‘A Twist in Time’ by Julia McElwain is mystery first, sci-fi second, with a bit of romance

twistin time

“A Twist in Time” by Julia McElwain continues the journey in time that began with “A Murder In Time.” In that story, FBI genius profiler Kendra Donovan travels unexpectedly through a time warp back to 1815 where — as luck would have it — there is a series of murders to solve, all committed by a serial killer.

In this story, which takes place right after the first story ends, Kendra’s stay in Regency Period England continues. A wealthy and wonderfully winsome widow who is not held in high esteem by the titled peers of the realm has been viciously killed in her townhouse.

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‘Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book (An Enchanting Original Story)’ by Jennifer Donnelly is a perfect companion to the movie

lost in a book

“Lost in a Book” by Jennifer Donnelly  is a brand new book about Belle and the Beast from “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s a story that takes place during Belle’s stay at the castle after she has offered to take her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner.

The novel works well for those who already know the story — and really, who doesn’t? In fact, with the recently released Beauty and the Beast movie, reading the book becomes even more enjoyable as a way to immerse oneself into that whole fairy tale world.

The story-within-a-story is about a bet between Death and her sister, Love. As the story opens, they are playing chess, and the reader learns quickly that Death is not above cheating to win. And when they wager about whether Belle can change the Beast’s stone heart into one that can love and feel kindness and compassion, Death will stop at nothing to make sure that she wins the bet.

She places an enchanted book called “Nevermore” in a corner of Beast’s library. And when Belle comes across it, she can’t resist the lure of its pages and the magic within. But will her growing fondness for Beast and the inhabitants of the castle be enough to fight the spell of the magic, the trickery and the treachery?

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‘Conviction’ by Julia Dahl is a timely and thrilling murder mystery


In “Conviction,” Julia Dahl has managed yet again to create a mystery that seamlessly ties past and present as well as different cultures. Rebekah Roberts grew up in Florida and never knew the Hasidic Jewish mother who abandoned her and her father when Rebekah was an infant. Rebekah moves to New York as an adult to work in journalism, and in one of the previous books she gets to meet her mother.

In this story, Rebekah’s relationship with her mother doesn’t really progress, but there is so much happening the reader won’t even notice. The story is about a murder that took place in 1992 and the teenager who was arrested, tried, and convicted of the crime. The problem is that he didn’t do the murders.

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Dog with Chain Attached Through His Skin Urgently in Need of Foster to Be Saved


Animal rescuers see some horrible things. But sometimes, the level of cruelty is astounding even to those who think they have seen it all.

This dog had been so cruelly treated, so horribly abused, that NorCal Bully Breed Rescue couldn’t turn their back on him. They wrote about that abuse in the Facebook post begging for a foster so that they can save him.

carabiner“This sweet boy was found running down the road with a chain attached to his neck. It
wasn’t attached to a collar. It wasn’t attached around his neck.  It was attached THROUGH his neck. Someone took the time to pierce a large whole in his chest/neck area then punched a carabiner through it, tethering him with a chain.

He was literally pierced and tethered.  It is beyond understanding. It doesn’t make any sense. I see horrible things all the time. I’m hardly ever shocked anymore. But this was beyond shocking.”

He has been named Steve, and he is at a shelter a few hours south of Sacramento. He was found running in the streets with the chain dragging behind him. He is a very lucky dog on two counts. First that he managed to escape from whoever had kept him in such an abusive situation, and second that he was found by someone before his chain caught on something, which would certainly have killed him, slowly and painfully. Continue reading

‘Rescuing Penny Jane: One Shelter Volunteer, Countless Dogs, and the Quest to Find Them All Homes’


rescuing penny jane


In her recent book, “Rescuing Penny Jane: One Shelter Volunteer, Countless Dogs, and the Quest to Find Them All Homes,” author Amy Sutherland shares not only her personal experiences as a shelter volunteer, but also her investigations of other shelters, the practice of sending shelter dogs across the country to other shelters, and how to help shelters find  homes for dog.

Penny Jane, the titular dog whom Sutherland ended up adopting, came from a farm in rural Maine where she was probably born outside and may have had little or no human contact during her puppy months. Sutherland writes:

“Puppies can easily adjust to life with another species, even a towering one with long, insect-like appendages such as ours, if they are handled and cuddled. If they have not been, humans become as scary as Martians. (The two puppies) fear of humans was a sure sign of their being feral, or what is also called unsocialized.”

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Dog Gets Loving Family and New K9 Friend After Long Journey to America

abiie and chloe

It’s been a long journey for Chloe, a Shiba Inu mix, from the dusty streets of rural China to the spacious fenced-in backyard of a suburban Chicago home. But now she has a home and a best friend.

Best friends — sharing a bed

When she was taken off the streets in rural China at six months of age, she had already been hit by a car, abused by children and adults alike, and become scared and aggressive toward other dogs. But ‘Hey Baby,’ as she was called, was still one of the lucky ones.

She lived in a shed with around 15 other dogs. Each morning, the dogs were fed and let outside into a small fenced, concrete area for the day. Each evening they were fed again, and shut up in the shed. The shed was unheated in winter, so the dogs with little fur suffered in the cold. In the summer, with the fierce Chinese heat, the dogs with ample fur like Hey Baby suffered from the lack of cool air. Continue reading

Gentle Giant One of Many Wonderful Dogs Needing Homes Who Need to Be Only Dogs

buddy sitting

Buddy has been without the person he loved most in the world for almost a year now. The relationship he had with his human mom was one of mutual adoration. They loved each other completely and totally.

So when she died, Buddy was bereft. He waited for her to get home every day so they could be together. She’d take him out and play with him, they’d light a fire, turn on the television, watch movies and eat popcorn. Life was good, and Buddy must have felt like the luckiest dog in the world.

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Chipotle is a Wonderful Dog Who Dies Tomorrow in New York


Chipotle’s cherry eye (in both eyes) was fixed when she was spayed!

Chipotle dies tomorrow. She is at the New York Animal Care and Control, and no matter how sweet, how well-behaved, how lovely  dogs are, they are killed when their time is up.

Chipotle is an example of a fabulous dog who will die. She has had less then two weeks in the shelter. She is an amazing dog. When the police found her, she was scared. But when they opened the car door, she jumped right in. When they arrived at the shelter, Chipotle was afraid to get out of the car, but when offered a walk and some treats, she came right out. During the admission process, she was nervous but warmed up to the counselors — especially when offered treats. She allowed all handling — even frightened as she was in the strange surroundings.

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‘Maxi’s Secrets (Or, What You Can Learn From a Dog)’ by Lynn Plourde is a Beautiful Book About the Love of a Dog


maxisecretIn “Maxi’s Secrets (Or, What You Can Learn From a Dog),” Lynn Plourde tells the reader, on the very first page, that the dog dies.

Why, then, did this book reviewer — who tells kids to stay far away from books like “Old Yeller” and “Where the Red Fern Grows” and, indeed, any book where the dog dies — read it?

The author gets points for honesty. And I thought (erroneously) that knowing up front that the dogs dies would make it easier. It didn’t.

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‘The Goldfish Boy’ by Lisa Thompson is a touching middle grade mystery


“The Goldfish Boy” by Lisa Thompson houses an unusual protagonist: a boy with severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He spends almost all of his time inside his home looking out one of two windows, either the window in his bedroom which looks out over the backyard or the window in the front room which still has the baby supplies from before his younger brother died during childbirth.

Matthew doesn’t really have any friends at the beginning of the story. Flashbacks tell of friends he used to have, including one who lives on the quiet cul-de-sac where Matthew and his family live. There is also Melody, a girl his age who has the strange habit of visiting the nearby graveyard. Jake is a former friend-turned-bully who rides his bicycle around the street with an angry look in his eyes.

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‘City of the Lost’ by Kelley Armstrong: Thrilling and action-packed fiction

city of lost

Kelley Armstrong is no stranger to writing fast-moving, exciting fiction. With “City of the Lost,” the start of a new series, Armstrong introduces readers to life in rural — very, very rural — Canada.

Casey Duncan, the protagonist of the novel, is a tough homicide detective. The readers learn early in the story that she killed a man in college. He was the grandson of a mob boss, and she has been looking over her shoulder ever since. Part of her certainly feels like she should be punished for her crime.

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‘The Magician’s Key: Book Two in The Secrets of the Pied Piper’ by Matthew Cody


Matthew Cody’s second book in the “Secrets of the Pied Piper” series, “The Magician’s Key,” is brilliant. This second-in-a-trilogy novel manages to be even more action-filled than the first book.

This one takes place not only in the small town of Hamelin, where the Pied Piper led 130 children into a mountain eight hundred years ago, but also on Summer Isle, where the children still live and where they haven’t aged at all. The isle is magical, warm all year round, but there danger lurks there. Rats the size of humans inhabit the isle, as do elves and witches. And the weather is changing, too. There is a dark winter approaching, and the children don’t know how to prepare for it.

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