift.


“Bob, who didn't even like mice that much, especially not dead ones, purred as he looked on. Because, as much as Marcia loved him, Bob liked knowing Farfel loved him too.”

Nice kitty idea but, unfortunately Marcia didn’t agree – and – she thought it must be Bob hunting since the mouse was on her doorstep.  But how was he getting out of the house while she was away?  Marcia had to get to the bottom of this mystery!

FARFEL AND BOB’S SUPER STRESSFUL WEEKEND by Kendra Carmichael

Teenager has gotten his hands on some firecrackers and when he sets one off in the house Farfel runs out to join Bob on the backyard fence, his fur standing on end and definitely looking spooked.  “That’s the last claw” proclaims Farfel … being scared out of his own home.  Bob wasn’t too sure what firecrackers were and could only imagine something as horrible as the “tail devouring vacuum monster” or the “heat emitting hair-dryer monster”.  Teenager, now relegated to the outdoors by Mrs. Gregson, continued on with the fireworks in the driveway.  The two cats ran to Bob’s house and quickly scooted into the basement for safety.  It wasn’t long before Farfel detected mice. Bob either lacked the hunting gene or was a conscientious objector because he just let them be.  Before Bob could explain Farfel had caught and killed one of the mice. 

Marcia was devastated to know rodents were in her house and had to come up with a cat-friendly way to rid her home of these pests.  Farfel just shakes his head in disbelief at her plan and Bob makes an interesting discovery about himself.

When Ms. Carmichael reached out to me through of my “Stay at HomeKitty” twitter page to ask if I would like to read a couple of her books I agreed.  I was a little apprehensive because one never knows what one is going to get but in this case I was more than pleasantly surprised.  These books are beyond cute and the stories are accompanied by her amusing artwork.   I fell in love with Bob and Farfel and their little adventures. 

These stories will appeal to and be a fun, quick read for adults (especially those who love their feline fur babies) but the stories are definitely G-rated and would make a great introduction to short chapter books for young readers.  The illustrations will help bring the stories to life and the “cat dialogue” will be something to chuckle over as your youngster reads along.

Make sure to check out her website and her blog … there’s all kind of awesome freebies available to give you a little sample of “Farfel and Bob”.

I would like to thank Ms. Carmichael for providing me with these books to review at no charge.  
This is not way influenced my opinions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her web page)

A former interactive media developer, Kendra turned her creative skills toward storytelling in order to find more meaning in life. It turns out the same skills that can write JavaScript can craft stories about feline hijinks.

An expert in cat ownership, she’s had eight cats in the course of her life, plus many others that have been temporary residents (mostly due to lack of timely feline birth control).

She currently lives with The One Cat to Rule Them All in New England, where she does all the shopping, cooking, and snow shoveling herself. Occasionally, the cat supervises, when she’s not busy napping.

THE MUSES

Farfel is partly based on my cat Jack, who passed a few years back. Both are fat and orange, with super soft fur. While Farfel is happy-go-lucky, however, Jack was angsty and, well, he’d bite you.

Though they would sometimes play together, Jack and Awesometown engaged in a massive power struggle for house dominance the entire time they lived together! Stressful for the human (me).

Now that she is queen of her own house, Awesometown refuses to even contemplate adding another feline to the household. Though, when my mother visits, she does tolerate the dreaded dog.





Saturday, 1 April 2017

All You Need Is Love ... and a Cat - A Review

I love the idea of adult coloring books but was always a little apprehensive about purchasing one and jumping in … I know its supposed to be relaxing but I’ve seen some pretty complicated pictures that I think (for me) would be more frustrating than relaxing.  When I came across this book it was enough to make me change my mind.

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE … AND A CAT by Samantha Snyder

This adult coloring book is very generous with its 50 pages of cat “doodle art” complete with a wide variety of quotes and saying by everyone from Edgar Allen Poe to Abraham Lincoln accompanying each picture.  Each page was nice and big and the pictures not too intricate, hence not leaning toward the frustrating.

I’m no expert by any means but I thought the pages were of good quality with the bonus of only being printed on one side, so if one wanted to use markers the next picture would not be damaged by bleeding through.

The only reason I have not gone a full 5 Stars on this book is that not every page had a cat included in the picture; sometimes it was just a paw print and sometimes only the words of the saying with some florals or doodles around the edges.  The cats that were included were charming and whimsical often reminiscent of folk art so I’m sure this would appeal to cat lovers.

So, did I find it relaxing or frustrating? 

I can’t answer that question. 

I had scrounged out the package of pencil crayons I had in my desk from a previous (unrelated to coloring) project and had gotten about halfway through the picture I chose to start with when a friend of mine popped in for a visit.  She is an avid coloring book enthusiast – some of her completed works are amazing – and she quickly commandeered my book.  She is definitely enjoying it!

I’d like to thank Wordslinger and the author for providing me with a review copy of this book at no charge with the hope of receiving an unbiased review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her Amazon Page


Samantha Snyder has been doodling her whole life. While teaching elementary school, she often drew up coloring pages and printables for her students and fellow teachers. She decided to start sharing her creations and in 2008, Doodle Art Alley was founded.

Doodle Art Alley is dedicated to giving those squiggly lines the proper credit they deserve. Who would have thought that such a small and simple idea could possess so much potential? There are lots of fun art activities, tips and information to read through and enjoy at Doodle-Art-Alley.com, along with hundreds of free coloring pages and printables.

Strange History - A Review

I am fairly convinced that I now know where the writers on “Jeopardy” get some of their questions.  I was flipping through the pages of this book during a commercial break while watching the game show and there it was! – The exact trivia tidbit that had just been a question on the show.  Their secret is out now.

STRANGE HISTORY by The Bathroom Readers Institute


The folks at the Readers Institute have taken some of the most interesting historical facts and strange stories from their numerous previous books and compiled them in this book that is perfect for history trivia buffs.  According to the blurb on the book there are also about 50 pages of previously unpublished stories. 

Whether you have read the some of the stories before or all of them are brand new to you this book is a fun read.  Do you want to know if Marco Polo really saw Unicorns, the story behind the curse on Shakespeare’s Macbeth or who really discovered the Rosetta Stone?  This is the book that will give you all that and so much more.

I didn’t realize there was a Reader dedicated to Canadian facts and trivia nor one featuring scary stories … they are definitely going to be added to my TBR.


I'd like to thank Printers Row Publishing Group and Netgalley for providing me with
a review copy of this book at no charge

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the web site)

Three decades after the first Bathroom Reader, the Bathroom Readers’ Institute is going strong, having released dozens of titles with content sure to beat the bathroom blahs, and even offering some of the best online trivia available. Consisting of the best trivia writers that Uncle John could find, the BRI has compiled loads of information, from history facts to sports, politics to pop culture, and even the odd science tidbit. After distilling this information into its most basic form, the BRI has generated a huge collection of articles, all of which are specially designed to be read in just a few minutes.

It takes a real team to come up with the kind of authoritative bathroom reader trivia as that found in an edition of Uncle John’s, especially with more than 15 million books in print around the world and counting. The BRI is located in Ashland, Oregon, a small, quiet valley town, where they work night and day in the little red house known as home base, cranking out the second best paper product you can find in any bathroom, anywhere.


Uncle John's Factastic Bathroom Reader - A Review

I was introduced to Uncle John when I received one of the books as a Christmas gift with the inscription “Because it’s probably the only room where you don’t read”.  Hahaha … if only she knew.  What?  No! No!  Think bubble bath!

UNCLE JOHN’S FACTASTIC BATHROOM READER by the Bathroom Readers Institute

These are not the kind of books that you sit down and read in one or two sessions.  They usually come in at 500+ pages crammed full of facts, trivia, odd news and all kinds of other things that absolutely boggle the mind.

This entry into the series is no exception.  I can’t seem to ever be without a book within arm’s reach and this is perfect book to have close by to flip through during commercial breaks, on your kindle when waiting for an appointment or, of course, in the bathroom. 

I'd like to thank Printers Row Publishing Group and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy of this book at no charge



ABOUT THE “AUTHOR” (from the web site)




It was 1987. Uncle John found himself stranded on his throne with nothing to read. That’s when he came up with the idea to launch a series of trivia books specifically tailored toward his fellow bathroom readers. “Every article must be simple to read,” he told us, “and every page must either have an amazing fact or a good laugh—or both.” And with that, the Bathroom Readers’ Institute was born.

A Darkness Absolute - A Review


Miss Armstrong had me hooked from the opening sentence.  Her ability to create unique “worlds” for her novels and characters never ceases to amaze me.  This second book in the “City of the Lost” series took me once again to the middle of nowhere, Rockton, Yukon Territories ... the place people go when the want or need to disappear from their everyday lives.

A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE by Kelley Armstrong

Yup … Rockton is where people come to disappear but unfortunately they don’t check their natures at the door.  What Casey very quickly finds out is that when you populate the town with troubled people often their troubles come with them.  This means sometimes people DIS-appear from Rockton too.

Tracking a town runaway through a blizzard is not an easy feat but you have to know when to call it quits.  Casey and Deputy Will Anders come to just that conclusion when they can no longer see each other on the trail.  Taking shelter in a nearby cave they come across a surprise – a woman thought to be another town runaway thought lost and dead – here in “their” cave, where she has been held captive for over a year.  Despite being taken care by someone she cannot identify her captor.  When they bring her back to town she seems to be all right despite her ordeal.  Maybe a little too all right?  Was it someone from town or one of the hostiles living in the wilderness?  Casey Duncan and her (now) boyfriend Sheriff Dalton are determined to find out but just how do you do that when the whole town could be suspects.

In the first book of the series we got a brief glimpse of the “outsiders” and the “hostiles”; those people living, to varying degrees outside the town.  Bad enough trying to identify suspects when all your neighbours are living a lie but how do you go about finding people who have no desire to be found and are not shy about letting you know that. 

A few new characters were introduced in this book and a few from the first were fleshed out a little bit more – all interesting and unique.  And, the new puppy was a nice touch.  Another page-turner that kept me guessing to the very end.  Looking forward to the next in the series.

* I'd like to thank Minotaru Books and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy
of the book at no charge*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her web page)



Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers’ dismay. Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She lives in south-western Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Congratulations to Andre Alexis and Fifteen Dogs

My book nerd side is really going to be showing now but I have to post a special shout out to Toronto author Andre Alexis. His book, "Fifteen Dogs" (one of my favorite reads in 2015) won the "Canada Reads 2017".

 
Fifteen Dogs won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2015, making it the first Giller recipient to also win Canada Reads. Alexis was recently honoured with the Windham-Campbell Prize, which recognizes an author's body of work and is one of the world's richest literary awards.

I so loved this book and would highly recommend it. 
My review HERE


Congratulations to Mr. Alexis ... very well deserved!

Checking Out the Katie Maguire Series


For me Graham Masterton is synonymous with “The Manitou”.  Mr. Masterton has been responsible for some of my most cringe-worthy horror reads and his Night Warriors books still remain some of my favorites.  For a long while he sort of dropped off my radar and then I came across his crime thriller series featuring Katie Maguire.  I started the series with the most recent book so I knew I wanted to go back and check out the first few.

WHITE BONES by Graham Masterton

When some construction on a farm building unearths bones D.S. Katie Maguire gets called to the scene.  It quickly becomes obvious that this is not a recent crime scene and after the forensics it turns out that the bones date back to 1915.  But why so many dismembered bodies in one grave – each with a piece of lace tied through the thighbone.

The crime is passed on to an anthropologist to puzzle out until a new murder victim surfaces, oddly enough with a piece of lace tied to the thigh bones as well.  Now Katie has a recent and a decades old murder to investigate.  Is it possible that it is the same killer?

I can’t say Katie Maguire is a fresh take on murder detectives … women have been taking the leading role in a lot of crime fiction lately but she is an interesting leading character.  She has a shady husband and some pretty questionable “friends”.  What made this book a little different is Mr. Masterton takes some pretty fascinating Irish folklore and ties it into a crime thriller. 

Oh?  Those cringe-worthy moments I mentioned?  Yup – still there.  I’ve read some pretty gruesome crime fiction in my day but this one had me grimacing, had it been a film I was watching I definitely would have been peeking out through my fingers.

4 Stars.

BROKEN ANGELS by Graham Masterton

If you are out fishing on a chilly spring morning it’s because you hope to land a big one, but not necessarily as big as a human body.  Father Heaney’s bloated, tortured and garrotted body snags the fishing line and it’s quite obvious that he didn’t accidentally fall in the river.  When Katie Maguire is informed about the murder of a second priest, also similarly tortured she has to amp up the investigation despite the Church trying to throw red herrings and cover-ups in her way.

Again, the story line of this thriller is not an entirely new concept but he does give it a fresh spin, once again drawing in some myths and legends.  The manner in which Mr. Masterton has his crimes executed it pretty bloody and leaves no doubt as to the reason for the killings.  I had that part figured out before it was explained, but that in no way took anything away from the rest of the story. 

Reading this book immediately on the heels of “White Bones” I immediately noticed a pretty serious continuity flaw.  One of the characters that very definitively died at the end of the first book was very much still alive at the beginning of this book.  It sounds a little petty but with 35+ books under his belt Mr. Masterton’s uncaught discrepancy set my teeth on edge.  I found myself reading the rest of this book anticipating other inconsistencies as I did so.  It was a bit distracting.  Mr. Masterton also likes to use the hospitalization of a family member as a distraction for Katie, once or twice I can accept, so I will pick up the third in the series somewhere down the road  - hopefully some of those personal peeves will be left out.

3 Stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his website)

Graham Masterton's debut as a horror author began with The Manitou in 1976, a chilling tale of a Native American medicine man reborn in the present day to exact his revenge on the white man. It became an instant bestseller and was filmed with Tony Curtis, Susan Strasberg, Burgess Meredith, Michael Ansara, Stella Stevens and Ann Sothern.

Graham Masterton was born in Edinburgh in 1946. His grandfather was Thomas Thorne Baker, the eminent scientist who invented DayGlo and was the first man to transmit news photographs by wireless. After training as a newspaper reporter, Graham went on to edit the new British men's magazine Mayfair, where he encouraged William Burroughs to develop a series of scientific and philosophical articles which eventually became Burroughs' novel The Wild Boys. At the age of 24, Graham was appointed executive editor of both Penthouse and Penthouse Forum magazines. At this time he started to write a bestselling series of sex 'how-to' books including How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed which has sold over 3 million copies worldwide. His latest, Wild Sex For New Lovers is published by Penguin Putnam in January, 2001. He is a regular contributor to Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, Woman, Woman's Own and other mass-market self-improvement magazines.

He lives in Surrey, England (sadly his wife, Wiescka died in April 2011). He has just finished writing a black thriller featuring Ireland's only female detective superintendent, Katie Maguire, set in the Cork underworld; and a dark fantasy, Jessica's Angel, about a girl's search for five supposedly-dead children.

He has written several new short stories and is currently working on a new horror novel, as yet untitled.


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Twenty-Three - A Review


After reading the first two books in this Promise Falls trilogy I waited quite awhile before picking up this last book.  I don’t know why I waited so long but now that I’ve read it I’m on the fence about this one.

THE TWENTY-THREE by Linwood Barclay

Promise Falls is a small town that has been under siege for a long while now and the number 23 seems to be important to whoever is perpetrating the horrendous acts.  Now it’s the Memorial Day weekend, May 23rd and as the sun rises people are dropping like flies.  It doesn’t take long to figure out that something has been put into the water supply.   As if that wasn’t enough for the hospital and police department to deal with another murder occurs – one bearing horrible similarities to two past, as yet unsolved, murders.  Could all these events be related?

Mr. Barclay once again gave me a page-turner.  Things in Promise Falls were happening and they were happening quickly.  For this reader it was almost too much, too quickly.  Just when I was catching on to what was happening with the water the scene switched to the murder and then a quick cut to the mayoral candidate and then back to the water treatment plant.  While I don’t mind a lot of action this instalment in the trilogy seemed overpopulated and slightly out of control.  The mystery of “23” was solved and yet with everything that went on there were still some questions unanswered. 

Mr. Barclay has stated this is his last visit to Promise Falls.  We’ll see? 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the author’s website)

After spending his formative years helping run a cottage resort and trailer park after his father died when he was 16, Barclay got his first newspaper job at the Peterborough Examiner, a small Ontario daily. In 1981, he joined the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.

He held such positions as assistant city editor, chief copy editor, news editor, and Life section editor, before becoming the paper’s humour columnist in 1993. He was one of the paper’s most popular columnists before retiring from the position in 2008 to work exclusively on books.

Barclay was born in the United States but moved to Canada just before turning four years old when his father, a commercial artist whose illustrations of cars appeared in Life, Look and Saturday Evening Post (before photography took over), accepted a position with an advertising agency north of the border. Barclay, who graduated with an English literature degree from Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario, was fortunate to have some very fine mentors; in particular, the celebrated Canadian author Margaret Laurence, whom Linwood first met when she served as writer-in-residence at Trent, and Kenneth Millar, who, under the name Ross Macdonald, wrote the acclaimed series of mystery novels featuring detective Lew Archer. It was at Trent that he met Neetha, the woman who would become his wife. They have two children, Spencer and Paige.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Fosgate's Game - A Review



I’m always on the lookout for a good horror story so when I got the email that I’d won a copy of this one I was quite excited to read it.  I’ve read a few other novellas by Mr. Cassidy and, like those, this one did not disappoint. 

FOSGATE’S GAME by David C. Cassidy

Chadwick and Fosgate were business associates but that was all they had in common.  Fosgate is a hunter, a brute, insensitive to other people’s feelings, concerns and fears.   Chadwick was more sensitive – his ulcer flares up when he is in Fosgate’s company, the hunter’s trophies on the wall disturb him and thunderstorms are a phobia – and tonight’s dinner did indeed take place a very dark and stormy night.  Chadwick understands that Fosgate takes a perverse sort of joy playing on his fears but it cannot be helped; these ongoing evenings are a necessity of doing business.

But this night is different.

This night Fosgate shares a mysterious secret about an object he picked up in his travels, a chess set with pieces so grotesque Chadwick could not comprehend why and who would have carved them.  The set should have stayed hidden in it’s case.  It emanated evil, but worse; Fosgate wanted to play!

This book had me in its grip from the first page.  Chadwick’s fear and loathing of Fosgate was palpable and as the evening and Chadwick’s discomfort progressed so did mine. Since I don’t care for Jason and Chainsaw “slasher” type horror finding a good old-fashioned scare seems few and far between these days.  Rest assured there is still the requisite amount of mayhem, death, blood and gore but Mr. Cassidy does not feel the need to slap you in the face with it … one quick mention and the rest is left to the readers imgination … like some of the masters of the genre he understands that this reader does not need to feel splattered in blood to feel fear.  How does it all turn out?  Satisfyingly twisted thank you very much!

Kudos!

I’d like to thank Mr. Cassidy for providing me with this book through a contest
with no expectation of a review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from amazon)

Award-winning author David C. Cassidy is the twisted mind behind several best-selling novels of horror and suspense, including The Dark, Velvet Rain, and Fosgate's Game. An author, photographer, and graphic designer--and a half-decent juggler--he spends his writing life creating dark and touching stories where Bad Things Happen To Good People. Raised by wolves, he grew up with a love of nature, music, science, and history, with thrillers and horror novels feeding the dark side of his seriously disturbed imagination. He talks to his characters, talks often, and most times they listen.

But the real fun starts when they tell him to take a hike, and they Open That Door anyway. Idiots. David lives in Ontario, Canada. From Mozart to Vivaldi, classic jazz to classic rock, he feels naked without his iPod. Suffering from MAD--Multiple Activity Disorder--he divides his time between writing and blogging, photography and Photoshop, reading and rollerblading. An avid amateur astronomer, he loves the night sky, chasing the stars with his telescope. Sometimes he eats.

To learn more and connect with David, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook, or visit his website: http://davidccassidy.com http://www.facebook.com/davidccassidyauthor http://www.twitter.com/davidccassidy