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Friday, February 5, 2016

Sit! Stay! Speak!: A Novel by Annie England Noblin [Book Review]

Title: Sit! Stay! Speak! 
Author: Annie England Noblin
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Received from Publisher for honest review.
Release Date: September 18, 2015

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.

It should come as no surprise that I enjoy dog books. I am a huge believer in dogs as wo(man)'s best friend, and I do truly believe that without those fuzz balls in my life, life just wouldn't be as complete. I am an animal rescuer myself and am a proud dog mom foster failure (because I adopted them!) so I was greatly looking forward to this one as I felt I should be able to relate. Plus, I live in the South -- what is there not to love?!

Our story's heroine, Addie, is stuck in between her past and her future. She is unsure of what her next steps are and I found myself hurrying along trying to find out what she was going to do next.

Jasper Floyd is essentially country boy perfection. Not only does he work on his farm, but he is also a fancy pants lawyer. Talk about a swoon! If you end up in the middle of Arkansas, he is what you hope to find.

I found their relationship to be sweet, if not a bit fast at times. I wanted more build up to their actions, but I definitely felt an emotional pull for them which added depth that worked really well. If Jasper was gone for too many pages I started to get antsy, which is never a bad thing when reading any story.

I enjoyed Addie's relationship with her fellow neighbors, and I even enjoyed seeing the Southernisms through her eyes. As a Southerner I don't think things are odd or unusual until they're pointed out, and this book added some humor by using classic Southern charm.

I didn't always believe the extent of her ignorance for simple Southern things. For instance, I feel like everyone should know what a hush puppy is -- but then again I feel like the rest of the world should drink sweet tea as well. (BECAUSE IT IS DELICIOUS) Perhaps it is being a Southerner that makes this stretch hard, but maybe these things really are strictly "Southern" and don't appear above the Mason Dixon Line.

All in all I felt this was a nice, enjoyable and (mostly) fun read.  If you're looking for a nice and sweet story about a girl overcoming her past, and moving towards her future, this book will gel with you. If you're looking for a "dog" book, this may not suffice quite as much. The dog, Felix, in this story is really more of a background character and more of a plot device used to drive the story action rather than creating all of it. I enjoyed this, but if you want a story solely about a dog, you may be disappointed.

I enjoyed the simple mystery that drove the story's plot, and was greatly satisfied at its conclusion.

I am also slightly in love with the cover!

Ultimately, if you are a fan of dogs, or just enjoy good stories, this book is for you. If you like reading about characters who discover who they are and find themselves again, this book will be perfect to curl up with.

If you are not from the South and have read this book I would love to hear about your knowledge of these "Southernisms." Do you know what hush puppies are? I know they don't serve sweet tea up north... but be honest, don't you wish they did? 

Let me know what ya'll think! 


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