Read This Not That! A Roundup of Thrillers, Chillers and Ghostly Delights

Published April 17, 2016 by Chick-Lit Cafe

Well hello there, my lovely readers! So sorry it’s been a zillion years since my last post. Life is crazy. You know how it goes. I may be a busy bee, but there’s always time for reading. These past few months, I’ve tried out a few new authors. Some are going in my top 10 list…others not so much. Here are a few hits and misses from my reading list.

READ THIS!

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

23746004 Wow- what a rollercoaster ride! From start to finish, I was glued to this story, dying to know who was taunting Tessa Cartwright with the little yellow flowers that haunt her dreams every night. The only survivor of a serial killer, she is known as a “Black Eyed-Susan.” This name is given to all the girls who died horribly at the hands of a child-killing monster. The author expertly shifts the story back and forth between grown-up Tessa and teenage Tessa as she struggles to overcome the unimaginable horrors she witnessed as an abductee.

Now with a teenage girl of her own, she must work with forensic scientists to catch the killer before her kid suffers the same fate of those hollow-eyed girls.  The stakes get higher when an innocent man accused of the killings is about to walk the green mile. Since Tessa’s memory is rather spotty, it’s hard to tell if we can rely on her for answers. Could she be the one planting those flowers outside her bedroom? Is she really being haunted by the ghosts of the dead girls, or are the voices just in her head? Hard to say. You’ll have to read the book. Trust me, it’s worth your while.  The ending is a real kick in the pants!

Thirteen Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt

24727118This was the perfect audiobook for a little road trip to East Texas and back. Filled with malevolent ghosts, magic and mayhem, this book made the miles fly right on by! The story begins when Luke Manchett inherits a boatload of ghosts from his dead father. You see, his estranged dad was a famous TV ghost hunter, who accumulated quite a bit of paranormal baggage throughout the years. Since he couldn’t take them with him into the netherworld, he dumped his burden on his hapless son, along with stacks of cryptic notes and a magically locked copy of The Book of Eight.  Gee, thanks a lot, deadbeat dad.

Poor Luke has no idea what to do with the eight unruly ghosts (aka hosts), and things go from bad to worse when they realize that their new necromancer is totally clueless. Gee, this kind of reminds me of what my sixth-grade class used to do to our substitute teachers. But I digress…this is a very fun supernatural thrill ride that is sure to please fans of Neil Gaiman. If you enjoy atmospheric horror stories set in foggy ol’ England –complete with overgrown cemeteries and spooky manors—this book is for you. I highly recommend saving it until Halloween.  Oh and for all my fellow dog lovers, there’s a furry sidekick named Ham who plays a key role in the story. Dogs rule and ghosts drool!

NOT THAT!

The Hand that Feeds You by A.J. Rich

23492651Oh dear…I really wanted to like this book. My dad insisted that I read it because the mystery centers around animal rescue. To the author’s credit, I commend her for addressing breed discrimination and giving some love to pit bulls. I truly believe this book is meant to win over animal lovers, but surprisingly it had to opposite effect.

The lead character, Morgan, went from hero to zero as soon as her dogs were in peril. At first I thought she was great. She rescued two pit bulls from death row and gave them a cushy place to stay until they could find a forever home. But it didn’t take very long for Morgan to slip right off her pedestal when she described the dog-hating, manipulative asshole she was about to marry. Why would an educated, animal-loving woman shack up with a man who mistreats her dogs? Major red flag! Well according to her master’s thesis, she’s a perpetual victim. Since she’s powerless to her psychosis, she inevitably puts herself into harms way—from jumping into a car with rapists to hooking up with strange men on Tinder dates. Her reckless behavior is apparently out of her control.

So yeah, this woman is an odd duck, and she gets even more strange as the story unfolds. While her poor dogs get framed for murder, she checks herself into a mental hospital for a few weeks. Eventually she decides to do something about her dogs and hires a lawyer. Hooray – she’s finally taking action! Well, not so fast. You see, she’s much too concerned about the hot lawyer flirting with the animal rights activist lady. In between court hearings, she’s empowering herself on skanky one-night-stands. You go girl. Unfortunately (spoiler alert) her sweet pit bull was sentenced to death due to breed discrimination. She was sad for maybe a nanosecond, but then she went back to crushing on her lawyer. Ugh. There’s a reason why this woman had no friends or family that cared to stick around. She’s awful, and I’m really surprised I stuck with her throughout this mess of a story.

How to be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle

23615098In all fairness, I will tell you up front that I only listened to two hours of this thing on audio until I decided I couldn’t stand the main character any longer. This girl is AWFUL! Supposedly she gets better as the story unfolds, according to my fellow reviewers. I hope that’s true, but I just don’t have that kind of patience.

The unfortunate lead character of the story, Jesse, is a self-righteous god-fearing mean girl who treats everyone around her—even her own mother—like garbage. In the very first chapter she slut-shames her mom (who, I should add, is going through a breast cancer scare) for having some fun on a Friday night. Then she belittles her fellow waitress for wearing designer jeans—and just when she couldn’t get nastier, she brags about how she antagonizes of her brothers’ many heart-broken girlfriends.

I’m pretty sure I met this girl in school—the one that has a mustache and devils horns scribbled all over her picture in my high school yearbook. I have no desire to cross paths wiith that girl ever again, and therefore I had to let Jesse and her little clique go on their roadtrip without me.

 

Reading Roundup: Murder, Mayhem and Ghosties Galore!

Published March 6, 2016 by Chick-Lit Cafe

I’ve been reading like a fiend this past month—and not one review to show for it! In a perfect world, I would spend my days reading on the chaise lounge with my chubby cat and my nights toiling away on my book, which has been left stagnating in Scrivner for months. Needless to say, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with my poor little book blog! So in the interest of saving time, I bring you some short and semi-sweet reviews for a few books from my reading list.

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

15993203I really wanted to love this book. It’s got everything I could ever ask for in a paranormal-infused historical mystery filled with hunky bluebloods and soul-sucking demons from the bellows of Hell! But alas, I could not pay attention to the story to save my life. As the narrator droned on and on about the setting—in excruciating detail—my mind kept drifting off to my to-do list….not a good place to be. Really, my dear readers, I tried to get into it. I’m pretty sure my iPod sighed as I continuously hit the playback button. By the time the story finally picked up, I was too annoyed d to continue. The whole “Dark Days Club” storyline did not appeal to me in the slightest. I like paranormal thrillers to be rooted in some sort of lore. This just seemed like a bunch of arbitrary nonsense that stemmed from a bad dream. Another reason why I chucked this thing into the DNF pile is that I couldn’t connect with any of the characters – least of all Lady Helen. Supposedly she and Lord Carlston are headed toward a steamy bodice-ripping scene, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Aside from some “amused smiles” (romance authors love that shit) he shows no sign of affection whatsoever. In fact, he treats her the same way an annoyed brother bats away his little sister. Why he is so rude, I do not know. Nor do I care. I’m just glad Audible has such a great return policy!

Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn

23492835After chucking a lame book into the DNF pile, I always turn to an author who I love and adore. It’s like going to my favorite restaurant that guarantees delicious food and fabulous service. So of course I had to check out the latest installment of Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie mystery series! They are the best private investigators in the Arizona desert! The genius of the series is that it’s narrated by Chet, a 100-plus pounder of a dog who will stop at nothing to capture the bad guys and keep his partner safe.

It sounds kind of silly, but this concept really works! Oh how I wish I could meet Chet in person so I could scratch him behind the ears and spoil him with Slim Jims. All the books are great, but this one might be the most suspenseful! There’s a lot of danger – in both the crime-solving and romance departments. Not only are they pursuing a bunch of cactus-smuggling murderous thugs, they’re also at risk of leaving their beloved desert and moving to gloomy old London. NO NO NO! This cannot happen. I have always loved Bernie’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, Suzie Sanchez, ever since she rescued Chet from the pound. However, I will cross her off my Christmas card list if she whisks them away from their home! The books will never be the same without Bernie complaining about the aquifer, a concept that is completely lost on Chet – or their sunset rides through the desert in Bernie’s beatup old Porsche.

I truly enjoyed this book, but I’m worried. I hope I’m wrong, but the author seemed to be dropping hints that it’s coming to a close. Bernie would miss a clue and ask himself, “Am I losing it?” And after another dog-napping attempt, he starts to wonder whether or not he should retire Chet from the Little Detective Agency.  Nope, not having it!

If the series does end, I hope that a new one will pick up with the new Chet-lookalike puppy. Until then, I will just have to cross my fingers and hope that the end is not near for my beloved ace detectives!

Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey

imagesLet me start off by saying that Millie Ostermeyer is a girl after my own heart. She’s a Nancy Drew fanatic, a junk food connoisseur and an ace reporter—pretty much everything I could ever ask for in a young amateur sleuth.

It was a lot of fun tagging along with this girl detective as she solved the case of the murdered high school football coach. Considering Coach Killdare’s long list of enemies—including Millie’s widowed father—she has a lot of ground to cover. And when her dad becomes Suspect No. 1, she will stop at nothing to hunt down the perp.

Good thing she has the mysterious high school hunk on her side. Together, they search for clues and narrow down the long list of suspects with ample motives for wanting the coach (aka Hollerin’ Hank) dead. And if clearing her father’s name isn’t stressful enough, she must also deal with her mean girl nemesis who is determined to turn the crime into tabloid fodder for the school paper. She’s also falling in love with a boy who’s dealing with a LOT of emotional baggage. Oh and her father is dating the school librarian on the sly. Is nothing sacred in this sad, cruel world?

If you love a fun mystery with lovable characters, witty dialogue and cliffhanger chapter endings, I highly recommend this book. Fans of Peter Abraham’s Echo Falls mystery series are sure to enjoy this fun little whodunit.

Say Yes Yes Yes to Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Year of Yes’!

Published February 13, 2016 by Chick-Lit Cafe

25690958First off, I just want to thank my running buddy/dog video marketing pal for recommending this book. The few TV shows I tune into pre-date the Grey’s Anatomy era (can’t get enough Mulder and Scully!) so I’m not at all familiar with Ms. Rhimes’ work. Judging by the book cover, I would’ve assumed this was just another piece of gobbledygook for the self-help rack.

In a sense, this is self-help, but without the “no duh” pop psychiatry and mind-numbing filler. It all depends on how much you see yourself in this brilliant woman, and whether or not you’re brave enough to follow her lead in saying (or in my case, whimpering) yes to every personal-growth opportunity that scares you silly. Televised public speaking, anyone? Just shoot me now.

Her Year of Yes began when she overheard her disgruntled big sister mutter, “You never say yes to anything.” Until this moment, she never really reflected on the reasons why she turned down the many perks of her job. You see, this woman pretty much owns Thursday night. For my fellow retro-TV fans, I should tell you that she’s the mastermind behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. Whoa!

So yeah, she’s kind of a big deal. But yet, she’s a house mouse. Red carpet events, jet-setting adventures and VIP rooms are no match for a quiet evening at home with Dr. Who and a nice glass of merlot. Being the closet introvert that I am, this totally makes sense. But, hey, you’ve got to have balance, right? Deep down, she knew something was very wrong. So when her sister muttered those six little words, she couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that she was in fact miserable.

One of the many things that I find truly remarkable about this woman is that she does not take words lightly. Every passing comment or passive-aggressive jab has meaning, but many of us just shoo them away like a pesky fruit fly. Not Shonda. She will sit back, swirl those words around in her brilliant mind and come away with a new perspective about herself and others. She would find moments of clarity in everyday moments, like when her toddler greeted her with grubby hands asking her to play. Dressed to the nines and late for a red carpet function, she was well within her rights to tell the kid to take a raincheck. But yet she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was missing out on something even bigger than those dazzling A-list parties. She realized right then and there that when her kids asked her to play, she would always answer with an emphatic “YES!” Why? Because soon enough they won’t want to play with their mom anymore, and well…it’s just love. Now that’s a pretty cool mom, folks.

While we’re on the topic of motherhood (a concept that’s foreign to me), I just want to commend her for keeping it real. She used a beautiful analogy that captures the plight of so many moms who are trying to keep up with the Martha Stewarts of the world. Back in the days when Whitney Houston reigned supreme, she would torture her hair for hours to get those curls that only Whitney could pull off. When she found out that her idol was in fact wearing a wig—and that Whitney was living a lie–she was devastated about the many wasted hours of trying to accomplish the impossible. It made her realize how so many women parading as “perfect moms” are just smoke and mirrors. That’s why she is adamant about telling the world that she has a nanny and that no woman should be ashamed about asking for help.  She so eloquently points out that women are not superheroes, they’re not martyrs, and they shouldn’t (this is the best part) ever say that motherhood is a job. I’m not a mother, but I am the product of a mother who treated child-rearing as job on par with cleaning toilets.

Thank you, Shonda, for pointing out that motherhood isn’t about punching in the clock and bragging about your martyrdom.

“Powerful famous women don’t say out loud that they have help at home, that they have nannies, housekeepers, chefs, assistants, stylists… They don’t say out loud that they have those people at home doing these jobs because they are ashamed. Or maybe a more precise way to say it is that these women have been shamed.”

I could go on and about the chapters in this book that sang to my soul, but this review is turning into a novella. I’ll leave you with one lasting thought that Shonda brought up in her Dartmouth commencement speech (one of her many scary “yes” challenges). There are dreamers and there are doers. Dreaming is a crock. Go get your Nike on and just do it! Sounds like another platitude, right? Not in Shondaland. She smashed every goal with a vengeance—from losing over 100 pounds, to appearing on live TV, to writing this deeply personal memoir.

“Everyone’s got some greatness in them. You do. The girl over there does. That guy on the left has some. But in order to really mine it, you have to own it. You have to grab hold of it. You have to believe it.”

It was a real adventure accompanying Shonda on her life-altering quest. I hope that one day she will live out her fantasy of making jam in Vermont and writing novels all day. When it comes to screenwriting, she has the midas touch, so I have no doubt that anything she writes will be pure gold!

Now I must be off. I’ve got a book to write! No more dreaming—just doing from here on out! Thanks, Shonda, for the kick in the pants.

Jessica’s Cranky Corner: Still looking for reasons why I finished ‘Looking for Alaska’

Published January 31, 2016 by Chick-Lit Cafe

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Oh wow…I don’t know where to even begin with this review. Okay, let’s start out by enumerating the most important elements of a good book. First and foremost a good read must have likeable, well-developed characters. Then, of course, there needs to be a plot. And let’s not forget that with every story, there needs to be believability. Even fantasy books have to be rooted in some semblance of reality, otherwise how are the readers ever going to relate to the story, the characters, the meaning of it all?!?

Now let’s dissect the many ways John Green ignored these key elements in this hot mess of YA fiction.

Likeable Characters

In this high school melodrama, I’m stuck with a whiny high school kid and his snarky clique of boarding school chums, all of whom are way too cool for school. Gee, does this sound vaguely familiar? Oh probably because the same annoying characters from Paper Towns were plopped into this book!

Remember that old MTV cartoon Darea? You know, the one about the emo monotone girl who mocked everything around her? Well if you enjoyed that, I suppose you might relate to these yahoos. I, on the other hand, got tired of the irony of it all. They were all so enveloped in their own little narcissistic worlds, save for the ringleader of the bunch, ironically named “The Colonel” who did have a few redeeming qualities. Come to think of it, this book might actually have been worthwhile if he was the lead character. But nope, we’re stuck in Pudge’s one-track mind throughout this sluggish journey of self-discovery. He’s that friend (we’ve all had one) who drones on and on about an unattainable crush, constantly ruminating about her mysterious ways. Who is the real Alaska? What’s driving her crazy mood swings? Why is she so self-destructive? WHO CARES?!? The girl in question—poetically named Alaska—is not in any way interesting, enigmatic or likeable. She knows poor Pudge has it bad, so she plays him like a fiddle, flirting, teasing and stringing him along just for fun. Playful and chummy one minute, downright evil the next (someone get this girl an exorcist!), Alaska is clearly surfing the extreme end of the bipolar spectrum. But, alas, this mysterious goddess rocks Pudge’s world, so he must make it his quest figure her out and ultimately get in her pants. And there, my dear readers, is your plot.

That's your cue to split, Pudge.

That’s your cue to split, Pudge.

The Plot

Halfway through the book I started to question when the plot would take shape. Come to think of it, that’s probably the point when you should call it a loss and toss it in the DNF pile. But like a good soldier, or idiot, I continued on. Like Alaska’s shameless teasing, the provocative chapter headings that counted down the “days before” kept me reading. What catastrophic even awaited this group of sardonic teenagers? Who’s gonna bite the big one? Please tell me it will be Alaska. Until we reach the aftermath chapters, the story slogs along at a snail’s pace. Here’s what we’ve got: Bored little rich boy demands to go to boarding school so he can find “the great perhaps.” He immediately joins the cool misfit clique (think Perks of Being a Wallflower). Then it’s nothing but chain-smoking, esoteric musings of “escaping the labyrinth” and pranks against the rich kids. When the catastrophic event finally hits, I’m already over it.

Believability

I’m sure Green has met a teenager at some point in his adult life, but it sure doesn’t show in this book. Though they were all absorbed in their narcissistic worlds (an intrinsic quality of this particular age demographic), these poetically minded kids were WAAAAY beyond their years. Apparently they are all child prodigies that can speak and think at a level that would put a 50-year-old philosophy professor to shame. That, my friends, is unfathomable. The sad reality is that kids express themselves in 60 characters or less, or whatever threshold it is that Twitter allows. I’m sorry, John Green, but the young Jack Kerouacs of the world are few and far between. I have no doubt that Mr. Green was one of those gifted kids who spent his Friday nights memorizing the famous last words of great American presidents (one of Pudge’s shticks). But the chances of finding a group of millennials who all have impressive academic hobbies such as this are slim to none. There’s this golden rule in writing called “write what you know.” Green clearly does not know teenagers. It would behoove him to spend a day studying them in their natural environment –a One Direction concert perhaps—and really listen to their dialect.

Could that be the vast wasteland of Alaska's inner arctic tundra? How very poetic.

Could that be the vast wasteland of Alaska’s inner arctic tundra? How very poetic.

On a happier note, I must admit that Green is a highly talented wordsmith. It’s easy to get lost in his lyrical prose and esoteric musings. But just like a movie can’t solely rely on all A-list actors, he can’t get by just on pretty writing. I know that YA is clearly a marketable genre for him, especially after his smashing success with The Fault in the Stars. But if he insists on creating these mythical teenage geniuses—who all seems to be cut from the same mold—these books are always going to miss the mark.

Derek’s Book of the Month: Woof by Spencer Quinn

Published January 18, 2016 by Chick-Lit Cafe

PicMonkey CollageMove over, Lassie—there’s a new four-legged hero in town! Bowser’s his name and fighting crime is his game. Well actually his top priority is loving up on his little gal pal, Birdie. You see, this book is more than just a mystery. It’s a love story between a girl and her dog.  Derek (the handsome boy pictured above) thoroughly enjoyed watching their friendship come into full blossom throughout this puzzling little mystery. He hopes that maybe one day a cute little tomboy will stop by his kennel at Austin Pets Alive and insist on taking him home!

Like a shelter dog, Birdie feels lonely and out of sorts at her grandmother’s house in the Florida everglades. Her father died, leaving her mom with no other option than to work far away at an oil rig to make ends meet. Good thing her cantankerous grandma let her pick out a dog for her birthday—pretty much the best gift a kid could ever ask for! But Bowser isn’t just any dog. He’s a natural crime-fighter with a penchant for sniffing out clues. Whether he’s battling a behemoth alligator or chasing after a gun-wielding kidnapper, Bowser will stop at nothing to track down the perps and keep his little lady out of harm’s way.

The idea of a mystery narrated by a dog may seem a little silly—but fans of the author’s beloved Chet and Bernie series know that this style really works. Character development is everything. If you don’t’ care about the heroes of the story, why bother? That said, I dare you to read this book and not fall for Bowser and Birdie. Same goes for Chet and Bernie—a series I implore you to check out if you haven’t already! The love Bowser feels for Birdie is so powerful, and his soul is so pure and good. Sounds corny, but the author delivers this sugary goodness in a way that doesn’t give me a toothache.  It’s rather silly, but I got a little misty eyed when Birdie turned to Bowser as her only source of comfort. Back in the day, I wanted more than anything to have a dog just for this reason. Maybe that’s why this book really struck gold with me. I could see so much of myself in Birdie. She was at a point in her life when she knew that adults couldn’t be trusted—a rite of passage we all must go through at some point or another. Needless to say, it was her and Bowser against the world.

Their adventures begin when a stuffed fish goes missing from grandma’s bait shop. Unable to turn away from a good mystery, Birdie and Bowser go searching for clues to the missing marlin—breaking a lot of rules in the process…like not sneaking out at night and accidentally swimming in alligator infested waters! The dangers intensify when Bowser and Birdie find a connection between an old family rivalry and hidden treasure.

Although this book is for the youngsters, it’s sure to please readers of all ages who enjoy a good whodunit. And, of course, it’s a total win for dog lovers. In addition to the loveable characters and fast-pace plotting, the writing is—in Bowser’s words—off the charts! Just as I love how Spencer Quinn paints the Arizona desert scenery in his Chet and Bernie series, I really enjoyed his descriptions of the muggy Florida swamplands. Derek and I hope this will be the beginning of a new series so we can revisit grandma’s old bait shop and join these two adorable sleuths on their next adventure!

I should also note that like Bowser, Derek knows how to take a bite out of crime! Take him home and you’ll be safe, protected and loved forever and always! Hop on over to his bio page for more details.

Gizzy’s Book of the Month: Claws for Alarm

Published January 10, 2016 by Chick-Lit Cafe

UntitledThis cute little paperback has been sitting on our shelf for way too long. You see, during the holidays Gizzy and I are all about Christmas-infused murder and mayhem, and sometimes those touchy-feely yarns about hope and forgiveness. So now that January has reared its butt-ugly head (we’re not fans of this dreary month), it’s time dust off that TBR pile and get down to business! 

Of course, Mister Giz insisted on starting the new year off right with a magical cat mystery. Far be it from me to say no—I mean how could anyone dare to disappoint this guy?! Would you look at that fuzzy face! 

Anyhoo, this book was a heck of a lot of fun. Totally took my mind off of the sadness that comes after the holidays. No more tree, no more time off, no more nuttin! Okay, so maybe I’m being a little overdramatic. There’s got to be something good about January. Let’s see…less time shopping means more time reading, so that’s a pretty big win. Then there’s the after-Christmas sales…but I digress.  

Let’s get back to the book, shall we? Gizzy and I were most impressed with this puzzling whodunit. It was a lot of fun tagging along with Nick and Nora (an old-school TV show reference that is before our time) as she relentlessly hunted down clues to clear her hapless sister’s name. There are lessons to be learned here, people! If you find a dead body, please resist the impulse to pull the knife out of its back and then flee the scene when a witness arrives. It just looks bad.  

Anyhoo, as you can imagine, that’s what happened to Nora’s sister when she found her stuffy art professor’s lifeless body crumpled on the floor of his office. The coppers believe it to be an open-and-close case. I mean, who wouldn’t? So it’s up to our intrepid sandwich artist sleuth to hunt down clues, interrogate suspects and ferret out the murderer. Otherwise it’s orange jumpsuit city for poor little Lacey.  

With some help from her mystical four-legged feline, Nora soon finds that the professor had a lot of enemies with ample motives for murder. Could it have been the bitter ex-wife, the new gold-digging wife, the troubled son, the shady male model, or was it just an angry student out for revenge? Whoever it was, they sure were lucky to pin it all on a dimwitted art student. But of course, the killer’s dumb luck takes a turn for the worst when big sissy picks up the case!

Gizzy gives this whodunnit two paws up—mainly because he and I were stumped all the way until the very end when Nora and her Scooby Doo posse of crime-fighters caught the killer. We didn’t see that one coming! Cozy fans will love the puzzling mystery, and the swoony romance lovers will enjoy the early beginnings of a love triangle forming around Nora and two hotties. One is an old college flame, the other an FBI agent. Having to choose between the two will be tough…but not such a bad problem to have, if you ask me.  

I should also mention that this book is sure to please my fellow crazy cat ladies because Nick (a tubby tuxedo cat) plays a big role in the mystery. There’s something mystical about this enigmatic kitty. When it comes to finding clues, he’s always two steps ahead of everyone else. Perhaps it’s because he has more experience in the PI business. You see, after Nora found him as a stray, she discovered that his former owner was a womanizing private eye who mysteriously disappeared. Some believe he’s sleeping with the fishies, and others insist that he ran off and assumed a new identity. At some point, Nick and Nora will find some answers. That’s one of the many reasons why Gizzy and I are excited to read the next installment!

Spanky’s Special Guest Post: Flawed Dogs

Published December 30, 2015 by Chick-Lit Cafe

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6523443Hey guys, Spanky here from Austin Pets Alive. Yep, that’s right, I’m a shelter dog in need of a good home. Know anyone who’d like a handsome young sprig of a dog that likes lap-time cuddles and kissies? I’m available! Anyhoo, my “big sister” asked me to stop by her funny little lady blog to say a few words about my new favorite book Flawed Dogs. I didn’t exactly read it on account of me being a dog and all, but she did give me the highlights and showed me all the hilarious illustrations by some hot-shot comic strip author.

It’s weird, I never met this Berkeley Breathed guy, but somehow it’s like he knows me and my kind at some higher level that humans couldn’t possibly grasp. Is it possible that he could be part dog? Let’s think about this for a moment. What is it with these artists? How come some people have this amazing ability to visualize things in their minds and put it all on paper so perfectly? Clearly this is not an easy task because my sissy can barely draw a sad little stick figure. Are these artists on some different cosmic plane? Could they be extraterrestrials? Whoa…all this deep thinking is making me dizzy.

Big sissy told me not to reveal any spoilers, but I can say that this book will take you on a dog’s heart-wrenching journey to his forever home. I can totally relate to Sam the Lion (the hero of the story) because I’ve been through the ringer too. There’s dog fighting, ugly fur-wearing humans and—worst of all—one evil poodle set on destroying Sam’s chance at happiness with the one human he truly loves. Although this looks like a fun book for the tiny humans, I think it’s more for grown ups who can understand Sam’s plight and take away a few deep thoughts about breed bias and the grim reality of shelter dogs.

Speaking of homeless mutts, this book’s full of them! They may be “flawed” but their so-called shortcomings come in handy when they join forces to take down the Westminster Dog Show. Who knew that a funny little dog with digestive issues could launch himself into the air—all through the almighty power of bad gas?! Me thinks that maybe it’s the flaws that make us unique and special—this goes for humans too! If you ask me, those pure-breds with their fancy papers are rather boring. Don’t even get me started on their owners. Why in the world would you want to spend an entire day primping a dog and prancing it around like a perfectly coifed robot? Humans are strange creatures.

But I digress. There’s so much about this book that my big sissy and I love so very very much. We were in awe of the love story of Sam the Lion and his little soul mate, who in some ways is like the human version of a shelter mutt. They were clearly meant to find each other, and I believe this will happen to me too some day…hopefully soon. Is it possible for dogs to imprint on humans? I’d like to think so. Even though Sam lost his way and was at the mercy of other humans—mostly the bad kind—he never let go of his unconditional love for little Heidi. Even when it looked like he found a new home, he never fully trusted his so-called benefactor. It’s like he knew that the man would ultimately betray him in the worst possible way. Even though what he did was despicable, this makes me think that sometimes people come into our lives for a reason. Whether they’re good or bad, they move us along in this strange journey called life.

I’ll stop prattling on to save you from spoilers–also because I have a peanut-butter kong waiting for me in my kennel!  I will say that this little book is going to stick with me and my sissy forever and always. We absolutely loved everything about it—even the really devastating parts. I was so worried about Sam the Lion, but I knew he would find his way back home. That’s because I’m a dog, and me and my kind are nothing if not hopeful. We know when we’re home. We know to have faith in our soul mates. And most importantly, we know that we were put on this earth to do one thing: Love.

I hope you loved my special guest post! Don’t forget to visit me at the shelter. Here’s my website!

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