If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. - Oscar Wilde
We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. - B. F. Skinner
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. - Mary Wortley Montagu

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Review: Sit! Stay! Speak! by Annie England Noblin / @TastyBookTours @aenoblin

Title: Sit! Stay! Speak!
Author: Annie England Noblin
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: September 9, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Women's Fiction, Romance
ARC Received From: Edelweiss
Reviewed For: Tasty Book Tours

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Echoing the novels of Mary Alice Monroe, Allie Larkin, and Holly Robinson, this charming debut novel tells the unforgettable story of a rescue dog that helps a struggling young outsider make peace with the past.

Addie Andrews is living a life interrupted. Tragedy sent her fleeing from Chicago to the shelter of an unexpected inheritance—her beloved aunt’s somewhat dilapidated home in Eunice, Arkansas, population very tiny. There she reconnects with some of her most cherished childhood memories. If only they didn’t make her feel so much!

People say nothing happens in small towns, but Addie quickly learns better. She’s got an elderly next door neighbor who perplexingly dances outside in his underwear, a house needing more work than she has money, a best friend whose son uncannily predicts the weather, and a local drug dealer holding a massive grudge against her.

Most surprising of all, she’s got a dog. But not any dog, but a bedraggled puppy she discovered abandoned, lost, and in desperate need of love. Kind of like Addie herself. She’d come to Eunice hoping to hide from the world, but soon she discovers that perhaps she’s finding the way back—to living, laughing, and loving once more.

I went in expecting a fairly simple tale of a woman, a dog, and possibly a new love. I got all that but so much more.

Addie's move to Eunice made sense. It was familiar yet far away from the place that reminded her of everything she'd lost. Gaining a home from a beloved aunt settled the problem of where she was going to live. Gaining everything that came with it, mostly memories and incredible people, wasn't something she'd counted on.

The townsfolk of Eunice made me smile. Except the drug lord. He didn't earn a smile. He earned a scowl and deadly thoughts. But everyone else... Well, they didn't detract from Addie's story at all. They enhanced it, with their colorful personalities and flair. Small towns tend to have the most colorful people, don't you think? Or maybe I just don't notice them as much in a big city.

Okay. The dog. I love dogs. I love their loyalty and friendship, their protectiveness and gentleness. And I hate that people can so easily abuse them or use them for entertainment. Felix was an abused puppy, left for dead, when Addie found him. His sorry state mirrored Addie's, and maybe that's why I cried when she took him in, cared for him, loved him like he should have been loved. They healed together and that made their bond so much more intense for me.

I really enjoyed this story. It was exactly what I expected but a hundred times better. Ms. Noblin's writing is clear and easy to follow. Her characters are realistic and deliciously flawed. The reality of dog-fighting and small town drug problems was the perfect dose of real life that balanced this fictional tale of healing, rediscovering oneself, and love.

Annie England Noblin graduated with an M.A. in Creative Writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English for Arkansas State University. Her poetry has been featured in such publications as the Red Booth Review and the Moon City Review. She lives with her son, husband, and four rescued bulldogs in the Missouri Ozarks. In addition to her writing, Noblin started working with rescue organizations across the country ten years ago, and has never looked back. The work she does serves as an inspiration in everyday life, as well as in her writing.