Friday, October 28, 2016

Book Review: The Secret Language of Dogs by Victoria Stilwell

The Secret Language of Dogs is a fun read. Fans of Animal Planet will recognize the author, Victoria Stilwell, as host of the show It’s Me or the Dog. Although she gives tips about dog training, this book is more about dog understanding, essential for a current owner or someone considering adding a dog to the family. From body language to barking, Stilwell attempts to translate dog actions so we dull humans can understand what our pets are really trying to say.

Stilwell is a strong proponent of compassionate training techniques and how they can be used in managing your pet. Dominance, for instance, is important for maintaining order in a pack, but dominance is not the same as aggression. According to Stilwell it evolved as a way to avoid vicious conflict over resources. Dominant dogs can use behavior such as simple looks or paw touches that don’t necessarily involve violence. A person who uses physical force to control an animal is more bully than pack leader.

The book is divided into two sections. Part I: The Secret Inner Experiences of Dogs covers such topics as affection and how dogs learn. She adds a bit of sciency stuff such as the effect of oxytocin on dogs’ brains, but not enough to turn off casual readers. Although this isn’t a training manual, Stilwell also includes brief Top Tips and Training Tips which are more like games you can play with your dog to promote bonding and good behavior. None of them are complicated. All require more patience than anything and would be good activities to help a child learn responsibility for a new pet.

Part II: The Secret Meanings of Body and Vocal Language has topics such as paw preference. (Yes, there are right- and left-pawed dogs.) It also clarifies the meaning between a dog’s different physical movements such as tail wagging and head tilting. I found the section on aging particularly interesting as Stilwell details the physical and mental decline common in older dogs, and how an owner can help boost cognitive health.

The book is light in the section on aggressive dogs. There is no discussion, pro or con, on the use of muzzles or different types of leashes. As I noted, this isn’t a training manual and the sense from the author is that if a dog shows signs of aggression, the owner needs to call a trainer immediately.

The Secret Language of Dogs is fun and uncomplicated with lots of cute pictures that will appeal to both older children and adults. By the end, the reader learns that dogs' thoughts are actually more complicated than Eat now?, Walk now?, and I see a squirrel!

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Chinese Halloween

Blogging today at Paranormal Romantics on Chinese Halloween.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book Review: Photographs from the Edge by Art Wolfe

It’s a pleasant surprise to find a book that’s not only lovely to look at, but can teach you a little something, too. Art Wolfe is a master photographer. Trained as an artist, but with a passion for the camera, he’s been clicking away for over thirty years. Photography from the Edge is a collection of his favorite photographs covering the past three decades. An interesting aspect of Wolfe’s creative process is his breadth of subject matter. His preferences can best be described as in the raw. He’s an outdoor photographer who likes animals in their natural element and cultures without all the trappings of modern western society.

The pictures, whether of nature or humans, are all vibrant and capture light and shadow in different ways. Wolfe has a particular interest in light and isn’t a slave to normal photographic standards that say the most interesting images come from either early morning or late afternoon sun. For Wolfe, all type of light can be used to produce compelling photographic studies.

Along with the visual aspect, Photographs from the Edge is also an enjoyable read for both amateur photographer and those of us who simply like looking at pretty pictures. The book is divided into decades. Paired with each image is a short essay by Wolfe describing the circumstances surrounding the day the image was taken. I particularly liked two short sections at the bottom of each photo; Nature of the Photo and Photo Tip. The former gives a little background on the subject matter while the latter give a quick explanation on how to duplicate the photo’s creative aspect. It’s an artistic explanation, rather than technical, but Wolfe also include details before each essay on film, camera, lens, and shutter speed. Non-photographers can easily gloss over them.

Because of the well-written explanations and the compelling beauty of the photographs, this book would be a good addition to the library of either an artist, amateur photographer, or any person who can appreciate the skill required to turn a snapshot into a work of art.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

Monday, October 10, 2016

99 Cent Sale for Walking Through Fire by C. J. Bahr

Walking Through Fire
99 Cent Sale
October 7 - 21

Simon MacKay, the last Earl of Cleitmuir, was murdered two hundred years ago because of his family’s dangerous legacy.  Alone and cursed he haunts his home in order to protect the lost treasure.  A pastime leaved him angry and embittered until he meets a feisty American tourist.  Not only is Laurel sexy and beautiful, she can also see him in his ghostly form.

Antiquities expert, Laurel Saville, leaves Chicago to visit her best friend in the romantic Scottish Highlands.  She is saved from a tragic fall by the ghostly Simon.  Once she realizes she is not crazy, she pledges to help him find his family’s missing artifact.  A pledge hindered by treasure hunter Alex MacKenzie, a descendant of the clan that murdered Simon.

Laurel risks everything, including her life, to help Simon resolve the issues keeping him earth bound.  But will she lose him forever or is there a way Laurel can keep him with her on this earthly plane?

“Well, lass. That was about the stupidest thing I’ve ever witnessed.”

Laurel jerked upwards at the low angry brogue. Stupid? She’d fallen off a horse, for crying out loud. It happens.

She peered into the dense fog trying to get a glimpse of the disembodied Scot. The thick mist swirled, thinned, and parted to reveal a pair of well- worn, brown riding boots with red cuffs at the top. Her eyes climbed higher, following the boots to a pair of large muscular thighs encased in dark-colored breeches. Her eyes continued upward, past the flat stomach, which led to a broad chest and shoulders covered in a mostly unbuttoned white shirt.

She craned her neck and finally saw his face. Roughly chiseled, he had a square jaw with high cheekbones, a slightly off-centered nose, and full lips pursed into a frown. She forced herself to meet his eyes, and her jaw dropped. The light gray eyes were almost opalescent against his dark lashes and black shoulder- length hair—eyes that pierced right thorough her.

“Every bloody year the tourists just get dumber,” he declared.

She clamped her mouth shut on a sharp retort and shook her head. “Gee, thanks for your concern. It’s not like I planned to fall off.” She started to push off the ground, but her right arm collapsed under her. Before she could fall back, the man reached her side and grabbed her good arm, pulling her to her feet.

Buy Links

Author Bio
First published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Sword & Sorceress” anthology, CJ was bitten by the writer’s bug and hasn’t stopped since.  Her award winning first novel, “Walking Through Fire”, a Scottish ghost romance, is published by The Wild Rose Press. 

She is currently working on a spin-off to Fire as well as a new Urban Fantasy starring a kick-ass Time Enforcer.
When her pen isn’t scribing, you can find her busily cutting and tracking music for film and television.  With over twenty years of music editing experience, her credits range from “Northern Exposure” and “The Muppets Christmas Carol”, to “ The Kill Point”, “The Following”, and ABC’s hit comedy, “The Middle”.

In her downtime, you’ll find her hanging out at the barn with her horse, Junior, whom she competes in the sport of Eventing, or curled up with a cup of tea, her cats and a great book in Burbank, California.

Twitter:  @cjbahr (