Funny Farm is the best memoir I’ve read this year. Laurie Zaleski lived in a beautiful house and had a pretty bedroom and lots of toys until her parents split up. Her mother Annie moved them to a shack in the woods and struggled just to put food on the table. But then Annie brought home a dog–and then another. Eventually, chickens and horses joined the family. Pretty soon people were bringing them stray animals. And that was the early beginnings of the Funny Farm Animal Rescue. Zaleski tells a layered and fascinating story of how her mother had the courage to leave an abusive, but well-to-do and popular husband, and start life over with her children and many, many animals. The stories of the animals are interspersed throughout. Some chapters deal with Laurie’s family trials and her father’s vindictive revenge, while others tell beautiful stories of animals who became part of her family. But it is also a story of Zaleski’s life and how she succeeded in business, and then how she made The Funny Farm an official animal rescue.
This is everything you would want in a memoir–completely honest, fascinating, and heroic in more ways than one. It is easy to see in Zaleski’s life how she learned from the courage of her mother and was not afraid to take risks in business and in life. The love for the animals shines through on every page, and each animal rescue story touches the heart. The honesty is always there, whether Laurie is talking about her cruel father or her mother’s bad taste in men. There is humor, grief, love, and shock in these pages. I recommend everyone read the story of the Funny Farm. I guarantee an inspiring experience, and maybe a few tears. I received a free copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
LAURIE ZALESKI is the founder of the Funny Farm, a charitable organization located in Mizpah, New Jersey. Since 2000, the farm has welcomed all kinds of rescue animals. Laurie is also the founder, president and CEO of Art-Z Graphics. She has been named a New Jersey Heartland Hero, is listed in the 2019 Who’s Who of Professional Women, and has received numerous awards and acknowledgments for her work to save animals and educate the public about animal abuse.
Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.
Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.
Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.
But pushing boundaries comes at a cost and not everyone is pleased to welcome Evelyn and Ahmad into fashionable society. With obstacles spanning between them, the indomitable pair must decide which hurdles they can jump and what matters most: making their mark or following their hearts?
I received a free copy of this book from Berkley Publishing via Austenprose Book Tours. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.
Giveaway hosted by Mimi Matthews. No Purchase Necessary. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Open to US residents only. Void where prohibited.
The Giveaway Package:
1 winner (selected at random by Rafflecopter) receives the following:
Signed print copy of The Siren of Sussex
Pewter sidesaddle brooch (made in Sussex, England!)
The Siren of Sussex tote bag
Three candles in scents: Fresh Hay, New Saddle, and Winter Ride
Box of Ahmad Tea (60 count, assorted flavors)
The Siren of Sussex bookmark
The giveaway is open from 12:01 am Pacific time 1/4/22 until 11:59pm Pacific time on 2/7/22.
The winner will be announced on Mimi’s blog – mimimatthews.com – at 8:00 pm Pacific time on 2/8/22.
Fans of Victorian romance will love this first book in a new series, The Belles of London. Using a delightful combination of fashion and horses, Mimi Matthews draws the reader in right away. Evelyn is an incredibly strong protagonist, and her determination to save her family is admirable. The point of view changes between Evelyn and Ahmad, and this makes the book stronger in my opinion. The fine points of Victorian fashion have been well researched, and the author’s knowledge of horses is obvious. Ahmad’s fight to succeed in both business and love in a prejudiced society is well told. The cast of characters is so likable and makes the story even more enjoyable. I certainly hope we’ll be seeing them again in this series. The romance is not rushed or overdone, and the inclusion of horses just puts it over the top for me. The Siren of Sussex jumps all the hurdles and gallops into your heart with a romance that should not be missed.
I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Austenprose PR. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
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