Holiday books for pet lovers

A trio of holiday novels for the dog and cat lovers on your gift list.
By Sally Rosenthal

Cover of the book, A Dog’s Perfect ChristmasA Dog’s Perfect Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron
Forge, 2020. Hardcover, 288 pages, $15.99.
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Let’s face it. There is no more perfect holiday novel for the “dog people” on your gift list than A Dog’s Perfect Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron. Cameron, the best-selling author of numerous novels about the bond between dogs and humans, serves up another winner in this charming seasonal story about a family in crisis and a little stray puppy whose love and antics remind her new family that love is at the core of everything.

The weeks leading up to Christmas aren’t going well for the Goss family. Grandfather and his old dog have become sad recluses since the death of Grandmother. Dad, a workaholic, is in peril of losing his job, while his wife lies comatose with organ failure. Teenage daughter Eloise is bullied at school, and her toddler twin brothers create havoc everywhere they go. However, the members of the family, spurred on by adopting little Ruby, rise to meet their challenges. They discover that life’s problems can be solved and make Christmas a day of blessings, especially for their new furry addition.

Cover of the book, Snowball’s Christmas Snowball’s Christmas by Kristen McKanagh
Kensington, 2020. Softcover, 272 pages, $15.95.
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Need some quiet moments amid all the holiday frenzy? If so, take my advice and curl up with Snowball — or at least Kristen McKanagh’s tender novel Snowball’s Christmas. Happy to have a home in a Victorian bed-and-breakfast establishment, kitten Snowball enjoys the holiday preparations among the guests and staff of Weber Haus. Miss Tilly, the elderly owner, and her cook, Emily, make Weber Haus the ideal forever home for Snowball — until Lukas, Miss Tilly’s globe-trotting photographer nephew, shows up with a plan to sell the place and help his aunt retire.

Snowball cannot understand why Emily has taken such a strong dislike to Lukas even before he divulges his scheme, since Snowball’s intuition tells her that Lukas and Emily are meant for each other. What can one little cat with a kind heart and a love for her new home and family do to save the day? I’m not telling, but I can assure readers that McKanagh’s novel is as enticing as its feline heroine.

Cover of the book, A Whisker of a Doubt: A Cat Café MysteryA Whisker of a Doubt: A Cat Café Mystery by Cate Conte
St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2020. Softcover, 336 pages, $7.99.
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At times, it seems that mystery series featuring cats are as ubiquitous as cat hair throughout my home. The Cat Café series is among my favorites, so it was good to have a chance to read A Whisker of a Doubt, the fourth installment in Cate Conte’s engaging series. Maddie James, the owner of the Cat Café on New England’s Daybreak Island, and J.J., the orange tabby who adopted her, can’t stay out of the limelight even as the year winds down and a heavy snowfall blankets the island.

Not all is tranquil and festive on the island, however, as tempers flare between two opposing groups of residents: the wealthy landowners and the dedicated cat activists who shelter and feed feral cats on woodland claimed by the rich residents. As in any murder mystery, a corpse shows up — this one in a snowbank. Clues point to Maddie’s cat activist friend, so she and J.J. find themselves trying to find the true culprit.

What I enjoy about Conte’s novels, besides the well-crafted plots and realistic characters, is her inclusion of feral cat issues. She educates while entertaining, not always a successful ambition in novels with an agenda.


A personal note from Sally: These reviews are lovingly dedicated to the memory of Diane Suffren, my graduate school roommate and close friend of 45 years, who died from COVID-19 complications on November 25, 2020. In addition to her rescued indoor cats, Diane helped care for a number of community cats in her town for more than 40 years. My rescued black cat, Tamsin, and I hope the year ahead is one of better times for all of us.

Photo by Sarah Ause Kichas

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