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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Category: Animals (page 1 of 2)

Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima

Featuring Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo, Burning Ridge by critically acclaimed author Margaret Mizushima is just the treat for fans of Alex Kava.

On a rugged Colorado mountain ridge, Mattie Cobb and her police dog partner Robo make a grisly discovery—and become the targets of a ruthless killer.
Colorado’s Redstone Ridge is a place of extraordinary beauty, but this rugged mountain wilderness harbors a horrifying secret. When a charred body is discovered in a shallow grave on the ridge, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are called in to spearhead the investigation. But this is no ordinary crime—and it soon becomes clear that Mattie has a close personal connection to the dead man.
Joined by local veterinarian Cole Walker, the pair scours the mountaintop for evidence and makes another gruesome discovery: the skeletonized remains of two adults and a child. And then, the unthinkable happens. Could Mattie become the next victim in the murderer’s deadly game?
A deranged killer torments Mattie with a litany of dark secrets that call into question her very identity. As a towering blaze races across the ridge, Cole and Robo search desperately for her—but time is running out in Margaret Mizushima’s fourth spine-tingling Timber Creek K-9 mystery, Burning Ridge.

 

Thanks to Netgalley for this advance reviewer’s copy! This is Margaret Mizushima’s fourth book in this series, and I’m happy to say that it’s holding my interest just as much as the first one did.

Mattie and loyal K9 partner Robo are handling a crime that hits too close to home. Mattie is slowly coming out of her emotional shell, but still has a long way to go when it comes to opening her heart to veterinarian Cole Walker. As she is preparing to reconnect with her brother, whom she has not seen in many years, she becomes involved with a body that is found deep inside the forest. Is she really surrounded by people that she can’t trust – or does she need to let her guard down and see what happens?

Mizushima’s characters are true to life and nuanced. Mattie is definitely more emotionally grounded, but still views her German Shepherd, Robo, as her closest ally. Robo is superb as the K9 officer, who can alternatively tug at your heartstrings when he plays with Mattie or make you cheer as he takes down the bad guy. We should all have a dog as loyal and supportive as he is.

Twists and turns kept me reading for hours – I didn’t want to put it down! This police procedural is just the right mix of action, dialogue, canine antics, and suspense. Most of the suspense comes in the last 20% of the book, but it’s worth waiting for. Robo’s skills are put to the test as he handles his most daunting task so far, and I held my breath to see what would be happening next. Mizushima’s writing is easy on the brain, despite some plot nuances and characters that appear in the beginning, only to disappear, then pop up again. The love the author has for the Colorado mountains and forests is evident in her thorough description of Mattie’s surroundings. I felt as if I were right alongside the characters, fully immersed.

The only concern I have is early on, when veterinarian Cole shows up at his clinic early in the morning. Some patients stayed overnight, and they are described as just waking up from anesthesia. It’s not proper medical practice to leave a patient unattended immediately after anesthesia, much less overnight without care. Yes, the procedure was a “routine” spay – but there is no mention of any veterinary nurses other than Cole’s coworker. This was jarring to me and it took me a while to get past that. Every other instance of veterinary work was perfect, and an excellent layer to the book. Note to the author: add more veterinary scenes to your book! It’s always a good thing to have the public see how hard vets and nurses work to care for pets and livestock.

If you have not read any Timber Creek mysteries yet – pick this up! To better gain an understanding of Mattie and what makes her tick, start with the first book. This one could stand alone, but the backstory will help some of the details make more sense.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

Hunting Hour by Margaret Mizushima

Deputy Mattie Cobb is working through issues from her past and has withdrawn from Cole Walker and his family to focus on herself, when she and her K-9 partner Robo get called to track a missing junior high student. Until they find the girl on Smoker’s Hill behind the high school, dead. But that’s only the start of trouble in Timber Creek, because soon another girl goes missing–and this time it’s Sophie Walker. Hard as they search, Cole, Mattie, and Robo can’t find her anywhere. Mattie’s primary suspect, a strange man who lives near the wilderness area, calls to report he hears deer “screaming” in the woods. Suspecting the man might have lost touch with reality and is referring to something he’s done to Sophie, Mattie takes Robo into the dense pine forest, hoping to pick up a trace of her scent. But when Robo does catch Sophie’s trail, it leads them to another clue that challenges everything they thought they knew about the case. Now Mattie and Robo must rush to hunt down Sophie’s kidnapper before they’re too late in Hunting Hour, the third installment in critically acclaimed author Margaret Mizushima’s exhilarating mystery series.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for a review!

Hunting Hour has the best of both worlds for me; a murder mystery plus a lot of canine activity. Not sure how I managed to miss this series, but I’m glad NetGalley decided to recommend it to me.

This book is number three in a series, which means that there are things alluded to from the first two books in order to flesh out the backstory. These flashbacks piqued my interest and I am going back to read the other books in the series, if only to see how Mattie was doing mentally before the history with her father came to light.

The author is brilliant, painting Mattie’s K9 partner as the only trustworthy companion she has. Despite her emotional issues, Mattie is a great cop. Some of her demons move to the forefront during this investigation, and she struggles to stay neutral and weigh all the evidence equally. Letting your personal history color your opinions is something that many people experience, and I found it refreshing that the story took this turn. Mattie truly wants to do the best she can for the victims, yet she can be blinded by personal issues. The other members of the police department understand what she is going through and are appropriately sympathetic.

There isn’t a lot of rollicking “cop talk” as you would find in a John Sandford book, but the action and suspense held my interest. The author threw in the required red herrings, but to my surprise, I managed to guess who the perpetrator was fairly early in the book. I had a strong suspicion, and was satisfied when it turned out to be who I suspected.

I absolutely loved that one of the main characters was a veterinarian! The animal medicine was true to life, not too gory, and added another dimension to the plot that was refreshing. The romance was part of the backstory, but kept at an acceptable level. (I’m not a fan of mixing mysteries and relationships.)

The inclusion of the animals makes this series stand out. Dogs are the best companions ever, and the human – animal bond shines through on nearly every page. Mizushima’s description of Robo’s facial expressions are perfect! I didn’t know what to expect, as some animal mysteries are written awkwardly; but there was nothing awkward about this one. I felt fully invested in the characters, the dialogue was smooth, and there were no gaping holes in the plot to make me cringe.

Hunting Hour was a great way to spend a few hours, and I look forward to the next adventure of Mattie and Robo.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1683312775″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

MoonDust: Falling From Grace by Ton Inktail

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Imogene never planned to become a lunar commando. Not before her ex broke her heart and left her jobless. Now she’d better learn fast.

Descended from animal-human hybrids built for war, combat should be in the young caribou’s genes. While Imogene is determined to master the moon’s harsh battlefield, war clouds are brewing on the planet below, and once the storm breaks no training can ever be enough.

A soldier’s first duty is to her country, but when black and white fade to dusty gray, the lines between friend and foe blur. As everything Imogene ever believed in crumbles, she must decide if some orders should never be obeyed.

 

Thanks to the author for gifting me this book in exchange for a review!

Part of the fun of being a reviewer is that I get exposure to books I never would have thought existed. MOONDUST is one of those books. The genre is called “Fuzzy Science Fiction” and deals with sentient, English speaking animals as main characters.

The main character is a transgenic caribou named Imogene, who finishes one stint in the military and re-enlists because she feels out of place at home. Imogene is extremely well developed and easy to become invested in. If it were not for the author’s noting of an ear flick, or a tapping hoof, I would have considered these characters fully human. I do wonder, however, if that is all you need to do for fuzzy fiction: switch one appendage for another and make mention of the species when the character first appears. In any case, I did enjoy reading about caribou and pandas, leopards and Labradors all playing together nicely. Well, almost. There is some rivalry between Imogene and another female due to the fact they are both crushing on the same guy, and there are some ethnic slurs pointed at the panda because his race is part of the creatures waging the war that is being fought.

The plot is extreme scifi/military fiction, which made things drag a bit for me. There is a lot of action and we see the characters being put in scary situations on the Moon, where they are fighting their battles. Animals get hurt, they die, the wonder at the futility of war just like humans do.

For anyone who loves military action, they will get a lot of enjoyment from MOONDUST. The science fiction is well written – I especially liked the scenes on the rocket as they were getting sent up to the Moon. Imogene’s thoughts and fears are those of Everyman and I could easily identify with them. As she was strapped in, preparing for takeoff, making nervous chatter with the soldier next to her – it all made sense to me, regardless of the fact that she was a fuzzy warrior.

The writing is smooth, with no awkwardness or loose ends. There are many plot twists and at times I wished the pace would have been quicker; but then again the author captures military life accurately with the alternating boredom and panic.

This was a fun departure for me, with the best part reading how these animals express themselves, with a wrinkle of a muzzle or a flick of a whisker. Excellent details that brought my senses back to the anthropomorphic characters!

Do the bad guys win? How many of Imogene’s crew perishes in battle? Is this a series? As usual, no spoilers here. Read it yourself – you can pick up your copy [easyazon_link identifier=”B018UTIBBM” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Being A Dog by Alexandra Horowitz

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Alexandra Horowitz, the author of the lively, highly informativeNew York Times bestselling blockbuster Inside of a Dog, explains how dogs perceive the world through their most spectacular organ—the nose—and how we humans can put our under-used sense of smell to work in surprising ways.
To a dog, there is no such thing as “fresh air.” Every breath of air is loaded with information. In fact, what every dog—the tracking dog, of course, but also the dog lying next to you, snoring, on the couch—knows about the world comes mostly through his nose.
In Being a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz, a research scientist in the field of dog cognition and the author of the runaway bestseller Inside of a Dog, unpacks the mystery of a dog’s worldview as has never been done before.
With her family dogs, Finnegan and Upton, leading the way, Horowitz sets off on a quest to make sense of scents, combining a personal journey of smelling with a tour through the cutting edge and improbable science behind the olfactory powers of the dog. From revealing the spectacular biology of the dog snout, to speaking to other cognitive researchers and smell experts across the country, to visiting detection-dog training centers and even attempting to smell-train her own nose, Horowitz covers the topic of noses—both canine and human—from surprising, novel, and always fascinating angles.
As we come to understand how complex the world around us appears to the canine nose, Horowitz changes our perspective on dogs forever. Readers will finish this book feeling that they have smelled into a fourth dimension—breaking free of human constraints and understanding smell as never before; that they have, however fleetingly, been a dog.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC!

I’ll have to start this review off by noting the dog’s nose is my favorite part.  I love the wetness, the chilly touch, and the sniffing noises that emanate from it. Imagine my glee when I saw this book’s subject!

Once again, Horowitz does not fail to enthrall with her smooth writing style and excellent wordplay.  She starts off the book explaining the anatomy of the nose; then we discover why dogs have a better sense of smell than humans. The idea of being a “supersmeller” intrigues the author so much that she tries to develop this sense more. We then read about “sniff walks” and find out that in order to really get a good whiff of things, you need to bend down and put your nose where it counts. As she describes her sniff walk, we learn that in the beginning, smells may not be obvious, but at the end, after you have trained your nose and psyche to recognize and name scents, they are everywhere.

The background of scent is also discussed at length, with perfumers and dog trainers weighing in. Puppies training to be police sniffers or rescue dogs are slowly molded to track scent and find missing people. Horowitz does research by sniffing jars of unknown smells, and then has to attempt to put a name to them (a lot harder than it sounds). I was amazed to hear how her own sense of smell grew stronger with practice. It does seem to go hand in hand – practice makes perfect – but I was fascinated to read the variety of scents she was able to comprehend. It made me want to go out and practice my own sniffing!

The author’s love and admiration of dogs shines through, especially when she is using her own canines as an example. She is even surprised when one of her dogs excels at sniff work, once he trains himself to truly distance himself from his domesticity and embrace his natural canine being.  This part gave me pause: we take our dogs out for a walk, but how many times do we yank them away from a tree or dubious pile of something in the street? We walk to cover ground; they walk to read scent and learn what – or who – has gone before them.

The art of sniffing is described as well, much to my appreciation. We learn the best way to pull a smell in; and also why dogs may use one nostril vs another. The sense of smell is mostly a bastard child; it’s the one least discussed and is usually the one chosen in the game of “if you had to lose one of your senses, which one would it be”.  Scent is truly underrated. I fully agree. Anyone who has ever tried to eat while suffering a stuffy nose will understand that scent and taste go hand in hand.

Horowitz has done a fantastic job bringing this body function to the forefront of our awareness. I challenge you to read this and not try to sniff out more things around you, even if only for a day.

BEING A DOG is a must read for lovers of both dogs and scientific things – you can pick up your copy [easyazon_link identifier=”1476795991″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Ruffian: The Story Of A Jockey by Beverly Harrison

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60 seconds out of the starting gate, Jockey Syd Paul is riding for her life. Blindsided, she’s attacked during a race by a fellow jockey and friend. Forced to fight for her life atop a fast and furious thousand pound horse galloping at top speed, Syd struggles, fighting in disbelief, while only inches away, the other jockey falls to his death. Shocked and battered and without a moment to think, she turns from the nightmare behind her toward the finish line just ahead, and wins the race.
Bloodied and beaten into a bruised lump of flesh, Syd finds herself dazed and standing in the winner’s circle, flashing back at what just happened. WTF, she thinks, watching the instant replay unfold like bad reality tv. From the video replay, there’s no question. Syd looks guilty as the gates burst open just like a hundred times before. Only this time, Syd battled another jockey to the death and then went on to win.
Bleeding and head swimming, the single question remains: Why did my friend attack me? She finds a shocking truth: Some unidentified person will go to any length to control the jockeys and the outcome of certain races. One jockey has died and others will follow. Syd is forced to accept help from police detective, Joe McQueen. He’s drop dead gorgeous with the tenacity of a pit bull and the sensibility of a good ol’ boy.
Unsure of placing her life and her future into the hands of a complete stranger, (McQueen), Syd sets out to find the answers and keep herself safe, knowing she’s only one golden ticket away from her dream of riding in the Kentucky Derby, but in the next race, she’ll be riding not only for her career, but also, for her life.

 

Thanks to Word Slinger for gifting me this book for review!

I found the plot of this book wonderfully refreshing. Not many stories are written with a racing background (unless you are a Dick Francis fan), much less with a female jockey in the main role. Syd Paul is a feisty girl, making her way among the misogynistic jockeys at the track. She is a talented rider, hoping to find a mount to get her into the Kentucky Derby.

When her good friend attacks her during a race, she is thrown into a race fixing scheme that threatens her very existence. Syd is a loner by nature and is mistrustful of most people, except for a handful of friends. Her best friend convinces her to go to the police, but they don’t seem to be much help. She gets attacked again, and doesn’t know why she can’t get anyone to believe that she is danger.

I enjoyed the book, despite the writing being a bit uneven. Perhaps it was the editing, but it pulled me out of the story when I would see odd words capitalized (Owner, Jockey) and the occasional typo here and there. I also wanted to shake the character of Syd a few times, when she persisted in going places alone and putting herself in danger. ( I suppose that was needed, otherwise there wouldn’t have been a story.)

The same thing that bugged me about her was also her strength: a female jockey who didn’t want to sit on the sidelines while the men took care of business was an excellent choice of main character. Competition is intense in racing, and Syd showed her mettle by holding her own against the guys. She refused to give in to emotion, always keeping her goal firmly in her sights. At times this was also a noticeable quirk – Syd seemed to vacillate at times between grief and being perfectly fine (after the death of someone close to her). I kept thinking that it was very strange for her to be so happy just a few minutes after having tears in her eyes and talking about how much she missed her friend. Personally, if that was me, I would have been home crying and being miserable, not out flirting and going to restaurants.

But that is a small criticism. I’m sure anything she did was to advance the plot, which was quite suspenseful. I wasn’t sure who the bad guys were, and all in all, the idea of race fixing was quite plausible. Many people believe horse racing is fixed in some way, but never think of the people that may be caught up in it without their consent.

The race descriptions and personalities (and names) of the horses left me in thrall – I love horses and felt as if I were behind the scenes at a large track. Syd’s skill as a jockey was also a plus; she always raced to win and never compromised who she was.

My verdict? A good story, well rounded characters, and some suspense. Definitely an enjoyable and unique read that horse racing fans (and mystery lovers) will enjoy. You can pick up your copy [easyazon_link identifier=”B01AB3A69U” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Just Life by Neil Abramson

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Veterinarian Samantha Lewis and her team are dedicated to providing a sanctuary for unwanted, abused, and abandoned dogs in New York City. But every day it gets harder to operate her no-kill shelter. Sam is already at her breaking point when she learns of an unidentified, dangerous virus spreading through their neighborhood. The medical community can only determine that animals are the carriers. Amid growing panic and a demand for immediate answers, suspicion abruptly falls on dogs as the source. Soon the governor is calling in the National Guard to enforce a quarantine—no dog may leave the area.

Samantha knows from her own painful history that, despite the lack of real evidence against the dogs, a quarantine may only be the beginning. As questions about the source of the virus mount and clash with the pressure for a politically expedient resolution, Sam is forced to make life-altering choices. She finds allies in a motley crew of New Yorkers — a local priest, a troubled teen, a smart-mouthed former psychologist, and a cop desperate to do the right thing — all looking for sanctuary from their own personal demons. But the person Sam needs the most to unravel the mystery of the virus and save the dogs is the last one she’d ever want to call on—because contacting him will mean confronting the traumatic past she has fought so hard to escape.

 

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing this review copy.

Imagine a neighborhood in Manhattan in the grips of panic over a virus – one that is killing children and could possibly be spread by dogs. Imagine a shelter vet pushed to her breaking point by lack of money and no lack of politics. Add in a priest who may be losing his faith, an orphaned teen, and a few stray dogs who need homes.

Put yourself in the shoes of the veterinarian, who deeply loves her faltering shelter and all the dogs who call it home. Feel the only emotions that seem to be present in the first half of the book: incredible sadness, defeat, and frustration. Think about the sources of help available to you: none. At least none you can trust.

Welcome to JUST LIFE.

Not a happy, comfortable read, for sure. It is, however, a thought provoking and emotional story about making choices, standing up for what you believe in, letting go of your personal demons, and learning to trust.

Each character is deeply flawed but holds a spark inside them: the priest who throws a rock through his own church window because he is feeling distant from his Savior; the teen who was abused in foster homes and who is determined to save all the dogs at risk, no matter what; the assistant deputy mayor who is practicing good politics by shutting down the shelter.  The sun in their world is Sam, the veterinarian who gives everything she has to the stray dogs, her only family.

As the virus swirls around the neighborhood the tension ratchets up, and Sam is forced to make hard choices to save the dogs. Who will back her up?

My attention was held during the entire reading of this book. The veterinary medicine is correct, and the possibility of a bird flu – like virus (but with deadlier complications) was plausible. Each character’s story is revealed bit by bit, and sometimes they are sympathetic, sometimes not.

The character of Beth Cohen provides much needed comic relief during many dark times. She is a disgraced psychologist forced to either submit to a jail sentence or “volunteer” at the shelter. She asks probing questions, making Sam confront her fears and doubts. As I mentioned, she is also sarcastic and self effacing, adding a lighter touch here and there.

Gabriel, the priest, provides one of the most human touches in JUST LIFE. He is suffering from dementia, and his portrayal is poignant and heartbreaking. His backstory is the platonic love he held for his best friend and confidant Channa, who died recently. He wonders if he will be able to remember her, and the emotions she stirred in him. He questions his God, in a crisis of faith that pervades the entire book until the end. The scene with him in chapter 35 made my heart well up, and brought tears to my eyes. Well done, Mr Abramson.

JUST LIFE is a tightly woven story that will not leave you easily. It is not a story with a bright shiny ending, nor is it a depressing tale of failure. It is a tour de force of the human condition and the bond we share with our animal friends; and the lengths we will go to in order to protect them.

You can get your copy [easyazon_link identifier=”1455591041″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

 

When Bunnies Go Bad by Clea Simon

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Winter is hard in Beauville, where the melting snow can reveal much more than last season’s dead leaves. So when a wealthy, obnoxious tourist and his ski bunny girlfriend surface in Pru Marlowe’s little Berkshire town, she knows she should stay out of their way. The bad-girl animal psychic has to focus on more immediate concerns, including a wild rabbit named Henry, supposedly tamed and illegally living with an eighty-four-year-old lady in her home. Henry, who seems to be acting out and hiding, avoids responding to Pru. Yet when Pru discovers the tourist murdered and his girlfriend’s high-maintenance spaniel falls to her care, she gets dragged into a complicated case of crime and punishment that involves some new friends, an old nemesis, and her own shadowed past. A recent museum art heist draws the feds into the investigation along with a courtly gentleman radiating menace, who represents secretive business interests in New York and shows a surprising awareness of Pru. Her on-again, off-again romance with police Detective Creighton doesn’t stop him from warning her to steer clear of the inquiry. The spaniel, however, lures her in. Pru lives in a world where only her crotchety tabby Wallis knows the whole truth about her past, her flight from Manhattan, and her unique gift that surfaced abruptly one day. Fearing the worst, Pru now comes dangerously close to being exposed. With everything in motion, Pru, Wallis, and everyone they hold dear will be lucky to escape by a hare.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the author for the ARC!

The Queen of Pet Noir is back! BUNNIES is a little darker outing this time, with Pru choosing to do most of the work herself, with minimal input from Wallis. It also seemed that everyone was untrustworthy – whatever things seemed to be on the surface turned out to be the opposite.

Author Simon has a lot going on in this tale, and at times I felt it took a while for the plot to advance. Pru struggles with understanding the “why” and “who”, despite a seemingly simple murder. In the beginning, things appear to be just another murder. But just as snow will melt away, uncovering more detail underneath, the murder turns into two, Pru’s cop beau is taken off the case, and a mysterious gentleman gangster keeps showing up.

For those that haven’t read the first few installments of the Pru Marlowe story, things may not make sense quickly. However, as you read, you will see Pru become more aware of where she is in her life, and what she has become due to her dubious “gift” of being able to communicate with animals.

She learns to accept that things don’t always go as they should; and becomes even closer in a way to those animals that identify as prey. Gangster Benazi continues to keep Pru off balance as he continually alludes to her “gift” – and refers to it openly, much to her dismay.  She is terrified of anyone finding out the truth about her, and through these thoughts Pru understands how prey animals must feel.

It takes a strong person to let your vulnerability show – and Simon shows us Pru in all her incarnations. We see not just a cute story about a woman who can talk to animals; we can see the character evolving and growing into someone more aware of her place in the bigger picture of the world.

Enjoyable as always are the regulars: Growler, Frank, and of course Wallis. We also meet a sweet spaniel who just wants to be next to the man he loves – if only Pru could figure out who he is!

Simon dangles some interesting things in front of us at the end, leaving things open for another book. I know her many fans will be grateful for this, including me!

Want  your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1464205353″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Dear Clementina: Letters From One Border Terrier Pup To Another by Colin Burke

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“I was starting to doubt that I’d ever enjoy canine company again, and you being a twelve-week old Border Terrier pup like me made our meeting especially good.”

A chance meeting between two twelve-week-old puppies in a Manchester park leads to a series of letters from young Stanley to his new friend Clementina. Based on true events viewed through canine eyes, this work is a collection of that correspondence, and reflects upon the quirky world of humans, dogs and the interaction between the two.
With a comic perception that is perhaps only afforded to innocent observers, each letter stands alone as a testimony to Stanley’s efforts to comprehend the mysteries of life that confront young pups in their carefree progress throughout their first year. From human vanity to intrusive vets to pesky cats, from basic bodily functions to the high-blown appreciation of modern art, Stanley keeps Clementina in the picture as he steers his way relentlessly, if not always smoothly, through the challenges that life throws at him, culminating in his first birthday party.
In this deliciously humorous work, wittily illustrated by W.H. Mather, readers will delight not only in recognising their own pets, but also themselves and their fellow dog walkers. But you don’t have to be a dog-owner to appreciate Stanley’s letters as their comedy will appeal to everybody. And anybody contemplating getting a puppy should take advantage of Stanley’s wit and insight to help them in taking that fateful step of joining the ranks of the dog-owning fraternity. Pick up Stanley’s narrative and immerse yourself in the humorous, blossoming friendship of two adorable Border Terrier puppies!

Many thanks to Publishing Push for this review copy!

As a terrier lover I was quite eager to read this, and I wasn’t disappointed. Stanley is a curious and down to earth puppy, showing why Border Terriers are so lovable!

Stanley writes on a regular basis to his friend Clementina, describing household events and other adventures. It’s quite funny to read about things from a dog’s eye view (sock chewing, a trip to the vet for neutering, barking, butt sniffing) and it’s amusing to consider the stories as an accurate representation of a canine thought process.

Burke makes the little dog come alive with his stories – Stanley is a roll-with-the-punches, always cheerful puppy with a giant personality. It was so easy to picture him talking in the park with his other canine pals about chasing rabbits and squirrels.

Each chapter is another “letter”, detailing what has happened since Clementina and Stanley last got together. The reader never hears from Clementina, a tactic that places Stanley firmly in the reader’s mind as the sole voice. To me, this was a great way to write the book; having two dogs write back and forth may have increased the cutesy factor too high and made it into a caricature. The humans in the book have their actions and foibles magnified in a smile inducing way:  beer consumption, anger at chewed up socks, and long walks are all confounding things when seen through Stanley’s eyes. Human customs that are familiar to us all will seem new and foreign, accomplishing exactly what the author intended: just because we understand what we want our dogs to do, it may not be easy for them to grasp it.

Anyone who is thinking about getting a puppy should read this, so they will be educated and amused at the same time. Many Border Terrier owners will shriek with knowing laughter as they share Stanley’s adventures.  Stanley loves to jump up – maybe a bit too much; when his owners suggest a nice long walk he notes:

In fact I jumped a little too high, to tell the truth, and knocked Colin’s mug of tea out of his hand, but it only took him one minute to stop cursing and another two to change his soggy trousers, so no real harm done.

The novella can be read in a single sitting, or enjoyed bit by bit. The writing style truly reads like a series of friendly missives, and I could sense the fondness Stanley had for his best friend Clementina. The love Burke has for his real life dogs is evidenced on each page as well.

DEAR CLEMENTINA is a sweet, funny, and smooth read. Dog lovers will see bits of their own pup in Stanley, and love them a little more after finishing this book!

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B0167GYFJM” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

Clinical Pathology & Laboratory Techniques for Veterinary Technicians by Barger and MacNeill

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Clinical Pathology and Laboratory Techniques for Veterinary Technicians provides a comprehensive reference of laboratory procedures featuring ‘how-to’ information as it pertains to small animals, horses, and cattle.

  • An inclusive reference on laboratory procedures pertaining to small animals, horses and cattle
  • Provides information on hematology, hemostasis, clinical chemistry, urinalysis, parasitology, and fecal testing
  • Features high-quality photographs labelled with magnification and stain information, which clearly depict cellular morphology, inclusions and infectious organisms
  • Offers key objectives, technician tip boxes, case examples and a glossary of key terms
  • A companion website provides images from the book for download, instructor questions and answer key to multiple choice questions in the book

Many thanks to Wiley-Blackwell for offering this review copy!

A lot of information is packed into this book’s 264 pages. Combining the clin path and lab techniques makes sense and provides a symbiotic relationship. The chapters are organized well and consist of learning objectives and key terms in the beginning, followed by case examples and some introductory paragraphs. The rest of the chapter is then in an outline form that is thorough and  easy to follow. Highlighted boxes noted as “technician tips” provide important information through a Pearls of Practice format. Full color photos with information also provide another level of comprehension.

What makes this book stand out from the others is the case studies, complete with interpretation and comments to ensure that the technician understands what is happening.

Some chapters have multiple choice questions at the very end to further cement the objectives and make the technician think critically. Answers to the quiz and further questions can be found at http://www.wiley.com//legacy/wileychi/bager/.

Accurate results can only be gotten if the sample is prepared correctly; Chapter One – Getting Started covers proper ways to obtain and package blood, urine, and feces. Basic use of a centrifuge, microscope, stains, and blood tubes are also disussed, along with a section on laboratory safety.

Chapter Four – Clinical Chemistry explains how to prepare a sample for chemisty analysis, what normal and abnormal values are, and what the clinical significance is for those abnormal results.  Chapter Five – Urinalysis does the same as Chapter Four but with urine.

The reason I mention both of those chapters is that I believe this will be an invaluable resource to any technician; because knowing the “why” is just as important as knowing the “how to”. The information is presented clearly and concisely, and technicians can refer to the chapters again and again to reinforce their knowledge.

Chapter Seven – Minimizing Laboratory Errors is the final, very important chapter. Errors in research are inevitable, but knowing how to properly plan and be aware of how they happened is an invaluable skill. QC and QA procedures are discussed, as well as the various types of errors.

Further reading sources are cited at the end of each chapter, and there is a glossary at the back of the book.

This first edition will be welcomed by those looking for a fresh aspect on clinical pathology. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1118345096″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

From The Mouths of Dogs by BJ Hollars

 

from the mouths of dogs

What is it that dogs have done to earn the title of “man’s best friend”? And more broadly, how have all of our furry, feathered, and four-legged brethren managed to enrich our lives? Why do we love them? What can we learn from them? And why is it so difficult to say good-bye? Join B.J. Hollars as he attempts to find out—beginning with an ancient dog cemetery in Ashkelon, Israel, and moving to the present day.

Hollars’s firsthand reports recount a range of stories: the arduous existence of a shelter officer, a woman’s relentless attempt to found a senior-dog adoption facility, a family’s struggle to create a one-of-a-kind orthotic for its bulldog, and the particular bond between a blind woman and her Seeing Eye dog. The book culminates with Hollars’s own cross-country journey to Hartsdale Pet Cemetery—the country’s largest and oldest pet cemetery—to begin the long-overdue process of laying his own childhood dog to rest.

Through these stories, Hollars reveals much about our pets but even more about the humans who share their lives, providing a much-needed reminder that the world would be a better place if we took a few cues from man’s best friends.

 

Thanks to the University of Nebraska Press for providing this ARC!

Author BJ Hollars has a unique writing style, at times wonderfully evocative,  and at others somewhat cloying. He is great at describing the scene, whether it’s a dreary shelter or a well furnished blind woman’s home (he realizes that the decorations are for the sighted visitors, in an “aha” moment that pulled me up short, as did him).

He is also unashamed to describe his deepest and most secret emotions as well–he is very moved by the euthanasia of a shelter dog and shares with the reader his reticence to witness the event. Towards the end of the book, when he is recounting his road trip to scatter the ashes of his family pet that died many years ago, he lays bare his grief in a way that encompasses his family, his journey through life, and the love for his dog, even though she has been gone for years, her ashes gathering dust on a shelf in his parent’s home.

There are also times when he seems too glib for his own good, as he belabors the point of a bulldog’s gas, or saying a desceased dog was “found deflated” in a bedroom. These moments are few and far between, thankfully. Most of the book is filled with touching moments and “lessons” learned from his interactions, such as live your life with hope and don’t judge a book by its cover.

Dogs and people share space equally in this book; as we see how canines enrich the human lives and vice versa. Not all told here is sweetness and light, however. Hollars manages to take some of the darkest things we know: death, disability, and aging; then spin them into a story that will leave you with respect for the bond between a dog and his person.  He is not afraid to cover touchy subjects, such as a dog sentenced to death for killing a cat (and how the shelter subsequently handles that situation).

I’m thinking that the readers of this book will come away with new knowledge and respect for both dogs and the humans that love and care for them. The stories are easy reading and can be read one chapter at a time without losing your place. Definitely a winner.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”0803277296″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

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