Monday, December 21, 2015

Almost Perfect

A YA novel about two unlikely friends, their dogs, and the competitions that bring them and their community together. (Kirkus Reviews)

An old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminster Dog Show.

Seventy-year old Bess Rutledge has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as one of America’s top Standard Poodle breeders, she has decided she’s too old to hold on to her foolish dream. She sells off all the dogs in her once famous kennel except for the aging champion McCreery and his mischievous, handsome son Breaker. Part of her senses they might have been the ones to take her to Westminster, if only she’d dared to try.

Bess meets Benny, a teenager with mild autism who attends a therapeutic special school, and learns he has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. Benny is drawn into the world of dog shows and becomes convinced he has found the perfect way to win his mother’s attention. If he can win Westminster with either McCreery or Breaker, he just knows she will finally be proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy. . .


My Thoughts

Benny lives with his Dad and step-Mom. He is forever trying to get the attention of his birth Mom, who seems to have a million things to do except spend time with Benny. Benny meets his neighbor Bess, who has spent her life breeding and showing Standard poodles. Bess has decided to call it quits with the whole dog thing because she thinks she has gotten too old. Her son David is unable to convince her that she should continue to breed and show dogs. Benny decides that showing Bess’s dog would be the perfect way to get his Mom’s attention and Bess just can’t resist getting involved.

This book has been on my to-be-read shelf for way too long. It kept catching my eye and I finally decided to give it a go.

I like stories where unlikely characters hook up and become friends. Under normal circumstances, Benny and Bess would probably never had gotten to know each other. But both seem to be trying to find their way in life. Their chance meeting and love of dogs allows then to make a connection. Both Benny and Bess have a fun sense of humor with a small bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure.

I’m sure glad I finally decided to read this charming story. It was a simple, well-paced and positive tale.

Thanks to Beltor, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Forgotten

Heather Graham

Murdered by a dead man?

A woman named Maria Gomez is murdered in Miami, apparently by her husband—who'd been presumed dead, slain by a crime boss. FBI agent Brett Cody can't believe it; dead or alive, the man had loved his wife. He also can't help feeling guilty, since he was responsible for protecting Miguel and Maria Gomez.

A few miles away, Lara Mayhew has just begun working at a dolphin research facility. She loves her new job—until a dolphin brings her something unexpected from the deep. A human hand. More body parts show up, and when Brett looks into the situation, he discovers that the dismembered corpse is Miguel's.

Soon, rumors of crazed zombies abound in the Miami media, and the Krewe of Hunters, an elite FBI unit of paranormal investigators, is called in. Brett and Lara find themselves working with the Krewe—and working closely together. An elderly crime boss who's losing his memory seems to be key to solving this case, but…there's no motive. Unless Brett and Lara can uncover one in the Miami underworld. And that means they have to protect themselves. And each other.

My Thoughts

How can a woman be murdered by her already dead husband?

Strange things are happening if Florida. Lara works at a research facility for dolphins. One of the dolphins finds a body part and brings it to her. As a result, she meets FBI agent Brett Cody and the two, along with two Krewe members get pulled into a very bizarre murder investigation involving zombies!

While this did involve some Krewe of Hunter members, the main focus is on Lara and Brett. Their initial meeting does not go well. But as they are forced to spend time together, they find that the have more similarities than difference. Somehow or other, dead people are showing up and committing murders. Lara and Brett work with two Krewe agents to piece the puzzle together and figure out what exactly is going on.

After reading several other books involving Krewe members, I will admit that I still find them entertaining. The premise is basically the same - boy meets girl, they don’t necessarily like each other at first, but underneath there is some level of attraction. Eventually the attraction overrides their differences and then sparks fly!

What is different about each book is the local and the investigation. In this book, we learn a bit about Florida and voodoo. Ms. Graham always writes likeable characters. While there is some level of romance going on, it by no means overshadows the story line. These books are fun, fast paced and enjoyable.

My thanks to Harelquin/Mira, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.