Cover Image: Pup Fiction

Pup Fiction

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Princess Fuzzypants here:  There have been a series of disturbing occurrences at Graceland where Melanie’s two boys are involved in their summer camp.  Melanie’s friend, Emily, who runs the school, is beset with a raft of problems already, including three adorable Dalmatian puppies that her ex-husband “gifted” her.  Her problems really get serious when said ex is found murdered near her property.  To say theirs had been a rocky parting would be an understatement.  Emily is a serious suspect which is why Melanie gets involved.

The deceased was a con man whose list of marks include almost everyone he met.  And when Melanie learns that he was hiding from someone he feared, she knows if she finds that person, she will find the killer.  So she and Aunt Peg try to unravel that mystery and the mystery of the Dalmatian puppies too.  It is a good story that holds the readers interest.  I’ve become fond of the cast of characters both two and four legged.  I like Melanie’s companion Faith and the sweet way they communicate with each other.  I’ve learned a lot about Poodles and Dog Shows in general by reading this series.

The bad guy gets his comeuppance and there is a happy ending which makes this a good summer read.  Four purrs and two paws up.
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Readers who are familiar with other books in the series by Laurien Berenson will probably enjoy this newest addition. The plot revolves around Emily, the leader of a local and highly-respected private school. Mysterious accidents keep occurring in and around the school, and Emily enlists the help of Melanie Travis to try to figure things out. When Emily's ex-husband is found dead in the woods behind the school, Emily becomes a prime suspect. Melanie continues to work on the case, along with her contacts in local law enforcement, and of course the formidable Aunt Peg. As usual, adorable dogs are a key part of the plot!

Although part of a series, this book can be read as a stand alone novel. Readers who enjoy detailed cozy mystery novels will find this a fun read and an education about dogs and dog shows. While the plot seemed well-developed and the characters realistic, the novel seemed to drag in places and I just wanted to get on with the solving the mystery. Having read others in the series, this was not my favorite one.

I received this novel from the publisher and from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
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Emily Grace runs Graceland School’s summer camp. This year, Davey, now fifteen, is a counselor and Kevin, age five, a camper. Emily is more than careful with her charges so Melanie isn’t worried—until weird things happen, like a truck rolling downhill by itself, a kitchen fire in a stove that’s never used, and more.

Emily’s ex-husband dropped by, unannounced of course, and dropped off three Dalmatian puppies. Untrained. Emily is not a dog person like Melanie is. After all, Melanie has a whole herd of standard Poodles at her house—and Bud, a mixed breed eating machine.

When Emily’s ex is found dead in the state forest behind the school, the neighbors who are annoyed at the sound of children playing and laughing, are quick to point the finger at Emily as the killer. They hope the school will have to close, and they can go back to their quiet beige lives in their look-alike subdivision houses.

Melanie thinks Emily is being set up and sets out to prove it, as always, with the help of Aunt Peg. It seems Emily’s ex is the kind of guy who’s always on the lookout for a fast dollar and his deals don’t have to be legal. Has his past caught up with him or has a current deal turned murderous? Melanie would have said Emily wasn’t capable of murder but with the lies Emily’s telling, who can be sure?

With a new litter of Poodles on the way, Melanie’s life won’t lack for excitement in the next book. How she remains calm in the midst of everyday chaos, Bud’s escapades, and Aunt Peg’s volunteering her, plus dog shows, is as much a mystery as the murder itself. To follow the series from when Davey was Kevin’s age, start at the beginning. Intrigued by this storyline? Jump right in and catch up later. This is a series I always look forward to—dogs and crime, what more could a reader ask for?
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I am so thankful the author is continuing this wonderful series. Aunt Peg and Melanie are some of my favorite cozy sleuths. Thank you to the publisher and to  Net Galley for the opportunity. My review opinion is my own.

 I have read this entire series and its always charming and a fun view of the dog show world and the people that love to show their dogs. This was a fun addition with a new breed, Dalmations and a mystery around a summer camp. The sleuth as always was well crafted and our duo smart and savvy as they piece together clues. . I highly recommend this next in series for your reading enjoyment.  This series is a delight for animal lovers .
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This is book 27 in the Melanie Travis series.  It's great to see Melanie and Faith back on the case with the boys at summer camp.  When a dead body is discovered at the camp the police are looking hard at camp director and Melanie's friend, Emily.  A little bonus is the adorable Dalmatian puppies that Emily is babysitting.  I've read this series from the beginning and it's fun to see the kids and dogs growing up.  This book can be read as a stand alone .  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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“Pup Fiction” by Laurien Berenson

It’s summer and Melanie Travis is looking forward to time off from her job as a special needs teacher at a private school in Greenwich, Connecticut. But as a mom of two very active boys, Davey and Kevin, “time off” doesn’t mean she gets the chance to rest, relax and pamper herself. When five purebred champion poodles, plus another canine of uncertain lineage, are added to the mix, plus the pressure Davey’s under to bring Coral, a gorgeous poodle owned by Melanie’s irascible Aunt Peg, to grand championship status during the summer dog shows, Melanie is one busy mom.  Fortunately, both Davey and Kevin will be occupied during the week at a local summer camp run by Melanie’s friend, Emily Grace. Davey’s been hired as a counselor, and Kevin will be a camper. Melanie remains hopeful that she can carve out a few minutes every day for herself, but fate, of course, has other plans.
When Melanie and the boys arrive for the camp’s opening day, she sees three beautiful Dalmatian puppies running loose on the grounds. Concerned about the puppies’ safety, she helps Emily corral the dogs and return them to their pen. Emily assures Melanie that the pen was securely locked when she left. The escape of the three puppies is only the first of several mysterious “accidents” at the camp, culminating in a fire in the camp’s kitchen. Melanie becomes increasingly concerned about the safety of the young campers there, especially her boys. Nothing, however, prepares her for the shocking discovery of a murdered man in the woods behind the camp, who turns out to be Emily’s long-divorced ex-husband. Melanie’s hopes for a little “me” time during the summer vanish as Emily is suspected of the crime and begs Melanie to find the true culprit.
“Pup Fiction” is another terrific addition to the Melanie Travis mystery series. Boomer, Lilly and I give it 10 dog biscuits—our highest rating!
Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Politics Can be Murder,” published by Suspense Publishing, an imprint of Suspense Magazine
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Okay, first of all, how adorable is this cover?! One look at those adorable Dalmatian puppy faces, and I knew I had to read this book. And I'm happy to report that Pup Fiction lived up to its promise!

This is the 27th instalment in the Melanie Travis cozy mystery series, but as a total newbie myself to the series, I can attest that you don't need to read the first 26 volumes to enjoy this mystery. Series lead Melanie raises show dogs for competition, and solves mysteries with her indomitable Aunt Peg, a dog breeder and dog show judge. 

In Pup Fiction, Melanie drops off her sons at her friend Emily Grace's summer camp, only to learn that Emily is being plagued by a mysterious run of mishaps. Fortunately, no one has been hurt so far, but with events like her Dalmatian puppies running into traffic, a truck rolling into a lake, and a kitchen fire, it's only a matter of time before someone does. And indeed, the body of Emily's ex-husband -- her "biggest mistake" -- is soon found in the woods close to camp. Emily is a suspect, and enlists Melanie's help to prove her innocence.

This was such a fun book to read, and I'm excited about checking out more titles in this series. I love animals, and I absolutely adore mysteries starring animal lovers, so when Emily comments that Melanie talks more to her dog than most people talk to their spouses, I was immediately hooked. I also love how the Dalmatians featured in the mystery -- their arrival at Emily's doorstep a few months ago accompanied her ex-husband's re-entry into her life, and while the central mystery didn't revolve around them, they turned out to be a valuable clue.

I also absolutely adore Melanie's Aunt Peg. She's hilarious! She gets involved in this story purportedly to help Emily with her money problems, but really, she's much more interested in Emily's Dalmatians, which I can totally relate to. There's also a fun subplot about Melanie's older son Davey showing one of Aunt Peg's dogs at competition, where we get a bit of an inside glimpse into the world of dog competitions. I imagine the other books in the series take us even deeper into that world, which makes me even more excited to dive in.

The mystery itself was interesting. Berenson did a good job in setting up a handful of side characters who may have been involved in the murder, and while I guessed the murderer before Melanie did, I admit the book kept me guessing almost all the way through. The ending of the mystery made me a bit sad, because I'd grown to like one of the characters who I think won't appear in future books.

Overall, this is a fun book, and fantastic introduction to the series! 

+

Thank you to Kensington Books for an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
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I always enjoy this author and mean to read past books, but have yet to catch up completely. Loved the mystery and it kept me guessing. I love reading about the dog shows having been a part of them for years in my childhood.

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Pup Fiction
Melanie Travis, Book #27
Laurien Berenson
5 Stars

Synopsis:

While usually protective, Melanie feels comfortable sending her sons to the Graceland School’s summer camp for two reasons: The institution is well-regarded and proprietor Emily Grace is a trusted friend. But Emily has been acting strange since three rambunctious Dalmatian puppies suddenly appeared on her doorstep. The unusual arrival marks the first of several mysterious happenings at camp, each more intense than the last. Emily’s rough streak takes a frightening turn with a discovery in the nearby woods—the body of her estranged ex-husband.
 
As suspicions rush in, proving that Emily didn’t murder her biggest mistake will be about as easy as raising prize-winning show dogs. Realizing she’s the only one who can prove her friend’s innocence and keep the Graceland School from shutting down, Melanie dives into an investigation on the victim’s whereabouts leading up to his demise. With a few spotty clues and Aunt Peg’s growing curiosity about the Dalmatian pups’ origins, Melanie must name the culprit before good intentions come back to bite! (Amazon)
 
Review:
 
The characters are well rounded and well developed.  Melanie and her family have got a lot going on, as usual.  Davey is going to be a camp counselor and Kevin is going to be a camper at the same camp.  The camp director is a friend of Melanie’s so she feels comfortable leaving the kids at the camp.  But then accidents start happening and a body is found.  Melanie will have to do her sleuthing and figure out who the killer is to try and save her friend.
 
The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read.  The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and this allowed me to create pictures in my mind of what was happening.  The mystery was well plotted and there were enough clues to sift through and suspects to consider.  
 
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery.  It is so much fun getting to spend time with Melanie, her family and even Aunt Peg.  Give yourself a treat and spend some time with them.  
 
I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher, Kensington Books, and NetGalley, which I greatly appreciate.
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Thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to review Pup Fiction by Laurien Berenson.

If you are a dog lover, you will absolutely adore this book!  I know, I sure did.  There are six black standard poodles, a Jack Russell Terrier and three adorable unruly Dalmatian puppies in the book.  These canines are absolutely characters in the book, not just props to move the plot along.  I really enjoyed how the protagonist Melanie held conversations with her dogs, particularly her black poodle Faith.

The novel is a mystery, mostly set in a country day preschool in Connecticut.  Emily the proprietor of the school suddenly experiences strange accidents and ultimately a serious crime is committed near her property.  Melanie's sons go to the school, so she is often there to drop off and pick up.  When Emily asks for her assistance, Melanie actively and effectively investigates, much to the chagrin of many characters in the book.  It is a very entertaining mystery.

Additionally, there is a mystery surrounding the three Dalmatian puppies which Melanie and her Aunt Peg begin sleuthing to solve.  Aunt Peg has a magnificent black standard poodle named Coral, and we are lucky enough to visit two dog shows where she competes.  I found the dog show prep and pomp highly interesting and entertaining.

This is the first book that I have read by Laurien Berenson.  I can assure you, it won't be the last!  I highly recommend this book for mystery and dog lovers.
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Pup Fiction by Laurien Berenson is the 27th book in the Melanie Travis mystery series, and another great addition. Reading this book made me feel like I was visiting good friends, and catching up on their latest adventure. This adventure takes place around Melanie's sons summer camp.  After the director's ex husband is found dead near the camp, Melanie is on the case. I love this series, and this book! I love the well developed characters and plot of this story. This book kept my interest, and was fast paced and all round fun . I strongly recommend this book and this whole series, for people who love cozy mystery book and dogs.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Lauren Berenson keeps pumping out these fantastic mysteries that include several standard black poodles and one tenacious female protagonist. This is a fabulous long running series which, if you want the entire background, should be read from book #1 but each can be enjoyed as a standalone. Melanie and her sons, husband, and dogs (& we can't forget Aunt Peg!), are on board to solve any "mystery", even the murder kind. Superbly written with outstanding characters and fantastic entertainment value. Very enjoyable.

I received an ebook ARC from Netgalley and this is my voluntary, honest review.
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Pub Fiction by Laurien Berenson is the 27th book in the Melanie Travis series.  Although it is the 27th in the series, it is the first book I have read.  It was easy to “meet” the family, including Aunt Peg who is a delight.  Melanie’s boys, Davey and Kevin, are going to summer camp at Graceland School, owned by Melanie’s friend, Emily Grace.  Davey is a teenager and camp counselor Kevin, who is five, is a camper.  Melanie knows her boys will be safe because they both went to school there, at least until strange things start happening during the day.  Emily’s ex-husband gives her three rambunctious Dalmatian puppies who cause chaos on the first day of camp. Other mysterious things start happening.  So far, nothing real serious has happened where anyone was hurt, until her ex-husband is found murdered on the edge of her property and Emily becomes the prime suspect.  Melanie jumps in to help investigate; positive her friend is innocent.  Along with the Dalmatian puppies, the Travis family’s own Standard Poodles, you have a wonderful cozy mystery, complete with a little suspense, surprises, and of course dogs!  This was a fun story which I recommend!  It is told in first person with Melanie’s fun sense of humor.

Netgalley and Kensington Publishing provided the digital ARC for me to give an honest review of my own opinion.  Thank you!
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This was one of the cutest and sweetest books in the Melanie Travis mystery series. I got the biggest kick out of Melanie, her husband, her boys, her poodles, and of course her Aunt Peg. The storyline left me on the edge of my seat and made me wonder who is the culprit was that did the murder. Highly recommend to all dog pants, cozy mystery fans, etc.
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Pup Fiction by Laurien Berenson is the 27th A Melanie Travis Mystery.  It can be read as a standalone if you are new to this engaging cozy mystery series.  I could not wait to get my hands on Pup Fiction.  I enjoy following the harried Melanie Travis on her adventures.  Melanie Travis is a busy wife and mother with a summer free of work.  Melanie is hoping for a relaxing summer, but it does not take long to discover that will not be happening.  In addition to incidents happening at the school camp, Davey is busy trying to get the final points for Aunt Peg’s Standard Poodle, Coral whom he is handling.  He needs two “majors” to finish off Coral’s competition days.  I like the characters in this series which include Melanie’s kind husband Sam, Kevin, Davey, Faith (Melanie’s faithful companion), and the formidable Aunt Peg.  I wish I had a fifth of Aunt Peg’s energy.  The whodunit was crafty and thought out.  It was clever how the Dalmatians were interlaced into the mystery.  There are several suspects, subtle clues, and misdirection.  I had fun solving this whodunit.  I loved all the action which kept the story rapidly moving toward the conclusion.  The family sections are some of my favorites.  This is a character driven story with Melanie’s family at the heart of it.  There are great family interactions that include their dogs.  Faith is such a sweetheart while Bud is so mischievous.  You never know what is going to happen next in their home.  I enjoyed reading this entertaining cozy mystery and I cannot wait for the next tale.  Pup Fiction is a boisterous cozy mystery with adorable Dalmatians, pushy Aunt Peg, a faithful friend, a close competition, a towering topknot, camp chaos, and one prying parent.
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Although Pup Fiction is the 27th book in Laurien Berenson's series featuring Melanie Travis, it was my first. I had no difficulty finding my feet dropping in so late though no doubt I have missed some terrifically good reads. In this tale, frayed wife and mum Melanie is sending her sons off to summer camp, run by her friend, Emily Grace. On the first day of camp, Emily has three Dalmation puppies to look after.

A thrilling ride from start to finish I found protagonist Melanie to be a very likeable main character who is devoted to her family and friends. Her entire family is involved in showing champion Standard Poodles at dog competitions. The mystery was well crafted and thought out and I loved the clever methods used that threaded the Dalmatians into the mystery. There were several suspects, subtle clues, and good misdirection and I had lots of fun solving this whodunit. All of the action kept the story rapidly moving toward the conclusion. Delightful and entertaining, Pup Fiction is a highly recommended, quick, light read for all cozy mystery fans.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Kensington Books via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
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Pup fiction is a great cozy mystery.  It reads very smooth and is easy for the reader to get wrapped up in the mystery.  When things start to go wrong at her kids summer camp Melanie steps in to help her friend Emily solve not only why things keep going wrong, but also the murder of her ex husband.  As Melanie starts to dig into the mystery everyone seems to think that the only person who could have murdered Emily's husband is Emily.  Does Melanie really know her friend?  What is truly going on at the camp?
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Title:  Pup Fiction
Author:  Laurien Berenson
Genre:  Mystery
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

While usually protective, Melanie feels comfortable sending her sons to the Graceland School’s summer camp for two reasons: The institution is well-regarded and proprietor Emily Grace is a trusted friend. But Emily has been acting strange since three rambunctious Dalmatian puppies suddenly appeared on her doorstep. The unusual arrival marks the first of several mysterious happenings at camp, each more intense than the last. Emily’s rough streak takes a frightening turn with a discovery in the nearby woods—the body of her estranged ex-husband.

As suspicions rush in, proving that Emily didn’t murder her biggest mistake will be about as easy as raising prize-winning show dogs. Realizing she’s the only one who can prove her friend’s innocence and keep the Graceland School from shutting down, Melanie dives into an investigation on the victim’s whereabouts leading up to his demise. With a few spotty clues and Aunt Peg’s growing curiosity about the Dalmatian pups’ origins, Melanie must name the culprit before good intentions come back to bite!

Is it bad if I say the thing I enjoyed the most about this book was the dogs? Because it was. Solid writing and storytelling, but I was never that invested in what was going on—and the stakes really didn’t seem that high. I never felt any tension in the mystery. Also…there were all these red herrings about other characters, but the real culprit(s) weren’t the slightest bit suspicious until about the 85% mark, so the reveal felt a bit forced and out-of-nowhere. Just my two cents, though. This wasn’t a bad read. Just not a good fit for me.

Laurien Berenson is a bestselling author. Pup Fiction is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.)

(Blog link live 6/30.)
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Melanie Travis is involved in another investigation when a series of potentially dangerous events occur at the Graceland Summer Camp where her teenage son is a counselor and her younger son is a participant. The woman who owns the camp tries to downplay what’s been going on, but Melanie is concerned for her sons and the other campers. When a body is found in the woods behind the camp, Melanie kicks her sleuthing into high gear to find the truth.

Pup Fiction is the latest in the long-running Melanie Travis series, but it’s completely accessible to new readers. Those who like cozy mysteries, as well as dog lovers, will especially enjoy it. Melanie is a likable main character. She is devoted to her family and friends - both the human and canines. She is good at getting all types of people to open up to her, supplying her with the clues needed to solve the cases she works on. Her Aunt Peg who isn’t as much of a people person lends a hand. Peg can be overbearing, but in this book she uses her outspoken nature to help a friend in need. 

In addition to the characters and interesting mystery plots, the dogs and the world of dog shows sets this series apart. Melanie’s son Davey has been showing one of Peg’s standard poodles and the inside look at what goes on behind the scenes at a dog show is fascinating. The case Melanie investigates has plenty of suspects although I was able to correctly guess the solution. That didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book at all. I was eager to keep reading and see if I was really correct. Each time I read the end of one of these books, I start looking forward to the next one. I would rate “Pup Fiction” 4.5 stars.

I received this ebook from NetGalley through the courtesy of Kensington Books. An advance copy was provided to me at no cost, but my review is voluntary and unbiased.
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Pup Fiction by Laurien Berensen is the 27th in the Melanie Travis Mystery series. The setting for this mystery is a preschool summer camp in southwestern CT where Melanie’s older son is a camp counselor and her younger son is a camper.  The director Emily, who is a friend of Melanie’s and received the unexpected gift of three Dalmatian puppies from her ex-husband, is experiencing a series of unfortunate “incidents” at her school.  The ex-husband is shot to death nearby, just as Melanie is wondering how he came to be in possession of the three purebred and clearly valuable puppies. Aunt Peg plays a pivotal role as Melanie works to solve the murder and uncover the provenance of the puppies.

While dogs and dog shows still featured prominently in this well-plotted mystery, I enjoyed the addition of new settings such as the school and the coffee shop that Melanie’s brother owns.  I also love the development of Aunt Peg as a multi-dimensional character and getting to know her separately from her relationship with Melanie.  Aunt Peg’s interactions with Emily caused me to think about the persona that we have within our families and how differently we may be perceived by friends and others.  (I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy and all opinions are my own.) This mystery held my interest until the final page was turned  and I’m already looking forward to the next installment in this series.
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