There are some things in life that only a dog can teach you.
A poignant, heart-wrenching, but ultimately uplifting novel about the unbreakable bond between a boy and his dog.
In the farming town of Riverside in Washington, Toby Fuller is feeling more alone than ever. Nothing Toby did was ever good enough for his father, but he never expected his father to leave, to abandon him and his mother forever. He loses hope until a scruffy golden retriever called Buddy follows him home from school.
Though he’s struggling to walk, Buddy matches Toby step for step, never taking his eyes off him, as if Toby is all he needs in the world. And from that day on Buddy never leaves Toby’s side.
Buddy shows Toby a loyalty that he has never known. But then disaster strikes and Toby’s life is changed forever. Will Buddy be able to give Toby the strength he needs to carry on?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
It’s not often I’m moved to tears by a story, but this made me cry. It’s written in an honest, heartwarming style, from Buddy, the Golden Retriever’s viewpoint and Toby’s point of view, the boy and later man he befriends. The beginning is poignant and believable, I’ve witnessed first hand how heartbroken dogs can be when they lose someone they love. I’ve shared a beautiful friendship with three dogs in my life, so far, one of which I’m still lucky enough to have.
The story is simple but effective. How the devotion of a dog, heals a broken child and gives hope to a broken man. The ending is so sad, but uplifting and makes you realise how lucky you are to have friendship and love in your life.
If you’ve ever shared your life with a dog, you will be affected by this story. If you haven’t, read it, and realise what you’ve been missing.
When the fate of the world rests on your shoulders, how do you choose between what you ought to do and the only thing you really want?
Leonie finally knows who she is. But now she needs to decide who she is going to be. Her choice will affect not just her family, not just those she knows, but tens, hundreds of thousands, millions of people that she doesn’t. And every path that’s open to her will put Perry under the pressures that caused his breakdown before. How can she do what she must and still protect Perry?
Perry desperately wants to make things easier for Leonie. Somehow he has to find the strength to face the things that all but destroyed him in the past. But every way he turns, some aspect of his past lies waiting to pounce – even during his happiest moments. And he can never forget that Leonie’s life is in danger from someone, somewhere.
Gabriel has managed to negotiate peace, at least in theory. Now he must put that into practice and reunite Leonie with the family she never knew she had. Then disaster strikes right in the middle of his own sanctuary. Can he still protect those he loves, or has he been harbouring a villain the whole time?
Extract: Taken from the second chapter, Leonie and Perry are staying at Castle Tennant. This is the morning after Leonie has had a nightmare and destroyed the Shield protecting the Castle.
Perry grinned at me while we were eating. “I made you a promise yesterday,” he said. “Fancy going swimming after breakfast?”
I nodded eagerly. Swimming always made me feel better no matter what was going on. As soon as I’d finished eating, I grabbed my costume – and Perry – and hurried down to the pool. I was ready first so I slid into the empty, still waters, closing my eyes and revelling in the waves lapping against my skin. I took a deep breath, ducked under the surface and swam as far as I could underwater, enjoying the sensation of being totally encompassed by it. When I came up for air, Perry was in the water too, leaning back against one side of the pool.
He smiled at me. “Are you sure you’re not really a fish?” he asked.
I splashed him and he came after me, in a whirlwind of water, splashes and laughter until he caught me.
We were still in the pool, swimming laps, when Lilyrose and Brin came to find us.
Brin squatted down by the edge of the pool and I looked up at him.
“I am sorry about last night,” I told him.
He smiled. “I told you, don’t worry about it. I’ve managed to persuade Uncle Neville to fork out for a full set of new Shields and a few other goodies, so I’m very happy about it all.”
“Typical Brin,” Perry called. “Always manages to come out on top.”
Brin swivelled on his toes to look at Perry. “Thought you might like to come over to the practice ground again,” he said. “Best not to be caught off guard.”
But Brin was off guard, balanced there on his toes. I reached for just a little power and pushed. He toppled into the pool, arms and legs flailing frantically. He came up spluttering, launching himself at me. “You little…”
I giggled and dived straight under him, beneath his legs, before surfacing next to Perry, who was shaking with laughter. “Best not to be caught off guard, Brin,” he called.
Brin turned, a big smile spread across his face. “Very good,” he conceded. “Now did you want to come over to the practice ground or not?”
Perry looked back and forth between me and Brin, and I could feel he was uncertain. Knowing we could be in danger had made him eager to brush up on his defensive skills but at the same time, he didn’t really want to leave me.
“You go,” I told him. “I just want to swim for a bit longer and then I’ll come and find you.”
He smiled in relief at the decision being made for him, kissed me, and then he and Brin got out of the pool to dry and dress. I swam up and down the pool for a while, revelling in the rhythm of my strokes and the lap of the water against my body. It helped me get my thoughts in order.
What if the ethical choice has devastating consequences for others?
How can anyone know the right thing to do?
Leonie chose to sacrifice everything to save other people. Now those around her have to face the consequences – and those consequences are not what they expected.
Prospero must deal with his own guilt. He was the one who gave Leonie the tools she needed – her life was in his hands. To make the most of what she did, he will have to face up to all the family issues he has avoided for so long. Whatever he chooses to do, someone he loves will be hurt. For Leonie’s sake, is he now strong enough to make the choice he couldn’t make before?
The crisis predicted by Lord Gabriel has come and gone. But his task isn’t over. Leonie’s very existence may be out in the open but Gabriel discovers that the past is never what it seems – and nor is the present. How can he use what he now knows to bring together those who have been enemies for as long as anyone can remember? If he fails in this, everything he’s had to do so far will be in vain.
What if your secrets are so dangerous they could destroy the one you love? Is honesty always the best policy?
Leonie may have run away but Prospero will find her. He loves her and he wants a future with her by his side whatever the consequences. Only when he does find her, he ought to tell her who he really is, outside the monastery. That’ll make her run again. Dare he risk it? But if he doesn’t tell her, someone else may…
Marriage to Prospero is what Leonie wants most and the one thing she knows she can’t have. If he found out what she was really like, what she’d been, what she’d done, he’d despise her and she couldn’t bear that. Better to leave now than live a lie – but it’s harder than she expected. If only…
Gabriel is starting to discover the secrets inherent in Leonie, secrets that not even she knows, secrets that will tear the world apart. And the secrets he is keeping are tearing him apart. How can sacrificing those he loves possibly achieve peace when everything he discovers risks the death of millions?
A girl. A monk. An unthinkable sacrifice. When the choice is between love and life, how can anyone decide?
In a post-apocalyptic future, a girl and a monk, both with extraordinary mental powers, have compelling reasons not to fall in love. But their choices will have consequences for the rest of the world.
After the troubles of his youth, Brother Prospero has found comfort and fulfilment in the monastery. Then he discovers something that forces him to reconsider his whole vocation. How can it possibly be right to leave a life of worship and service for human desire? And if he does leave, will the pressures from his past destroy him?
Orphaned and mistreated, Leonie has found sanctuary and safety at the Abbey. When she comes into contact with Prospero everything spirals out of her control. Everyone she’s ever loved has died. She can’t do that to him. But how can she walk away from the first place she’s truly belonged?
Abbot Gabriel is faced with an impossible choice. He can do nothing and watch the world descend into war. Or he can manipulate events and ensure peace – at the cost of two lives that he is responsible for. Is he strong enough to sacrifice those he loves?
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Rachel J Bonner is the author of the compelling and enthralling four book Choices and Consequences series. The first book in the series, Strand of Faith, was published in November 2018. Book 2, Thread of Hope, released on 2nd May 2019, followed by Weave of Love on 24th October, and Cloth of Grace at the end of February 2020.
Getting a degree in engineering, followed by a career in accountancy is probably not a conventional path to becoming an author, particularly in paranormal romance. Rachel says that, although accountancy isn’t anything like as boring as everyone thinks, writing is a lot more fun. When not writing, she can be found walking in the beautiful countryside near where she lives, which has influenced much of the scenery in her books or shooting things with her local archery club. Shooting targets only, honest. Nothing to worry about.
She also enjoys swimming, eating chocolate chip cookies and growing aromatic herbs, especially thyme and rosemary. It’s no coincidence that her heroine likes the same things.
You can find out more about her books and sign up for Rachel’s newsletters on her website.
Two vicars, their marriage in tatters with wounds reaching far back into the past, set out on a journey to find healing and restoration. Their route will take them from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, but will it help them find their way home? Along the 320-mile route across rural France, burdened by backpacks and blisters, Kim and Penelope stumble across fresh truths, some ordinary, others extraordinary. But will they be defeated by the road ahead or triumph over the pain of the past? Is there a chance they’ll find themselves in France and walk back to happiness? In this simple but enchanting book, part travelogue and part pilgrimage, Penelope invites you to walk with her and her husband on their epic journey as they encounter new faces and new experiences, and reconnect with each other and with God. Every step of the way, you’ll discover more about yourself and what’s really important to you.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An interesting, motivational travelogue, full of honest reflection and astute observation.
Even if, you are not religious, there is something important to take away from this book. The author’s shared experiences show that marriage is a journey in itself. Like the walk they embark on, it is punctuated by happiness and sadness, hope and despair, and courage and fear.
The description of the walk, the people encountered and the places visited has intrinsic interest for those familiar with this region and those, like myself who are not. The statistics at the end of the story and the highlighted moments rounded off the book well.
Using an arduous physical walk, as a way of making sense of, and coming to terms with a couple’s emotional and spiritual journey works well. Both in a literary sense, and thankfully, in reality for Penelope and Kim.
Worth reading on many levels, whatever your marital status or religious belief.
Penelope is an avid walker and spends a lot of her time stomping in the hills and valleys near her home outside Bath. She is a chaplain at Bath Abbey and a spiritual therapist and counsellor for clergy (and some normal people too). Since becoming a vicar nearly 20 years ago, she has worked in churches in the UK and the USA, and has led pilgrimages in the UK and in Europe. She and her husband Kim have been married for more than 40 years and have three children and six grandchildren. Penelope rarely sits down, loathes gardening and relaxes by reading, going to the theatre or playing the piano. She is the author of two books, Women by Design and Walking Back to Happiness and is currently working on her third, due out in 2020: Scent of Water, a devotional for times of spiritual bewilderment and grief.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a difficult book for me to review.
I like the beginning, where Julia, obviously at a crossroads in her life decides to use long- service leave and savings, to attend a three-month spiritual retreat. I did smile that she thought to leave a sixteen and eighteen-year-old with just their father wouldn’t cause any problems, but that aside the beginning is good and full of promise for a literary adventure.
When she arrives, I wondered what I was letting myself in for. The prose was steeped in Christian church language, and I couldn’t see how this would be an enjoyable book for me, but I was in for a surprise, and I’m glad I persevered.
The characters are wonderful, believable, complex and flawed. They bring the story to life, as they find that a spiritual retreat is not what they imagined. This is especially true for Julia.Her reawakening is more physical, initially than spiritual, but the consequences of her actions, change her whole life.
The plot moves away from Christain doctrine and concentrates on Julia and her fellow retreaters quest for faith. The issues raised are complex and interesting, and the plot twists reveal more of the characters’ personalities and the true reasons they are there.
The last part of the story concentrates on Julia’s arrival at home, and what follows. It is engaging to read, and the final scenes are poignant.
So, if like me you enjoy to read something different, this is worthy of your time. Literary fiction with a message about faith, family and prejudice.
Originally from England, Sue
worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to
concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories,
articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and six novels:
Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian
Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from
drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina
Stead Award, 2014.
Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016. Commended in the FAW
Christina Stead Award, 2016.
The Sky-Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.
Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker
family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017
Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year-old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
Feed Thy Enemy, based on
her father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face
of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a
starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
Sue’s current project, A Question of Country, is a novel exploring the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity.
Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism. Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.
Scott Miller has everything he’s ever hoped for. He has a successful marriage to Jessie, a stunningly beautiful, creative woman. His seventeen-year-old daughter, Ashley, is both gorgeous and intelligent and has just been accepted to the University of Notre Dame, where Scott received his PhD. He has a comforting home in the woods, and a fulfilling career as a college professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis. He’s blissful, and at peace, until it all comes shattering down.
Ashley is kidnapped. The scene of the abduction is horrific and bloody, and the police are convinced she couldn’t have survived. They accuse her boyfriend, Brandon, of Ashley’s murder. He declares his innocence and claims that a masked man who entered his house and overwhelmed them both took Ashley. No one believes Brandon.
Then the bodies of three other missing girls are discovered, all bearing the mark of a known serial killer the FBI has been hunting for years. Evidence mounts. As Special Agent James Duncan tracks the Hail Mary Killer, Scott and Jessie try to move on with their lives. But they can’t shake the feeling that Ashley may still be alive, and that the time for saving their only daughter is quickly running out.
From reading the blurb, I expected a psychological thriller following the exploits of a serial killer. While true in part, the major themes of this story focus on the missing girl’s parents and how they deal with the abduction and possible murder of their only child. Faith, relationships and surviving such a catastrophic event are all explored in great detail. Although absorbing, it does detract from the pursuit of the serial killer and finding the missing girl.
Predominately, the father Scott tells the story. The early chapters set the scene, recalling family events with his wife and daughter. Slow-paced these chapters seem overly detailed. When the abduction happens, it is shocking amidst the everyday family events, but a shorter first section would give the same result. I did re-read the blurb halfway through this early section, to check I was reading a serial killer novel. The crime procedural part of this story is appropriately paced and informative, the law enforcement characters are realistic.
Mainly though, this is a story of family and faith, in the face of every parents’ nightmare of losing a child. Beautifully portrayed in this story are the sense of loss, the guilt and the fear of not knowing. You feel the Scott and Jessie’s pain and wonder if you would react similarly in the given circumstances. Through the father’s relationship with the family priest, they explore faith in detail, again this is sensitively written and adds depth to the story.
The latter part of the story reveals the serial killer’s life and thoughts and those of his victim. From a third person point of view, this is written as a narrative making it hard for the reader to engage with them. Showing rather than narrating what the characters are feeling would have made them easier to empathise. The plot has many twists, not all of which are realistic, however, they do keep you guessing for the most part and have a definite graphic horror factor.
This story is a dichotomy. The central theme of a family’s emotional journey in the face of a tragic loss against a fast-paced, graphic illustration of abduction and murder. It does work for the most part and keeps you turning the pages. This a good mystery crime story with well-written suspenseful scenes and a believable serial killer.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.