A quick, delightful tale for canine lovers who can never get enough dog stories.

LINA UNLEASHED

A DOG'S LIFE WITH A DIFFICULT MOMMA: THE FIRST TWO YEARS

An irrepressible toy Australian shepherd discusses her human Momma as she chronicles the first two years of their life together in this debut book.

If you have ever wished you could hear what your loving, furry companion really thinks of you, Lina (“pronounced with a long i”) is here to dish the dirt from a canine perspective. Born in Florida and adopted when she was a few weeks old, Lina decided early on that her experiences with Momma were so “fur-raising” that she simply had to blog about them. This journal by Little Big Ears (a.k.a. Lina) is adapted from LinasDogBlog. Much to Lina’s consternation, she learned that her time would be divided between living “on one of the Ten Thousand Islands of Florida” and in Minnesota—the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Lina hates water. And Minnesota is really cold. There are some other issues. Momma gets easily confused, distracted, or otherwise frazzled. She travels frequently and plays a lot of golf. And she is a staunch Republican. Lina, on the other hand, worries about being deported by President Donald Trump because of her “Australian” heritage. Fortunately, Lina has Nanny Becky and others to pick up the slack when things get too tough for Momma to handle. Add in a bevy of playful canine friends in the North and South and Lina, in between the numerous runs to one veterinarian or another and Momma’s embarrassing behavior, is a very happy camper. Despite crossing the red line on the cuteness meter, this little romp of a read is often quite funny, filled with near disasters many pet parents will recognize. After just a few pages, it will be easy enough for readers to suspend all disbelief and enjoy the world according to Lina. Here is her cynical take on Momma’s willingness to dispense “ ‘calming aid’ treats” to deal with thunderstorm anxiety: Nanny should have realized “that Momma would use them to drug me whenever she wanted a little free time. And…I’m pretty sure the aids do not all trickle down to me.” The accompanying family photographs are adorable. Want more? A sequel is in the works.

A quick, delightful tale for canine lovers who can never get enough dog stories.

Pub Date: July 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59298-823-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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