Friday, February 13, 2015

Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning (Review & Giveaway!)

Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning
ISBN: 978-0578136394
Published January 2013
Trade paperback, 319 pages

Audible Audiobook
Narrated by Caroline Miller
Length: 9 hours 7 mins

Most of you know I'm an eclectic reader. I like to read different genres, especially if I can learn something new from them. When I was sent this book I was attracted to it for two reasons. The first is that I've worked with children with autism and special needs. The second is that I wanted to know more about how animals, in this case dogs, could have a positive effect in the lives of these children.

Reading Almost Perfect satisfied me immensely. Benny is a 14 year-old teenager with mild autism who desperately seeks the love and attention from an absent mother, and Bess is a 70-year-old expert Poodle dog breeder who is bitter with regret and has made the decision to close down her business. The friendship they forge because of two dogs, McCreery and Breaker, helps them both to heal and to be able to move on.

Both these characters and the dogs really stood out in the story. The author truly captured the personality of both dogs so well, I felt I knew them and, although I do not own a dog, their actions made me smile and even brought me to tears. This is not a sentimental sappy story, but let me say that those dogs will get to you. They will make you want to own a dog just to experience that unconditional love they dole out.

Benny is outspoken and sometimes he would say things to Bess that no one else would dare say. And Bess, in turn, builds his confidence to do something no one thought or trusted he could do. These two unlikely friends showed their families that there was more to them than what they portrayed. Apart from these characters, I enjoyed the secondary characters of Mona, Bess' twin sister and Stephie, a girl at Benny's school who became his best friend.

I decided to listen to the audiobook and also to read the book. I'm glad I did because I enjoyed both experiences. Caroline Miller captured Bess and Benny's voices very well, although some of the secondary characters sounded alike at times. But she has a pleasant voice that lent well to this story.

Almost Perfect revolves around show dogs and what is involved in the training, something about which I knew next to nothing. Benny and Bess both decide to reach for the ultimate goal of showing their dogs at Westminster, and I learned so much about the process. It prompted me to do research to learn more. See link below. The ending is bittersweet and I was brought to tears. If you like character-driven stories and you love dogs, you will enjoy this heartwarming story, whether on audio or in print.

The Westminster Dog Show this year takes place from Feb 16-17​. For more information, please visit the site for more information:

To read more reviews, please visit the iRead Tour page.
Note: This book has a G rating and is suitable for all audiences.

Where to buy the book:

About the Author:

Diane Daniels Manning is the co-founder and director of The New School in the Heights, a therapeutic school in Houston, Texas which helps children dealing with social-emotional challenges find success in school and life. She has a Ph.D. in Education and a post-doctoral M.P.H from Harvard and is a practicing child psychoanalyst certified by the American Psychoanalytic Association. Formerly, she was the Director of the Reading and Learning Disabilities Clinic at Tufts University, Lecturer and Research Associate in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard, and Chair of the Department of Education at Tulane University. She learned the inner workings of dog show kennels by writing an authorized oral history of a lifetime President of the Poodle of Club of America. Her writing awards include the Faulkner-Wisdom Novella Prize and the Women in Film and Television Short Script Competition.

When not at The New School, Diane and her writing partners, a Standard Poodle named Misty and a rescue cat named Elvira, convene at the keyboard to share great thoughts and plan the dinner menu.

Connect with her: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

And now for the giveaway!

Prize: ​Giving away 13 copies of Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning (5 print copies - USA only, 5 ebook copies and 3 audiobooks from Audible - international) and one $25 Amazon Gift Card (open international) Ends Feb 20, 2015​

You can also win one $50, $25 or $10 Amazon Gift Card on author’s website. The author will ask a question about the book as an entry.​

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to the author for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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