A New Leash on Life

Young Adult - General
240 Pages
Reviewed on 05/08/2012
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lorraine Carey for Readers' Favorite

"A New Leash on Life" will keep young readers spellbound and it makes us on the edge of our seat reading! Here a cranky police officer gets a shot at reincarnation to be able to enter Heaven if he is able to help a family in need. Many children may identify with the needs of this family as they face their own challenges. He is labeled a Jerk and must take on a much challenging mission on earth. The death of the police officer is written on the lighter side with much detail for humor. The twist is that the officer comes back as his K9 who carries on his quick wit and snarly sense of humor. And the family he is teamed up with has a boy who is just as spunky as he is. You cannot help falling in love with this snappy tongued dog. Here we find cops and robbers, computer toys, and even high tech embezzlement going on as Spencer (mission dog) joins forces with Justin and his sidekick to uncover a plot to destroy his father’s company and reputation. Children will laugh throughout the story as the doggie humor is exceptional! Everyone here, except for the bad guys, gets a new leash on life! This story has a valuable lesson to be learned. There are surprises around every corner and no let down time. I can tell you I smell a great Disney Movie here!

Erna Mueller’s sense of humor is right on target for children in grades three through the middle grades. I can tell you she has captured all the concepts that make for a motivated reader here. As a veteran reading specialist I will have this on my top list and will rant and rave as I will spread the word out there to schools that this would be a great literature adoption.

Anne B.

A New Leash On Life’s genre is Young Adult however it will be appealing to a much wider crowd. I can see reading this to younger children and adults will enjoy it too. The plot will remind readers of a few oldie but goody Disney films, I think the name of the one I have in mind is Switch and of course we all remember the Shaggy Dog movies.

In A New Leash On Life Lt. Spencer Watley is reincarnated as a dog. The tough old cop couldn’t quite make it into heaven and needs to redeem himself in two ways: by catching the cyber crooks responsible for his death and help a physically and emotionally challenged teen. Justin Andrews is a marvel with technology which can be dangerous when you are also considered a troubled teen. His father doesn’t seem to realize that the boy needs help or perhaps the father is grieving so deeply that he buries himself in his work to avoid facing the pain of losing his wife.

Watley was hot on the trail of an identity theft ring. The Dreck Company make robotic toys, their latest one has a spy chip that allows Robo Pooch to collect data allowing the company to gather private info on the owners. After Watley and his dog Pepper were killed in line of duty, Watley was sent back to earth in the body of Pepper.

This book is funny. I’m still half kid at heart and I loved the slapstick type of humor. Kids will love the funny antics. One of the things I picked up on was Watley/Pepper’s priority. He thought his main goal was to catch the bad guys but I sensed that before the book ended he realized his true mission was to help Justin and his sister. This book has it all, adventure, comedy, mystery, thrills, twists and an endearing quality.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I can only give it the highest of honors by sharing it with my grandkids as I watch for more.

Joy H.

Pasting Principal Hammersmith’s face on the picture of a mountain goat? This is just one of the many things that Justin Andrews did because his dad failed to give him and his sister the attention they needed. Ever since they lost their mom, their dad has plowed himself into working at Dreck Toy Company and left no time for his two kids. And it was showing in their attitude. When a K-9 officer and his dog were killed in the line of duty, an Angel sends Spencer back where he is reincarnated as a service dog with the police department. Spencer the K-9 finds himself wrapped up in a load of criminal activities at the Toy Company Justin’s dad worked at, and after an escape, Spencer ends up living with Justin and his family.

Wow, this action packed Young Adult book is so full of twists and turns that it will keep you on the edge of your seats and turning the pages until the very end. Young readers will thoroughly enjoy the journey of Justin and Spencer as they seek out their mission. Erna Mueller really captures the hearts and minds of young readers in this YA mystery. Not only will young readers enjoy the excitement and adventure between the covers of this book, they will experience the healing of Justin and his family after the loss of their mom. I encourage you to pick up a copy of this YA mystery and read it yourself, and then give it to someone who enjoys YA books. This story will stick with you for a while after reading it.

Stephen B

Although he is an excellent police officer, Lieutenant Spencer Watley comes up a little short in the tact and politeness department. His only real friend is his Briard partrner. While tracking a band of criminals, Spencer loses his life. At the entrance to heaven, he discovers that he is not allowed inside because of his heartless attitude. To prove his worthiness, he returns to the Earth, as his own dog. Justin Andrews is an intelligent fourteen year old looking for recognition from his workaholic father. His life gets worse when he is involved in an accident (caused by Spencer in his chase after the bad guys) and must rely on leg braces to walk. For his birthday, Justin’s dad (a toy manufacturer sales rep) buys him a robotic dog. However, a crazy mix-up has Justin receiving Spencer in dog form. Together with his sister and his new girlfriend, Justin and Spencer learn about caring and cherishing life, while trying to solve Spencer’s last case.

This story has some wonderful humor. The mix of characters shows a lot of creativity, from the evil Ms. Dreck and the bumbling bad guys to the anthropomorphic canines. There are a couple of subplots and incidents that the author Mueller ties in very well to the main plot. The action is fast and funny and the final ‘fight’ in the warehouse plays like a Disney special. This is a great YA book, one filled with over the top bad guys, family values, and of course, dogs. Any story featuring dogs, I’ll take a second look at and this one had me laughing and feeling good all the way through. "A New Leash on Life" needs to be shared because there is something here for everybody, both kids and adults.

Brenda C.

Andrew's family is struggling with the loss of a wife and mother. The father Eugene buries himself at work and has no time for his children, 16 year old Vicky and 13 year old Justin. Vicky has become the caretaker, and Justin has been acting out at school to gain attention. When an angel decides to send some divine intervention to help this family become whole again, it comes in the form of a dog, but no ordinary dog. K-9 cop Spencer Watley is often a jerk but is very good at his job. While he and his dog Pepper are on the trail of the Cyber Killers, Spencer is killed and Pepper is injured. When Spencer gets to heaven he can't get in until he completes an assignment in the Jerk Redemption Program. Thing is his assignment which will have him coming back to the earth to help Andrew's family but he will be coming back in the body of his K-9 partner Pepper's body. Can Spencer bring Andrew's family together and solve the Cyber Killer crime after being reincarnated as a dog?

A fast-moving plot along with laugh out loud situations makes this book a real winner. The author's descriptions are so vivid that it really brought my imagination to life, making the story jump right off the pages. I found myself visualizing the funny antics Spencer got into as a dog. The author provided several twists to the story, and while we knew who the criminals were, their bumbling antics kept me wondering what might happen next. I thought the secondary story of King and his young charge Cody really added another layer to the story. Overall I thought the author wrapped up the ending quite nicely, but because of the interesting story line I hope the author might turn this book into a series!

While "A New Leash on Life" by Erna Mueller is geared toward teen readers, anyone who enjoys a fast-paced, fun filled read, with an interesting plot, with several positive messages woven in, will certainly want to read this one.