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Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

legallyblonde

This show is based on, and remains faithful to the 2001 film Legally Blonde, which starred Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods. For anyone who is not familiar with the story, sassy Elle Woods is dumped by boyfriend Warner when he goes to study at Harvard, as he feels that Elle is too frivolous for him and he needs a serious girlfriend in order to be taken seriously himself.

Not to be defeated by this setback, Elle decides that she too will enrol at Harvard and win him back. She faces all sorts of challenges when she gets there; classmates consider her to be blonde bimbo and mock her love of fashion (“pink is my signature colour”), and her tutor Professor Callahan doesn’t take her seriously either. She finds a friend in Emmett, an older student who now works for Callahan, and who is the only person who really seems to believe in Elle.

When a murder case comes along and Callahan decides that his best and brightest students will help him defend the accused, Elle must step up to the challenge and prove to those who have misjudged her, just what she is capable of…

I really liked the film and wasn’t sure how it would translate into a musical, but I did expect a lot of fun, and that is exactly what this production was. Lucie Jones was adorable as Elle, and a perfect choice for the part, with a lovely voice. She really had the audience on side from the first scene. I also really liked David Barrett as Emmett. Liam Doyle was very funny as Warner, and I also thought Bill Ward was great as Callahan. For me though, Rita Simons absolutely stole every scene she was in as Elle’s friend and confidante Paulette.

The musical has an original score, so I didn’t know any of the songs, but they were all catchy, and accompanied by some very high energy dancing by the young cast. There was LOTS of pink in this show, with the whole cast wearing pink in the finale. Just like the film, there were some genuinely hilarious moments, beautifully played by the entire cast. For good measure, there were also two dogs in this production – Bruisey the Chihuahua, who is a permanent cast member on this tour, playing Elle’s dog Bruiser. Paulette’s bulldog Rufus is cast from local dogs at every stop on the tour, and in this production, the dog playing the part was simply aDORable!!

Overall, I highly recommend this show – I honestly don’t think anyone could come away from it without a huge smile on their face!

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This book takes the reader through a number of lifetimes experienced by one dog. When we first meet him, he is a stray struggling to stay alive with his mother, brother and sister. After a too-short life, he finds himself reborn as a Golden Retriever who finds a loving home with a young boy called Ethan. Bailey – as Ethan names him – and the boy are inseparable, and Bailey is amazed when at the end of a long happy life, he finds himself reborn again with a another new owner. The story takes us through the dog’s four lives, each one teaching himself new, and each time wondering what his purpose in life really is.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, not least because I am dog crazy…I would have a houseful of dogs, if we only had the space and time to devote to them. I really enjoyed reading about things from the dog’s point of view, and found myself both laughing and feeling sad at different points in the story.

If I’m honest, I would have to say that it’s a lovely story, but the writing is a bit simplistic – however, that might be a deliberate thing given that the narrator is a dog, with of course, a dog’s view of the world. I liked how, especially in the segment where Bailey and Ethan live together, Bailey would describe things that happened without really understanding them, but it was clear to the reader what the situation was.

I’d recommend this book, especially to dog lovers. It’s an undemanding and enjoyable read.

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The subtitle of this book is ‘A Neuroscientist and his dog decode the canine brain’.  Gregory Berns – the neuroscientist in question – has done years of MRI work to help understand how the human brain works, but as a dog lover, he wanted to learn how a dog’s brain works.  After first determining that such a thing could even be done, he and his team at Emory University came up with methods of doing MRI scans on a canine brain.  He leads the reader through the initial idea, right through the various difficulties they had to overcome (for example, from being given the go-ahead to do the experiment in the first place, or  training dogs how to lie absolutely still in the MRI scanner.

The two dogs who participate in the experiment are Callie, Berns’ own adopted mix-breed, and McKenzie, the Border Collie owned by a friend of a friend. Berns describes the scientific aspects of the experiment, including how an MRI works and is used, and while the narrative sometimes necessarily becomes quite technical, it was explained simply enough for someone like me – with not the best grasp of scientific concepts – and didn’t lose me or bore me along the way.

Stories about Berns’ family life and his two dogs – as well as Callie, they have a Golden Retriever named Lyra – keep the story bouncing along, and underline the fact that while he is a scientist, he is also a dog lover, with the greatest respect for their happiness and well-being.  For that reason, he was determined that the experiment should not be detrimental to the dogs in any way, and that they should be allowed to not participate if that was what they chose.

It’s a fascinating study, and the telling of it is engaging and, for the most part, upbeat.  I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in this particular branch of science, but also for any dog lovers.  Very enjoyable.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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As the title suggests, this book tells the story of Edgar Sawtelle, a young mute boy, who lives on a farm in Wisconsin with his parents.  They lead a very happy existence, breeding and training their unique  and brilliant dogs, known simply as Sawtelle Dogs.  However, when Edgar’s Uncle Claude comes to the farm, things change.  The tension between Edgar’s father (also called Edgar and known as ‘Gar’) and Claude is almost palpable, and eventually Claude leaves after a huge argument.  However, when events at the farm take a tragic turn, and Claude insinuates himself into the affections of Edgar’s mother Trudy, our eponymous hero realises that life as he knew it has changed forever, and he takes drastic action to try and make things right again…

Put simply – I loved this book!  It really is all kinds of awesome.  It did start slowly, and in fact up until about 40 pages in, I was considering giving up on it), but I’m so glad that I stuck to it.  It is a modernised retelling of Hamlet, but is also a beautiful and incredible story in its own right.  The characters are so beautifully drawn, and Edgar makes for a superb hero, in that he really isn’t a hero at all – he’s just a frightened boy whose safe world is turned upside down, and he tries to work out what has happened and put right all the wrongs.  Sometimes he makes bad choices, and they come back to haunt him, and sometimes he loses his way, but I found it impossible not to root for him throughout the story.  The characters of Trudy, Gar and Claude were also very well depicted – there is no black and white with these characters; none of them are wholly good and none of them are wholly bad, but by the end of the book I certainly felt that I had got to know them well. 

On teh subject of characters, it’s rare to find a book where dogs’ characters play such a huge part in the storyline, but it works perfectly here.  I fell in love with Edgar’s pet dog Almondine, and loved the short parts of the book that were written from her point of view (in fact, ti was hard not to cry at times).  The relationship between her and Edgar, and the level of feeling between them will be familiar to any dog owner.  While Almondine was more of a pet, the book also talks about the dogs that are raised on the farm, and throughout the story, we get to know some of them very well, and their individual characters also shine through and add to the story.

It is fair to say that the author is a somewhat verbose and ‘wordy’ writer, and often is so descriptive that two or three pages can pass without anything much happening.  But who cares when prose is as enjoyable as this?  The writing is eloquent and often beautiful, and inspired many emotions in me while I was reading this book.

In short, this book is one of those stories that only comes along very rarely – one that lingers in the mind long after you have turned the last page of the book.  highly, highly recommended.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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Todd McCray is a developmentally challenged young man, but he has a happy life with his loving parents, George and Mary Anne, on a farm in rural Kansas. When Todd hears about the local animal shelter campaign to adopt a dog for Christmas, he pesters his parents to adopt a new pet for the yuletide period. It’s not long before Todd starts getting other residents interested in the scheme, and soon the whole community learns a few lessons about giving and sharing.

I loved this book, which I would describe as a fable of sorts.  It is short (176 pages) and a very easy read, which would be suitable for people of all ages. For the Christmas period, it is a lovely festive read which made me feel all warm and mushy!

In his acknowledgements, Greg Kincaid describes himself as a novice to the trade of writing.  If this shows in this book, it is only to good effect.  Rather than wasting time with theatrical and overly dramatic writing, he simply gets on and tells the story.  No spare words are used and none are needed – the story tells itself.

For a comforting read guaranteed to make you smile, this book is ideal – at any time of year.  (There is a film adaptation being made, which I will be watching with interest!)

Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 – not for the writing itself, but for the sheer enjoyment of the story.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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This is a very funny book, which dog lovers especially would enjoy.

Blake, the cross-breed ‘author’ shares his diary with us, which involves romancing other dogs in the park, constantly thinking up new ways to cause mischief and most importantly, taking on the park bully, a pit-bull called Razor. It made me laugh out loud on several occasions – it may be not be a book to make you think too hard, and it won’t change your life, but it will certainly make for a hugely enjoyable read!

Blake truly has a personality (dogality?) of his own – this will come as no surprise to any dog owners – and all of his four legged friends have their distinct personalities too.  Life through Blake’s eyes casts a hilarious light on many situations which will be familiar to humans.

Definitely recommended!

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