Yes, I’m still alive (and here’s what I’ve been reading…)

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Hi, everyone. Yes, I’m alive…

Sorry I’ve been away so long. But living and working in a renovation zone has been keeping me pretty busy. In other words, I have not had much free time.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

In the spare time that I have had, I’ve been struggling to find activities that allow me to escape from all of the stress and horrors  of, well…  living and working in a renovation zone. So I’ve been binge-watching a few TV shows, borrowing movies from my local library, and reading whenever I can.

Yes, I love to read. In fact, it’s something that I’ve loved to do since I was just a little kid. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved books about animals. I’ve also been known to enjoy a good mystery or two.

Here’s what I’ve been reading

So with all of that being stated, here’s what I’ve been reading.

Right now, I’m about three-quarters of the way through Live and Let Growl by Laurien Berenson. And so far, I really like it. I don’t love it. But I really like it.

It’s part of the “Melanie Travis Canine Mystery” series. As such, it’s what would usually be classified as a “cozy” mystery, which basically means that it’s a “who-done-it” without all of the mayhem and gore. And right now, that’s fine with me. I’ve got enough chaos in my life as it its.

But back to the point.

One of the reasons I like it so much is because the protagonist is from Connecticut. So I can relate. The other reason I like it is because of the setting. It’s set at a dog show in Kentucky horse country. Dogs…horses…mystery…intrigue… what’s not to love?

And now for some recommendations…

Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about all of my feline-loving friends out there. In fact, I’ve got some great recommendations for anyone who shares my passion for cats and books, or more specifically, cats and mysteries.

You simply must check out the Cat Who… series by the late Lillian Jackson Braun. This set of 20-plus books by Braun features an intrepid reporter (Jim Qwilleran) as the protagonist and his trusty Siamese sidekicks, Yum Yum and KoKo. Together they get in and out of their share of trouble while solving perplexing crimes.

Like Berenson’s books, these are “cozy” mysteries, so they’re suitable for readers of all ages.

Give them a try, and let me know what you think. Or you can share your thoughts about your favorite books in the comments section below. I’d love to hear about what you enjoy and the books on your summer reading list.

Happy New Year!

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Hello, everybody! I know it’s a bit late, but I just wanted to start this post by wishing everyone a belated Happy New Year and apologize for being MIA for the last couple of weeks. Suffice it to say, 2016 ended on a rather frantic note and so far 2017 has been just as hectic.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

And I swore this would be the year in which I would be less stressed and more relaxed — even if it killed me! So much for New Year’s resolutions… Still, 11 days into 2017, there are some I haven’t broken… yet.

This year, I am determined to be:

  • More positive
  • More tolerant
  •  More patient

This year, I will:

  • Get rid of all the toxic people in my life
  • Listen more and talk less
  • Keep a lid on my temper
  • Make time to do the things I enjoy…

Speaking of which, as most of you know, I love to read. And with that in mind, I am once again participating in the annual reading challenge on Although I fell well short of my goal last year, I once again set the same target: 100 books. And so far I’m off to a great start, if I do say so, myself. (I’ve already read three books, and I’m halfway through my fourth…) So I’m actually ahead of schedule! But we’ll see how long that lasts…

So what’s on my reading list?

So what am I reading? I guess it will depend on what’s available at the local library, my local “book bin,” and how much I want to spend on adding to my digital book collection.

One thing is for sure. With more than 100 books on my “to read” shelf on goodreads, I’ve got plenty to choose from. Here’s a small sample:

  • Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey
  • Unleashed by David Rosenfelt
  • The Girl in the Basement by Dianne Bates
  • Where there is Evil by Sandra Brown
  • The Abbey by Chris Culver
  • The Last Letter by Kathleen Shoop
  • Beneath Outback Skies by Alissa Callen

Unfortunately I won’t be able to share my opinion about everything I read here. But if you’re curious, you can always find links to reviews on my personal Twitter page.

The tale of a well-read writer

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In the spirit of the holidays, I’ve decided to take a break from blogging about the law, animals, and animals who break the law.

Instead, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I love to read. And I read a lot. So this January I decided to participate in a reading challenge on Since it was the first time I participated in the annual contest — and with nothing at stake except pride — I decided to go for broke. I decided to try to read 100 books in 2016.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

By my calculations that meant I had to read roughly two books per week in order to complete the challenge.

Well, with less than two weeks left in the year, I can happily report… that I’ve failed. Miserably. According to the goodreads tally, I’ve read 68 books so far this year. But in the interest of full disclosure I’ve only read 66. This miscount happened because I marked one book as read (even though I didn’t finish it), and had to mark another one as read even though I accidentally clicked on the wrong title.

On one hand, 66 percent isn’t very good. In fact, it’s barely a “passing grade.” On the other hand, if you consider how much time it actually takes to read 66 book, it’s not bad. In fact, it’s not bad at all.

Here’s a closer look, “by the numbers.” So far I’ve read 66 books or:

  • Approximately 24,000 pages (give or take)
  • Shortest book 166 pages
  • Longest book 693 pages (actually this was the one I didn’t finish!)
  • Average length 386 pages
  • Average rating 3.3 (out of 5) stars

Here are my favorites:

  • An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts One and Two) by J.K. Rowling
  • The Death Artist by Jonathan Santlofer
  • Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag
  • Criminal by Karin Slaughter
  • Die in Plain Sight by Elizabeth Lowell
  • State of Fear by Michael Crichton
  • One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

My least favorites:

  • The Janson Directive by Robert Ludlum (so horrible I didn’t get past the first chapter)
  • The Sigma Protocol by Robert Ludlum (not that much better)
  • A Touch of Ice by L.J. Charles
  • Once Gone by Blake Pierce
  • Before He Kills by Blake Pierce
  • Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell

My recommendations (for animal lovers, especially those of you who love cats):

  • Anything by Lillian Jackson Braun

So there you have it — for whatever it’s worth.

Here’s one book every pet owner can use

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It has been a long time since I’ve written a post that falls into the “reading list” category. But this book is a must-read for every pet owner on the face of the planet.

In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t read it yet. But it’s definitely on my list.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Written by a veterinarian, Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Pets on the Couch is packed with anecdotes about neurotic dogs, cats, birds and other animals with whom I am sure we can all relate. Or more accurately, I think we can all relate to their “parents.” But I’m sure you knew what I meant.

Now, none of my cats ever ate wine glasses (like a dog featured in the book) — although Heals did eat most of a rubber snake. I didn’t realize what she’d done until she started puking all over the place and I took her to the vet. The vet didn’t know what my cat had eaten until she did surgery. The surgery and ensuing stay at the animal hospital cost me approximately $2,000, but I didn’t have a choice. If Heals didn’t have the operation, she could have died.

I can’t honestly say that I’ve had an anorexic cat, either. And I’ve never had any dogs, or birds — although I did take care of both during my pet-sitting days. So maybe I can’t relate to all of the stories in Dodman’s book. But I as an animal lover and pet owner, I can relate to most of them. And that’s what matters.

Charles Dickens quotation about cats.
Famous quotation about cats. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

I also like Dodman’s reasons for writing the book.

“I have an ulterior motive for writing the book,” Dodman said. “It’s to educate people to the fact that animals have feelings and emotions similar to our own.”

Because Dodman believes that’s the case, he also believes that neuroses affecting various animals can be treated accordingly. Specifically, he recommends behavior modification, diet and exercise. When all else fails, he thinks drugs can be used to address the animal misbehavior that cause people to surrender or abandon their pets.

That’s where I draw the line. I would never, ever give Eli kitty cat Prozac. But I’d never give up on him, either.

Censorship – alive and well

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“Censorship generally is the deletion of speech or any communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a body authorized to censor.”

– As defined on

A disturbing news report surfaced last week.

Apparently some Russian government-types have been burning some “undesirable” books.

Given the heinous and egregious nature of this conduct, I am sure the Russians would have been happy if this remained a closely guarded secret.  Unfortunately (for the alleged offenders) some American media outlets discovered and published accounts of this disgusting behavior.

I found out about it when shared a link to the post on Twitter. Ain’t social media grand?

At any rate, I banged off a snippy response, which was something to the effect of, “And this comes as a surprise?” Not surprisingly, that Tweet didn’t amount to much.

But in all honesty, I wasn’t surprised. Angry? Yes. Disgusted? Of course. Sickened? Absolutely. Flabbergasted, gob-smacked, astonished, taken aback? No. Not at all.

Of course government censorship is alive and well. Let’s face it. In Russia, where Vlad Putin does whatever he wants with impunity, it probably never died.   But what you may not realize – or simply refuse to admit –  is that censorship is practiced with alarming frequency right here in the good old USA.

The restrictions on freedom of expression to which I am referring go far beyond rules and regulations put in place to limit potential exposure to “offensive” material and to hold those who engage in hateful rhetoric accountable for their actions.

I am referring to the vast majority of the censorship that occurs in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, which  is condoned if not officially sanctioned by the politically correct crowd in the government and elsewhere. In an effort to combat the ignorant, misguided and hateful behavior of a vocal minority, the “polite police” are running amok.

Yes, some censorship is blatant. Some is passive-aggressive. Trust me. I speak from personal experience.

Book Cover, Truth Be Told: Adam Becomes Audrey
Image courtesy of Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Agency

You see, I am the award-winning author of what could be considered a somewhat controversial book. In my memoir, Truth Be Told: Adam Becomes Audrey, I share how I met, fell in love with and married the man of my dreams. In vivid detail, I recount how I learned that he self-identified as and planned on having surgery to “become” a woman. I also share what happened after I learned the truth.

Some readers have loved my work. Some have hated it. Most have expressed their opinions in no uncertain terms — which is fine. I have very broad shoulders. There was only one occasion when I was truly insulted, and that was when a local library official told me they’d probably never shelf my book because readers here are “very conservative.”

I wonder what they’ll do if Caitlyn Jenner writes a book.

Recommended reading

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As a reporter, I always balked at doing “advertorial.” Actually that’s an understatement. I detested it.

For those of you who don’t know what it is, I can sum it up this way. Advertorial is basically a “news” or “feature story” about a specific business or product. In other words, it is basically a free plug.

Anyhow, as the saying goes, you can take the girl out of journalism, but you can’t take a reporter’s ethics out of the girl. Yes, believe it or not, I was a reporter who actually had ethics, but that’s another story for another time.

The point is that as the founder and owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, I am also concerned about doing anything that could be perceived as a conflict of interest. So I am still leery about getting involved in anything that could be construed as giving free endorsements.

“I am now going to set a dangerous precedent by breaking my own rules.”

All of that being stated, I am now going to set a dangerous precedent by breaking my own rules. I am going to recommend a few books that I consider “must-reads” for anyone interested in mediation, writing and the law.

The first book is one I’ve actually read. It’s called Nipped in the Bud, not in the Butt by Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton. In it, Hamilton a former lawyer who is now an accomplished mediator, shares why mediation is the best way to resolve conflicts involving animals. Specifically, she explains how and why mediation yields positive results. She also explains why litigation involving animal disputes often results in pain and frustration for everyone involved. In my humble opinion, this is essential reading for pet owners, veterinarians, animal rescue organizations, groomers, barn managers and anyone else who works with or loves animals.

I must confess that I haven’t read the next two books… but they are definitely on my list. The first is an e-book called Snoopy the Legal Beagle by Charles M. Schulz. The second is also an e-book. This one is called Snoopy the Literary Ace by the same author.

I can’t tell you much about them at this point. But I have no doubt that they’re awesome. After all, Charles Schulz was definitely a genius. And Snoopy is definitely my hero.