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DOG CRAZY: A Novel of Love Lost and Found ~Meg Donohue

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

“Packed with deep emotion and charming surprises, DOG CRAZY is a bighearted and entertaining story that skillfully captures the bonds of love, the pain of separation, and the power of our dogs to heal us.”  (Book cover)

DOG CRAZY came my way via TLC BOOK TOURS for review and it was a delightful addition to a very busy week.  The uncorrected proof came in paperback form and just tucked into my carry bag for a week of medical appointments (“Growing Old is Not for Sissies”~ Jack Benny) and my husband even dove into it when he was the designated driver and water bottle handler.

Maggie Brennan is making big changes in her life by leaving her mom and dad who live in Philadelphia and moving to a new apartment in San Francisco; starting a Pet Bereavement Therapy Practice on her own.  The apartment is within her former roommate’s home so not everything is new.  Maggie’s mother is agoraphobic and has not left her house without heavy medication for nearly 30 years.   Maggie also has her trusty dog Toby to help her make the transition.

Maggie sets out in San Francisco to make the connections to start her practice and finds an animal rescue group who refers her first clients and she is able to do lots of volunteering for them on their website.  Apparently, Toby was only meant to assist with the move and the actual living this new life with Maggie was not on the list and he becomes ill and dies.  This causes major problems for Maggie and threatens to ruin this new opportunity.

Along comes a very “INTERESTING” young woman who believes her dog has been stolen and does not want any therapy for her missing dog, just assistance in walking SF to find him.  With Anya in need and with “the assistance of a poodle, a mutt, and Basset retriever named Seymour” the funny, poignant story begins to unfold creating healing.

This story had a gentle voice in the telling, and I would have loved to take this story and my own pooch to the beach to savor.  It so reminded me of the Women’s Magazines full of short stories that my mother loved to read in the late afternoon with a cup of tea.  This tail/tale is about 255 pages long and I could pick it up and put it down with out losing the story line or any of the dog identities.  It was an easy to read study of how we humans handle loss and fear and that everything changes with one step at a time.  Very entertaining – DOG CRAZY.

MEG DONOHUE is the USA TODAY bestselling author of HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE and ALL THE SUMMER GIRLS.  She has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and a BA in Comparative literature from Dartmouth College.  Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, children, and dog.    (From Book cover)

Meg Donohue Facebook

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NO LONGER AND NOT YET: Stories ~Joanna Clapps Herman

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

“Death, when you weren’t actually faced with it, was something like that.  A small boat in a large body of water going toward a vague line that never came any closer-death always the same safe distance from your boat.  No matter how long you moved toward it, it continued to move off ahead of you.  Then when someone you knew died, death appeared in your boat, and you were supposed to contend with its abrupt, confusing arrival, for which you had no talent, no gift.  It was never as if you came to believe it.  You were just very confused.  Full of refusal.  After a time of stunned confusion it moved back out there far away where it belonged.  And wasn’t considered again until it had to be again.  The horizon what is not yet.”  (Page 102)


NO LONGER AND NOT YET is a collection of 26 stories which are all connected to the Upper Westside of New York City. As of late, I have been reading a number of books that for varied reasons keep me reading long into the night and wanting to savor and finish them right away.  As much as I love short stories and like to read one a day when partaking, this was an exception to my rule for the fact that I have a fixed review date and because the stories touched each other in ways that made the reader want to know.

Tess, Max and eventually Paul were the thread that held the weave of the stories together.  Tess has a wealth of friends right in the neighborhood and they then became their own stories and found connection back to Tess for advice and support.  Tess told the stories of living and what she is aware of and then interpreted these ideas to the reader to get the whole picture.  Her best friend Naomi lived in a building on Riverside Street and the residents within added the breadth of the friendships. The reader is able to get a clear picture and attend to the day’s experience.

It made a section of NYC cozy and connecting and the writing and details brought clarity with the exquisite use of words. The reader is connected and feels present; for me particularly about the “mother thoughts” going on inside each woman during her day or excerpt.  The problems seemed normal and not overblown and were infused with moments of wine, a sigh of relief and laughter.

These are everyday stories which make sense in our everyday and yet we are privy to the thinking and the actions in a way which reminds us that we are not alone.  There are others living plain lives and having questions and concerns just like ours and yet they are drawn together because of their communications and sharing.  The words tighten the threads of connection and understanding.  There are two thinking about the crazy flower woman in the park and two attempting to help the box man not freeze to death on a rare cold snowy night.  Can you imagine being the only mother and son playing in a NYC park – no one else on the swings?  Is the teacher always right or does she say the wrong things to your child?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it was so wonderful to have a summer rainy day to wander and walk through years with these delightful characters into their lives and resolutions.  NO LONGER AND NOT YET is a 5 star read.

tlc logo  TLC online book tours  sent me a copy of NO LONGER AND NOT YET for review and it was a pleasure to share this book with you

“Joanna Clapps Herman teaches creative writing in the MFA Graduate Program at Manhattanville College and at the Center for Worker Education, a division of City College of New York, CUNY.  She is the author of THE ANARCHIST BASTARD:GROWING UP ITALIAN IN AMERICA, also published by SUNY Press; coeditor (with Carol Bonomo Albright) of Wild Dreams: The best of Italian Americana; and coeditor(with Lee Gutkind) of OUR ROOTs ARE DEEP WITH PASSION: Creative Nonfiction Collect New Essays by Italian-American Writers.  She lives in New Your City.” (Cover)

Joanna Clapps Herman Online 
Joanna Clapps Herman on Facebook

I am counting on folks sharing this review – please share and like – Thank you – Sharing is a good thing to do.

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