Sunday, August 9, 2015

Spotlight on Service Dogs

Title: Seven Days to Goodbye
Author: Sheri S. Levy
Genre: middle grade fiction, takes place in South Carolina, South Carolina author, South Carolina Book Festival author

Seven Days to Goodbye takes place during a week of roller coaster emotions for our protagonist, Trina. Trina has been busy for a year with schoolwork and fostering and training Sydney, a border collie service dog. In the book, this is Trina's last week with Sydney as he must be returned to the service dog organization to find his fur-ever family and a child that will need his protection. While Trina is happy that she is going on a vacation to the beach with her family and her best friend, the thought of parting from Sydney makes her heart ache even though it's for a good cause. At first there is some friction between Trina and Sarah since Sarah seems more boy-and-clothes focused than Trina. They soon make up over sea turtle watching, playing in the surf, and walks along the beach. Sydney makes a new friend too with a little autistic boy named Logan. Logan thrives around Sydney and Logan's family marvels at his progress. Logan's older brothers, Chase and Peyton, give Trina and Sarah's heart some thrills too in a blossoming yet  innocent, summer romance. 

Despite the name of the book, Seven Days to Goodbye, is not a sad book like most animal books. Spoiler alert: Sydney does not die! Although the ending is emotional, it's a happy emotional as Trina continues on in her journey of being a service dog trainer.

You can visit Sheri S. Levy's website here:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Go Set a Watchman

Title: Go Set a Watchman
Author: Harper Lee
Genre: Southern fiction

Go Set a Watchman is the recently published sequel to the timeless, Southern classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Jean Louise Finch (Scout) is returning home to Maycomb for a visit. Jean Louise lives the single woman lifestyle in NYC which is viewed with admiration or consternation by the citizens of her hometown. No one is more frustrated with Jean Louise than her Aunt Zandra, the pinnacle of Southern manners and womanhood. Even though Jean Louise is a grown woman, the two are always exchanging verbal insults. Atticus Finch although physically frailer still has a sharp mind.
Jean Louise views Maycomb with a mixture of gratitude, pride, and relief. Gratitude and pride for her upbringing as a Finch and a carefree childhood, yet relief that she doesn't live permanently in Maycomb and succumb to the small town's stifling expectations and unwritten rules.
Her peaceful visit is ruined one muggy Sunday when she discovers that her father and almost-fiancee, Henry Clinton, are participants of the Maycomb Citizens' Council (the Klan). This council, made up of the county's most respectable and influential men, is also a racist organization that is dead set against forced segregation by the government and views the NAACP with disdain. In that moment Jean Louise's world crumbles: her father, the hero, the teacher of all things moral, has been ruined in her eyes...

My Facebook feed and email inbox was flooded with reviews for Go Set a Watchman in mid-July. I purposely did not read any reviews because I did not want my experience reading this book to be influenced by others. I enjoyed the book for the most part- the flashbacks were funny and enjoyable. But once Jean Louise discovers the council the book goes downhill from there. For the last fourth of the book Jean Louise is angry and shows it in very dramatic ways and I felt that Harper Lee let that drag on too long and then apologies were done lickety-split and the book was over. I don't think this will become a classic like To Kill a Mockingbird but it will be debated about for years to come.