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review 2017-12-11 18:29
Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza
Fitness Junkie: A Novel - Lucy Sykes,Jo Piazza,Susan Bennett

This is a book about wealthy people wasting their money on fad health crazes and one 40ish successful woman’s descent into it all after her business partner who is her childhood friend tells her she is an embarrassment and can no longer be the face of the company she helped build because she’s too fat. And no, very much to my disappointment, she does not stab him to death.


She owns 49% the company and though she’s hurt by his rejection and horrible insults, she silently slinks away and embarks on all of the fad fitness journeys that money can buy. And, apparently, money can buy you a lot of useless diet aides (clay eating?!) and retreats and painful over-priced workouts. Thankfully, I’ll never have enough extra money laying around to throw away on a $50 topless yoga class!


Janie wasn’t too bad as the main character. She’s dealing with a double whammy of betrayal and humiliation and manages to keep on plugging away instead of falling into a fit of “poor me” despair. Despite being a little insecure and very dumb about her business partner, Beau, she’s pretty likable as far as these types go. She knows these things are ridiculous but she goes along with them anyway; drinking strange juices, spending $15,000 on a retreat, eating a little clay, taking her top off and buying a fitness watch thingy that embarrasses her at every turn.


This book does poke fun at Gwyneth Paltrow and her silly Goop-iness but other than that I found it all pretty shallow and only vaguely entertaining and though it promised to be “outrageously funny” it really was not. However, you may have a better sense of humor than I.

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review 2017-12-08 16:38
Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco
Burnt Offerings: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Robert Marasco,R.C. Bray

Marian is a 70’s housewife and she is tired of city life and coerces her husband, Ben, into checking out a summer rental with a beach that is far from the sweltering heat, stink and noise of the city. He says it sounds too good to be true and whines, “but honey, we can’t afford it”. But he caves. Should’ve stood your ground, man!


The rental turns out to be a giant estate on 200 acres. There are 30 rooms and all they have to do is pay $900 for the summer and leave “Mother” sustenance three times a day. Ummm, what? Yes, Mother is staying! Apparently, Mother doesn’t leave her room and will be no trouble at all as long as you keep to the feeding schedule or so say the weird brother and sister who are renting the place and who skedaddle out of town leaving no contact information as soon as the couple agrees to rent the place.


Marian immediately takes to the home as if it were her own, obsessively preparing meals for Mother and cleaning and fretting (which sounds like a vacation in Hell to me) while Ben, his aunt and their young son fritter away their days in the sun. But that doesn’t last long. Soon enough eerie events start to occur and Marian’s obsession with the house intensifies. They can try to escape but the house wants what it wants!


This was an unnerving listen that allows the dread to slowly build. It is read expertly by R.C. Bray who is perfect for this kind of old-timey story. His voice is so serious and wizened just enough to set the scene and make the words even creepier. But, folks, it was written in the early 70’s and its 70’s roots are definitely showing in some of the dialogue.


“I’ll do the talking. Just look pretty and keep your mouth shut.” Ben says this to Marian and she doesn’t punch him the face.


At another point Marian says (out loud, mind you) to Ben, “You know I’m the dumb one.” He accepts this as fact and again does not get punched in the face and they move along with their day.


Ahhh, the 70’s. I am so very glad I was too young to have to deal with this WTFery!


If you like haunted houses and haven’t listened to this story on audio, what the heck are you waiting for?

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review 2017-12-06 18:37
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks,Sarah Pekkanen

“Even when I’m not there, I’m always with you.”



Ladies and gents, if a lover ever says this to you, this lover is CREEPY and you should take it as a warning, not as a sweet nothing. So, I read an excerpt of this book over at Bookishfirst when they were first launching the site and reviewed the excerpt in order to be placed in a raffle for the actual book. Strange way to get a book, right? I’m not a fan of reading excerpts because I’m greedy and I want the whole book but I’m also nosey and wanted to see how this program worked and it really only took a few minutes. Fortunately for me, it worked out pretty good as I “won” a copy of the ARC and they sent me a really nice hold in your hands ARC and the story turned out to be pretty damn good. It’s twisty and turny and I did not actively dislike the main character when I fully expected to.


When we begin Vanessa is a mess on par with the level of that mess of a woman from The Girl On The Train but Vanessa is intriguing. She’s lost it all; the outwardly perfect hubby, the extravagant house and lifestyle, all of her friends but mostly she’s lost herself. She drinks too much, she looks and feels terrible and she is working a retail job she does not love. She lets out enough little tidbits that you know she is hiding a lot of somethings and I was dying to know what all of those somethings were. She starts to truly lose it when she learns that her ex-hubby is engaged to a much younger version of herself. Nellie is beautiful, sweet and she works with children. Vanessa cannot allow this to happen!


This book had me glued to its pages whenever I could sneak away with it. Since I was reading a paper ARC, I could only read it late at night after tucking myself away for the day. This also means I usually fell asleep after a few pages and it took me ages to finish it.

Anyway, I love me nothing better than a good, juicy marriage/ love story with secrets and surprises simmering in every crevice and this book overflowith with them. It was joyous for me to read about people in so much misery and made me realize that perhaps my slump wasn’t me and my crabby mood at all but the fault of the books I was trying to read.


My best advice on this one which isn’t coming out until January 9th is to go into this book ice cold. Do NOT read reviews (besides this one, ha, because it’s too late for you) because this is a book that you do not want to spoil for yourself. It’s one with twists and turns that slowly reveal themselves and to know too much will ruin it all for you. Don’t even read the blurb or the accolades on the cover.

I truly enjoyed this book and really dug the female leads and the way their story was revealed in bits and pieces. I was in a high state of anxiety as I read it, dying to learn all of the secrets and also dreading what might be revealed. I thought the characterization was exquisite and if I had one complaint it would only be that the book took things maybe one twist too far. Even so, everything tied in together perfectly and I didn’t feel like a dummy left wondering what I had just read.

I hope this book makes a big splash. It deserves it!

Here's my book and my chubby Patticakes.

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review 2017-12-05 17:54
How Not To Run A B&B by Bobbi Hutchinson
How Not To Run A B&B - Randye Kaye,Bobby Hutchinson

Well, this book may have just steered me away from my lofty dreams of winning the lottery, buying an old haunted Victorian, converting it to a B&B and becoming the new Norma Bates.


I always thought people checked in, did their own thing, ate breakfast with their companions and then went on their merry way. That’s what I always did when visiting a B&B but I guess I was doing it very wrong. Perhaps I am terribly anti-social because just thinking about having to entertain strangers and chit chatting them up the way this lady did makes me want to crawl into a ball and hide forever. I also know I could not clean up a stranger’s body fluid with an old toothbrush. If ever I found myself googling “how to remove a semen stain” I’d consider myself stuck in one of the circles of hell and would throw in the towel (and probably throw away the sheets). She jumps in full steam and keeps going.



I give this lady a lot of credit for attempting something new and frightening (well, to me at least) when her romance novel sales started to decline and she needed help with the mortgage payments. She had never even stayed at a B&B before but figured it’d be some easy money. She can cook, she loves people and she knows how to clean sheets with the help of Google. What could go wrong?!

This wasn’t exactly the book I thought it was going to be strictly going from the title but it was close enough and it kept me entertained. It’s really not about the first time mistakes made by a new B&B owner with zero experience. Those are sprinkled in along with all of the vignettes about her dating/social life, her woo-woo views on spirituality (we are living in some sort of dream world?) and her guests and neighbors who are, uh, colorful.



She is, in my opinion, a little too truthful in her telling. Maybe I’m too secretive but were it me, I would’ve definitely left some things out. That last awful interlude with her elderly neighbor. Ouch. That one hurt my heart. And then there’s the fact that she is 61, twice divorced, has three grown sons and should really know much better than to sleep with one of her guests after only knowing him a day or so. What the hell, you only live once, right? She goes for it because she doesn’t know when or if she’ll be propositioned again. I found that a little worrisome. He could’ve been any number of horrible things; riddled with disease, a serial killer, a nose picker or even a cat kicker. How would she know after only a conversation or two?! She then goes on to detail what a terrible experience it was for her because it was over in 16 seconds and he wasn’t up for another round. Ha, she soon realized why his ex-wife didn’t want to have sex with him. I don’t think I needed to know any of that even if it did amuse me. It was all a little TMI for my delicate constitution and then she had to be nice to him?!



There are several recipes included that I am entirely too lazy to make but if you’re into that you’ll enjoy them. None of them are vegan because even though she states that she’s a vegan/vegetarian (uh, pick one!) at the beginning of the book, and that she doesn’t want bacon tainting her house, soon after she whips up some eggs. Methinks she is a little bit confused about the vegan word but my kid was vegan for years so I know it doesn't mean cooking with eggs. Or cow's milk. Or butter.



Other than that it was a nice enough way to spend my ride for a few days. Narrator Randye Kaye does a professional job and has a musical delivery to her voice and also the ability to deepen her voice for the men.

I received a copy of this book from Tantor Media. Thanks, Tantor!

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review 2017-12-04 18:18
Dream Woods by Patrick Lacey
Dream Woods - Patrick Lacey,Joe Hempel

Vince remembers Dream Woods through a pleasant veil of childhood memory. Even though bad things (murder, murder and more murder!) were rumored to have happened there and it was shut down years ago, Vince learns that the bloods been cleaned up and it’s been re-opened. He decides that it will be a most excellent vacation destination even if his wife would much rather head to a resort and lounge around a beach all day (I’m with her). He feels it will help bring his family closer together.


He is quite mistaken.


Right away things seem a little off. The people staffing the place aren’t quite right. They don’t seem completely . . . human? But Vince, the eternal optimist, holds out hope that this magical place will make his wife love him again.


Awwww. You can’t but help but root for the sap, right? His wife, who has already left her family once, seems to resent her husband for abandoning his anarchist roots and settling down into a real job after she becomes pregnant with twins, one who has diabetes. She reminded me a bit of that teacher in the 90’s named Pam Smart who fell out of love with her husband when he cut his 80’s rocker locks to become an insurance salesman and I had zero sympathy for her. I kept reading on hoping she’d be the first victim of Dream Woods. So yay for keeping me interested during my reading slump ;)


This story was decent, not earth shattering but a solid little horror story that kept me hooked and that bloody bear mascot will haunt my dreams. Dream Woods has some gore and loads of decent characterization and narrator Joe Hempel does an excellent job with the voices.


*I received a copy of this audiobook via Audiobookboom. Thanks!

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