Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Pug’s Tale

A Pug's TaleAlison Pace
ISBN: 978-0-425-24119-6
Publisher: Penguin
Purchase Link: A Pug's Tale
Source: Publisher for Review

Hope McNeill has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for years, but this is the first time she's been able to bring along her pug, Max. (Officially at least. Previously she's had to smuggle him in inside her tote bag.)

The occasion: a special "Pug Night" party in honor of a deep-pocketed donor. Max and his friends are having a ball stalking the hors d'oeuvres and getting rambunctious, and making Hope wonder if this is also the last time she gets to bring Max to the museum.

But when a prized painting goes missing, the Met needs Hope's-and Max's-help. In her quest for the culprit, Hope searches for answers with an enigmatic detective, a larger-than-life society heiress, a lady with a shih tzu in a stroller, and her arguably intuitive canine. With luck, she'll find some inspiration on her trips to Pug Hill before the investigation starts going downhill...


A pug’s tale was a delightful and entertaining read! Witty, smart and humorous all at once, this story weaves mystery, humor, love and Pugs into an entertaining and quick read. I loved Ms. Pace’s writing style. Its smooth flow kept me reading well into the night, without realization. I had a hard time putting this one down.

I enjoyed the characters in this novel. I thought they were well developed, likeable and charming. I loved how Hope spoke to her dog as if he understood her. The pugs are as equal to character as their owners. The dog had his own dialogue at times when Hope had those “Don’t look at me, I know what you’re thinking” type moments. Here is an example:

"I left the envelope on the desk and carried the contents with me back to the couch and sat back down next to Max, who snorted at me. Spend as much time with your pug as I have and you will one day be able to differentiate between all their different snorts. This last one was not appreciative like the one before it but much more along the lines of, "Um, excuse me?"

While I don’t read many books with animals as prevalent characters, I have enjoyed recent fictions stories such as Marley & Me and Stay, which include dogs that are almost a character within themselves. A Pug’s Tale is no different. It was a delight to read. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the missing painting. I enjoyed the characters involved with the museum, the heist and the investigation. Of course a New York setting is always wonderful, but this is the first book I have read in regards to the MET and Pugs.

Overall I found this book highly entertaining, unique and original. I thought this was Alison’s first book, but discovered I am behind! A Pug’s tale is actually the sequel to Pug Hill. That being realized, I think the author does a wonderful job creating a story that stands on its own. I will have to read the first book to see how it falls as a sequel. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good fiction, a fun mystery or a story about dogs. It’s really quite versatile.

About the Author:
Alison Pace is the author of five novels: If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend, Pug Hill, Through Thick and Thin, City Dog, and A Pug's Tale. Her essays have appeared in several anthologies including It's a Wonderful Lie: The Truth About Life in Your Twenties, Everything I Needed to Know about Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume,and Howl: A Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit.

Alison lives in New York City where she teaches creative writing and is at work on another book.

Her favorite city other than New York is Rome. Her favorite books, music, and TV shows change constantly though there will always be a special place in her heart for Willie Nelson, Cake, Wuthering Heights and Will & Grace; her favorite movies are When Harry Met Sally, Bullets Over Broadway, and Best In Show; her favorite movie line is from Rushmore when Luke Wilson says, "These are my O.R. scrubs," to which Jason Schwartzman replies, "Oh, are they?"

Connect with Alison:


Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

The question this week?

“What keeps you reading beyond the first few pages of a book, and what makes you want to stop reading a book and put it back on the shelf?"

For me it's simple, interest.  If I am not into a book I can't force myself to read it.  The only exception is for review titles which I give my all!  It's never a good sign if I have to struggle with a book.  If I choose to do the dishes over reading we know I've lost interest.  The storyline, the writing style, the characters... they are all part of it.  I am either interested or I'm not.  What about you?

The Return Home

The Return Home

The Challenge

 •Create a short story and incorporate any book titles you’ve read into your story. You have to use the exact title of the book, which means you cannot add a ‘s’ or ‘ed’… etc, onto the end of words.

•Understandable- Don’t just throw in a bunch of crazy book titles and expect to call it a story.

•Points- Your book titles are your points. If you use 10 book titles in your story- you are entered 10 times into the contest. Note: you can use a book title as many times as you want; however, it will only could as one point. (use title 3 times= 1 point)

•Limit- There is no limit to how long it has to be. Though it is called a ‘short story’, so I don’t think a couple of sentences would be sufficient, but its up to you.

My Story (Repeated titles are in italics)

As I headed to Folly Beach, I couldn’t help but regret that I had not visited sooner. I was Almost Home and yet part of me wanted to Stay behind in New York City, my new home, the one devoid of memories. The Memory Box that is my mind isn’t vulnerable in NYC. You might wonder why I’ve been away for so long. My story is not unique, but it’s mine and this is what happened.

I left Folly Beach ten years ago. My ex-husband, As Husbands Go, was hard working, kind, helpful, charming and a cheater. When I discovered his infidelity, I was devastated. How had I not noticed? What was I to him, The Help? Was I just his maid? His cook? Was I anything? I needed to escape. I needed to get far away. Val, my best friend since college, bought me a ticket to The Beach House her family owns in Maine. When I arrived I was a Bitter Bitch. We handled my mood by drinking, complaining and we having a blast shopping and swimming until I had finally blown off enough steam to think clearly. What did I want? I couldn’t possibly Stay married, I didn’t trust him anymore. I couldn’t move back to my parent’s house either. My mom would happily house me in my old Room, but I couldn’t take her Ms. Bossypants attitude that she would inevitably spring on me. Mom always has to be in charge. My failed marriage would only fuel her desire to control my life. No, I couldn’t, I wouldn’t do it. I didn’t even want to be in Folly Beach to witness my ex with another woman. It was clear to me then, I had to move. I had to take a chance, be someone different.

I suddenly realized my life was dull. I had lost my passion and everybody needs A Little Bit of Passion. Suddenly my eyes were opened. I had been given a Second Chance. I was no longer the unfortunate housewife who didn’t realize her husband was a cheater. I quickly started searching the internet for jobs. I had always wanted to live in New York City. I was certain I could find a job, an apartment and a new life located miles away from my ex-husband and the memories of Folly Beach. I had A Taste of Desire for something new. I desired a new life, a new city, and a new me. Soon my days were full of activities. Val and I headed to New York City to interview and find me an apartment. I secretly wished I could afford One Fifth Avenue! It didn’t take me long to acquire a job and less pricey address. Though I found myself a victim of L’Affaire which qualified me for Le’Divorce, I was moving on. I was re-discovering myself. I was happy.

Now, ten years later, I’m back. My parents, who have been married fifty years, are renewing their vows and The Wedding is on Folly Beach. After so much time has passed, I am once again heading home to a place I will always be welcome as if I was never away. And it’s all because of family.

I'm not a writer, but that was fun!  Hope you enjoyed it!

Don’t Let Your Mechanic Pick Your Pocket

Don't let your mechanic pick your pocket!: A simple guide that can save you money and keep the dishonest mechanic in line. It works for any car, truck or SUV, anywhere you live.Author: George A. Moyer
ISBN: 978-1456319557
Purchase Link: Don't let your mechanic pick your pocket!
Source: From author for review

Don’t Let Your Mechanic Pick Your Pocket can be described as “A simple guide that can save you money and keep the dishonest mechanic in line. It works for any car, truck or SUV, anywhere you live.” The guide is written by George Moyer, a mechanic of 40 years, who believes a good mechanic or automotive technician should be constantly improving through seminars and continuing education. Since cars are changing constantly and becoming more technological the mechanic needs to adapt as well. This guide is not and does not claim to be a do-it-yourself handbook. It is simply written to give the average person general knowledge about their car so they can make an informed decision when it comes to repairs.

The guide discusses basic information about brakes, computers, engines, glass, lights, suspension, transmission, wheels and tires. It gives simple dos and don’ts for car repair issues. For example, DO ask around, DON’T go alone if you’re a woman, DO ask for an estimate, DON’T tell them specifically what you think is wrong, instead explain what is taking place, sounds that you hear, etc. The guide moves on to explain symptoms of common problems. The entire book is written in a language that even a child could understand. This enables everyone to understand the author in simple terms without complexity. I personally have little knowledge or interest in cars and I was able to understand this book easily. The guide gives maintenance tips and advice that every owner should know as well as “How to guides” on changing a flat tire and replacing a rearview mirror.

A glossary in the back list terms you can expect to hear when it comes to car repairs and what they mean. Terms such as brake job, engine lock, vacuum leak, idiot lights, and tune-up are explained. In addition the author includes ten “top 10” list, pictures and diagrams as well as definitions of parts. This is a great, must have guide for every car owner. It’s perfect to leave in the glove box. I learned quite a bit from this simple guide.  Don’t be unaware! Be prepared!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Folly Beach

Folly Beach: A Lowcountry Tale (Lowcountry Tales)Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
ISBN: 978-0-06-196127-4
Publisher: HarperCollins
Purchase Link: Folly Beach: A Lowcountry Tale
Source: TLC Book Tours
Follow the Tour


Home is the place that knows us best. . . .

A woman returns to the past to find her future in this enchanting new tale of loss, acceptance, family, and love.

With its sandy beaches and bohemian charms, surfers and suits alike consider Folly Beach to be one of South Carolina’s most historic and romantic spots. It is also the land of Cate Cooper’s childhood, the place where all the ghosts of her past roam freely. Cate never thought she’d wind up in this tiny cottage named the Porgy House on this breathtakingly lovely strip of coast. But circumstances have changed, thanks to her newly dead husband whose financial—and emotional—bull and mendacity have left Cate homeless, broke, and unmoored.

Yet Folly Beach holds more than just memories. Once upon a time another woman found unexpected bliss and comfort within its welcoming arms. An artist, writer, and colleague of the revered George Gershwin, Dorothy Heyward enjoyed the greatest moments of her life at Folly with her beloved husband, DuBose. And though the Heywards are long gone, their passion and spirit lingers in every mango sunset and gentle ocean breeze.

And for Cate, Folly, too, holds the promise of unexpected fulfillment when she is forced to look at her life and the zany characters that are her family anew. To her surprise, she will discover that you can go home again. Folly Beach doesn’t just hold the girl she once was . . . it also holds the promise of the woman she’s always wanted—and is finally ready—to become.


Folly Beach is the story of one woman’s nightmare turned enchanting story. Frank tells a wonderful tale with ease. I was hooked from the very beginning of this novel. Cate’s story starts off tragic yet comforting. The subject matter in the beginning of the book is usually one I steer clear from since Cate’s husband commits suicide in a way that I have lost a friend to. However, I must say that of all the books and movies that I have seen with this subject matter in them, Ms. Frank approaches the subject the best. She gives enough information to the reader without going into detail that is disturbing or upsetting. She doesn’t dwell on the fact and she created characters that enable the reader to understand and move onward in the story without the handicap of dwelling on a sad situation.

The story is full of humorous and witty dialogue! The characters are lovable beyond measure. They are characters I would love to know in real life. Cate and Patti’s relationship reminded me of my sister and me. I was enjoying their jibes and jokes with each other as well as their love and devotion. The setting of Lowcountry in North Carolina was beautifully described without being overly descriptive and taking away my ability to imagine the scenes that take place. The pace flowed quickly. I could not get enough of Cate’s story!

Intermixed with the story is a second story told in the form of a play. This was my least favorite aspect of the book because it was confusing at first. Once I read far enough into the story I realized what was taking place and understood the purpose of the play within the main story. This made the play more enjoyable for me, though I’m glad the author kept the play scenes short since I was hooked to the main story and didn’t want to stop reading it. If you read this book which I suggest you do, don’t let this part stump you. It will all make sense and you’ll appreciate it in the end.

Overall this book was wonderfully done. I really enjoyed the unique story Ms. Frank tells. She has a beautiful writing style that draws you into the story and keeps you spellbound as you follow Cate and her family through her journey of healing and enlightenment. The book includes history of the past to bring understanding to the present in an exciting and unique way. I will re-read this novel and highly recommend it to others! There is a little mystery, a little romance, familial love and a whole lot of wit and wisdom. Its worth your time and money.

About the Author:
Dorothea Benton Frank is the New York Times bestselling author of Bulls Island (William Morrow, 2008), The Christmas Pearl (William Morrow 2007), The Land of Mango Sunsets (William Morrow 2007), Full of Grace (William Morrow 2006), Pawleys Island (Berkley 2005), Shem Creek (Berkley 2004), Isle of Palms (Berkley 2003), Plantation (Jove 2001), Sullivan’s Island (Jove 2000), and Return to Sullivan’s Island (William Morrow 2009).

Ms. Frank has appeared on NBC’s Today show, Parker Ladd’s Book Talk, and many local network-affiliated television stations. She is a frequent speaker on creative writing and the creative process for students of all ages and in private venues, such as the National Arts Club, the Junior League of New York, Friends of the Library, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. She has also been a guest speaker at the South Carolina Book Festival; Novello, North Carolina’s Festival of Books; and the Book and Author annual event in Charleston, South Carolina, sponsored by the Post & Courier.

Before she began her writing career, Ms. Frank was involved extensively in the arts and education, and in raising awareness and funding for various nonprofits in New Jersey and New York. At the present time she serves on the boards of The South Carolina Historical Society and The South Carolina Coastal Conservation League.

The author, who was born and raised on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina, currently divides her time between New Jersey and South Carolina.

Find out more about Ms. Frank at her website, and follow her on Facebook.

**Sneak Peak… Folly Beach is one of my 10 picks for beach reads this summer! Don’t miss my July column in Night Owl Reviews Digital Magazine to find out which other books made the list!**
4.5 out of 5 Photobucket

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tassy Morgan's Bluff

Tassy Morgan's Bluff: A Novel

Tassy Morgan's Bluff
Jim Stinson
Plume Books (Penguin Division)
It's release day for the new novel, Tassy Morgan's Bluff! I received a copy of this book which has been added to my "unsolicited" review pile. The cover definitely catches my eye and the synopsis has me itching to read it! If you’re looking for a new book today, this one is out there waiting for readers everywhere.

What's the book about?

A wonderfully funny and warm introduction to the quirky inhabitants of a small town located on the breathtakingly scenic northern tip of California.

San Andreas, California. It may be a quaint town, but its residents have high hopes for its future as a tourist destination. There's Bill the Fixer, the handyman who sidelines in chain-saw sculpted redwood totem poles; real estate agent Margaret Nam, who plans to make a mint rehabbing beach shacks; and Jim, the well-to-do hairstylist whose chair is the epicenter of town gossip. Amid their town's growing pains, widower Lincoln Ellis and Tassy Morgan, a recently divorced painter, meet and-much to their surprise-sparks begin to fly.

Beautifully written and infused with sly humor, Tassy Morgan's Bluff will welcome readers of all ages to a place they'll want to visit again and again. [Taken from back cover description]

Who is Jim Stinson?

Jim Stinson was educated at Harvard, Yale and UCLA. He taught film production at Art Center College of Design, media history and criticism at CSU, LA and video production at La Canada High School. In addition to writing for academia, Jim has published four mystery novels, made feature and instructional films, and spent twelve years as a columnist and contributing editor at Videomaker magazine. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jim has lived his adult life in California and Oregon where he currently resides with his wife. You can visit him on his website: 

Where can I buy this book?

The One That I Want

The One That I Want: A NovelAuthor: Allison Winn Scotch
ISBN: 978-0-307-46541-4
Publisher: Broadway Paperbacks
Purchase Link: The One That I Want: A Novel
Source: BookPleasures

What would you do if your seemingly perfect life became your worst nightmare? For Tilly Farmer, life is perfect. She married her high school sweetheart, has a career as a school counselor whose able to plan the prom and she’s trying to conceive. Though Tilly’s life has not always been perfect, her positive and cheerful outlook has made her who she is even if it’s all about to change.

When Tilly wanders into the fortune tellers tent at the town carnival, her friend turned fortune teller for the day gives her the gift of clarity. This “clarity” is something she feels Tilly has always needed. Suddenly Tilly starts having visions that come true. Her once perfect life quickly starts to unravel forcing Tilly to focus inward to re-examine the past, re-evaluate her outlook, and discover what she truly wants from her future.

The One That I Want is a tale of life wrapped in all its drama, gifts and moments of recognition. Ms. Scotch is a wonderfully skilled writer. She instantly grabbed my attention and kept hold of it even thought my personality conflicted with Tilly’s. I wasn’t able to relate to her on a personal level, though through the writing I was able to understand her feelings and obsessive love for the prom. The novel, while unrealistic, was a fun, light weigh read. I felt bad for Tilly, who is a character with a painful past that was unable to heal properly. Due to this, I found her slightly aggravating at points. Her career choice also seemed odd to me, since I don’t quite understand how you can help counsel others when you have not grieved yourself. It seemed more an avoidance of her feelings since she could focus on everyone but herself. Because of these issues I found myself rooting for her to discover the happiness she really wanted instead of what she thinks happiness should be.

Overall this novel is full of colorful characters, drama, love, healing and clarity of self. Though it had a few minor issues, the writing is solid, the story is an absorbing work of fiction and the idea makes an interesting plot line. The novel is hard to put down and I enjoyed it for what it was. I would definitely read other novels by Ms. Scotch based of this novel. I would also recommend this title for book clubs as I feel it opens the door to discussion. The One That I want is available for the first time in paperback on June 28th, 2011. If you haven’t yet read it, now is a great time to pick up a copy!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Exposure, Almost Home and Island Girl Winners!

Congratulations to the following winners....

Exposure - Jane Cook

Almost Home - Ruth Hill

Island Girl -  Jen Rabenstine

All winners have been emailed and have 48 hours to confirm or I'll choose a new winner.  Thanks for entering!  I enjoy hosting giveaways for all my followers and subscribers!

The Reluctant Queen

A Reluctant Queen: The Love Story of EstherAuthor: Joan Wolf
ISBN: 978-1-59554-876-4
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Purchase Link: A Reluctant Queen
Source: Litfuse Book Tour
Follow the Tour

About the book:
An inspiring re-imagining of the tale of Esther, a young Jewish woman thrust from a life of obscurity into a life of power, wealth, intrigue . . . and tender love. See the story of Esther in an entirely new way-with all the political intrigue and tension you remember, but told as a passionate and tender love story between a young man and woman. Misunderstood by many, King Xerxes was a powerful but lonely man. Esther's beauty caught the eye of the young king, but it was her spirit that captured his heart. Imagine anew the story of Esther, one of our faith's great heroines, destined to play a key role in the history of Christianity.

My all time favorite Bible story is the story of Esther. I have always been drawn to her courage, faith and trust in God, as well as her unselfish devotion to her people. However, part of me has always wished the Bible told us more about Esther. I’ve always wanted to know what she was like as a person, a woman, a niece and friend. What was life like for her? How did she feel about what was happening to her and around her? What was her marriage like? Though we cannot know for sure, we are blessed with wonderful authors, like Joan Wolf, who have the talent and ability to bring Esther to life through story for intrigued and anxious readers to immerse themselves in.

A reluctant Queen was beautifully written. The writing is clear and crisp, enabling the story to flow quickly and immersing the reader into it. I was hooked from the very beginning. I enjoyed the fictional accounts of this story that were interwoven with biblical accounts very well. The story was fluid and realistic. Because of the writing I read this novel very quickly. It has a steady pace that is backed by a story full of romance, history, culture, and mystery that you can’t help but be intrigued. In addition, the characters are well developed. They are very realistic and relatable. This element helped bring the story to life for me. I felt I was there watching the story unfold.

I’ve read other novels about Esther and enjoyed their spin on her story, however, this novel had an aspect others have not focused on, the love story of Esther. I enjoyed the story line of Esther and her husband’s relationship. The love story is beautiful. It brings Esther to life as a wife and not just a queen. I really enjoyed this novel and I highly recommend it. It was a pleasure to read.

The author includes a note in the back of the novel that explained her process in turning a biblical story into a fictional novel. I really loved this added touch. It helped me understand and appreciate the story more than I already did.

About the Author:
Joan Wolf was born in New York City but has lived most of her adult life with her husband in Connecticut, where she raised two children and countless numbers of assorted animals. Joan is the author of numerous historical novels including The Road to Avalon which Publishers Weekly lauded as “historical fiction at its finest.” For more about Joan and her other books, please visit
**I sincerly apologize to the author as well as the Litfuse team and those who may have tried to read my post on 6/16/11.  I had technical dificulties and did not realize my scheduled post did not post as it should have.**