Thursday, December 15, 2022

Review & Giveaway - - Christmas in Blue Dog Valley

Christmas in Blue Dog Valley: A Novel
by Annie England Noblin
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: September 20, 2022
Reviewed by PJ

Welcome to Blue Dog Valley. Home of the Fighting Elk. Population 3,411. 

When Goldie McKenzie, DVM, vet to the L.A. pet stars, arrives from Los Angeles to Blue Dog Valley she realizes three things.

  1. Never agree to upend your life when you’re hungover
  2. Pot-belly pigs are not true farm animals
  3. She’s going to need a warmer coat

At first Goldie is nothing more than a fish out of water, with few clients and few friends. But after a less than pleasant encounter with a man whose dog is suffering from a possibly fatal case of bloat, she’s finally earning the trust and goodwill from her fellow Blue Dog Valley citizens. Her clientele grows to include the many farm animals in the town, including a horse named Large Marge, a cape-wearing therapy alpaca, and a yardful of sweater-wearing goats. Add in Kevin, the “worst sheepdog in Blue Dog Valley,” and a Sphinx cat named Airport, and Goldie is having the best time a vet can have. . . aside from the annoying attractive town grump, Cohen, who seems intent on making sure she always feels like an outsider.

With her newfound goodwill, Goldie comes up with an idea to reinvigorate the once flourishing Blue Dog Valley: a Christmas carnival. A petting zoo, pictures with Santa, a baking contest, what more could they want? After only some brief resistance from Cohen and his father, they begin the great plan to reinvigorate Blue Dog Valley.

Will Christmas be enough to salvage this dying town—and be enough to bring Goldie closer to a certain grumpy man?

PJ's Thoughts:

I love a good fish out of water story and, boy howdy, does this one fit the bill. First off, Goldie is so far outside her comfort zone that, like some Blue Dog Valley residents, I wasn't sure she'd last two weeks. Especially after she stepped out of the airport into frigid temperatures, endured a two-hour, silent ride in a pickup truck with her less than enthusiastic (though very good looking) driver, met her terse, unwelcoming co-worker who informed Goldie that nobody trusted her and all appointments had been cancelled, saw the tiny cabin where she'd be living, and after falling asleep in a kitchen chair awoke to a cat on her head and a huge dog in front of her fireplace. And that was only the first day! But then she discovered Ruby's diner and the best cinnamon rolls in Wisconsin and that outweighed many, many negatives. Like Goldie, I slowly fell in love with the small, Christmas-loving town of Blue Dog Valley and her quirky citizens. And like those citizens, I came to love Goldie as well. Who says you can't start over at forty? 

Noblin is a wonderful storyteller, bringing this tale to life with humor, poignant emotion, sassy banter, and well-developed characters. She captures the vibe of the upper Midwest and the flow of a small town on the brink of collapse impeccably. By the time I reached the final page, I felt as if I knew each of the characters, no matter how small a part they played in the overall story. And that goes for both two-legged and four-legged ones! I was cheering for Blue Dog Valley to succeed. I was ready to decorate my house to the max. I was rooting for Cohen to wake up and realize the happiness that was within his grasp. I wanted to spend the day with Kevin, Airport, Alice and the rest of the Blue Dog Valley animals. And I was craving cinnamon rolls. Hot, sweet, chewy cinnamon rolls. 

I would classify this as women's fiction, or perhaps contemporary fiction (think Hallmark Christmas movie), though there is a romantic element and a happy ending. The primary focus though is on Goldie, her interactions with everyone in town, her growth, her second chapter, finding herself, finding her happiness and, quite possibly, her future. 

Christmas in Blue Dog Valley is a fun, feel-good story that's sure to brighten your holiday reading pleasure. It has my enthusiastic recommendation. 

Blue Dog Valley goes all out with Christmas decorations and activities. What does your town do to celebrate?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, December 16 will receive a print copy of Christmas in Blue Dog Valley.

*U.S. only

*Must be 18

*Void where prohibited


  1. The decorations where I live are magnificent, unique and beautiful. Many activities that are enjoyable.

  2. They put decorations on the light poles and the fire department drives around with Santa on board!

  3. The street is a wonderland. The strings of lights stretch across the road from house to house which is unique and special. It gives me such peace.

  4. My town does Christmas decorations right! I live in East Troy, WI and every December our town square is lit up by the East Troy Lights ( There is a 20 minute light show set to music at the top of every hour. After the show, you can visit one of four stations where you get to control the lights yourself! It's fun for the whole family; we are so fortunate to have it in our small town.

  5. Susanne Silverman LercherDecember 15, 2022 at 10:56 AM

    This sounds like a great “feel good” book. I also like the idea about starting over and adapting to new circumstances.

  6. I live in a which has places for families to walk through and look at light and homes with lots of decorations and shopping centers with lots of decorations. And right now, I am not home to see any of it. Thanks for the introduction to the book (sounds so fun) and another new to me author who obviously writes what I like to read - laughable situations. Thank you.

  7. City lights up the courthouse square, trees, etc.

  8. Anchorage has a Town Square Tree Lighting Ceremony with Santa, carols, hot cocoa...the Valley has "Brightmas" , a drive through Decorative ride through the State Faair grounds.

  9. We have a tree lighting ceremony the beginning of December. Santa arrives that night too.

  10. We have a Christmas Parade where, among several floats, the owners of Greyhound dogs dress them up in antlers and call them reindeer-dogs

    1. Sorry, forgot my handle: Susan in AZ

  11. There's a tiny park near the post office and library with a couple ancient live oaks. They cover the trees in white lights, put in a Santa sleigh and some other decorations and have an official tree lighting and visit from Santa party.

    Totally unrelated to Christmas but the town we moved to when I was 10 had a Ruby's Diner. Ruby and her other cooks made the best hash browns. I've moved away and Ruby sold her diner a couple years later without passing on the secret to her hash browns. It's been over 30 years and people still miss those hash browns.

  12. Don't enter me in this contest, I've already read this one. This is an awesome book, I really enjoyed this one. You will not be disappointed! Miss Noblin is an auto buy for me.

  13. I'm sold. This sounds like such an enjoyable book. I am curious how she ended up switching from her L.A. position to Blue Dog Valley. I can imagine the shock to her system. Been there done that in a different way and it does make you wonder what you were thinking. This sounds like one I can share with my husband. He would appreciate her situation.
    Anyway, our town goes all out for any holiday, but especially Christmas. Downtown is an historic district. The street lights are pseudo-gas lights. There is a pole with a wreath and lantern between the lamp posts along Main St. All the stores decorate inside and out. All the trees are wrapped in fairy lights and there is a tall decorated evergreen near the old courthouse. There is a sleigh on the opposite side of the courthouse and Santa is there on weekends for pictures. There is a theme to each weekend in December. The first weekend it was Whoville with Dr. Seuss characters and the Grinch making the rounds. He was in the sleigh that weekend instead of Santa. This weekend it is a Victorian Christmas. There is a parade one weekend. They have a progressive dinner staged at historic houses and also have a day of tours of the decorated historic homes. The local repertory theater presents a themed play. This year it is The Christmas Carrol presented in radio play format. They have also done radio style Christmas variety shows. A wonderful place to just walk around and enjoy, even during the week. They have put up a gingerbread house frame you can stand in to have your picture taken. (it was a pumpkin during October.). In the area there are two large drive through light displays. One is on Bristol Motor Speedway with fun activities in the center of the track. One of the local churches has a live Nativity which has animals including a camel.

    I hope everyone has a fun local place for their Christmas enjoyment. Have a wonderful Holiday Season.

  14. My town is small. We do decorations, but mostly just street lights. Various businesses go crazy. We have a few neighborhoods that get together and try to outdo each other. It's fun to drive through. Our church used to take a hay wagon filled with carolers around pre covid though.

  15. We have a Christmas parade in the downtown area. The downtown area businesses do a great job with their Christmas displays.

  16. Wow! Traveling from hot, sunny, hectic, liberal LA to rural,frigid, gray, conservative, small town Wisconsin would require a HUGE adjustment!
    I’m glad you enjoyed her journey! Thanks for the interesting review.
    In Florida we see a lot of decorated palm trees, inflatables and normal decor you associate with Christmas. In addition there are boat parades. Last Saturday their was hot chocolate and cookies with Santa. There is a memorial park in Cooper City that is beautifully decorated with all the trees covered in white lights, walk through archways too. The live oaks have colored globes too. A gigantic decorated tree. Finally all the schools decorated a Christmas tree. Most if not all the decorations were donated by Home Depot.
    We take our grandson their every night. He loves the lights and we sing Christmas carols ad we walk along the paths. People are very friendly and in great spirits!