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review 2018-11-20 02:46
A meandering mess of vaguely dog-related memoirs.
You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness - Julie Klam,Karen White,Karen White

From the Publisher's Site:


Julie Klam was thirty, single, and working as a part-time clerk in an insurance company, wondering if she would ever meet the man she could spend the rest of her life with. And then it happened. She met the irresistible Otto, her first in a long line of Boston terriers, and fell instantly in love.

 

You Had Me at Woof is the often hilarious and always sincere story of how one woman discovered life's most important lessons from her relationships with her canine companions. From Otto, Julie realized what it might feel like to find "the one." She learned to share her home, her heart, and her limited resources with another, and she found an authentic friend in the process. But that was just the beginning. Over the years her brood has grown to one husband, one daughter, and several Boston terriers. And although she had much to learn about how to care for them—walks at 2 a.m., vet visits, behavior problems—she was surprised and delighted to find that her dogs had more wisdom to convey to her than she had ever dreamed. And caring for them has made her a better person—and completely and utterly opened her heart.

 

Riotously funny and unexpectedly poignant, You Had Me at Woof recounts the hidden surprises, pleasures, and revelations of letting any mutt, beagle, terrier, or bulldog go charging through your world.

 

Spend much time around this blog and you'll know I'm a sucker for dogs -- real or fictional -- if a book has a strong dog element in it, I'm sold. This should've been right up my alley. I expected to really dig it -- but the reality didn't match my expectation.

 

These meandering personal essays/memoirs are organized by lessons taught by various dogs, sure, but they didn't seem as well-organized as those from similar books by Dave Barry or David Rosenfelt (or maybe it's just guys named David that think like this). I didn't think the voice was very consistent throughout -- I frequently couldn't tell if I was supposed to be laughing with Klam or at her. Or maybe I shouldn't have been laughing at all. I didn't find a lot to relate to -- or even grab on to -- in some of the anecdotes, other than a sense of pity for the two-legged individuals in her family and life. (that came out a little harsher than I intended, but I'm sticking with it).

 

I can't point at anything in particular -- other than her unessential and unsubtle celebrity name-dropping -- that I didn't like. I guess I found the thing too unfocused, too inconsistent, and not enough about the actual dogs. It seemed to be more about her in relation to various dogs. To an extent that's true with the aforementioned books by the various David's, too -- but I don't think it's as much about them (although, I never wondered who I was supposed to be laughing at with them).

 

Is it possible that my problems with the book are in the narration? Sure, a lot of it comes down to understanding Klam's voice, and Karen White's interpretation of that could be affecting me enough to not appreciate the book. But I don't think so -- I can't imagine an audiobook director or publisher is going to let something that disconnected from the text be produced, and White seemed to match the text and context with what she was doing. Granted that's hard to know without reading the text independently, but I don't care that much. If the text is really that slippery, that's on Klam anyway, not White.

 

Oh, here's something I really appreciated about the book -- Klam talks at least twice about dog owners who will replace a beloved pet with one of the same breed and general appearance and give it the same name (sometimes several times). This answers a question I asked a couple of weeks ago. Even knowing this is a thing that people who aren't Robert B. Parker or Robert B. Parker characters do, it's still messed up. Happily, Klam agrees.

 

The concluding anecdote was good -- maybe a bit too much, really -- but it was sweet. And the section about dealing with the death (expected or not) of a dog was really strong. That's why I'm not listing this as 2 Stars or fewer. There's some really decent writing here, but the voice was inconsistent, the whole thing felt too self-serving, and . . . well, there's just something intangible that happens between the reader and the text, and I just didn't like this one. It's not a bad book, per se. But it's not a good one.

 

2018 Library Love Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/11/19/you-had-me-at-woof-audiobook-by-julie-klam-karen-white-a-meandering-mess-of-vaguely-dog-related-memoirs
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review 2018-11-19 16:59
Audio Book Review: White Hot Kiss By Jennifer Armentrout
White Hot Kiss - Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

I've lost count of the number of times I've picked up this book over the years and inevitably put it down because something else caught my attention. Books by this author used to be my jam, but it doesn't seem to be holding up anymore. This novel was very slow paced through the beginning, but when things speed up it was so good. 

 

The heroine (with the exception of the very end) was out of the loop on everything and it wasn't a fun ride. It seemed like the author wanted to make her appear to be this sassy kick-butt heroine (especially when you take into account her being half gargoyle and half demon) but I don't think it was accomplished in the first 90% of this novel. 

 

This book wasn't an exception where my stance on love triangles was concerned. Both love interests were sketchy and were looking out for their own interests by protecting Layla. Though Roth eventually won me over to his side because he presented himself as more competent but mysterious. Zayne, for the most part, was portrayed as a little boy who follows the rules the patriarchy sets for him even if he doesn't necessarily agree with them.

 

An annoying conclusion I came to throughout this story was that it was only possible because of all the lying that was happening. The gargoyles were the biggest hypocrites of them all and the leader refused to listen to reason even when it was presented in a respectful way. He could never see past Layla's demon half even though he raised her to essentially hate half of herself.

 

Overall, I disliked how absurdly easy it was for an outside source to figure out the supposedly "complex" riddle that leads to an ancient possession that a lot of creatures were looking for for years and years. I'd also like to mention that most of what happened in this story could be seen coming from miles and miles away. This isn't what I'd call a book of twists and turns. Despite all that I've mentioned in this review I do intend to continue on with this series considering how the book ended. I'm too invested for my own good at this point.

 

The Audio Book:

 

The narration was pleasant and that's about it. The overall tone was relaxing, which is what I usually look for in an audio book but there were a lot of times where there wasn't much of a distinction between male and female voices. That ended up confusing me for a few lines of conversation throughout the story until I figured out who was supposed to be who again. 

 
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review 2018-11-19 15:32
Death Spiral
Lethal White - Robert Galbraith

This is a classic J.K. Rowling book - twisted plot and complicated characters with disastrous personal relationships.

 

Why does the English upper crust insist on nicknames that sound like anthropomorphic animals from a children's book? Pringle, Flopsy and Fizzy? Really?

 

Anyway, this book was both a haul and a sprint - it's really, really long - but is riveting, nonetheless, and has enough characters to fill Wembley Stadium. This is an apropos analogy, given that it was set during the London Olympics. Which begs another question, what compelled Rowling to set the Strike novels in the near past? Why 2012 and not 2018? 

 

I do have a couple of quibbles. First, while I hope that Robin is thoroughly shed of Matthew, since their relationship has been nothing short of a train wreck and he's an absolute jackass, I am absolutely NOT feeling the Strike/Robin pairing at all. Second, could we please have a book where Robin does not end up in mortal peril? 

 

Because Cormoran Strike is former military, I'm using this book for the Armistice Day task!!

 

Now I wait for book 5.

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review 2018-11-17 20:13
Full disclosure: I don't necessarily know Mary Shelly's story of Frankenstein, I only know of movies and such depicting it. Also, I'm not a fan of the Classics...
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein - Kiersten White

 

๏ ๏ ๏  Book Blurb ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 
Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the year's pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.
 
 
 
 

๏ ๏ ๏  My Review ๏ ๏ ๏

 

 

 

This is not a terrible story, or badly written...I just don't think it was my kind of story.  I couldn't connect with the characters or the story itself...but I know that others have.  It felt overwhelmingly depressing and it switched timelines constantly and I never knew where or what time we were in.  The latter could have been due to listening on audio, with not enough quiet space between each time period to differentiate between them.  Overall, I couldn't keep myself engaged in the story.  The only part I actually liked was the last 45 minutes of the story.

๏ ๏ ๏  MY RATING ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 

☆3.2☆STARS - GRADE=C

 
 
 
 

๏ Breakdown of Ratings ๏ 

 

Plot⇝ 2.8/5
Main Charactes⇝3.2/5
Secondary Characters⇝3/5
The Feels⇝ 2.5/5
Pacing⇝ 2.8/5
Addictiveness⇝2.3/5
Theme or Tone⇝3.5/5
Flow (Writing Style)⇝3/5 
Backdrop (World Building)⇝3.8/5
Originality⇝4/5
Ending⇝ 4/5 Cliffhanger⇝ Nope. 
๏ ๏ ๏
Book Cover⇝I love it! I wish I loved the story as much...
Narration⇝ Katherine McEwan, not too bad...
Setting⇝ Somewhere gloomy...or England
Source⇝ Audiobook (Library)
๏ ๏ ๏
Goodreads
Amazon
Booklikes
 

 
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text 2018-11-16 22:35
24 Festive Tasks, Door 6 - International Day of Tolerance
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America - Michael Eric Dyson
The Toymaker - Kay Springsteen

International Day of Tolerance

 

Book: I picked this book up before the game even started, so congrats to past me for thinking about present me's book choice. I am reading Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson (book about tolerance, but not in the hippy-dippy sense). I only know Dyson from following him on Twitter, so I wanted to read (in more than 280 characters) more from him.

 

Task #1

I read The Toymaker by Kay Springsteen and gave it only 1 star due to the heroine. However, the one redeeming trait this book had was that the hero, a duke, actually enjoys his job as a toy maker and making kids happy. He doesn't pull a Grinch, he is just in a cheerful jolly mood and up for going to the party dressed as Father Christmas so he can give his toys away. He doesn't put on airs, he doesn't throw his money or title around, and he has a great friendship with his valet. This was very different from the man-whores or grumpy dukes you mostly meet in historical romances.

 

Task #2

1. Secret baby. It's somewhat reasonable for historicals set before 1920, but I start to lose patience for this trope anytime after 1960 and ESPECIALLY not in contemporary romance. Seriously it is 2018 - if the heroine and hero don't know how pregnancies happen, they are TSTL and need to be removed from the gene pool. I don't care if heroine is drunk or just so hot for the hero, she could and should buy a box of condoms and have hero use them and also look into birth control for herself (if she doesn't already). And the hero should not be carrying around the same condom (sealed) that his dad gave him on prom night in his wallet. Yes, I am referring to that awful book One Wish (Thunder Point #7) by Robyn Carr.

 

2. Unresolved/never-ending love triangles. I don't mind hints at love triangles or if the situation is throughout one book, but there better be a resolution by the end of the book (heroine picks one person or the people decide on being in a relationship together - aka a throuple). 

 

3. Misogyny in M/M romance. In almost every book there is an evil ex or relative that is evil because she has a vagina. It's why I rarely read M/M romance.

 

4. Violence against women to signal how evil the villain is in M/F romance. It is ugly to read and makes the villain a cardboard cutout rather than a fleshed out character.

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