Book Review: It's Just a Dog

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Book Review:

I love dog books, but I admit some are better than others. Russ Ryan's It's Just a Dog is one of those. The thing is I wasn't expecting it to be. Before I turned on my Kindle and began the first page, I had pretty low expectations. You see I knew nothing about the book or its author other than the fact that it was a novel about not only a talking dog, but a talking ghost dog! I seldom turn down a dog book, that's why I'm reviewing them here on the blog, but my taste typically gravitates toward memoir not gimmicky or cutesy talking dog stories.

Ryan's book is neither of these. It is at once heartfelt and hilarious! And, cleverly engaging. I fell in love with the voice of his protagonist dog painter Charlie Keefe from the get-go and would have continued to the end just to listen to him tell his story, but there is more to this book than a charming style and amiable narrator. The plot may be a wee bit light and episodic, but this book has heart and like all the best comedy, a bit of soul as well. Any dog lover will identify with the emotions of Charlie, who loses and grieves for his dog Petey (who must be put down while he is away on vacation) until said dog reappears as a ghost.  Charlie welcomes him back with open arms as any dog owner would. Ryan, who admits in the acknowledgments to having had a Petey of his own, manages to deal with grief and the loss of a beloved pet without getting schmaltzy, in a way that is both fresh and fun. The actual plot is secondary and maybe a little light for some readers, but as an artist myself I had to admit I identified and enjoyed Charlie's career challenges. I also thought his romantic entanglement to ring true, but what delighted me the most were the emotions familiar to all dog owners that managed to make me both smile and empathize with Charlie's plight. Ryan may have entitled his book "It's Just a Dog," but this novel is anything but your typical dog story. It's a fast and fun read with hidden depths.

Book Description:

What if your dog died and then came back as a ghost…that could talk? Would you welcome him back with open arms or run away scared to death?

This is the premise of IT’S JUST A DOG, a new novel about love, loss, and one man’s dog who rises up yapping from the grave.

Charlie Keefe is not just your typical dog lover –– he’s a world famous dog painter, a.k.a. “The Picasso of Pooch Portraits”. Unfortunately, Charlie’s beloved muse, Pete, his lovable Jack Russell terrier, has just died. And he’s totally devastated by the loss of his furry best friend.

So, after months of grieving over his dearly departed soulmate, Charlie reluctantly agrees to foster a new puppy –– a cute Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Brownie from the local animal shelter. Soon after, Charlie is surprised to find himself falling head over heels with this new puppy girl, his ‘Rebound Dog’, as he calls her –– as well as being romantically attracted to Janelle Jordan, the head hound at the dog rescue.

But then complications arise when the ghost of his old dog, Pete, mysteriously reappears one night and comes back to haunt him and the new puppy –– setting off a bizarre chain of events that throw Charlie’s life, career, and entire belief system into chaos!

If you’ve enjoyed such classic dog books as The Art of Racing in the Rain and A Dog’s Purpose, then you are bound to find a place in your heart for IT’S JUST A DOG - Part Book, Part Blog, ALL DOG, (Okay, there may be a few cat videos, too, to show some love for the other team!)

Buy the book from…. – printed book – ebook

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About the Author 

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Aside from being a dog lover and a dog widower, RUSS RYAN has written and developed screenplays with the Hollywood producers of American Pie, Final Destination, and Fireflies in the Garden. He was also a writer on a really bad teen comedy, National Lampoon’s Repli-kate, starring Eugene Levy. This is his first novel.

In addition, he is the creator of Meansheets, a vintage movie poster blog that focuses on the greatest artists and illustrators from the 1940′s-1980′s.

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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.


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