Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Category: Veterinary Medicine

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Deputy Mattie Cobb is working through issues from her past and has withdrawn from Cole Walker and his family to focus on herself, when she and her K-9 partner Robo get called to track a missing junior high student.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].

Just Life by Neil Abramson


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].



Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses by Julie Shaw and Debbie Martin



Thanks to Wiley-Blackwell for offering me this textbook in exchange for an honest review.

This comprehensive textbook contains 9 chapters and 3 appendices, and is geared towards the veterinary technician, rather than the veterinarian. Oftentimes, it’s the technician that assesses the patient before the doctor enters the room, and can be indispensable in offering guidance and advice to weary pet owners. The chapters read as follows:

  • The role of the veterinary technician in animal behavior
  • canine behavior and development
  • feline behavior and development
  • the human-animal bond
  • communication and connecting the animal behavior team
  • learning and behavior modification
  • problem prevention
  • specific behavior modification techniques and practical application for behavior disorders
  • introductory neurophysiology and psychopharmacology

As you can see, there is a chapter for everything, with the final one discussing medications as a last resort. The chapters can be read progressively, or referred to here and there to educate a client on a particular issue. The focus here is to understand the patient and correct bad habits in a way that the pet will accept, withour cruelty or harsh discipline. The book advises that shock collars or physical punishment is not akin to learning, and so is not the best method to use.

Also very helpful is the chapter about communication and connecting the behavior team. Occasionally there will be that animal that will not resolve its behavior, no matter how hard the owner tries. If euthanasia is being considered, there will be many different ways the owner may react, and the book goes through the stages of grief and how to help the owner through this hard time.

The book is accompanied by many color photos, graphs, tables, and diagrams illustrating the  text and adding another level of understanding. Here is an example of a schematic that gives a great deal of information at a glance:

behvior book pic

Flowcharts are usually easy to read, and this one also has notes at the bottom that correlate with the numbers in the red circles. Both beginning and experienced behavior techs will appreciate what this book has to offer–and their patients will too!

The appendices (found after chapter 9) are broken down into Forms and Questionnaires, Training Exercises, and Samples and Letters.  There is also a companion website  that offers handouts, review questions, and additional images.

There is a lot packed into this text, and technicians will be better able to assist the veterinarian after becoming familiar with the material covered. Even if the technician is not part of the full time behavioral staff, they will be able to educate the client thoroughly and become more adept at handling patients. Wiley has created another indispensable book for the veterinary technician! You can pick up your copy [easyazon_link asin=”0813813182″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link].


Handbook of Canine and Feline Emergency Protocols by Maureen McMichael

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”yes” align=”left” asin=”1118559037″ cloaking=”default” height=”500″ localization=”yes” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ width=”348″]

I received this textbook from publisher Wiley-Blackwell in exchange for this honest review,

When an emergency presents to your small animal clinic, there isn’t time to find a textbook and search through the index for help. This 2nd edition is designed to assist veterinary personnel find answers, fast.


  • 19 chapters spotlighting different emergencies by type
  • Chapters are in alphabetical order with thumb tabs
  • Spiral bound for easy handling
  • Over 165 cases detailed
  • Cases are outlined by history, clinical signs, diagnostics, treatment and prognosis
  • At the end of each chapter there are references for further reading
  • Images accompany some cases for clearer understanding (update to Second Edition)
  • Companion website at that gives you access to calculations, review questions, video clips and more


This text is easy to understand, and will help you triage and support animals in an emergency situation.  There is even a chapter on Procedures and Protocols that walks you through uncommon (for single doctor small animal practice) tasks such as blood crossmatching, thoracotomy tube placement, CSF collection and lipid infusion.  Each procedure is laid out with sections for indications, equipment, procedure steps, technique, complications, and contraindications. Some textbooks have an overabundance of information, causing overload at a critical time. For those who need a quick refresher to jog the memory that has been buried since vet school, this book is perfectly created.

I especially enjoyed the review questions on the website. You can test your knowledge in quick bites and get your answers right away, with an explanation. This book will be a great addition to any clinic library, and will be referred to again and again in times of emergency.



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