Review: Sit, Stay, Love

Book Title: Sit, Stay, Love: A Novel for Dog Lovers

Book Author: Dana Mentink

Book Rating: ☆☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)

Published: April 1, 2016

Synopsis: “Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work schoolteacher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you’re ready for a lesson in love…Tippy style.

Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother’s elderly dog, Tippy, he’s quick to call on a pet-sitting service.

Gina isn’t thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can’t abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.

As Gina travels through Cal’s world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too…

Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a family together.

Cal Crawford is a successful and well-known professional baseball player; he’s a rough-around-the-edges type of guy with a past, and who doesn’t let people into his life easily.  When his mother passes way, he inherits her elderly dog named Tippy.  Cal is definitely not a dog person, but he just can’t seem to let go of the little dog, holding on to her as a last connection to his mother.  Because of his career and his lack of patience, he hires a dog sitter to help him care for Tippy.

Gina is the exactly opposite of Cal in every way: She is warm, friendly, aspiring teacher who knows nothing about sports, and is absolutely a dog lover.  When Gina is hired by Cal to care for Tippy, their relationship starts as just a mere tolerance for one another.  Later, as they bond over Tippy, their relationship blooms into a sweet romance.  They both help bring out the best in the other, with Cal providing Gina stability and comfort, and Gina helping Cal to open up and experience the blessings that God provides.

This isn’t a book that I normally would have picked out for myself, but I was drawn in by the sweet dog on the cover.  If you are looking for a breezy story with a lot of heart and clean romance, you should give this one a try!  There are some minor issues with the plot, and it took me a while to warm up to this quirky story, but it was an enjoyable read. Overall, this is a fun and sweet Christian romance novel.  This would make a quick beach read for the summer, and yes…it is a perfect story for any dog lover!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

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Review: Me Before You

Book Title: Me Before You

Book Author: Jojo Moyes

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Published: January 5, 2012

Synopsis: “Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.”

WARNING: This review contains spoilers!  I usually try to avoid spoiling the plot of the books that I review, but it was going to be impossible for me to completely express my thoughts on this one without giving anything away.

Despite my high rating, I do have conflicting feelings about this book. I think most people know what this story is about, and I’m not going to get into an ethical debate over patient assisted suicide on this blog.  I will say that I am actually glad that I knew how the book ended before I began reading it.  I think if I hadn’t known, I might have been a lot more angry.  And yet, despite knowing it wouldn’t be the case, I kept hoping that Louisa would be able to change Will’s mind, that Will would see that his life really and truly was still worth living.

This book wasn’t really on my “I need to read that” radar until I saw the movie trailer a few months back. It looked like a really unique take on a typical contemporary romance and I was interested in seeing it in theaters. I wanted to be sure to read the book first, though.  I wasn’t really sure if I would enjoy it or not, most people have categorized this book as “chick lit”, but it was so much more than that.  I was deeply moved by this story, and the characters stayed with me even when I wasn’t actively reading the book.

Despite how the book ended, I loved watching the relationship between Will and Lou unfold from her being the caregiver to his grumpy self, to them developing a genuine friendship and trust and bringing out the best in one another, to finally falling in love.  The ending chapters broke my heart, I felt as though I could feel Lou’s pain.  I wanted so desperately to comfort her in some small way; that is truly how invested in the story I was, and how well the author developed these character.

I am glad that there is a sequel (I started it pretty much immediately after I closed Me Before You for the last time), although I have heard mixed reviews for it.  I am just not ready to let the character of Lou go yet.

Review: The One Thing

Book Title: The One Thing

Book Author: Marci Lyn Curtis

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Published: September 8, 2015

Synopsis: “Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won’t invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago, Maggie’s rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.

Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn’t interested in rehabilitation, not when she’s still mourning the loss of her professional-soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.

Then Maggie’s whole world is turned upside down. Somehow, incredibly, she can see again. But only one person: Ben, a precocious ten-year-old unlike anyone she’s ever met. Ben’s life isn’t easy, but he doesn’t see limits, only possibilities. After awhile, Maggie starts to realize that losing her sight doesn’t have to mean losing everything she dreamed of. Even if what she’s currently dreaming of is Mason Milton, the infuriatingly attractive lead singer of Maggie’s new favorite band, who just happens to be Ben’s brother.

But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future… before she loses everything she has grown to love.”

I am really surprised that this book isn’t receiving more attention…it was pretty great! As the synopsis states, Maggie has recently gone blind, but she hasn’t taken the time to properly process and deal with her loss.  Instead, she cuts off all of her old friends, and completely closes herself off from the possibility of moving on with her life. That is until she meets young Ben Milton…a person she can actually see…and she learns her disability doesn’t have to prevent her from living again.

For a book dealing with such a heavy subject, this story was hilarious.  I absolutely adored Maggie and all of her little quips. I thought that the reason Maggie could see Ben was way too obvious, so I never really considered it as a possibility, but it ended up not taking too much away from the story.  Other than that, the romance was sweet, but I particularly enjoyed seeing Maggie’s relationships with her friends and family begin to repair over the course of the book.  The author took us through the process of Maggie dealing with and healing from the tremendous loss of her vision in a way that was very believable.

Please read this book, I don’t think you will be disappointed!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Review: The Truth About Forever

Book Title: The Truth About Forever

Book Author: Sarah Dessen

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Published: May 11, 2004

Synopsis: “A long, hot summer…That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to question her sheltered life.”

This book isn’t exactly new, and I don’t know how much I can add by writing another review, so I will keep this brief.  I do want to mention that what I have noticed about most of the negative reviews about this book are the words “too slow” or “boring”.  This book does take a few chapters to get really interesting, but once it got good…it was really good.  Even if this book doesn’t immediately hook you in, don’t give up on it!  By the end, I promise you will love Macy as much as I did.

I feel that the synopsis doesn’t really do this book justice.  It makes it sound like just another young adult romance (which I guess it technically is), but it is about so much more.  It is about learning to deal with an overwhelming loss, moving forward, and finding yourself again.  The completely swoon worthy boy is really just an added bonus. 🙂

Review: The Lost Garden

Book Title: The Lost Garden

Book Author: Katharine Swartz

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Published: June 27, 2015

Synopsis: “Marin Ellis is in search of a new start after her father and his second wife die in a car accident, and at thirty-seven she is made guardian of her fifteen-year-old half-sister Rebecca. They leave Hampshire for the picturesque village of Goswell on the Cumbrian coast, and settle into Bower House on the edge of the village church property. When a door to a walled garden captures Rebecca’s interest, Marin becomes determined to open it and discover what is hidden beneath the bramble inside. She enlists the help of local gardener Joss Fowler, and together the three of them begin to uncover the garden’s secrets.

In 1919, nineteen-year-old Eleanor Sanderson, daughter of Goswell’s vicar, is grieving the loss of her beloved brother Walter, who was killed just days before the Armistice was signed. Eleanor retreats into herself and her father starts to notice how unhappy she is. As spring arrives, he decides to hire someone to make a garden for Eleanor, and draw her out of – or at least distract her from – her grief and sorrow. Jack Taylor is in his early twenties, a Yorkshire man who has been doing odd jobs in the village, and when Eleanor’s father hires him to work on the vicarage gardens, a surprising – and unsuitable – friendship unfolds.”

This novel centers around two different pairs of sisters, residing on the same property nearly a century apart from one another: Marin and Rebecca in the present day, and Eleanor and Katharine in the early 1900’s.  Their stories are told from the alternating perspectives of Marin and Eleanor, and the narrative floats seamlessly from one timeline to the next. Both pairs of sisters have just experienced the loss of a dear family member and turn their attentions to the walled garden located on the property as a way to process their grief.

This wasn’t a very quick read, but rather a story that unfolds itself slowly, and is more driven by the characters than by any particular drama or action.  The depth of the characters and the exquisite writing will be more than enough to keep you attention, however.  While there were elements of romance, I really appreciated that those relationships often took a backseat to the bonds between the sisters.  I also loved the depictions of this small, English town in which the women resided.

The best way I can think to describe this book would be as The Secret Garden for an older audience, and if you enjoy novels with a past and present story line, I would highly recommend this book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.