One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and A Journey into the Hearts of Shelters and Rescues by Cara Sue Achterberg

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

When Cara Sue Achterberg reached out to ask me to read and share One Hundred Dogs and Counting, I almost missed out on the opportunity. Due to the Covid19 pandemic, she could only offer an eBook, but I didn’t have an eReader. Over the next week I realized it wasn’t going to be quick for anything to arrive, so I decided to order an eReader. Once it arrived (because who knows if 2 days was going to be true (it wasn’t)), I reached out and confirmed with Cara. And I am SO GLAD I DID. 


I figured it would be a heart wrenching story about fostering dogs and that I would soon be crying. While it will tug at your heart strings, it is with information that you need to know. And while it will hurt the hearts of animal lovers a little bit, the information gained is worth the tiny bit of pain. In fact, I would recommend every animal lover IMMEDIATELY reads this. You will get insight into fostering dogs, but more than that you get to go on Cara’s journey visiting animal shelters in the south to see why there seems to be a never-ending flow of dogs going into and out of (and sometimes not) shelters. 


Additionally, Cara mentions how it would be possible to save all the dogs instead of just some if everyone were to have this knowledge and then pitch in however they can. Volunteer,donate to shelters (money, food, medicine), foster, spread the word on social media, and most of all just TALK about what is going on. Of course it’s a sad subject but it is so worth your time to help save innocent pups and even some kitties too. 


Go with Cara on this journey to see her difficulties and successes with fostering. See what the animal shelters look like that need the most help and no help. See what Cara sees when there are no shelters or no space or no resources and a lone citizen is willing to take on the job. Invest yourself how Cara invests herself: wholeheartedly. See what YOU can do to help and if fostering might be for you. 


My personal tips: 

1) Don’t adopt unless you plan on keeping that fur baby. Check with your apartments/cities to make sure it’s allowed to that you aren’t having to rehome.
2) Training is available and you should use it if you need to, especially if you’re considering rehoming due to behavior issues. Google it, call shelters, ask friends and family, get a trainer, utilize fund raising sites.
3) Keep your pet healthier and vet costs down by not letting your pet drink from other animals’ water bowls. Make sure open areas are safe for them (there is an algae in Colorado that comes yearly and can kill pets so I have to be careful where and when I hike).
4) Adopt don’t shop-there are so many good animals in need of homes in shelters. The fees usually cover the adoption and spay/neutering and aren’t profiting people that breed animals and then send them to a shelter once they can’t have anymore litters.

To purchase: http://www.carawrites.com/100-dogs–counting.html

*Thanks to the author for my copy to read and review!*

Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Holy thriller. This was Joyride meets The Invisible Man (2020 edition). I even got a little bit of Christina Dalcher vibes from the male characters which was unexpected but added to the angry and rushing atmosphere. From page one this is a thriller with the already running car waiting to make a break for it. The action doesn’t stop either and I could not put it down. I only wish a certain someone at the end would have received the nicely packaged karma they deserved, however this missing sliver did not take away from the story.

Cait and Rebecca are headed to Albuquerque through the Texas and New Mexico deserts. Cait is bringing her own secrets along for the ride about why she is doing what she is doing. She knows why Rebecca is in her car and letting Cait drive her to NM. Or…she knows part of it. But can you ever really know anyone? Especially someone who you’ve just met?

When a truck appears behind the two women on the highway and starts bumping them and playing chicken, Cait and Rebecca each think it’s someone after themselves. The two women attempt to get away but keep running into problems – besides the obvious truck one. Just when they think they are clear, something else pops up in true thriller style. Jessica Barry knows her way around writing a thriller. I was so close to the edge of the seat I almost fell off. It’s so good to find a new (to me) author that can get my heart racing and keep me wholly invested in the book.

If you like multiple points of view, triple time lines, and a surplus of motives then this is the book for you. All this combined with terror in the desert made for a really gripping and lightning fast read that I didn’t want to end. I was on a deadline to read this which might have helped up my thrill levels. You likely won’t be on a deadline, so my recommendation? Pretend.

Thanks so much to Harper Collins for my copy to read and review!

5 Binge-worthy Reads Unofficially Inspired by Real Killers

If you’re a true crime addict, and you’re looking for a new way to explore your favorite obsession, then check out one of these five books unofficially inspired by real-life serial killers.

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Fourteen years after her disappearance, high school popular girl Angela Wong’s remains are discovered. No one suspected that her best friend Georgina “Geo” Shaw had anything to do with it, but the remains were discovered near her own childhood home. Detectives have determined that Angela was a victim of serial killer Calvin James, but who is Calvin to Geo? Geo and Calvin are both sent to prison where Geo tries to make a name for herself, so she has money when she leaves to start over. But Calvin quickly escapes and evades recapture. Which means when Geo’s time is up, she won’t be safe anymore.

The Vibe: Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka

The read the rest of the list, click here!

Thanks to Tittle-Tattle for having me!

Administrations of Lunacy: Racism and the Haunting of American Psychiatry at the Milledgeville Asylum by Mab Segrest

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Welcome to my stop on the TLC Book Blog Tour for Administrations of Lunacy by Mab Segrest.

First things first, this book IS haunting. But unlike the title suggests, it is NOT a ghost story except in the sense of drawing out the history of the ghosts of our ancestors and how completely they wrecked psychiatry from the beginning for women and, especially, African Americans.

This is a rough and infuriating read about how the first white settlers in America used psychiatry to control women and people of color by extreme methods in the asylum as well as banning and refusing treatment to those deemed unable to have mental health issues outside of the asylum due to skin color.

Honestly, I was disgusted reading this and that is the entire point. We had so many chances to make a great mental health care system from the *literal* beginning, especially considering the fact that the first asylums were actually copied off the ones in Europe. The problem? The picking and choosing which parts to copied. If it was beneficial to white men (their own mental health, ridding them of wives and family members that were burdening them, power) then it was brought into the American asylum model. Was it beneficial to women and, again especially, to African Americans? Then it was disregarded.

It was a very hard read to get through seeing instance after instance after instance of people being thrown away or killed (because let’s be honest, MANY people died in these asylums) all for the benefit of white men rising to power. That being said, while a tough read, it is an EXTREMELY important read. Talk about history class omissions.

Here’s the thing about the book, the beginning is a lot of guessing about feelings (perhaps she thought, maybe he felt) which I didn’t care for. However, this quickly stops (and does serve a purpose) and as you continue through the book you see how even the smallest, most unlikely character (sometimes without even a name attached due to poor historical recording) ties into the stories of all and to the entire asylum scheme that still bleeds into psychiatry today. This reads like a textbook so don’t expect a fast-paced thriller, but do expect to take breaks because you will need them.

*Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Mab Segrest for providing my copy to read and review.*

About Administrations of Lunacy


• Hardcover:
 384 pages
• Publisher: The New Press (April 14, 2020)

A scathing and original look at the racist origins of psychiatry, through the story of the largest mental institution in the world

Today, 90 percent of psychiatric beds are located in jails and prisons across the United States, institutions that confine disproportionate numbers of African Americans. After more than a decade of research, the celebrated scholar and activist Mab Segrest locates the deep historical roots of this startling fact, turning her sights on a long-forgotten cauldron of racial ideology: the state mental asylum system in which psychiatry was born and whose influences extend into our troubled present.

In December 1841, the Georgia State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum was founded. A hundred years later, it had become the largest insane asylum in the world with over ten thousand patients. Administrations of Lunacy tells the story of this iconic and infamous southern institution, a history that was all but erased from popular memory and within the psychiatric profession.

Through riveting accounts of historical characters, Segrest reveals how modern psychiatric practice was forged in the traumas of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow. Deftly connecting this history to the modern era, Segrest then shows how a single asylum helped set the stage for the eugenics theories of the twentieth century and the persistent racial ideologies of our own times. She also traces the connections to today’s dissident psychiatric practices that offer sanity and create justice.

A landmark of scholarship, Administrationsof Lunacy restores a vital thread between past and present, revealing the tangled racial roots of psychiatry in America.

Purchase: Bookshop.org Amazon Barnes & Noble

Follow: GoodReads Instagram

Author, Mab Segrest

Mab Segrest is professor emeritus of gender and women’s studies at Connecticut College and the author of Administrations of Lunacy and Memoir of a Race Traitor (both from The New Press). A longtime activist in social justice movements and a past fellow at the National Humanities Center, she lives in Durham, North Carolina. Photo by Laura Flanders

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

I was so excited to receive a copy of The Happy Ever After Playlist from the publisher to read and review. At first, I was a little concerned that I would so willingly take on this challenge after getting my heart ripped out by the first installment, The Friend Zone. But then I remembered that while Abby takes you on a whiplashed tour of all the emotions that you experience in love (including love), she also heals your heart and puts you back together by the end.


In HEAP, Sloane Monroe ends up the pup-sitter for a dog whose owner, Jason, is currently across the world on tour. She cares for the dog and tentatively plans to meet up with Jason when he returns to
 maybe give his dog back. Then it turns out that Jason is actually Jaxon Waters, the musician whose music got her through her fiancé’s death. 


Sloane doesn’t plan on falling for Jason, but fortunately for us Abby oversees her fate. So instead of Sloan playing it safe, we get to play the HEAP on Spotify while we read the book and follow Sloane through her very interesting and entertaining life after loss. And of course, Kristen and Josh are back from the first book as well as cute little Stuntman Mike. This one pulled at my heart strings but thankfully Abby is an expert romance
 and comedy writer so that readers can laugh just as hard as they cry.


This was wonderfully written – I LOVE books that read how I imagine the author talks. That’s how I write and so it really appeals to me. I also love how she weaves together such different elements from drama, to baking, to dog care, to outdoor life, to music, to love, to loss. It makes for a really captivating read. I cannot wait for the third installment, assuming there is one. If there isn’t then I imagine we fans need to immediately start a petition to remedy that.

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

silent treatment 1

Welcome to my stop on the TLC Book Blog Tour for The Silent Treatment by debut author Abbie Greaves- I am so excited to share this with you all!

The Light We Lost meets The Notebook in storytelling. Then throw in some parental nightmares, spousal secrets and the will to not speak to the love of your life…when she’s in the same home.

Maggie and Frank meet fall in love and are married in a whirlwind romance full of secrets neither of them ever suspected the other had. When Maggie and Frank are finally blessed with a child well into their 40s, they both believe the other to be more ecstatic, to be the better parent, the better partner. We follow along as they both realize that if they had said the things they needed to say sooner, they might have avoided so much pain.

When their daughter Eleanor begins to finally act out after 15 years of being the perfect child, her parents believe it to be normal. Unfortunately, the acting out doesn’t seem to be a phase and years later they are left alone at home, out of contact with Eleanor and not speaking to each other. Maggie gives Frank 6 months to come around and to the day, when he doesn’t, Frank finds Maggie face down and unconscious at the kitchen table with an empty packet of pills.

The story of Her Silence and His Silence is more than the literal silence they’ve been enduring the last 6 months, and in a cruel twist Frank is suddenly racing against time to tell Maggie why he shut her out.

Abbie Greaves has an enthralling writing style that hooks you from the get-go and doesn’t let go until the very end. This was an obviously sad story but full of hope and a completely original read. While aspects of it did bring other books to mind (as mentioned at the beginning) it was not in similarities of story as much as small elements of the storytelling itself. As much as this book was an actual race against time for the characters, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted more Frank and Maggie at the end and kept hoping for a secret chapter at the end. Thank goodness for epilogues, am I right?

This was a spectacular debut and I will absolutely be on the lookout for future works from Abbie. Talk about a book hangover, and yet this was completely out of my usual genre. I recommend this to everyone as an important read about many things, but most of all about the enduring nature of love.

silent treatment 2

Purchase here: Harper Collins Amazon Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Website Instagram Twitter

TLC Book Tours: Instagram Facebook Twitter

Something She’s Not Telling Us by Darcey Bell

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

SSNTU Darcey Bell

The latest from the author of A Simple Favor: a thrilling page-turner about a woman named Charlotte who has everything until her brother’s new girlfriend shows up and threatens to destroy it all.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t for me. It was a little jumpy and all over the place between characters for me to follow. And the parts of the premise that drew me to this initially (dark secrets, an unreliable narrator, a missing child) didn’t quite give me the shock I was hoping for. However, there were quite a few very interesting threads to follow so let me tell you what I liked about this one!

Charlotte and Rocco are brother and sister who have a rocky (pun intended) relationship with their mother who lives in Mexico. Charlotte is extremely protective of Rocco which he in turn is very annoyed with. They are guilted into planning a trip to visit their mom and Rocco ends up bringing his new girlfriend, Ruth. Charlotte is not into this idea but even worse, neither is her mother. Their mother is supposed to be a wholly unlikeable character that everyone comes together in hating but I LOVED her. Her character reminded me of an aloof and badass grandmother who casually carries around a flask. She had no filter and no problem with telling people she didn’t care what they thought of her. She was awesome and reminded me of my own late grandmother. This is a very minor part of the story but turned out to be my favorite part.

As for major characters, I loved Ruth’s secret. Unfortunately, it was just kind of there and then done. THAT is where there could have used a lot of the detail that went into Charlotte’s perfect life and her “scandal”. In real life her secret would suck but here it was just hyped and hyped and hyped and then was so small comparatively. Ruth is the drama and the key player here. She shows up mysteriously and basically just declares herself Rocco’s new girl. This is a problem because Rocco dates train wrecks so even before Ruth is sniffing around in Charlotte’s secrets, she has a target on her back.

And then Ruth makes fast and easy friends with Daisy, Charlotte’s daughter. This infuriates Charlotte but everyone tries to calm her down telling her to not be so rude, Ruth just likes kids. Then Daisy goes missing from school and who checked her out for the day? You guessed it. A chase ensues and this is when Ruth’s secrets are revealed. Again, loved her secrets, but I would have loved even more focus on Ruth throughout the book. I’ll just say it, I’m #teamruth.

Even though this wasn’t for me, I will still be reading any future works from Darcey Bell as A Simple Favor was a great and entertaining read. She definitely has a way with messed up secrets (as you see in both of her books) and messed up is my favorite kind of read.

*Thanks to Harper Collins for the copy to read and review.*

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

fow pic

                WOW. I had no idea what to expect with this book. I had never listened to the podcast before reading The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home nor had I read the other books. This was an incredible read. It was weird and fascinating and so well written. I couldn’t tell where this was going for a little bit, but I did figure out the twist because there wasn’t a huge cover up for it. The authors kind of lead you there. However, they did it in such a way that even if you do guess the end game before getting to the end there’s no way to be disappointed because it was 100s of years in the making.

This was Poltergeist meets Pirates of the Caribbean and it was everything I never knew I wanted in a book. The Faceless Old Woman, who is never named, and I will here on out refer to as FOW, grew up on an estate with just her father and his business partner Edmond. When her father is killed by a pirate organization called The Order of the Labyrinth, FOW dedicates her life to revenge and tracking down those responsible. With the help of Edmond, she is trained to be a pirate and incorporated into The Duke’s Own, another organization her father rivaled with before his death.

In alternating time lines between the pirate life of FOW and present day inside a man named Craig’s home, we see the events leading up to how FOW ended up living in multiple homes at once haunting the people of Night Vale, and what exactly she’s doing to Craig. Among other things, putting centipedes in his ears, setting up a meet cute for Craig and his future wife, putting dead animal limbs in his pockets, and setting all his shoes on fire. This read was at times haunting (perfect pun), adventurous, and humorous.

If I go any further into this or I will ruin it for you. Everyone should just go into this basically blind to the premise. It was a magical and wonderful and kind of horrific story that I didn’t want to end. Go read this. It was a delightful spider-filled treat.

*Thanks to the publisher for my copy to read and share.*

The Meat Hunter by Megan Allen

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

The release has been delayed due to corona virus. It should have been out today (03/20/2020) and I am crying (you know, figuratively) because you all have to wait to read it. So, in the meantime, read on so I can tell you more about how much I loved it.

First of all, Megan Allen is a badass and in The Meat Hunter she writes the badass character of Molly Bishop. Her writing style drew me in immediately and I connected right away with the characters. This was such an easy read for it being about such a tough topic. Everything just flowed so well, I could not put it down.

Molly Bishop of The Meat Hunter grew up on a pig farm where she quickly learned that not all animals are pets, and not all farmers are ethical. Molly can’t stop her father from killing her pig friends – who, by the way, are extremely smart and know what is happening to them – so she does the next best thing: she gets an education. Molly is smart and driven and uses her education and background of farm living to get a job with an animal pharmaceutical company where she forces the owner, Carl Monroe, to become her best friend.

Soon, slaughterhouse owners start showing up dead. Molly has access, so could it be her? But Molly is also “just another pretty faced woman”, so how could it be her? This is a fast paced, educational, empathy-teaching, learn-to-be-mindful read and I loved every second of it. I was rooting for Molly, Carl and Detective Lair. Even though none of them were on the same page, they made a great unlikely and, at times, unwilling team.

I’ve seen some reviewers angry that this is pushing veganism on them? I don’t see it that way. I see it as a reminder to be picky about where your meat comes from and to not support companies that don’t treat the animals humanely. She wrote another book with similar criticisms: The Slave Players (pending mail delivery to read) that sent her into hiding as the KKK was so angry at the premise of white people being slaves and Megan Allen “forcing her literature on our youth” that they threatened her life. It’s fiction and yet I still feel the need to remind people to take it with a grain of salt. All fiction is a what-if scenario and Megan is really just out here pushing the bar as high as it can go.

I loved The Meat Hunter. I hope you all buy it and love it too. I hope Megan keeps writing and keeps taking on big what-ifs and keeps makes big waves. I cannot wait to see what she does next.

Huge thanks to Burn House Publishing for my copy to read and review-one of my favorite books of the year now!

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

The long (LONG) awaited sequel to the amazing P.S. I Love You from Cecelia Ahern is here! Yes, you heard that right: the sequel to the book that brought us the movie that brought us Holly and Gerry’s story that brought us Gerard Butler. 20 pages in and I was crying and scolding myself, “THIS is why you don’t read romance.” But it was worth it.

I loved the beginning and the end, the middle was a little slow for me. I was also was a little annoyed with Holly and Gabriel’s attitudes toward each other’s current hobbies. Gabriel upset about Holly getting involved in a club to help people cope with death. Holly upset that Gabriel asked his daughter to move in over her even though she wasn’t sure she wanted to move in anyway. Those two, man. Breaking my heart left and right.

On top of this, Holly and her attitude. She helps her sister out with a podcast episode on dealing with loss of a loved one. Then suddenly there is interest in starting The P.S. I Love You Club for terminally ill patients to leave something of themselves behind for their loved ones. I loved this idea! I thought it was so sweet. Holly did not. She warmed to it and decided to dip her toe into involvement with the club but she had a such a bad attitude at multiple points that that in itself was a little heartbreaking.

I sound like I’m bashing Holly, but I’m not at all. Of course I realize that Holly had a good reason to be wary and upset – she thought she was past Gerry’s death but this club brought it all back to the surface. And then as we get deeper into the book and Holly gets more involved with The P.S. I Love You Club we see what she’s working through and the different feelings coming up due to confronting Gerry’s death again. We also see Holly bring into question Gerry’s motives for leaving her the letters in P.S. I Love You. At first it’s sad. Did he do it more for himself than Holly? Or both of them? Was it completely selfless? And how can Holly use this to ensure her club leaves the best things for their loved ones?

Holly grows a lot in this novel about love, growing up and moving forward, helping others, and loving yourself enough to know when to say no. As I said before, the middle was a little slow for me – due to the flip flopping in emotions for Holly. But ultimately, the book comes full circle from Gerry’s death and Holly moving forward and was a really heartwarming read. Yes, it cracked my heart at certain points, but it was a really good read about love and, sometimes more importantly, self-love.

Fans of P.S. I Love You will love this much anticipated sequel, finding more than a story about the loss of a loved one.