Dog Days by Ericka Waller – A #BookReview – Friendship Fiction

Book Blurb:

Dog Days by Ericka WallerGeorge is a grumpy, belligerent old man who has just lost his wife. She has left him notes around the home and a miniature dachshund puppy called Poppy. But George doesn’t want a dog, he wants to fight everyone who is trying to help him.

Dan has OCD but has channeled his energy into his career as a therapist. Afraid to acknowledge his true feelings, his most meaningful relationship so far is with his dog Fitz. That is, until Atticus walks into his life.

Lizzie is living in a women’s refuge with her son Lenny. Her body is covered in scars and she has shut herself off from the world. She distrusts dogs, but when she starts having to walk the refuge’s dog, Maud, things begin to change.

As three strangers’ lives unravel and intersect, they ultimately must accept what fate has in store for them with their dogs by their sides. Set against the backdrop of Brighton, Dog Days is an inspiring, unflinching, and deeply moving novel about life, and the way dogs can help us understand it, and each other, a little better.

His Review:

Three very different lives in a book of fragility and loss. George has lost his dear wife Ellen and has great difficulty extracting himself from his living room chair. Despair takes many faces and lonely despair is but one. George has never been a people person and his departed wife is the antithesis of his life.

Dog Days by Ericka WallerLizzie has escaped a brutal marriage. Running off with her son and living in a shelter for battered women is her refuge. She has a brilliant mind hiding behind secrets that she holds close to her chest. Her husband, Greg, has been abusive and she wants to hide that fact from herself and the world.

Dan is a practicing psychologist trying to help those who have lost their way. Atticus comes into his office and begins treatment. Dan remains professional although he is attracted to the handsome Atticus. His problem with Atticus is that he cannot get him to open up. Without a patient disclosing problems to be sorted, the psychologist is failing in his endeavor.

Three very different scenarios in one book. The lives of the characters do not intersect although they live in the same area. Lizzie is sympathetic, George is despicable, and Dan is pathetic. This author has taken these people and made a case for the trials and difficulties we all face in life. Her writing is entertaining and engaging.

How can anyone put up with a cantankerous old fuddy-duddy, George. Particularly, since he is a man who is only interested in himself and what life can give him. Betty, at the request of his first wife, tries to engage and help him. He is abusive and why she would put up with him makes for a very interesting narrative. She cleaned and cooked and fed him while being continually mentally abused.

CE WilliamsThe overall impression this book leaves is that opposites attract and sometimes we will put up with anything to be with the ones who attract us. Life has a way of equalizing our desires. Pain at times seems to be a cure for boredom. Ericka puts this into the each of the characters as well as the dogs in each characters care. Her endings are definitely worth reading and I felt the book made some pointed observations about how each individual handles the life and love they are given and the losses they incur. I highly recommend it. Currently on pre-order. 4 stars – CE Williams

Thank you to Alexis Neuville at St. Martin’s Press for my review copy. These are my honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4 stars 

Book Details:

Genre: Family Fiction, Animal Fiction
Publisher: St Martin’s Press

  • ASIN : B08FZ7FZYD

Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: To be released May 11, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Links: Dog Days [Amazon]
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Ericka Waller - authorThe Author: Ericka Waller is 39 and lives in Brighton with three daughters, too many pets and a husband.

She is an award winning blogger and columnist.

When not writing she can be found walking her dogs, reading in the bath or buying stuff off eBay.
©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

What a Dog Knows: A Novel by Susan Wilson – a #BookReview – #animalfiction

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

“I do not think anymore about what was. Only about what is.”

Book Blurb:

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Wilson comes What a Dog Knows, another heartwarming novel about humans and the dogs that change our lives.

What a Dog Knows by Susan WilsonRuby Heartwood has always lived a life on the move. As a traveling psychic, she makes her living working at carnivals and festivals and circuses around New England. It’s a life Ruby has made peace with—settling in one place has never been for her. She needs no one, and no one needs her.

Until one night, when she is camped by the side of the road in her trusty Volkswagon “Westie” van, a fierce thunder and lightning storm erupts. In the middle of the downpour, she hears a distinct voice telling her to “let me in.” In jumps a little black and white dog, and to Ruby’s astonishment, she can hear the dog’s thoughts. Has she been struck by lightning? Did the storm do this? Is she losing her mind?

It turns out, Ruby can hear many dogs’ thoughts. She decides to set up semi-permanent residency in the town of Harmony Farms, until she can sort out what is going on, and who the little dog, Hitch, belongs to. But some people in Harmony Farms don’t want her there. And it seems that events keep preventing Ruby from leaving. What secrets is this town keeping? Why was she meant to find this dog? And what has Ruby really been running from, all these years?

My Review:

Protagonist Ruby Heartwood is a traveling fortune teller, psychic, seer who reads tarot cards and tea leaves in her conical tent that she can easily disassemble, load, and leave in her little VW Westphalia when the festival or carnival is over. And she’ll soon be on her way except for the fierce storm that blew in and demanded she find shelter. During the storm, she hears a voice and opening the door discovers a little black and white dog with light brown “caterpillar” eyebrows. The distinct voice, or picture—images—is the beginning of her ability to “hear” the dogs thoughts.

What a Dog Knows by Susan WilsonIt doesn’t take long then that she is aware this dog, the one she’s named “the Hitchhiker” who will become her familiar, partners with her in helping to provide answers to other canine, and soon equine, dilemmas.

As luck would have it, a series of events occur to keep Ruby in Harmony Farms, first the Farmers’ Market and Makers Faire and then a succession of good links to further business, now sporting the new title of “animal communicator.” She’s been having increasing dreams of her mother, however, and she starts to seek answers, beginning to gather clues to the woman who left her in an orphanage in Ottawa as an infant. But the admonition to “find me, find you” keeps getting side-tracked.

If she has a good day, something like the Westie quitting strands her again. She is beginning to meet people, make contacts. Unfortunately, Polly is the local animal officer and her office has gotten a call regarding a show dog of the Hitchhiker’s description. Something else to keep her there until she can get that sorted out.

In the meantime, the reader is privy to a warm-hearted narrative with amazing characters, so well developed, all of whom you come to invest in. It’s easy to get caught up in Ruby’s search for her mother, the relationship with her daughter, the oft POV of the dog, his thoughts and feelings—so simple but so profound. No one writes dog like Susan Wilson. So much to identify with. The dog is a brilliant tricolor Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

The storyline grows in complexity as it does in emotion, wisdom, and tension. The harder her resistance, the easier to break—now she has too much in to walk away and all roads seem to lead back. I loved the character of Sabine, her daughter, Bull, Ravi and his Dew Drop Inn. Polly is special. It’s a lesson in confronting old trauma and hate, releasing the hurt.

The author has a beautiful, artful hand in setting up human to canine dialogue—you can believe it—the prose and the sensitivity so strong.

“Good news will keep, and bad news won’t go away?”

I have lapped up everything I could get my hands on since the first book I read by this author, including One Good Dog, Two Good Dogs, The Dog I Loved, and The Dog Who Danced, three of those as an audiobook. I believe, however, this might be her very best yet.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley and am so grateful! These are my honest thoughts. Highly recommended! This book is currently on pre-order and I urge you to order your copy now at your favorite retailer.

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Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Women’s Romance Fiction, Women’s Literature & Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

  • ASIN : B08FZ94VJ7

Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: To be released Jun 22, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Rosepoint recommended

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 

Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Hooligans (P T Deutermann WWII Novels) by P T Deutermann – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Happy Release Day!

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

A Review by the CE.

A gripping and authentic World War II naval adventure by a master storyteller

The Hooligans by P T DeutermannThe Hooligans fictionalizes the little-known but remarkable exploits of “The Hooligan Navy” that fought in the Pacific theatre of World War II. Loosely-organized in fast moving squadrons, PT (patrol torpedo) boats were the pesky nemesis of the formidable Japanese navy, dubbed “the mosquito fleet” and “devil boats” for their daring raids against warships, tankers, and transport ships.

After the Pearl Harbor raid plunges America into war, young surgical resident Lincoln Anderson enlists in the Navy medical corps. His first deployment comes in August 1942 at Guadalcanal, when after a brutal sea battle and the landing of Marines on the island, Anderson finds himself triaging hundreds of casualties under relentless Japanese air and land attacks.

But with the navy short of doctors, soon Anderson is transferred to serve aboard a PT boat. From Guadalcanal to the Solomon Islands to the climactic, tide-turning battle of Leyte Gulf, Anderson and the crew members of his boat confront submarines and surface ships, are attacked from air by the dreaded Kawanishi flying boats, and hunted by destroyers. In the end, Anderson must lead a division of boats in a seemingly-impossible mission against a Japanese battleship formation—and learn the true nature of his character.

Informed by P. T. Deutermann’s own experience as a commander of a patrol gunboat in Vietnam, The Hooligans is first-rate military adventure fiction.

His Review:

The Solomon Islands are a very strategic point between Australia and the Japanese islands. Placed there to protect the shipping lanes to Australia was a small fleet of PT boats and contingents of the US Nary and Marine’s as well as US Army. Doctor Eric Andersen is attached to this flotilla for the purpose of giving support to the medical needs of the detachment. He is a fourth-year surgical resident who joins after Pearl Harbor. This puts him in poor stead with his superior officers who feel he should not be doing any type of surgeries. Problem is that during war time avoiding surgery is simply not an option.

The Hooligans by P T DeutermannGuadalcanal is one of the islands in the Solomon Island archipelago and the fighting and casualties were horrendous. Doctor Andersen is thrust into this melee. His ability as a surgeon is quickly learned in these field hospitals. He quickly attains the reputation of being a “Superman” when dealing with catastrophic bodily injuries. He even does some artery relocations! The brass in more traditional hospital situations are aggravated by this skill.

The description and miserable facilities in the field hospitals is colorfully documented. Bomb shelters are constructed by U.S. Navy Seabees in record time. Japanese bombers called “Bettys” continually harass the entire staff of PT sailors. The PT’s attack during the night under cover of darkness and continually harass Japanese troop ship movements and disrupt their supply chains. The boats also supply defense and anti-aircraft batteries to protect our shipping and logistics in the area. The Japanese are tenacious fighters and every inch of real estate taken is with blood and sacrifice.

As each island is finally liberated from the Japanese, the ports and bases inch slowly northward. The skippers of the PT boats soon learn the value of their attached doctor. Throughout this book the flavor of war is everywhere. People 1500 miles away from the actual theater of action think they “know” how the war should be fought. The preponderance of arm chair fleet operators reminds me of my navy days. They were only slightly less aggravating than the enemy. Logistics and supply resources are usually controlled by these bureaucrats who haven’t even seen combat.

As the Japanese are pushed back from this island chain, the casualties mount and experiential learning takes over. HM1 and other enlisted personnel soon become strategic to the survival of the wounded. Dr. Andersen recognizes their abilities and utilizes them to the best of his ability. Comical relief is added with the presence of military scrounges whose mission is to keep the detachment supplied, particularly with medical equipment. Their exploits are enlightening and certainly devious. Requisitions in military theaters can go terribly slow and actually halt operations. The black market and bartering certainly bypass this backlog.

CE WilliamsThe relentless progress to Japan through Okinawa and Taiwan is fairly accurately portrayed. I recommend it as entertaining and enlightening reading for anyone who is a history buff. Understanding how some of the bunkers were built and the speed and efficiency of the navy’s Seabees is worth reading the book for. Enjoy the experience.

We received this uncorrected digital galley from the publisher through NetGalley and the receipt of the copy gratis does not affect my opinion of the book or the content. These are my honest opinions and I’m happy to highly recommend. 5 stars C.E. Williams

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, Historical Thrillers
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
ASIN: B0818Q5Y8G
Print Length: 298 pages
Publication Date: Happy Release Day! July 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

P T Deutermann - authorThe Author: Peter Deutermann was born in Boston in 1941. His father was in the Navy, so he subsequently lived all over the United States and also in Argentina. He graduated from the naval academy in 1963 and served in the navy for 26 years, rising to the rank of Captain. While in the navy, he published one textbook on naval operations and several professional articles in navy-oriented journals. He held three commands: a Swiftboat in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, a guided missile destroyer in the Atlantic Fleet, and a destroyer squadron based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. His last tour of duty was as the division director for chemical, biological, and radiological weapons arms control negotiations on the staff of the Joint Chiefs in Washington, DC.

He retired from active duty in 1989 and began his fiction-writing career. He has published twenty novels since 1992, all with St. Martins Press, including the just-released World War II navy novel, entitled The Commodore, and the Washington thriller, The Red Swan. He has completed his 21st novel, entitled The Iceman, a World War II navy submarine story, scheduled for publication in August, 2018. See all the books on his website at http://www.ptdeutermann.com

In addition to a BS in naval engineering, Mr. Deutermann holds an MA in public administration from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. He is also a Member of the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. He is married and has two children. Mr. Deutermann and his wife of 50 years live in Rockingham County, in the Piedmont of North Carolina, on their family pony farm.

©2020 CE Willkiams – V Williams V Williams

The Secrets of Bones: A Mystery (A Jazz Ramsey Mystery Book 2) by Kylie Logan – a #BookReview

Book Blurb:

Second in a new series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan, The Secrets of Bones is a riveting mystery following Jazz Ramsey as she trains a cadaver dog.

The Secrets of Bones by Kylie LoganAssembly Day at St. Catherine’s dawns bright and cloudless as professional woman gather from all around Ohio to talk to the schoolgirls about their careers ranging from medicine, to NASA, to yoga. Jazz Ramsey has also signed up to give the girls a taste of her lifelong passion: cadaver dog training. Her adorable new puppy Wally hasn’t been certified yet, so she borrows the fully-trained Gus from a friend and hides a few bones in the unused fourth floor of the school for him to find.

The girls are impressed when Gus easily finds the first bone, but then Gus heads confidently to a part of the floor where Jazz is sure no bones are hidden—at least not any that she’s put there. But Gus is a professional, and sure enough, behind a door that no one has opened in ages, is a human skeleton. Jazz recognizes the necklace the skeleton is wearing, and that it belonged to Bernadette Quinn, an ex-teacher at the school who’d quit her job abruptly one Christmas break. But now it seems Bernadette never left the school at all, and her hiding place makes it clear: this was murder.

Bernadette in life had been a difficult personality, and so there are a plethora of suspects inside the school and out of it. As Jazz gets closer to the truth she can’t help but wonder if someone might be dogging her footsteps…

My Review:

Thank you Allison of Minotaur Books for my download of The Secrets of Bones for a review.

As any who follows my blog knows, I love stories of hard-working service dogs, of which there are so many kinds of service and breeds, there is no lack of possible stories. This is one of those stories. It was a Friday, the day dawned clear and warm…oh wait…that’s another whole era and most of you are too young to remember Dragnet. Okay, maybe it was a Friday, but closer to June when the girls at prestigious St Catherine’s would be getting out for the summer.

The Secrets of Bones by Kylie LoganJazz Ramsey, Administrative Assistant to the principle, is helping with career day, introducing a seasoned, now retired, cadaver dog to demonstrate the service these well-trained canines provide. She has a new puppy, an Airedale named Wally, but he’s still young and untrained–simply along for the adorable factor. The demo comes to a skidding halt when Gus finds not just the bone she hid, but a whole skeleton (good dog) and judging from the remaining clothing, they know just who the skeleton belonged to.

The skeleton is thought to be a former nun, now an over-zealous teacher. Unfortunately, she had few friends and rubbed a great many people the wrong way, so there was an abundant number of possible suspects. Jazz feels she must defend her friend and the principle, Sister Eileen, as the cop in charge eyes her as the possible perp. The victim was never seen after Christmas vacation, leaving a resignation letter, following a strong disagreement with Sister Aileen.

Eileen is a great character, smart, charismatic, and efficient in her handling of the school. Nick is apparently a previous love interest, a detective, and another great support character and there are others. Jazz is dedicated to her cadaver dog training and Wally and presents as a dedicated and competent assistant at the school. She’ll figure out what happened all those years ago if it kills her–and it might.

Lots of red herrings, but really, it wasn’t difficult to figure out. In the meantime, the storyline was well-paced, cleverly written, and engaging. The conclusion answered all the questions and the reveal exposed. I easily read as a standalone and enjoyed the setting of the school as well as the Cleveland area descriptions. My problem was the lack of focus on the dog(s). Hopefully, the dogs will be working more in the next installment.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those who enjoy cozy mysteries.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mystery, Animal Fiction
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ASIN: B07Z2LFM12
Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Secrets of Bones (Amazon)
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Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Kylie Logan - authorThe Author: Kylie Logan-A pseudonym used by Constance Laux. Aka Miranda BlissCasey DanielsKylie LoganConnie DekaConnie Lane.

Constance Laux is an U.S.American writer of romance novels as her real name and under the pen names: Connie Deka and Connie Lane. Writing as Constance Laux, she’s published nine historical romance novels and as Connie Lane, she writes both category romance books and romantic suspense/comedy novels.

She was born on January 21 in Cleveland, Ohio. She remembers the day she got her first library card and the first book she took out of the Cleveland Public Library; Horton Hatches the Egg. She studied English Literature in the Queen’s College in the prestigious university of Oxford. She married with her love of adolescence, and they live in a suburb of Cleveland with their two children, and an oversized Airedale named Hoover. [Bio source: Goodreads, Wikipedia info and photo]

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Two Good Dogs: A Novel by Susan Wilson Audiobook Review

What a beautiful and thoughtfully written novel of the power that connects human and canine and to their shared people.

Two Good Dogs by Susan Wilson

Book Blurb:

Susan Wilson, the best-selling author of One Good Dog, delivers another powerful audiobook of loyalty and love.

Single mom Skye Mitchell has sunk her last dime into a dream, owning the venerable, if run-down, LakeView Hotel in the Berkshire Hills. It’s here where she believes she’ll give her 14-year-old daughter, Cody, a better life. But being an innkeeper is more challenging than she imagined, and Cody still manages to fall in with the wrong crowd. In addition, Cody is keeping an earth-shattering secret that she’s terrified to reveal. The once loving, open girl has now become completely withdrawn, and Skye is both desperate and helpless to reach her.

When Adam March and his pit bull, Chance, check in to the hotel, it becomes the first of many visits. Here in these peaceful mountains he finds an unexpected relief from his recent bereavement. He and the beleaguered innkeeper form a tentative friendship. Adam knows the struggles of raising a difficult teenager, and Skye understands loneliness.

And then there is Mingo, a street kid with a pit bull dog of his own. When Cody discovers an overdosed Mingo, Adam takes the boy’s dog not just for safekeeping but to foster and then rehome. But the dog isn’t the only one who needs saving. A makeshift family begins to form as four lost people learn to trust and rely on each other, with the help of two good dogs.

My Review:

Okay, busted! Here I am with another doggie book, and what an exceptionally fine book it was. Of course, I was able to secure the audiobook, which places you square in the middle of the characters, the scene, and the joyous relationship with the dogs.

Two Good Dogs by Susan WilsonSkye Mitchell is escaping her own tragedies and thinking she’d offer herself and her daughter a whole new, hopefully peaceful, life, she purchased the LakeView Hotel and moved. But Cody is fourteen, a typical sullen, uncommunicative teen lost in her own world turned upside down and now with no familiar school or friends. But in addition, Cody knows something her mother would never suspect and which Cody is desperate to conceal.

Adam March recently lost his wife and the life he’d known, his job losing its previous overwhelming focus, and the only thing keeping him in touch with the here and now is his pit bull, Chance, a rescue. Chance is intuitive, sympathetic, and has a POV of his own–one you swear is visible in his eyes. He often imparts just the touch of grounding that prevents Adam from being inconsolable.

And Mingo, a street kid, left to his own, and his own hasn’t been easy. He’s found the wrong gang, the drugs, and the activities to pay for the habit. But one activity has gone too far for him and there is a depth to Mingo that his homeboys has failed to perceive. He has adopted a pit bull of his own–one he saved despite the odds. And Dawg will repay the kindness.

There are multiple POVs, all that allows the reader inside the head of the characters until you know them so well that you rail against poor decisions or cheer with the better ones. Mingo, I loved him. My heart went out to him, several times, in virtual hugs. What a kid! He wasn’t taught right and wrong–it was instinctive.

There were a number of times I wanted to slap Skye upside the head. Fortunately, she doesn’t really qualify as an antagonist, there are a couple others who fulfill that slot. I did like Adam, he functions as an unbiased therapist between mother and daughter, often quietly covering Cody’s back. The antagonist functions as a creepy ugghy guy, made more repulsive by the narrator and raising the hairs on the back of your neck.

A strong character-driven novel completely hooks you and doesn’t let go. Either way, whether you listen to this audiobook or read it, you’ll be drawn into the thoroughly engaging story and so invested you’re forced to see how the author will play this one out. My only negative (and it’s a small one) is the way Skye was narrated.

I loved this narrative and whether or not you enjoy a book with our canine partners, I’ll bet you’ll love the compelling and unique storyline and characters. Masterfully written, a novel worthy of a book hangover. (I grabbed this one because I’d read The Dog I Loved. See that review here.)

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction
Publisher:  Macmillan Audio (Publisher)
ASIN: B06W539DF8
Listening Length: 11 hours and 51 minutes
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
ASIN: B01KFX665O
Print Length: 351 pages
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Source: Merrillville Public Library – Audiobooks
Title Link: Two Good Dogs
 

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Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

The Narrators: Christina Delaine (Narrator), Fred Berman (Narrator), Rick Adamson (Narrator)

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Dog I Loved: A Novel by Susan Wilson – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Brilliant, immersive, totally absorbing fiction reads like a true story.

(So good I couldn’t keep it to myself and I’m sharing this review with my associate, the CE.)

Book Blurb:

The Dog I Loved by Susan WilsonAfter spending years in prison for a crime she didn’t intend to commit, Rose Collins is suddenly free. Someone who knows about the good work she has done—training therapy dogs while serving time—has arranged for her early release. This mysterious benefactor has even set her up with a job in the coastal Massachusetts community of Gloucester, on the edge of Dogtown, a place of legend and, for the first time since Rosie’s whole world came crashing down, hope. There she works to rebuild her life with the help of Shadow, a stray dog who appears one rainy night and refuses to leave Rose’s side.

Meghan Custer is a wheelchair-bound war veteran who used to be hopeless, too. Living at home with her devoted but stifling parents felt a lot like being in prison, in fact. But ever since she was matched with a service dog named Shark, who was trained in a puppy-to-prisoner rehabilitation program, Meghan has a brand new outlook. Finally, she can live on her own. Go to work. And maybe, with Shark by her side, even find love again.

Two strong women on a journey toward independence whose paths collide in extraordinary ways. Two dogs who somehow manage to save them both. A tale of survival and a testament to the human spirit, The Dog I Loved is an emotional and inspiring novel that no reader will soon forget.

My Thoughts

This novel seizes you from the beginning and does not let go until you’ve read the last word of the last page and in between unfolds an amazingly written story that reads so realistic, so full of drama, it’s hard to believe this is fiction.

The Dog I Loved by Susan WilsonRosie experienced limited freedom when she left her family to live with Charles Foster in New York. He comes from old money, position, and education and almost from the beginning begins to separate Rosie from her family and friends. It quickly becomes obvious he can be demeaning and cruel. But his death is truly an accident, Rosie trying to prevent an accident, and through Charles’ mother’s contacts and her own incompetent PD, enters prison with a long sentence.

Before her horrific service-connected injury leaving her a paraplegic, Meghan was known as Captain Meghan “Buster” (though her real name is Custer). She is struggling with the loss of independence and over-protective and smothering parents until she learns of the service dog program trained by prisoners. She will meet Shark, the first dog trained by Rosie and during the orientation, the two damaged women bond.

When Rosie is suddenly exonerated and released after six years, she is also plunked into the position of overseer of a complete renovation of an early American property. The house is just outside Gloucester, a coastal city on Cape Ann, Massachusetts, at the remains of “DogTown,” a “village lost in time.” In the meantime, an unusually large and mysterious dog has entered Rosie’s life and she quickly bonds with the perceptive animal she names Shadow.

Author Susan Wilson has penned a masterful tale weaving modern-day storyline with that of an historical account of the enigmatic but remote area she is overseeing. There are several POV’s and all the characters are so fully engaging, including the fully-fleshed dogs, that the reader easily invests in each as well as the well-plotted and engaging narrative. You MUST know how this will turn out!

This absolutely amazing book hits so many tough subjects from women in prison to wounded warriors, PTSD, dysfunctional families, estrangement, and friendship. Unique plot–totally immersive. My first experience with this author won’t be the last and I’m off to see what else I can find written by this author. You owe it to yourself to grab this book releasing TODAY! Trust me, you’ll be glad you did–and you’re welcome!

His Thoughts

Can dogs really read minds, or is it their desire to please that makes them so responsive? Susan Wilson has combined a historical fiction format into a prisoner training dog scenario. An Irish lass, the only daughter in a family with five other siblings, Mary Rose Collins (Rosie)  is controlled and sheltered. Enter a spoiled rich kid of an entirely different social status and you have gas on water.

Rosie is dominated by older brothers and controlling parents. Her way out seems to be Charles Montgomery Foster who courts her but hides her because of her “poor side of the tracks” background. Gifts are given with obvious hooks and his mother disdains her.

Then a tragic accident kills Charles and his mother pushes stiff prosecution of Rosie. Her next twenty years will be in a correctional institution. A “prisoner training program” allows her to become involved with something other than the daily drudgery of prison life. She is tasked with training a Service Dog named Shark.

Meghan is a wounded warrior with a future in a wheelchair and only partial use of her body. The dog is a life-saver to both ladies. Two weeks together with the dog and the two women bond with each other as well as the dog.

Then Rosie’s prison sentence is suddenly vacated and she receives a job helping restore a centuries-old house.

Associate Reviewer - C E WilliamsSusan Wilson combines the history of the Massachusetts seashore with a love of dogs and has woven a fantastic tale. She adds another dog “Shadow” who comes into Rosie’s life when she needs him most. Overall the story is both heartwarming and complete in its amazing emotional development of the plot and characters.

I cannot endorse this book enough. Give yourself time because you will want to complete the book in a single setting. Thank you for the experience, Susan! 5/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Animal Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Friendship Fiction
Publisher: St Martin’s Press

  • ISBN-10:1250078148
  • ISBN-13:978-1250078148
  • ASIN: B07PBNB7YJ

Print Length: 368 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day, November 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Dog I Loved
I was granted a download of this uncorrected digital galley by the publisher through NetGalley and was totally thrilled with this novel. It is one that will resonate for some time to come. Thank you St Martin’s Press! It’s officially a book hangover.

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Susan Wilson - authorThe Author: SUSAN WILSON is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestselling One Good Dog. In her most recent novel, TWO GOOD DOGS, the two main characters from One Good Dog, Adam March and his rescued pit bull Chance, make a return. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit her online at http://www.susanwilsonwrites.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Beyond a Reasonable Stout: A Sloan Krause Mystery Book 3 by Ellie Alexander

This may yet get me to try a craft beer. Although I’d be happier checking out this beautiful little Washington state village.

Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie AlexanderBook Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into the murderous political world in another delightful mystery from popular cozy writer Ellie Alexander.

It’s the dead season in Leavenworth, Washington. The throngs of Oktoberfest crowds have headed home, and the charming Bavarian streets are quiet and calm—momentarily. Villagers use the reprieve to drink in the crisp fall mountain air and prepare for the upcoming winter light festival. Soon the German-inspired shops and restaurants will be aglow with thousands of twinkling lights. Visitors will return to the northern Cascades to drink warm mulled cider and peruse the holiday markets. Brewer, Sloan Krause and her partner in crime Garrett Strong are using the slowdown to stock up on a new line of their signature craft beers at Nitro. They’re experimenting with a hoppy holiday pine and a chocolate hazelnut stout. The small brewery is alive with delicious scents and bubbling batches of brew.

Sloan is in her element. She loves the creativity and lowkey atmosphere at Nitro. Only that is soon threatened by the incumbent city councilmember Kristopher Cooper. Kristopher is running for re-election on a platform of making Leavenworth dry. Everyone in beertopia is fuming. Leavenworth’s economy relies on keeping the kegs flowing. Kristopher wants to banish beer, a policy that might just bankrupt the entire village. However, Kristopher turns up dead days before election night. Sloan quickly realizes that his murder isn’t the work of a stranger. Friends, family, and every other business owner had a motive to kill him, including none other than April Ablin, Leavenworth’s self-described ambassador of all things German. Sloan finds herself defending April and trying to sleuth out a killer amongst a group of familiar faces.

My Review:

No I don’t drink beer and at my age can barely tolerate a small glass of white wine before I’m running for an antacid, but for some reason, this little series set a spark that has caught my attention.

Beyond a Reasonable Stout by Ellie AlexanderProtagonist Sloan Krause has the nose and the taste buds for the business. She’s smart, inventive, and original. Having grown up the hard way through a series of foster homes, she thought she’d found a family when she married Mac and became part of his family’s Der Keller Brewery in the quaint mountainous Bavarian styled village of  Leavenworth. They had a son, Alex, but Mac soon acquired a wandering eye.

All was not lost when she discovered a start-up brewery run by Garrett at close by at Nitro. He is an ex-Seattle chemist. He is easy and laid back, detailed oriented and intelligent. They hired Kat, a young woman who needed a job and a roof over her head and acquired both with Nitro.

Book three has the village facing a city council election whose incumbent has decided Leavenworth should be alcohol-free–which, of course, would kill most of the town’s livelihoods. Following a nasty confrontation following a rally for his opponent, he is found murdered and it’s the town’s self-proclaimed “ambassador” April, who is #1 person of interest.

Running parallel in an undercurrent left from Book 2, Sloan again confronts her past and seeks answers regarding her parents and the resulting abandonment.

Once again, the compelling and well-developed support characters from the previous novel are back and are readily familiar, although you could easily read this as a standalone. There is a lot of industry-standard vocabulary, as well as Sloan’s tasty ideas for the upcoming season. Details of brewing are shared in an off-hand way that doesn’t interrupt the story, merely adds credence and understanding to the craft art.

As Oktoberfest is history, the village has a slight lull prior to Thanksgiving, the tree lighting ceremonies, the opening of ski season and winter activities, so they have the opportunity to work on projects and taste test. The weather is turning cold and the beauty of their village, their little valley, and the mountains take on a whole new perspective. The author imparts her love of the Pacific Northwest in her descriptive prose and once again creates a travel lust. I loved the descriptions of the various beers and exactly how they are classified, reminding me a little of the tour we took in Japan of the Kirin (Ichiban) Brewery in Yokohama. (Yes, I tasted it…how can you not?)

There continues to be some growth in the relationship between her and Garrett, although Mac is trying to come back and I’m discerning just a slight bit of emotional confusion. The antagonist was no real surprise, although there were a few twists and red herrings to throw you off. And I appreciated the way April returned the favor–and excited to see that idea going forward. But then, what?? A cliffhanger?!! Gees, I hate cliffhangers. I read Book 2, The Pint of No Return last year and loved it. (See that review here.) Now I have to wait another year??

“Beer Cures What Ales You.”

“Every loaf of bread is a tragic story of grains that could have become beer but didn’t.”

I received this uncorrected digital galley from the publisher and NetGalley and loved the opportunity to read and review. I am really looking forward to following this series and will be watching for Book 4! Recommended for any who enjoy a fun, fast-paced cozy mystery or any well-crafted novel with wonderful fully-developed characters in a unique and gorgeous setting.

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books

  • ISBN-10:1250205751
  • ISBN-13:978-1250205759
  • ASIN: B07P7BXXHZ

Print Length: 284 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 1, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Beyond a Reasonable Stout

Kate Dyer-Seeley - authorThe Author: Ellie Alexander, author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series and the Sloan Krause Mysteries (St. Martin’s Press), is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her here:
web: http://https://www.elliealexander.co/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellie_alexander
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwd80ruKbz98VZQGT2I23-Q/featured
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliealexanderauthor
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BakeshopMystery

©2019 V Williams V Williams