Book Review: A Marriage In Dog Years – A Memoir

Title: A Marriage In Dog Years: A Memoir

Author: Nancy Balbirer

Format: Kindle Edition

Published: 2018


I chose this book as my Amazon First Reads choice for the month of May.  A Marriage In Dog Years is officially released tomorrow, June 1st so look for it on Amazon soon!

Meh.  I felt meh throughout the entire book.  **Spoiler alert**, I’m going to essentially tell you about this book so if you’re curious about it, stop reading my blog post right now and come back after you’ve read it.  Or heed my warning and know that you really are not missing much by passing on this book.

The book starts out with us finding out she found the love of her life, Sam.  Sam even comes and rescues her on the middle of a busy California freeway when her car breaks down.  It is at this point we realize the marriage is doomed as Nancy tells us, “it will occur to me that I had been so moved by the romance, the love, the chivalry of it all, that I had failed to notice we were not traveling west, but east—away from the sun.”

Nancy and Sam adopt a dog, Ira, and move from California to New York.  Nancy yearns to be a mother and ends up going through IVF treatments to conceive.  Heartbreakingly, she becomes pregnant with twins and loses one.  She does give birth to a health baby girl they nickname the Bear.  It is here we find out that Sam really did not want to become a father, he just knew Nancy really wanted to be a mother and he wanted to make sure he was happy.  Wait, Sam gets even better.

Ira is eleven years old and is diagnosed with a terminal illness and given a matter of weeks to live.  Don’t worry, Ira makes it another year.  As Ira gets ill, the marriage falls apart.  Well, the marriage is already in shambles at this point in time, we just get to hear how it all falls apart.

Sam “accidentally” forwards her a text from his mistress.  He’s cheating.  Nancy and Sam have been in therapy and this gets brought up.  Sam wants to keep seeing the mistress while he works on his marriage.  Nancy agrees.  Sam is a winner, isn’t he?

The book goes on and they divorce…finally.  I cannot believe how long Nancy held on to her marriage, trying to make it work.  Nancy describes it best when she wrote, “when a marriage is in crisis, there’s only so long you can pretend before dull pain turns into searing agony.”  She held on for so long.  I was angry with her for holding on for so long.  Sam was wishy washy and didn’t stick with anything long-term.  She truly deserves better.

So after the divorce comes the death of Ira.  I cried.  We just lost our sweet little pup Rose over the summer and just reading the demise of Ira brought back memories and I let it out.  Dogs become a part of our lives and Ira became her best friend.

Overall, I give this book a 3.  I didn’t care for it and I felt like the author wrote this book with a thesaurus of big words by her side.  I don’t know if I’m dumb or she was showing off or if I was just so irritated with her and how she handled her crumbling marriage I just resented everything she wrote.  I struggled to find the motivation to finish this book, but I did it.  Next week I will be reviewing Wynn In Doubt by Emily Hemmer, catch you next Thursday!

Book Review – My Mama Had a Dancing Heart

TITLE: My Mama Had A Dancing Heart
AUTHOR: Libba Moore Gray
FORMAT: Hardback

My Mama had a Dancing Heart is a beautiful story, almost poetry but not quiet about the girl and her mother and how they danced through life.
It’s sweet how it goes through the seasons and beautifully written – the words do have a nice sway to them. But a lot of the words are two words hyphenated together. Nothing stands alone, everything dances in partners. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does make reading it out loud a little tongue-trippy some times.
I read this one to the toddler who was… Kinda indifferent to it. He sat and listened, but he didn’t ask questions and didn’t try to read it to me afterwards, which is not a toddler seal of approval by any stretch of the imagination.

The illustrations are okay, but they’re soft and slightly unfocused and they, too, have that sway to them… but there’s nothing to grab hard onto. You get to the end and you’re like “well, that’s a good memory, but whatever let’s move on now…” and then that’s it.

It’s sweet, but it had no staying power. As soon as it was done, we were done with it, so I’m glad I got it from the library and can send it back.

In the end, I’m giving it solid marks – 3/3 on both the art and the story.

Book Review: New Detroit

Title: New Detroit

Author: Gerard de Marigny

Format: Kindle Edition

Published: 2017

I received this book for free from Gerard de Marigny through Voracious Readers’ Only and I am glad I selected this book!  Talk about an action packed adventure!

This is book 6 in the Cris De Niro series and I was a little concerned about that when I first started reading.  Have no fear everyone, I was able to follow along with everything and I do not feel I missed out on anything by not reading the first 5 books (but now I want to)!

Cris De Niro runs The Watchman Agency which is an anti-terrorism group, based out of Las Vegas.  He is being pitched an idea to turn an area of Detroit into “New Detroit” and create a master planned community to turn the city around.  I had to chuckle at the description the author gives of a master planned community as he highlights how Las Vegas has a few.  He really described them better than they truly are, just a regular community!  Suddenly, their meeting gets interrupted.

The man behind the idea of New Detroit is the brother of the Vice President of The Watchman Agency.  The man that bursts into the meeting is his old friend from the ‘hood, a former drug dealer.  His son has been murdered (beheaded as the picture in his hand tells us) and he needs answers.

There is an isolated, desolate area of Detroit where this book takes place.  Every business has folded and the buildings are dilapidated and falling down.  The only thing in the area is a Muslim mosque.  We meet the White Widow and learn all about how she recruited members so she could pull off a horrific and grotesque mass murder.  Will she pull it off?  Will The Watchman Agency even discover her plan while trying to solve a murder?  I would love to go into more details but then I would take the fun out of you reading this book for yourself!

There was action on every page.  I could not believe how much action there was throughout the book.  It was non-stop.  Just when you think the problem is going to be solved the book creates a new problem out of that one being solved.  The flow of this book was phenomenal. This book was just written so well!  I also LOVED the ending; it ends on an upbeat, heartfelt note.

Overall, I give this book a solid 4.  I really appreciated the small details in this book that most people would not realize were true.  At one point in time The Watchman Agency staff are eating donuts from a new donut shop that opened on Green Valley Parkway in Vegas.  Guess what, in 2017 a new donut shop (Donut Mania) opened on Green Valley Parkway.  It was a neat detail that not many would know was true!  Next week I will be reviewing an advance copy of A Marriage In Dog Years by Nancy Balbirer thanks to Amazon First Reads!  Catch you next Thursday!



Book Review – They All Saw a Cat

TITLE: They All Saw A Cat
AUTHOR: Brendan Wenzel
FORMAT: Hardcover

They All Saw A Cat is a children’s picture book that goes from the perspective of the black and white cat who walks through the book.

It starts with the cat seeing a boy – from about the knees down – and then the boy seeing the cat. The cat then goes through several animal friends in the same manner.

The best thing about the illustrations is seeing how other animals see.  For instance the bumblebee sees in colored dots.

SO I read this to my toddler, who is four.  I  thought the book might be cute, but I had no idea how much he’d like it. We had to read through it like six times… The cool part is that the words are pretty much what the toddler made up, so it did seem like he was reading to me.

Perhaps my favorite part, though, is the very end when the cat looks in a puddle and sees  himself.

I can see why this book is popular and its a great way to show perception.  It was all a cat, and it was all the same cat, but it was so very different to each creature that it met.

I give the illustrations definitely a 5/5.

The book was very simple, and it had to be, but had I read it before I showed it to the toddler, I would have never checked it out from the library.  Still, his enthusiasm counts at least as much as my lack of enthusiasm, so 4/5 for the story itself from me.

eBook Newsletters: A Review

Change of pace this week!!  I will be blogging all about my FAVORITE eBook newsletters!  There are SO many out there and I am so happy to have discovered them!  Many authors apply to be on these newsletters and offer their books for free or at a heavily discounted price for the exposure!  I have found out that I enjoy so many more authors and more genres that I ever knew I did!!  And yes, I broke down and purchased a Kindle Paperweight.  I can hold 1,100 books in my hand at once now.  My husband tells me I need to stop downloading eBooks but I can’t help it!  Now I can read whatever I’m in the mood for because I have the selection at my fingertips!  So let’s get into the meat of the post!

Newsletter: Voracious Readers Only

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts:  This is my newest discovery.  You sign up with your e-mail and mark off the genres you enjoy (you can always change these later).  The send out individual e-mails when they get a new book and you can click on the link and then get the free eBook.  Many times when you click the link you are also signing up for the author’s mailing list.  I’m currently reading a book I got from here called New Detroit by Gerard de Marigny.  I don’t feel they send out too many e-mails and they offer different ones I haven’t seen on any other newsletters.


Newsletter: Freebooksy

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: This is my favorite newsletter.  This newsletter is always filled with 100% free books.  You just need to make sure you read it on the same day because the books are usually only free for one day!


Newsletter: Book Bub

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: This was the first eBook newsletter I was exposed to.  They offer a few free ones here and there, but have many offerings from 99 cents to $3.99, great deals!


Newsletter: Ereader News Today

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: Again, you sign up with your e-mail address and select the genres you wish to receive.  Remember, don’t limit yourself, maybe you’ll find a book in a new genre you’ll fall in love with!  They offer free and heavily discounted priced books!


Newsletter: Early Bird Books

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: Early Bird Books offers great discounts on popular reads!  For example, they just had an offer on a Michael Crichton book for $1.99!  If you’re looking for a deal, this is the newsletter for you.  This will have more bestsellers priced usually from $1.99 to $3.99 (and occasionally free).


Newsletter: Many Books

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: Many Books offers a website filled with free eBooks, as well as a newsletter, which highlights free and discounted eBooks. I am not really a fan of this newsletter and I’m not sure why.  It would be the layout or that I don’t find many eBooks I’m interested in. But it is still something to take a look at.


Newsletter: Book Adrenaline

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: Book Adrenaline offers free and discounted mystery and thriller books.  You will not find any other genres here.  I love mysteries and thrillers so this is right up my alley.  I have put so many books from here on my amazon wish list I have yet to figure out when I will read all these books!


Newsletter: The Fussy Librarian

Web Address:

Donna’s Thoughts: The Fussy Librarian makes sure you sign up and get the books YOU want. They also have 2 lists; one list is for bargain eBooks and the other is for mainly free eBooks.  Pick the genres you like, the days you want to receive e-mails, and away you go!


I would like to note that many of these offer their books on multiple platforms (Kindle, Nook, Apple, Kobo, Google, etc) so don’t worry about how you’re reading an eBook, there will be books for you within these newsletters!!  Do you know of another newsletter?  Let me know about it in the comments!  Are you a member of any of these?  Tell me how much you love them and which one YOUR favorite is!  Next week I will be back to book reviews with a review of New Detroit!  Catch you next Thursday!

Book Review: Pretty Girls Dancing

Title: Pretty Girls Dancing

Author: Kylie Brant

Format: Kindle Edition

Published: 2018

I judge books by their covers.  There.  I said it.  And this cover caught my eye in Amazon Prime reading so I checked it out.  Amazon Prime really has some great perks in addition to free two-day shipping!!

This book is told to us by 5 people; Whitney DeVries, Janie Willard, Claire Willard, David Willard, and Special Agent Mark Foster.  Each chapter alternates a person while flowing together very well.  This book is about the Ten Mile Killer; he takes young girls and kidnaps them for long periods of time and eventually kills them, leaving them in dancing apparel in a wooded area.  It appears as though the latest victim, Whitney, has been kidnapped by the killer.

In the very beginning of the book I can hear Nev and Max from Catfish just screaming at Whitney.  She thinks she is going out to meet a boy who works at a grocery store in her grandmother’s town.  First of all, she only saw this boy working, never talked to him, and suddenly he found her on Facebook?  Come on…be smarter girls!!

So, Whitney gets kidnapped.  What we are not sure of, is if it is the Ten Mile Killer.  The Willard’s fit in because their oldest daughter, Kelsey, was the last one to be kidnapped by the killer seven years earlier.  We go through many emotions with them reliving the feelings of when Kelsey went missing with Whitney going missing.  The girls only lived about 12 miles apart from each other so the latest kidnapping is hitting home, hard.

Claire Willard, Kelsey’s mother, is a hot mess throughout this book.  She is essentially a zombie.  I did highlight a part of the book with a quote from one of her chapters as it was very profound.  “People saw what they wanted to see. Whatever was most comfortable to believe.”  As you read this book you’ll understand this quote better.

We meet the agent assigned to the case, Mark Foster.  He has his own family issues which don’t seem to really fit in to the story at all, but nonetheless, are still there.  He has his suspicions on who is killer is and will not stop until they can make a break in the case.  He finds enjoyment in consulting a senior special agent, Luther Sims, who worked as a profiler for the Ten Mile Killer.

Janie, Kelsey’s sister, takes detective work into her own hands and sets up a photo shoot with a creepy janitor from her high school.  She discovered risqué photos of her sister shortly after her disappearance and she is determined the man who took them killed her.  Janie almost gets arrested in her attempt at solving her sister’s disappearance, but fortunately for her, she stumbles across some damning evidence and gets off scot free on a trespassing charge.  I also highlighted one of her quotes from one of her chapters, “No one got out of a personal tragedy unscathed. The wounds didn’t go away. It was just a matter of how well each person covered them.”

Janie’s discovery leads the case down a path where eventually we do find out who the Ten Mile Killer is and we find out what happened to Kelsey and to Whitney.  If I say any more I will give away the story and that wouldn’t be nice of me, now would it?  But I will leave you with a highlight from one of Whitney’s chapters. “Monsters looked just like the rest of us. And somehow, that made them even scarier.”  Curious now?

This book is a 5.  It kept me up at night.  Who was the killer?  What is going to happen to Whitney?  Where is Kelsey?  I couldn’t figure it out and I didn’t see it coming.  Brant did an amazing job in penning this crime fiction book.  If you are an Amazon Prime member there is no excuse for you NOT to check this book out!  Join me next week as I do something a little different.  I will not be reviewing a book, but rather, I will be reviewing eBook newsletters!  If you are a fan of reading eBooks, you will NOT want to miss next week’s blog edition!!

Book Review – Classified as Murder

TITLE: Classified as Murder
AUTHOR: Miranda James
FORMAT: Paperback


Classified as Murder is the 2nd volume in a cost mystery series starring Charlie Harris, a retired librarian, and his Maine Coon, Diesel, (Okay, mostly his Maine coon, Diesel), and set in Athena, MS.

So, Charlie is a part time librarian who spends his time between the college library where he gets paid and the city library where he doesn’t.  It’s on a volunteer shift in the city library that Mr. Delacourte, wealthy and eccentric, asks him for a private meeting.  Charlie agrees, and the three (because cat) meet the next day, where Mr. Delacourte lays everything out there.  He thinks he’s being stolen from, and the prime suspects are his very own family who all unfortunately live under his roof with him.

Charlie agrees to a ridiculous $300 an hour amount to verify the collection is all in place, and agrees to start as soon as possible, staring with afternoon tea with the family over the weekend.  True to Delacourte’s warning, the family are all batshit crazy in their own ways – some more obviously than others, one family member shows up for tea dressed like Scarlett O’Hara, for instance – and he’s right to be suspicious.  Charlie leaves for lunch his first day there and comes back to the body of Mr. Delacourte himself.  But who did it?  Crazy relations seem likely; they certainly had the proximity to the crime scene.

While all that’s happening, Charlie’s son shows up unannounced from Houston, and asks to stay for a while.  Another mystery, because Charlie just has to know why his son – who will barely speak to him – has now come to stay until he says otherwise.

… Okay then.

So, I got this book (and the first in the series) when my bf showed up from work with them one day and “you like mysteries and cats, so…”  I read the first one a while ago and it took me a while to get to the point that I cared enough to read this one.

The author has some issues.  We get too much introversion from the main character.  For instance, somebody says something and we immediately get the MC’s thoughts on the matter.  Son says something, MC thinks “well, I thought…”  Sometimes it’s nice for clarity sake, but when you get that sort of thing a dozen times in a couple pages of conversation, it’s a little old by the end.  I don’t actually need to know every thought a character has, especially when it’s not important to the other characters and things going on, and really, in a lot of these cases, it wasn’t.  Because gosh golly, it just changes every effing time anyway.

Also, the cat.  I love the cat.  I actually had a brown tabby named Diesel left at my house once, and this book reminds me of him.  But the cat has a remarkable lot going on for a character that doesn’t usually contribute to anything important.  I sat down for lunch while Diesel went into the other room. 

Because the comings and goings of a cat to the litter box are just soooooooo fascinating to read, right?  Hint:  Notsomuch.

I also take issue with a few of the characters.  The MC’s son is 27, the MC is not much older than 50 (about my boyfriend’s age) and just lucked into early retirement when his aunt died and left him the house that he rents rooms to boarders from.  But Charlie acts like he’s 55 going on 92.  he can use a computer but he just seems so out of touch with a lot of stuff.  His housekeeper, who is roughly the same age, speaks with a dialect that makes her sound like the colored help from a 1900s period book – which would just be odd if she weren’t colored, but is kinda obnoxious since she is – and really, when nobody else has an accent – In MISSISSIPPI! – why does she have one that makes her sound like she’s old and uneducated?  I don’t recall seeing her actual age, but based on a few other things, I’d put her not much older than Charlie – maybe in her early 60s – and it’s weird that she sounds like some uneducated 100 year old woman when she should have had the benefit of public schools.

So the bottom line.  Cozy mysteries are supposed to be about liking the characters and all that good stuff.  I do like most of them, although I think the author needs to relax what s/he is doing and get on with letting them be characters.  The writing is good enough that I forgive a lot of the things that should annoy me because I care enough about the characters and the mystery is developed well enough.  There are some good moments and properly funny bits, so that’s good.

In the end, I think this one was a lot better than the first one.  I’ll give it a pretty solid 3/5 pages.  It wouldn’t take that much to make this series better, and I’m hoping that future books improve.


Book Review: How Hard Can It Be?

Title: How Hard Can It Be?

Author: Allison Pearson

Format: Paperback, Advance Readers’ Edition

Published: 2018

A huge thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the special advance readers’ edition of How Hard Can It Be by Allison Pearson.  The book releases on June 5, 2018 so go ahead and pre-order the book now, this is going to be a GREAT summer read!  Are you ready?  If not, #getREDDY.

This book is a sequel to I Don’t Know How She Does It, however, I did not read the first book and was not lost at all through this book.  I appreciate that it can be read alone and I don’t miss out on anything, and if I did, I did not even realize it!

This book is about Kate Reddy, a 49-year-old woman who is going back to work while taking care of 2 teenage children, a dilapidated old home (that has so much potential), menopause, and a husband who took a break from life.  She is a member of The Returners’, a woman’s group with middle aged women trying to make it back into the work force.  Could she be their first success story?

Kate had taken a break from her life to take care of her children, make her relationship better with her husband, and get away from a man she saw herself having an affair with.  She had successfully created a hedge fund at an international investment company and left it all behind to try and make her life right and now needed to go back to support her family.  Her husband has decided to take 2 years off work to intern and learn to be a counselor (which means no income from him).  Mind you they had moved to new area of England into a fixer upper and were constantly in the middle of renovations.

She ends taking a temporary position after having life about her age (because who wants to hire someone who is a has been with a huge gap in her resume).  Thankfully, due to the financial crisis, no one is still working there when she left so she decides to be the same age as she was when she left, 42, and no one knows none the wiser.

Kate makes it through with humor and her close friends.  I can only imagine what it is like to be a parent of teenagers (oh, I will find out in 6 short years myself).  But, I appreciated the realistic life of what parents with teenagers are going through; social media and technology obsessions.  She also has to deal with family aches and pains and we ALL can relate to those!  I felt so hard for Kate and was desperately hoping everything could work out for her.  Could her daughter bounce back from a social media viral post?  Will her son get off his Playstation?  Will the man she was tempted to have an affair with come back into her life?  Is her husband just studying with his mentor?  Overall, the book was fairly easy to predict and I saw everything that was coming.  It doesn’t mean that I wasn’t pleasantly pleased, because I was.

This book is a solid 4.  It was enjoyable to read, even with the British undertones.  There were a few things I did not understand but that’s just due to me being an American.  The book read as if you were in Kate’s head and that is a neat perspective.  If you love British humor novels, this book is for you!  It was a warm, light hearted read, and I absolutely loved the ending.  So, leave this post right now and go ahead and pre-order this poolside/beach/drink-in-hand/lounge chair read.  It will keep you entertained this summer!  Comment and let me know if you pre-order this gem!  Next week I will be reviewing the psychological thriller Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant, see you then!


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