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review 2017-05-14 23:52
Chester and Gus - Cammie McGovern 
Chester and Gus - Cammie McGovern

I am so emotional these days that just reading the blurb made me tear up. What a good dog! I liked that it was written from the dog's perspective, and that Gus was so uncommunicative.

Library copy 

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review 2017-05-10 19:35
Rescuing Finley by Dan Walsh (audio)
Rescuing Finley (A Forever Home Novel Book 1) - Dan Walsh

Rescuing Finley is a beautiful story about healing, second chances and the unconditional love of dogs. The best part for me was that Finley the dog was given his own point of view and he had a lot of thoughts that made me teary. I wish more writers would do that. I’d rather see the world from the dogs POV than through the eyes of some obnoxious human character.

Finley is a sweet but rowdy young golden retriever mix whose owner joins the military and leaves Finley with his mom who is not a dog person. Sad things happen and Finley ends up in a shelter, confused and depressed. His anguish is soooo hard to read but the author doesn’t linger there for long. Finley is chosen to join a prison program where female inmates train homeless dogs to become companions for soldiers with PTSD. He is paired with Amy, a young lady who messed up her life with a meth habit and poor choices. They both thrive in this program but will Amy be able to part with Finley when it’s graduation day?

The book is written pretty simply and cleanly (I later discovered Dan Walsh is a Christian author). There’s no fancy prose, humorous dialogue or action sequences that’ll make you hold onto your undies or whatnot but it worked for me. Sometimes simple is just right. When I say simple I don’t mean boring. If it were boring I’d tell you. But if you are not interested in dogs, dog training or the healing powers of love and dogs, this one might not be for you. There’s a lot of dog time here, probably why I loved it so much, as well as time spent going over training protocols, the prison dog training program and humane society intake rules, etc. Here and there I found the author repeating himself. This might’ve been more apparent to me because I was listening on audio and listening with my full attention for once!

Somehow this book manages to tackle difficult situations but it never gets too dark. There is a deep dive into the life of a soldier once he’s returned home from war and seen atrocities that follow and haunt but instead of dwelling in that dark space, this story is about how one man pulls himself out of it and decides to live his life again. The end wraps everything up in a nifty little bow which might’ve just gone a wee bit over the edge for me but you may or may not think so depending on your outlook on life.



Anyway, it’s a lovely read and the narration by Hillary Huber is excellent and very professionally done. She hits all the right notes with her performance and I have no complaints there.

*I received this book from Tantor Media. I hope they don’t regret it!

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review 2017-05-02 18:45
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger -The Little Sisters of Eluria
Dark Tower: The Gunslinger - The Little Sisters of Eluria #5 (of 5) - Robin Furth,Peter David,Stephen King,Luke Ross,Richard Isanove

 

This was a disappointing foray into a side story of the Dark Tower.

 

What I liked about it was its connection to King/Straub's novel, The Talisman. (Which is one of my favorite books.) If you've read it, you know that young Jack is trying to save his mom, (who is a Queen in another world), and she is very sick. When we first meet her, she is in a huge tent, fighting for her life. That huge tent is the main setting for this story. (A nice explanation of this comes in the foreword.)

 

This tale comes before the last entry in the graphic novel series, so we've gone backwards a bit in the timeline. I was okay with that but I'm not really okay with the change in how Roland looks and the artwork. While I loved the pencil drawings in the back, Roland looks like an entirely different person than in all the previous comics. I am having a hard time dealing with that. I think that the graphics in the previous novels are superior than the ones in this volume.

 

Overall, I liked the story and the setting, just not as much as the previous entries in this series.

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review 2017-04-30 20:29
Against the Paw by Diane Kelly
Against the Paw - Diane Kelly

This was an impulse buy. I saw it at the grocery store and was immediately drawn in by the dog on the cover. Even though I knew it wasn’t the first book in the series, it sounded like something a newbie should be able to jump into fairly easily.

Against the Paw is set in Fort Worth, Texas and stars police officer Megan Luz. Megan used to be partnered with Derek Mackey until he made one crude and sexist comment too many and she tased him. Megan was assigned a K-9 partner named Brigit, and Derek’s job was saved by his friendship with the chief of police. In this entry in the series, Megan and Brigit are investigating reports of a peeping tom at Berkeley Place. There’s a possibility these incidents may be connected to Ralph Hurley, a parolee who recently cut off his ankle monitor.

My latest Booklikes-opoly game roll asked that I read something tagged as a “cozy mystery” on Goodreads or elsewhere. Soon after I started reading, I double-checked that this was indeed marketed as a cozy mystery (Amazon lists it as such), because it had a few features that made me skeptical.

The big one was that one of the book’s three POVs was the peeping tom. I couldn’t recall if I’d ever read a cozy mystery that included the villain’s POV, and I found it to be an unpleasant surprise here (there are things I’m okay with in other mysteries or thrillers that I don’t particularly expect or want in cozy mysteries). Thankfully, for the most part it wasn’t quite as bad as I feared. The peeping tom’s efforts often went awry in some way. Unfortunately, there were a few more distasteful scenes later in the book - for example, one in which the peeping tom spied on a hijabi and got off on seeing her brush her hair, and one in which the peeping tom spied on a woman having sex.

The book’s other two POVs were Megan (first person POV) and Brigit (third person POV). The Brigit POV parts tended to be on the cutesy side but were usually too brief to be annoying, only a page or two long. They were kind of pointless, though. There were only a couple times when Brigit’s POV contributed a little extra information, and it was never anything that wasn’t covered by another POV later in the book. I suppose Brigit’s POV added a bit of extra humor to the book, but I only really laughed at one part.

Megan’s POV wasn’t bad, but she had some blind spots that bugged me. Some examples:

“Anyone who’d served his or her country couldn’t be all bad, right?” (95)

“[Derek Mackey] and Garrett Hawke were cut from the same cloth. Arrogant. Unreasonable. Uncompromising. Still, they worked to protect others. I had to give them that, even if I thought their reasons were less about concern for others and more about basking in hero worship.” (136)

Megan seemed to be prone to the belief that cops and soldiers were unlikely (or less likely?) to be bad people, even if she had evidence to the contrary. Sure, Derek Mackey was a disgusting sexist pig who apparently couldn’t go more than a few minutes without saying something horrible, but hey, he was also a brave cop. Personally, I couldn’t help but shudder at the thought of how Derek probably handled rape victims (female or male) or, hell, female victims in general.

I did really like the partnership between Megan and Brigit, and the parts that dealt with Megan’s efforts to understand what Brigit was telling her were really interesting. There were a couple times when Brigit correctly identified the peeping tom and Megan misinterpreted her actions, but Megan did eventually catch on.

The characters were okay. In addition to Megan and Brigit, there was Seth, Megan’s boyfriend (still working through some personal issues involving his mother), and Frankie, Megan’s friend and roommate. I could tell I’d missed out on some relationship info by starting this series with the fifth book, but the author provided enough background that I didn’t feel lost.

I don’t feel particularly inclined to hunt down the rest of the series, but this was an okay read overall.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-04-29 04:55
A New Literary Classic
The Story of Diva and Flea - Mo Willems,Tony DiTerlizzi

Two unlikely friends embark on a life altering journey in The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi.  Diva is a small dog who lives in an apartment complex at 11 avenue Le Play in Paris, France.  She takes her job of guarding the courtyard very seriously.

Flea is a streetwise cat who loves exploring the city of lights.  One day, his travels take him past 11 avenue Le Play...and Diva.  He finds the petite pooch to be quite interesting.  Flea cannot understand why Diva runs away every time that someone enters the courtyard.  A miscommunication soon turns into a budding friendship.

Diva loves listening to Flea's stories about the wondrous sights of Paris.  She admires his bravery and courage and decides to become an explorer too.  Does this curious canine have what it takes to make it on the streets of Paris?  Can Flea conquer his fear of brooms and the humans that come with them?  Most importantly, will Diva and Flea's friendship survive despite their vastly different backgrounds?

I absolutely love this book!  The story reminds me of a mixture of Disney's Oliver and Company with a dash of Madeline.  While I have not been to Paris, I can definitely relate to the bond that Diva and Flea share.  My husband and I rescued a two week old kitten from the middle of main street in our town and our three-legged dog, Penny, immediately bonded with the kitten and began raising her.  

This story has so many fantastic themes woven intricately within the chapters.  I also love how the story is told from both Diva and Flea's perspective.  It is truly magical to see how their individual lives come together to create a relationship that each hadn't thought possible.

Tony DiTerlizzi's illustrations are enchanting.  Readers of all ages will fall in love with the adorable Diva and Flea.  I am also blown away by the detail that DiTerlizzi puts into each image.  His buildings are simply incredible!  I almost felt as if I was in Paris, smelling the scent of coffee and freshly baked bread.

I would highly recommend this book to readers ages 8 to 108!  This classic story of friendship, courage and discovery will surely be treasured for years to come.  I think it would also make for a fantastic movie or television series.

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