Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Diane Daniels Manning - Almost Perfect - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

An old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminster Dog Show.

Seventy-year old Bess Rutledge has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as one of America’s top Standard Poodle breeders, she has decided she’s too old to hold on to her foolish dream. She sells off all the dogs in her once famous kennel except for the aging champion McCreery and his mischievous, handsome son Breaker. Part of her senses they might have been the ones to take her to Westminster, if only she’d dared to try.

Bess meets Benny, a teenager with mild autism who attends a therapeutic special school, and learns he has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. Benny is drawn into the world of dog shows and becomes convinced he has found the perfect way to win his mother’s attention. If he can win Westminster with either McCreery or Breaker, he just knows she will finally be proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy. . .

Up to 100% of the author’s profits will be donated to charities serving animals and children.

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My Review

I love New Englanders. They're a stalwart people with a stiff upper lip. They don't complain when the going gets tough, instead they put their nose to the grindstone and work even harder. They're resilient, surviving long, harsh winters, always keeping a hopeful eye toward spring even in the midst of a raging blizzard.

That type of mindset best explains the character of Bess in ALMOST PERFECT. She's been experiencing a lot of dark days recently. She's closing her kennel. She's birthing her last litter of pedigree poodles. After that, she's done. She's washing her hands of a lifetime of work. She's doing what no self-respecting New Englander would do - she's quitting.

It turns out Benny knows a thing or two about quitting. He can't even be depended on to empty the dishwasher, never mind train a top prospect dog, but that's what Bess entrusts him to do, much to her chagrin. She can't help herself, she likes the kid. He gets through to her when no one else can. He revives her almost extinguished hope in herself, and in her dogs.

Bess and Benny live in an area steeped in Revolutionary War history that celebrates a bunch of rebel soldiers who took on the greatest military powerhouse of the era, and won. Many would say the American patriots were the biggest underdogs of all time, so it's not surprising when two long shots like Bess and Benny think they can beat the odds when it comes to pulling off a championship at Westminster.

Benny's an unseasoned rookie handler, and Bess is a has-been, a respected one, but a has-been nonetheless. No one thinks that they'll be able to pull it off and score a victory. In the dog show world, things like that just don't happen, or do they? Without giving away the ending, Bess and Benny do make history in their own special way. Between a dog kidnapping and a puppy going through an ill-timed "ugly" stage, the two of them persevere to be champions in their own right - because Benny got Bess to try - and sometimes that's all that it takes in order to succeed.


Almost Perfect can be purchased at:

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $8.99 paperback
Pages: 330
Genre: Pet Fiction
Release: January 29, 2014
Publisher: Beltor
ISBN: 9780578136394
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

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.

Links to connect with Diane:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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  1. Thanks for the review and for looking at Bess and Benny from a different angle! :)

    1. You know me and setting... Gotta love a good New England tale!

  2. I loved your description of the book and its characters within the context of a New England setting. Redding is where I grew up, and though long stints in the South (New Orleans especially), the "never quit" attitude of New England has never left me. I love the South, but New England seemed the right setting for the character of Bess, especially. CityGirl's reference to the "underdog" revolutionary patriots was almost perfect.

    Many thanks for taking the time to understand the book so well.

    1. I can tell New England is in your bones, Diane, and let me tell you I think it was a perfect choice of setting for Bess. It made me understand her right off the bat!