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A Dog's Purpose by Bruce CameronA DOG’S PURPOSE
By Bruce Cameron

$12.99 Forge
Purchase from Amazon.com

Have you ever wondered what your dog would say if only he could speak? Being an owner of two large hounds, I know I have. Bruce Cameron, syndicated columnist and author of 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter, apparently has not only had these thoughts, but turned them into his newest bestseller A Dog’s Purpose, an engrossing story told from a dog’s point of view.

Bailey is a puppy born to a stray mother, who spends his days and nights fighting with his siblings for the teat, while trying to avoid human contact. But it isn’t long before he and his family are captured and taken to live among a much larger pack of dogs under the auspices of a well-meaning woman who rescues more than her share of canines. Bailey’s life is short-lived, but before he knows it, he is re-born as a puppy, with the memories of his previous incarnation on tact. Finding his way to Ethan, his next owner, he soon learns what it means to be a good dog and what it is to love and be loved unconditionally. Consequently, as he dies and is re-born again and again, he is able to take the sum total of his doggie knowledge and put it towards his goal in life: discovering his purpose.

Cameron’s insight into the mind of a dog is all at once hilarious and touching, leading us to wonder how he could get it so right. He takes you to the brink of calamity at times, as Bailey finds himself in untenable situations, but never takes you all the way to full blown distress, keeping the tone of the book from slipping into the maudlin and disheartening. I laughed and cried throughout this well-spun tale and haven’t been able to look at my dogs since without trying to understand what it is they are thinking. I doubt that I ever will again.

 

A Catered Affair by Sue MargolisA CATERED AFFAIR
By Sue Margolis

$14.00 New American Library
Purchase from Amazon.com

There is absolutely nothing more wonderful than reading a book that promises to make you laugh and actually delivers on that promise. Such is the case with Sue Margolis’ hilarious new novel, A Catered Affair, the story of love gone wrong and the calamities that ensue until it is righted once more.

Tally is a Jewish girl and successful human rights lawyer, living in London, who has just gotten engaged to a man her difficult mother is not overly fond of. Sure, Josh is a bit of a commitment-phobe, but he’s great catch. Not only is he a doctor, but he’s the love of her life. Her Nana Ida insists on paying for the entire wedding with money she received in reparations from the German government after World War II, but fears it is tainted Nazi money and will bring Tally bad luck. Unfortunately, her premonition is all too prescient as Josh jilts Tally at the altar, leaving her to wonder where she went wrong and how she could have misjudged him so thoroughly.

Carrying on with the reception anyway, Tally proceeds to get over-the-top plastered and propositions Kenny the Caterer, before passing out in the luxury hotel suite she had reserved for her wedding night. Because he is nothing if not respectable, Kenny declines her offer of drunken sex, staying with her instead to hold her hair while she throws up and keep vigil after she passes-out in her one-of-a-kind wedding gown.

While trying to get over the shock, embarrassment and heartbreak of her wedding-day-gone-wrong, Tally’s lesbian sister Scarlett and live-in-lover Grace come to her rescue, offering her shelter and lots of advice. Tally soon begins a friendship with Kenny that looks like it might morph into something much more, but when her old flame, Hugh moves back to London from Australia things begin to heat up with him as well. Confusion reigns supreme as Tally’s feeling for Kenny and Hugh play tug-of-war with her bruised, yet recovering heart, and then it’s a race to the finish which keeps you wondering who will win out in the end.

Margolis’ conversational and witty dialogue will keep you rolling with laughter while the twists and turns of this well-written story keep you on the edge of your seat. An un-put-downable read from start to finish, this book is one you’ll recommend to everyone you know.  

 

Jerusalem Maiden by Talia CarnerJERUSALEM MAIDEN
By Talia Carner

$14.99 Harper Collins
Purchase from Amazon.com

From author Talia Carner comes a heartbreakingly beautiful novel, Jerusalem Maiden, the story of an orthodox Jewish woman living in the Holy Land at the turn of the twentieth century, who struggles with her identity as a woman and an artist.

Esther Kaminsky is too inquisitive for her own good. Although she struggles to adhere to the strict tenets of her Hasidic upbringing, she is constantly distracted by the feelings that well up inside her. A naturally gifted artist, she is forbidden to desire any path for herself other than that of an obedient daughter, and eventually a wife and mother. Because of this, she has no idea how to reconcile the two. Although her French teacher, Mlle. Thibaux encourages her to draw and paint, she must do so in secret, as creating works of art is strictly forbidden by the scriptures.

Determined never to marry and bear children, Esther hatches a plan with her cousin, a musician who must also follow his artistic passions in secret, to marry and escape to Paris together where each of them can then pursue their dreams. But their plans are thwarted when she is married off to a wealthy businessman from Jaffa, leaving Esther no choice but to adhere to the role she was born to embrace.

After leaving her home in Jerusalem, settling in to married life and having three children, a twist of fate finds Esther living in Paris, where she reunites not only with Mlle. Thibaux, but also with her passion for painting. And to her surprise, she discovers that love comes in forms she had never imagined she could embrace.

The rich prose Carner delivers on every page will transport you to a time and place so filled with mystique and magic that it will overwhelm your senses. Well-researched and beautifully written, this novel is like a painting; colorful and enticing, drawing you in from word one and never deigning to let you go.

 

Shadow of a Quarter Moon by Eileen Clymer SchwabSHADOW OF A QUARTER MOON
By Eileen Clymer Schwab

$15.00 New American Library
Purchase from Amazon.com

This year is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, and the country is brimming with enthusiasm over the time period. While watching documentaries, reading biographies, and exploring historical sites are several of the ways you can delve into the history of the war, reading historical fiction is also another great way. Eileen Clymer Schwab’s new novel, Shadow of a Quarter Moon, does just that, taking you on a journey through the Underground Railroad and to the promise of freedom that laid at that journey’s end.

Jacy Lane is the privileged only daughter of a wealthy plantation owner and his recalcitrant wife, living in North Carolina in 1839. When her father suddenly dies, Jacy’s mother, Claudia reveals that Jacy is really the offspring of her late fathers’ mistress, a slave who has been their house servant since she was born. Trying to force Jacy into a marriage with a tyrannical and cruel man, Claudia makes it clear that she has little choice in the matter. But when Jacy refuses to do so, Claudia threatens to sell off her mother, her brother and another slave with whom she has fallen in love and Jacy helps them find their way to the Underground Railroad.

It isn’t long before Jacy’s situation becomes so unbearable that she decides to follow her real family to freedom. But by doing do, she must accept her true identity and learn how to live in a wholly different world from the one she has always known. As they face one perilous situation after another, her journey, and that of her compatriots, proves to be more daunting than she could have ever imagined; and the new life they long for becomes even more precious than they’d thought it could be.

This well-researched and moving novel will transport you back to a time when slavery was an accepted part of the American landscape, and those who fought to rid us of this terrible institution risked life, limb and reputation to bring an end to it once and for all. A real page turner, this story of the power of transformation will make you believe that love can, indeed, overcome all obstacles and that the indomitable force of the human spirit is even more powerful than the hatred and violence that wants, more than anything, to snuff it out.


www.Dishmag.com / Issue 125 - September 6489
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