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Stay [Hardcover]

Allie Larkin
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 15 2010
Read Allie Larkin's posts on the Penguin Blog.

Something Borrowed meets Must Love Dogs in this big- hearted debut about friendship, love, and a German Shepherd named Joe.

Savannah "Van" Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke ever since she literally fell head over heels in front of him on the first day of college. Now, six years later, instead of standing across from him at the altar, Van's standing behind her best friend Janie as maid of honor, trying to mask her heartache and guilt as Janie marries the only man Van's ever loved. Before, Van's mother died, she told Van never to let Peter go, but as the couple exchanges vows, Van wonders if her fairy tale ending will ever come true.

After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool-Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin Tin Tin, and does what any heartbroken woman in her situation would do: She impulsively buys a German Shepherd over the Internet. The pocket-size puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy, hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, and Van is at the end of her rope... until she realizes that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what.

Van affectionately names her dog Joe, and together, they work to mend the pieces of Van's shattered heart. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Joe's vet is a rugged sweetheart with floppy blond hair and a winning smile. But when the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, Van is forced to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she ever wanted, proving that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it can get better.

Warm and witty, poignant and funny, Stay is an unforgettable debut that illuminates the boundlessness of love and marks the arrival of an irresistible new voice.

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From Publishers Weekly

Penny Arcade is an immensely popular Web comic and, in book form, a perfect example of why Web comics are, well, on the Web. The seven-year-old comic strip revolves around gaming, science fiction and computer humor. The two protagonists, Tycho and Gabe (also the code names for the creators), obsess over video games, new technology and the minutiae of their lives and fantasies. Displaying not a trace of self-consciousness or self-deprecation, the strip's premise is that the creators are the funniest guys in the room. Nearly every joke is told with a wink to the audience and swift elbow in the ribs. The drawing is repetitive, and the strips use none of the graphic effects available online. Instead, they are simple panel sequences. In book form, there are two strips per page, with commentary from the creators. along the bottom. Oddly, Holkins and Krahulik have chosen to print their comics at exactly the same resolution as online, making the actual images grainy, unfocused and simply not up to normal print standards. For a technology-obsessed strip, this is an odd mistake. The humor in Penny Arcade will definitely appeal to its core audience of webheads and gaming addicts. For the rest of us, it is all too disposable. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Forget your warm and fuzzy newspaper strips. Penny Arcade is a scathing send-up of geek culture with jokes sharp enough to injure an eye. Brash, snarky, and sometimes just outright wrong, Attack of the Bacon Robots! is a hilarious heaping helping of the strip. To say that Tycho and Gabe, its, uh, heroes, are -video-game enthusiasts would be like saying that Anakin Skywalker has issues. Console games, handhelds, PCs--there is no format in which these intrepid game-geeks are not willing to risk life and limb to play. While their commentary on the gamer community and their "reviews" of popular game titles are fun, the biggest laughs come when Tycho and Gabe are forced to deal with the real world. If nothing else, Penny Arcade illustrates that there may be times when a well-placed non sequitur can save one's life. Extra, value-adding features include excellent creators' commentary on each strip and a sketchbook section. Tina Coleman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Lydia - Novel Escapes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
If I could recommend only one book to read this summer, it might very well be Stay. There's some stiff competition, but I adored this book from Joe's doggie antics, to Van's journey. This book captured my heart - so much so that I wanted to reach out and wrap my arms around Van at every turn. Stay is about unrequited love, finding oneself and starting over and was wrapped in warmth and humour. It's touching, charming and full of laugh out loud moments along the way. It can't get much better than that with chick lit in my opinion.

I almost finished Stay in one sitting, which is a rarity for me. If I'd started the book an hour earlier I would have, but droopy eyes and not wanting to miss anything forced me put it down. Then I picked it right back up with my morning coffee. I didn't want this book to end and will definitely read it again!

This book was so simply written, yet carried such emotional weight. I was floored by the writing and tried to study it while reading, but would get carried off by the story again and forget I was trying to figure out how Allie Larkin had written it.

I hadn't laughed as hard with a novel as I did when she buys Joe and hadn't connected and routed for a character this much in a while. Van's character, as well as all the others, were so well developed, their motivations and intentions clear and the plot rolled along seamlessly and tugged at my heart strings until the very last word.

Stay hit me the way Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed did so many years ago and if I get around to redoing my Top 10 list, something's getting bumped. I wish I could give it more than a 5 star rating! Don't miss this fantastic debut by Allie Larkin. I can't wait to read more of her and she's now at the top of my must-read list.
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4.0 out of 5 stars adorable! Feb. 13 2014
By Lynne Frappier TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Such a charming story! You go into it thinking it's going to be about a girl, Van, who is in love with her best friend's boyfriend; however the story is more about Van getting to know herself, falling in love with a dog named Joe (how she ends up getting him is hilarious, as are their first few days together), and learning to deal with the loss of her mother. It's about so much more than a love story; it cute and quirky, it's light and exactly what I needed to read. If you are a dog lover/owner you are going to appreciate Van's relationship with Joe. You'll laugh at his antics and you'll just totally get it. Adorable story that left a smile on my face long after I put it down.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  165 reviews
55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sweet and Furry Love Story!! May 1 2010
By Jodi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Being a dog lover, this book immediately caught my attention....although one doesn't need to be a dog lover to enjoy this book, an appreciation for the canine species would certainly help. That being said, here are my thoughts on this book:

I loved it!! Savannah Leone stands by as the maid of honor in her best friends wedding, while her best friend weds the man that Savannah has been secretely pining for for the past 7 years. While she desperately tries to be happy for both of them, this proves to be a difficult task and she drowns her sorrows in vodka and Kool-Aid. One night while watching a Rin Tin Tin marathon and being plastered out of her mind, she goes online and orders a German Shepherd puppy from Slovakia.

Enter said puppy.

The tiny little ball of fur that Savannah ("Van") is expecting turns out to be a hip-high, seemingly mutant version of some sort of wolf hybrid. "Enormous" doesn't quite adequately describe the size of this "puppy". Van is stunned, to say the least, and quickly learns that not only does this dog only understand commands in Slovakian (for wihich the sellers have considerately supplied a list of these commands for the new buyer), but the dog also has been trained to "search the building" and "find narcotics". Ha! Ha! Ha!

The first half of the book is filled with humor as Van tries to adjust to life with a dog (she's never owned a dog in her life) and I found myself frequently laughing out loud as Van rearranges her life to accomodate this overgrown ball of fur. Anybody who has ever owned a dog will surely understand how easy it is to lose all sense of reality when trying welcoming a fluffy, four-legged creature into one's life. Van does a remarkable job and soon grows to love and protect her new charge, whom she names "Joe".

Van's life takes a turn for the better when she brings Joe in to the local vet, Alex, for a check-up (where, by the way, she finds out that Joe REALLY IS a puppy, and is expected to get even bigger!!) Things develop fairly quickly between the two and it seems like Van is ready to move on with her life and leave her troubles behind, and begins thinking that a future with Alex might not be so bad. Then the honeymooners return from Europe and Van is thrown back into her past troubles, this time dragging Alex in with her.

While the first half of the novel was light hearted and filled with humor, the second half has less humor and more reality. Van is still trying to deal with her mother's death three years earlier, and her current troubles with the newlyweds and sudden problems with Alex cause Van to reevaluate her life in a new light.

The characters in this book are very well drawn and we get to really see inside Van's head as she deals with the complexity of life in general, and relationships both past and present, and how some things (despite how desperately we try) simply can't stay the same forever. Life happens, unfortunately, and what one makes of it is the determining factor to how happy one is in life. Be prepared to shed a few tears towards the end of this book.

This is Allie Larkin's first novel, yet it reads as though she's written a dozen or so already. I am thoroughly impressed with her style of writing, and will be keeping my eyes peeled for more of her works in the future.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book for dog lovers! May 8 2010
By Sarah W - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I think in all honesty, this book deserved a more average rating of 3 but I was inclined to go with a 4 out of 5 because I enjoyed meeting Joe and watching a bond grow between Van and Joe, her new "puppy."

Van has been in love with her best friend, Peter, since college. Unfortunately, he has been in love with her best friend, Janie, and now, they have just married. It's a standard chick lit type storyline basically. Van does the wallowing thing and in that wallowing, amidst some alcohol and Rin Tin Tin, she decides to order a German Shepard puppy off the internet. And oh yeah, this puppy is coming from Slovakia. $6,000 later, Van is in for a shock because her puppy is definitely not a cute ball of fur. He is a growing German Shepard who obeys Slovakian commands.

Let the hijinks begin! Joe, as he is christened, becomes the cause for many changes in Van's life, including meeting a new guy. But he is also the best friend she has, her only family. Then of course, Peter comes back into her life. The story then falls into some well known plot points making it fairly average in the will she or won't she, what will she really do, type of chick lit style.

What I liked about this story was the relationship between Van and Joe, even though he is a dog. I enjoyed Marley & Me and well, most dog stories so really, if you don't like dogs, you are not going to like this story. However, I did feel like he helped Van move forward a bit. It was kind of a one step forward, two steps back, but she was trying to change, trying to find her own path in life rather than wishing she was Peter's Janie. And frankly, I really liked how rude Janie was. She wasn't afraid of mincing words. She likes vodka Kool-Aid, she can't believe her dog crapped a huge one on her carpet, and her life is far from orderly. She does not have it all together and I could relate. I thought the author did a great job of conveying the pet/owner bond that springs up and that is what held my attention even as Peter dropped back into the picture, even as Van put her life on hold again. This is probably a more average story than I am giving it credit for but I read through it quickly and was engrossed. It was not a bad way to spend a few hours and I just love the cover. Allie Larkin has caught my attention and I would be inclined to see what other books she may publish.

So in short, this is an imperfect but enjoyable story. And if you like dogs (particularly more happy dog stories) I think you'll enjoy Stay.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable and funny May 9 2010
By AIROLF - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
It would be very simple and convenient to classify Stay: A Novel into the chick-lit genre. It would also be quite easy to dismiss this book as just one more book about a twenty-something woman struggling to find "the one." It'd be easier still to classify this book as that book about the dog who helps a woman find true love.

The fact of the matter is that "Stay" is a book that embodies all three of those characteristics; it's a book that prominently features a dog on its cover and details the circumstances surrounding a woman's acquisition of a dog and her subsequent understanding of who she is as a person.

It would be simple to dismiss this book as being a lesser book because of the aforementioned characteristics. However, that would be a mistake. Allie Larkin manages to embrace those characteristics and, by incorporating them into her first novel, it's as if the author is saying that she knows that this book is meant to entertain. Larkin doesn't want you to dismiss her, yet, she doesn't want to be taken too seriously either.

The story of a woman who accidentally purchases a dog from Slovakia over the Internet and then falls in love with her puppy's veterinarian isn't going to win a Pulitzer Prize, but it's not meant to either. Larkin's debut novel is a quick read, with humor-filled passages. "Stay" belongs on your bookshelf with those rare chick-lit books that you treasure, right next to the other rom-com books that don't take themselves seriously but provide you with hours of pleasurable reading. "Stay" can hold its own on the shelf right next to Helen Fielding's "Bridget Jones" novels and it wouldn't be entirely out of place there.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVED this book! Jan. 24 2011
By Leeshie R - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I really loved this book! I laughed, I cried. I couldn't put it down and wanted to just tear through it, but at the same time, I wanted the story to continue on and on and never end.

In this story, we meet Van, a 20-something woman who never really knew her father and lost her mother a few years back to cancer. Her best friend Janie is marrying her other best friend, Peter - whom Van is madly in love with.

Enter a bottle of vodka, some Kool-Aid, a Rin Tin Tin marathon, and the Internet. Next thing she knows, Van has woken up completely hungover, and comes to the realization that she just ordered a German Shepherd puppy from Slovakia for a mere $6,001. Desperate to have a companion in her life, somebody to fill the void left in her heart, Van learns just what life is like with a (very) large, lovable puppy.

The story that follows is one of unconditional love and learning to let go, while evolving and forging forward into a new life.

Each character is so beautifully drawn and developed - Van, Peter, Janie, Alex, Louis, and even Diane.... Each description is so detailed and expressive - I couldn't help but feel like I was right there with them. The images described are so vivid and real. I genuinely could not put this book down and really hope Allie Larkin continues to write, as I will definitely continue to read!

This is one of the best books I have read in a really long time. After finishing it, I almost want to re-read it over again. The story is both funny and heartbreaking, and the journey you are taken on over these 311 pages is one I won't soon forget!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cupid With A Tail July 5 2010
By Bill Slocum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Savannah "Van" Leone wasn't never NOT a dog person, as she says, she was just never allowed one before. But in an alcohol-clouded funk after literally playing bridesmaid as the boy of her dreams hitches up with her best friend, she puts in a order for a Slovakian hound that proves an answer to her problems.

Allie Larkin's new debut novel showcases a nice wit and a sensitivity for emotional journeys. I'm not the ballpark demographic for this undeniably "chick-lit" novel, but it wasn't painful to read. The characters do come off pat, though, and the plot twists seem little more than people in need of getting over themselves. Van puts up with a lot, and Larkin's effort to keep us sympathetic to her is largely successful if at times strained.

At the heart of Larkin's story is money. Van grew up around it without being of it. Her late mother was a maid for a rich woman named Diane, whose daughter would marry the guy Van wanted. Diane isn't subtle. When introduced to Van's dog, Joe, and told he's from working lines, Diane can't resist: "So he's a working-class dog?" she asks. Pete, the guy Van wanted, likewise is from money, and has parents who all but threw Van out of their house for not being the same, we learn in one long flashback.

Could Van have been made less of a victim without losing the story's punch or appeal? In the beginning, we are introduced to something of an alcohol problem on her part, but it's never dealt with head-on. When neighbors complain about Joe's barking, Van responds by banging on their door and telling them off with ample profanity. It's a cathartic if unconstructive approach to dispute resolution Larkin uses more than once to rally more reader sympathy for Van rather than question what makes her protagonist tick.

Most problematic for me was the constant windfall of goodies that fall into Van's lap. Whether it's a six-figure check or a sweetheart deal for a new house just as her neighbors make more trouble, Van doesn't endure very much in the way of interesting stress, just a bit of uncertainty. Even Joe is pretty manageable despite his enormous size and his only being able to understand commands in Slovak.

Larkin at times reminded me a bit of Nick Hornby, with her offhandedly humorous descriptions and her first-person voice in describing the pain of love. New bits of business keep popping into the corners of the frame, like the bad-taste refrigerator magnets Van collected with her mother, or the thrice-married old bachelor who serves sfogliatelle in his hideously decorated home. Larkin has fun giving her imagination a spin, and it's pleasurable following along.

The story also offers some entertaining characters, and moves along. Larkin writes carefully toward a final catharsis that may keep you from minding how everything turns out alright in the end. Life is like that. Sometimes. The rest of the time, I guess, books like "Stay" offer some compensation.
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