‘The One and Only Bob’ by Katherine Applegate; When a dog, a gorilla, and an elephant are best friends

bob

Remember Bob, the scrawny little dog with lots of bravado who was Ivan and Ruby’s buddy in “The One and Only Ivan“? Well, author Katherine Applegate decided that Bob deserved his own story, and “The One and Only Bob” is this survivor’s tale.

First, let’s be clear about one thing: Bob is NOT a good dog. Sure, he’s loving and appreciates his two square meals a day, but don’t expect him to listen or obey commands like “sit” or “leave it.” He’s the first to say that he’s a street dog, and he’s proud of it. His opinion of Hachiko, the dog who waited at the train station for his owner for nine years? “That dog was a ninny. A numskull. A nincompoop.”

Continue reading

‘Dance Away With Me’ by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

dance

“Dance Away with Me” is not one of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ light, humor-filled romances featuring sassy women and sexy athletes. Rather this one delves into issues about loss and grief, family values, teenage pregnancy, child abuse, what it takes to do the right thing. The novel begins with Tess Hartsong, who has run away to a cabin in the aptly-named Runaway Mountain to try to heal from the death of her husband, Travis, two years previously. Tess and Travis were schoolmates before they were lovers, and now that Travis has died tragically, too young, Tess can’t seem to recover. She wallows in her grief and hopes that wild dancing outside while playing music way too loud will help, and she imagines that only the neighboring wild animals will hear it.

Continue reading

‘The Deceivers’ by Margaret Peterson Haddix is the second in the ‘Greystone Secrets’ series

deceivers

Margaret Peterson Haddix is truly the queen of series writing. It’s tough to write a second book in a series that has more than two books. You can’t write the ending, but there needs to be some kind of closure, and yet you have to make sure that the readers are involved enough to want to know what’s going to happen next. Haddix manages it all brilliantly.

Continue reading

‘The Finders’ by Jeffrey B. Burton

the finders

There are a few authors who write wonderful mysteries with something that makes them extra-fun to read — that extra-something is dogs. There is the “Chet and Bernie” series by Spencer Quinn and David Rosenfelt’s wonderful “Andy Carpenter” mysteries. Now we can add Jeffrey B. Burton’s new series, the Mace Reid K-9 Mysteries, that begins with “The Finders.”

Continue reading

‘Don’t Turn Around’ by Jessica Barry is a thrilling road trip with two women dealing with a mysterious threat and their pasts

“Don’t Turn Around” by Jessica Barry is this author’s second novel under this pseudonym. Her first, “Freefall” was a huge success (film rights were sold), and this novel has just as much action and intrigue. At first blush, it wouldn’t seem to be a thriller. After all, the plot centers around two women taking a car ride from Lubbock, Texas to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Continue reading

Unions: The good, the bad, and the ugly

With all the news regarding police abuse of power, police assaulting and killing innocent people (like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd), and the fact that police unions support their officers no matter how heinous the crime, unions are going to come out of this as the bad guys. And you know what? Some unions deserve that bad rap. However, I was president of my local teacher’s union, the NSEA, for eight years. I think I can share what unions should and should not be about with a clear and unbiased voice.

Continue reading

‘Catalyst’ by Sarah Beth Durst is just the middle grade summer fantasy adventure your kids need

catalyst

Sarah Beth Durst loves fantasy, and she loves cats. In “Catalyst,” she combines those loves to create a kitten that grows and grows and grows. When almost twelve-year-old Zoe finds the tiny kitten, she knows her mother won’t let her keep it. She knows because she wasn’t able to keep any of the other animals she rescued, including the last one, a skunk.

Continue reading

‘The Wife Stalker’ by Liv Constantine is a twisted tale of treachery

wife stalker

“The Wife Stalker” by Liv Constantine is a suitable second book for the authors who created the thrilling “The Last Mrs. Parrish.” Like the first book by the two sisters who write together under the name Liv Constantine, this one features alternating narratives and stories that appear to lead in one direction only to completely turn us around when we realize that things — mostly — are not as they seemed.

Continue reading

‘Buzz Kill’ — yes, Buzz kills

buzz kill

David Sosnowski’s “Buzz Kill” is a brilliant novel, a stunning demonstration that all comedy is a skewed perception of tragedy. Sosnowski also presents extraordinary evidences of several inconvenient truths: (1) The moment we’re born, we start to die; (2) We and our babies, our creations, are ourselves the deadly viruses that lead us inexorably to our own destruction; and (3) The best-laid schemes, even the innocent ones, of mice and men and machines oft go awry. Not a very happy trio of truths, but all essentially inarguable.

Continue reading