For readers around the globe. :)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Have Dog, Will Travel

So Stephen Kuusisto was born blind in one eye and soon lost vision in the other eye.
For 38 years, Stephen pretended he could see. He pretended he was normal. He graduated, went to college, and became a professor, all while pretending he didn't have a disability. 
See when he was growing up, people viewed disabilities as a disease. They didn't know how to react or speak to those with disabilities. So he had no choice but to mask his disability. 
But once his teaching gig didn't last forever, he decided his life needed a new turn, one that could ultimately change his life for the better.
He was getting a service dog.
He had to go through intensive training in order to get his very own service dog.
In Have Dog, Will Travel, Stephen outlines what was included in his training, as well as the training that the dogs have to go through, starting in their puppy days.
He also talks about the stigma that goes along with blindness. He talks about the stress of putting your life in the hands of a dog, but once that dog becomes your lifelong partner, there is no hesitation. That dog is going to protect you with their life because that is what they are trained to do.

Huge thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Have Dog, Will Travel!
Even bigger thanks to Stephen Kuusisto for writing this fantastic book that helped me better understand service dogs!

Have Dog, Will Travel hits shelves March 13th!

Looking for other books on service dogs?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Year They Burned the Books

Okay so I have a few issues with this book.
1) When main character, Jamie, is talking to her parents the author refers to them (in Jamie's mind) as Mr. Crawford and Mrs. Crawford instead of Mom and Dad.
2) This is not actually about book burning but it is about censorship.
3) It deals with A LOT of controversy, such as LGBT issues and condom distribution.

I understand the need for a book like this, especially in the LGBT community.
I'm sure in 1999 (when this book was published) it was better suited for that audience, but I feel as a whole our outlook has changed quite a bit, whether that be better or worse, I'm not sure.

The basis of the book is a school newspaper editorial written in response to the school nurses distributing condoms to students on Friday in an attempt to promote safer sex. The editorial was pro-condom, whereas the op-ed was supposed to counteract the editorial. However, the op-ed was never written and caused quite a stir in the new school committee.
This created an excuse for school board member, Lisa Buel, to create a group through her church called Families for Traditional Values (FTV), which is against basically EVERYTHING. This group doesn't agree with the condom distribution, the sex education curriculum, or homosexuality.
The school paper catches wind and begins trying to counteract FTV with a renegade newspaper, one that cannot be shut down if the school doesn't agree with what they are publishing.
There is so much drama between the two parties (FTV and the school paper committee).

This book kind of irked me, far more than it probably should have.
 I understand the need for more LGBT books.
I understand the need to stop censorship.
I understand what this book was trying to do, but it was so extreme.
It really bothered me, and I apologize to anyone who disagrees with me.
I tried to keep my mind as open as possible, but I just could not handle it.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a copy of The Year They Burned the Books

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Thug Kitchen

Okay, so I got this cookbook for free on my Amazon Kindle.
I had no idea it was a vegan cookbook, but I knew that my mom obsessed over it when it first came out.
I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I bookmarked several and will DEFINITELY update this review when I have made them.

Here's the recipes I'm looking forward to the most:
Baked Okra and Potato Hash
Sweet Corn and Green Chile Baked Flautas
Tortilla Soup
Mid-Summer Salsa
Chocolate Fudge Pops
Maple-Oat Banana Bread
Chocolate Chip and Almond Butter Cookies (probably making this first if we're being honest)
Peanut Butter and Banana Nut Muffins

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Alaska Wake Up Call!

So, Before I Let Go hit shelves today and Sourcebooks Fire hooked me up with an excerpt AND info for their Alaska Wake Up Call Giveaway! Check out the excerpt and then follow the link at the end for the giveaway :)

I open the door and jump out of the plan as soon as we land on the narrow strip. The concrete shocks my knees and I stretch in the freezing cold air. I expect to find Mr. Henderson's 4x4 waiting for me, or Sheriff Flynn, maybe. Instead, a lone figure stands against the rising sun. With the light at her back, I can only see her silhouette- a tall, gangly figure whose long hair dances in the wind. She raises a hesitant hand.
My heart skips a beat. Kyra. Without thinking, I start towards her, her name on the tip of my tongue.
Then the light clears. Her nose is smaller. Her hair lighter.
And the shout of recognition dies in my throat.
Piper Morden.
Not Kyra.
I forgot. Now I ache to forget.
Behind me, the pilot disembarks. He grabs my backpack and hands it to me. "Your return flight is booked. Be here on time. See you in five days."
So little time, but it has to be enough. "I'll make sure of it. Thank you."
The man hesitates, then says, "Be careful in Lost Creek. Not everything is as it seems here."
Before I can reply with a simple, I know. We've always gone our own way, he turns on his heels with military precision and stalks back to the plane. I head towards Piper, who smirks. Plenty of people don't understand our closed community, our way of living. We're all used to odd comments like these.
Piper wraps her arms around me. She's never done so before, but I cling to her. She's strong and familiar. She smells of winter and home. "Hey, big city girl."
"How was your flight?"
"It was good. Quiet. Early." Strange.
"I can only imagine." Her smile fades. "Mr. H has a business meeting, so he asked me to pick you up. We're glad you're here. Kyra would've liked that."
That's new. These last few years, Piper never considered Kyra's feelings, and now that she's dead doesn't seem like the right time to start.
I sling my backpack over my shoulders, wondering how to phrase this question without sounding accusatory. "What can I expect here, Piper? I know Kyra wasn't exactly...loved."
Piper stiffens, as if I'd slapped her. Then she flicks a wayward lock of hair out of her face. "Do you think us so cold that we wouldn't mourn her?"
"No, but-"
"Things changed after you left."
"Nothing ever changes in Lost Creek," I say, out of habit. The only way to mark the passage of time here is by the aging of the children. They grow older, as they're meant to, every birthday the start of a new year. The adults somehow appear to stop aging, and the elderly stop counting the years altogether.
Piper's mouth quirks up, twisting her face into a harsh grimace. "never mind. You'll come to understand."
"Understand what?" I ask, but Piper has already turned away from me.
"We take care of our own here. You ought to know that."
I trek after her and regret not changing into my bunny boots. My sneakers are fit for traveling, but not for withstanding miles of snow. The cold bites.
At least I've arrived with the sun. When Piper and I turn away from the airstrip. towards Lost, bright light peeks out over the horizon. Anticipation takes over and the churning in my stomach settles. I breathe. This is home. The zingy smell of ice in the air. The snow, layered over the permafrost, that crunches beneath our feet.
Amid the gentle hills and pine-tree forests lies the town of Lost Creek. Our small, private universe. From our vantage point, it looks tiny, like a collection of dollhouses rather than a place where people live.
But it is home.
Welcome home.



Can you see the stars at your new school? I can't imagine that the night sky there is as clear as it is in Lost. When you're back, let's go camping near the springs. Just you and me and a campfire and the northern lights. We'll build a bridge. A bridge between us. I miss you, Corey.

I have plenty more of the excerpt that I would be more than happy to share. Just leave a comment and I'll send it your way!
To celebrate the release of Before I Let Go, Sourcebooks Fire has teamed up with Alaska Wild Berry Product to giveaway an Alaska Wake Up Call gift basket!
Check out the giveaway here:
Looking for my review?

Craig & Fred

Starting 2018 out strong with my fav dog book of the year, Craig & Fred!
So I first saw a video posted on The Dodo Facebook page of a marine who snuck a dog out of Afghanistan while on deployment.
 Obviously, I knew I had to get this book.
But here's a little back story first:
My husband and I currently live in South Korea because that's where the Army put us.
 I'm not going to even pretend this is in any way similar to Afghanistan, but there are stray dogs EVERYWHERE like Craig describes in his book, hence how he got Fred (well kind of).

So Craig worked in corrections in the Marine Corps for 4 years but just wasn't loving it. After his contract was up, he reenlisted for 4 more years, this time doing something else, intel.
That's when he got the orders he was waiting for: Afghanistan.
While there fighting the Taliban, he and the other Marines noticed a dog was just hanging out at shots rang out, completely unphased by the terror around him or even the people. That's when Craig decided to give him a piece of jerky, the rest was history.
Looks like Craig has a 'Fred!'
Soon after the initial meeting, they tried picking all of the bugs out of Fred's fur, and he let them! In fact, he loved all the attention he was getting. It didn't take long to realize the troop had a mascot. Fred even got to go on missions with them!
Basically, he was learning how to be a marine.
Which is when the guys knew... Fred was going home.

It took a crazy amount of people to smuggle a dog out of a war zone, into a helicopter, hide him in the barracks, and get him home to the states.
But it happened, IN JUST A FEW WEEKS.
 Now Craig has a lifelong friend who went through the same events as himself.
They had the same experiences and now they're getting to make their own memories.
Craig & Fred is such a heartfelt read, but with the rawness that only a Marine could tell.
Told through alternating chapters, we learn how Craig and Fred rescued each other and the tale of their adventures after the war.
Highly recommending Craig & Fred to be your #1 read in 2018!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Where the Dogs Go

Calling all dog lovers!
I have been so lucky with my dog that I haven't had to experience one of my beloved pets crossing the rainbow bridge, but that is what this book is about.
I was nervous to start this book because it's written through a dogs point of view, because the last one I read (Downward Dog) didn't capture a dogs voice the way I wanted it to. But this one did! Lucky, who we soon learn to love as Monk, is thrown into this world by his birth momma with one other brother. But for some reason, only Lucky has to go away to be adopted. He is fearful to be on his own so soon; he wanted to stay with his mom and brother, not sit in a cage with taunting pug Walter and wait to be adopted.
But that's how he met her.
His Luv.
His one true human love.
He had never experienced love the way he got to with Beth. She picked him out, took him home, and gave him a life that he wasn't ready to give up. He got to stay through happiness, sadness, relationships, and babies. He had the life every dog dreams of having..
 Until one day, he realized he needed to sleep cuddled up to his Luv. He needed to be near her, but he wasn't sure why.
That night, he had a very vivid dream where his birth momma was in Luv's house telling him to come along, he had something new to experience...Eternity.
Eternity was great! He got to become a part of the Group of Six, pups who lived together and worked to make a life for themselves in Eternity. Thanks to Monk, the little group of six become rather famous. He had finally found another home, a home without his Luv. But he thought of her every day, painted pictures of her, told everyone about her, but still cried himself to sleep because he would never see his Luv again.
 Now that he was situated in his new life, his dear friend Mollie went missing.
He couldn't imagine she would leave without saying goodbye....
But soon he knew, that wasn't the case.
Can't say much more without ruining the book but it is fantastic!
If you love dogs and worry about life without them, this book is definitely the book for you.
It pulls together love and loss.
It makes you realize that the universe has a plan.
You just have to trust it.
Huge thank you to NetGalley and Dog Ear Publishing for sending me an advanced copy!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Scrappy Little Nobody

Anna Kendrick may be most relatable celebrity in the world.
She knows how to be confident, how to be herself, how to poke fun at herself.
But most importantly, she knows how to throw a solo party in her sweatpants with netflix and take out. I mean really, what could get more relatable than that? 
Obviously, we should be friends. 
So Anna, if you stumble upon this, holla at me!
Really, this book was fantastic.
There were adventures, life lessons, and pictures.
I found myself laughing out loud, in public, more often than not while I was reading this.
All of her stories were perfectly placed and described so well it was almost like I was on set with her throughout the whole thing.
She found herself in sticky situations, especially in her 20s.
But lets be real, we've all been there and we're glad it's over 
(even if I'm only 22 I'm ready for this to end). 

My point is, Anna Kendrick is probably one of my favorite celebs and reading her book just made me realize it even more. I mean, she was on Broadway at age 12 for crying out loud! Who wouldn't want to know her?! Not to mention avoiding people is one of my favorite activities and cynicism is almost second nature (again, Anna, lets be friends).
So go get this book!