Foodie Friday: Cookbook: EVERYONE IS ITALIAN ON SUNDAY by Rachael Ray

rachael ray cook book dakota definitely use

All of those orange post-its are TONS of pages I have saved for recipes that I want to make.

Hi every furry and human!! Before I turn today’s post over to my Mom, I wanted you to know that YES, I am once again proud to be an Ambassadog for Rachael Ray Nutrish, (stay tuned, my duties will resume SOON and I have some exciting things up my paw that I will be sharing with you), but this post that Mom is writing today was not sponsored by Nutrish.  My furiends at  Nutrish DID surprise Mom with the cookbook last Fall, however, Mom was under NO OBLIGATION to share it with you. Mom is so ecstatic about  EVERYONE IS ITALIAN ON SUNDAY by Rachael Ray:

rachael ray cook book my cover  and because she is a “foodie” to beat the band, there is no way that she was not going to tell you about what in her opinion is, the FINEST, most COMPREHENSIVE, photographically beautiful, heartfelt  and “delish” cookbook that Rachael has penned thus far.

Why does Mom say this? Look below, the photo you will see is just a PARTIAL compilation of Mom’s cookbook collection written by  Rachael Ray.

rachael ray cook book collection mine

And now I will turn the post over to Mom!

Thanks Dakota! Dakota was correct that the above photo depicts only PART of my Rachael Ray cookbook collection. Also missing from the photo are the boxes upon boxes of magazines with Rachael’s recipes.

As I have stated many, many times on Dakota’s blog, authenticity is important to me. It is a pleasure to write about a person/brand that I have been following since many, many years before I ever began blogging.  I began my Rachael Ray cookbook collection so long ago, that I have no clue what year it was, but I recently found a slip from a book signing that I got up at 4:30 in the morning for, on a FREEZING December day back in 2007 (see slip in photo below), where I stood in line at 5:30 in the morning for at least an hour freezing my butt off,  to claim my wristband for Rachael’s book signing that took place that evening.

rachael ray cook book autograph

I nearly died when I was face-to-face with Rachael as she was signing my book for my husband and I. Normally talkative me was beyond tongue-tied. I could say NOTHING intelligible. So much so that the staff at Borders hurried me through the line like the scene from A Christmas Story where Ralphie is pushed down the slide. My “quiet” husband, suddenly became animated and spoke with Rachael (and she responded!) as if they were the best of friends. Go figure….

So, when I tell you that EVERYONE IS ITALIAN ON SUNDAY is what I consider to be the pinnacle of Rachael’s cookbooks  thus far, I KNOW what I am talking about!


In Everyone Is Italian on Sunday, Rachael Ray brings you her long-awaited collection of Italian recipes. From traditional classics to her own twists on Italian-American cuisine, this new book is an essential guide of more than 500 recipes for anyone who wants to bring these favorite dishes into their own cucina.

The above description in NO WAY does this book justice. This hard-cover delight is nearly 400 pages. It is so visually stunning that I do not store mine away with my other cookbooks. I have it proudly displayed on my coffee table.

Inside you will find:

An Introduction

FROM RACHAEL RAY IN  EVERYONE IS ITALIAN ON SUNDAY: “For me, this book is the single most important work of my life. It represents decades of enjoying and working with food and the people I love most in this world.”

Recipes For:


Starters, Salads, and Small Bites


RIBOLLITA from page 72. PHOTO BY FRANCES JANISCH. From Rachael Ray: " What makes my ribollita a bit different from the rest is that I always toast my torn, stale bread until it is deep golden brown, very nutty, and fragrant. Also, I add a rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to the stock or the soup itself. I puree half the beans to give the broth some weight."


Pizza, Calzones and Focaccia

Pasta, Gnocchi, Polenta, and their Sauces







Risotto and Grains


Pork and Lamb

Beef and Veal


rachael ray cook book devil chicken cooked


(My photo, I made this from the book!) The recipe is on page 289 “This is a crispy, spicy chicken that can be served hot, cold or at room temperature” It is FABULOUS!!

Rachael Ray Cook book image 1

CACCIATORE (Hunter-Style Chicken) from page 292 PHOTO BY: FRANCES JANISCH

 (This chicken is the next one that I am planning on making!)







Even Cody wanted to get in on the action!!

Even Cody wanted to get in on the action!!

FROM EVERYONE IS ITALIAN ON SUNDAY “anyone can be an Italian on Sundays, and any day can be made to feel like a Sunday. The magic of an Italian Sunday is in human connections. Food is the great communicator, connecting generations and helping build memories and friendships. It gathers us together and teaches us the importance of sharing not just food, but the best of ourselves.”

“Italian food makes us smile.”

“The meaning of being Italian on Sunday is to prepare food with love, to savor it, and to share it with others, sometimes loudly, always with gusto. Being Italian on Sunday is about bringing out your lust for life and passion for all things:food, storytelling, wine, music, and each other. Being Italian on Sunday is about emotion and finding beauty in every delicious moment of our lives.”

EVERYONE IS ITALIAN ON SUNDAY by Rachael Ray is no ordinary cookbook. There is so much information,  in the recipes themselves, and the tips and snippets that Rachael offers throughout the book,  that I encourage you to linger over it as you would a delicious meal. It’s THAT good!


Publisher: Atria Books

ISBN: 9781476766072


A Book Worth Your Time:Embracing the WILD in your dog by Bryan Bailey

Embracing the wild in your dog_Front



Some time ago, dogs became as interwoven in the American culture as baseball, apple pie and the Fourth of July. In fact, in most households, the dogs have even trumped evolution itself and jumped straight to being four-legged humans where they are adorned with human names, designer outfits and fad diets that would confound even the best nutritionist. In most cases, we’ve granted them our human intelligence and our sacred human emotions as well. They are no longer dogs to us, they’re family! Yet, for all that man has done to carve the wolf from the wild to create a surrogate human, today’s dog is still a wolf at heart and the accompanying instincts borne from such ancestry defines how the dog approaches its world.

The ontogeny of anthropomorphism, where we attach our human traits to our pets, is the most damaging and paralytic problem associated with dog ownership today. Believing in a fairy tale world where dogs possess the same moral consciousness and sense of altruism as attributed to humans has led to a drastic increase in leash laws, dogs being outlawed in a rising number of city and national parks, some breeds being banned in several states, an alarming escalation of aggression to humans, a rising cost in homeowner and business insurance, and a record number of clinically maladaptive dogs.

This book is not a training book. It does not cover obedience topics such as heel, sit, down, stay, and come. Instead, it’s about righting the ship of American dog ownership by changing our perception of our dogs. It is about the author growing up in the Alaskan wild under the tutelage and guardianship of a Special Forces survival instructor who introduced him to the ways of wolves and the similarities they shared with dogs. It is about the wisdom and splendor of nature and the many life lessons she provides. Mostly, it’s about developing a deep understanding of the authors of your dog’s behavior; nature and the wolf. In doing so, you will truly learn who and what your dog really is, and the whys and hows of its behavior. You will learn the tools that nature gave them to survive and coexist in both the mountains and in our homes. You will learn how activating and deactivating natural impulses and mechanisms in your dog will lead to the harmonious existence and the control you always dreamed of.

Most of all, you will come to embrace the wild in your dog and the grace and the peace that is breathed into its acceptance.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of


“When did we lose our way? As a nation of dog lovers, we have become hopelessly lost. We no longer own dogs for pets; instead we own make-believe humans in fur coats, and we treat them as such. In our failure to recognize what it is we really own, we have wandered into a fairy tale existence where we believe dogs and humans reason and act out the same. This belief has left us hurt, woefully confused, and without answers when our dogs act out in ways we don’t expect.”


“That Professional dog training, as an occupation, has no federal or statewide accreditations and no national oversight committee to govern its conduct or to control the vast amount of information that is doled out by its practitioners. Anyone who thinks he or she can train a dog can print business cards, develop a website, and label themselves a professional. There is no formal education, certification, or residency requirements, and to make matters worse, there are no required background checks!”

Photo Courtesy of Protrain Memphis

Photo Courtesy of Protrain Memphis


FINAL THOUGHTS: While I might not have agreed with some of the points in Embracing the WILD in your dog, I DO feel it is a thought-provoking, well-written and a WORTHWHILE read. It caused me to look at some aspects of my dog’s behavior in a different light. I might not choose to “control’ my dog’s behavior in some ways that were “inferred” in this book, but it DID cause me to THINK and that makes it a valuable and important read. I might not share some of the opinions stated in Embracing the WILD in your dog,  but I have enormous respect for the amount of research/experience that Author Bryan Bailey has that led to the writing of a book that held my attention from the first page until the end.  (158 pages).  Embracing the WILD in your dog will definitely give you things to think about, and just might cause you to throw some pre-conceived beliefs fed to you by various pet industry “experts” right out the window. I encourage you to pick up a copy and decide for yourself.

VISIT BRYAN BAILEY’S NEW WEBSITE by clicking on the photo below:




Raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, Bryan Bailey grew to appreciate the wildness of the land and its abundant wildlife. In particular, he developed a fondness for the gray wolves that roamed the vast mountain ranges and forests near his home. Under the guidance of a Special Forces Survival Instructor, he spent years studying the social interactions of wolves in their packs and discovered that, beyond obvious physical similarities, there were also
behavioral similarities between the wolves and the sled dogs that were his family’s pets.

Bryan has traveled to Europe, Africa, the jungles of southeast Asia and the remote regions above the arctic circle in his lifelong pursuit of studying social predatory behavior with an emphasis on how instinct, passed from the gray wolf, has affected the behavior of our domestic dogs.

Served in the United States Navy 1977-1993. As a member of the elite bomb disposal team, Bryan served as a trainer and supervisor for the highly classified U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Projects, “Short Time”, an enemy combatant swimmer/diver detection and neutralization program utilizing dolphins; “Bottom Look”, an enemy mine detection and neutralization program utilizing dolphins; and “Quick Find”, a ASROC (Antisubmarine Rocket) and SUBROC (Submarine Rocket) detection and recovery program utilizing sea lions.

Graduated from ProTrain Professional Dog Trainer’s Academy. Earned designation as a Master Trainer in the areas of Obedience, Personal Protection and Narcotics and Explosive Detection. 1987-1990

Owner, Canine Companions, Inc., Bloomington, Indiana. Professional dog training, boarding, and veterinary hospital. 1993-2012

Supervised the Monroe County Sheriffs Department police K9 narcotics detection, criminal apprehension, and search and rescue teams. 1995-1998

Advisor to DAD/DAC (Dogs Against Drugs/Dogs Against Crime) and USPCA (United States Police Canine Association). 1995-2000

Selected by Indiana Department of Health and Social Services to train service dogs for children with Muscular Dystrophy. 1998-2004

Interned at Ely, Minnesota International Wolf Center and studied wolf behavior under the instruction of renowned wolf ethologist, L. David Mech. 1998-1999

Interned at Battleground, Indiana Wolf Park and studied wolf behavior under the instruction of renowned wolf ethologist, Erich Klinghammer. 1999-2000 and 2002-2003

Achieved certification as a Veterinarian Technician. Provided assistance with canine exams, lab work and performed anesthesia during surgical procedures at Canine Companions Veterinary Hospital. 2003-2010

Studied hyena and lion social behavior at the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya Africa, Hyena Research Project. 2006

Studied Hyena social behavior, Uganda, Africa. 2007

Studied wolf behavior, Denali, Fairbanks and Brooks Mountain Range, Alaska. 2006-2010.

Co-owner, ProTrain Memphis, LLC. and Taming the Wild, LLC. 2012-present

With over thirty years of education and experience studying wolves and other predators, Bryan has become a Master at understanding how nature has influenced the inner workings of the canine mind. Taking his cue from nature, Bryan utilizes her lesson plan to shape the behaviors in our dogs that are necessary for them to conform to our human existence. By doing this, and accepting the dog for the domestic wolf that it is, Bryan produces a dog that responds to his owner’s commands with not only steadfast reliability, but with the spirit and vitality of the wolf.

Bryan Bailey  is married to Kira Bailey and resides along the banks of the Mississippi River in Memphis, TN.

I was not compensated for this review. I was sent a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my always honest review.





Book Feature/Give-Away: Reporting for Duty, Profiling Disabled Veterans and Their Service Dogs, By Tracy Libby

FROM DAKOTA’S DEN: Due to conflicting personal issues/time constraints, we were unable to finish reading Reporting for Duty at the time we were scheduled to do a review.  Reporting for Duty has been featured numerous times in the pet blogging circuit as well. As a result, we have chosen to do a BOOK FEATURE rather than a “review.”  The information we are sharing in this “feature”  was sent to us by the publisher. It is our pleasure to share this touching, informative and gorgeous book with you. It is one you will want to keep on your coffee table for your pleasure and that of your guests.  Don’t miss a chance to win a copy at the end of this post. There will be THREE winners and the give-away is open world-wide.

Reporting for Duty Cover Don Burk courtesy Florida Times Union

Reporting for Duty Cover Don Burk courtesy Florida Times Union

A Portion of the Proceeds Will Be Donated to Veterans Moving Forward

Reporting for Duty,  is a new book by award-winning author and photographer Tracy Libby, who profiles 15 disabled veterans from WWII, Vietnam, both Iraq wars and Afghanistan.  The comprehensive book details how these brave military men and women who served our country are overcoming obstacles with the help of their service dogs, some of which saved their lives.


In writing Reporting for Duty, Libby sought out veterans with a wide range of physical and emotional challenges with one thing in common: a skilled, reliable and loyal service dog by their side.  It features how the dogs are selected, trained and socialized before being matched with their veteran partners and a background on assistance dogs, guide dogs, PTSD dogs and emotional-support dogs, as well as the history of canine-assisted therapy.

Reporting for Duty Page 6 Page 6 Shelley Castle Photography

Reporting for Duty Page 6 Page 6 Shelley Castle Photography


The book also covers the many service-dog training organizations and the dedicated people who are determined to help those who fought for our nation regain their mobility and independence.


According to a RAND Corporation September 2014 study, more than 540,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD and/or depression, and more than 260,000 veterans have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)—and these numbers do not count the veterans from other wars, from peacetime service, or with other physical injuries, illnesses, or diseases that could benefit from service dogs. 


We decided to publish Reporting for Duty to emphasize the urgent and desperate need that our veterans have for service dogs and the importance that needs to be placed on supporting them,” said Christopher Reggio, general manager, I-5 Press.  “We hope that these 15 powerful stories of hope and empowerment will inspire others to get involved and give back to those who served our country.”


Chief Master Sgt. Richard Simonsen hugs his service dog, Yoko, while on a walk. Simonsen lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) he endured on a deployment to Afghanistan and the service dog helps him with his daily activities. PTSD can occur after one has been through a traumatic event.

Chief Master Sgt. Richard Simonsen hugs his service dog, Yoko, while on a walk. Simonsen lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) he endured on a deployment to Afghanistan and the service dog helps him with his daily activities. PTSD can occur after one has been through a traumatic event. Reporting for Duty Photo on page 8 taken by Senior Airman Christina Brownlow courtesy United States Airforce


Reporting for Duty includes the following sections:

  • PTSD, TBI and MST
  • Prison Puppy Programs
  • Guide Dogs
  • Therapy Dogs in History
  • Combat and Operational Stress-Control Dogs
  • Canine Co-therapists
  • From Shelter to Service
  • How Dogs Read Us
Kai, a service dog, lays on the lap of Staff Sgt. August O'Niell during an Air Force wounded, ill or injured warrior sitting volleyball practice at the Joint Base Andrews West Fitness Center, Nov. 18. O'Niell, a pararescueman, was wounded in July 2011 during a deployment to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Brian Ferguson) Reporting for Duty page 208 Mat Hayward Shutterstock

Kai, a service dog, lays on the lap of Staff Sgt. August O’Niell during an Air Force wounded, ill or injured warrior sitting volleyball practice at the Joint Base Andrews West Fitness Center, Nov. 18. O’Niell, a pararescueman, was wounded in July 2011 during a deployment to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Brian Ferguson) Reporting for Duty page 208 Mat Hayward Shutterstock

Reporting for Duty brings to light the valiant veterans and first responders who are brave enough to seek help and no longer hide but become visible in society again as they make remarkable progress in their recoveries,” said Karen Jeffries, commander, US Navy, retired, co-founder and president emeritus, Veterans Moving Forward, Inc.

Reporting for Duty by Tracy Libby is available  wherever books are sold.

About the Author
Tracy Libby
is an award-winning writer and photographer whose work has won multiple awards from the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) and the Alliance of Purebred Dog Writers (APDW). She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon and has been writing about pet care for more than two decades. Her articles have appeared in mainstream magazines, including Dog Fancy, Modern Dog, Dog World, Puppies USA, Dogs USA, and the AKC Gazette, as well as online for Embrace Pet Insurance. She lives in Oregon with her husband, five cats, and five Australian Shepherds. She has been involved in the sport of dogs for nearly three decades, exhibiting her Aussies in agility, conformation and obedience.

Reporting for Duty
by Tracy Libby
Hardcover with Jacket
Pages: 240
9 ¼ X 10 ¼ inches
More than 190 full-color photographs
$29.95/$37.50 CAN
ISBN:  978-1-62008-198-3
EAN: 978-1-62008-198-3-52995
UPC: 7-31360-88198-4



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About Veterans Moving Forward

Veterans Moving Forward is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operating mainly in the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing therapy and service dogs at no cost to physically and mentally challenged veterans of the US Armed Forces. VMF is unique in its model by providing canine support and a full range of services (from dealing with post-traumatic stress to adjusting to loss of limbs or immobility) to meet the dramatic unfulfilled needs of our nation’s deserving veterans of any branch of the American military from any generation, campaign, or peacetime service. These disabilities may have been acquired either during military service to our country or through an accident or illness incurred in private life following that service.


About I-5 Press
A division of I-5 Publishing, I-5 Press publishes beautifully illustrated, high-quality trade and gift books in categories such as dog, horse, reptile, pet care, farm and rural lifestyle and transportation. For more information, visit I-5 Press on Facebook at

101 Doggy Dilemmas by Tony Cruse Book Review-Give-Away

“Your dog should cause you to smile

at least once a day!”

Dakota makes me smile TONS of times per day and I am sure that your dog(s) do too! We all love our dogs, right? When they are at their best and most obedient and loving, life couldn’t be better, The doggy kisses, the look of love that emanates from their eyes, their cuddly natures. But, like people, sometimes those we love most behave in ways in which we think they have lost their minds . We often stop and wonder:

“Why does my dog do that?”

Today, I am happy to present  a book to you that just might give you some of the answers you are looking for!

101 Doggy Dilemmas Cover

I know, there are tons of articles, blogs and books that answer some of the same questions, but this book is written in a way that will enable you to get your answers without wading through a ton of scientific mumbo-jumbo.

Based on the questions expert dog trainer Tony Cruse has been asked in his hundreds of dog training consultations and on his many radio appearances, this practical book provides a host of answers & advice to help you understand your canine companion better.

When Dakota first became a part of our family in 2007, I had never had any pets other than cats, (other than when my family had a Boxer when I was a little girl. I was so young, that nothing that my parents did to work on her exuberant behavior was absorbed into my undeveloped pea brain). Even as an adult, not being as dog attuned as many of my readers, there were things that Dakota did (and still does), that left me bewildered and baffled.

From Tony Cruse:

“I wanted to create a definitive book about those confusing dog behaviours that was simple, clear-cut and entertaining alongside its value as a reference text, I quickly learned that most owners have hundreds of questions about why their dogs do certain things, so I decided to compile the most common into something I could share with the world.”

“Dogs are much more complex, thoughtful and compassionate creatures than most think, and I really feel that this book showcases the depth of their personalities. I hope it helps owners understand, interact with and ultimately grow closer to their dogs – while giving each animal an opportunity to finally have his or her voice heard!”

101 Doggy Dilemmas is arranged by easy-to-find topics. You will discover the reasons behind many of your dogs behaviors that make you want to tear your hair out. Some of the behaviors that I needed answers to and tips to prevent, (and found!) were:

Why does my dog bark at the postman?

Why does my dog steal shoes? 

Why does my dog pull on the lead?

Why does my dog chase cars?

Why does my dog howl when I’m not there?

(Note about the  howling question above. Dakota does not do this, but there were two other dogs who used to live in our building that did this for HOURS on end. It became extremely annoying and troublesome.)

Why does my dog lick me all the time? This one is a personal fave. A self-professed “cat person”, (ok folks,  I LOVE my dog and other dogs, but I will confess, sometimes they are just too “in my face” for me. It Doesn’t make me love my dog any less, I’m just keeping it real here!) By reading the “why” I learned that:

Our soft skin has a salty taste that our dogs may like. It also usually gets a reaction which maybe as subtle as a laugh. This reaction encourages the licking next time. And so the dog’s routine greeting becomes a happy licking-fest. It is also thought that licking is a pacifying action, often seen when puppies lick their mothers’ mouths. 

This was something I had never known! In reference to this question, and all 100 other questions in 101 Doggy Dilemmas, you will have an explanation, followed by Tony’s “Quick Tips” to help change/re-direct the unwanted behavior. All of the tips are humane, loving and caring.

So what is the solution to the above behavior? You will have to read the book to find out.

A sampling of other  questions that are included:

Why does my dog cower from people trying to pet him?

Why does my dog bark at other dogs?

Why does my dog follow me everywhere? 

The last question I am going to post will be of interest to many readers who blog or need to photograph their dogs for other reasons: Why does my dog not like his photograph taken?  I often read the blogs of many bloggers whom I admire and I marvel at the incredible photos that are consistently taken that show posing dogs, dogs in different scenarios with props, training photos, etc., and I think, “Why does this not work for me?” Well, in reference to myself there are TONS of reasons as to why, but in 101 Doggy Dilemmas, Tony Cruse offered some logical tips that just might change things around! I know many of you already know these tips, but for those who are still baffled about how to get your dog to cooperate during photo sessions, there IS hope!

I give 101 Doggy Dilemmas a resounding 4-paws and 2-human hands raised high with a few barks thrown in for good measure!




Visit the official website for 101 Doggy Dilemmas

GIVE-AWAY!!!!  TWO OF MY READERS WHO ARE 18 AND OVER AND WHO RESIDE ANYWHERE IN THE USA AND EUROPE!  will each win a copy of 101 Doggy Dilemmas!! (An approx $12 value).  Entering is easy-peasy!!! Just enter on the rafflecopter below and be sure to complete the MANDATORY requirement! Good luck!!

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Tony is full-time dog trainer who also advises on a variety of canine behaviours. He writes for various magazines and appears frequently on a number of radio stations. He writes in a simple and clear style which appeals to pet dog owners in these busy times. Visit Tony’s website here.


In full disclosure: I was not compensated for this review/give-away. I was sent a copy of 101 Doggy Dilemmas in exchange for my always honest review.





Book Review/Give-Away: SIT! STAY! SPEAK! by Annie England Noblin

FROM THE PUBLISHER: 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. Ever determined, Addie is set out to unravel a secret among this curious town, even if that means confronting some big names.



But most surprising of all, she has a dog. Not any dog, but Felix–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.

A touching novel of friendships, memories and quirky southern charm, fans of Alice Sebold and new readers alike will be transfixed by Noblin’s writing, and inspired by her real life rescue stories.

FROM DAKOTA’S DEN: SIT! STAY! SPEAK! exposes the sad reality of breed discrimination and dog-fighting vividly and for me, in a realistic and disturbing way. Disturbing because these archaic practices are still prevalent throughout our country.

“Author Noblin was compelled to write her novel after spending a year teaching in the Delta of Arkansas. She worked in animal rescue there during the same time the animal control facility was shut down due to city budgets. This act resulted in releasing all of the stray dogs into the national forest, which added to the issue of stray animals in the city. A few concerned citizens began a Humane Society, and Annie joined in and never looked back. It was the first time she worked with severely abused animals and there are so many animals that Annie will never forget working in her ten plus years of rescue.”


Annie England Noblin is an obvious dog lover which is what I loved most about SIT! STAY! SPEAK! I was less enthused with the main characters (Addie and Jasper), for me, they weren’t overly likable, that is my opinion and many might disagree. I found much of what took place between Addie and Jasper (and there is some lusty stuff in here!), to be a bit unrealistic, (could that be because I am in a much different stage of life than many who will read this book?  I viewed some of Addie’s actions with Jasper  as being foolish, you will have to read the book to see if you agree).

I do agree that Annie’s “portrayal of life in this part of the United States as seen through the eyes of an outsider gives an authentic take on small town southern culture–and a place where outsiders are few and far between.”

SPECIAL BONUS: There are tons of delicious regional foods mentioned in SIT! STAY! SPEAK! and the recipes can be found in the back of the book. I am looking forward to trying a number of them.

DAKOTA’S DEN FINAL THOUGHTS: If I zero in on the fact that there is an obvious love of dogs (specifically Pit Bulls), in SIT! STAY! SPEAK!  and a deep appreciation for the customs of this part of the country (and for antique buildings/furniture), I feel it is a worthwhile read. It definitely DID capture my interest. Will you find some parts of the book disturbing and difficult to read? YES. Are some important issues brought to light in reference to dogs, dog fighting/breed discrimination? YES. Are Addie and Jasper’s personalities dry and boring? (and their relationship somewhat unrealistic?), YES…but don’t let my opinion about them deter you from purchasing this book, pick up a copy and decide for yourself. PURCHASE WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and four rescued bulldogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English full-time for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. 

GIVE-AWAY! The publisher has generously offered to give away THREE COPIES of SIT! STAY! SPEAK! by Annie England Noblin, to my readers who are 18 and over and who reside in the U.S. (A $14.99 value). Entering is super easy! Just enter on the Rafflecopter below!

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In full disclosure:I was sent a complimentary copy of SIT! STAY! SPEAK! in exchange for my always honest review.

Book Review/Give-Away: House Trained, A Novel by Jackie Bouchard

It is with great joy that today I am featuring the THIRD novel by Author Jackie Bouchard:

Click to visit Jackie's Author website!

Click to visit Jackie’s Author website!

I have been eagerly awaiting this novel because I am a HUGE fan of Jackie’s writing. I have had the pleasure of reviewing both books that preceded House Trained (if you click on the titles below they will take you to my reviews of each):

What the Dog Ate

Rescue Me, Maybe

When I reviewed What the Dog Ate, I had mentioned I felt as if I had just shared some “girl” time with a friend, I felt the same way when I read House Trained.

Jackie Bouchard has a talent for creating leading characters that, well, I would LOVE to be friends with.  The leading characters are believable, often possess a dry sense of humor, they are likable and slightly flawed, just as we all are. Jackie’s writing style is casual, the conversations between characters flow, and her description of each and every character who is prominent in House Trained (as well as all of her books), feel as if they ALL exist. I can visualize them perfectly in my mind.

I sat down to begin reading House Trained the night after the unthinkable happened in Paris, (ironically Paris was a favorite city of Alex and Barry the leading characters in House Trained):

“I have a vintage travel trunk at the end of the bed, and a stack of old leather suitcases-my favorite thing in the room-forms a nightstand. A replica of the Eiffel Tower sits on the corner of the desk, and silver frames, filled with black-and-white photos of our tenth-anniversary Parisian getaway, stand out on the white shelving.”

—-and to be honest, I was so sad, that I wasn’t in the mood to read.

House Trained turned out to be EXACTLY what I needed. Light, but not “light” in a simpleton sense, just light enough to escape for two nights and  escape the horrors taking place in the world around me. Like What the Dog Ate and Rescue Me, Maybe, House Trained is another book where I grabbed my comforter, my coffee, a bag of chocolate covered almonds, and just nestled into the welcoming arm of my couch, ready to meet some new friends.

When I read the first sentence:

“This morning I overheard my husband talking to his penis”, I smiled and said to myself,Ohhhh, THIS is gonna be GOOD!!!!” I was sooo right!

FROM THE PUBLISHER:Alex Halstad, a childless-by-choice interior designer and dog mom, is a true perfectionist. But her orderly life turns chaotic when the teenage daughter her husband, Barry, never knew he had shows up on their doorstep…with a baby girl of her own in tow. While Alex’s dog enthusiastically welcomes the new arrivals, Alex struggles with the loss of her steady routine. She desperately needs peace and quiet to get her business back on track before Barry finds out she’s spent most of their savings. Meanwhile, the arrival of the girls stirs up old insecurities, and Alex can’t help but worry that Barry’s ex will make an entrance too. With her tidy life a distant memory, will Alex be able to learn from her dog the true meaning of love and acceptance?
From bestselling author Jackie Bouchard comes a humorous and heartwarming look at how life creates opportunities to love in surprising ways.

There are so many things that I love about Jackie’s writing. One of them being that I can’t immediately figure out what is going to happen next, as I can with many other books. Often what I think is going to take place, doesn’t, and what DOES, is so much better than what I would have thought would have happened!

Let’s not forget dogs….

Jackie’s love for dogs and her vast knowledge of them is obvious in all of her books. She takes the best qualities of our canine pals  and makes us mere humans wish we could be more like them. House Trained DOES feature a dog, but the book isn’t just about a dog. It is about the complex  relationships that those who are a part of the dog’s life, are going through each and every day.

House Trained resonated with me on a personal level as well, I am also “childless” (I do have two grown stepchildren), and some of Alex’s secret feelings about her husband’s newly discovered daughter and granddaughter are feelings that hit close to home for me as well. Throughout the book Alex states numerous times why dogs are so much easier and better than raising kids, and to help her cope with the discomfort of having a baby around, she would  summon her comfort zone in her mind…dogs…comparing dog behavior to that of babies:

“Babies. In terms of exploring their world, they’re a lot like dogs at this age, using their mouths to experience new things.”

but at one point her opinion changed and was stated in a laugh-out-loud funny way:

“Hmmm. This is one way babies are better than dogs–easier to dry off when they’re sopping wet. But with a dog, guidance counseling” only involves a leash.”

What makes Jackie Bouchard’s writing unique, in my opinion is, that many authors who write about dogs, merely write about DOGS. They have a marvelous understanding of DOGS but their understanding (or inclusion of), interesting HUMAN characters falls short. Jackie Bouchard not only has a superb understanding of dogs, but she understands HUMANS, (the  quirks that couples have that nearly every couple can relate to, the quirks that  make us want to peek into their world, voyeurs that we are!). The insecurities that women of all ages have, but that are  normally only shared with our close friends. Everything from our looks to our jobs, our homes, sometimes those that appear to “have it all together” are the biggest “messes” of all. Regardless of the “messes” that many of us are, and create in our lives, Jackie Bouchard GETS that our canine companions remain the most loving, accepting, and judgement-free of all. Jackie Bouchard GETS PEOPLE AND DOGS. She GETS how they think and feel and writes in a way that will resonate with all of us.

YOU want to make some new friends, don’t you?

RUN!! Don’t walk, to get this one…NOW!

House Trained would make the PERFECT gift for a sister, Aunt, Mom, dear friend, dog lover….you get the idea! You can purchase House Trained:

On Amazon (e-book, paperback or audiobook)
On B&N (only paperback or audio)
On Jackie’s website
On Jackie’s  blog

Photo "stolen" from Jackie's website! Click to visit!

Photo “stolen” from Jackie’s website! Click to visit!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jackie Bouchard, a USA Today bestselling author, writes what she calls Fido-friendly fiction:humorous and heartwarming stories about women and the dogs that profoundly impact their lives. Bouchard has lived in Canada and Bermuda and now lives in San Diego with her husband and dog. 

YOU CAN ALSO ENTER OUR GIVE-AWAY!! Jackie is offering one of our readers who is 18 and over and who resides in the U.S. and/or Canada the chance to win a copy of House Trained! Entering is easy! Just enter on the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway






In full disclosure: I was not compensated for this review/give-away. I was sent a copy of House Trained in exchange for my honest review.