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.

Add to Goodreads badge

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

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

simple signature 1

 

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

 

simple signature best

 

 

 

Review & Giveaway: Walking on Trampolines by Frances Whiting

Synopsis:

Tallulah de Longland,’ she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgement. ‘That,’ she announced, ‘is a seriously glamorgeous name.’

From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah ‘Lulu’ de Longland is bewitched by Annabelle, by her family, and their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river.

Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small, coastal town of Juniper Bay. Their lives become as entwined as Annabelle’s initials engraved beneath the de Longland kitchen table.

But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.

Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgiveable.

It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.

My Review:

This is a book that grew on me.  As I turned each page, I became more immersed in the story of Tallulah de Longland.  When it ended, I simply wanted it to go on. The story spans a few decades, with Tallulah (Lulu) reflecting back on the past and sharing her story of the present.

It starts out with Lulu meeting Annabelle at their Catholic school, St. Rita’s.  Soon, they become the best of friends, developing their own language and creating a dictionary.  Both come from eccentric families, with Lulu’s mom struggling with a mental illness that is never defined (but includes bouts of severe depression).  While her mom, Rose, has her quirks, she loves her daughter immensely and loves to bake!  Lulu has twin brothers, who aren’t main characters in the storyline, but still show how resilient children can be, in a home where someone is mentally ill.  Both, Rose and Harry, are a couple who do what they can to provide for their children and help move them along to create their own adventures.

Lulu experiences first love with Josh, and the three of them (Annabelle, Lulu, and Josh) become inseparable.  Something happens and Lulu’s life stalls.  Annabelle and Josh move on, and it isn’t until Lulu moves in with a friend, that she meets the infamous Duncan.  Lulu develops her own voice and draws the line (so to speak), with Duncan, which sparks a life long friendship that is so endearing and heartfelt!  Duncan has his own issues, one being that he loves women with the letter “K”.  It is through Duncan’s own journey, that Lulu comes into her own and embraces who she is.

Because Lulu grew up Catholic, it made sense to see how much Lulu struggles to accept happiness and gifts from others.  However, through the course of the book, she learns to forgive herself, forgive those she loves, and embrace the adventures that her family and Duncan very much want for her life.

Frances Whiting is a debut author, who wrote this book, with the setting being in Australia.  So, there is some Australian lingo, mate.  However, it doesn’t come across confusing or difficult to follow.  This story has so many beginnings and endings, throughout the novel, that it really seems like this novel could have been a sequel of sorts.  Reading the interview at the back of the book, I was simply amazed that this book was a labor of love that took 7 years to write!!  The novel doesn’t show this at all, as it is seamless, quite relevant, and has a great rhythm to it.

While it could easily have been a “girl meets boy” tale, Frances takes the story even deeper and brings forth issues that happen in real life-which makes it quite relatable to anyone.  Frances also raises serious issues about friendships, boundaries, infidelity, health issues, starting over, and finding love.  Frances shows that everyone has flaws, have  journeys that sometimes intersect with their past, and above all, that everyone deserves a second chance.

This was a beautiful novel that I enjoyed.  I cried, laughed, and simply loved the way every character has his/her own personal challenges to overcome, yet no one is ever truly alone to experience those.  The title didn’t make a whole of sense to me, until I read the interview Frances gave.  Then, it made perfect sense.  Like a trampoline, there are dips, falls, and times you are soaring in the air!  Overall, an excellent book that I highly recommend!

P.S. I do hope Frances considers writing a sequel to this novel! There are so many adventures for Lulu and her family and friends to share with all of us!!

excellent cupcake 5

*This book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley. No forms of compensation were given.

Book Giveaway!

The publisher has graciously offered 2 copies of this book!! 

Simply fill out the form and 2 winners will be randomly selected. 

This giveaway is open to US & Canada readers.

Giveaway ends March 10, 2015.

Please Note:  This is a 2 part process! 

1) Fill in the comment form (it will not be visible to anyone but me, Books in the Burbs.

2) There is a question in the comment form.  Answer it below this post, where the general comments are listed.

****In order for your entry to be valid, both parts must be answered.  This includes your mailing address.  It takes time to receive word back from winners and I am on a deadline to submit both winner’s information to the publicist.  Thank you!   

copyright 2015

2014 Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

My Review:

I absolutely fell in love with Rainbow’s book, Eleanor and Park, so I was extremely excited to read her latest book. This book is definitely not YA, and is a modern twist to the movie, “Back to the Future” and “Scrooge”. What would happen if you could go back in time and rework your troubled marriage? Would you make the same choices? Would the ending still be the same? These are the questions Georgie finds answers to, as she faces the possible demise of her marriage.The story follows Georgie and her husband, Neal, as Georgie connects with her past through the yellow old rotary phone hidden in her childhood bedroom closet. Georgie is at a crossroads and is faced with the decision of: spending Christmas with her family or meeting a deadline and pitching a new show. As many women willidentify with:career vs. family, Rainbow raises interesting questions as readers follow Georgie over the course of 1 week.

Told through Georgie’s point of view, Rainbow gives reader a well-rounded character and helps readers see how quickly work can become the other person in a marriage, and ultimately the cause for breaking a relationship up.Rainbow Rowell gives readers an inside glimpse into Georgie’s interesting family: her mom is a sexy Cougar, her sister is “hiding in the closet”, and Georgie is stuck in the 80’s. While the story kept me glued to each page, it would have been interesting to have had the book told by Neal’s point of view, too, and to have had a little more story development about her sister, Heather.

I loved the way the book all tied up nicely at the end, although it would have been great had Neal given more clues about knowing something magical happened between the two of them, while both rekindled their romance on a landline.

great cupcake rating 4

*This was a guest review I posted on another site, which has since been shut down.  However, I wanted to give this review a home, since I did enjoy this book, so it’s here at Books in the Burbs (where it belongs)!

 

copyright 2015

 

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.

31f16-tlc-logo-resized

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

TLC Book Review: City of Liars and Thieves by Eve Karlin

About City of Liars and Thieves

On Sale: January 13, 2015
Pages: 266
Published by : Alibi

A crime that rocked a city. A case that stunned a nation. Based on the United States’ first recorded murder trial, Eve Karlin’s spellbinding debut novel re-creates early nineteenth-century New York City, where a love affair ends in a brutal murder and a conspiracy involving Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr erupts in shattering violence.

It is high time to tell the truth. Time for justice. . . . How she was murdered and why she haunts me. It is not only Elma’s story, it’s mine.

On the bustling docks of the Hudson River, Catherine Ring waits with her husband and children for the ship carrying her cousin, Elma Sands. Their Greenwich Street boardinghouse becomes a haven for Elma, who has at last escaped the stifling confines of her small hometown and the shameful circumstances of her birth. But in the summer of 1799, Manhattan remains a teeming cesspool of stagnant swamps and polluted rivers. The city is desperate for clean water as fires wreak devastation and the death toll from yellow fever surges.

Political tensions are rising, too. It’s an election year, and Alexander Hamilton is hungry for power. So is his rival, Aaron Burr, who has announced the formation of the Manhattan Water Company. But their private struggle becomes very public when the body of Elma Sands is found at the bottom of a city well built by Burr’s company.

Resolved to see justice done, Catherine becomes both witness and avenger. She soon finds, however, that the shocking truth behind this trial has nothing to do with guilt or innocence.

My Review:

The title itself truly depicts what this novel is about.  With so much corruption, lies, and scandal, this novel is wrapped in historical truths about the unsolved murder of a woman, Elma Sands, who is found at the bottom of a well.  What is most interesting about the book is the politics and maneuvering big business and prominent leaders will do for money and power.  While Elma Sands story is not truly known, Eve Karlin shines light on who she was and the possibilities of what happened, through the voice and lens of Elma’s cousin, Catherine (Caty).

Caty is a fascinating character to me.  She is Quaker and struggles to find her identity, adjusting to a large city, while trying to hold onto the values of her faith.  Her journey was most interesting to me and her determination to find out what happens to her cousin.  I found Caty to be a wonderful character in the story and her struggles and challenges is what made this book stand out for me.

The story doesn’t truly pick up speed until Elma’s disappearance.  Keeping in mind that this story is based on some historical fact, it was intriguing to learn how the judicial system worked back then.  All of this happened during a time when there wasn’t mass communication, social media, cellphones, etc.  So, I was simply fascinated with the way the investigation (albeit-it’s not told in very much detail), happens.  I was also fascinated with the way the court system worked back then, too!  Jurors actually had to sleep on the floor, at the courthouse…imagine that!  One thing is for certain, Eve Karlin shows how corruption infiltrates businesses, courthouses, families, and friends.  Sadly, finding justice for the death of one woman is simply part of what happens when someone gets in the way of business deals.

Overall, it was a good book!

good cupcake 3

31f16-tlc-logo-resized

About Eve Karlin

Eve Karlin was born and raised in New York City. She is a graduate of Colgate University, where she studied literature and creative writing with Frederick Busch. Karlin worked in publishing for more than a decade in marketing, at Random House, Newsweek, and, later, as a foreign book scout with clients in the United Kingdom, Italy, Holland, Brazil, and Japan. She has had several short stories published in The East Hampton Star and has been a contributing writer for Patch.com. She lives in East Hampton, New York, with her husband and their sixteen-year-old triplets. City of Liars and Thieves is her first book.

Eve Karlin’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, January 6th: Mystery Playground

Wednesday, January 7th: Bibliophilia, Please

Friday, January 9th: Fiction Zeal

Monday, January 12th: Omnimystery News – author guest post

Tuesday, January 13th: Dwell in Possibility

Tuessday, January 13th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Wednesday, January 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, January 16th: Reading Reality

Monday, January 19th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, January 20th: Sarah’s Book Shelves

Wednesday, January 21st: A Fantastical Librarian

Thursday, January 22nd: Chew & Digest Books

Monday, January 26th: History from a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, January 27th: Tales of a Book Addict

Wednesday, January 28th: Staircase Wit

Thursday, January 29th: 100 Pages a Day… Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Friday, January 30th: Books in the Burbs

TBD: Back Porchervations

 

copyright 2015