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!

 

excellent cupcake 5

 

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

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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TLC Book Tours: One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (January 27, 2015)

The #1 international bestseller reminiscent of After I’m Gone, Sister, Before I Go to Sleep, and The Silent Wife—an intricately plotted, thoroughly addictive thriller that introduces a major new voice in suspense fiction—a mesmerizing and powerful novel that will keep you guessing to the very end.

No one has ever guessed Emily’s secret.

Will you?

A happy marriage. A beautiful family. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life—to start again as someone new?

Now, Emily has become Cat, working at a hip advertising agency in London and living on the edge with her inseparable new friend, Angel. Cat’s buried any trace of her old self so well, no one knows how to find her. But she can’t bury the past—or her own memories.

And soon, she’ll have to face the truth of what she’s done—a shocking revelation that may push her one step too far. . . .

My Review:

This is a book that has a dark and gloomy feel about it.  It’s not until the very end, that there is a little ray of sunshine.  Emily leaves her husband and family behind, choosing to go by the name “Cat”, as she starts a new life in London.  She is determined to hide who she is to this new world, while there are moments the reader is brought to the past to shed light into the world of Emily and who she is.  Emily is the oldest twin, with her younger one (Caroline) being the reckless one.  It is shared that Caroline was not expected, as having twins was a surprise for their mom.  As a result, Caroline was treated differently from the very beginning, while Emily was the child that was loved and nurtured.

Told in alternating viewpoints, the reader gets to know what Emily and Caroline’s parents felt and experienced, Ben (Emily/Cat’s husband), Angel (Cat’s friend), as well as Emily/Cat’s perspective.  I would have loved to have known Caroline’s point of view because she is so central to this storyline.  However, the reader is left to speculate what she felt and why.

Emily is married to a loving man and has 1 child, pregnant with another.  She is a successful attorney and has the support of her family and friends.  Then, abruptly, she leaves to run away from her past and the reader slowly puts the pieces together to figure out what would make Emily leave the comfort of her home and wonderful family to start anew. Cat is rather reckless as she ventures into the world of drugs and partying.  She meets a friend, named Angel, who becomes quite close with her.  However, never close enough to know Cat’s secret.

This is a novel that I absolutely enjoyed reading. It’s a novel that will keep you guessing, wondering what’s happening next and what happened in the past.  As it all unfolds, the reader can’t help but have compassion and happy to see a silver lining at the end.  While it isn’t addressed as openly in the novel, it’s quite certain that Emily suffered from PTSD, which explained the alter-ego and the spiral towards self-destruction.  It’s simply a great novel that kept me guessing until the very end. It’s a great read that I truly enjoyed!

great cupcake rating 4

*My thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel! No forms of compensation were given.

About Tina Seskis

© Laila Hegarty

Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, England, and after graduating from the University of Bath spent more than twenty years working in marketing and advertising. One Step Too Far is her debut novel, and was first published independently in the UK, where it shot to the #1 spot on the bestseller list. Her second novel is forthcoming. She lives in North London with her husband and son.

Find out more about Tina at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Tina’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 27th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, January 28th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, January 29th: Fuelled by Fiction

Monday, February 2nd: BoundbyWords

Tuesday, February 3rd: A Bookworm’s World

Wednesday, February 4th: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, February 5th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, February 6th: Books in the Burbs

Monday, February 9th: The Well-Read Redhead

Tuesday, February 10th: Vox Libris

 

copyright 2015

Book Review: Big Little Lies by

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

My Review:

I read Liane Moriarty’s book, The Husband’s Secret, which I absolutely loved and listed as one of my Best Books of 2013.  I purchased Big Little Lies last year, but only recently was able to read it.  That is the benefit of not having so many scheduled book tours!

It reminded me of a modern time Agatha Christie murder mystery, with the dissection of the events dispersed throughout the book, and different people interjecting what they saw and know.  I love that from the very beginning, the reader knows there is a murder, there is some bullying going on, and there are lots of secrets, however the pieces of the puzzle don’t come together until the very end!

As in Liane’s last book, she is able to seamlessly and flawlessly weave different stories, characters who at times seem to only 1 thing in common, and bring them all back together in the end.  In the beginning of the novel, most of the story revolves around bullying occurring at school.  Oh, how I can relate!  I am the mom of 3 children, one being in kindergarten (age 5), right now!  So, I can understand the dynamics, school structure, peer relationships, and school politics that a parent and child has to experience.  There are also many different kinds of moms: the single mom, the active mom, the rich mom that is very quiet and flawless, the divorced mom, the step-mom, and the list continues.  Each of them have two things in common: they love their child and their child attends the same school.

While there is a huge issue of bullying in the school and trying to figure out what is going on with that, Liane raises a huge issue: do children act out what they have learned or do they act out simply because that’s in their nature?  She also shows how intelligent children are (regardless of age), how in tune they are to what is happening around them, and how they act out what they don’t always understand but feel (rage).

While there is a murder and an investigation, Liane also shows the dynamics between step families, the importance of having good relationships with ex-spouses for the sake of their children, the importance of having a support group, the need for therapy when it’s necessary, and most of all-that not all battered women live in the ghetto and are uneducated and in a dead end relationship.

Domestic violence awareness is such an important topic for me, as I have worked with families impacted by abuse-especially the children who do hide, keep secrets, clean the blood soaked floors, and learn unhealthy ways to be in a relationship.  If there is anything I hope anyone walks away with: aside from this being a brilliantly written book, is that as culture-we need to stand up for those who don’t have a voice, have lost their voice, and/or don’t know what to do.

If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship, please contact the number below.

 

Click on this image for more information!

 

supreme cupcake rating 6

First to Read: The Look of Love by Sarah Jio

Title:  The Look of Love

Author:  Sarah Jio

Published by: Penguin/Plume Books on November 25th, 2014

Pages: 320

Genres:  Women’s fiction, Contemporary/Literary Fiction

Format:  ARC

Synopsis:

Born during a Christmas blizzard, Jane Williams receives a rare gift: the ability to see true love. Jane has emerged from an ailing childhood a lonely, hopeless romantic when, on her twenty-ninth birthday, a mysterious greeting card arrives, specifying that Jane must identify the six types of love before the full moon following her thirtieth birthday, or face grave consequences. When Jane falls for a science writer who doesn’t believe in love, she fears that her fate is sealed. Inspired by the classic song, The Look of Love is utterly enchanting.

My Review:

No lie.  I read this book in ONE day!  Perhaps it’s because I have been sick and am confined to my chair, but a bigger part of the reason is because I just couldn’t stop reading!  I absolutely love this book.  It’s charming, very magical, and the story moves along rather nicely.  The book doesn’t dive too deep into issues, but gives a nice overview of each character so that the reader can connect with each one.

Now, I need to add this bit of disclosure:  If you or anyone you know is experiencing headaches, black-outs, fuzzy views, etc…see your doctor and follow protocol!  This is just a story!! It’s not real.

Jane sees fuzzies, gets headaches, and experiences head pain.  Against her neurologist’s orders, she decides to heed the advice given to her by a woman, who also “the gift”, and has passed it on to her.  Jane has never experienced love, and in order for her to find love, she must first identify 6 different types of love and identify the couple’s matching those descriptions.  She has been given 1 year to do this task or risk never experiencing true love.

Jane is the shop owner of a local florist and loves the language of flowers.  Each flower has a meaning and sees how flowers communicate emotion to others.  Her shop assistant, Lo, has her own love challenge, as do some of Jane’s other friends and acquaintances.  Jane begins to see her gift as a powerful tool, rather than a nuisance, and sees how people love differently.  From broken marriages, broken promises, and heartache, Jane sees the power of love and how love is experienced differently.

It’s a charming book, moves rather quickly despite the many characters introduced, and will have you guessing what happens to each couple.  The only issue I have is that the book cover doesn’t fit the storyline.  I imagine Jane looking different, or perhaps it’s Elodia (the first person to have been given the gift of seeing love).  Either way, it’s a great book and will be a wonderful gift idea for the holidays!

excellent cupcake 5

*A huge thank you to First to Read for giving me the opportunity to read and review the book.  No forms of compensation were given.

TLC Book Tour: Us by David Nicholls

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper (October 28, 2014)

Synopsis:

David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves, and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

My Review:

I was drawn into this book immediately. Within the first few pages, Connie tells Douglas that she feels the marriage has run its course and wants a divorce.  Bam!!  Twenty years of marriage thrown away, or so it seems from Douglas’ point of view.  Douglas goes back in time to describe how he first met Connie, what his life is like, and what he hopes to accomplish while he and his family trek across Europe. Connie wants to have this last trip as a family, to experience “firsts” with Albie and have him have the trip of his life.  Douglas wants to use this time to save his marriage and draw closer to Albie.  However, this trip has plans of its own, which helps both of them to discover important truths along the way and helps bring them closer as a family.

Douglas shares about his biochemist life and the work he does…even about a fruit fly.  The fruit fly has an interesting lifespan and purpose, which is analogous to the relationship between Douglas and Connie.  It’s interesting that when the fruit fly’s life cycle ends, it is replaced with another fruit fly.  Yet, Douglas never sees the correlation between his marriage and that of the fruit fly.  Prior to Connie’s shocking statement about wanting to move on because their relationship has run its course, Douglas never anticipates that this can happen to his own marriage, like that of the fruit fly’s lifespan.  Douglas is traditional and predictable within his marriage:  he goes to work, provides for the family, is dependable, is trustworthy, and expects to grown old and die together (he and his wife).

Connie has focused her attention on their son, Albie, through the course of their marriage.  Prior to the marriage, Connie was unpredictable and has found herself in a rut.  She has given her all to the marriage, but wants more now that Albie is graduating and moving on, too.  She wants to discover herself again, embark on adventures, and experience life in a way she feels the marriage hasn’t allowed her to.

As they all go on this trip, Connie and Douglas have different goals for this trip.  Douglas wants to save his marriage and grow closer to Albie.  Connie wants to have one last hurrah with them and give Albie a fun trip.  Connie and Douglas both gain better perspectives on themselves, their relationship, and their father/mother role with Albie.  Douglas also sees that despite marriage or divorce, the terms themselves aren’t what defines their relationships; it is their own ability to move themselves and truly seek satisfying relationships with one another and being present.  They also realize that whatever the outcome, they will forever be tied together and be a family, despite any titles they have (husband/wife, mother/father/son, etc).

This is a sad tale, while there are moments of joy sprinkled throughout.  It’s a book that many will enjoy because of the in depth look into marriage and of a couple who really are different, yet balance each other in ways they don’t even realize.  It’s a book that will challenge reader’s own views on marriage and divorce and bring greater appreciation to living in the moment, while always planning ahead.

This is a great book for book club discussions!  Overall, an excellent book!

excellent cupcake 5

 

*This book was provided by TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

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About David Nicholls

David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway. Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Find out more about David at his website and connect with him on Facebook.

David’s Tour Stops

Monday, October 6th: The Daily Dosage

Tuesday, October 7th: nomadreader

Wednesday, October 8th: From L.A. to LA

Thursday, October 9th: Spiced Latte Reads

Monday, October 13th: BookNAround

Tuesday, October 14th: Bibliosue

Friday, October 17th: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, October 20th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, October 21st:  A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, October 22nd: Vox Libris

Thursday, October 23rd: The Scarlet letter

Monday October 27th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Tuesday, October 28th: Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, October 29th: nightlyreading

Thursday, October 30th: Always With a Book

Monday, November 3rd: Alison’s Book Marks

Monday, November 3rd: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, November 5th: More Than Just Magic

Thursday, November 6th: Walking With Nora

Monday, November 10th: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, November 12th: Literary Lindsey

Thursday, November 13th: Books and Bindings

Friday, November 14th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews

Saturday, November 15th: BoundbyWords

Sunday, November 16th: Giraffe Days

Monday, November 17th: Doing Dewey

Tuesday, November 18th: Bibliotica

Thursday, November 20th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Friday, November 21st: Bookshelf Fantasies

Friday, November 21st: Book Loving Hippo

Friday, November 21st: Books in the Burbs

Monday, November 24th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Tuesday, November 25th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, November 26th: missris

TBD: Reading in Black & White

TBD: …the bookworm…

SheReads

She Reads Fall Book Tour: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

My Review:

Wow.  This book has it all: family dysfunction, family secrets, marital affairs, sibling rivalry, suicide, survivor’s guilt, divorce, and shame.  The Bird family all experience the majority of their heartbreak in their family home.  After the death of the Bird’s matriarch, the family comes together to clean out their home.  Along with it, many family memories come up to the surface and the Bird family members have to address everything they buried underneath all their pain and shame.

It is interesting that the family is named “Bird”, the matriarch’s favorite holiday is Easter, and the biggest tragedy actually happens on Easter.  The Bird family all do their best to escape the family nest, but to embrace their future, every one of them has to visit their past.  Sadly, their past isn’t all Easter eggs wrapped in color foil.  The items in the house (as the mom was a hoarder), are signs of the sadness that was hidden underneath each item.  Lorelei (Bird’s matriarch) states that the items all represent a specific time and place with a memory that she wants to remember long past a picture can provide.

Meg is the oldest daughter, followed by Beth, and their twin brothers: Rory and Rhys.  Lorelei is a mom with her own obsessive compulsive tendencies, stemmed from a childhood of sexual abuse.  The patriarch (Colin) is rather aloof and quiet, doing what he needs to so that he can pacify Lorelei.  Vicky is the neighbor, who is married with 2 daughters.  Each one has their issues, leading up to the family tragedy, with evidence that shows the family was already cracking long before that event.

There are so many layers to this story, with so many rabbit trails that Lisa Jewell takes readers through.  With amazing writing techniques, Lisa Jewell manages to bring each different story and show their relevance and importance to the overall storyline.  I would love to talk about Bethan (Beth) and her black outs, because there is so much she saw and really holds the largest piece to the puzzle after her mom dies.  I think there are some family secrets of incest and the abuse Beth sees and experiences, passes on to the relationship she has with someone in the family.  There are so many layers to this story, and is a book that will become a book club favorite!  It’s a long book, but every single page is worth it.

supreme cupcake rating 6

A huge thanks to She Reads for selecting one fantastic book for us to read!  No forms of compensation were given.   

I would like to thank Lisa Jewell and the publisher,  Atria Books (A trademark of Simon & Schuster) for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

To read more reviews of all the She Reads selection for the Books of Fall, click here