Monday, December 26, 2016

Two Perfect Books of 2016

I read a fair amount of books this year, and posted a few reviews as well, but in looking over my list, a couple of titles stand out as being particularly wonderful. If you haven't had a chance to read these, I recommend you put aside some time and do so! Life is short. Read a good book.

THE PERFECT HORSE, by Elizabeth Letts, author of the equally wonderful EIGHTY-DOLLAR CHAMPION, is the riveting true story of the rescue of Lipizzaner and Arabian horses abducted by the Nazis to become the perfect war horses of the Third Reich. Previous depictions of this story star George Patton as the rescuer, but in actuality, the true heroes were made up of US, Czech, Polish, German, and Austrian men and their families.

PAX, by Sara Pennypacker, is a novel for youngsters that will enthrall all ages. The title refers to the fox’s name, but it’s clear early on that this is a book about war, not peace. Caught in the middle of an apparently never-ending conflict are two souls, the fox and his boy Peter, and an unlikely heroine who sheds light on an otherwise black world. Don’t miss this, or dismiss this book just because it’s designed for younger readers. It will stay with you a long, long time.

Check out the complete list of books reviewed at And of course, visit our store at for more!

 Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Murder and Puppies: review of THE TWELVE DOGS OF CHRISTMAS, an Andy Carpenter Mystery

An Andy Carpenter Mystery

David Rosenfelt
Hardcover, $24.99 (our price $20)

David Rosenfelt is beloved of animal enthusiasts for his work in rescue, as recounted in his wonderfully funny memoir, DOGTRIPPING, and the sequel, LESSONS FROM TARA. He is also a skilled writer of mysteries, in which dogs are not exactly front and center, but still an important element. (For front and center dogs, you can’t beat Spencer Quinn’s Chet & Bernie series.)

Rosenfelt’s alter-ego, Andy Carpenter, is a lawyer who has inherited the means to avoid lawyering as much as he likes, but in this new mystery, he feels compelled to take on the defense of a local eccentric who rescues puppies. Her nickname is Pups, and she is cantankerous to the max, but Andy knows a good heart when he sees one, and he understands Pups’ cynical and wary view of humanity. After all, she rescues adorable puppies who would otherwise be euthanized because of lazy, heartless, or just plain stupid people.

But Pups is in serious trouble. After Andy defends her against a neighbor’s sudden complaint and the town’s cease and desist notice, said neighbor is found dead by Pups. And worse, the weapon is found in Pups’ basement. And even more troubling, Pups herself had publicly threatened the neighbor, promising to do some physiologically impossible harm to his body.

First on Andy’s to-do list is to make sure the twelve puppies in her care find homes fast, and that Pups’ own dog is cared for as well. Being Christmastime, he is confident all puppies will be in demand.

And then Andy  dives into Pups’ defense. The case becomes rapidly more complicated when she is further implicated in other murders. Andy scrambles to find out who is behind the killings and why they are framing Pups. The investigation takes him across country from New Jersey to South Dakota, as he pieces together the puzzle. But he is also being followed, and is in more danger than he imagined.

The humor and dog-friendly characters who fill the pages of this latest mystery make it a perfect gift for a dog lover. But it’s appealing to any mystery reader who would like an escape from the daily newsfeed of despair.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Monday, October 31, 2016

Soulmates: review of THE SECRET LIFE OF SOULS

A novel
Jack Ketchum & Lucky Mckee
$24.95, hardcover (our price $19.96)

Caity is a Queensland Heeler who is devoted to her girl, Delia, a budding young actress. The dog offers Delia peace and comfort amidst a whirlwind career. Delia is a hard worker, with a daily calendar full of cast calls, scripts, and meetings, all the result of her mother Pat, who serves as her manager, fiercely pushing her to pursue every opportunity that might further elevate the family’s lifestyle. Delia goes along with her mom, believing—or trying to believe—that her parents’ attention is the result of love, and not just blind ambition. Her dog Caity and eventually her twin brother Robbie know the heartbreaking truth, although perhaps only Caity recognizes the danger her girl is in.

Delia and Robbie’s father Bart, like the rest of the family, has been enjoying the benefits of his successful daughter, buying ever larger TVs, and fancier sports cars. He does still have a glimmer of remorse, which he steadfastly drowns in whisky every chance he gets. Their mother likewise washes down her sleeping pills with scotch every night, leaving her comatose and unapproachable. One night, their inebriation nearly costs Delia her life. Caity is her rescuer, but the dog can’t protect her from her delusion of a loving family.

Caity and Delia have a deeper connection that seems to meld them permanently together as sort of soul-twins. Robbie sees this in Caity’s eyes, but by then the family has unraveled. All he can do is stay out of the way and let the dog fight the ultimate battle.
This violent psychological drama about a disintegrating family driven by greed is a mixture of Stephen King and Macbeth, part spirit world and part cold hard reality. It is a fast and furious read that will have you panting by the end.

Rated: ⭐⭐