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review 2017-10-19 07:19
Animals Talking In All Caps by Justin Valmassoi
Animals Talking in All Caps: It's Just What It Sounds Like - Justin Valmassoi

A goat who wants to sell you some meth. 
A giraffe who might be violating his restraining order. 
An alpaca with a very dirty secret. 
A cat who’s really mad at you for cancelling Netflix instant. 
 
These are just a few of the hilariously human animals you’ll meet in Animals Talking in All Caps. Inspired by the wildly popular blog of the same name and including some of the site’s best-loved entries as well as gobs of never-before-seen material, these pages provide a brilliantly unhinged glimpse into the animal mind.

Amazon.com

 

 

This book is an extension of the humor originally found on author Justin Valmassoi's tumblr page (also called Animals Talking In All Caps). The subtitle on the cover is "It's Just What It Sounds Like" and that's the truth! It's just straight up humorous captions / conversations put to pictures of animals! The conversations touch upon not only pop culture references and relationship craziness but also some more crude or risque material.. but in such a dang cute way! 

 

The book also features a pretty adorable introductory essay :-) In it, Valmassoi writes: 

 

"My friend Stacey asked me to collect all the random caps-lock-captioned animal photos strewn across my many abandoned tumblrs into one convenient spot so she could giggle at them without having to search through years of bad jokes and turgid prose. Having nothing better to do, I obliged. After collecting them all under the highly creative title Animals Talking In Caps, I went on to write a few more. I wrote one or two a day, mostly to keep Stacey entertained. I didn't tell anyone about it because I'm in my thirties and "I made a dog talk about the perils of Western capitalism" is a really embarrassing way to answer the question "What did you do today?" (not that anyone was asking, but just in case). Nonetheless, because it was a website featuring animals, people found it. If it has an animal on it and it's on the internet, everyone will eventually see it because humans are biologically wired to seek out animal photos whenever they get near a computer."

 

I don't have a ton to say about the book other than to say I was endlessly entertained, it gave me a smile on a bad day, and I'm sure I'll be returning to it for a giggle numerous times for years to come. 

 

Some of my favorites from the collection:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-04-22 00:09
The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco
The Dog Who Was There - Ron Marasco

No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before. Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea. On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

In 1st century Jerusalem, a pregnant stray dog gives birth to a litter of pups in a wooded area near the river. The runt of the litter is spotted by Micah, the young son of a wealthy landowner. Micah sneaks away from chores each day to play with the pup, until the day he is found out by his father. The father tries to have the whole litter killed but thanks to the efforts of Duv, a woodcarver, and his wife, Adah, the young pup is saved and named Barley. 

 

It is in the home of the woodcarver that Barley first starts to hear stories of an already near-mythic man from the land of Galilee. That's right, none other than than big man himself, Jesus! For seven years, Barley has a cozy home life full of love and treats. But one regular work day in town leads to tragedy for the woodcarver and his wife, a turn of events that once again puts Barley out on the streets. The scared canine is soon spotted by Samid, a homeless man / petty criminal, and his lady friend Prisca. Though the accomodations are significantly more humble than his previous pad, Barley takes what he can get and soon settles into a moderately comfortable routine with new pal Samid. Barley's life with Samid puts him in close proximity to Jesus, now in Jerusalem, so Barley is there to witness the final days leading up to the Passion of Christ

 

For dogs, no less than for people, firsts matter. They echo long past their point in time, especially in dreams. It's true of the good firsts, and very true of the bad ones. That's why when a dog cries in a dream -- even a full-grown dog, even an old dog -- the cry it cries is the cry of a pup, because that's what it is doing when it sleeps -- reliving a first. 

 

Well, right off, I will say that this is a unique way to breathe fresh new perspective into a tale that's been told a million times over! The writing sometimes struck me as somewhat simplistic but that could just be a natural by-product of the author choosing to tell the story from the inner thoughts of a dog. Perhaps the simplicity is intentional? Regardless, the benefit of a simple voice is that it makes this story perfect for sharing with readers within a wide age range.

 

Note that I was careful not to say "of all ages", because there is material within this novel that may be a little traumatic for the littlest ones in your life, whether they read independently or have you read to them. Barley witnesses (and describes) seeing the bodies of people executed by hanging, there are moments of extreme violence within Barley's own life, moments where he is injured, not to mention Barley relaying the sights of the Crucifixion itself near the end of the novel. The fate of Duv & Adah (the woodcarver and his wife) show just how rough and sometimes lawless this time period could be. So when it comes to the smallest of your story lovers, I'd recommend maybe first doing a read-through to see what you need to gloss over for them. 

 

Much of the story, as far as plot, while solidly enjoyable, lacked that little something extra for me. For the majority of the book, I kept waiting for that extra oomph to kick in. That said, I did enjoy the "voice" of our dog narrator and one of my favorite bits of the whole story was Samid and his friendship / something more? with Prisca. There was a good dose of humor and lively banter between them. I agree with Prisca, Samid outwardly appears rough around the edges, but you get the sense there's a good guy there deep down.

 

"Despair."

 

Samid said the word before she could. Which made them smile at each other, sweetly but sadly. 

 

"Why is our despair such a difficult thing for us to give up?" asked Samid.

 

Prisca replied, "I think despair is so difficult to let go of because it helps us to justify teh worst things inside of us. We think: I lack, so I can steal. I hurt, so I can injure. I failed at one thing, so now watch me destroy my whole life ... But when the despair is gone, we cannot help but change. We simply must."

 

The two were silent for a few moments. 

 

 

What ended up bumping this up to a four star read for me was simply Barley's observations during the Crucifixion. The way author Ron Marasco painted these scenes gave me a whole new visual of this event I've heard told in stories SO many times over. Yet something in the way Marasco illustrates it (in words) made it more real for me than nearly any other piece on the Crucifixion I've ever read. Ever. I physically flinched at what Barley describes himself seeing as the walk up to the cross is taking place. The attention to detail Marasco provides when describing the whippings Jesus is taking from soldiers, the way Barley winces and whimpers and thinks of him (Jesus) as Kind Man. It all just knocks you right in the heart! Beyond the Crucifixion scene, there is a further twist to the ending that I did not entirely see coming! 

 

 

FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book & requested that I check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own.

 

 

--------------------------

 

EXTRAS

 

Author Ron Marasco has a PhD in theater history and is a professor at Loyola University. He also has some acting credits to his name on shows you've likely watched! 

 

 

 

 

A note on promo blurbs & cover design:

 

First off, thumbs up for getting a blurb from Kristin Chenoweth on there. Love her!

 

But regarding the cover, I was one of a select group of bloggers who were asked to give their opinion on the few different design options designed for this title. Still bummed that my pick was not chosen, as I voted strongly AGAINST having to have a cover featuring a dog anus front and center. Particularly when there was one design (the one I voted for) that featured an ADORABLE dog's profile giving a little glance to the reader. I'll let it go though, because this cover dog does look similar to my mother in law's sweet pup. :-)

 

But props to Thomas Nelson Pub. for at least darkening that area to a little less off-putting level lol Also funny to read in the book the dog's coat being described as "off-white fur". I know it's a little hard to tell with the lighting but that cover dog looks as if it'd be pretty distinctly brown with maybe some black highlight areas. A little reading peeve of mine, when it seems like the cover designer didn't read the book they were designing for! 

 

 

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review 2017-03-16 17:20
$100 GC Giveaway & Review for A Fine Year For Murder by Lauren Carr @TheMysteryLadie @iReadBookTours
A Fine Year for Murder - Lauren Carr

A Fine Year For Murder is not my first foray into Lauren Carr’s Thorny Rose Mystery series and I am sure it will not be the last.

 

That being said…let’s get to the good part. Keep on reading for my review and the great giveaway at the end of the post.

 

 

Amazon  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

A Fine Year For Murder by Lauren Carr is part of an ongoing mystery series that has many recurring characters, both human and animal, that I have grown to love.

 

These Thorny Rose mysteries stand alone, but you won’t want to miss any of them.

 

Jessica kicks, punches and scratches her new husband during her nightmares.

 

She is haunted…until Dallas Walker, an investigative journalist, helps her discover what has been causing her nightmares and refuses to allow her rest until she has the answers.

 

Nigel is a virtual butler. I love how Lauren Carr keeps her characters and their lives up to date, allowing them to grow and develop along with the world around them.

 

Newman is a lazy basset hound that likes to eat in the recliner while binge watching TV. LOL But he is not the only critter that has a special and humorous relationship with his human counterparts.

 

Mysteries, murder, danger, and memories that threatens their lives keeps the action and suspense at a high level and even when the answers are found, it left me wanting more.

 

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of A Fine Year For Murder by Lauren Carr.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  4 Stars

 

Enter the $100 GC Giveaway HERE.

 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/giveaway-review-a-fine-year-for-murder-by-lauren-carr-themysteryladie-ireadbooktours
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review 2016-12-14 14:05
Jingle Bells, illustrated by Kathleen O'Malley
Jingle Bells - Kathleen O'Malley

This is a little holiday book, designed & manufactured with the idea of gifting I imagine, that I came across just recently.

 

I see no actual author's credit given anywhere in the book, only that it is published through Publications International, Ltd / PI Kids and the illustrations are done by Kathleen O'Malley. A website is provided, for anyone interested in looking up more of this company's catalog: pilbooks.com

 

Inspired by the classic Christmas song, this book features a quick little story for young readers that tells of a brother and sister who plan a holiday surprise for their family. Thinking they will both have to work at their respective jobs on Christmas Day, Andrew ( a clerk at a general store) and his sister Arabella (a schoolteacher) are informed that they, in fact, do have the day off. This allows the siblings to give their mother the best Christmas gift of all, time with the family all together!

 

Andrew's boss at the store, Mr. Ward, offers Andrew the use of his horse Nelly drive out to the family dairy farm. Andrew picks up his sister at the boarding house in town where she lives and off they go on a snowy sleigh ride through the woods, anticipating their mother's fresh cinnamon rolls they know she'll be baking and the look of surprise and joy on her face when she gets to see them! 

 

Within the story, Andrew whistles the "Jingle Bells" tune as Arabella talks excitedly, and the very last page features a full lyrics sheet to the classic song. The story itself is cutesy and heart-warming and the illustrations give it that little something extra to make this a sweet, cozy read for the littlest readers in your life. :-)

 

Happy Holidays! 

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review 2016-12-13 14:58
God's Gift (Sea Kids #5) by Lee Ann Mancini
God's Gift (Hardcover) - Lee Ann Mancini

In God's Gift, Christian and his sister Mary believe they get more presents at Christmas. However, Jacob and Jeremiah believe they get more presents on Hanukkah. The children learn that Christmas and Hanukkah are about celebrating the gift God has given to His children. It's not about how many presents are under the tree at Christmas or the eight days of presents for Hanukkah. It's about God's provision for those He loves. God gives the gift of the Messiah to the Christians and the gift of Light to the Jews. The true gift from God is learned in this colorful holiday story!

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

Sea turtles Christian and his sister Mary are at the "coralhood" (because it's underwater, instead of neighborhood) playground with their starfish friends Jacob and his brother Jeremiah. They start out having an animated conversation about their anticipation for their respective upcoming holiday festivities -- Christian and Mary are from a Christian home while Jacob and Jeremiah are Jewish -- but the conversation quickly turns heated. Before long, all the kids are arguing about who has the better celebration and who gets more presents each year.

 

 

 

 

The fight is broken up and all the kids go home that night to vent to their parents about what was said by the other children. Shocked that their children could be so off the mark on understanding the true meaning of the holiday season, all the parents are inspired to bring the kids together for a lesson in the real "reason for the season". Jacob and Jeremiah's parents invite Christian and Mary to their Hanukkah celebrations to hear the stories behind the reason for the menorah, prayers and ceremonies. Likewise, Christian and Mary's folks invite Jacob and Jeremiah over to hear the Nativity story and observe the tree decorating tradition. Through observing the religious traditions of their friends, the sea turtles and the starfish all learn that it's not about the presents at all! Presents are nice, but they're just meant to be symbolic. The true purpose is remembering to honor each person with love, generosity, compassion and charity. 

 

Once again, author Lee Ann Mancini nails it with her now trademark technique of using a charming underwater world of relatable young characters to teach timeless lessons in morals and values that will surely set little readers on the right path toward growing up to be beautiful, stand-up people of admirable character. In this timely holiday addition, Mancini reminds readers to remember not to be all-consumed with counting presents but to instead take time to humbly acknowledge, appreciate and honor the family, friends and blessings already around you on a daily basis. The fact that this story, right from page 1, offers inclusive illustrations and storyline featuring both Christian crosses / Christmas trees and Jewish Star Of David / dreidel /  yarmulke (or kippah) references makes this a wonderful gift idea for those who observe either Christmas OR Hannukah! 

 

 

 

Readers who have been following this series from the start will get a kick out of seeing past featured Sea Kids -- such as Freddy Octopus from Fast Freddy and Melissa Blowfish from What A Bragger! -- in the background of a few of the illustrations. Also look for the artwork by the front door of Jacob's house and you'll see it's the cover art from I'm Not Afraid! (Sea Kids #3)

 

FTC Disclaimer: BookCrash.com & GLM Publishing kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book with a request that I might check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

 

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