Book Review,  Lifestyle

Book Review: I Chose You by Carmen Leal

Book Summary

For every pet parent who knows there’s no such thing as ‘just a dog,’ this collection of uplifting glimpses into the lives of ordinary-turned-extraordinary dogs and the people who love them is a tail-wagging good read.

Thanks to the rescue dog who saved her life after a traumatic brain injury, Carmen Leal went from saying she’d never have a dog to becoming an advocate for man’s best friend. Carmen volunteered at the local rescue shelter by writing bios and social media posts, applying for grants, and helping to save and re-home over 6,500 dogs from a high-kill shelter. This endearing anthology includes stories that celebrate the bond between canines and humans including:

-Buddy the beagle who went from living chained under a porch to becoming the town’s only therapy dog

-Heavenly Joy, the frightened Chihuahua who changed the life of a grumpy old man

-Bogey, an abandoned mixed-breed trained by prison inmates and adopted by his forever family

I Chose You is a collection of memorable, beautifully written stories of dogs rescued by people and, ultimately, people rescued by dogs. If you like four-legged friends and happy endings, you’ll love Carmen Leal’s touching collection of heart-warming stories.

Fetch a copy of I Chose You, the feel-good book that resonates with anyone who has ever loved a dog. 

Publisher: EABooks Publishing

ISBN-10: 1955309035

ISBN-13: 978-1955309035

Print Copy Pages: 264 pages

Purchase a copy of I Chose You on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

About the Author, Carmen Leal

Carmen Leal is a storyteller and the author of multiple books, articles, devotionals, and human-interest stories. Carmen relocated from Hawaii to Oshkosh, yes, there is a story behind the move, and has become an awesome dog mom. Carmen and her husband have become reluctant gardeners and know a crazy amount about Wisconsin weeds. She is the mother of two sons, two incredible grandsons, and Coconut, the best imperfectly perfect rescue dog in the world. Learn more about Carmen and Coconut by visiting

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Find the author online: (more to come)

Praise About the Book

“I’m so thrilled to discover this beautiful collection of stories featuring these imperfectly perfect rescue pups. I Chose You has won my heart!” — Janice Thompson, author of Paws for Reflection: 50 Devotions for Dog Moms 

“Great read! Nothing in life is perfect except unconditional love. I Chose You captures that choice!”  — Adrian Palmer Board of Directors Medical Advisor Australian Shepherds Furever Rescue 

“The best prescription I can write for trauma survivors, veterans with PTSD, and others with mental health issues, is the healing power of dogs. I Chose You is the perfect gift for yourself or a dog lover and a wonderful reminder of the unbreakable bond between canines and their people.”  —Angela Miller, Licensed Professional Therapist

My review:

As soon as I received notification of this blog tour, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I’m a huge dog lover and have two of my own. While we do own a purebred long-haired red dachshund named Ruby, we are also the proud parents of a senior Chihuahua mix named Sonic.

From L to R: Sonic and Ruby

Sonic came to us in 2010, a few months after I lost the first dog I had owned as an adult, a small black Chi named Odie. Odie was fiesty, rambunctious, and took crap from no one. But he had several health issues in his later years and was a thin, frail, one-eyed shell of himself by the time he passed in the summer of 2010. I swore I couldn’t handle getting another dog (where have we heard that before?) but in August 2010, I was working as freelance reporter for our local newspaper when I headed to a local Great Dane Rescue to interview the founder. Sitting in a crate, right at the welcome table, was a wire-haired black and tan pup who was smiling at me. (I’m sure he was just panting in the heat, but my heart melted anyway). I immediately called my husband to bring our two young kids to meet him. We’ve had so many adventures together, from chasing him down when he used his short, spry legs to jump our fence and escape during his first week at our home, endless walks around the neighborhood, trips to the beach, and waking up in the mornings and finding him crashed out by himself on our guest bed. We were told he was 3 or 4 when we adopted him, but now we know he was probably closer to two years of age. He has slowed down considerably, can’t jump on things like he used to, and has trouble walking on our hardwood floors because of his arthritis. We know he likely won’t be with us much longer, but we are so happy I got sent on that assignment so we could fill the dog-shaped hole in our lives 13 years ago.

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Now, onto the review of the book! This anthology is a fun, heartwarming, and if I’m to be honest, a read that will bring you to tears. (“My Island Boy,” I’m looking at you! Everyone needs a Hero in their life.) I also laughed so hard at Leal’s essay “The Mud That Wasn’t Mud,” that my husband had to come in the room and find out what was so funny. (We’ve all been there with the canine bodily fluids, that’s for sure.) Barbara Marshak shared the incredible story of Daisy and Duke, a mother/son duo that became local TV stars, leading to their perfect adoption. Daisy was blind, and her son Duke dutifully became her guide throughout their beautiful life with their adoptive family. Throughout the different essays, the Leal shares her own thoughts on her time as a dog owner and how her pet pup Coconut has helped her after a car accident left her with frontal brain damage, as well as her experience volunteering with a local dog rescue. Readers will also find quotes about dogs sprinkled throughout, like this one:

“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling an emptiness we didn’t ever know we had.” – Thom Jones

“I Chose You” is organized into sections titled “We Are Family,” “Rescue Me,” “Smile,” You Are So Beautiful,” “Somebody to Love,” What I Did for Love,” “Something Good,” Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” “Tears in Heaven,” and “Where You Lead.” Leal includes a chapter at the end that I loved titled “Top Six Reasons to Adopt a Rescue Dog.” You can also download the song “Love is Just a Wag Away,” written by Carmen Leal’s friend Scott Krippayne.

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I guarantee that you will enjoy this book, and it was a joy to read about so many of the loving and lifelong relationships the owners have had with their canine angels. It made me hug my own pups a little tighter after I finished it.


  • Carmen Leal

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. What a lovely and well written review. What’s fun is when people highlight stories they really like in I Chose You and it’s amazing how they are usually different. Except the “The Mud That Wasn’t Mud.” I love sharing with my contributors how their stories touch reviewers and I will be sure to pass your comments along to them.

    I loved reading about your two babies, they are beautiful, and I am thrilled you liked my book.

    You are a wonderful writer and I’m glad that you decided to be a part of my blog tour. What a great way to start my Monday!

    Thank you again for such a generous review.


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