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.


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.


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!


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.


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, 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.