Monday, April 30, 2018

It's Under Dogs - No...not THAT Underdog

TITLE: Under Dogs
AUTHOR: Andrius Burba
PUBLISHER: Andrews McMeel Publishing

FROM GOODREADS: An adorable book of dog photography showing our furry friends from an unexpected perspective--from underneath.

In the vein of bestsellers like Underwater Dogs and ShakeUnder Dogs is a heartwarming and unique look at man's best friend. Photographer Andrius Burba's striking images of dogs taken from below are by turns surprising and hilarious—providing readers with a little-seen view of the pets we love.

MY THOUGHTS: When I saw this book I couldn't help but request it and take a gander. "Under Dogs" is a wonderful book of photography by Andrius Burba which features photos of dogs taken from underneath. The perspective of these photos only adds to these dogs' character and they actually seem to leap off the page. While there was no boxer present, there were definitely lots of other breeds and I had fun looking at them and sharing the more interesting ones with my family. If you love dogs and enjoy photography, this is one you must see.

I obtained a copy from the published and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I will be picking up a physical copy for my collection at some point in the future. Great book!

And here are a few great photos!

RATING: 5 PAWS (of course)

April Spring Into Horror - It's a Wrap!

I want to thank Seasons of Reading for hosting the April Spring into Horror Readathon. It was a blast and I was happy to meet some new bloggers and interact on their group page.  Horror is one of my favorite genres so participating in it was a no-brainer.  Here's what I managed to read!

Taste of Wrath - Matt Wallace (review HERE).
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Issue #6 and #7 (reviews HERE).
The Atrocities - Jeremy Shipp (review HERE).
Fiction Can Be Murder - Beck Clark (review HERE).
Murder on Black Swan Lane - Andrea Penrose (review HERE).

Hope everyone that took part in this had fun!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sidetracked Sunday #4 - A London Mystery

So we have my friend Stormi to thank for this month's choice.  I've had a digital arc of this book since before it was released.  She kept telling me I'd love it and you know what, she was right.  So thanks Stormi and on to the review!

TITLE: Murder on Black Swan Lane (A Wrexford & Sloane Mystery #1)
AUTHOR: Andrea Penrose
PUBLISHER: Kensington
PUBLISHING DATE: June 27, 2017

FROM GOODREADS: In Regency London, an unconventional scientist and a fearless female artist form an unlikely alliance to expose unspeakable evil . . .

The Earl of Wrexford possesses a brilliant scientific mind, but boredom and pride lead him to reckless behavior. He does not suffer fools gladly. So when pompous, pious Reverend Josiah Holworthy publicly condemns him for debauchery, Wrexford unsheathes his rapier-sharp wit and strikes back. As their war of words escalates, London’s most popular satirical cartoonist, A.J. Quill, skewers them both. But then the clergyman is found slain in a church—his face burned by chemicals, his throat slashed ear to ear—and Wrexford finds himself the chief suspect.

MY THOUGHTS:  There were many things I enjoyed about this book.  One of London's most infamous clergyman is found dead and while there is not a shortage of suspects, the Earl of Wrexford is the prime suspect.  His innocence is further questions because a popular cartoonist, A.J. Quill keeps publishing artistic pieces which puts Wrexford's character under more and more scrutiny.  So Wrexford, knowing the local police want nothing more to arrest him and put the case to rest, ventures out to solve the case for himself and along the way, he finds the most unusual of allies.  

I though the mystery in "Murder on Black Swan Lane" was well done and quite complex.  I was pretty much unable to figure out the identity of the real culprit, which made me devour the book that much more quickly.  I also really liked the characters in the book as well as their relationships with each other.  Sloane, a struggling widow who plays prominently in the book, has taken two devilish youngsters under her wing named Raven and Hawk and I loved them as well as how they looked out for Sloane and always seemed to know what was going on in the underbelly of the city.  Finally, Penrose's writing flows easily and is quite enjoyable.  The book is full of banter and quick wit which I love.

If you love London setting and Victorian mysteries, don't wait as long as I did to pick this book up.  Also, the second installment was recently released and yes, I plan on reading it much sooner than I did "Murder on Black Swan Lane."


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Stacking the Shelves (159) - But......nope, I got no excuses

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves or TBR piles, may it be physical or virtual.  This means you can include books you buy in a physical store, online, books you borrow from the library or friends, review books, gifts and of course, ebooks! The original meme was started over at Tynga's Reviews. And it now has a new co-host where individuals can link up as well - Marlene from Reading Reality.  Clicking on the book (or title) should take you to the Goodreads page.  I'm also now linking up with the Sunday Post which is hosted by Kimberly@Caffeinated Book Reviewer

So remember that small haul I had last week.  Well, just keep that in mind!  

So Thursday I had to drive all over town looking during my lunch hour looking for a NFL draft book for my sick husband - the things we do for love!  I ran into the local bookstore as a last ditch effort (SCORE) and these were near the checkout and of course once you see the covers, you'll know why they had to go home with me.  I didn't care for the "Inhumans" series but did fall in love with this zany character.

Then of course I saw a few books on sale at Amazon for Paul Anka (aka Kindle).  "Sherlock Holmes and the Shadewell Shadows" has been on my wishlist for some time  and "Dante's Town of Terror" was free and looked fun.  I also grabbed "The Dolocher" for free.

The next 4 were library grabs - "The Shape of Water," "Tyler Johnson Was Here," "Sunburn," and "City of Brass."

And of course, a few review copies slipped in. I wished for "A Study in Treason" and then forgot about it but it came through.  I had to have "You Lucky Dog" for a summer reading escape.  It looks like a wonderful summertime book.  I've read a book or two from Dave Berry YEARS ago and think it's great he's written a dog memoir called "Lessons from Lucy."  And finally, tell me what crazy horror love could pass up "Hark! The Herald Angels Scream?"  It has some awesome authors such as Christopher Golden, Seanan McGuire, and Sarah Pinborough to name a few.

So there you have it.  Another "NO EXCUSES" book haul.  What did you add to your shelves this week???

Friday, April 27, 2018

Weekly Reads (04/27/18)

So last Friday I ended up taking Mr. Barb to the doctor again.  He received more meds and they took x-rays and we finally feel confident that he is on the mend.  On the down side, I had a sinus headache for 2 days (at least they weren't consecutive days) and felt like I wanted to pop my head off.

So with everyone under the weather (except the pups - they are good) it was a great weekend to binge watch Netflix and binge we did. Can I just say I fell in love with Season 1 of the "Lost in Space" reboot.  It was fun and exciting and wonderful and I found myself shedding a tear for a ROBOT!  What can I say, for some reason there appears to be no pets in space so the robot was as close as I could get.  I highly recommend this series and the only bad thing is waiting for more.

I also got lots of reading done last weekend and should get more this weekend as the NFL draft is on.  Mr. Barb is a HUGE draft fan and I'll follow along as I have my own reading marathon.  I did finish "Let Me Lie" this week (LOVED IT!) and am half through with "Dread Nation."  I'm not really sure what all I want to pick up next but here are some strong contenders.  I've barely just started "Outpost" so my opinion's out but I know Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy loved it.  I also don't know if I can resist Smooshie much longer.

So I hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead and that you all can work in some reading somewhere.  And just because I wanna share some puppy love, here's one of my favorite pictures of the pups hanging out with us this past 4th of July.

You Think You've Got Problems - The Vampire Within Review

TITLE: The Vampire Within
AUTHOR: Laura Daleo
PUBLISHER: Story Bound Publishing
PUBLISHING DATE: March 16, 2018

FROM GOODREADS: Brandon Cass is not your average teenager. He has a taste for blood—human blood. For sixteen years, he stumbled through life without a hitch until the enigmatic aroma of blood awakened something dark within him. Visions of a beautiful young woman with chocolate brown hair and ocean blue eyes haunt his mind, yet her identity is a puzzling mystery. 
His hunger for blood strengthens, and the cravings become too powerful to control. No one is safe, not even his family. To safeguard all he once found dear, Brandon sets out on a quest for answers. In an unfamiliar city, he comes face-to-face with the beautiful young woman, confronts the dark force which controls him, and learns what he must endure to reclaim his soul. 

MY THOUGHTS: This book really starts out with the action. Brandon Cass (love that name!) is sitting in class when he suddenly gets a whiff of blood. After following Sam, a long-time crush outside after class, he ends up kissing her only to bite her tongue so he can taste her blood. Now maybe this is normal in a lot of vampire books but Brandon doesn't know that he's a vampire and the change in him happened overnight. Brandon starts on a quest to figure out why he is suddenly craving blood, why it makes him act so abnormal, and how he can return to an average high-schooler again.

I found "The Vampire Within" to be a fun and exciting read. Although the book might easily be interpreted as a romance, it isn't. It's more a book about family and friendship. Brandon, his new tutor, Rick (because who can go to school when you want to drink everyone?) and his sister Lindsey work hard to figure out what is happening to Brandon and more importantly, how to make it stop. I loved the bond between Brandon and his sister Lindsey. Yea, they annoyed the hell out of each other at times, but they also had each other's backs through it all. I also really enjoyed Rick. Rick was disabled when he was a teen for stupid behavior but he has made peace with his condition and really wants to help Brandon move past the trauma he is currently experiencing. 

This book has lots of action and there is a ancient vampire component which heavily influences the outcome of the book. If you are looking for an interesting vampire read, minus the romance, then this is definitely worth a consideration. 

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Two Bloggers One Book - A Cozy Fail?

So last month was kind of a fail for Stormi and myself so this month, we thought "Let's read a cozy!"  We both enjoy them so much and to be honest, they are usually such quick reads...key word here...USUALLY.  So read on to see how this month's pick REALLY turned out.  Then hop over to Stormi's @   Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My! for her thoughts as well!

TITLE: Fiction Can Be Murder (Mystery Writer's Mystery #1)
AUTHOR: Becky Clark
PUBLISHER: Midnight Ink
PUBLISHING DATE: April 8, 2018


Mystery author Charlemagne "Charlee" Russo thinks the twisty plots and peculiar murders in her books are only the product of her imagination--until her agent is found dead exactly as described in Charlee's new, unpublished manuscript. Suspicion now swirls around her and her critique group, making her confidence drop as severely and unexpectedly as her royalty payments.

The police care more about Charlee's feeble alibi and financial problems than they do her panicky claims of innocence. To clear her name and revive her career, she must figure out which of her friends is a murderer. Easier said than done, even for an author who's skilled at creating tidy endings for her mysteries. And as her sleuthing grows dangerous, Charlee's imagination starts working overtime. Is she being targeted, too?

MY THOUGHTS:  Cute cover right?  Makes you want to just curl up in this chair and read the day away right?  Well, my suggestion, pick another book to do so.  "Fiction Can Be Murder" has the honor of having one of the most annoying characters I have met in a long time.  Charlee Russo is a mystery writer, although how I have NO idea because she's pretty darn clueless.  One morning, her agent ends up dead and is killed in the exact same manner as written in Charlee's upcoming, unpublished novel.  This puts Charlee, as well as her mystery writer's club, as targets for the police investigation and in order to save herself, and those she cares about, Charlee starts looking into the death herself.  

This book kind of flowed oddly for me.  I'm not even sure why but the title itself doesn't even work in my brain.  I was able to keep reading because in the end, I really did want to know who killed the bitchy agent.  Which I might add no one really seemed to care that she was dead - not even her husband.  As I mentioned, Charlee is annoying.  In fact, during most of the chats with Stormi, we ended up calling her "paranoid girl."  This girl could find reasons why a blade of grass was out to get her.  This book also lacked what I love about mose cozies.  There's no quaint small town setting and no extremely likable characters (although I did like the elderly upstairs neighbors and the two guys who owned the local book store).  I will say there were a couple of cute dogs in the mix.  One Charlee rescues from a local alley and one is owned by the elderly couple I mentioned - Peter O'Drool (so the author does get points for the adorable Pug name). 

I really can't recommend this book to cozy lovers.  It was a pretty annoying read.  And spoiler alert, Stormi didn't think much of it either.  We joked that Charlee probably killed her agent herself and forgot about it because not only is she "paranoid girl" she's "scattered girl."  I'm sure plenty of people have enjoyed this book, it just wasn't what I was looking for. Oh well, better luck next time.  And I mean  it!  Stormi and I better have better luck with May's read!!!!

I received this book from Netgalley and the published in exchange for an honest review.


Dread Nation Buddy Read Update

So Maria and I are cruising right along with our buddy read and I have to say, she seems pretty darn excited about reading a zombie book - who would have guessed.  I am also really enjoying the book and have to admit that I was worried because I know Stormi wasn't a HUGE fan and we usually like the same books.  I'm glad it's working out better for me than I anticipated.  Anyway, Maria and I have been exchanging some thoughts and questions so here's the latest!  WARNING:  This may contain SPOILERS so if you have't read the book and plan to, you might want to skip this post.

Maria:  I get the feeling that Jane's mother has mixed feelings about Jane. I wonder if she really does love her daughter. What do you think? If you agree, what evidence of this do you see in the story? If not, why do you feel that way?

Barb: I am also worried because it seems like Jane is always writing her mother but is not hearing back.  However, the way the book is arranged I don't know exactly how long this has been going on.  I do think her mother loves her because remember for years she hid Jane so she would not have to go to the academy and learn to fight off zombies.  I think that showed she wanted to keep Jane safe and with her.  Also, it would have been so easy to "give" Jane away when she was born and she didn't do so despite knowing she was bi-racial and would have to face hardship and difficulties.

Maria:  The character I hate the most so far is Miss Anderson. I wonder WHY she doesn't like Jane. Is it simply because Jane is not that good in etiquette, which is the subject Miss A. teaches? Or could there be something more?

Barb:  I can't stand that woman either!  I think it's because Miss Anderson knows Jane is  smarter and better skilled than she will ever be so she is super resentful.  However, there may be other reasons we have yet to discover.  

Maria:  Jane mentions that she goes out at night. And she has even saved some people from the "shamblers", too! I don't know how she can do that...... I would be PETRIFIED to go out at night, alone, in the country, with ZOMBIES around! Well, in any city, too, OF COURSE it would be dangerous for a woman to go out alone at night, even without zombies! But in Jane's case, she could come across a whole pack of zombies at night, and get killed. Do you think you'd be able to do what she did? I know I couldn't!

Barb:  I'd like to think so if I had to but not by choice.  I did take a gun safety class and have my permit and Mr. Barb and the instructor said I was an awesome shot so I think I could.  Also, if the zombies tried to mess with my family or my pups, I believe I could do whatever I needed!

Maria:  have very mixed feelings about Jackson. He seems to have mixed feelings about Jane himself. And, from the hints in the text, it seems they are former lovers. Jane, too, has mixed feelings about him. I wonder whether their relationship will change back to a romantic one, and whether Katherine will be involved, since she seems to like Jackson.

Barb:  I get the same impression.  I don't mind Jackson, but I kind of want Jane to meet someone new.  Also, I like Jackson and Katherine together and hope they become a couple.  She needs someone to bring her back down to Earth.

So there you have it.  Make sure to hop over to Maria's @ A Night's Dream of Books and check out her latest update!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday (155) - It's a Cassius Takeover!

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.

HELLO GUYS!  Ignore the picture up top - it's me, Cass.  So since Booker T hogged the last Books to Bark (and Crow) About Mom decided to let me have today's feature and did I ever find a perfect book. You know I like things that fly so what better than DOGS IN SPACE!  We watched a lot of "Lost in Space" this weekend which really got me thinking.  However, if humans were going to recolonize a new frontier, why the heck didn't they take any animals with them?  I mean, couldn't they have built a space ark?  Oh well, here's today's pick!

FROM GOODREADS: This edge-of-your-seat action-packed story is Homeward Bound—set in space!

SOS. Laika damaged. Human crew missing.
We are the dogs. We are alone.

Lopside is a Barkonaut—a specially trained dog who assists human astronauts on missions in space. He and the crew aboard the spaceship Laika are en route to set up an outpost on a distant planet. When the mission takes a disastrous turn, the Barkonauts on board suddenly find themselves completely alone on their severely damaged ship.

Survival seems impossible. But these dogs are Barkonauts—and Barkonauts always complete their mission.

WHY I CAN'T WAIT:  I want to be a Barkonaut!  I can't wait for Mom to get this one for us!


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

TTT - 5 Commonly Used Themes in Horror Novels

The top 10 weekly meme used to be hosted by The Broke and the Bookish but starting this week, they are handing 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 was frequently used words in a genre of your choice.  This seems both hard and too easy, so I modified this week's topic to 5 commonly used themes in horror novels.  Now that I think of it, this may be hard as well.  I think my brain just isn't working.


So basically you take a species of animals, which is scary in and of itself, and make it even scarier but mutating it or really pissing it off.  Said species usually then turns around and kills lots and lots of people!


Pretty self explanatory right?


Mentally deranged people doing mentally deranged things all the while proving my point that people are often the REAL horror in the world.


Supernatural entities (werewolves, vampires, fairies) doing mean and vicious things while being their mean and vicious selfs.  Not to be confused with paranormal romance where said supernatural entities are hot and sexy and want to go home with you.


They may be good but they are often more exciting when they are bad and out to rule the world. 



So something has happened to the world and humanity had hit dire straights.  Usually makes bad people do bad things (and sometimes good people too!)

So there you have it.  I look forward to seeing what everyone else listed this week!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Wolves of Winter Review

TITLE: The Wolves of Winter
AUTHOR: Tyrell Johnson
PUBLISHING DATE: January 2, 2018

FROM GOODREADS: Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive.

Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As memories of her old life haunt her, she has been forced to forge ahead in the snow-covered Canadian Yukon, learning how to hunt and trap to survive.

But her fragile existence is about to be shattered. Shadows of the world before have found her tiny community—most prominently in the enigmatic figure of Jax, who sets in motion a chain of events that will force Lynn to fulfill a destiny she never imagined.

MY THOUGHTS: "The Wolves of Winter" is a wonderful post-apocalyptic take by debut author Tyrell Johnson and one that definitely lands him on my radar. Lynn and her family live in the Canadian Yukon following the collapse of civilization after a brutal war brimming with chemical warfare and numerous deaths. She, her mother, brother, uncle and random family friend live alone in a small settlement with only one remote neighbor. Lynn, who has memories of the way things used to be, is growing bored with her life but has become adept at hunting and foraging to keep the family alive. One day, Lynn stumbles across a stranger named Jax and his dog Wolf. She is intrigued by him and as he is starving and injured, she invites him back to the camp. Little does she know Jax knows more about the future survival of mankind than he is letting on and Lynn is more involved in it than she thinks. 

I loved Lynn. Although it's sometimes hard to remember she is 23, she has lived a rather sheltered life in the Canadian wilderness. She lost her dad to the "flu" which claimed the lives of many, and clearly she had a special bond with him because she thinks of him and mentions him often. There is a small amount of romance in the book but VERY small. More like intrigue, because until Jax arrived, Lynn felt that pairing up with another person was something completely out of the question. I also liked seeing Lynn become attached to Wolf, because for the past 8-10 years, family pets were a luxury people just couldn't have.

This book is full of action and excitement. Johnson does a good job at portraying a somewhat bleak existence while also giving the characters, as well as the readers, a ray of hope. If you like spunky characters, dystopian tales and winter settings, this book is definitely one you should pick up.


CHALLENGE: Library Love, What An Animal

April Blog All About It - Art

Blog All About It is a challenge being hosted by Anna@Herding Cats and Burning Soup.  Each month we are given a prompt and have free reign regarding what we chose to blog about pertaining to that prompt. Aprils prompt is........................


Anna must have read my mind when she picked this month's prompt because it ties in perfectly with my focus on Prince this month.  He was a wonderful musician and his music definitely is a work of art.  I almost featured some of my favorite album covers but instead decided to share some of the wonderful murals people have painted in his honor.

This one is currently in bloom.  The painting was done by Christine Stein on a rock formation and over the past two years, the blooms behind it have grown to this.  It's located in California.

This one is located in Minnesota and was painted by artist Joe Pagac a month after Prince passed.  I think it's probably my favorite because it's his iconic Purple Rain look.  

This one is in his hometown.

This one was painted by famous muralist, Rick Martinez and was shown in the Weisman Art Museum.

This is a street mural in New York.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my favorites and I want to thank the many talented people who have taken the time to honor Prince in their own ways.  

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Stacking the Shelves (158)

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves or TBR piles, may it be physical or virtual.  This means you can include books you buy in a physical store, online, books you borrow from the library or friends, review books, gifts and of course, ebooks! The original meme was started over at Tynga's Reviews. And it now has a new co-host where individuals can link up as well - Marlene from Reading Reality.  Clicking on the book (or title) should take you to the Goodreads page.  I'm also now linking up with the Sunday Post which is hosted by Kimberly@Caffeinated Book Reviewer

The first three books I have to show you I either won or bought with a gift card I won.  I won "Night Dahlia" in a giveaway over at Books Bones & Buffy and I'm really excited to read it.  I actually just ordered the first one for $2.00 from Book Outlet and should get it in a week or so.  Next, Renee George sent me a review copy of "The Pit List Murders" and you guys know how much I love Smooshie.  Finally, I won a gift card from Daniela at Nocturnal Devices and I ordered "Your Robot Dog Will Die" for my Kindle with it.  

So that's it this week - short and sweet. What did you add this week????

Friday, April 20, 2018

Weekly Reads (04/19/18)

Let me start out by saying "Oh Spring, where are you???" because we're still having cold temps and snow about every other day.  Then on the off days, we have anywhere for 50-80 degree weather.  I'm confused, my wardrobe is confused, the dogs are confused... However, Mr. Barb's health is not confused because he was mostly better, went back to work and then relapsed again so he's been off staying with the pups most of this week.  They are enjoying it though.  

It's been a bad week for movies - we haven't really found many worth watching.  We did end up watching some REALLY BAD b-movie called "Bus Party to Hell."  It was bad, yet entertaining.  I mean, it was so bad, you laughed and had to finish watching once you stated.  But please, don't rent it.  I couldn't recommend it to anyone.  It's hockey playoff time so we've been watching the Penguins some.  I'm also kind of hooked on "Good Girls" which is a newer series on NBC.  Definitely interested and yes, I would say check it out.  

I have gotten quite a bit of reading done this week and I'm looking forward to more this weekend.  As you might know, I'm doing a buddy read of "Dread Nation" with Maria and I just finished a book for a buddy read with Stormi - "Fiction Can Be Murder."  I hope to start "The Vampire Within" and finish up "Let Me Lie" this coming week.

So in Prince news, Minneapolis law enforcement came out with a decision yesterday that no one would be charged in the death of Prince.  It was a decision which was a long time coming and I am a little saddened.  However, the investigation did show that he was unaware he was taking a product laced with Fetanyl and believed he was taking Vicodin to manage chronic pain.  Yes, he became addicted to opioids to manage pain but it was nice to know he was not intentionally taking something which has been known to automatically kill someone with one use.  Tomorrow is the 2-year anniversary of his death so who knows, maybe I'll watch "Purple Rain" this weekend too!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!