Fox Hunt – Snippet


Hi everyone!

I have a short story out in the Telepathic Space Pirates universe! If you haven’t yet read Teegan’s story, you can do so in The Expanding Universe, Vol 2. I’m featured in it alongside a bevy of awesome SF authors. 🙂

A version of this story appeared in the no longer available anthology Pets in Space, under the title Escape Run, but it is now titled Fox Hunt as it will be part of a series of stories that feature Hunters in the universe, and I wanted a uniformity to all of the titles.

All right, let’s get down to the real business of this post, the snippet:



Chapter 1

It was the wrong season.

A thin layer of snow blanketed the ground, covering the sway of silver grasses and sticking to the pealing redbark trees lining Teegan’s property. The colorful slab of dorite flecked with flashes of bright gold and deep blue that normally formed the centerpiece to her garden was hidden beneath a frost of white. More flakes fell from a winter-gray sky, slowly gathering in the peculiar silence that blanketed the world at first snowfall.

Except this was summer.

Teegan stared at the snow, brow furrowed. A flash of silver and copper caught her eye as something streaked across the ground. The figure vanished a moment later, but paw prints formed a trail moving toward her. Teegan relaxed and stepped off her back porch, sandaled feet crunching through the thin crust of ice.

It wasn’t cold. That was her first thought. Wearing only a thin silk robe and an old pair of sandals, she should have been freezing. But looking down at her bare toes, her smooth black skin stark against the white, she felt perfectly comfortable. No fog of breath misted the air in front of her face, and no goose bumps shivered across her body.

Soft fur brushed beneath her hand. A moment later the air shimmered, and Ember appeared beside her, sitting demurely with her elegant, thick tail wrapped around her feet. She resembled pictures Teegan had seen of ancient animals called foxes, but Ember was kith-vos, a species native to this world, Tarsiss Prime. And Ember was no simple animal. The kith were every bit as intelligent as their human bond-mates. Perhaps more so. They held mysteries, Teegan was sure, that remained unknown to the humans who colonized their world three centuries ago.

And they shared the psychic abilities of the Talented.

It’s snowing, Ember said. Her mental voice was clear and melodic. She tilted her head in an expression of confusion that looked almost human.

“I know.”

Ember looked up at Teegan with a glint in her blue eyes. Her fur rippled in the wind. She was almost entirely a silver color that disappeared against the brightness of snow, but tufts of red circled her eyes like a mask, and tipped the end of her tail and each paw, as though they’d been dipped in the color. It is high summer. It does not snow in high summer, Teegan. There was a distinct tone of disapproval to the kith’s mental voice. As if she couldn’t abide the sky spitting snow in the wrong season.

But she was right. Teegan cast her gaze back over her garden. Flowers that should have been blooming – that had been, only the day before – lay dormant. The redbark trees stood like silent sentries, stark limbs stretched toward the sky with none of the brilliant green leaves that should have been waving in the breeze.

During high summer, Tarssis Prime’s orbit carried the planet along its closest pass around the system’s star as it made its oblong journey. Temperatures soared, and there was no possibility of snow, even on the coldest day.

Teegan turned abruptly and walked back into her house. Silently, Ember followed her, ears flicked back as she picked up on her bond-mate’s mood.

Wrong season. No chill in the air. There was only one explanation that was plausible: this wasn’t real. She was in a psychic landscape, one she hadn’t created. In reality, she was probably still asleep in her bed, Ember a warm presence curled up beside her.

Only the most powerful telepaths could pull off something like this. Teegan could count the number she knew personally on one hand. She lived on a planet of Hunters, a people with the primary Talent of tracking and finding anyone, anywhere. Many of them also possessed telepathy, but it rarely manifested as more than a basic Talent among her people.

Getting past her shields would take someone she trusted.

If you want to read more about Teegan’s story, you can find it on Amazon in The Expanding Universe, Vol 2.

PSA: Pirate Nemesis

PirateNemesis-Final-SmallGuys I just received a message from a reader asking for clarification because she had heard that the newly rebranded version of Pirate Nemesis was revised or had new content. IT IS NOT. Other than a couple of typos and one clarification on pirate history that felt confusing to me, not a single word was changed or added – there is essentially NO NEW CONTENT other than the pretty new cover. Now, if you WANT to rebuy so your copy has the new cover, by all means, don’t let me dissuade you. (Hint: it is $0.99 right now and for the next two days ONLY so it would be a good time to buy IF that is what you are going to do.)

But PLEASE do NOT rebuy expecting new content, because there isn’t any! It is the same book existing readers already have, if you already own it.

Announcements + a cover reveal!

I have a lot of news. It’s been awhile since I’ve updated, bad author. Honestly, I went to Disneyland with my family at the end of March and came back with the flu. (Disney was fun, it was after we got back that sucked…a LOT.) I spent all of April so sick I couldn’t work. It was a seriously bad flu, and then right as I was getting over it, I developed a sinus infection. I’ve spent May so far scrambling to catch up. So, let me catch you up with the State of Things:

  1. I am in a science fiction anthology that releases June 15th. If you read my short story Escape Run in the Pets in Space anthology, this is the same story, so no need to buy. However, if you didn’t read it, The Expanding Universe Volume 2 is the only place that story will be found for the next few months. (I have changed the title, however, to Fox Hunt – this is to align it with future titles for novellas focused on Hunters from my space pirates universe.) And good news for those who like to collect in paperback: this anthology WILL be available in paperback format as well, so you can pick that up after the release date if that’s your thing.
  2. I also have a brand new novella to a brand new series coming out in a boxed set in June. Magic After Dark will feature a novella I am co-writing with bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton. The new series is Urban Fantasy, and features a lot of badass stuff like portals to other worlds, dragons, and magical metalsmithing.
  3. Yes, book 2 in Telepathic Space Pirates is still coming. Obviously, being sick for a whole month did not do great things for my writing schedule, and since I had already committed to co-authoring the new series, I’ve had to focus on that to meet deadline. However, the book will release this summer and the whole series is getting a facelift. I want to say I adore my original covers. For now, I am keeping them for the paperbacks. But the ebook versions are getting rebranded and rereleasing at the end of this month in preparation for Book 2. (And I plan to get Book 3 done and out by the end of the year. So please keep faith! Life happens, even to authors.) So, here on the blog you can have an exclusive look at the new cover for Pirate Nemesis, which will go live by the end of the month. Before you ask, there is NO new material, just new covers. So please don’t rebuy these. PirateNemesis-Final-Small
  4. And that’s pretty much it. I’m writing as quickly as I can to get back on track, and hoping I am done with illness for the year. I feel I’ve had more than my share. As always, thank you so much for reading. It means so much to me.

Mass Effect Andromeda: Reaction to the first 5 hours


My version of Sara Ryder.

It should come as no surprise that someone who writes science fiction with romance would enjoy the Mass Effect universe created by Bioware. Yes, I played the trilogy. Despite its flaws, I still consider it one of the greatest RPGs of all time: it did something no other RPG series had done. It created a trilogy, with unique choices from each game carrying over into the subsequent games. You can argue about how the ending of ME3 made those choices superfluous, but that is for a different day. That third game had a weight that few roleplay games have matched. I still remember tearing up during Liara’s conversation with my lady Shepard about the time capsule. I cried when Mordin died. That game hit so many emotional beats there were times when I had to walk away because I needed a break to process what had happened.

So to say that I am excited about Mass Effect Andromeda’s release would be a huge, massive understatement. Sure, I have my reservations; as stated, ME3 wasn’t without flaws, and I’ve been burned by Bioware before (Dragon Age: 2 was pretty terrible). But that being said, I enjoyed the heck out of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and I’ve been excited to see how Andromeda turned out ever since.

I played the first five hours last night, once EA Access opened up their ten hour trial early. But before it did, I’d already seen some early “first impressions” posts go live. The scathing one at Rock, Paper, Shotgun by John Walker being the one that got the most play, largely, I think, because the internet loves nothing so much as a good roasting. What struck me about it, however, was the absolute delight he seemed to take in writing the most negative “review” possible…while then admitting in the comments that he never even played Dragon Age Inquisition. Since his post went live, some other “mixed” reviews came out. And one thing is very clear: there are people absolutely loving the game, who love how it feels like Mass Effect, and people who are ripping it apart for following the same basic formula Bioware always has, and because it…feels…like…Mass Effect.

No lie. A camp of people, including the most scathing review above, seem inclined to hate the game because it “retreads familiar territory”. They also aren’t getting too attached to the characters yet, some going so far as to call the writing or voice acting clunky, or worse. Others really dislike the “chosen one” format, where your character becomes the chosen one hero who can lead everyone to salvation within the first hour of the game. After my play experience last night, I would like to address these from my perspective, and I suspect it is a perspective that will match many other player experiences – I mean, I can’t be the only one enjoying the game!

  1. The “retread complaint”. Well, speaking as a writer, I would like to point out that Andromeda is a new entry point into the series. They actually have to retread some ground to introduce new players to the universe. I suppose they could have handled some of that exposition better, more smoothly. A lot is accomplished through conversational options with the NPCs…and if you are a veteran ME player and don’t care to hear what the genophage is again, or how it affects the krogan in Andromeda, you don’t have to ask. So…rather like the fetch quests that some say bogged down DAI – you can just skip a lot of it.
  2. The characters – your squadmates. Okay, just how iconic were Garrus, Kaidan, Wrex or Liara in ME1? I challenge you to think about that game, in particular the first few hours. I think you only really met Kaidan, Ashley and Garrus in that time, and certainly they seemed a bit generic, even forgettable at that early point. Time was needed to really get to know them. To experience major story beats alongside them, to feel that Garrus became your best bro, or that your character was falling for anyone. Time is irreplaceable. No one is going to feel totally involved in Cora or Liam, Vetra or PeeBee in the opening hours of the game. Give it a chance! Give Bioware a chance. Their characters are something they’re known for, especially in this universe.
  3. The writing. Yes, in some places the writing is clunky. A couple lines of dialogue are just “meh” (I cringe every time I see the opening sequence where Cora says “It seems centuries since we spoke.”) But the story is just getting started. I think if you review any game, there will be moments of clunkiness in the writing, easily ignored. I mean, Gears? Gears 4 had some clunky writing, y’all. And in DAI, it didn’t click in and really feel like Dragon Age to me until the first confrontation with Corypheus. I remember the moment clearly. My character uses the trebuchet to blow up a mountain and bury the village, and then must struggle through a storm to escape, and wakes to a camp full of arguing companions and advisors, and then a song breaks out. That whole sequence put me back in the emotional place of playing DA:O. When you are playing games as massive as these, give it time to settle in before you make a judgement. I’ve already felt a glimmer of that ME magic, in a significant if short cut-scene between Sara and her Dad that I can’t be more specific about without major spoilers. (Not to mention all of the little nods – anyone else notice the dialogue happening during the tram transport from your ship to the Nexus? Remind you of, oh, any elevator rides at The Citadel?) I also love that Ryder’s Dad is an N7. That is a great tie back to the trilogy. To me, this already feels like a Mass Effect game, and that is a huge win at five hours in.
  4. The voice acting. I really don’t see an issue at all with this so far. Like, what are these complainers even talking about? The voice acting, as with most Bioware games, is superb. (I know there were some complaints about male Shepard’s monotone, but I played as lady Shep, so…no comment, I guess.)
  5. “The Chosen One”. Dude. Seriously? One, you are playing an RPG – your character is the hero. They are supposed to be special and awesome! Two, you are playing a Bioware RPG! This is the format! The one they’ve been using for…forever! If you want something different, play some other RPG and hope it doesn’t use the same trope, I guess. After how many games of “The Warden”, “The Champion”, “Spectre”, “The Inquisitor” – if you are upset that Bioware is using a “chosen one” story, I have news – you probably shouldn’t be playing their games. As to it happening in the first hour of the game, well. Yes, it might have been nice to get a little prologue with some interaction between Dad Ryder, Bro Ryder and Sara, maybe back in the Milky Way before the Initiative began. If I were writing this as a book, it’s what I would have done. Joseph Campbell calls it establishing the Ordinary World before you sink your hero into his or her new, heroic world. I call it establishing an emotional link to the characters and who they are before events start to change them. It’s one of the reasons that Pirate Nemesis has a prologue, introducing Mercy as a thirteen-year-old. But, it’s not like we have a long history of getting that ordinary world piece in Bioware games…or any RPG. As I’m thinking of The Witcher 3, one of the best RPGs of all time, it, too, starts Geralt off right in the middle of things, chasing Ciri and Yen.

And I think that is my biggest takeaway. How many companies are making big, character driven RPGs like this? Personally, I can only think of two – Bioware and CD Projekt Red. Maybe there are more I don’t know about, but the Japanese RPGs I have played don’t really seem to allow you the same choices or be as character driven (to me), and Bethesda’s games, while entertaining, are what I call “beer and pizza” RPGs. Beautiful, sprawling open worlds. Very little actual characterization. I don’t really care about anyone. It’s a dungeon crawl with a big story I almost never really care about or finish. I have never cried at a Bethesda game. In fact, as excellent as Dragon Age: Origins and DAI were, I have only ever cried in two game worlds: Mass Effect and The Witcher. (Although, if I had romanced Alistair in DA:O and he died at the end, I probably would have cried. As it was, it was the first time I ever sat and just let all of the credits play at the end of a game, because I felt so emotionally invested I didn’t want it to end. The Witcher 3 was the same.)

I get that ME:A has some graphics problems, particularly with the faces. I was stunned to find my customization options limited to a few alterations to a handful of presets. DA:I you could take the preset and literally change everything about it. ME:A, not so much. I get there are flaws. I understand that, and I hope there are some patches that come out addressing some of them. I hope the next game improves on the character animations. (But didn’t we all say that about ME1, 2 and 3 as well? Who can forget the horror of no eyelashes on your character during cut scenes? Or the “giraffe neck” problem of lady Shepard?) I view these as minor annoyances, not game-breaking issues.

So everyone out there posting these scathing first impression reviews, I guess I just want to know: what is it you want from Bioware? What game out there emulates the perfection you are seeking? And before you answer, yes, there are certain things CD Projekt Red does better. Just like there are certain things Bioware does better. For me, both of these companies do a great job, and yes, I did like The Witcher 3 slightly more than DA:I, but it also feels a bit like comparing apples to oranges. Both are excellent roleplay games, with very different feels, systems, strengths and flaws. I think Andromeda is going to be an amazing game. I can’t wait to be 20 or 30 hours in and totally immersed.

Oh, and one more thing: I haven’t played multiplayer yet, but from everything I hear it is an updated version of ME3 multiplayer, and that is perfect for me. To those complaining it isn’t “like Gears 4 Horde”, why would you want it to be? G4H is an awesome bullet-sponge horde and I really enjoy it. ME was never like that. It’s about different classes and powers and killing the bad guys in whatever way best suits your mood or style of play. Gears is building fortifications and a base and shooting until they’re dead. It’s okay that each game is different, and I’m super excited to be able to play both.

If anyone from Bioware happens to read this, kudos to you for producing a game I think I’ll be enjoying for many, many hours to come. Don’t let the haters get you down! Always remember that the negative is the most vocal online, and the positive are too busy actually playing the game.

Important Announcement

Hey everyone! I tend to be a lot more active on my author Facebook page than here on the blog. However, in truly baffling news, Facebook has begun randomly deleting author Facebook pages! I know two people this has happened to. No explanation, no warning – just suddenly their page is gone, and they’ve lost all of those posts, comments and followers. I can’t do anything to control whether or not I’m targeted, since no one knows why Facebook is doing this.

So, with that in mind, from now on every single FB post I make to my author page will start here, as a blog post. I’ll then link the blog via my FB page. If people want to be sure they never miss anything, I strongly advise following me in both places. Sorry for the inconvenience. Believe me, authors are not happy about this.

HUGE Announcement!

I have news.

You might not all know this, but I work a “day job”, meaning, I work full time and write when I can. I would love to write full time. That is the dream, that is the goal. Not only would it allow me to produce books faster, but that has been my dream since I was ten years old. I’m not giving it up now.

So this announcement is about moving one step closer to that. I’ve been offered a new job. I’m going to take it. It will mean working with one of the best book and author marketing wizards in the business. It will replace my day job, while allowing me to work fewer hours, giving more of that time to writing. She is awesome and amazing, while my current day job is extremely stressful and often a negative work environment. You can imagine the impact that has on my ability to write words.

Here is “the catch”, so to speak. I will be working both jobs for a short period of overlap. Between now and Christmas. Which means my writing time for the next two months will be extremely limited. Yes, this means a small delay in the release of Pirate Consort. I’m sorry. That is the ONLY aspect of this move that is in any way disappointing. However, a small delay now means more writing time, more books in the future. Like, starting in January. That feels like a win, even if it means one book is delayed.

Please stick with me, readers. You mean the world to me. This series and these books mean the world to me. 2017 is going to be a big year.

Pets in Space Release Day!!

pets-in-spaceIt’s here! Today is the day Pets in Space launches. This project was truly a labor of love for all of the authors involved. We love pets. We love SF.  Nine authors come together to write nine fantastic stories of science fiction romance…with pets! Everything from a telepathic fox (my story, Escape Run) to a bearded dragon!

10% of the first month’s proceeds goes to, an organization that pairs service dogs with our military veterans. So what are you waiting for? Go get your copy today!



Guest Post: Far, Far Away…and Closer to Home with S. E. Smith


What pet would be the best fit for living on Mars? 

 Does a pet rock count? LOL. My age might be showing. I remember when they were all the rage. Due to a lack of water and the ensusan1vironment issues, I’d probably have to stick with a couple of Furbies. I see they are going for a pretty good price on eBay. If I had to choose a live pet, it would probably be PIA. She is so affectionate, I wouldn’t have to worry about being lonely. I don’t ever think I’ve met a cat who loves to touch you as much as she does or who is quite as vocal. She even loves to snuggle as evidenced by her loud snores the other day. Yep, nothing like having a slightly malfunctioning cat as your partner if you were stuck on Mars.


 What animal companions (if any) currently ‘help’ you write? 

PIA and the squirrels are wonderful ‘writing’ companions. PIA loves to rub on the screen of my laptop as I’m trying to write and if I’m not careful, she’ll flop down on the keyboard. If that wasn’t enough of a distraction, the squirrels in my backyard are just as bad about pulling my attention away from what I should be doing. I’m kicking myself because I have some really awesome pictures of the squirrels, including Notch, but of course, I can’t remember where I downloaded it. *** Update! Determination pays off and I found Notch! You’ll see why we call him that.

He is in the Mulbersusan2ry tree. Purple paws and all, Notch the Squirrel was enjoying a feast of Mulberries at the time. Mangos, bananas, mulberries, and pineapples are a few of the delicacies at the Smith residence. Current update: Out of 11 pineapples: Squirrels 7; Humans 4. Mangoes: Squirrels too many to count; Humans 7.



susan3PIA in one of her, ‘You’re mine!’ moods. You can’t see that she has her claws embedded into my jeans to make sure I don’t go anywhere!




Teaser from A Mate for Matrix from Pets in Space:

“May I pet your dog?” The girl asked Jana.

Jana paused before she nodded. “Sure, just be careful and let him sniff your hand first,” she said.

K-Nine stuck his head out of the window when Jana and the girl called Gracie walked around the back of the transport. He tilted his head and closely studied the little girl. She had curly blonde hair that flew out around her head, a small nose, and rounded cheeks, but it was her eyes that captured and held his attention. They were a vivid green and danced with innocence and intelligence.

“My name is Gracie Jones. We’re from New York,” Gracie said with a smile. “Where are you from?”

And just because, here is a second teaser for you:

Matrix licked his lips when he saw the creamy flesh of her thigh exposed by the gaping towel. If it moved just a little to the…. His eyes widened for a moment when her hand suddenly struck out.

He blinked as the world grew hazy while his eyes slowly rolled back in his head. Matrix could feel his body starting to collapse to the floor. Three things flashed through his mind before everything went blank; first, he was thankful the creature on his leg had released him, second, the female was pretty, and, third, he should have checked both of her hands.

Click here for your copy of Pets in Space

S.E. Smith, New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling author of Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance brings another action, adventure, and suspense- filled story to transport readers out of this world. Readers can check out her website at and chat with her on Facebook at


Guest Post: People Make Space for Pets with Alexis Glynn Latner


agl-blog-1Consider the bark park.

It’s a special, fenced area for dogs to romp freely. The first bark park I ever saw was in Berkeley, California in the 1980’s, and it was all in the news – a California cutting edge kind of thing.  Now bark parks are everywhere. The popularity of bark parks may owe something to the increasing tendency of urban dwellers to have apartments and condos, rather than yards.  It could also have to do with the sheer numbers of dogs that share cities with us and the undesirablility of having dogs off the leash in parks shared by everyone. At any rate, there are more and more bark parks, and more and more happy good dogs.

This is but one way we accommodate our pets.  There are dog houses, bird cages, ant farms, lizard terrariums.  We can buy cat habitats so elaborate that the father of a friend of mine once referred to the one in their home as a “cat condo.” There are special boxes you can extend through a window to give a house cat a place in sun. Of course if we have a pet, it has to have a place, but our culture goes beyond giving pets a place, all the way to making very special spaces for them. The effect can be pretty funny or quaint (or conceivably excessive;  but excessive may be in the eye of the beholder.)

In a fine public park in Cody, Wyoming, I discovered two fenced bark parks—one for large dogs and one for small pooches. This was the big dog bark park. The fire hydrants defined an area specifically for doggie bathroom use. It was a kick to discover the fire hydrant area as I explored the park. And it made me wonder:  what does this say about our culture?  That dogs are seamlessly integrated into American city life is one likely conclusion – and that this includes small cities like Cody.

What do you think an uninitiated alien might anthropologist think?  Do you suppose that an inexperienced and alien student of anthropology, looking at our world in some kind of post-apocalyptic era, would think it was like an elephant’s graveyard, where old and ill fire hydrants came to die?

Guest Post: To Name a Champion with Susan Grant

Dogs and cats are my life. My house does not seem like a home without furry friends. Both rescue pets and show pets have brought joy to my life. Here’s a cool thing that happened to me that I wanted to share with you.

Erin, one of my readers is the daughter of a Marine Corps “Gunny” (the highest non-commissioned officer rank) and the sister of an Air Force captain. Erin has always been so proud of them. She even wanted to join the military herself when she was young. But life intervened in other wonderful ways, and she ended up on another path. One of those paths led her to breeding and showing champion Collies.

I got to know Erin back in 2007 when she wrote to tell me how much she loved my action romance The Legend of Banzai Maguire. She explained that she bred and showed dogs. Quite a few of my friends breed dogs, so I was familiar with the love, hard work, and dedication this demands. Erin and her husband were about to show their dog Vita at Westminster (think: the Olympics of dog shows in the USA). She planned to breed Vita afterward and she hoped to have a good female in that litter to name after the character Banzai Maguire. Well, not only did they get a good puppy, they got a great one. It was love at first sight…



Baby Bonzai

Erin would mail me updates as to how Banzai was progressing. It was almost surreal to see Banzai advance to become the #1 female Smooth Collie in the country! Living up to the female action hero after whom she was named. It is very unusual, almost unheard of to have the owners be the show handlers. Most times that’s contracted out. But Erin always was hands-on, and was there with Banzai every step of the way. They were an incredible team. I’m so proud of them!


Top dog!

Top dog!


All that winning makes a girl hungry!

Erin says, “I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of her. There will NEVER be another like her.” Yep, BIS/BISS Gold Grand Champion Tir Na N’ Og The Legend Of Banzai Maguire, aka “Banzai” is one of a kind, just like her namesake, Bree “Banzai” Maguire. I’m so proud, too!

I have named pets after airplanes and Pokemon characters but never after any characters in books (have you?) but now I totally want to.

Since there’s so much in a name, I would love to share an excerpt (in the dog’s point of view!) from Stray, my story in the Pets in Space anthology, when the hero, Lt. Lukas Frank names his new K-9 partner:

“There’ll be no getting rid of him now, Sir. You’re gonna have to name him. How about Kabob? We can call him Bobby.”

“Kabob? What the f—?” The Tall One sounded unhappy.

He cowered all over again, tucking his tail.

“Because the Baréshtis like to eat street dogs—”

“That’ll be all, Staff Sergeant.” The Tall One turned back to study him. “A backfire sent you running—straight to me. I could call you Backfire…” Then he shook his head. “Nope. Doesn’t fit. It was more like a double bang. A bang, bang.” A hand ruffled his fur. “That’s it. Bang-Bang. A good name. Come on, boy. You’ve just been recruited to be an Interplanetary Marine. Bezos Station could use a few good dogs.” The Tall One hoisted Bang-Bang high off the ground into his arms. “But first, dinner and a bath. Definitely a bath.”

Thank you for having me on you blog! I love chatting about pets AND books!