Review: A Pug's Tale by Alison Pace + Q&A/Giveaway

by Casee Marie on June 15, 2011 · 36 comments

in Giveaways, Words with the Author

In the year that I’ve had this blog I’ve been presented with many opportunities, but this one absolutely knocked me off my feet. Late last month I was invited to review A Pug’s Tale by Alison Pace, a nationally published author of five novels, one of which I read several years ago: 2008’s City Dog, the story of a writer and her quirky West Highland White Terrier. I was charmed by the novel and marked Alison in my mind as an author to read more of in the future. Funny old world, isn’t it? Having had such a positive previous experience with Alison’s writing, I dove into A Pug’s Tale with the comfort and excitement of visiting an old friend after a lengthy absence.

A Pug’s Tale, the standalone sequel to her 2006 novel Pug Hill, promises Alison’s beguiling wit, an amiable heroine with a smart canine companion, a fascinating mystery and countless insights into the art world as the novel’s story unfolds inside New York’s famed Metropolitan Museum of Art. It floats effortlessly through genres, at once a Chick Lit novel, a cozy mystery and an honest examination of character. And at the center of it all is a wise pug named Max.

Max is spirited, adorable and regularly smuggled into the Met by art restorer Hope McNeil. One night when a pug-centric party is being held in honor of Daphne Markham, the Met’s substantial new donor, Hope decides it’s the perfect opportunity for Max to experience the social side of the museum; what she doesn’t anticipate is that the evening will end with the honoree’s pug being chased into a fountain and a priceless nineteenth century painting stolen, a fake decoy left in its place. Now Hope finds that it’s up to her to solve the mystery and restore the lost painting before she herself becomes implicated in the crime. With the help of Max’s quick intuition, eccentric senior citizen Daphne and cryptic clues from an unseen messenger, Hope works to make sense of her suddenly wild circumstances. In between scavenger hunts throughout the Met and determining the possible motives of her suspicious coworkers, Hope is also struggling to maintain a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend Ben, running into ex-boyfriends in the park and continuing to overcome her once-unrequited crush on the man who is now her boss, events that test Hope and reveal a strength of integrity she may not have known she had.

The charm of A Pug’s Tale is sure to captivate its audience, and Hope’s sharp narrative will have the reader chuckling aloud as she endeavors to organize the chaos of her life and live out her happily ever after. Alison’s writing style is smart, funny and refreshingly original, paired with a story and characters that brim with appeal. Seasoned with fascinating bits of art history and the quirky antics of loveable pug Max, A Pug’s Tale becomes a novel for art lovers, dog lovers and mystery lovers alike.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask Alison some questions about her books, as well. Check out what she had to say:

1. Among the cast of your books are cheerful canines, from Pugs to Westies and beyond. Are the breeds you write about in your novels sentimental for any reason? I do tend to write about breeds I’m partial to. I love pugs, obviously, and terriers, but also a huge fan of mix-breeds, too. Pretty much any kind of dog. I view dogs very much as full characters (in life and in writing) so in the way that I might say, this character is tall and has brown hair and great style, I’ll say, this character is a black pug who is a little overweight.

2. You hold a degree in Art History, a passion you draw on for A Pug’s Tale among other novels. What motivated you to turn to novel writing? I think this is the same for so many writers, but I’ve always loved writing, and for as far back as I can remember I’ve always been writing. But yet in college I caught the art history bug and majored in that. For the decade I worked in the art world, I daydreamed a lot about one day becoming a writer, and eventually I stopped daydreaming. I wrote my first novel, If Andy Warhol had a Girlfriend, while working at an art gallery, about, among other things, working at an art gallery. I’ve written four novels since that one, and the art world has played a role in three.

3. Art restorer Hope McNeil made her first appearance in your 2006 novel Pug Hill. Do you intend to continue writing her story in the future? I do, yes. I love Hope as a character for all her searching and angst and her good heart. And I love Max. I so want to see what happens to them after the last scene of A Pug’s Tale so, as of this writing, I’m hoping they’ll be back.

4. Would you tell us a bit about your experience writing A Pug’s Tale; did you take special trips to the Met for inspiration? I took many, many trips to the Met and to Central Park for inspiration. I walked the routes Hope walked in the museum, in the public museum at least, and my dog and I walked the same routes Hope and Max walked. I like to do that when I can to get a real sense for the sights, sounds, feel of a scene. And the Met and Central Park are my two favorite places in New York so it was a truly lovely research experience.

5. And lastly, many of The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower’s readers are burgeoning writers as well. Do you have any advice for those who have publishing in their sights? Oh, lots! First and foremost, keep writing. Even if it’s just a sentence a day, a note jotted down on a napkin, try to do something every day until you have a first draft. And once you have that first draft don’t be afraid to cut a lot of it and revise, revise, revise. And read: read everything. And start taking a lot of long walks, that’s when the really good ideas tend to come. A dog is a great motivator for that. 😉

And lastly, I’m ecstatic to share the book with two of my readers in a special giveaway. Alison has kindly offered an autographed copy to one of my American readers, and I’ve bought an additional (unsigned) copy for one of you overseas.

giveaway rules

Simply leave a comment with your name and country (example: Casee Marie, USA).
The contest will be closed on Tuesday, June 28th. On Wednesday, June 29th, I’ll randomly select an American winner for the autographed copy as well as an international reader for the extra, unsigned copy.

Happy reading, lovelies! If you want to purchase a copy of A Pug’s Tale yourself or connect with Alison, here’s everything you need:

Buy A Pug’s Tale: Amazon (Paperback, $10.20) Kindle Edition ($9.99) | Barnes & Noble (Nook Book, $9.99)
Find Alison Pace online: official site | blog | Twitter | Facebook

Tremendous thanks go to Lisa Fielack for approaching me with the invitation to receive a free pre-release copy of A Pug’s Tale for review, for organizing this wonderful Q&A and giveaway, and for being such a general pleasure to work with!

Comments on this entry are closed.


Melanie Alexandra June 15, 2011 at 10:27 am

Hah, this book is totally up my alley. I have yet to go to the Met, but I’m hoping my Residence Assistant position at school will allow me to!

Great review Casee! You totally captured the book in a manner that totally caught my attention. The plot sounds so interesting, and it really hits home as I’m a huge dog lover 🙂

SO, with that, here is my entry:

Melanie, USA

Keep up the great work gal!

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Thanks so much, Melanie! I’m glad you enjoyed the review. I think you’d adore the book – it has so many cozy elements that I loved. And the combination of art, NYC and dogs was the perfect equation!

And I hope you get to the Met – especially with the amazing McQueen exhibit happening right now. I’m hoping if I’m in New York before August I can get there, too. Let me know if/when you do!

Heidi June 15, 2011 at 10:53 am

Sounds like a cute book! Of course you know where I live (US)- hehe 🙂

Your dogs are so adorable! Cute photos.

– Heidi

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Ha, thanks, dear! The dogs are such sweethearts, love them both. (:

Juju at Tales of Whimsy... June 15, 2011 at 11:07 am

OMG this sounds so cute. And I LOVE your pups!

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Thanks, Juju! They’re pretty loveable – and so was the book!

Larissa June 15, 2011 at 11:21 am

Hi Casee,

Great review! I have a pug obsession.! They truly are a magical, and fun-loving breed. I grew up with pugs all my life. “A Pug’s Tale” would definitely be a great book to read. I enjoy your writing style as well.


Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Thank you so much, Larissa! I’m glad you enjoyed the review, and it’s sweet that you’re so close to the breed. Very much like Chelsea and I and our little Sheltie!

Kirstin June 15, 2011 at 11:32 am

You are so sweet to think of us non-Americans! I love this review, your writing is amazing and I always read slowly to soak up every word! This is such an amazing opportunity for you, congrats my dear! I also love the photos with your doggies!

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Thanks, Kirstin! I could think of a lot of non-American readers who would love Alison’s writing so I was more than happy to give you all the opportunity! 😉 I’m so glad you enjoyed the review – and thank you especially for taking the time to read it all! I sometimes worry that I get a little too long with these posts so it’s good to know they’re enjoyed. xo

GRIT & GLAMOUR June 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Oh I LOVE these shots of your with your pups! Aren’t they SO. FREAKIN’ CUUUUUUUUUUUUUTE!

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Ha! Thank you, Vahni! I think they’re pretty aware of their level of cuteness. They obviously love being in front of a camera!

stephanie June 15, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Stephanie, USA hehe
wow, this book sounds sooo cute. I’ve never read anything like it & as you may know I am an avid reader hehe. Great review!

btw I love your dogs 😀 so cute! I had one just like your white and brown one when I was younger 😀 His name was Prince. Sadly we had to put him down because he was very ill 🙁
That had to be one of the saddest day’s of my life. I am a big dog lover.

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Hee! Thanks so much, dear. I’m glad you liked the review – it was, of course, a huge pleasure to write!

And I’m sorry you lost your dog. That little one is my Dusty, he was my pet through childhood as well. I’ve had him for almost fifteen years now! He’s been with me since he was just a few months old. The memories you have with a dog will last lifetimes, that’s for sure. xo

Gabrielle June 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Lovely review! This book sounds adorable. I love dogs! Plus, I’ve never read anything like it..

The photos of you and your pups are so cute and real! Are you in your pjs in that one with the striped pants? Haha!

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Thanks so much, Gabbie! I sometimes gravitate away from anything in books or film that involves dogs because they have a tendency to get very heavy emotionally, you know? But Alison writes lighthearted – while still very honest and real – stories that just make me happy. (:

I’m not in my pajamas, I promise! They’re actually the bottom half to a linen pant suit I’ve had for ages, but the top isn’t my favorite so I tend to switch it up a bit with others. They do look like PJs, though!

Bere June 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Casee!!!!! This is an excellent review. Just the kind of book I’d love reading after a hard working day. The storie sounds so cute and from what you write, and from the author’s answers to your question, I can tell that she knows how to write her characters. I don’t speak from experience here, but my common sense tells me that writing about animal characters must be WAY more difficult than writing about human characters (and the latter are *so* hard to pull off!). The fact that the action takes place in the art world makes me even keener on reading this novel. I’m definitely looking for “City dog” and reading that in the meantime!!
Thanks sweetie for another rocking review!! Job well done!
xoxox B.

Bere Parra

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Thank you so much, Bere! I think you’d adore the book, and I completely agree about animal characters. In City Dog she actually changes the first person narrative from the protagonist, the love interest and (on occasion) the dog! It sounds busy, but she made it work so well and the dog-chapters were entirely charming and whimsical. So cute. (:

Bere June 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Oh and YES, totally agree w/Vahni re: the pics of you with the doggies :))) You are looking so gorgeous and they make for an excellent frame for this review. Great idea and very well accomplished!! :))

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm

(Sorry, totally forgot to respond to this in my other reply!) You’re too sweet. I was feeling like that last one was a terrible shot of me, but I couldn’t pass it up for the puppies. I’m so glad it worked out as it did! Baby, the black mixed breed, is so photogenic (as you saw in my vintage post) and she just sits still for however long you ask her to. Dusty, on the other hand, has a very limited attention span. Ironically he’s the fourteen year-old and Baby is only three!

FASHION TALES June 16, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Great review! This seems like an adorable tale, also enjoyed your interview. I really love the picture with you & your doggies. xxoo

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Thanks so much, Madison! I’m glad you enjoyed reading through the interview – I was very grateful that she took the time to answer my questions, of course! And the picture with the dogs is priceless, they look too cute. I look a bit frazzled myself, but that’s okay! Life with dogs, I suppose. 😉

Kirstin Marie June 17, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Wow, that is really exciting..and an excellent review it is! I LOVE the photos of you and your pups. Adorable!!

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Thanks so much, Kirstin! I was very excited about the opportunity. And also excited that the pictures with the dogs turned out!

UN-stitched June 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm

What a great review, Casee! It’s so cool that you’ve had these opportunities! I love her advice to writers, it’s a bit like blogging, isn’t it? As a dog lover myself, I could totally fall for this book, sounds perfect for summer reading.
xo Christine, USA

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Thank you so much, Christine! I’m very lucky to have had these opportunities, to be sure. I do consider it a bit like blogging, yes! I’ve written a few novels, though I haven’t gotten them past the first rough draft, and I sometimes compare the process of writing them with the process of writing blog articles. It’s interesting!

Jamillah June 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm

OMIGOSH! Casee! Your review makes me want to read this book!! I love art, pups and adventure. You also asked Alison such good questions…I am so impressed with your insightful interview. Really really well done!

And yes! Please enter me 😀 Jamillah, USA

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Aww! Thank you so much, Jamillah! I’m so glad to know I did the book even a little justice with my review. And I was incredibly nervous about my questions. That was, of course, only my second author Q&A on the blog and I never feel like I come up with creative questions for these sorts of things!

Carolann June 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Ahhh how did I almost miss this!

FIRST: Carolann … USA
SECOND: I hope I win!!

Casee Marie June 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

I’m so glad you didn’t! I think you’d adore this one. 😉

cam June 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm

awww…what cute images and the Book is such a lovely Giveaway! what to have a dog of my own someday soon! as so fabulous of you for making it open international! xoxo

fingers crossed!

cam June 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm

awww…what cute images and the Book is such a lovely Giveaway! what to have a dog of my own someday soon! as so fabulous of you for making it open international! xoxo

( Germany )

fingers crossed!

Hayley June 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm

This book sounds great 🙂
It’s lovely that you’re letting international readers enter too!
Hayley, England

Nnenna June 27, 2011 at 8:28 pm

I am so jealous of you and your doggies because I want a dog so badly! You’re all super cute together 😀

Nnenna, USA

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