Thursday, November 24, 2011

Book #31: Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa, M.D.

I first heard about Oscar several years ago when he made national news. If you aren't familiar with him, here's the quick backstory: Oscar is a cat that lives at a nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island: Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. He lives on the floor that contains the unit where patients with dementia are cared for. It was discovered that, although most of the time Oscar isn't overly concerned with the patients, he will go and sit with them a few hours before they die. He knows when it's time and holds vigil until they pass and are taken away.

David Dosa, M.D. is a geriatrician working in the same nursing home. He wasn't aware of Oscar's gift right away and once he found out, he was a bit dismissive about it. He began to ask people who experienced Oscar's vigils with the dying about their experiences and out of those discussions was born this book, Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat.

Although Oscar is on the cover and his name is in the title, the book is more about Dr. Dosa's journey in trying to figure out what was happening with dying patients and the cat on the floor of the unit. It is a wonderful journey to follow along with, watching this scientist trying to explain how a cat knows when someone is about to die.

A bonus with this book is that Oscar is still alive and doing his job at the nursing home. In fact, you can like his page on Facebook, Oscarthecat. You can also follow Dr. Dosa on Twitter.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all of my cat-loving friends. It brought back memories of the cat, Suki, that lived in the nursing home my own grandma was in when she had dementia. I'm glad that so many nursing homes are pet friendly and hope that Oscar's story brings more attention to the fact that pets can be valuable additions in settings such as long-term care facilities.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book #30: Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog's Tale by Laurie Myers Illustrated by Michael Dooling

My most recent read is a children's book given to me by my dear friend @kayakgal. She has a knack for sending me great books from varying genres. Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog's Tale is a historic children's story written by Laurie Myers that is based on the actual journals from Lewis and Clark. It contains illustrations by Michael Dooling.

The dog of A Dog's Tale is Seaman, Meriwether Lewis' Newfoundland. He accompanied the explorers to the Pacific and back. There are stories of Seaman hunting with the men as well as protecting them. At the end of every chapter, there is a quote from Lewis' journal.

I really enjoyed the book and think it would be a great way to introduce younger readers to United States history. It is basic, with few details, but touches on some of the experiences the men had while making the trek across the West. And it never hurts to have a dog telling the story!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book #29: Awkward Family Pet Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack

Mike Bender and Doug Chernack hit the jackpot with their websites Awkward Family Photos and Awkward Family Pet Photos, and both sites have now been turned into books.

Awkward Family Pet Photos is made up of photos that were sent into the website by people who openly acknowledge the awkward positions they sometimes put their pets in. I was one of those people. After finding the website, I submitted a picture and was thrilled when the authors asked to use my photo in the book.

As odd as my photo is, there are many others that really outdo mine! There are photos of cats and dogs, of course, but then there are photos of exotic pets, farm animals, and birds. There are pictures of pets dressed up, pets during the holidays and pets included in formal family portraits.

In addition to the photos, there are some "Behind the Awkwardness" stories and some stories shared by a veterinarian. Of those, my favorite was a story told about a woman with low-vision who brought her cat to the vet for a visit. She took in a stray and fell in love with the kitty. When the vet looked in the carrier, she saw that it wasn't a cat at all. The woman had taken in a possum!

I recommend not only the book, but the website. If you need a good laugh, you'll find many there!

Although my photo is included in the book and I was compensated for the use of the photo, I purchased the book myself and the opinions expressed in this review are my own and are not influenced by anyone else.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book #28: Haunted Pet Stories: Tales of Ghostly Cats, Spooky Dogs, and Demonic Bunnies by Mary Beth Crain

I was shopping shortly before Halloween and saw Haunted Pet Stories: Tales of Ghostly Cats, Spooky Dogs, and Demonic Bunnies on a table amongst other horror books. What could be more perfect for a lover of both animals and Halloween?

The book is a compilation of stories put together by author Mary Beth Crain. The stories range from animals coming back in spirit form to animals who sense spirits to animals who are possessed by demons. Some stories are modern, some take place over 100 years ago; some are told first-hand by the people who experienced the haunting and others are more legendary tales.

I really enjoyed reading Haunted Pet Stories. I liked that the chapters were made up of several short stories and they were all entertaining. It was a fun read and something that would be appropriate for adults and older children alike. I also think that it would make a great Halloween gift (if, like me, you give gifts for Halloween!).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Book #27: Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich

The tenth installment of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, Ten Big Ones, starts off with a bang. An explosion, really. Right away, Stephanie's car explodes. Since her car remained intact during the ninth book, it was nice that it got torched so soon in this one.

Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter that always seems to get herself involved in crazy situations that she can't quite get out of on her own. This time, she ends up on a gang's hit list and she has to go into hiding. Of course, hiding to Stephanie still includes going out and finding skips, but if it were any different it just wouldn't be Stephanie.

This book brings back a character from earlier in the series, Sally Sweet, a big, ugly transvestite who is now driving a bus and becomes Stephanie's sister's wedding planner. As funny as that visual is, this book didn't make me laugh as much as the previous books. Don't get me wrong, I laughed. I'm not sure that Stephanie could not be funny. This book just didn't seem as laugh out loud hilarious as the ones before.

As always, I recommend this book. You don't have to start at the beginning of the series, but it's totally worth it if you do!

Book #26: Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst

Promise of the Wolves is the first in The Wolf Chronicles series by Dorothy Hearst. I was not familiar with this series until I saw this book at the BlogPaws conference I attended in Washington D.C. in August. Ms. Hearst left copies of the first and second books in the series on the swag swap table for people to take. Of course, I don't turn down free books about animals so I grabbed one of each!

Promise of the Wolves is set 14,000 years ago. It is a fantasy grounded by research that tells the story of the relationship between humans and wolves. The main character, a young wolf named Kaala, is drawn to humans even though she has been told that she is to stay away from them. We follow Kaala's story from the time she is born, through being a pup and a young wolf. All that time, she struggles with the fact that she is an outsider in her own pack and wonders if she fits with the humans instead. She is taught pack rules but there is a constant pull outside of the pack that she doesn't understand.

Kaala is a very relatable character that I found myself pulling for throughout her difficulties. She is young, but driven and strong. I liked the way time and distance were described using "wolf terms" and how the author was able to immerse me in this long-ago world. I will definitely be reading Secrets of the Wolves to follow Kaala's story. I can't wait to see what the second book brings for her!

Disclosure: I received this book for free, but my review is based on my true thoughts and feelings about the book.