Book Review: Barney by Catherine Jinks

Title: Barney
Author: Catherine Jinks, Illustrated by Stephen Michael King
Release: 2018

Description: Barney loves cat food. Barney loves greens. Barney loves bacon and biscuits and beans…

Review:
5 out of 5 Stars
This is an extremely adorable childrens book that I just had to have for my collection.

Barney is a dog who likes to eat everything and it reminded me so much of my own dog that if it was renamed “Jazz” it could basically have been her life story.

The rhymes are wonderful and have a flow that make it great reading for children, and the illustrations very cute and eye-catching.

A gorgeous story celebrating a very relatable canine. A must have for any dog lovers young or old.

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Book Review: Where the Lost Dogs Go by Susannah Charleson

Title: Where the Lost Dogs Go: A Story of Love, Search, and the Power of Reunion
Author: Susannah Charleson
Release: June 4th 2019

Description: In Where the Lost Dogs Go, Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing and a trusted chronicler of the human/animal bond, dives headlong into the world of missing dogs. The mission to reunite lost pets with their families starts with Susannah’s own shelter rescue, Ace, a plucky Maltese mix with a mysterious past who narrowly survived months wandering lost. While Susannah formally studies animal behavior, lost-pet search tactics, social media strategies, and the psychology of loss, Ace also steps up for training. Cheerful and resourceful, Ace has revealed a nose for the scent of lost pets, and together they help neighbors and strangers in their searching.

Review: 5 out of 5 Stars

A fantastic read from Susannah Charleson, part memoir, part dog behaviour, it all blends in well to deliver a wonderful book on missing or lost dogs.

I, thankfully, have not been in a such a situation of having a beloved dog go missing and some of these stories were heartbreaking. Thank goodness for the tireless work of people like Susannah who help reunite people and their best friends. I really enjoyed reading about her work.

One thing I have found reading memoirs or biographies about people with dogs or who work with them is that they can focus on the authors mundane life, which is probably only interesting to friends and family (sorry to say).

This is NOT that kind of book, every story from Susannah’s childhood and adult life focuses on some kind of interaction with a dog which I really appreciated, its exactly what I am looking for when I read these kind of books.

I would highly recommend to any dog lovers.

I received an advance copy from NetGalley for an honest review

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Book Review: Paw Prints by Morgan J Muir

Title: Paw Prints
Author: Morgan J Muir, Illustrated by Sava Andreea
Release: April 10th 2019

Description: “They say that pets will leave paw prints on my heart. But I don’t think I believe them.”

Review: 5 out of 5 Stars

This was a touching book about a woman’s grief over the loss of her young dog. Something any dog owner can relate to, no matter the age of the animal they’ve lost. I loved the beautiful illustrations, which tell a story on their own. It gave me pause to think about the “dogs leave paw prints on your heart” saying. I like the way it was addressed here.

I received an advance copy from NetGalley for an honest review

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Book Review: Space Dogs by Martin Parr

Title: Space Dogs: The Story of the Celebrated Canine Cosmonauts
Author: Martin Parr
Release: June 11th 2019

Description: This fascinating book tells the story of the soviet space dogs, illustrated with legendary photographer Martin Parr’s vintage space-dog memorabilia.

Review: 5 out of 5 Stars

This is a wonderful book for those fans of space and dogs, something to have in your dog book collection.

This story of the dogs the soviet union used to test their space ships is well written, and well presented on the pages. It doesn’t completely gloss over all the facts – such as the unnecessary medical procedures the dogs were put through and their deaths – and I even learned a thing or two.

It was also great seeing photos of the dogs and the memorabilia / merchandise created for those canines, and it was interesting to me how they were, and still are, celebrated as heroes.

I think my main issue with this book is that it feels like it excuses the testing of the dogs for the space missions for “the good of mankind”. Certainly this is how it was justified by the scientists and everyone else, too.

While it may be true that the dogs were cared for, the fact is the testing was completely barbaric and it only takes a quick internet search to see why. The dogs that died in space (or crashed to earth) would no doubt have been completely petrified on all stages of their missions. So was this really a better life for them than being street dogs?

These are just my personal thoughts of course, and doesn’t make this a bad book by any means. I just would have liked to have seen this side of the facts considered a little more than with a quote from one of the scientists sharing their regret some years later.

Overall this is a great book if space dogs are your thing

I received an advance copy from NetGalley for an honest review

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Book Review: Think Like A Dog by Scott MacDonald & Sadie

Title: Think Like a Dog: How Dogs Teach Us to Be Happy in Life and Successful at Work
Author: Scott MacDonald, Sadie
Release: June 11th 2019

Description: They’re loyal, loving, and big-hearted–dogs are our best friends for a good reason. Yet they have much more to offer than just love and friendship. Let CEO Scott MacDonald and rescue dog Sadie show you how to have a more rewarding life and a more successful career in Think Like a Dog.

Review: 3 out of 5 Stars

I was expecting this book to be more of a humorous take on how to live your life like your dog. You know the meme, “if you cant eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away.” And some of the book was like this. I definitely enjoyed the parts that were in Sadie’s point of view and the anecdotes about other dogs.

The rest of the book was part memoir, part self help – with advice from real life experiences of Sadie’s co-author, along with quotes from history or psychologists. It felt a little bit like a lecture at times. And that doesn’t necessarily make this a bad book, its just not for me.

The cartoons and pictures of Sadie are also wonderful.

I received an advance copy from NetGalley for an honest review

Book Review: In The Doghouse by Teri Case

Title: In The Doghouse
Author: Teri Case
Release: April 16th 2019

Description: Skip is a rescued dog who wants to matter. He loves living in a blissful pack with his human couple, John and Lucy, and he has bow-vowed never to lose them. But when John walks out after seven happy years, Skip and Lucy’s world is turned upside down. Skip is determined to guide Lucy through her identity crisis, but he’s guarding a secret: he’s to blame for the breakup and her broken heart.

Review: 5 out of 5 Stars

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a novel written primarily in a dogs point of view but I wasn’t disappointed. Skip is a lovable, loyal Wolf/labrador mix who sometimes is written a little too human, but it works. Dogs understand more than we give them credit for, which this novel plays on, and elevates that.

I loved reading Skip and Lucy’s journey together after John, and the wonderful array of secondary characters that join them.

I often discuss on my podcast about what our dogs might be thinking and this novel is great for those who might wonder the same. Heart-warming and funny, a must for dog lovers.

I received an advance copy from NetGalley for an honest review

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Book Review: Life on the Leash by Victoria Schade

Title: Life on the Leash
Author: Victoria Schade
Release: September 18th 2018

Description: Must Love Dogs meets My Not So Perfect Life in this hilarious romantic comedy about a dog trainer who’s a master at managing her four-legged friends, but when it comes to her love life…let’s just say she still has a lot to learn.

Review: 1 out of 5 Stars

I was hoping to read a cute piece of chick-lit with some interesting doggy counterparts but I got a hot-mess of stereotypes, uninteresting characters that lacked real diversity, and a plot that went nowhere.

For a dog trainer, Cora Bellamy has the right idea, no force or aggression and lots of positive reinforcement. However, in her very first dog training session in the book, she tethers a dog to a closet door to stop it from jumping on house guests. I really should have stopped reading there. And ok, her training methods don’t get worse, but her personality does.

I felt like I was reading a YA novel a lot of the time, Cora was very immature and her biggest flaw for me was pursuing a client in a relationship simply because he was hot and she was horny. On the flip side, her other love interest is so dull and lacked chemistry, I’ve already forgotten him.

While I could go in to greater detail about how she annoyed me, the french speaking, the slut-shaming, the cutesy antics that were supposed to endear me, there’s plenty of reviews covering those.

My other main gripe with this book is the very obvious “evil dog trainer” a Russian caricature of someone very famous. It could not have been more obvious if the author beat me over the head with it and most of the time I felt like I was. Look, all of us that know better, hate that trainer. And Victoria Schade, as a trainer herself, no doubt has many issues with him also. But I did not need his likeness recreated as the most stereotypical villain (Russian, really??) who was apparently too sexy to hate? Please.

Very disappointed as I had heard lots of praise for this one.

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Book Review: Please Don’t Feed The Mayor by Sue Pethick

Title: Please Don’t Feed the Mayor
Author: Sue Pethick
Release: February 26th 2019

Description: When the lumber mill closes, laying off most everyone in Fossett, Oregon, Melanie MacDonald plans to revitalize her beloved but beleaguered homestead by running her border collie Shep in Fossett’s mayoral race . . .

Shep wins by a landslide.

Review: 3 out of 5 Stars

A cute story with a simplistic writing style that makes for an easy, quick read.

I was instantly drawn to this book by the cover and the idea of a dog becoming mayor. I know its happened for real in some towns in America, so I was definitely looking forward to the concept.

The blurb suggests that I would be reading about the dog Shep and his owner Melanie’s adventures as he wins the election and they become media darlings. Unfortunately, the only part of this book that matches the blurb is that there is a dog running for mayor.

It was slightly off-putting when a huge chunk of the story focused on the main characters ex-husband (a lawyer, who seemed rather controlling) and the escaped criminal who was seeking revenge on him.

The other things mentioned, such as the rival reporter, the vengeful loser of the election and the dog napping were barely existent and not even in the context the blurb suggests. While the personal appearances on game shows etc by Shep and Melanie, were not even in this novel and those are the things I would have like to have read about.

Shep was by far the most interesting character in this book. The author gives him a real personality, and perhaps intelligence even beyond what I dog can have. It works. I chuckled at Shep and his antics, but I wanted more. I would have liked more focus on the actual campaigning too. Not just a few mentions of Melanie and her ex canvasing a few houses and making love heart eyes at each other. I didn’t even like either of them to care about their romantic status.

Despite this, and even though the novel was nothing like the blurb, I enjoyed it. Its a fun read and would recommend it to people who like these kind of stories.

I received an advance copy from NetGalley for an honest review

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Book Review: Drinking from the Trough by Mary Carlson

Title: Drinking from the Trough
Author: Mary Carlson
Release: August 28th 2018

Description: Mary Carlson didn’t start out to become a veterinarian, let alone the owner and caretaker of cats (many), dogs (two, both huskies), and horses (some with manners, some without) in Colorado. She was a suburban Chicago girl; all she knew of the American West came from the stories her uncle, who had settled in northern Colorado, told her during his annual visits. But thanks to him, she ended up moving to Fort Collins, Colorado for college—and after falling in love with a man she’d become friends with in her final year of college, when he was a student at the CSU School of Veterinary Medicine, she remained there.

Watching the work Earl did as a veterinarian inspired Mary to eventually leave her tenured teaching position and enter vet school, after which she opened her own, feline-exclusive clinic. Along the way, there were numerous pets, grueling years of vet school, a shattered hip, an enduring love, illness, and death—and the rediscovery that life, especially a life full of delightful animals, is worth living.

Review: 3 out of 5 Stars

Mary Carlson’s memoir from life as a vet was entertaining and interesting enough, with stories about her horses, dogs and cats who were all part of her family.

However, there was a little something missing from this book for me. It might have been the back and forth time-line, which made it feel somewhat disjointed. Early on we learn of her husbands death and the story of how her dog Keli died, but then the book back tracks to stories when they are alive. This isn’t necessarily bad, but isn’t a particular style of storytelling that I liked.

The book is also billed as a vet’s memoir, which, while there are plenty of animal stories that are a great read, there is also a lot about her personal life and family. Since these personal stories are included, I feel like a little more detail may have helped the reader engage more. Some insights felt untold, and I wanted more of the picture explained to me.

Overall a nice read and one I’m sure animal lovers will enjoy.

I received an advance copy from NetGalley for an honest review

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Book Review: Another Good Dog by Cara Sue Achterberg

Title: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs
Author: Cara Sue Achterberg
Release: August 7th 2018

Description: When Cara felt her teenaged children slipping away and saw an empty nest on the horizon, she decided the best way to fill that void was with dogs—lots of them—and so her foster journey began.

Review: 3 out of 5 Stars

A wonderfully written insight into the world of fostering dogs. I really enjoyed reading the authors journey of looking after these dogs and the funny, heartwarming or sad stories that went along with them.

The downside for me, was the authors own dog who comes across feeling like a burden. At one stage in the book she is referred to as dumb and lazy and only kept because the children love her. She admits to not putting the effort into training Gracie and concludes in the end that maybe she should stop wanting her to be something she wasn’t and accept her for the dog she was. I hope she finally did this as it is disheartening to read from someone who seems so passionate about rescue.

Otherwise, a delightful read with some good information if you’re thinking about fostering yourself.

I received an advance copy from NetGalley for an honest review

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