Colin Chappell, a blogging-world friend, has written a fine book which is “a story about one calculating dog…and one unsuspecting human.”  Published in 2016 and available in hardback, paperback, and on Kindle, it serves as a training manual for pet adoption as Chappell, who admittedly “has a soft spot for the underdog,” adopts a messed-up, confused dog of unknown background, and with the dog’s love and cooperation, turns Ray, the dog, into a loving, expressive, happy companion. What is amazing is how Ray altered Colin’s and Carols’ lives.

The book is written with a chapter narrated by Colin, then the same experiences, adventures narrated by Ray, to give the canine point of view. This is done so well that one wonders who is reading who’s mind, and who is “training” who.   The anecdotes are so many and so good, I couldn’t choose a favorite to recount, but early into the adoption when Ray receives a diagnosis of advanced heart-worms, it brought out the “Oh-no response” in me as I read. Because Colin had had the bad experience of having a beloved Siamese cat put down (a poem at the end of the book explores this) following the recommendation to euthanize his first dog, Ray, was not an option.

With love, medical treatment, and much financial cost, Ray is now a healthy member of the family.  You can read about Colin and Ray’s on-going, recent adventures at http://www.meandray.com   As Colin muses in the very beginning of the book, “Who would have thought living with Ray would force me to reflect on my own life?”  I highly recommend the blog and also the book.  It is a must read for anyone who loves animals and wants a story with a happy continuance, rather than a sad ending.




This weekend I finished two books I started what seems like ages ago. Because of library books due and other reasons, I put each of them aside more than one time, and I promised myself I’d continue to stay off my feet and finish at least one of them this weekend.

The first was a YA paranormal romance (a genre I didn’t even know existed) reviewed by a blogging friend in the UK, Amanda Hocking’s Freeks.  This 2016 publication kept my interest throughout, and although I had little in common with the young characters, the ending was so exciting I was mentally yelling for the good guys to “Get it! Kill it!” I was not sure of the outcome until the last few “seconds” of the climax, an extraordinary feat for any author hoping to sustain my interest through the last chapters.

Maura, a carnival kid, was my favorite character.  She is just growing into her “gift”, necromancy, speaking with dead spirits, which she has inherited from her mother and her grandmother. Gabe, the love interest, is so handsome, cool, with just the touch of “danger” reflected in his golden eyes, who wouldn’t like him?  The relationships in the story are well drawn: Maura and Gabe, Maura and her mother, her mother and the “boss” of the carnival,  “freaks” with other “normals” in the carnival,  and the “carnies” and the “townies”. The setting is intriguing:  the carnival background against the eerie, something-is-just-not-right feeling of the small town in the South. The cover invited the reader to “Step inside a wondrous, strange, new world…,” and if the reader can suspend reality and believe for a brief moment, he/she will enjoy doing just that.


The Art of Racing In the Rain has been circling the track for me since before Christmas, and it brought relief as well as satisfaction to finish it today. Garth Stein’s philosophical, sad, sad novel is told from Enslow’s (the dog’s!) point of view, and he is the best narrator I’ve followed in a long, long time. It was published back in 2009, but since it was on the subject of death and my mother died that year, I didn’t even attempt to read it then. It is heart wrenching, at times funny, and endears the reader to the three main characters: Denny, a race car driver who specializes in racing in the rain or on a wet track; and his wife, Eve, who first displaces Enzo, then finally  entrusts her husband and their daughter, Zoe, to him. The circle of life and all of its philosophical tenets, as well as its absurdities, comes into play and develops during this 321 page novel.  Be sure you buy kleenex in preparation for reading this one.