The Twelfth Child

By Bette Lee Crosby

 

Book Synopsis

An uplifting tale of trust, love, and friendship from a USA Today Bestselling Author of Women’s Fiction…

Papa wasn’t someone who’d flat out kill a person, but he sure knew how to destroy a woman from the inside…a slice of spirit, a piece of pride, a chunk of heart, until one day there’s nothing left but a walking around shell to do the cooking and laundry…thus begins the story of Abigail Anne Lannigan, a willful daughter determined to overcome the past.

Leaving the Shenandoah Valley of the early 1900’s behind, Abigail finds a way to survive in a world of joblessness and speakeasies. Now, at the tail end of her years, her best friend is accused of embezzling one million dollars and Abigail is helpless to save her. She knows the truth of what happened, but will never have the chance to tell.

Reminiscent of Fannie Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes” the May-December friendship of these two unforgettable women is sure to settle in the soft spot of your heart.

The Twelfth Child, told in the timeless tradition of Southern Fiction, is a novel rich with emotion, humor, and tenderness. A Historical Mystery set in the 20th Century, this is a story of love, friendship and one woman’s struggle to survive America’s Great Depression.

Winner of: FPA President’s Book Award Silver Medal, the Royal Palm Literary Award for Women’s Fiction, and the National Association of American Pen Women Fiction Award.

My Review

Growing up with a father who preferred her twin brother, Will, Abigail Anne Lannigan was continuously trying to win her father’s love, but he had a heart of stone.  After Abigail’s mother passed away, life became increasingly hard for Abigail.  Her father wanted her to quit school and take care of the household chores, and marry someone of his choosing at a young age.  Abigail Anne had bigger plans and, with the help of her teacher, found her way to Richmond, Virginia.  The woman she lived with and worked for passed away and she was expelled from the woman’s home by the probate court.  Life grew tougher as she tried to eek out a living as a dancer at a speakeasy during the Depression years.  A tough, courageous, and determined woman, Abigail Anne faced many trials and tribulations during her lifetime and became successful in her own right.

When Destiny Fairchild, with her heart of gold, moved in across the street the two formed an unlikely friendship, given their age differences. It is their friendship that gives heart to this story.

The ups and downs of Abigail Ann’s and Destiny’s story will keep you turning the pages.  Their saga is well fleshed out with real-to-life situations.  Their characters are undeniably plausible and equally loveable.  Another character is Elliott Emerson who is nothing but bad news.  I disliked him from the moment he appeared.  He personifies greed, dishonesty, and all else on the ugly side of human nature.

As with all the books by Crosby, I thoroughly enjoyed THE TWELFTH CHILD.  Her style of weaving warmth, a bit of cozy mystery, and a touch of fantasy into everything she writes makes Bette Lee Crosby one of my favorite authors.  As I say after reading each of her books, this is my favorite. But the truth is, they are all so good it is impossible to choose one book over another.  Reading Crosby’s books, one gets the sense that you are sitting in the room while the author tells the story.  She writes with a soothing Southern voice that brings a sense of realism to her fiction.

About Bette Lee Crosby

USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby’s books are “Well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances.” – Midwest Book Review

The Seattle Post Intelligencer says Crosby’s writing is, “A quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life and madcap adventures.”

Samantha from Reader’s Favorite raves, “Crosby writes the type of book you can’t stop thinking about long after you put it down.”

“Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

It is the wit and wisdom of that Southern Mama Crosby brings to her works of fiction; the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery, and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. She has since gone on to win nineteen awards for her work; these include The Royal Palm Literary Award, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal, Reader’s Favorite Award Gold Medal, and the Reviewer’s Choice Award.

Crosby’s published works to date are Beyond the Carousel: A Southern Saga (2017), Silver Threads (2016), The Regrets of Cyrus Dodd (2016), Baby Girl (2016), What the Heart Remembers (2015), The Loft (2015), Memory House (2015), Passing through Perfect (2015), Wishing for Wonderful (2014), Blueberry Hill (2014), Previously Loved Treasures (2014), Jubilee’s Journey (2013), What Matters Most (2013), The Twelfth Child (2012), Life in the Land of IS (2012), Cracks in the Sidewalk (2011), and Spare Change (2011).

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Silver Threads

Memory House Collection #5

By Bette Lee Crosby

 

 

Book Blurb

On the day Jennifer Green was born a pile of stones was placed alongside her scale of life. A few were the dark gray of sorrow, but most were a pale blush color. The largest stone was the rose hue of a sunrise. That one would be placed on the scale the day she married Drew Bishop. Even more brilliant but a wee bit smaller was the pink stone glistening with specs of silver. That one would bring Jennifer a baby girl named Brooke. The Keeper of the Scale smiled. Seeing such happiness laid out before him was pleasing to his eye.
Since the beginning of time, he and he alone has been challenged with the task of keeping each person’s scale in balance. A bit of happiness and then a small stone of sorrow, until the lives he has in his charge are measured evenly.
You might think such power is universal, but it is not. There are silver threads that crisscross the landscape of scales and connect strangers to one another. Not even the Keeper of the Scale can control the events traveling through those threads; the only thing he can do is try to equalize the balance once it has been thrown off. There is nothing more he can do for Jennifer; now he must find the thread that leads to Drew if he is to have the love he deserves.  (Blurb from Goodreads)

 

My Review

The Keeper of the Scale balances the scales of life for each person under his care, but sometimes a stray silver thread linking people and events can alter the outcome of events.  That is what happened one day in the lives of the main characters of this story.

Drew Bishop was out of town on business when his wife, Jennifer, woke up with a migraine. She got up and took their young daughter, Brooke, to school and planned to stop at the drugstore on the way home to get something to help her headache.  This is where everything went wrong and life for Brooke and her father would never be the same.

Tom Coggan needed money for drugs and decided to rob a liquor store that morning.  He believed in non-violence but carried a gun none-the-less.  His twin, Eddie, was serving time for a violent crime and he didn’t want to follow in his footsteps.  When he got to the liquor store it was closed but saw there was a drugstore nearby.  This is when things went terribly bad. Tom shot and killed Jennifer, an innocent bystander, and he, in turn, was shot by the store owner.

Drew and Brooke each bore their own guilt and sorrow.  Could they ever put these feelings aside and function as a happy family again?  My heart ached for both as they struggled to move beyond their grief and find happiness.  I felt a lot of empathy for this family in their struggle to return to normalcy.

Often, I can find something good in the unlovable characters, but the Coogan twins were of such ugly temperament and evil purpose that I could not find it in them.  They had no redeeming qualities.

I was so happy with the return of Annie at the Memory House.  I knew when Drew and Brooke ended up there, that they would be able to find their turning point with the help of Annie.

Once again, I cannot say anything bad about the author’s writing style.  I love the easy voice that permeates all of Bette Lee Crosby’s books. I always feel as though I am sitting in a chair by the fireplace with the author seated across from me, spinning a story.  Her books draw me in from line one to the last.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction and family sagas.

I received this book from the author for my honest review.  I did not receive any remuneration for giving this review.

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby’s books are “Well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances.” – Midwest Book Review

The Seattle Post Intelligencer says Crosby’s writing is, “A quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life and madcap adventures.”

Samantha from Reader’s Favorite raves, “Crosby writes the type of book you can’t stop thinking about long after you put it down.”

“Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

It is the wit and wisdom of that Southern Mama Crosby brings to her works of fiction; the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery, and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. She has since gone on to win twenty awards for her work; these include The Royal Palm Literary Award, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal, Reader’s Favorite Award Gold Medal, and the Reviewer’s Choice Award.

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Say Never

By Janis Thomas

say-never-by-janis-thomasBook Blurb

Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need…

Snarky radio personality Meg Monroe thinks she has the perfect life: no husband, no kids, and best of all, an Upper West side apartment three thousand miles from her family and her childhood demons. But when her brother calls to ask for Meg’s help with his three kids, she is forced to do the unimaginable: go home and step into the dreaded role of ‘parent.’

With no maternal skills whatsoever, Meg is thrust into a world of diapers, tantrums, and projectile vomit, and her decision not to procreate is stunningly validated—she could never be a mom. But as the days go by, and she starts to connect with her nieces and nephew, Meg discovers that her family is not the nemesis she feared, and she might not be the person she always thought she was.
Sassy, sexy, and poignant, Say Never is a hilarious roller coaster ride of self-discovery that will keep you laughing long after you put the book down.  (Blurb taken from Goodreads)

 My Review

Okay, so I’ve had this book for ages and just never seemed to work my way down to it.  Wow, it was worth the wait!  SAY NEVER is funny and poignant at the same time.  A lot of people try to write humor, but many can’t pull it off. Janis Thomas does so – masterfully.

Meg Monroe’s life is a mess, but she believes she’s got it under control.  A 40-year-old New York City talk show host, Meg uses sarcasm when talking to her co-host and guests who call into the show, and this sarcasm spills over into her personal life.  In the book synopsis, she is called snarky, and there is no better word to describe her.  She has no social life, no love life, and hasn’t been out to California to visit her family in five years.  She greets every situation with a feisty I-can-do attitude. In her own opinion, she has it all together.

When her brother Danny calls after his pregnant wife Caroline was in an accident, he asks Meg to come to help him out with their children while Caroline is recovering in the hospital. But what does she, a person who doesn’t want children, know about taking care of a five-year-old and a two-year-old.  Grudgingly she agrees but has no clue to what’s in store for her in California. Her journey begins with lost luggage and a playdate for her niece and five of her little friends. When things start spinning out of control, Matt Ryan, Danny’s neighbor, appears out of nowhere and helps out.  It’s not long before the reader notices a connection between the two, albeit with conflicting emotions as Meg has convinced herself she’s not interested in a relationship.  Then Cera, Caroline’s daughter, is added to the melee. Can Meg handle everything and everyone? I have to stop right here, or I’ll tell you the whole story.

You will love all of the characters.  Each one is well fleshed out and believable.  The circumstances of each relationship between characters are true to life.  Though new characters keep popping into the story, each has a purpose that is developed smoothly and fully. The situations Meg finds herself in are plausible and lend credence to the story as a whole.

If you are looking for a quick read, don’t let the length of the book deter you.  I promise you won’t be able to put it down and will fly through it. I look forward to reading the author’s other books, SOMETHING NEW and SWEET NOTHINGS.  I can think of no reason not to give SAY NEVER five stars.

fivestarts

About the Authorjanis-thomas

Janis Thomas is the author of three critically-acclaimed humorous Women’s Fiction novels, Something New, Sweet Nothings, and Say Never. Award-winning Murder in A-Minor is the first book in her Musical Murder Mystery series featuring songwriting detective Samantha Wedlock. She has recently signed a two-book deal with Lake Union, the women’s fiction imprint of Amazon Publishing, for her latest two novels of domestic suspense. Janis is a popular workshop leader and speaker, and a passionate writing advocate. When she isn’t writing or fulfilling her PTA duties, she loves to spend time with her kids, sing with her sister, play tennis, and throw wild dinner parties with outrageous menus. She lives in Southern California with her husband, children, and two crazy dogs.

Website: Janis Thomas

Blog: Anonymous Soccer Mom

Social Media Sites: Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook

Buy the Book:  Amazon

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

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.

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Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7704883.Carol_Balawyder

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/cbala

Website – http://carolbalawyder.com/

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

Baby Girl

By Bette Lee Crosby

Baby GirlBlurb

When young Cheryl Ann leaves home, she thinks her path is straight…until she’s forced to make a choice she could never have imagined. The man in her life makes it clear: either pick your baby or pick me, he says. Suddenly, Cheryl finds herself at a crossroads. She makes a decision that will change her life forever, and that decision causes a chain of events that will lead Cheryl to a completely unexpected place.

Baby Girl is a mother’s story. It’s about the greatest sacrifice a mother can make when she wants only the best for her child. It’s about falling in and out of love, of losing and finding one’s self. It’s about the perilous journey from passionate young love to happy true love and understanding the differences between the two.

Baby Girl is a book that readers won’t want to miss because it’s a story they won’t forget.

From the AuthorBette Lee Crosby

This book is based on a true story…a story that is heartbreaking at times but will leave readers with a better understanding of what a woman will do to protect her child. When I first heard this birth mother’s story I was touched by it, so much so that I needed to know more. When I knew more, I knew I needed to write my novel. The result is Baby Girl.

My Review

Baby Girl is Cheryl Ann’s story about growing up with a mother who seemed incapable of loving anyone, even her daughter and husband.  When her father died, Cheryl Ann became more lonely than ever. Then things changed when Ryan Carter moved into her neighborhood.  Though still in her teens she and Ryan set out on their own, and complications in their relationship set in when Cheryl Ann became pregnant. Ryan did not want a baby, and Cheryl Ann was put in a situation of choosing Ryan or the baby she was expecting.

At times, this was a difficult read because Cheryl Ann was emotionally abused causing her to make decisions she didn’t want to make.  Eventually, she finds the strength to move out and on, but her troubles didn’t end.  The author created a complex character in Cheryl Ann. She was weak and easily led, but adversity is an unyielding teacher, and Cheryl Ann found her strength and determination to make a good life for herself and her children.

Reading this book, you will laugh, and you will cry. You will be angry, and yet be overjoyed. It is a heartwarming novel based on a real person’s story – her growth, her weakness, and her strengths and resolve. This is a book you don’t want to miss.

Baby Girl is the fourth book in the Memory House series. I have read all of them and you can find my review of Book 1 Memory House, Book 2 The Loft, and Book 3 What the Heart Remembers by clicking on the title of each book.  It is not necessary to read them in order, but some of the characters are presented in the previous books, and, therefore, enhances your reading and enjoyment if read in order.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

To find out more about Bette Lee Crosby, please go to her webpage or read about her on one of my previous links listed above.

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Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-feb-2016

 

Wild Water

By Jan Ruth

Wild WaterBook Blurb

Will life and family conspire to keep these lovers apart again?

Wild Water is the story of forty-something estate agent, Jack, who is stressed out – not only by work, bills, and the approach of Christmas, but by the feeling that he and his wife, Patsy, are growing apart.

His misgivings prove to be true when he discovers Patsy is having an affair, and is pregnant. As his marriage begins to crumble around him, he becomes reacquainted with his childhood sweetheart, Anna, whom he left for Patsy twenty-five years before.

His feelings towards Anna reawaken, but will life and family conflicts conspire to keep them apart again?

 

My Review

Just about everything his life touches – work, his home life, his wife Patsy’s infidelity – leaves Jack Redman stressed.  When he confronts Patsy, she says she wants a divorce and runs off, with their youngest child in tow, to live with her French lover Phillipe.  While dealing with this major upheaval, Jack’s father sends him to talk to Anna Williams, a former girlfriend from long ago, about selling her farm. Thus, we have basis of the love triangle – Jack, Patsy, and Anna.  Phillipe is, for most of the story, in the background and his character doesn’t really come into play until the later part of the book.

The characters are so well drawn; they came to life for me.  Jack is somewhat of a tragic character that evokes the reader’s sympathy.  Patsy is the easy to dislike. She fits the stereotypical idea of a wife who runs off with her lover, forsaking many happy years of marriage and family life. Without regard for her young daughter Lottie’s feelings or the feelings Jack and of the other members of her family, she uses the child as a pawn in the divorce.  Anna is easy to like, she is a friend, a single mother, a caretaker of her farm, and finds that her long buried feelings for Jack are still burning strong.

Wild Water takes place, in part, in rural Wales, which the author describes in such vivid detail you can visualize the mountains, the farm, the beauty of the area as you read.  The plot has a many elements seamlessly woven through it to keep you turning the pages.  Well written so that fiction could be one with reality, Wild Water is the kind of book you never want to put down. It is the first of Jan Ruth’s books that I’ve read, and it won’t be the last.

 

To Read a Sample Chapter: Mybook.to/wildwater

Available as Kindle or Print Book

Publisher: ACCENT PRESS

Publication Date:  July 2015

90,000 words (324 pages print)

Genre: Contemporary Family Saga

 

About the Author

Jan Ruth lives in Snowdonia, North Wales, UK.Jan Ruth - B & W - Lake

This ancient, romantic landscape is a perfect setting for Jan’s fiction, or simply day-dreaming in the heather. Jan writes contemporary stories about people, with a good smattering of humour, drama, dogs and horses.

ABOUT JAN RUTH

Jan was born in Cheshire and moved to North Wales in 1998, although she has always maintained a strong connection with the area from a much earlier age. Her feel for the Welsh landscape is evident in all of her work.

The real story began at school, with prizes for short stories and poetry. She failed all things mathematical and scientific, and to this day struggles to make sense of anything numerical.

Her first novel – written in 1986 – attracted the attention of an agent who was trying to set up her own company, Love Stories Ltd. It was a project aiming to champion those books of substance which contained a romantic element but were perhaps directed towards the more mature reader and consistently fell through the net in traditional publishing. Sadly, the project failed to get the right financial backing.

Many years later Jan’s second novel, Wild Water, was taken on by Jane Judd, literary agent. Judd was a huge inspiration, but the book failed to find the right niche with a publisher. It didn’t fall into a specific category and, narrated mostly from the male viewpoint, it was considered out of genre for most publishers and too much of a risk.

Amazon changed the face of the industry with the advent of self-publishing; opening up the market for readers to decide the fate of those previously spurned novels. Jan went on to successfully publish several works of fiction and short story collections. Jan is now pleased to announce that throughout 2015, she will be re-published with Accent Press.

ABOUT JAN’S BOOKS

Fiction which does not fall neatly into a pigeon hole has always been the most difficult to define. In the old days such books wouldn’t be allowed shelf space if they didn’t slot immediately into a commercial list. Today’s forward-thinking publishers – Accent Press being one of them – are far more savvy.

As an author I have been described as a combination of literary-contemporary-romantic-comedy-rural-realism-family-saga; oh, and with an occasional criminal twist and a lot of the time, written from the male viewpoint.

No question my books are Contemporary and Rural. Family and Realism; these two must surely go hand-in-hand, yes? So, although you’ll discover plenty of escapism, I hope you’ll also be able to relate to my characters as they stumble through a minefield of relationships, family, working, pets, love …

I hesitate to use the word romance. It’s a misunderstood and mistreated word in the world of fiction and despite the huge part it plays in the market, attracts an element of disdain. If romance says young, fluffy and something to avoid, maybe my novels will change your mind since many of my central characters are in their forties and fifties. Grown-up love is rather different, and this is where I try to bring that sense of realism into play without compromising the escapism.

Jan Ruth. 2015.

Discover More About Jan Ruth

Jan writes a variety of posts – funny, serious, informative – about Snowdonia and it’s landscapes. Horses and history, her inspiration to write fiction set in Wales and her publishing journey so far.

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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

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