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Thereby Hangs A Tail by Spencer Quinn

Having read the first in the Chet and Bernie Mystery series, Dog On It, I was looking forward to the second; but sometimes subsequent books in a series are not a good as the first.  In this case, no disappointment, Spencer Quinn’s second book, Thereby Hangs A Tail, is as funny and engaging as the first.

Chet is a dog and tells the story from his point of view, not always understanding human words and ways.  Chet and his human, detective Bernie Little, are hired to protect Princess, a dog show competitor.  Before they begin the job Princess and her owner, Adelina, are kidnapped.  While they are  on the hunt for the kidnappers Bernie’s sometimes girlfriend, Susie, disappears.  All this keeps Chet and Bernie busy.

Chet has no worries about the outcome of the missing people and dog because he knows he and Bernie are a great detective team.  Bernie remembers everything and Chet has the best nose for sniffing out the bad guys, though he tends to be distracted by his rambling thoughts.

Quinn has written a funny and interesting mystery peopled with some quirky characters and entertaining dialog, especially Chet’s.  This is truly a funny book about some unfunny happenings that explores the partnership of a dog and his human and the love and loyalty they share.

Did I like the book?  Oh, yes.  But the question about Chet that is left unanswered has me impatient for the next Chet and Bernie Mystery.


Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan


Manny DeLeon is the about to be ex-manager of the Red Lobster.  This is the last day of business for this New England restaurant.

It is four days before Christmas, a big storm is blowing in, and nobody wants to work the last shift.  Manny does his best to keep his dwindled staff happy so they will serve the last diners.  While he is juggling managing the staff and doing maintenance chores and placating disgruntled patrons, he is also trying to figure out what to do about his pregnant girlfriend at home and the waitress at work he who loves.

Bottom line this is about a hardworking, basically good guy, trying his best.  But his best is not quite enough.  Sad.

Rescue by Anita Shreve

Webster is a young paramedic who saves the life of a beautiful young woman, Sheila.  They fall in love.  They marry and have a daughter, Rowan, and do not live happily ever after.

When Rowan is two years old, Sheila leaves them and father and daughter  go on without her.  All seems fine until Rowan’s last year of high school when she begins to quietly rebel and distance herself from Webster.  On the night of the Senior Dance there is an accident…and the return of Sheila into their lives.

There are times in the early years of Sheila and Webster’s relationship that are touching and beautiful as only young love can be.  But in the midst of that love is also great sadness and the knowledge that love does not always conquer all.  When they see each other again years later it is with acceptance of who they were together and who they have become while apart; the one thing that has not changed is their love for Rowan.

Well written with brutal honesty of emotion there are many questions and few answers, much like real life.  Anita Shreve deftly explores the deeper and more tender places of the heart.


Awakening by Stovall Weems

Do you feel like you are sleepwalking through life?  Maybe you need an awakening, an awakening of your spiritual life.

Pastor Stovall Weems believes a way to that awakening is in four steps:

1.  experiencing surrender
2. experiencing passion for God
3. experiencing God’s goodness
4. creating space for God

In his book, Awakening, Pastor Weems gives encouragement and practical advise to help the reader understand the four steps.  Surrender anew and totally, be passionate and fall in love with God, know God’s goodness and what grace really is, and open a place within for God to fill.

The steps are taken with prayer and fasting.  Prayer here is threefold; righteous, effective, and fervent.  Fasting is something to enjoy, once you find your “fasting zone”.  With prayer and fasting comes an agreement with God, alignment with His will, and your assignment, the purpose of your life.

Part Two of the book is the Awakening 21-Day Plan.  Included are different types of fasts, sample menus, and tips on preparing for the fast and ending it.  There is also a 21 day guide; each day has a scripture, short devotion, bible reading plan, prayer focus, and a place for notes. 

Overall I thought the book was  interesting and has some good points and suggestions. I especially like the inclusion of the 21 day guide.   But I do not know if it is something that will “revolutionize your relationship with God”  as the book cover claims. 

There are many personal stories of Pastor Weems and testimonies of others.  These are interesting and have their place in the book. But, there is the feeling that if you follow this books suggestions you will not only have an awakening but a miracle.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review.

One day by David Nicholls

On Friday July 15,1988, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew have just graduated from university in Edinburgh and have just met.

She is working class, studious, serious, with an off beat sense of humor, attractive without knowing it, and a bit awkward.  He is upper class, handsome and knows it, just wants to have fun, and barely made to graduation.  Very different people yet they find themselves quite taken with each other.  That is the beginning.

Emma and Dexter spend the next 20 years in and out of each others life.  They have fun, they fight, they laugh, and they cry. They remain friends.  She finds a career she likes and if not happy accepts her life.  He is semi-famous and miserable.  That is the middle.

Emma and Dexter have a falling out and later reunite. They are the same but very different.  They are certainly older and maybe wiser and still friends.  Then something happens.  That is the end.

Nicholls is great with dialog and his characters are real and easy to relate to.  Sometimes you want to slap Emma and Dexter other times you want to give them a hug. 

I liked it.

Doc by Mary Doria Russell

Because of his “consumption” Dr. John Holliday leaves his well-to-do family and home  in Atlanta and moves to a drier climate in the West.  At twenty-two he is sick, scared, lonely, and in Texas.  He gambles professionally and lives with Kate, a prostitute, who is his intellectual equal.

Kate is ambitious and convinces Doc to move to Dodge City, Kansas, a boom town with lots of money to be made from the cattle drovers.  In Dodge City Doc opens a dental office but still gambles as there is little money  in dentistry.

Doc finds purpose in his dental practice but because of his frail health he is usually in pain and fatigued making dentistry difficult at best.  He struggles with the pain and  his relationship with  Kate using alcohol to ease the suffering caused by both.

It is in Dodge City that Doc meets and becomes friends with Wyatt Earp.  A friendship that stands the test of time and the differences of the two men and lasts for the rest of Doc’s life.

I like historical fiction and this book was most interesting.  The way Russell weaves fact and fiction it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.  I found myself liking Doc and Wyatt, but not so much Kate.

Some of the stories within the story are funny and tender but most are sad.  Television and movies tend to glamorize the Old West, this novel does not.