Book lovers, welcome to our fifth installment of Gilligan’s Barks and Books book reviews!
Ever since Gilligan arrived in his new forever home, one of his favorite pastimes has been to curl up next to Papa while he enjoys a good read. It didn't take too long before Gilly started nudging at Papa to include him somehow in whatever activity this was. One thing led to another, and Papa found that Gilligan actually enjoys sitting quietly while the book is being read aloud. And thus, the tradition of "Gilly's story-time" was born.
Last time in our fourth installment, we kicked off our review of the Dachshund-themed 🙂 short stories of author Stella Dillenbeck’s “Dachshund Rescue Series” by bringing you feedback on the first 6 books in the series.
Today, we explore the next 6 books, through book #12.
About the Books
There are 24 books in total, not all of which have been published. Since the stories are short (roughly 5,000 words each), we will be sharing reviews of 6 of them at a time.
With some variation, each book is inspired by a different type of Dachshund and follows the life of one (and in some cases multiple) Dachshund(s), and deals with different stories and events in the animals’ and humans’ lives ranging from happy to heartbreaking.
Each of the below reviews contains a link to where you can purchase the book online. The books are only 99 cents each, with the exception of book #4, which is FREE. Every penny of your purchase is donated to the New Mexico Dachshund Rescue.
About the Author
Living in Oregon for more than 53 years, Stella Dillenbeck and her husband moved to New Mexico in 2006 where they became involved with New Mexico Dachshund Rescue. Hearing so many Dachshund stories that needed to be told, Stella began writing soon after retiring.
Without further ado, below is our review of each of the six books, giving you the title of the book; what type of Dachshund the book is inspired by; a brief plot introduction; our overall thoughts; and finally our rating (all reviews are rated out of a pawsible 5 paws).
Inspired by the Wirehaired Dachshund
No series where each book is dedicated to a different Dachshund could be complete without including the Wirehaired Dachshund.
Grover, the Feisty One comes across as a story set in a very practical world. It revolves around the romance between a male investigator of animal cruelty cases and a female veterinary tech who meet each other when the former brings an abandoned wirehaired puppy to the latter’s vet office. The story proceeds to follow a romance that ensues, painting vivid pictures of the practical considerations not only of how they care for Grover, but also their professional/career development and the topic of work/life balance.
The exploration of the character of the Dachshund, Grover, leaves a little bit to be desired as it seems the story revolves more around the human characters, but overall the story does do a good job of establishing the Dachshund as central, and illustrating his personality often and with examples of how he behaves throughout the important benchmarks in the story.
There are several twists and turns in the plot, all of which capture the reader because of how practical and “real” they feel.
Our Rating for Grover, the Feisty One:
There are poignant moments throughout what is undoubtedly a human story, and while this does not stand out as the strongest yet in the series, it is solid all the way through, and the character development is engaging and well-conceived throughout.
Inspired by the Enormous Standard Red Dachshund
The eighth installment introduces us to a lovable new Dachshund character, Biggs (whose name is appropriate because he is, well, big) as well as several fun human characters, including the main “Uncle Trucky” character whose perspective as a loner/nomadic trucker is fresh to the series.
Overall, while the book is full of heartwarming illustrations and well-conceived characters, the bulk of the story lacks compelling drama and conflict, making it somewhat less stirring than many of the previous installments in the series; these moments happen close to the beginning and the end with minimal meaningful impact on the overall narrative.
Our Rating for Uncle Trucky’s Sidekick:
Uncle Trucky’s Sidekick is uniquely enjoyable for its fresh imagery and painted scenes, but does not stand out as being among the strongest in the series.
Inspired by the Service and Therapy Dachshunds
Sir Walter Raleigh gives us a very cute new Dachshund character, and also adds well to the series by exploring the new sphere of the service dog world. The premise of a beautiful young puppy who is initially overlooked, and then serves a laudable purpose as a therapeutic dog for an unfortunate young woman, has all of the makings of good drama and heartfelt character development.
Overall, the story has good flow, and we enjoy taking the journey with the characters as they develop their relationships and survive a bit of crisis along the way.
One of the main themes is the exploration of the risk of and struggle with depression that comes with the territory of becoming significantly handicapped. We get to experience the triumph of overcoming some of these challenges through the love and support of family, community, and of course an extremely cute lap dog.
Our Rating for Sir Walter Raleigh:
Sir Walter Raleigh is once again more of a human story than it is a story about the Dachshund character. While the Dachshund is a sort of glue that brings the human characters together and bonds them, and he certainly has moments within the story where he is central to the narrative, the majority of the time he is calmly sitting on a lap for the human character’s comfort. The subject matter is fresh and feels relevant, though the reader is left wanting a bit more backstory on the main characters that could bring them to life and add context.
Inspired by the Longhaired Wheaten Dachshund
Gold Rush revolves around identical twins that initially move into their first house together. Instantly, as the reader you wonder how this will work, especially if one twin becomes involved in a romantic relationship. You also immediately want to understand more about who the twins are, their vocations, and their schedules that would allow for them to properly care for the puppy Dachshund that their parents bestow upon them early in the story.
Thankfully, all of this is resolved and addressed quite well as the chapters unfold. Gold Rush‘s Dachshund character, Goldi, is well-written and feels rather real in terms of her puppy and Dachshund behaviors as well as all of the challenges described with caring for her.
When romance does in fact come calling for the main human characters, there is a bit of digression in the story that takes us away from the Dachshund character. We feel good for the human characters, and Goldi is reintroduced, but we are left wanting a bit more of a significant endnote for Goldi in the story. Lucky for us, we get just that in the next novel, which is a sequel!
Our Rating for Gold Rush:
When the story sets out, it presents an elephant in the room where the reader knows there might be complications if romance starts to unfold for one or both of the twin characters who have just moved into a house together. The novel does a fantastic job of anticipating this and then allowing these scenarios to unfold. What is left feeling unfinished is waiting for us to revisit in the exciting sequel.
*SPOILER ALERT* The below books 11 and 12 are not yet published. Keep checking back with Dillenbeck’s Dachshund Rescue Series official webpage to catch them as they are released.
11. Finding Gold
A Tribute to Dachshund Rescuers Everywhere
Finding Gold expands upon what feels like an unfinished story from book 10, and brings us a twisting and turning drama, full of heartbreaking loss and pain for our characters, as well as meaningful and unlikely happy moments as the story resolves.
While a lot of questions are raised throughout the prior book and this one about various hypothetical situations within the dynamic of the closely bonded twin sister characters, by the end of the second book we have explored all of these questions and more, with a good balance of strong character writing as well as tying in of the main Dachshund character.
Finding Gold is both dark and uplifting, a story about overcoming tremendous loss that is painted with whimsy, but also with some realism in terms of the various ways in which people respond to the loss of a loved one.
Our Rating for Finding Gold:
Building upon the momentum of the previous book, the eleventh novel in the series is packed with harrowing drama and thought-provoking depictions of human characters and their various means of dealing with significant trauma and loss. While some of the plot events may come across as a bit far-fetched, the character writing and detailed descriptions are so well-done that the reader accepts these, and the result is a tremendous human story that also delivers the spotlight for the Dachshund character that the prior book leaves the reader craving. This is certainly one of the strongest stories in the series thus far.
12. Modoc Point Pups
Inspired by the Overweight Standard Red Dachshund
The twelfth book follows the two prior installments in exploring main characters that are sisters. It takes the narrative further by exploring a significant “flashback” that gives us some great backstory on the sisters’ upbringing, then taking us through the major events in their lives that bring us to the main timeframe in the story when they are both older ladies finally taking care of the dogs that they could never have in their youth.
The Dachshund characters are somewhat secondary to the human drama throughout, but are nevertheless well written. Clancy, the main character and overweight red Dachshund whom the book is dedicated to, is compelling because of his “waddling” characterizations; because obesity in Dachshunds is a very common and real health risk for the breed; and because we get good descriptions of concrete steps that are taken to allow Clancy to slim down.
Our Rating for Modoc Point Pups:
Dillenbeck writes well with the sister dynamic, and it is a pleasure to see this theme continued and expanded upon with Modoc Point Pups. The elements of character writing are clearly more developed and start to exhibit a higher degree of depth and complexity than the earlier works, showing a clear progression in strength. As the series continues, the stories seem to increasingly be more human, perhaps because the human characters themselves seem to be more and more vivid as the series develops.
Earlier reviews have focused on Ben Bova’s Grand Tour series, which consists of over 20 science fiction novels about the expansion of human civilization to the rest of the solar system, and beyond. We’re excited to bring you more reviews of books from this series in the future. We also took a more academic and deep thought-provoking turn and reviewed Peter Singer’s Practical Ethics: Third Edition in our third installment.
In upcoming episodes of our Barks and Books book reviews, we’ll be bringing you Farside by Ben Bova (of the Grand Tour series), Paddle Your Own Canoe by actor Nick Offerman of the popular television series Parks and Recreation, and the next six books of the “Dachshund Rescue Series” once they are made available.
See you then!
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Disclosure: Author Stella Dillenbeck has offered free manuscripts of her books to the author of this blog in exchange for honest reviews and direct feedback; the author of this blog receives no financial compensation for these reviews, or in any way that is associated with the sales of the Dachshund Rescue Series books. Links in this article that lead to books by other authors and other media will bring the user to that work’s page on Amazon.com. The links themselves are generated using the Amazon Affiliate program, which means that the author of this site will earn a small sales commission on any purchases of items accessed through these links. Book and other product reviews on WagsAhoy.com are always the honest opinion of the author.
Photos courtesy of New Mexico Dachshund Rescue and author Stella Dillenbeck.
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