Friday, May 30, 2014

Review - A Winning Ticket by J. Michael Stewart

A Winning TicketA Winning Ticket by J. Michael Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kindle Edition, 35 pages
Published February 18th 2013 by J. Michael Stewart
Source: Author for Review

'Twin brothers Benjamin and Harrison Zimmerman are struggling just to keep their heads above water. Low crop prices and a recent drought have driven them to the brink of bankruptcy. The family farm is on the verge of foreclosure and the mounting debt seems overwhelming. In the midst of a Nebraska blizzard, their luck suddenly changes when they hit it big by winning the lottery. In an instant they become multi-millionaires. Now richer than they ever dreamed possible, all their problems seem to be solved. But before the night is over, the brothers' true feelings about the farm and each other will be revealed and their relationship changed forever. '

My Thoughts:
A Winning Ticket is a chilling read that shows exactly what money can do to certain people, especially those you would least expect.

I had no idea while reading this short story what was going to happen at the end and I must admit that I did thoroughly enjoy the outcome.

I'm usually not a huge fan of short stories because I always feel a little deflated when they end because I'm almost always left wanting more (hence why I only gave this book 4 stars instead of 5), but this one was written very well and kept my interest in one sitting.

The characters were easy to relate to and imagine and their situation really made you feel for them both.

I'm definitely interested in reading more from this author in the future.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Review - Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and KnowInside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Published September 28th 2010 by Scribner
Paperback, 334 pages 
Source: Own copy
'Temple Grandin meets Stephen Pinker in this engaging and informative look at what goes on inside the minds of dogs from a cognitive scientist with a background at The New Yorker.

With more than 52 million pet dogs in America today, it's clear we are a nation of unabashed dog-lovers. Yet the relationship between dogs and humans remains a fascinating mystery, as no one really knows what goes on in the canine mind. Now, in Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz fuses her perspectives as both scientist and dog-owner to deliver a fresh look at the world of dogs as seen from the animals point of view. Inspired by her years of living with her own dog, Pumpernickel, who was a constant source of delight and mystery, Horowitz's mind became filled with questions and ideas. In crisp, clear prose, she draws on her research in the field of dog cognition to give readers a sense of a dogs perceptual and cognitive abilities and paints a picture of what the canine experience is like. Horowitz's own scientific journey, and the insights she uncovered, allowed her to understand her dog better and appreciate her more.

Containing up-to-the minute research and providing many moments of dog-behavior recognition, this lively and absorbing book helps dog owners to see their best friends behavior in a different, and revealing light, allowing them to understand their pets and enjoy their company even more.

My Thoughts:
I am so glad to finally be sitting down and writing this review. It has taken me a good couple of weeks to get to it because I didn't have time at first and then we had some major trauma occur with our own dog last week that made me unable to face actually writing a review on a dog book. That's all over now (with a happy ending luckily!) so here I am now to finally give my thoughts on this book.

First up, this is a book about dogs so I was pretty much bound to love it straight away. Our dog is pretty much on par with our first born so I just love reading about dogs in any way I can and seeing how other people relate to their own canines.

Inside of a Dog was a great mix to me. It was full of scientific research facts thrown in with a lot of the author's personal experiences and observations with her own dog and others in comparison.

I found some of the chapters utterly fascinating, especially the part that describes just how powerful a dog's nose really is. We have a beagle so the little bit thrown in there about what a beagle can detect with their nose meant that I have never looked at her the same since reading it.

I loved all of the comparisons made between dogs and other species of animals and I also loved the cute little personal reflections that were thrown in at the beginning and throughout most of the chapters by the author and her beloved dog 'Pump'.

You can tell that this book was written by a true dog lover, not just someone with a lot of canine knowledge who decided to write a book about it.

Yes, I sometimes smell my dog and find myself laying down next to her to get a feel for what she is thinking and after almost losing her last week all I can say is that anyone who doesn't understand the amazing bond we can have with these animals is missing out big time.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a dog lover and wants to know a little bit more about the inner workings of these wonderful animals.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book Blitz - Calculated by Renee Novelle

 Book Description

An investigative journalist gets an unlikely tip from a mysterious informant. Dismissing it as impossible, she disregards the information and drops the story. Until the informant turns up dead, as predicted.

Plunged into the murky waters of a seedy underground prostitution ring, this psychological thriller provides twist upon dark twist in a story that would ultimately pin the church and several government officials in the largest murder cover-up the city has ever witnessed.

But is it true, or has the journalist merely been used as a pawn in a greater scheme? And how many people is she willing to sacrifice trying to figure it out?


When she arrived at the little facility her building provided, a quick look around confirmed she was the only one there. Just as she’d hoped, and exactly how she liked it to be. Smiling in satisfaction, she flipped on the television that was perched on the wall, and turned up the music on her iPod as loud as she could handle it. The multiple distractions would help her get through the extra mile she was planning to conquer. With chilled water bottle in place, she cranked up the treadmill to a nice brisk pace.
As her breathing picked up speed and her muscles began to warm, Ana’s eye caught a red flash along the bottom of the screen. Breaking News filled the bar, and the too-chipper-for-their-own-good reporters were suddenly getting serious. Since the volume was still muted, Ana couldn’t understand exactly what was going on, only that they were showing the wide stretch of river that ran along the outskirts of the city. She wiped the first beads of sweat from her brow, and used the remote to turn the volume of the television higher while simultaneously adjusting her music.
As the reporters spoke, home-video footage of something floating in the water rolled before her eyes. The camera zoomed in, the frame ever so shaky, and it became clearly apparent that the “something” was a person - face down with long brown hair spread out like a Catholic halo. It appeared another victim had been pulled out of the water; the count was quickly tallying up. A young woman this time, and possibly one who had gone missing the night before.
Ana’s pulse skipped a few beats as they replayed the video over and over. There was something familiar about the long, lean body. Slowing the treadmill to a stop, she ripped the ear buds from her head to give the segment her entire attention. appears at first glance that the victim suffered from a deep cut to the throat, and received multiple stab wounds to the chest...
The beads of accumulated sweat turned cold on Ana’s brow. She immediately reached for her phone and dialed Kylie’s number.
“What the hell, Ana?” Came her friend’s groggy voice.
“Turn your TV on. Channel four. Hurry.” Ana said, eyes transfixed to the screen in front of her. “Recognize that face?”
...It’s thought the victim may be one of the young girls recently reported missing. The screen flashed candids of three possible women. All brunettes. All tall and thin. All roughly the same age. Among them was a photo of Mara, just as Ana had expected there would be.
But the body was too bloated and disfigured to be absolutely certain, and an autopsy would be needed.
... The body will be taken in for processing where officials hope to shed more light on the case in the near future. In the mean time, they’re cautioning residents to avoid....
“Did you see that?” Ana’s voice escaped in more of a demand than a question. “Please tell me I’m seeing things.”
“Oh my god...” Kylie whispered into the receiver, confirming the dread that was building in Ana’s stomach. “Do you really think it’s her?”
“I know for a fact it is.” Ana declared, the pull in her gut getting stronger by the minute. “The autopsy will confirm it.”
“So, what does this mean exactly now?”
“That maybe I should have been listening a little closer when I was talking to Mara.” She said with regret as she swiped her forehead with the back of her hand. “And maybe I should have asked more questions. There’s a story here, I’m sure of it now.”
“What are you going to do?” Kylie’s voice was decidedly more alert now.
Ana shook her head. “I have no idea.”
Though if she were to be truthful with herself in that moment, she’d already made up her mind. Ana flipped off the television, and left the little gym to get started.

About Renee Novelle

Formerly a freelance journalist, Novelle has found placement of her pieces in both online and print publications since 2008. Additionally, she has written multiple screenplays, and contributed her writing to many non-profit and for profit organizations. She has launched several blogs over the years, which garnered international attention.

In 2013, Novelle returned to her first love – fiction. Writing under the names Renee Novelle and R.S. Novelle, she has a publication schedule that includes Psychological Thrillers, Suspense, Paranormal Fiction, Contemporary Women’s fiction, Chick Lit, and New Adult.

Though she received her Bachelor’s of Science in Communication, summa cum laude, she considers herself a constant student of the written word. She’s an avid reader, an enthusiastic quote poster, and rarely takes “no” as a final answer. She has an unhealthy obsession for theater, dance, music and art, and strongly believes that wine is simultaneously the beginning of, and resolution to, all of life’s problems. She believes in following dreams, and that in the end, you always end up where you’re meant to be.

You can find out more about her books and connect with her here:

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