January River by Bernard Jan – a #BookReview

Five friends. One dog. One river carrying a secret.

A shared review experience with the CE.

Book Blurb:

January RiverWhen one of their friends goes missing, everything comes crashing down for the small group of childhood friends in the small town of Greenfield. Ethan takes it hard. Then he loses his dog, his only consolation.

Hoping to start anew, Ethan leaves Greenfield and moves to New York City. Far from the ghosts of his childhood and the river that gives and takes life. There he finds his one true love and builds a career as a bestselling author.

But how long will Ethan’s happiness last as doubts creep back into him and shatter his reality? And will his reconciliation with the past come at too great a price?

All rivers carry their secrets, but not every river keeps its secret forever.

My Review:

Growing up in a 70s rural town in the panhandle of Nebraska, Ethan, his brother Will, and their friends enjoy a languid summer, playing in the river and dreaming of crafting a raft. It was an innocent time of fields and farms, bucolic setting, pines, and exchanges of goals and secrets. When Ethan finds a golden retriever, near death, he enlists the help of his buddy’s dad, a vet, and helps to ensure the beautiful animal escape death. There are obvious indications of abuse.

January River by Bernard JanYears later, there are tragic occurrences that drive Ethan to New York to join his brother where he naively discovers a wildly different type of life. But Will is a nomad who loves the ocean and leaves his apartment in the care of Ethan. Ethan gains a job and begins to cement a future, working, writing, and meeting a woman who will become his wife.

A storyteller, Jan fills his literary fiction with deeply felt philosophical prose while continuing to try to come to terms with his past. Reconciliation in the present, while seeking relief of the grief from his past and the beautiful community in which he spent a carefree boyhood until that disastrous summer.

There are themes of heartbreak, love, evil, redemption, and finally, reconciliation. Jan steps up his details but misses a few threads that the reader might have wanted to know whether resolved. There were occasional song titles that fit with the melancholy and the timeline of the narrative covered some twenty-five years. While the author did a heroic job of translating from Croatian to English, there were a few missed edits (was it adopted–or stepson?) and simple contradictions.

We were contacted directly by the author requesting an honest review in exchange for a gift copy of his novel and we appreciated the opportunity which in no way swayed our opinions. Recommended to those who enjoy a circumspect peek in mid-west America 70s to 90s, the love of dogs, and the literary drama of life. 4 stars

His review:

This coming of age novel is staged around a western Nebraska town. The author captures the essence of being a young boy in a farm community. Being the “little brother” Ethan is following an older brother in a bucolic setting of rivers and grain fields and quiet summer days. He gets to explore life and nature. He finds a near-death dog that he rescues and nurtures back to health. Their bond becomes inseparable.

Losing one member of his childhood gang haunts him throughout the book. His older brother is a beacon to him throughout life without being a guide. The relationship of the boys and parents is well developed and appreciated. The family has a well-developed business and an opportunity for either or both boys to inherit a profitable business.

Life has many twists and turns and Bernard Jan has captured the emotional essence. Many parents have witnessed the castle of their expectations for their offspring evaporate when the child develops his own interests. Peppered within life are many divergent trails and opportunities. The author captured the feel of those forks in the road.

Ethan follows his older brother Willy to New York. The serendipitous change of environment is indeed a path that draws Ethan from his youth. He works as a waiter in a restaurant and gets to be a key part of the business. He tends to be a recluse but is drawn out by a love interest. His dynamic of life changes. CE Williams

I was amazed at the awesome translation of this book from Croatian into other languages including English. I am grateful for the excellent work the team of editors accomplished. I highly recommend this book to animal lovers and those who appreciate a good “coming of age” novel. True to life the road is curving and bumpy and an excellent escape. 4 stars – CE Williams

Add to Goodreads

 Book Details:

Genre: Pet Dogs, Friendship Fiction, Family Relationship, Animal Fiction, City Life Fiction

  • ISBN-10:9535958151
  • ISBN-13:978-9535958154
  • ASIN: B086LJJC8V

Print Length: 235 pages
Publication Date: April 3, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link(s): January River

Amazon   |   Barnes and Noble

 Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Bernard Jan - authorThe Author: “There is no greater joy than to share what you love with those who appreciate it.”–Bernard Jan

My pen name is Bernard Jan. I am a novelist and a poet from Croatia, and I have released three books in English.

“A World Without Color” is a true story of the last three days I spent with my cat, while “Look for Me Under the Rainbow” in a unique and gentle way sheds light on the plight of harp seal pups in Canada. It warms the heart of all readers concerned about our planet and its treasures. “January River” is a heartwarming cross-genre novel about five friends, one dog, and one river carrying a secret.

My first two books were written at the beginning of the war in Croatia in 1991 amidst air alerts and illusory attempts when I wanted to believe and think that life is normal, that everything is all right with the world. I have published five novels, two novellas, and one book of poems in Croatian. Four of my books, including the book of poems, were translated into English.

My passion for music and entertainment resulted in my becoming a partner of Tom’s Music Place, which was established in 2009 by my friend Thomas Carley Jr., whose objective was to raise the respect of music.

My desire to help others came to the fore during my years advocating environmental protection and advocacy of animal rights. I did volunteering work for the refugees, because suffering does not know any borders. When it comes within your reach in your home, you simply have to do something. As part of my animal advocacy activities, it has been a great honor and pleasure to translate “Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust” by Charles Patterson into Croatian.

For more information, visit my website https://www.bernardjan.com.

Twitter https://twitter.com/BernardJanWorld
BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/bernard-jan
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1028921.Bernard_Jan
LinkedIn https://hr.linkedin.com/in/bernard-jan-197a50112
AllAuthor https://allauthor.com/author/bernardjan/
AUTHORSdb https://authorsdb.com/community/17089-bernard-jan
Steemit https://steemit.com/@bernardjan
booklife https://booklife.com/profile/bernard-jan-20785
Biopage https://www.biopage.com/public/bernardjan
YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Gabby: The Little Dog That Had to Learn How to Bark (A Foster Tails Story Book 1) by Barby Keel – a #BookReview

Gabby by Barby KeelBook Blurb:

A moving, heartfelt true story that celebrates the way animals and humans rescue one another . . .
Baby seagulls, mischievous ferrets, strutting peacocks…in the decades that Barby Keel has run her animal sanctuary in the English countryside, she has seen all manner of creatures. Thousands of cats and dogs have come through her doors and, with the aid of Barby and her dedicated staff, found loving forever homes. But Gabby, a small terrier with solemn, terrified eyes, is like no case Barby has ever encountered before.

Gabby has spent all eight years of her life indoors. She has no idea how to play with a toy or chew a treat. She has never dug in the dirt or rolled happily in the grass. Strangest of all, Gabby does not know how to bark. Barby can tell that the little golden-haired dog is bright and curious beneath her paralyzing fear, but coaxing out Gabby’s true spirit will be a daunting task.

Yet sometimes, a dog and a human fit together like two puzzle pieces, and so it is with Gabby and Barby. And Barby, who believes passionately in animals’ ability to help and heal those they love, will find her faith in Gabby repaid just when she, and her sanctuary, need it most . . .

My Review:

Gabby by Barby KeelI cannot lie: the cover got me. And I do so love a good doggy book as you all know. This book, while introducing Gabby, however, is a great deal more about the sanctuary located in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, England that Barby Keel created out of her love of animals.

After some spotlighting of the origins, growth, size, and population of the Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary, including the fleshing of a number of volunteers–always the lifeblood of the organization–now an official charity, we meet little Gabby, a Lhasa Apso/Yorkshire mix. Too adorable not to love and keep, too traumatized and lost to rehome, Barby keeps her and begins the long arduous task of teaching the dog to be a dog; not the least of which was to merely romp and play with other dogs, much less be house trained, which was a MAJOR accomplishment. This was an eight-year-old dog!

The Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary logoAlong with the slow progress of Gabby was a description of the people who for whatever reason, surrender their animals, abandon, or mistreat them. In addition, there are those wild creatures who have met accidents and most need some veterinary care and meds as well as safe areas, proper food, water, and shelter. An enormous undertaking!

The discovery of Barby’s breast cancer focuses sharply on her chosen path of treatment, the post-surgery depression, and the extended timeline of recovery. The narrative obviously credits the love of the dog and the hope that Barby receives from Gabby’s progress culminating in her final ability to bark as a turning point in Barby’s healing. It seemed to side-track the story of Gabby as it became more biographical in nature.

The book appeals globally for the donations that keep the sanctuary afloat and points out the massive strides in the importance and success of the facility. There were times when I found the dialogue a bit unnatural (yes, we all talk to our animals, but…) and the repetitive theme became a little heavy. We covered that. Then we covered it again.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. See additional information on the sanctuary here (and no, I’m not getting paid per click). Recommended for those interested in animal outreach and rescue.

Book Details:

Genre: Pet Dogs, Dog Care, Animal and Pet Care, Women’s Biographies
Publisher: Citadel

  • ISBN-10:080654032X
  • ISBN-13:978-0806540320
  • ASIN: B07CVR8MGF

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: To be Released January 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Gabby

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing:  Three-Point Five of Five Stars 3.5-stars

Cathryn Kemp - authorThe Author: Sunday Times bestselling ghostwriter and award-winning author, Cathryn Kemp won The Big Red Read Prize for Non-Fiction in 2013.
Her titles include Coming Clean: Diary of a Painkiller Addict (originally titled as Painkiller Addict: From Wreckage To Redemption), Jam Butties and a Pan of Scouse published by Trapeze in December 2016, A Fish Supper and a Chippy Smile and We Ain’t Got No Drink, Pa, both published by Orion in 2015. Cathryn’s recent titles include My Beautiful Struggle, published in 2017 by Trapeze, A Song for Bridget, published by Mirror Books in 2018, and the Foster Tails series, The Street Dog Who Found a Home, Gabby: The Little Dog That Had to Learn to Bark, and Will You Love Me? The Rescue Dog That Rescued Me, published through 2018 by Trapeze.

Previously, Cathryn worked as a news/feature writer across the spectrum of the British press for seven years before leaving to pursue her love of travel. She subsequently wrote several Lonely Planet travel guides and won the Peter Wilson Award for Journalism in 2002.
In 2004 she was struck down with the painful and debilitating illness pancreatitis – the experience of which led to the events described in her incredible memoir Coming Clean: Diary of a Painkiller Addict. She is now forging a career as an inspirational speaker on addiction issues and founded the UK’s first charity dedicated to raising awareness of addiction to prescribed opioids, the Painkiller Addiction Information Network (PAIN). Cathryn is Chief Executive of PAIN and a founding member of the Opioid Painkiller Dependence Alliance (OPDA).
For more information, or to catch up with Cathryn’s news, go to
http://www.painkiller-addict.com, http://www.painkillerfree.co.uk, or follow Cathryn on Twitter @cathrynkemp or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/painkilleraddic

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Logo Attribution: Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary website

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter Stoffel – a #BookReview

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter StoffelTitle: Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter Stoffel

Genre: Dog Care, Pet Dogs (Doggy Memoir)

Publisher: Diamond Publishing International

  • ISBN-10:0986150002
  • ISBN-13:978-0986150005
  • ASIN: B01LZWMUF2

Print Length: 244 pages

Publication Date: August 19, 2016

Source: Direct author request

Title Link: Lance: A Spirit Unbroken

Book Blurb:

Marley meets… Cujo ?

What would you do if there was a dog in your neighborhood forced to live outside day in/day out, at the mercy of abusers, wild animals and brutal weather?

Walter does nothing—at first. Then, an accidental meeting with Lance, a Border Collie, sets the wheels in motion for a down-to-the-wire, life-saving rescue and a disappointing discovery: Lance turns out to be a threat to anyone he can get his teeth on—including his rescuers!

Their lives turned upside down by this semi-feral “pet”, Walter and his wife Clara are forced to answer a painful question: do they euthanize the dog they rescued?

Making their life-or-death choice even more difficult is Lance’s hilarious quirkiness; when not threatening, he’s incredibly entertaining—though a State Trooper, the local drug dealer, and a Megan’s Law parolee, among many others, would beg to differ.

This rollicking, thought-provoking, and—at times—heart-wrenching true-life account of the unorthodox rescue of an unorthodox dog is guaranteed to captivate:
-Dog lovers
-Recovering addicts (there are numerous passages that the 12-step community will relate to)
-Survivors of child abuse (the author reveals his own poignant connection with Lance)
-Any reader who can laugh, cry, or enjoy having her/his faith in humanity restored.

(Note: This book was noted in my associate’s book list and he couldn’t resist also reading. His review follows mine.)

My Review:

Lance: A Spirit Unbroken by Walter StoffelThis dog should never have lived the ten long years chained in the yard subject to extreme abuse when he wasn’t either starving, freezing, or both. And unfortunately, living through the abuse, the spirit in this animal that absolutely would NOT give up is discovered (after Walter and Clara adopt him) to carry mountains of baggage. Walter had seen the dog on his walks in the neighborhood before but most likely had no clue of the extreme cruelty he was being subjected to. It is after he begins a dialogue with Anna, a neighbor who has befriended the dog, cleaned his space and provided fresh water, food, and an occasional neighborhood walk that he begins to get the picture of a dog desperately in search of rescue.

His previous owners have left him with an extreme case of PTSD; he is psychotic, schizophrenic. Is he salvageable? Probably not. Yet, there is an intangible something there. A highly intelligent Border Collie who has managed to survive will have many cards hidden under his paws. Absolutely unpredictable behavior, the only thing for sure they can count on, is not being able to pet their new rescue.

So what drives a person, or couple, to take on this challenge? Could it ever be worth the sacrifice–and heaven knows they’ll make many of those. First, Walter was probably the only one in a jillion who could begin to glean some understanding of just how traumatic this dog’s life had been–and sympathize–no wonder he reacted like he did!

The conundrum here is not so much Lance as Walter. His canine experience either totally lacking or his confidence in turning the dog around grew to extremes in lack of common sense (something he freely admits) when dealing with a highly intelligent Border Collie. Knowing the dog was a biter and lacked any kind of predictable behavior, he walked with the dog unleashed into the woods. Huh? Talk about a train wreck!

Cats, kids? No problem. Completely unpredictable for a normal dog, this dog seemed to have no problem being around children. How many times did this dog rescue his rescuers? He could show compassion, sympathy, and there were times he had them totally entertained, mesmerized with his antics.

Bottom Line: Loved the book, cringe-worthy as much of it was. Yes, I can think of even worse canine abuse, but you have to give this duo some kudos for fortitude. Still, what bothered me was the seven years of shocking trials of off-leash stories, car rides (a serious threat to not only themselves but to anyone else on the road), and the continued abuse of new animals by the previous owners with no one stopping those idiots getting a new dog. Also, I must note the amount of redundancy, although some of which did introduce new arguments for or against. The conclusion, though expected, is hard to take. Thrilled, and terrified at the same time, that the dog could actually get those years to get out and run like the wind, bound over rocks, trees, and into ponds like a normal dog.

I received a request from the author for an honest opinion of his memoir of Lance in exchange for a free copy. Hard to put this book down, the storytelling is compelling. I did so enjoy the story and appreciate the opportunity to read and review.  Recommended for any fan of dogs or pets. Research the breed–all canines are not born equal–but they all get into your hearts.

“Some of our greatest…treasures we place in museums; others, we take for walks.” Roger Caras, wildlife preservationist.

Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

His Review:

A highly intelligent Border Collie abused for the first ten years of his life! This book shows a love and fortitude seldom seen. I was extremely moved by this lovingly crafted account. Bravo to the author! CE Williams free from the author for an honest opinion.

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Walter Stoffel - authorThe Author: Walter Stoffel is a freelance writer and publisher who specializes in human interest memoir and fiction. Though having previously participated in multiple dog and cat rescues, nothing prepared him for his life with the title character in Lance: A Spirit Unbroken. The author has a rich work history that currently includes teaching GED and counseling inmates at local correctional facilities. He also has experience as a certified mental health screener. For many years, he lived and worked in various South American countries. Most unique occupation: chipping excess concrete off the undersides of bridges in Virginia. All his coworkers were wearing prison stripes. Mr. Stoffel is a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, Pennwriters and Barbara’s Writing Group, a critiquing association. When not writing, he loves to read, travel, work out, and watch bad movies. The author has a B.A. in psychology and is a credentialed alcoholism and drug counselor. He lives in Canadensis, PA with his wife Clara, their dog Buddy (a rescue) and their cat Winky (another rescue). Personal accomplishment: after having hip replacement surgery, Walter entered a marathon and finished it – dead last. Extra special personal accomplishment: surviving seven years living with the devil dog (Lance). Please visit Walter at http://www.Lance: A Spirit Unbroken.com, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

©2019 V Williams Blog author