10 Christmas Cookies with 5 Ingredients or Less

I love baking cookies for the holidays, but one of the most stressful elements of holiday baking is buying all the ingredients.  Frankly I don’t have room to store 5 bags of flour, 4 bags of sugar, and 10 sticks of butter…however, there are some tasty cookies you can make using only a handful of ingredients!

Not only are these great for holiday baking, but 5-ingredient or less cookies are also great for clearing out your baking cabinet to make room for new ingredients.  Some of these are even no-bake recipes, so you can make several batches without overworking your oven.

Easy to give as gifts and make for family and friends, these quick and easy cookies will help you hack your holiday baking!

10 Christmas Cookies with 5 Ingredients or Less

  1. Shortbread Cookies
  2. Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies
  3. Pecan Bars
  4. Oreo Cheesecake Cookies
  5. Oatmeal Cookies
  6. Buckeyes
  7. Chocolate Chip Cookies
  8. Coconut Cookies
  9. Monster Cookies
  10. Almond Florentines

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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21 YA Books that are Actually Worth Reading

OK it’s time to get real for a sec…I’m so sick of sappy YA novels. HOW MANY MORE WAYS CAN WE TELL THE SAME STORY, PEOPLE?  I know I’m unique in my views on YA literature and I know a lot of you bookworms actually really love YA books and I think that’s awesome! But if I have to read one more book about a teen dying of cancer or losing the love of their life, I’m just gonna lose my damn mind.

What I DO love are YA books that are honest and real. Books that put it all out there and make you uncomfortable and make you question your beliefs. Books that talk about things like race, gender, religion, and friendship in a way that feels relatable, not sugar-coated. Not everyone comes from a broken family…hell, not everyone even has parents and siblings. We all don’t get the chance to tell that guy from homeroom that we like him…and not all of us can relate to the “popular” click that so often rule the school.

Throughout my years as an English student, I’ve read my fair share of YA lit…and I’ve gotta tell ya, a lot of it was rough…but there were a few books that really stood out to me as novels that were relevant and important. These books taught me something and made me think…some even pissed me off. Some were just a delight to read and are on this list just because I firmly believe their existence makes the world a better place.

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So if you are one to dive into YA lit now and again, I highly suggest you check out some of these titles if you haven’t already. What other books should make this list? Let me know in the comments below!

21 YA Books that are Actually Worth Reading

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
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The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
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The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton
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The Giver, Louis Lowry
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The Hunger Games Series, Suzanne Collins
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Lord of the Flies, William Golding
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The Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling
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HOLES, Louis Sachar
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The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
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To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
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Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
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His Dark Materials Series, Philip Pullman
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Wonder, R.J. Palacio
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The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
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A Separate Peace, John Knowles
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A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne
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Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
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Watership Down, Richard Adams
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Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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The Family Stone: Where Are They Now?

While several holiday movies can bring a tear to my eye (A Charlie Brown Christmas, ami right!?), there’s only one that makes me break down and weep like a disturbed child…

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THE FAMILY F*CKING STONE.

If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s totally worth seeing…but I urge you to have the following on hand:

  1. Tissues
  2. More tissues
  3. EVEN MORE TISSUES
  4. All the comfort food to warm your soul
  5. Coffee (THEY DRINK SO MUCH COFFEE IN THIS MOVIE)

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I can’t watch this movie more than one time during the Christmas season, but it’s still one of my favorite holiday flicks.

With an all-star cast (Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Claire Danes, Craig T. Nelson, Luke Wilson), this movie doesn’t skimp on amazing acting performances. It’s sad, it’s happy, it’s bittersweet in that holiday-magic-Christmas-movie kind of way…and, maybe most importantly, it’s relatable.

Since it’s the holiday season, I will commit to watching The Family Stone ONCE, and I fully expect a plate of mac and cheese and double-stuffed OREOS when it’s over.

Now celebrating it’s 12th year as one of the must-watch holiday movies, The Family Stone is bound to become a holiday favorite…so let’s dive in and take a look at what this cast of characters has been up to recently…

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The Family Stone: Where Are They Now?

Sarah Jessica Parker (Meredith Morton)

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Probably best known for her role as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker has been acting in movies and TV since she was a child. She spent a good portion of her years after SatC on stage…and in 2005 made her return to film after a hiatus from Hollywood in the movie, The Family Stone. Parker actually received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy for her role as the uptight Meredith Morton. Parker went on to guest-star on Glee in a role very similar to the one that put her on the map. Currently Parker runs her own production company, Pretty Matches, which has been creating content for HBO and other channels since 2009. The company is currently running a web series called “City.Ballet”, which takes viewers behind the scenes with dancers of the New York City Ballet. In 2017, Parker announced that she will be partnering with the American Library Association to create Book Club Central, a new online platform that will provide reading resources, including recommendations, expert-curated book lists, and other content for book clubs and readers. Parker will serve as the honorary chair and will choose the books for the platform, as well as post discussion topics.

Rachel McAdams (Amy Stone)

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Rachel McAdams is a product of the great land of Canada. After getting her start in Canadian TV, McAdams made the jump to Hollywood around 2004 with her landmark roles in Mean Girls and The Notebook. After her work as Amy in The Family Stone, she was hailed by the media as Hollywood’s new “it girl”, and received a BAFTA nomination for Best Rising Star. After a brief brak from acting, McAdams came back with powerhouse roles in True Detective and Spotlight, a role which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. In 2017, she appeared in the film, Disobedience and you can see her again in 2018 in the film, Game Night, which is a murder mystery party-style thriller that will also star Jason Bateman.

Diane Keaton (Sybil Stone)

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No stranger to the screen and stage, it’s no surprise that Diane Keaton blew us away with her portrayal of Sybil Stone in The Family Stone. The role earned her a Satellite Award nomination. For the rest of the 2000’s, Keaton did a handful of rom-com’s and comedies that all earned medium success. In 2010, she reunited with her Family Stone co-star, Rachel McAdams, for the film, Morning Glory. As of 2016, Keaton has a variety of film projects in different states of production. She’s set to appear in a British romance, Hampstead, also starring Brendan Gleeson, and the Netflix comedy, Divanation, which will reunite her with her First Wives Club co-stars, Bett Midler and Goldie Hawn, to portray a singing group that reconnects after a volatile split 30 years prior.

Dermot Mulroney (Everett Stone)

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A staple in the rom-com genre, Dermot Mulroney is maybe best known for his part opposite Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding. Mulroney has also appeared in many westerns, either playing an outlaw or a gunman. After his role as Everett Stone, he appeared in a few other films and had reoccurring role as Zooey Deschanel’s “fancyman” boyfriend, Russel in the Fox series, New Girl. Mulroney is also an accomplished cellist and has appeared alongside Alanis Morissette and Melissa Etheridge. He also played the cello in the film, Samantha. In 2017, Mulroney had a role in the film, The Mountain Between Us, and is expected to return to TV next spring for New Girl’s final season.

Claire Danes (Julie Morton)

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Claire Danes is a celebrated (and well-educated) actress. After her role as SJP’s sister, Julie Morton, in The Family Stone, Danes went on to appear in a few more films, including Evening, Stardust, and Me and Orson Welles. However her best work was on TV. She starred as Temple Grandin in the 2010 made-for-TV movie, Temple Grandin, and since 2011 has played Carrie Mathison on the series, Homeland.

Luke Wilson (Ben Stone)

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One half of the famous Wilson brothers duo (there are actually three brothers, though Luke and Owen share the most fame), Luke Wilson was the comic relief The Family Stone needed. After his portrayal as the fun-loving Ben Stone, Wilson appeared in 3:10 to Yuma, Blades of Glory, Concussion, Rock Dog, and most recently, Measure of a Man in 2017. Wilson and his brother, Owen, have also co-written a Wright Brothers biopic, in which they both plan to star. There has been no release date yet for that film.

Craig T. Nelson (Kelly Stone)

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An early member of The Groundlings comedy troupe, Craig T. Nelson was a regular performer at The Comedy Store. In 1973, he left the world of comedy, saying it left him “unfulfilled” and made the shift to dramas. As was the case with his co-star, Diane Keaton, Nelson was also nominated for a Satellite Award for his portrayal as Kelly in The Family Stone. After that, he reunited with Luke Wilson in Blades of Glory and made a name for himself in the series, Parenthood, as Ezekiel Braverman. Nelson also voiced the character of Mr. Incredible in Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles, a role which he plans to revisit for The Incredibles 2, due out in 2018.

Tyrone Giordano (Thad Stone)

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Like his character in The Family Stone, Tyrone Giordano is deaf in real life. After his role as Thad, the deaf and gay member of the Stone family, Giordano played the deaf brother of Ashton Kutcher’s character in the film, A Lot Like Love. He can also be seen in the 2008 film, Untraceable, starring Diane Lane. Giordano was recently on stage in Pippin and in the 2010 film, The Next Three Days.

Elizabeth Reaser (Suzannah Stone)

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You may know her from Twilight or Grey’s Anatomy, but Elizabeth Reaser has had quite the career. After her small but meaningful role as Suzannah Stone, Reaser went to star in the Twilight series, as well as several other films, including Puccini for Beginners, Hello, My Name is Doris, and Ouija: Origin of Evil. She also had a long-standing run as Ava/Rebecca in Grey’s Anatomy and also had roles in True Detective, Mad Men, and most recently, The Haunting of Hill House, a miniseries due out in 2018 (Netflix original).

Brian J. White (Patrick Thomas)

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Brian J. White, who played Thad’s partner, Patrick Thomas, is a graduate of Dartmouth College. He got his start in TV, appearing in Moesha, The Parkers, and The Shield before moving to films. After The Family Stone, White had a handful of other movie roles, as well as having a regular role in the series Men of a Certain Age. He has appeared in the series Scandal as the love interest of Olivia Pope and is currently acting in NBC’s Chicago Fire.

Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

 

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Scandinavian Santa Gnome

I think it’s safe to say that I’m fully embracing this hygge lifestyle…so much so that when I came across the pattern for this Scandinavian Santa Gnome, I couldn’t resist the urge!

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This adorable little crocheted Santa gnome is so cute and cuddly. With an extra tall hat and an extra full beard, this little guy is great for hiding in between the branches of your Christmas tree.

*For the beard, I used a textured white yarn that I had on hand. But you can get a similar effect by using regular white yarn and pulling the strings apart to make the beard look full and styled. Then just trim it as necessary!

I loved this pattern so much and can’t wait to make another little gnome…maybe a little fat Viking man?! 😉

Scandinavian Santa Gnome

Materials:

  • Red yarn of choice
  • White yarn of choice
  • Black yarn of choice
  • Peach yarn of choice
  • G crochet hook (4.00 mm)
  • Fiberfill

You can find the pattern for this Santa Gnome at 1dogwoof.com.

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

christmas be white

“May your days be merry and bright and may all your Christmases be white.”
White Christmas

Come back every Tuesday for “The Bees Knees”, where I post the best quotes from my favorite movies, TV shows, songs, and books.

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15 Recipes for Hanukkah

Put on your yamacha, it’s time to celebrate Hanukkah!

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Like almost EVERY JEWISH HOLIDAY, Hanukkah is commemorated by eating food…lots and lots and lots of food.  We play dreidel for chocolate coins, we eat potato pancakes and donuts fried in oil, and if we’re really lucky, we get to dine on brisket, mandel bread, and rugulah cookies (or as we call them in our house, JEW-galah cookies!).

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While lighting the menorah and playing dreidel are important traditional rituals that make this holiday so fun, you really can’t celebrate Hanukkah without eating some tasty food…so here are 15 delicious recipes that you can make for Hanukkah, or any day!

Adam Sandler Hanukkah GIF by Saturday Night Live

15 Recipes for Hanukkah

Jumbo Potato Pancake with Sage

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Crispy Potato Latkes

pancakes

Caramel Apple Upside Down Noodle Kugel

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Olive Oil Cake

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Pinata Dreidel Cookies

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Mandel Bread

mandel bread

Chocolate Pumpkin Almond Rugelach

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Perfect Potato Latkes

potato pancakes

Jelly Doughnuts (Sufganiyot)

jelly donuts

Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart

chocolate tart

Gingerbread Hanukkah Cookies

gingerbread cookies

Stained Glass Hanukkah Cookies

stained glass cookies

Homemade Hanukkah Gelt

gelt

Jelly Doughnut Muffins

donut muffind

Hanukkah White Hot Chocolate

white chocolate

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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The Best Books to Give to Everyone on Your List

We all have so many different kinds of people in our lives…and it’s near impossible to find books that best suit every type of friend…BUT, I’m here to offer some help!

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Outside of the usual fiction lovers or top 100 lovers, there are people out there who just want to laugh at their sadness…or read about f*cking amazing food.  There are people who need advice on raising their kids and people who are just kids at heart.  With this list, you’ll be able to find amazing books that you can buy for your single friend, your friend who loves to travel, your friend who secretly loves a good YA novel and even your friend who is there for you during your most embarrassing times.

The Best Books to Give to Everyone on Your List

The Single Friend
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, Jenni Ferrari-Adler
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A collection of hilarious short stories about cooking for one, this book is a MUST even if you sometimes cook for two or five.

The Traveler
A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson
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No one can tell a travel tale like Bill Bryson. With hilarious antidotes about hiking the Appalachian Trail, A Walk in the Woods will make you want to pack a backpack (and maybe some toenail clippers) and hit the open road.

For the SAHM
Sh*tty Mom, Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo, Mary Ann Zoellner
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Written by four moms who have seen it all, this book is the ultimate parenting guide. Each chapter presents a common parenting scenario with advice on how to get through it in the easiest way possible (like, “How to Sleep Until 9 AM Every Weekend”, for example).

For the Foodie
F*UCK, that’s Delicious, Action Bronson
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This ain’t no cookbook. This ain’t no memoir. This is a devotional book about the overwhelming power of delicious – no, f*cking amazing – food.

The Working Girl
#GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso
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The founder, creative director and CEO of Nasty Gal fills her memoir with advice on how to get hired, stay employed, and how to take care of your own business…all while keeping true to yourself.

For Music Lovers
Your Song Changed My Life, Bob Boilen
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NPR’s music guru asks dozens of artists (Jimmy Page, St. Vincent, Smokey Robinson) about the songs that inspired them.

For Film Buffs
Pictures at a Revolution, Mark Harris
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A look at five films, including The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, that were made during the 1970s. Studios were taking chances and making daring, thought-provoking, original movies that had nothing to do with sequels. By some, it’s thought to have been the true golden age of Hollywood.

The DIY Enthusiast
Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, Amy Sedaris
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Filled with actual great ideas for cheap ways to make gifts and decorate you rhome, Simple Times is bound to be a favorite with crafters and creative minds alike.

The YA Lover
One of Us is Lying, Karen M. McManus
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It’s The Breakfast Club meets Gossip Girl.  Five teens walk into detention, but only four walk out alive.  A threat to release juicy gossip about classmates finds one teen belly up in a classroom.

For Those Who Love a Twist
My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
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I know it’s an old book, but I LOVED the twist at the end! When Kate is born with a horrible illness, her parents decide to give birth to Anna, a child who was medically altered to be able to be Kate’s sole blood and organ donor. But when Anna fights her family for rights to her body, things start to spiral out of control.

For the Book Lover
My Ideal Bookshelf, Jane Mount
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A large assortment of writers, actors, musicians, and popular leaders in the country share what books would populate their ideal bookshelves.  This book also features amazing illustrations of what those shelves might look like. A coffee table-style book that’s a must for any bibliophile!

For the Fashionista
Women in Clothes, Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton
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The three women behind this book survey more than 600 women about their feelings and perspectives on fashion.

The History Buff
Grant, Ron Chernov
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Often misunderstood and under-appreciated, General Ulysses S. Grant is all too often caricatured as a chronic loser and inept businessman…but Chernov gives readers a new view of the General, bringing to light how one simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary.

For the Soon-to-Be Grown-Up
Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, Kelly Williams Brown
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Based on Brown’s blog, ADULTING, this book makes the scary, confusing “real world” approachable, manageable…and even conquerable.

For the Quirky One
Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse, Alida Nugent
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They say misery loves company…and this book is like that weird friend you just need in your life sometimes…to help pick you up, dust you off, and give you a story so bizarre if not just to make you feel better about wearing your shirt inside out all day.

For the Visual Reader
The Lego Architect, Tom Alphin
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If you’re looking for a book for someone who just loves looking at pictures, take a gander at this book of amazing Lego creations.  There are even instructions on how you can build your own replicas of the models featured in the book.

For Animal Lovers
The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein
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This book is about a man and his dog, narrated from the dog’s point of view. Enzo, the dog in the book, is the kind of pet that we all imagine we own…wise, genuine, loving, kind and comical.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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