TLC Book Tours Book Review & Giveaway: Dog Crazy by Meg Donahue

• Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 10, 2015)

The USA Today bestselling author of How to Eat a Cupcake and All the Summer Girls returns with an unforgettably poignant and funny tale of love and loss, confronting our fears, and moving on . . . with the help of a poodle, a mutt, and a Basset retriever named Seymour.

As a pet bereavement counselor, Maggie Brennan uses a combination of empathy, insight, and humor to help patients cope with the anguish of losing their beloved four-legged friends. Though she has a gift for guiding others through difficult situations, Maggie has major troubles of her own that threaten the success of her counseling practice and her volunteer work with a dog rescue organization.

Everything changes when a distraught woman shows up at Maggie’s office and claims that her dog has been stolen. Searching the streets of San Francisco for the missing pooch, Maggie finds herself entangled in a mystery that forces her to finally face her biggest fear-and to open her heart to new love.

Packed with deep emotion and charming surprises, Dog Crazy is a bighearted and entertaining story that skillfully captures the bonds of love, the pain of separation, and the power of our dogs to heal us.

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My Review:

HUGE DISCLAIMER:  I did not read this as a therapist, do not recommend therapist’s read this as a therapist, nor for non-therapists to assume that therapists provide therapy this way.

Dog Crazy is a light read that covers some heavy topics: grief, fear, anxiety, and sadness.  However, Meg Donahue writes this story in such a way that makes the issues so laden with heaviness and makes the book just as cozy as those cute dogs, who have personalities that many who are dog lovers will relate with.

A mystery (Maggie helps find a missing dog), adjusting to a new city, dealing with her own loss and family issues, Maggie is a woman many will relate with and find compassion towards.  She is a woman with a huge heart, one that has been broken, and while she ventures into a practice to help others-she finds that there is healing for her, too.

This was a quick read for me, but still had me shed a few tears.  Don’t let the cover fool you- it’s not all warm and fuzzy.  It deals with some heavy topics that people face everyday and will give hope…which always makes for a great ending!!

Overall, I enjoyed the book and am sharing this with one lucky winner!

 

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Giveaway Details:

One person will receive a paperback copy of Dog Crazy by Meg Donahue.

To enter, please fill out the comment form.  Information entered on the form is only visible to me and will not be displayed online.  All information is confidential and not shared with anyone.  No P.O. Boxes, please.

Open to the US & Canada

Giveaway ends April 28, 2015

Book Signing in Houston: Michelle Moran, author, of Rebel Queen

Synopsis:

From the internationally bestselling author of Nefertiti and Cleopatra’s Daughter comes the breathtaking story of Queen Lakshmi—India’s Joan of Arc—who against all odds defied the mighty British invasion to defend her beloved kingdom.

When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the mid-nineteenth century, it expects a quick and easy conquest. India is fractured and divided into kingdoms, each independent and wary of one another, seemingly no match for the might of the English. But when they arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, the British army is met with a surprising challenge.

Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male and one female—and rides into battle, determined to protect her country and her people. Although her soldiers may not appear at first to be formidable against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi refuses to back down from the empire determined to take away the land she loves.

Told from the unexpected perspective of Sita—Queen Lakshmi’s most favored companion and most trusted soldier in the all-female army—Rebel Queen shines a light on a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction. In the tradition of her bestselling novel, Nefertiti, and through her strong, independent heroines fighting to make their way in a male dominated world, Michelle Moran brings nineteenth-century India to rich, vibrant life.

Book Event Details:

Michelle Moran
Rebel Queen

Author Event
Join us as we host Michelle Moran in the upstairs seating area as she signs her new book Rebel Queen.
The signing will be first come, first served; seating is limited.
Saturday March 28, 2015 2:00 PM

Barnes and Nobles at The Woodlands
Woodlands Mall, 1201 Lake Woodlands Dr. #3008,
The Woodlands, TX 77381, 281-465-8744

Mug ‘O’ Comfort Swap Reveal

088f4-2014mugocomfortbutton I love participating in the swaps hosted by Chaotic Goddess Swaps!  Each swap is a little different and this one was about great mugs!  I am the first to admit, I don’t have many mugs. I have lots of Christmas ones and a few cutes ones, but mugs aren’t usually an item I choose for myself.  Because I love my Keurig and drinking hot cocoa, this was the perfect swap for me. I was teamed up with an awesome blogger, Kristen, over at The Book Monsters.  The best part about these swaps is that we are teamed up with someone who has similar tastes to us.  Also, because we are teamed up with our partner and given contact information, it’s an awesome way to connect and get to know one another. I was in heaven when I received my package!  Look at the goodies below! IMG_6198Is that now just insane?!?  I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan and absolutely fell in love with my tote and Jane Austen mug! She even bought me a book that I have been wanting to read, Tumbleweeds, by Leila Mecham. unnamed[1]Kristen even included some awesome goodies, like my favorite candies: Hot Tamales and Raisinets, a journal, a mega huge cupcake eraser (because I love cupcakes!), and her logo book mark! unnamed[3]I had to include another pic of my Jane Austen mug and tote bag! I also love that Kristen included a coaster for my mug! This was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed getting to know Kristen better on different forms of social media! It’s been great to meet other bloggers through these swaps and look forward to participating in more of them! copyright 2015 simple signature best

“What You Said?”-The Failings of a Bibliophile With Audio Books

Photo Courtesy of LDS.org

Photo courtesy of LDS.org

 

When my son was about 2 years old, and needed us to repeat something, he would ask, “what you said?”.  It was so cute, but of course, we’d correct him.  I can guarantee you, at 19, he no longer says that.  Anyhow, that’s our saying at home when we are being goofy, and I thought this was quite fitting for my experience listening to an audio on the road. About a couple of weeks ago, I was able to check out the audio for this book. I downloaded it onto my computer, so that from there I could download it to my iPhone.  My plan was to listen to the book, while on the road to a conference.  Because I was transferring the cd’s onto my laptop, then transferring them to my iPhone, and I had never done that before, it took me about 4 hours to figure it all out and finish the task.

So, on my road trip I went.  I had created a playlist, with the book title, of course.  However, it played in alphabetical order of each title, rather than the order of the book.  Not a problem.  I played it by “author” setting,  for the story to be read out loud in the correct order.

However, I failed miserably.  Here’s why:

1.  Concentration: I am a proactive driver. I am constantly looking at sides, driving cautiously, which means I didn’t always remember what was being said and which character the narrator was talking about.

2.  Pause and Play: For some reason, if I stopped and turned the van off, my iPhone wouldn’t remember where I was at in the story, and it would either start over or just pick a random spot.

3.  Squirrel!:  I’m a visual person and the drive was beautiful.  I’d be looking at the scenery or reading the billboard signs, then I’d completely forget what was being said.  Unlike a book, I just can’t turn back a few pages.  I had to  rewind a whole chapter, which wasn’t fun!

4.  Who? When?:  I don’t know when or how, but as I’m driving, the storyline went back and forth on the timeline: past and present.  It was simply hard to remember which time period was being told. I found myself getting confused.  It wasn’t until I stopped at my destination that I looked down and saw that somehow the story was being “shuffled”.   For example, I’d be in chapter 1, then move onto chapter 11, and had no idea.  While I am a sign reader, I don’t look down at my phone.  It wasn’t until I was at a full stop that I realized what had been happening.   I still don’t know if the novel naturally goes back and forth from past to present, and even if it did, I simply couldn’t keep up.

5.  Mindless: While the narrator is phenomenal, I realize I just need some music I can sing to, because it doesn’t matter if I know every word, and it helps me stay calmer and more focused.  The narrator for this novel has a very distinguished voice and I loved when he would talk in the different character voices.  However, it was too hard to stay focused on the audio version of novel, no matter how interesting it was.  Granted, it was playing in random order, so that impacted my experience tremendously.

From what I do remember, I really liked the novel and plan to read the book.  Some people are able to listen to books with no problem. I am apparently not one of them.  My husband loves using the service from Audible.com.  He loves the ease of it and how quickly it just transfers to his phone, like I love the easy format with my e-readers.

When people tell me they can’t use e-readers, I can completely understand them.  Just like having a variety of genres to choose from, there are a variety of different ways to read a book. I’m a visual learner, and it makes perfect sense that I prefer reading to listening.  It also makes perfect sense that I don’t always know the words to a song unless I read them, and that’s okay.  I’m really great at humming and ad-libbing!

Which do you prefer: audio, e-books, or a physical copy?

Sound below!

Giveaway

Click here for giveaway details!

 

copyright 2015

 

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Review: Julie Farley & The New Ever After Series

I was first introduced to author, Julie Farley, being on tour for CLP Blog Tours, back in 2013.  She wrote a trilogy, which I love.  Here are the books and reviews for them:

Click here to read my review.

Click here to read my review.

Because I enjoyed the previous two books, I was quite excited to learn that Julie had written another book! The last book in the trilogy: Another Tomorrow.  This is a book that cannot be read as a standalone and is a compliment to the two previous novels.  The cover, in my opinion, doesn’t adequately represent the storyline.  Although, it is both Heather and Jenny, best friends who have endured a number of situations and life changes.  This book deals primarily with Jenny and her self discovery, after her divorce.  I was uncomfortable reading about the yoga retreat, where there is a lesbian kiss, although it doesn’t define Jenny and doesn’t really impact the rest of the story.  I think that scene could have been excluded, without affecting the overall storyline.  While the story revolves more around Jenny, it is great to still know what is happening with Heather, her new marriage, and her ever growing children.  They were just born in the last book!  I loved the romance that happens for Jenny and the way she finds peace with her ex-husband, learns to be a single mom and venturing into dating, as well as dealing with a serious health issue. Overall, Farley fans will enjoy this book and be glad for the happy ending!

great cupcake rating 4

*This book was provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

copyright 2015

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Short Stack Reviews

SHORT STACK REVIEWS

At the beginning of the year, I was reading so much that I simply didn’t want to stop and write about them. Before I knew it, they had accumulated and I wanted to share them with you here.  I plan to write more “Short Stack Reviews”, where you can gleam what I’ve read, add them to your TBR list (if you see any that you might like), and also to help me keep track of my reading.  Be sure and click on each book picture to read the synopsis!

This is my first DNF, this year.  I don’t typically include books I haven’t read because I certainly am in no position to rate them.  However, I am including this one.  From the first chapter, I was hooked into the storyline.  It was intense, an “edge of your seat” kind of book, that I just couldn’t continue reading.  I had so much anxiety worrying if Mark, the astronaut left behind, was going to die.  I didn’t watch Gravity, the movie with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, because I didn’t want to see him die.  I’m a wimp when it comes to movies and books.  Because I didn’t finish this book, I have no idea if Mark survives, but my heart couldn’t continue.  It is a book for sci-fi fans, those who want a narrative story (as Mark is the only one on Mars…and his potatoes), and for those who love intense books. So, what did I do with this book? I gave it to my son, who loves sci-fi, is fascinated with Mars, and loves an intense storyline.  He also saw Gravity and loved it, so there you go!

*This book was provided by the publisher and Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest opinion.  No forms of compensation were given.

I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan.  So, when Cyndi from “A Utah Mom’s Life“, suggested this book, I downloaded it.  I loved this book and the adventures Jane (Jane in the book, not The Jane) has in Austenland.  I don’t know if there is such a place, but wouldn’t it be amazing to jump back in time and meet people that are from Pride and Prejudice? Jane has a great sense of humor and does admit the corsets get old, not being able to be alone with a male is stifling, and lack of cellphones can be a bit hard.  However, she has her own adventure, has some love challenges, and finds her happily ever after…or so I hope.  The ending did seem a bit rushed, but it was in perfect Austen form-love always prevails!

excellent cupcake 5

 

 I must admit, before reading While Beauty Slept, I just didn’t have an appreciation for Princess Aurora.  This book is another twist on  Sleeping Beauty, where Princess Aurora wakes up but doesn’t have her happily ever after.  She isn’t in love with her prince, the kingdom is in disarray, and she learns that all is not as it seems.  This novel is the first to a trilogy, which I am excited about and is a great YA book for those who love stories about fairy tales with twists.  There are definitely some cliffhangers, which I am sure the other 2 novels will address, and can’t wait to read them!  This is definitely a book that different from Elizabeth Blackwell’s book, so don’t compare them because you will be disappointed.  They are vastly different and equally good in their own right.  I enjoyed this book very much!

great cupcake rating 4 *This book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest opinion.  No forms of compensation were given.

 

copyright 2015

 

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Finding the Silver Lining

silver lining

I am an optimist at heart. I always look for the good in someone and something, no matter how small. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in such an abusive environment that even in the darkest moment there was hope, perhaps it’s because of my wonderful great-grandmother who nurtured and loved me, perhaps it’s because of the wonder and beauty I see in my children every day, or perhaps it’s because of the beauty and love I have seen through my Heavenly Father and my relationship with Him.  Maybe, it’s a combination of it all.

To get to this silver lining that I want to share with you, I must first go to the dark side.  The dark side of blogging. Below are links that you can read up on to be informed of what has happened.

Blog Posts:

Twitter:

These hashtags can lead you to some of the discussions that have happened on Twitter: #BlogHonest, #StopPlagiarism, #TruthTrain

The Ugly Side to Blogging:

1. Don’t be bullied into silence.  If someone is private messaging you, emailing you, calling you out on social media to get a response, don’t respond.  However, don’t stay silent on issues that are important to you.  The issues are separate from the person.  Issues teach us how to grow and learn from them, how to bridge support, and how to help one another.  Talking about the “issue” doesn’t mean the person is being vilified.  It means we are using the issue as a platform to grow.

2.  At the end of the day, all you have is your word.  If you can’t keep your word, then that is an issue and a person I choose not to be around.  I want to be around those I can be myself with.  I want people to be around me, who can also be themselves.  Trust is highly important and I want to be able to trust your word, no matter how bad it may seem.  If we can’t be transparent and authentic, especially behind closed doors, then our relationship is based on falsehoods, and I don’t want to invest my time in that.  So, choose your inner circle wisely.

3.  Everyone has an opinion.  That is what I love about social media. That is what I love about America.  That is what I love about Texas (because yes, all Texans believe Texas is a great country-it’s our joke).  Will everyone agree? No. Will everyone disagree? No.  People will have their opinions.

Truthfully, I don’t know how anyone can watch The Walking Dead.  It’s creepy and gross.  But, I’m in the minority…aside from being Latina and female, I know I am because so people love that show.  My son loves it, watches it every week, and my bloggey friends post all about it.  I still adore them and love reading their posts and know what they’re reading! You know what? I don’t try to force my infinite love for Housewives on my son or my bloggey friends.  But- I do talk about it! Because I love those shows (minus Atlanta and Miami).  Hopefully, they still love me even though they have no idea why I love to watch them!

Same goes with the issues of plagiarism and the person who did it.  People have opinions that some will agree with and others wont.  You know what? That is okay.  My opinion: that person is not horrible, or a pariah.  She doesn’t have to be exiled or banished from the blogging world or any world, for that matter.  She is a wife and mom, who made a ridiculous mistake that has natural consequences.  However, it brought up great points for us to discuss: when to say no, how to say no, how to ask for help, what it means to blog, and what we can do as a community to bridge this division that has been created.

While people may want the talk of “plagiarism” to go away, it won’t.  It won’t because people need to process through what happened, especially when it happened to them or by someone they trusted.  It’s a grieving process of sorts.  It is not okay for someone in J’s camp to belittle, harass, or send private messages to ask what you implied, what you meant, and say they are “her protector”.   We are grown adults, we can speak for ourselves.  An apology was sent out, whether someone chooses to receive it or not, is up to each individual.  However, it is not someone’s right or place to feel the need to check in with everyone and see where they stand.  That is childish and brings up a whole other set of issues.

My Silver Linings:

1. I learned the importance of copyright:  I spent a lot of hours on my blog posting copyright information, after being informed about what it actually means and how to protect my work from being plagiarized.

2.  I have simplified my reviews:  I don’t post a whole lot of descriptive information (unless it’s from a book tour), and I write about what I love about the book.  I don’t write negative reviews.  I don’t care to invest my time in writing about a book I didn’t enjoy. Why would I want to even finish a book I didn’t love?  So, my blog will contain reviews on books that I want to share with others.

3.  I am streamlining my presence on social media.  I am still working on my accounts, but am limiting my social media accounts to FB, Twitter, and Bloglovin’.  I will also still keep my FB page because that is where I like to share all the freebies Nook has to offer!  It’s exhausting, overwhelming, and unnecessary to have accounts in every place…at least for me.

4.  I have learned the value of “blocking”:  Life is short.  My time with blogging is limited.  This is a hobby I enjoy and will continue.  This means that I choose not to read the negativity or attacks on people, who have an opinion that is different from theirs.  It’s okay not to agree with everyone, it’s okay to not necessarily enjoy everyone’s posts, and it’s okay to not follow everyone on social media.  It is okay and the world will still go on.  Surround yourself with those who value your worth, who inspire you, and who teach you….and yes, surround yourself with those who have a freakish, crazy habit of book hoarding, too!

My goal on social media is to promote great books and authors, whose work I love.  The bonus to that is I have met some incredible bloggers and have enjoyed reading about their daily life, what’s on their bookshelves, and tours they have joined.  I also like to share about my daily life and my crazy love for reality tv.  So, I’ll still be tweeting, just not as much.

5.  Back to Basics:  Like any hobby or job, anything can be consuming if we allow it.  Therefore, I plan to spend less time on social media and more time being involved with my family and friends, in person.  This means not checking in on social media, while out to dinner with my family!  I am at a place in my life where I am able to move around and exercise (no longer suffering from shoulder pain), and I need that for my own self-care.  I can’t be a help to others if I am not taking care of myself.

6.  My family comes first:  When my hobby is overtaking my family time, it’s time to step back. These past couple of months have shown me the importance of that, as I’ve dealt with health issues and family friends who have health issues, too.  I have spent too much time reading tweets and FB posts and not enough time doing the things I should be doing-like printing out our Hawaii vacation pics from 2010!!

7.  It’s okay to say NO:  Saying no doesn’t mean I don’t want to, it just means I can’t right now or in the near future.  I really hate having to tell publishers, authors, and tour hosts- “no thank-you”.  However, I have been doing more of that and feel more free to read what I can without the pressures of review dates.  Due to my health issues last year, I had to cancel on book tours and realized that while I can “today”, things can change down the road. Thankfully, the tour hosts have always been quite understanding, very helpful,  and immensely supportive.

8.  Self-care: I mentioned that earlier- if I can’t take care of myself, I can’t be of help to others.  This means making time to exercise, spending time with my Bible and having devotionals, volunteering more (because that brings me joy), and doing things I enjoy that doesn’t include a laptop or a book. Gasp!  Yes-I just wrote that!!  And, that’s hard because I always have book with me.  However, it’s all about balance!

9.  Forgiving others:  It is so important to forgive others, even when they hurt you (intentionally or unintentionally).  Life is too short.  Anger and hate takes too much energy.  I have forgiven J and even “her protectors” because they are human, they are doing or did what they thought was best at the time, and it gives me peace to move forward in my own life.  I choose to enjoy the talks and moments I did have with them and realize that some friendships end, while others begin.

10.  Being Helpful:  When I first started blogging, it was because of my love for reading and talking books with others.  I had just had my car accident and was unable to drive, was in constant pain, and limited in what I could do.  Bloggers were my cyber friends, who talked about books and shared about their joy for reading.  I learned so much from them, continue to, and I want to do the same.  I want to help those who need my help, even if it’s just giving emotional support or prayer.

Our community of bloggers have one thing in common: we love books.  Behind our computers, we are all people, who truly care about books, love to talk and share, and are compassionate people.  That is my goal: to not lose my compassion and to always look for that silver lining.

My thanks to these awesome bloggers that started this conversation, so that we can all grow and learn as a community.  If I left anyone out, it wasn’t intentional. Please add your link and I will add it to this post.

copyright 2015

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