Mystery stories haven’t always been my reading genre, but recently, due to two Wyoming authors who have “hit the big time” (Craig Johnson and CJ Box), this line of writing has captured my attention. Therefore, I was thrilled to learn about Linda O. Johnson and her works that weave pet rescue and animals in general into several of her books.
Pick and Chews is one of those stories.
Told in first-person point of view, a vet tech named Carrie sleuths murders in her community, and in this story, it’s the man she loves that’s a suspect. That guy, Dr. Reed Storme, is a veterinarian at the clinic where Carrie works; he and other veterinarians are at the top of the police’s suspect list for the murder of a woman vet who decides to open a competitive practice in town.
Witty, fun and adventurous with some twists in the story, Pick and Chews gives insight into several people who could be the murderer, including Dr. Storme. Additionally, readers are introduced to some of the wonderful dogs owned by the characters as well as ones available for adoption through the community’s rescue organization. I like how the author weaves the importance of pet rescue and adoption. Carrie, who is also a baker of both people and dog treats, hosts adoption events at her business. As the murder mystery deepens, Carrie’s own canine is threatened, causing the amateur detective to reconsider her sleuthing. Who’s the culprit? Read the story and find out!
Johnston has written numerous books, and Pick and Chews is just one of this Barkery & Biscuits Mystery series. A fun, cozy, clean read, pet lovers and mystery book lovers alike will enjoy this story! Check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/Pick-Chews-Barkery-Biscuits-Mystery/dp/0738752452.
As autumn turns to winter, if you’re looking for some enjoyable reading, you might consider some of Johnston’s works.
Books are an important avenue for learning and relaxing. Now and then, I’m going to blog about a book that has impacted me in some way and features animals as characters or are the principle focus of the book. Since yesterday was National Dog Day, I’m starting off with an entertaining contemporary romance called “A New Leash on Love."
Combining romance and animal rescue is something a person who enjoys reading doesn’t come across often, and since I’m stepping into that genre with the release of my first novel, I was intrigued to come across “A New Leash on Love.”
The book is written by Eliza Boyd, who has created and published several clean, contemporary romance books. “A New Leash on Love” is the first installment of her Animal Sanctuary Romance series. The story takes place in True Love, Arizona, where we meet Hannah Lockhart, who has come to the small town to help her cousin establish an animal sanctuary. Hannah promises to stay a few weeks and though she loves animals, she can’t wait to return to her big city life. Enter Luke Steiner, a man once burned by love so badly he lost his business. Now re-established in True Love, he tells himself, “Never again.” His eatery and his dog are his focus - until he volunteers at the animal sanctuary and works alongside Hannah. The undercurrent of the story is a wrong number text message.
The author writes a fun, oftentimes humorous, clean romance story with serious undertones of the determination - and need - for animal rescue. I enjoyed the tension and flirtation between Hannah and Luke, especially since the two characters don’t realize they are texting each other after a mix-up in a phone number given to Hannah by a member of the community. The two primary characters, when they meet in person, get off to a rocky start due to Luke’s concern for his dog’s health (which Hannah doesn’t know about at the time). Luke’s inner turmoil about his dog, Ralph, speaks volumes to me as a pet lover and pet parent; those of us who live with animals know the twisting of our hearts when our dogs, cats, and other critters are ill and we’re seeking answers to the issues. Reading this aspect of Luke’s life helps make him a likeable character, even with his other flaws (after all, no person is perfect).
That’s the other aspect of this book that I like: the characters are relatable. Hannah is in search of herself, even if she doesn’t realize that; many of us have been at that point in our lives once or twice. Her cousin wants to rescue animals and provide a sanctuary for them - who wouldn’t love a person with such compassion and kindness? And the people of True Love are caring and helpful to their neighbors - our “real world” needs more people like that. And, of course, as Luke and Hannah come to realize the text message brought them together and subsequent texts helped them to really get to know one another, the “real” Hannah and Luke, there’s a Happily Ever After, which we who read romance always want to see take place.
Boyd’s writing style is witty and entertaining. The story flows and the characters are enjoyable, including the animals she introduces us to, such as a group of goats that come to the sanctuary. Luke’s dog, Ralph, develops a friendship with a cow that is sweet and fun to read, weaving a subtle reminder that we don’t all have to be the same to enjoy each other’s company.
“A New Leash on Love” released earlier this summer. If you’re looking for a fun, clean romantic read with undertones on the importance of animal rescue and the joy of animal companionship, I encourage you to get a copy of this book. Or, if you’re simply looking for a fun read with some flirty yet clean romance and delightful animals as secondary characters, this could be the book for you. “A New Leash on Love” is available in print or via Kindle through Amazon.
Her next creation in this new field of pet rescue romance is “No Kidding in Love,” a story which again takes place in True Love, Arizona (Boyd has another series about this fictional community). “No Kidding…” is a brand-new release, available August 29 - I pre-ordered the book, and I look forward to reading the story. With a goat on the cover, I can tell this will be another fun read!
What book(s) have you read recently that’s animal-related? Why would you recommend it/them? Watch for more book reviews on my blog later in the year.
We’ve all seen videos or Facebook posts about animal heroes, courageous critters who save people’s lives, alert family members to fires or intruders, K9 and military dogs who sniff out drugs and bombs, and search and rescue canines who find lost children and elderly people with dementia. Each and every one of these creatures are brave and persevering. Their loyalty is beyond measure.
Many such dogs, military heroes, search and rescue champions, service stars, and others, are honored annually through American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards; the program is telecast each fall. Voting for Hero Dog of the Year continues through September 5.
Perhaps you know a courageous critter – a dog that rescued your child or a neighbor’s child from a situation, such as drowning. Maybe your grandmother’s cat alerted her to a fire. Or, you’ve read a story about such a brave pet.
I lived with one. No, she didn’t save the family from an intruder nor did she pull someone to safety. Her name was Sage, and she lived with blindness most of her life. Instead of rescuing people from danger, she courageously lived life, navigating stairs she couldn’t see, whether at home or in a strange building; she jumped up on furniture without having the security of knowing she’d land on the bed, couch, or chair – she couldn’t see and therefore, she bravely tackled the attempt. Sage inspired me, and she inspired others. Through classroom trips and library visits, Sage encouraged children who faced challenges, whether physical or emotional – her life as a blind dog epitomized courageous and perseverance. She lived both daily.
I wrote stories and books about Sage’s life and her impact upon others. One story was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What? Titled “Seeing with the Heart,” I share the impact Sage had on some of the children we met during classroom visits. Her ability to sense when a child needed comfort touched many hearts, including my own, and her kindness and triumph over her disability impacted many kids.
My husband and I adopted Sage in 2001; we weren’t told, and we didn’t realize she was losing her sight. Although we were shocked when our veterinarian told us, “I’m sorry but your dog is going blind; she has an irreversible disease known as Progressive Retinal Atrophy,” we came to accept the outcome. We expected a depressed, dejected dog, but Sage’s courage and perseverance arose, and she tackled many obstacles, which inspired many. That special springer spaniel was the catalyst for me to become a strong advocate for pet adoption and to become an author. My first book, Sage’s Big Adventure: Living with Blindness, was created to encourage children to face their own obstacles with the tenacity Sage exhibited. Five years later, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with my Blind Dog, was published; this devotional-style publication discusses the many lessons I and others learned from Sage.
We humans can learn great lessons from the pets in our lives as well as from those who don’t share our household. Animals can inspire us, if our hearts are open to the lessons and encouragement.
Want to read about my delightful dog named Sage? Pick up a copy of one of my books about her!
Learn more about and purchase Sage’s Big Adventure: Living with Blindness here.
Learn more about and purchase Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog here.
View a video about my brave springer spaniel Sage and the books about her below.