Sunday, August 31, 2014

Book Review ~ Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning

Almost Perfect
by Diane Daniels Manning

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. Visit

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My Thoughts
First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Beltor and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Benny is a special needs child who lives with his father and step-mother.  All he wants is for his dysfunctional mother to love him and spend time with him.  He feels that if he does something ‘big’ with his life, his mother will love him more.  And most of all, he has always wanted is a dog to call his own.

Bess is a seventy-year old who always dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show with her poodles.  Deciding she is now too old to pursue that dream, she closes down her famous kennel. She sells off all of her dogs except for McCreery and his adorable son, Breaker.

When Benny and Bess get together, they realize that together, dreams can come true.

Almost Perfect is one of those books that will leave a lasting impression on your heart – it did mine for sure.  Right from the start, the cover really pulled on my heart strings.  The puppy?  So freaking cute! The story itself was very emotional and touching.  I fell in love with McCreery and Breaker along with the other characters.  I loved that the characters were real.  They had real problems, real emotions and real solutions that anyone can relate to.   I truly enjoyed reading this book and it is one that I would recommend to not only animal lovers, but to anyone looking for a story that is inspirational.

My Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

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About the Author
Diane Daniels Manning was raised in Redding, Connecticut, the setting for her novel ALMOST PERFECT. As a youngster, she rode her bike up and down former cow paths to the Mark Twain Library where she plundered the children's shelves and fantasized she'd grow up to a famous writer like Samuel Clemens.

Inevitably she was educated, taught English and reading in Connecticut, and earned a Ph.D. in Education and a post-doctoral M.P.H. from Harvard. She climbed the tenure ladder and served as Director of the Reading and Learning Disabilities at Tufts University. There she became convinced that special needs children are best helped when equal attention is paid to their emotional and their academic lives. Her Standard Poodle, Bel Tor Mandy, accompanied her to work daily and taught her the therapeutic benefit of animals.

Following an appointment in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard School of Public Health, she moved to New Orleans where she served as Chair of the Department of Education at Tulane and became certified as a child and adult psychoanalyst by the American Psychoanalytic Association. In 2005, she moved to Houston and co-founded The New School in the Heights ( , a therapeutic school for bright children with social and emotional challenges. She continues to serve as Executive Director.

Diane's writing awards include the Faulkner-Wisdom Novella Prize and a Women in Film and Television Short Script Competition. She learned the workings of dog show kennels by writing an authorized oral history of a past President of the Poodle Club of America. When not at The New School in the Heights, she and her writing partners, a Standard Poodle named Misty.
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