Thursday, March 2, 2017

Early Review: Gizelle's Bucket List: My Life with a Very Large Dog by Lauren Fern Watt

Title: Gizelle's Bucket List: My Life with a Very Large Dog 
Author: Lauren Fern Watt 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Source: Publisher 
Expected Publication Date: March 7th, 2017 
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: The playful, epic adventure of a 160-pound English Mastiff and the twentysomething girl who grew up alongside her—Marley & Me for a whole new generation.

Lauren Watt took her 160-pound English Mastiff to college—so of course after graduation, Gizelle followed Lauren to her first, tiny apartment in New York. Because Gizelle wasn’t just a dog; she was a roommate, sister, confidante, dining companion, and everything in between.

Together, Gizelle and Lauren went through boyfriends, first jobs, a mother’s struggle with addiction, and the ups and downs of becoming an adult in the big city. But when Gizelle got sick and Lauren realized her best friend might not be such a constant after all, she designed an epic bucket list to make the absolute most of the time they had left.

Bursting with charm, this unique, coming-of-age story of a girl making her way through life is a testament to the special way pets inspire us to live better, love better, and appreciate the simple pleasures. Gizelle’s Bucket List is the humorous, poignant lesson our pets teach us: to embrace adventure, love unconditionally, and grow into the people we want to be.

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Because I love dogs and prefer their company to most humans, I couldn't wait to read this story.  But I was afraid that this might be a difficult book to read… turns out, it was an incredibly easy book to love. A wonderfully charming true story about a young woman who struggles with an addict mother, surviving college, making a courageous move with a very large big-boned canine comrade, a new roommate, new job, and soon a new relationship with a sometimes perfect, sometimes not-so-perfect guy. It’s a coming-of-age story about a girl growing up alongside her best friend and the lengths she goes to make sure her best friend’s last days are days to remember and treasure.

The way Lauren Fern Watt wrote her book, just her whole approach, was a perfect way to tell their story.  I felt as though I was hanging out on the couch, listening to her share her life. Lauren is a southern girl who is living in Tennessee – something this southern girl can totally relate to – and she moves to New York – something this girl can totally NOT relate to but loved reading about! The adventure that follows these two girls during that time was so much fun! Ms. Watt injects just the right amount of humor and heart throughout the pages. But when Lauren receives devastating news about Gizelle, one of the ways she copes with her heartbreak is by making her a bucket list. You might have read their story on Yahoo – I remember seeing it and admiring the lengths someone would go to for their beloved furry friend. As Lauren deals with heart-wrenching family issues involving addiction, a breakup, and the last days with her constant companion, she does it with an incredible amount of love and grace.

And the best friend who saw her through it all? Gizelle. A beautiful 160-pound English Mastiff as “enchanting” as her name. I have never loved a dog I never got to meet as much as I love Gizelle. She was absolutely amazing. I related so much to Lauren and Gizelle’s relationship. I have loved and lost several dogs in my lifetime; and though my heart shattered into a million pieces each time I had to say goodbye, I know that my life is not complete without a dog in it. They bring so much joy and that joy along with their unconditional love is worth every tear shed when their time here comes to an end. I am currently owned by a black pug named LulaBelle aka Lulu. She is my constant companion and shadow. When Lauren shares Gizelle’s sweetest moments – like never wanting a door between them, inviting herself into any room or situation to be near Lauren, always having to have a part of her touching a part of her human, and looking at Lauren like she loves her more than anything in the entire world – I couldn’t help nodding and saying loudly, YES! I know this feeling! That’s my Lulu! And when Lulu was diagnosed with cancer… I was gutted. So, yes. There were parts of this book that were incredibly heartbreaking for me to read, and I lost count of how many times I had to lay the book down so I could pull Lulu even closer and shower her with extra kisses and snuggles. But I also found so many pearls of wisdom in what Lauren shared and in her last days with Gizelle. Like Lauren, I will know when it’s time to say goodbye to my best friend; and when it’s time to let her go, I know I’ll turn to this book for comfort so I can be with someone who understands.

I adored the pictures of Gizelle throughout the book, and I found the author’s writing to be so endearing.  Her thoughts on addiction are eye opening, and the lessons she learns from Gizelle are invaluable and heartwarming.  May we all be the kind of people our dogs believe we are. This is definitely a book you need to pick up. Don’t shy away because you think it might make you cry – it won’t! It probably won’t. Fine, I’m lying… it will. But I also found a lot of comfort in its pages and a wonderful adventure that I don’t think any reader or animal lover should miss out on.  

In keeping with the book's theme of sharing pictures, here’s my Lulu: 

 My squish. Tennis ball fanatic. Shadow. 
Lap warmer. Very best friend. 


A huge thank-you to Simon & Schuster for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 
  
© at A Belle's Tales

  

16 comments:

  1. Funny story. I have an English Mastiff AND a pug .. huh
    This looks like a nice, sweet and emotional read. I never heard of it till now but from the sound of it there would be waterworks and that scares me. Mostly because my own English Mastiff is getting up there in age and I think every day is a concern.. heart breaking isn't it? losing pets :(

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    1. Oh, that is funny, Lily - and awesome! It does hurt your heart in parts, but it's so much more than that. It's such a wonderful story! It's a horrible heartbreak when we lose them, but it's worth the joy they bring and the love they give us :)

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  2. I am practically crying reading your review. I have the softest hear when it comes to animals. I am so sorry to hear about Lulu. I know that you will love her until the end and beyond. It has been almost three years since I lost my dog and I miss him every day.

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    1. Thank you for those kind words about Lulu, and I'm so sorry to hear about your doggie. I'm sending all the hugs for you. I'm incredibly tender-hearted over animals as well -- the love that they give us is a priceless gift. *hugs*

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  3. Ah, this sounds wonderful and Lulu is adorable!

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    1. It really is, Kim! There's so much about this story I believe you'd love. Thank you for that -- Lulu says thank you, too ;)

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  4. Anonymous3/02/2017

    this sounds so wonderful, I'm definitely gonna have to pre-order this one. And Lulu is so precious (: Awesome review, Michele -Jamie

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    1. Thank you, Jamie! You'll love this book <3

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  5. Lulu!!! Look at that sweet baby who needs snuggles! Wifey this book sounds like it will destory me in the very best way. I must read it!

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    1. It's a "you book" - I promise. You're going to love it so hard!

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  6. Lulu is adorable!

    This sounds like a powerful and interesting book. I am sure it will make me cry, as my dogs have been some of my very best friends (my last dog passed away suddenly about a year ago). I think the idea of a bucket list for your dog is fun. Thanks for sharing. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your dog, Jess. *hugs* Yeah, it probably will make you cry, but there are some wonderful laugh-out-loud moments as well as warm and comforting ones. Thank you :)

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  7. Awww! Lulu certainly is so cute. I think I'll be adding this to my list. Great review Michele :)

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    1. Thank you, Van! I think you'll really adore this sweet book <3

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  8. Wow, it sounds like this book touched you personally. That's a rare thing. I'm not a pet person so I might never understand, but I can certainly get an idea, from your heartfelt words. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book!

    Have a wonderful week, Michele. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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    1. It really did, Alyssa. And I believe this book has many things that will appeal to readers - even if they aren't pet people. It's a really wonderful memoir. Thank you, and have a great week :D

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