Fiction for animal lovers
Dreams of Arcadia by Brian Porter. Legacy Book Press, 2023. Softcover, 219 pages.
In recent months, a flurry of veterinary memoirs has crossed my desk, but I can’t recall the last time I have come across a novel penned by a veterinarian — until I picked up Dreams of Arcadia by Brian Porter, that is. It was worth the wait to delve into this absorbing novel about Nate Holub, a middle-aged Houston vet who returns to his rural south-central Texas roots to work in a mixed-animal practice following a divorce.
Brushing up on bovine and equine emergency care amid a mid-life crisis isn’t the only thing Nate has to grapple with as he tries to settle into country life again. Ghosts from his past and long-buried family secrets, especially those surrounding his father’s death, are as puzzling as some of his cases.
While the plot, with its blend of veterinary medicine and multigenerational family concerns, keeps the reader turning pages, it is Brian’s evocative sense of memory and landscape that makes this debut novel shine. I hope he can find time in his schedule as a clinical veterinary professor to follow Dreams of Arcadia with more of the same well-crafted fiction.
Nine Lives and Alibis: A Cat Cafe Mystery by Cate Conte. Minotaur Books, 2023. Softcover, 305 pages.
Life on Daybreak Island isn’t always idyllic, as readers of Cate Conte’s Cat Cafe mysteries know full well. Murder is a staple in this cozy mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Maddy James and J.J., her rescued feline sidekick.
In Nine Lives and Alibis, the seventh installment in the Cat Cafe series, Maddy and her family are on the planning committee for the island’s Halloween bash, an event they all hope will bring welcome tourist dollars to their New England island community. With a famous psychic and his black cat booked for private readings, a haunted inn, and plenty of ghostly activities planned, Maddy is in the middle of it all, juggling last-minute preparations and promoting cat adoptions at J.J.’s House of Purrs. However, the event takes a real-life ghoulish turn when the psychic is killed and his cat goes missing. Could this have any ties to two cold cases involving a murder and a missing person connected with the haunted inn? That’s for Maddy and J.J. to figure out in this highly readable Halloween treat.
All the cozy mystery components are here: a cast of mostly likable characters with a few lurking villains, lots of local color, and a little gore. And what makes the Cat Cafe books even more enjoyable for animal lovers is how the themes of feline adoption run through them. Nine Lives and Alibis should satisfy Cate Conte’s fans and garner her some new ones.
Iggy’s Second Chance by Patricia Paradiso and Laura DeAngelis. Mascot Kids, 2023. Hardcover, 38 pages.
Life can change in an instant as Iggy learns in Iggy’s Second Chance, a picture book with a message for young children. Iggy is separated from his loving family during a natural disaster. Alone and lost, he faces and surmounts trials before finding himself in a shelter where, buoyed by hope from a canine friend, he longs for a new home.
His wish comes true when he is adopted by a family who helps him feel loved again. Authors Patricia Paradiso and Laura DeAngelis have channeled their optimism into an age-appropriate story championing rescued dogs.
Pepita Meets Bebita by Ruth Behar and Gabriel Frye-Behar. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2023. Hardcover, 32 pages.
Changes are afoot in little dog Pepita’s household, but she can’t quite figure out why her human family is suddenly too busy to play with her or bring her special treats. The dog in Ruth Behar and Gabriel Frye-Behar’s charming picture book wonders what all the fuss is about when her family comes home from the hospital one day with a smelly, crying bundle who seems to take Pepita’s place in her own home.
How Pepita and her family adjust to Bebita and form a new loving family is the theme of this instructional story. Available in both English and Spanish editions, Pepita Meets Bebita wraps a message of love and acceptance into a skillfully conceived tale.
Let's make every shelter and every community no-kill by 2025
Our goal at Best Friends is to support all animal shelters in the U.S. in reaching no-kill by 2025. No-kill means saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved, accounting for community safety and good quality of life for pets.
Shelter staff can’t do it alone. Saving animals in shelters is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes support and participation from the community. No-kill is possible when we work together thoughtfully, honestly, and collaboratively.