Not By Design

A Getting To Mr. Right Series

By Carol Balawyder

Not Byy DesignBook Blurb

Not By Design: A Feel Good Novel
In a life turned upside down, Felicity finds joy is sometimes just around the corner.
Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.
Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.
Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.
Love, friendship, and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.

My Review

When I began reading Not By Design, I expected it to be a twist on a traditional romance novel but was delightfully surprised to find it was much more than just a variation of the conventional romance.  Felicity left her father’s company in Montreal and moved to Rome to pursue her career in art causing a rift between Felicity and her father that could not be healed.  While in Rome, she found love and a proposal of marriage, along with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. When Marco, her fiance, learned of her diagnosis, he said, “Arrivederci.” Frightened about what was in store for her in the future, Felicity decided to move back to Montreal where she could have health insurance and be near her life long friends Missi, Suzy, and Campbell. But what frightens her the most is whether or not with her diagnosis, will she ever be able to find true love.

The characters were true to life, and as much as I loved Felicity from the start, I equally disliked Marco.  Felicity had a love-hate relationship with her mother Nicole in the beginning, but I was happy to see some of the walls between them torn down and a much better mother-daughter relationship take hold.  I love characters that serve to lift up a friend or family member. Missi, Suzy, and Campbell convince her to get a puppy and a cane. Her friend Eduardo, who ran an art gallery, and her new found friend Jeff who walked his dog Clyde at the same dog park where Felicity walked her dog Bonnie, all figure into Felicity’s acceptance of her multiple sclerosis and her outlook on the future.

The book was well researched, and the story took us through Felicity’s depression and hopelessness for future happiness to learning to lean on friends for the love and support they so willingly gave, and finally to acceptance of what her life with MS would be, and making the best of it.

I don’t often read a book straight through, but I couldn’t put this one down.  I honestly can’t find anything I didn’t like about it, other than Marco.  It was a heartwarming story of a person learning to accept and live with a debilitating disease.  There is no reason for me to not award Not By Design five stars.

File Size: 2161 KB

Print Length: 164 Pages

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

Publication Date: January 31, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About the AuthorCarol Balawyder

Carol Balawyder holds an undergraduate degree with a major in English Literature and a graduate degree in Criminology. She has taught English in various colleges in Montreal, Concordia University and Ho Chi Minh University of Technology in Vietnam. During this phase of her teaching career, she developed teaching material including Open For Business (Harper & Row), Windows on Sci-Tech (Thomson Publishing) and Pour Etre Ganganat (Beauchemin Publishers).

In the second half of her teaching career, she taught criminology in Police Technology and Corrections Programs. She helped set up and animate a writing workshop for women in prison and has worked in halfway houses and drug rehab centers.  She has self-published Mourning Has Broken (a memoir on grief) and her Getting to Mr. Right Series. Her short stories have appeared in Room Magazine, The Canadian Anthology of Fiction, Mindful.org, Between the Lines, Carte Blanche and she was given an honorary mention for a play submitted to The Canadian Playwright Competition.

Connect on Social Media Links

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Website – http://carolbalawyder.com/

Blog- http://carolbalawyder.com/blog/

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways: A Primer on Unintended Consequences

By Jane Hanser

Dogs Don't Look Both WaysBook Blurb

Joey, the chocolate Labrador, loves to run and run. Living in the neighborhood of the Boston Marathon, he runs as many as twelve miles a day, early in the morning, with his dad. But after they return home from a run, Joey still wants more, much more. Keenly observant, he allows no opportunity to explore the world pass him by. But will his insatiable sense of discovery lead him to gratification? Or to danger? Planning his moves long before, a decision Joey makes early one morning forever changes his life and the lives of his mom and dad, his running partner.

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is a true story with a unique voice and a lot of adventure.
Readers love Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways for its colorful and heartfelt story-telling, but book’s main story – about discovery and freedom, rules and boundaries, communication and caring for a dog, and, of course, our dependence on the kindness of others – is a message about life itself.

My Review

Joey is a loveable dog who cannot stay out of trouble. He loves to run with his dad, and gets bored when he is home by himself or with his mom. His morning run just isn’t enough exercise for a Labrador retriever. He is always using his senses to find ways out of the backyard fence to explore the world beyond.  This always gets him in trouble with his “mom” who usually gets a call from a friend or neighbor who saw him out wandering.  One day after Joey “escaped” from his backyard; a car accident nearly kills him. The road back to healing and health is a long and arduous climb for both Joey and his family.

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is a well written, character driven story with numerous escapades by Joey. Writing from Joey’s point of view must have been a difficult task for the author. Though it can be an enjoyable read for an adult, I believe it would be better suited to a child who is old enough to read chapter books. I tired of reading the dog’s words and thoughts.

Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways is based on a true story.

About the AuthorJane Hanser

Jane Hanser has developed software to teach writing, self-published a grammar book and taught English as a Second Language at several campuses of the City University of New York. She has an M.Ed. in English Education and ESL from the Graduate School of Temple University. In her other life, she is dedicated to many and varied community activities. Her poetry, essays and movie reviews have been published in numerous print and online journals and newspapers such as Poetica MagazineThe Persimmon TreeEvery Writer’s ResourceThe Jewish Journal, and others. She spends way too much time on the computer. She is married and lives, works and plays in Newton, MA. Joey’s descriptions of her in Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways are, except for a few insignificant details of time and place, true and accurate.

To find out more about Joey

https://twitter.com/joeythebookdog

www.dogsdontlookbothways.com

Sample Chapter – Chapter One

That’s Not Me

In some families, little dogs sit on people’s laps all day. I’ve tried sitting on my Dad’s lap but he keeps saying, “Ouch! Joey, you think you’re a little dog but you’re not. Get down.”

There are also dogs who live in the coldest places on Earth and who run in teams. These dogs work hard, running long distances to help pull heavy sleds over huge fields of silvery snow to transport people and their belongings from one place to another. Well, I’m strong enough to do this type of work, but this isn’t me either. When the ground is covered with snow, Mom gets her cross-country skis, and she and I go outside and eagerly walk to The Woods nearby. We descend down one trail into a valley where it levels off and meets new trails and we stop at the base of the first uphill we encounter. She lays her skis on the snow, steps into the foot bindings, attaches one end of the lead to my collar, holds on to the other end, and instructs, “Joey, go go go!” Leading the charge up the hill, I enthusiastically and easily pull her up the snow-covered trail as the lead stretches behind me to its full length. Soon we are almost at the top of the hill. But then I notice some dogs in the distance and those dogs are now much more interesting to me than pulling Mom up the hill is, so I seek the most direct path to the dogs, weaving through the bushes and saplings that impede Mom’s person and entangle her in a web of tree trunks and branches.

One snowy day when Mom was gliding along on her skis and I was pulling her around our block, I saw Mary, our mail carrier, going from house to house; with Mom in tow, off I galloped toward Mary to get some of the pocketful of tasty dog biscuits she carries with her in her pockets. What happened to Mom? I don’t recall. The last I heard her, she was calling, “Joey, stop. STOP!” and the last I saw her, she was heading right for the hedges. So this type of working dog would not be me.

In other families, people take their dogs out into the fields and then locate ducks, pheasants or rabbits or other small animals for food for the family members. These dogs have very good noses, and after these people have shot the ducks or other small animals, the dogs work hard to help their owners by running out into the fields or swimming out into the ponds to track, locate and retrieve the downed animal. This also would not be me. I view these animals as my friends. Besides, I like my parents to set out breakfast in the morning and dinner in the evening for me. And foods like oranges, chicken, rice, cashew nuts, popcorn, and broccoli are also welcome in between.

Some dogs live in families where they help guide a family member who cannot use his eyes to see. These dogs work hard to assist their partners and masters with walking down sidewalks, crossing streets, going up and down escalators, going shopping, going to work, and coming back home again. This also would not be me. Dogs who do this important type of work sometimes wear a nice jacket that says, “Do not talk to me. I am working.” Wherever I go, I like to wag my tail and personally greet everybody I see. When my parents and I are outside walking along the sidewalk, I look ahead and see where I want to go, or with my nose to the ground or pointed into the wind I smell where I want to go, and step down from the curb into the street toward that destination. Sometimes I step off the curb at a spot where another road is crossing. That’s when I hear Dad sharply call out, “Joey, stop. Sit. Cars are passing here. Do you want to get hit? Sit until I say it’s okay to cross.” So I stop and force my body to form the “sit” posture, though my bottom doesn’t like to cooperate, hovering and vibrating slightly above the pavement, waiting for some sign that Dad really means what he says. In this position I remain suspended and I plant my gaze firmly on Dad’s face, until he looks back at me and repeats even more emphatically this time, “SIT,” and my bottom finally and reluctantly cooperates. This I do only because he tells me to.

My parents have a lot of rules for me. They have rules for whether I can jump up on the sofa or not. They have rules for whether I am permitted on their bed or not. They have rules for whether I am allowed to beseech them for food when they are eating, other rules for when they are preparing food, and even more rules for what foods I am allowed to eat, and not eat. They have a rule for where I must sit and wait when people enter our home, and one for who walks through the door first (and last) when we are leaving and entering our home. They have a rule for who goes first when we’re going up and down stairs. They have many rules for how I must behave when we go outside. Whether I am allowed past the gate that separates our yard from the world beyond is one such rule. Where I walk, how I walk, how quickly I walk and trot and run when we are outside are others.

When my parents ask me to do something, or expect me to do something, I hear anything from a pleasant sing-song “Good boy, Joey” to an emphatic “Joey, come on! Come on! Come on!” to an irritated “Joey, NO! What did I tell you?” – which is something I hear a lot.

To be honest with you, I don’t always obey the rules, but I’ve learned to put up with many of them, more or less, because with them comes the opportunity to be part of a family where, after dinner, Dad puts on his heavy winter coat, Mom puts on hers, Dad says, “Joey, you don’t need a coat. You already have two coats” and then gets my lead, attaches it to my collar, opens the front door and then out we three go, into my promised land, into a cold dark snowy night. All around us the snow is falling so gently and quietly, each dainty flake seems suspended in the air, dancing a silent and unpredictable dance, until it evaporates or reaches the now carpeted ground and lays gently on top of other fallen flakes, or upon my coat, where it nestles, unconcerned.

Dad says that when I was a puppy, I used to try to catch the snowflakes in my mouth. Now, he, Mom, and I are the only ones outside and together off we head in one direction, walking in the middle of the white road. We follow it to where it bends, head up one long small hill as it twists and turns, then up another longer and steeper hill as it twists and turns, and then yet another, where we are so elevated that we can see the tops of trees and the tops of homes all around us in all directions. We cease moving and wonder. I can also pull on the lead and let Dad know where I want to go next, and we walk on, deeper and deeper into the ever expanding world of evening and time and sky and snowfall, closer and closer to the top of the world. I can smell the trails of the bunnies in the snow and though I’d love to follow those trails, I don’t. On such nights, I have everything a dog could ever want.

Published: April 2014

Genre: Reality-based Fiction, Non-fiction – Animals, Memoir, Nature and Pets, Fiction

Age Group: All adults, children 5th grade and up

Cover photo: Mark Thompson of Gatehouse Media

Available: Paperback (162 pages), all e-book forms: .epub, .mobi

Published by Ivy Books (an imprint of the author’s educational software company)

Indie Book

April 8, 2015 – Honored with the prestigious B.R.A.G. Medallion for Literary Fiction

To Purchase the Book

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Barnes and Noble

Ivy Books

The author gave me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

A Pug With A Plan by Janeen Coyle

A Pug With A Plan by Janeen CoyleJaneen Coyle’s A PUG WITH A PLAN is a delightful children’s booabout a pug puppy and a boy named Dylan. When Dylan and his mother make a trip to the pet store, Dylan falls in love with a pug puppy and names him Frank. They take him home, and Frank is Dylan’s best friend until one day Frank goes to puppy heaven.  Dylan parents are worried about getting another pet too soon.

The story behind A PUG WITH A PLAN is a true story. It helps adults to realize there is another pet out there for their family and gives children the chance to learn about life and death of a pet, and about finding another pet to love.

I loved this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone, but especially families with children and pets.

(I probably said this before, but besides reading novels, I love children’s books! I will occasionally post reviews of them on this site.)