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Our Dogs, Ourselves: The Story of a Singular Bond by Alexandra Horowitz

Thank you to @Scribner #partner and @Netgalley for my copy of this book which is available today!

There is so much history and science about the symbiotic relationship between ourselves and our dogs in this new non-fiction book. I struggled with it at times, but when I focused, I really learned many things about how the relationship between humans and dogs came to be.  I have loved dogs my entire life and I currently live with two, an elderly dachshund, 14,  and a black lab, who is now 7. My blog is named for them.

I laughed at some things in this book:  how people come to name their dogs, what they say tp their dogs. How they buy clothing for their dogs. (Guilty!) Both of my dogs have lengthy origin stories of how they got their names.  They both have silly nicknames. Beanie, Boba Fett, Monkey. PoochTerrific. Love Bug. Just to name a few. I routinely talk to my dogs and I’ve never questioned whether or not they think.  I know they know what certain words mean. Cookie, walk, ride in the car. Toys. STOP! I love you.

 My dogs (and all the ones who came before them in my life) have taught me more about compassion, loyalty, grace, and unconditional love than most humans I’ve met. I am grateful for the fellow animal lovers that I have met through my dogs. And  I think you truly need to be a dog lover to enjoy this book. It’s so densely packed with science, psychology and the history of dog ownership.

  I made a choice in my adult life to have dogs and they all became part of my family.  They made me laugh, they were there through some really hard times and I experienced more sadness than I can possibly convey when I had to lose one of them.

I wouldn’t trade a moment of time with any of them.  For me, there has been no greater joy than sharing my life with these amazing animals.  This book gave more so much insight about them and about myself.  Thank you to Scribner for the privilege of reading this book and thank you to all the dogs I’ve known for the privilege of being your guardian.  Your souls will live forever in my heart.

I think this book would make a great gift for dog lovers and for those readers who enjoy non-fiction books!

About The Author: Alexandra Horowitz is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know and On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation. She teaches at Barnard College, where she runs the Dog Cognition Lab. She lives with her family and two large, highly sniffy dogs in New York City.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

This creepy cover is hard to resist!

I am dedicating September and the rest of 2019 to tackling my TBR.  I have unread books all over the place in my house.  It’s getting on my nerves a little bit.  I will never read all these books before I die.  And I can’t seem to stop buying books, so I’m in a quandary.  I figured I can at least try to read some backlist titles.

And so we arrive at this book.  I saw rave reviews all over Bookstagram earlier in the year and I purchased this book because I love a good thriller.  For me, they are quick, escapist fare. This book was creepy, crazy, and just plain twisted.  The Husband narrates the entire book.  He has about an ounce of likability, if that. He tells us about his wife, Millicent, and how they met and got married.  About their life together in Hidden Oaks, Florida.  He tells us about their two kids, Rory and Jenna.  And of course, he tells us about their side hobby. 

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Set aside a few hours to read this book because once you start it, you won’t want to stop reading.  The chapters are short.  I literally couldn’t put this book down.  I didn’t even find myself trying to guess how it would all end.  The twists and turns were ones I didn’t see coming.

If you’re a thriller fan, this is definitely one worth reading.  But for some reason, I don’t think it will wind up on my top ten thrillers list for 2019.  I truly couldn’t stand the characters, so for me, it’s a 3.5/5 ⭐️

The Long Walk by Stephen King

How do you talk about a book that you loved and hated?  

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Let me explain. I have been a fan of Stephen King’s books for many years.  When I first read The Stand, I read it with a high school friend many years ago. I have vivid memories of reading The Shining, my first King book.  I adore many of his short stories.  Night Shift is one of my favorites. I have an entire bookshelf filled with SK books.  11/22/63 is also an all-time favorite.

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Yet, I never read The Long Walk.  It’s set in a dystopian vision of America.  Every year on May 1, one hundred teenage boys compete in “The Walk.”  There is only one winner. He will receive The Prize.  Anything he wants for the rest of his life.

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I finished this book in one afternoon, two weeks ago. Once I started it, I was on that walk with those boys.  I was all in.  This was a book where I shut out everyone in my life (except the dogs).  I felt everything.  This is not a behemoth of a book.  It’s sparse.  The prose is tight.  I don’t know too many authors who could write a book like this, a book about 100 kids walking, a book that left me psychologically drained.

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When I finished this book, I hated it.  Seriously.  My first knee-jerk reaction was, “WTAF was that?”  But then I gathered up some brain cells and started thinking about it. Because most of the time my knee-jerk reactions can be pointless. This book was published in 1979, when King was writing under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman.  But King actually wrote this book much earlier when he was a student at the University of Maine.  King came of age during the Vietnam War.

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I gave my copy of The Long Walk to my dad.  He said, “Will I like it?”  I told him I couldn’t answer that for him.  After I thought about this book for two weeks, I decided I loved it.  This book is one of the many reasons I love to read.  I’m not doing a monthly wrap-up for August. Because this is the one book that stood out for me. That isn’t to suggest that the other books I read this month were less worthy. But this was my favorite book, the one that mattered to me the most.

Book Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

I have made a pledge to read 10 Book of the Month titles #10BOTM2019 by the end of the year and this is my first one on that list.  The Turn of the Key was my August 2019 pick.  I had waited many months for this book because I’ve read every book that Ruth Ware has written.  I love the creepy, gothic feel that all her books have.  I read this on a cloudy, rainy vacation day and well into the night.  Not once could I shake that familiar creepy feeling that I get when I read one of her books and I love that.  I was absorbed in the story from the first page, and since I really didn’t read the synopsis, I had very little clues about the book.

The story opens with the main character, Rowan, writing a letter to a solicitor from a prison in Scotland.  I immediately wanted to know more and so began my journey with Rowan Caine, a young nanny who gets the job of a lifetime caring for three young daughters of a high-powered couple who own a large house, Heatherbrae, in the Scottish Highlands.  Heatherbrae is part smart house with ultra modern voice activation on nearly everything and part Victorian mansion.  The house is not only a setting, but a character in this story.

How I pictured the setting: Sort of. Minus the stream. I am fascinated with Scotland. I definitely want to travel there someday.

I will tell you that I couldn’t put this book down.  I was pretty much glued to my chair throughout.  When I had to stop reading, I kept wanting to get back to it.  I ended up having to read it later in the evening after it got dark outside and thunderstorms were brewing in the distance.  This ended up making me feel even more on edge.

Let me talk about the ending. I thought the book was 85% fantastic until the ending. It wrapped up too quickly and the end just didn’t work for me. I had one of those, “Really?” moments. Maybe it’s me. Have you read The Turn of the Key? Is it on your TBR? I’m giving it a 4/5 pawprints. 🐾 Compulsively readable and creepy, but I was let down by the ending.

Book Review: The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

Book Summary:

In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his estranged father’s funeral takes place. On the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

The case calls Matthew back to the people and places of his past, as deadly secrets hidden at their hearts are revealed, and his new life is forced into a collision course with the world he thought he’d left behind.

From Ann Cleeves, bestselling author of Vera and Shetland, beloved by readers and TV viewers alike, comes a spectacular new series, told with deep compassion and searing insight.

My Thoughts:

I had a bit of a tough time sorting through my thoughts on this book.  There were things that I loved—the setting in North Devon, England and the mystery of a dead body found on the beach.  I was immediately curious about the mystery.  I pictured gloomy skies and unreliable witnesses.  It’s a police procedural with a side of family drama mixed in.  That family drama comes with the main character, detective Matthew Venn who is the lead investigator of the dead body on the beach.  The Long Call, which refers to the sound of a herring gull, begins with Matthew watching his father’s funeral from afar.  He is estranged from his family because he has strayed from their strict religious beliefs.  All the characters were both interesting and flawed.

But, the book was so slow in the beginning that I almost couldn’t stick with it.  That was sad for me because that initial slow pace really distracted me from the story. Overall, this was a very interesting British police procedural mystery that is well-written and sure to please many readers of this genre.

Thank you to Minotaur Books for the invitation to read and review this book via NetGalley.  This book is also the start of a new series by this author, The Two Rivers series introducing Detective Matthew Venn. The Long Call is available on September 3rd.

Book Tour!

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this legal thriller!

About Rule of Capture

• Paperback: 400 pages
• Publisher: Harper Voyager (August 13, 2019)

“This one is fresh, intelligent, and emotional with a plot that envisions an alternate reality hard to dismiss as unreal.  It’s a legal thriller, with a big twist, stirring and imaginative, brimming with skullduggery, that will have you asking: is this possible?”

— New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry

Better Call Saul meets Ben Winter’s The Last Policeman in this first volume in an explosive legal thriller series set in the world of Tropic of Kansas—a finalist for the 2018 Campbell Award for best science fiction novel of the year.

Defeated in a devastating war with China and ravaged by climate change, America is on the brink of a bloody civil war. Seizing power after a controversial election, the ruling regime has begun cracking down on dissidents fighting the nation’s slide toward dictatorship. For Donny Kimoe, chaos is good for business. He’s a lawyer who makes his living defending enemies of the state.

His newest client, young filmmaker Xelina Rocafuerte, witnessed the murder of an opposition leader and is now accused of terrorism. To save her from the only sentence worse than death, Donny has to extract justice from a system that has abandoned the rule of law. That means breaking the rules—and risking the same fate as his clients.

When Donny bungles Xelina’s initial hearing, he has only days to save the young woman from being transferred to a detention camp from which no one returns. His only chance of winning is to find the truth—a search that begins with the opposition leader’s death and leads to a dark conspiracy reaching the highest echelons of power.

Now, Donny isn’t just fighting for his client’s life—he’s battling for his own. But as the trial in the top secret court begins, Xelina’s friends set into motion a revolutionary response that could destroy the case. And when another case unexpectedly collides with Xelina’s, Donny uncovers even more devastating secrets, knowledge that will force him to choose between saving one client . . . or the future of the entire country.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Christopher Brown

Christopher Brown’s debut novel Tropic of Kansas was a finalist for the Campbell Award for best science fiction novel of 2018, and he was a World Fantasy Award nominee for the anthology Three Messages and a Warning. His short fiction and criticism has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including MIT Technology Review, LitHub, Tor.com and The Baffler. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he also practices law.

Find out more at his website, and connect with him on Twitter and Instagram.

My Thoughts:

This book takes place in a dystopian, post-war America.  The US lost a war with China and now the country is descending into a civil war with a president who grabbed power and fancies himself a dictator who continually abandons the rule of law.

Does this sound at all familiar?  Rule of Capture is a fictional, legal thriller that takes place in an alternate reality version of America that doesn’t sound too far from the truth.  As I read this book, I felt a chill crawl up my spine because some of the events in the book didn’t sound too far from our reality.  Donny Kimoe is a lawyer who defends enemies of the state.  When he is tasked with defending a woman name Xelina Rocafuerte who is accused of terrorism.  But she is really part of an opposition movement in the US, a country now in the midst of a burgeoning civil war and in the throes of climate change.

Not only did this book terrify me with its visions of a future America, but it’s also an interesting legal thriller.  Donny is the kind of character I really enjoy.  Flawed, reckless, but with a heart of gold.  In his quest to save Xelina, he risks his own life to uncover dark secrets and conspiracies that reach all the way to the top of this new, so-called “government.”

Highly recommended!  I would really love to read The Tropic of Kansas at some point.  I love dystopian, alternate reality novels and if you are reader that enjoys them as well, definitely add Rule of Capture to your book list.

Thank you so much to TLC Book Tours and https://www.harpervoyagerbooks.com for my copy of this page-turning thriller!

Happy New Book Tuesday!

The Whisper Man by Alex North

This book is one of my favorite thrillers I read this year!  I’m so grateful to NetGalley and Celadon Books https://celadonbooks.com/ for my copy because I loved this one.  What really stood out for me and made me love this so much is the relationship between Tom and his son, Jake.  Many thrillers are simply unreliable narrators filled with one twist after another without much in the way of character development.  This book is different.  It’s a story of fathers and sons within an eerie, creepy mystery about a serial killer that terrorized a small town.

This book is everything a thriller should be.  I don’t want to say anything else that would give away any more details.  I will say one other thing:  READ THIS BOOK! 

Summary from the book: In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…