Friday, January 24, 2020

At Least the Cover is Adorable

TITLE: Cold Nose Warm Heart (Fur Haven Dog Park #1)
AUTHOR: Mara Wells
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Casablanca
PUBLISHING DATE: January 28, 2020


A poodle, a black lab and a Chihuahua walk into a dog park... 

All Caleb Donovan has to do to redeem his family name is take a rundown Miami Beach apartment building and turn it into luxury condos. Easy, right? 

Unfortunately, that would also turn the local dog park into a parking lot and the neighbors aren't having it. Caleb is faced with outright revolt, led by smart, beautiful building manager Riley Carson and her poodle, LouLou.

For Caleb, this project should have been a slam dunk. But even more challenging than the neighborhood resistance is the mutual attraction between him and Riley. It would be so much easier just to stay enemies. 

Can Riley and her canine sidekick convince Caleb that what's best for business isn't always best for the heart? 

MY THOUGHTS: One look at this cover and clearly anyone who visits my blog regularly knows I was at least going to give it a chance.  And I did.  And while I wanted to love this book, it fell a little short for me.  However, I still love the cover.

Cold Nose, Warm Heart tells the tale of Riley and Caleb.  Riley used to work for Caleb's rich family is resort management until their illegal activities cost her a job and Caleb's family most of their assets.  Riley ends up being property manager for her Grams' place, The Dorothy, and honestly, she isn't doing the best job.  She seems to be able to put band aids on a lot of the repairs popping up but that's about all.  Enter Caleb.  He has been tasked by his grandfather to restore The Dorothy to greatness, and encouraging his brothers to assist.  However, Caleb is headed straight to a fight because the elderly residents of The Dorothy, as well as Riley, don't plan on letting the property go so easily.

So if I'm going to read a book with romance, usually a hate-to-love trope is one I enjoy.  But I found Cold Nose, Warm Heart to be fairly problematic.  First of all, the connection between Riley and Caleb seems forced.  I didn't really care for either of them and I felt like Riley came across as someone in or recently out of college and Caleb as egotistical and self-absorbed.  Also, the book heavily focuses on the creation of a dog park near the property which Caleb quickly uses as way to manipulate the neighborhood into agreeing with his renovation plans.  Now I LOVE dogs which is evident, but it seems like there should have been more focus on the run-down complex, the past financial mismanagement and how to make sure people, as well as their pets, didn't lose their home. 

But let's not be all negative, because there were parts I really enjoyed.  The cast of side characters is great.  Grams is a hoot an so is Eliza, a retired attorney who lives down the street with her dog Lady (who is on the cover).  I liked a lot of The Dorothy's elderly residents and Riley's poodle LouLou is pretty cute too.  I also must admit that Riley did show some growth during the book, I just felt she should have more capabilities in the beginning.  The development of her friendship with Sydney and her dog Chewy was definitely a plus.

So overall, this was a middle of the line read for me.  The book does introduce Caleb's brother Lance who in his brief appearances already grew on me more than Caleb did the entire book. The next in the series focuses on him so I will be picking it up and giving the author and the series a second chance. 

One last pet peeve and I'm sure this seems trivial to some but will shock few who visit regularly.  The dog on the cover is Lucy. Lucy is pretty and Lucy is in the book.  But Riley, the star of the show, has a poodle named LouLou.  Could they not find a cute poodle to feature or at least add to Lucy?

Also, I buddy read this with Anne over at Books of My Heart as part of Winter COYER so make sure to go check out her thoughts. 

RATING: 3 PAWS (and it was a stretch)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

2 Bloggers 1 Series - A New Adventure Begins!

So welcome to 2020 and yep, Stormi and I are at it again.  We've know for some time what series we planned on tackling next and guys, it's a long one - 15 books and a bunch of novellas and short stories thrown in.  In addition, I don't think either of us were extremely thrilled with the first one so we're hoping we will either catch on to the author's writing style or the books with pick up.  

Are you still curious?  This year we are reading the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson.  So continue on for my thoughts on the first book and then check out Stormi's review over at Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!  I have to admit that I love the fact that this author is from my state and graduated from my alma mater, Marshall University.  

TITLE: The Cold Dish (Longmire #1)
AUTHOR: Craig Johnson
PUBLISHER: Penguin Books
PUBLISHING DATE: December 29, 2004

FROM GOODREADS: Walt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming's Absaroka County, knows he's got trouble when Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl. Is someone seeking vengeance? Longmire faces one of the more volatile and challenging cases in his twenty-four years as sheriff and means to see that revenge, a dish that is best served cold, is never served at all. 

MY THOUGHTS: So I need to get this out of the way first.  I am a huge fan of the television/Netflix series and have watched all of the existing series.  While not a HUGE fan of westerns, I found that it straddled the line between "western" and police procedural quite well.  I quickly grew to love some characters and hate others (appropriately so).  And because of all of this, I think I had a hard time transitioning to the book, but more on that later.

The Cold Dish fulfills the job of introducing us to a cast of characters and giving us a mystery to boot.  Years ago a disabled young Cheyenne girl was raped by a group of guys.  Two years later, the main perpetrator is found dead and soon, other's follow.   Walt was never comfortable with how the trial played out and the list of suspects is a mile long.  He struggles to find the culprit and navigate the strenuous relationship between Absoroka County and the Native American reservation without starting any additional issues.

I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of The Cold Dish.  It sent me back to the episode where it was addressed on the series, yet included some fresh new suspects and information.  I am actually glad that the book didn't follow the series (or vice versa) in a strict manner because it shook things up for me.  I was a tad shocked by the resolution but in the end it all made sense and I was happy with the direction it took. 

I also really loved some of the characters.  Vic, the main deputy, is a joy.  Yes she is foul-mouthed, cynical and brash, but that's what I love about her.  She shoots straight from the hip and I love her for it.  I also loved Henry Standing Bear, Walt's best friend and bar owner.  In the series Henry was played by Lou Diamond Phillips and was also a favorite.  Then there was Walt.  I adored Robert Taylor cast as Walt.  However Book Walt is not the same as Series Walt.  And my head has a hard time wrapping around that one.

Also, I need to mention the author can be long winded and at times I found his transitioning to be confusing. I grew more comfortable with his style as the story progressed and I hope that continues.  I also hope I don't have to read paragraph after paragraph of firearm descriptions like I did here.  I expect some but at one point it was kind of overkill.  I can tell this series was probably more geared to engage male readers rather than female ones.

So suffice to say, this book was okay and I'm optimistic things will improve.  I think the characters alone are pulling me into the next one (I'm looking at you Vic and Henry) and hopefully things pick up.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Can't Wait Wednesday (245)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight highly anticipated books.  It is based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme which used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

So the public has spoken - Cass is now a full-time contributor to Can't Wait Wednesday.  That means each week you'll see two books here. Of course Cass is already lobbying for an increase in salary (at least he works for treats - and bandanas).

FROM GOODREADS: Winter was the only season every Lake-Lander feared...

In a post-apocalyptic America, a community survives in a national park, surrounded by water that keeps the Dead at bay. But when winter comes, there's nothing to stop them from crossing the ice.

Then homebody Peter puts the camp in danger by naively allowing a stranger to come ashore and he's forced to leave the community of Wranglestone. Now he must help rancher Cooper, the boy he's always watched from afar, herd the Dead from their shores before the lake freezes over.

But as love blossoms, a dark discovery reveals the sanctuary's secret past. One that forces the pair to question everything they've ever known.

An action-packed and thought-provoking debut, for fans of Patrick Ness, Marcus Sedgwick, DREAD NATION and The Walking Dead. 

WHY I CAN'T WAIT: I love tales in wintry settings and this one sounds good.  I also love the cover and can't help but think that might not be a bad place to live.  Plus with The Walking Dead reference, I have to give this one a try!


FROM GOODREADS: Lily lives with her girl, Maggie Rose. Once a stray, Lily was rescued by the kind people at the animal shelter run by Maggie Rose’s mom. Now she has a very important purpose: to rescue other animals in trouble.
In Lily to the Rescue, Lily meets a crow with a broken wing, so she and Maggie Rose take the crow home to Mom. But when the crow starts to become too tame, some unexpected problems arise. It’s Lily to the rescue!
WHY CASSIUS CAN'T WAIT:  I love that Lily is a rescue and I think it's cool that her girl runs an animal shelter.  And since I ADORE birds, I can't resist seeing how they help this crow!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

TTT - Ten Last Additions to My Amazon Wishlist

The top 10 weekly meme used to be hosted by The Broke and the Bookish they  handed over the reins to ThatArtsyReaderGirl who can be found HERE.  Each week she will focus on lists which cover various topics related to books and reading.

This week's topic is the most recent additions to my bookshelf. Since I usually update this on my weekend post, I'm going to share the last 10 books I added to my Amazon wishlist. I tend to add lesser known books here when I'm browsing so I thought it would mix things up!  (Clicking on the picture should take you to the Goodreads page).

THE ROO - Alan Baxter


INK IN THE BLOOD - Kim Smejkal


DEMONS ARE RUDE - Gary Williams and Vicky Knerly

LET'S GO PLAY AT THE ADAMS' (Paperbacks from Hell) - Mendal W. Johnson


NOTORIOUS - Gordon Korman

LOST BUT FOUND - Peter Sharp

THE CYCLE - John Wayne Comunale

GYPSY KING - Devney Perry

So I accidentally gave you an extra one. Oh well, one can never have too many books on the wishlist!

A Beginning at the End Blog Tour

Today I'm thrilled to share mwith you my thoughts on Mike Chen's new release A Beginning at the End.  Thanks Harlequin Trade Publishing for the opportunity to be a part of the Winter 2020 Science Fiction and Fantasy Tour.

TITLE: A Beginning at the End
AUTHOR: Mike Chen
PUBLISHING DATE: January 14, 2020


How do you start over after the end of the world? 

Six years after a global pandemic wiped out most of the planet’s population, the survivors are rebuilding the country, split between self-governing cities, hippie communes and wasteland gangs. 

In postapocalyptic San Francisco, former pop star Moira has created a new identity to finally escape her past—until her domineering father launches a sweeping public search to track her down. Desperate for a fresh start herself, jaded event planner Krista navigates the world on behalf of those too traumatized to go outside, determined to help everyone move on—even if they don’t want to. Rob survived the catastrophe with his daughter, Sunny, but lost his wife. When strict government rules threaten to separate parent and child, Rob needs to prove himself worthy in the city’s eyes by connecting with people again. 

Krista, Moira, Rob and Sunny are brought together by circumstance, and their lives begin to twine together. But when reports of another outbreak throw the fragile society into panic, the friends are forced to finally face everything that came before—and everything they still stand to lose.

Because sometimes having one person is enough to keep the world going. 

MY THOUGHTS:  When I started this book, I had no idea how much I would end up loving it. While it is classified as a science fiction/post apocalyptic tale, it's actually that and so much more.  Because I found A Beginning at the End to have a lot of heart.

The book is set in the future, six years after a global flu pandemic wiped out much of the world.  The nation is now divided between cities trying to rebuild and wastelands where those who don't trust the government and want to live by their own rules can be found.  Chen's story takes us to San Francisco where we meet our cast of individual characters and during the course of the novel, we see how much their lives are destined to intersect.

We have Moira, who before the collapse was a pop sensation known as Mojo.  She has lived in hiding for the past six years in order to stay off her father's radar, as he was determined to make her a star whether she wanted to or not.  Then we have Krista.  Krista is an event planner who has been hired to plan Moira's wedding to Frank.  Krista desperately needs the money because in this world, you have to make payments and buy licenses in order to stay in the rebuilding cities.  And finally we have Rob and his daughter Sunny.  Rob works for an internet news agency, which has seen it's better days since the intranet has basically collapsed, and his wife Elena died during the initial wave of the pandemic - something he has yet to share with his seven year old daughter.

So pretty much the new government system is obsessed with familial ties.  It believes that the only way for the future to have any hope is with the children, so they overstep their bounds and encourage things like procreation, adoption of the many orphaned by the pandemic, and making sure the existing children are adjusting. Rob has been closed off  and going through the motions of life but when the government starts to question his ability to raise his daughter, he ends up being helped by a ragtag cast of people.

A Beginning at the End is primarily a character driven tale.  Sure, the reader learns a lot about the fall of civilization as we currently know it, and learns of all the scientific advancements and technological breakdowns that have lead San Francisco to its current state.  But first and foremost, it's a story about people and what they do to survive and it does a find job at displaying that family isn't just the people you are biologically related to.

It was hard to have a favorite character throughout this book as I really enjoyed them all.  If I had to pin one down though it would be Krista. I loved he cynical attitude and really enjoyed seeing her open her heart to Sunny.  I also enjoyed the scenes with Moira/Mojo and Rob as it was clear they made a connection early on, despite her engagement to Frank.

If you love science fiction, or even if you are like me and are still dipping your feet into the genre, A Beginning at the End is definitely a book you should consider picking up. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Chen is a lifelong writer, from crafting fan fiction as a child to somehow getting paid for words as an adult. He has contributed to major geek culture websites (The Mary Sue, The Portalist), covered the NHL for mainstream media outlets, and ghostwritten corporate articles appearing in Forbes, Buzzfeed, Enterpreneur, and more. A member of SFWA and the Codex Writers group, Mike calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, where he can often be found playing video games and watching Doctor Who with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals.

Friday, January 17, 2020

2020 Challenges

Okay, so I'm technically running late - sue me.  On second thought, don't. It would be extra stress I just don't need.  I have a feeling that my poor pup Apollo may take the blame for a lot of things this year and running behind on the blog will be one of them.  But he's cute, lovable and adorable so we'll give him a pass won't we guys?

So I'm not doing a ton of challenges this year. I like them and everything but I'm horrible at tracking them.  I start out well and then fall off. So this year I'm only doing 3 long ones but will participate in ones that pop up that may last a week to a month because there's so many fun ones out there like that.

So this one is self explanatory.  I set my goal at 100 this year.  I figure it's a number I'm pretty confident at achieving.



Runs:January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020. You can join anytime. The sign-up will remain open until Dec. 31st, 2020.
  • Put a sign up post on your blog or (dedicate a Goodreads shelf or LibraryThing) and link it in the linky below. Make sure it’s public. 
  • Monthly Library Love Email: We are offering up a Monthly Email dedicated to the library love challenge. This email will focus on the monthly posts. Everyone who signs up will get a confirmation email, you can unsubscribe at any time, including after the signing-up, more information at the bottom of this post or Sign Up Now:
  • Please link back to both challenge hosts and include the challenge buttonin your sign-up posts.
  • The goal is to read at least twelve (12) books from the library, but you can read more. While twelve is the minimum; there is no maximum limit. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you.
  • Any format will work for this challenge (prints, ebooks, or audios); as long as you checked it out from the library, it counts.
  • Books can be any genre (fiction, nonfiction, romance, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, etc.).
  • Crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed, including re-reads. The goal is to support your local library and save money.
  • As an added bonus: We’re offering up MONTHLY GIVEAWAYS with this Challenge. On the 1st of every month, a link-up will go up on both Angel’s Guilty Pleasures and Books of My Heart where you can leave your links for your reviews on the books you read from the library. One Winner will be picked each month!! So make sure to stop by each month to enter. More details below.
  • (Optional) Reviews: Write a review to enter the giveaway 2 sentences or an essay, whatever works for you, but there is a minimum of 2 sentences. Not sure what to write? How about something like, “The plot was a delight, but the characters didn’t capture me.” “I enjoyed the story and really liked the characters.”
  • Please use #LibraryLoveChallenge when sharing your reviews, library pictures, etc…


  • Dewey Decimal: Read 12 books
  • Thrifty Reader: Read 24 books
  • Overdrive Junkie: Read 36 books
  • Library Addict: Read 48 books
  • Library Card on Fire: Read 60+ books 
  • I love using my libraries so again, I think this is one I can easily manage.  I'm going with Overdrive Junkie and aiming to read at least 36 books.


1. Any book read for this challenge has to have an animal that plays a major role in the book (which could be fiction or non-fiction.) It also counts if a main character is (or turns into) an animal (define that however you'd like). In the past, books would qualify if an animal is in the title or on the cover, but that alone no longer qualifies. This challenge is for books related to animals and just because they are in the title or on the cover, doesn't mean it's about an animal.

These are the levels.

Level 1 - Read 6 books

Level 2 - Read 7-12

Level 3 - Read 13-20

Level 4 - Read 21 or more

2. The animal can be any type of animal (real or fictitious)--dog, cat, monkey, wolf, snake, insect, hedgehog, aardvark...dragon, mermaid, centaur, vampire, get the idea...

3. Challenge runs from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.

4. Books can be fiction or nonfiction.

5. You may make a list of books at the beginning of the challenge or you can just list them as you find them.

6. Book titles may be swapped out at anytime (assuming you made a list to begin with).

7. Crossovers with other challenges are permitted and encouraged.

8. You don't have to have a blog or write a review, but you can if you want to. If you don't have a blog, just post in the comment section that you'd like to join. You can post your books in there. Or you can sign up by joining my group on Goodreads for this challenge by clicking here.

9. Books can be in any format of your choice (print, audio, ebooks)

10. To sign up, use the Mister Linky below. There will be links for reviews and wrap posts later.

That's it! Enjoy and have fun!

I'm going to go for Level 3 on this one but wouldn't be surprised if I manage Level 4 so that may change.

So there you have it - better late than never.

Also, my They Call It Puppy Love Challenge will be going on during the month of February so look for that post soon.

What's Happening (01-18-19)...

So I'm doing things a tad bit differently this year and will be combining all of my regular weekend posts.  This will enable me to add more content on Fridays and it is just starting to make more sense.  I'll still be linking up with Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews and Sunday Post at Caffeinated Reviewer.  Both blogs are awesome so make sure you check them out. 

So there was no post last weekend and I apologize.  Life just became too much.  Nothing bad but with my first full week back to work and then I had to travel out of town for a work meeting one day.  Things just got the best of me.  But anyway, on with the update!

So Apollo continues to grow.  He and Cass are getting along fairly well. They had a marathon session of playing Wednesday night and Cass got head butted in the eye and it started to swell. I went into panic mode but Mr. Barb was pretty sure it wasn't the actual eye but beneath it.  Needless to say I worried all night but I'm happy to report Cass is fine.  I made the pup leave him alone for a while Thursday and honestly, neither seemed too happy about it.  Here are some update pics of Apollo.

This shows that he has doubled in size if not more.  I refer to PUPPY LAG a lot and it's not so much that he's keeping me up at night, it's just a lot of juggling with vet appointments, taking him out (only once) in the middle of the night, and constantly keeping tabs on the little fella.

This is Cass with one of his favorite toys taking time out from the lil' brother.

And this shows that I think our dog may be broken.  He loves to play this "game" with Dad.  Sorry for the bad quality.  It's hard to catch him doing anything in good lighting :)

We have been watching some things on TV but not a lot of movies.  I finished Season 2 of YOU and all I can say is Joe, I'm really worried about this last relationship of yours.  Needless to say I'm thrilled it's been picked up for a third season.  We also watched the Dracula mini-series.  It was odd and that's the best way I know to describe it.  It was three 1 1/2 hour episodes and I could have really done without the last one.  I watched Midsomar while I was off sick one day and WEIRD.  It was free or I never would have started it.  They take a lot of drug inducing herbs in the movie and I kept thinking so may have the writers.  It may have helped if they had shared some with the audience too.  

I've been reading some and hope to pick up some great books this weekend. This is what is on tap.  

And here is my haul for the past several weeks as it's been a while since I shared.  I thought Past Lives with Pets sounded pretty interesting and let's be honest, I couldn't resist the cover of Nocturnal Farm.   I featured The Finders on a Can't Wait Wednesday some time back and was thrilled when I was approved for it.

I was really intrigued by the premise of Ghosts of Harvard and I've been seeing The Down Days all over the place and come on, how can you resist that cover?  And I'm beyond ecstatic to have a copy of The Only Good Indians.

And finally, I'm turning things over to Cass for his latest installment....


1.  He eats dirt.  Seriously, he roots around in the backyard and loves to eat dirt.  Doesn't he know that he needs to hold out for treats and food?  I've tried to tell him but he doesn't listen.

2.  He grows like a weed - hey, maybe that's what's up with all the dirt.  He gets bigger by the day.

3. When he gets the zoomies, stand back.  That boy is fast!  Of course not as fast as me.  

4.  We now touch each other.  I actually like playing with him but he needs to learn not to hang on to my neck.  I can't even wear bandanas right now because it's gives him more hold.  And he also needs to learn that when I am done, I am done.

5.  He STILL likes to chew on Mom but admittedly not as much as before.  All I can figure out is the truth may be out and he knows she loves me more.

So how was your week?