Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway - A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

Book Synopsis
Maggie Crozat is back home in bayou country during the most magical time of the year. In Pelican, Louisiana, Christmastime is a season of giant bonfires on the levee, zydeco carols, and pots of gumbo. Except, this year, the Grinch has come to stay at the family-run Crozat Plantation B&B. When he floods travel websites with vicious reviews, Maggie thinks she’s identified him as rival businessman Donald Baxter. That is, until he’s found stabbed to death at Maggie’s workplace. And Maggie and her loved ones become top suspects.

The Crozats quickly establish alibis, but Maggie’s boyfriend, Detective Bo Durand, remains under suspicion. With Bo sidelined during the investigation, Maggie finds herself forced to work with an unlikely ally: longtime family enemy Rufus Durand. Her sleuthing uncovers more suspects than drummers drumming, and lands her in the crosshairs of the murderer.

The sleigh bells are jingling, and the clock is ticking for Maggie and Rufus, who must catch the killer or it will be the opposite of a Joyeux Noël in A Cajun Christmas Killing, the recipe-stuffed third installment of USA Today bestselling author Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country mysteries.

My Review
A Cajun Christmas Killing is a cozy mystery set in a small town in Louisiana.   Maggie Crozat is an artist who has left her life in New York to help out at her family's bed and breakfast.  When one of the B&B guests is discovered murdered, Maggie works to solve the crime ... especially because her boyfriend, police detective Bo Duran, is a suspect.

This is my first read in the Cajun Country Mystery series and it was really enjoyable.  It worked as a stand alone, but I now want to look for the other books in this series and catch up!

I loved the Cajun country atmosphere.  I have spent time in Louisiana and loved it, and the author, Ellen Byron, really captured the area's charm so well.

I also liked the Christmas setting and the descriptions of decorations and festivities.   Anyone who enjoys Christmas mysteries will like this as well.

As a bonus, there were even a few dogs in this book (which always makes a mystery better!) -- basset hound Gopher, rescued stray dog Jolie (and her puppies), and a tiny little dog named King Cake.

I liked the character of Maggie.  I enjoyed "meeting" her family and friends in the book, and liked the way she worked with Bo's relative Rufus to solve the mystery.  I also liked the slow-building relationship between Maggie and Bo.

I recommend A Cajun Christmas Killing to fans of cozy mysteries, Christmas mysteries, and atmospheric southern mysteries.   This book is perfect for a leisurely weekend read!  

Author Bio
Body on the Bayou, the second in Ellen’s Cajun Country Mystery series, won the Left Coast Crime Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and was nominated for a Best Contemporary Novel Agatha Award. Her debut book in the series, Plantation Shudders, made the USA Today Bestsellers list, and was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Ellen is also a recipient of a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant from the Malice Domestic Convention. Her TV credits include Wings, Still Standing, and Just Shoot Me, as well as network and cable pilots. As a journalist, she’s written over 200 magazine articles for national publications. Her plays, published by Dramatists Play Service, include the popular Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. A native New Yorker and graduate of Tulane University, Ellen lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and the family’s spoiled rescue dogs.

Author Links
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(1) Hardcover Copy - A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron + swag (U.S. Only)
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I received a copy of this book from Great Escapes Book Tour and Netgalley.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Dear Abby - Famous TV Dogs: Rin Tin Tin

Dear Friends,

When I asked my Facebook friends for favorite TV dogs, several people answered Rin Tin Tin.  My Momma and I have heard of this dog, and knew he was a handsome German Shepherd, but neither of us have seen the old TV show.  So it was fun to learn more!
Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd dog.  Much like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin originally starred in a series of movies (1922 - 1947).  And, also like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin was played by a series of different dogs.

The TV series The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin was a children's series on ABC, and it aired from 1954 - 1959.  It was the story of a little boy named Rusty who lived on a U.S. Calvary post called Fort Apache.  (The series was filmed on the set of the John Ford movie Fort Apache.)  Rusty had a special friend named Rin Tin Tin.  He was initially played by a dog named Rin Tin Tin IV (a descendent of the movie star dog), and later by a German Shepherd named Flame, Jr.

Rin Tin Tin was later mentioned in the novel Sunnyside by Glen David Gold and Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend by Susan Orlean.

Anne Frank wrote in her diary that she wished she had a dog like Rin Tin Tin (June 14, 1942).

Like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin was popular in toys and books for children.  A few examples include this comic book:

This Marx toys Fort Apache playset (note little Rin Tin Tin figure):

... and even a toy gun:

Here is a short video with the opening and closing credits for The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin:

Thank you for visiting today!  I hope you enjoyed reading about Rin Tin Tin.  Have you seen this TV show before?


Abby xoxoxo

Monday, September 18, 2017

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Cat Got Your Secrets: A Kitty Couture Mystery by Julie Chase

Book Synopsis
Lacy Marie Crocker has settled into a comfortable groove back home in New Orleans, and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, she’s busier than ever running a thriving pet boutique, helping her mother organize the upcoming National Pet Pageant, and untangling her complicated love life. But when delivering a king-sized order of dreidel-shaped doggy biscuits for a Saint Berdoodle’s bark-mitzvah, Lacy stumbles into yet another murder scene—and the last person to see the victim alive was her own father.

It’s up to Lacy to clear her dad’s name from the suspect list before Detective Jack Oliver has to cage him for good. But just when she starts pawing at the truth, she receives a threatening letter from a mysterious blackmailer bent on silencing her with her own secrets. And Lacy’s not the only one with bones in her closet.

Author Bio
Julie Chase is a mystery-loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make readers smile. She lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three spunky children. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. She is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.Julie also writes as Julie Anne Lindsey. Learn more about Julie Anne Lindsey here. 


Purchase Links
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(1) Paperback set of books 1 & 2 Cat Got Your Diamonds & Cat Got Your Cash + a themed wallet filled with mardi gras beads!
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Friday, September 15, 2017

Dear Abby - Famous TV Dogs: Lassie

Dear Friends,

I am excited to introduce a new blog series.  I will be profiling some famous TV dogs (both retro and more recent) here.   I think this will be a lot of fun!

When you mention TV dogs, most people think of Lassie first.   Lassie was a long running TV series that ran from 1954 - 1973.   Lassie the dog was a beautiful collie.  She lived with the Miller family (with their son Jeff), and then the Martin family, and was great friends to a boy named Timmy.   Lassie had many adventures in the farm community where she lived.

Lassie with actors Jon Provost and June Lockhart
Before the TV series there was a children's book called Lassie Comes Home (Eric Knight) and a series of MGM movies.  The popularity of the Lassie character was perfect for the early days of television.

Several different dogs played Lassie over the years.  They were from the same family:  Lassie, Lassie Jr., Spook, Baby, and Mire.  All but one of these dogs lived to be at least 17 years old!

Lassie was so popular that there were all types of Lassie items in stores - even a Halloween costume!   Other Lassie items included:

Books, like Hooray for Lassie.  (My Momma wrote a blog post about this book here -- there is a Dachshund in it!)

Coloring books:

Comic books:

Lunch boxes:


Here's a little fun trivia about Lassie:

  • The first boy to appear in the Lassie TV show, Tommy Rettig ("Jeff") was allergic to dogs.
  • Chloris Leachman of The Mary Tyler Moore Show briefly played Timmy's mother on the show.
  • Lassie appeared in Keep America Beautiful posters in the 1960's with Lady Bird Johnson.
  • Lassie had dog friends including two miniature poodles, Buttons and Bows, and a Jack Russell Terrier named Mel.
  • Lassie's trainer, Rudd Weatherwax, was the uncle of Ken Weatherwax (Pugsley on The Addams Family).
  • Lassie was always played by a boy dog on TV.

I enjoyed learning about Lassie, and hope you had fun reading this too!   Have you ever seen this show?  Are you a collie fan?  Do you have a favorite TV dog?  I would love to hear from you in the comments below.


Abby xoxoxo 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Body on Baker Street: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery by Vicki Delany

Book Synopsis
Gemma Doyle and Jayne Wilson are busy managing the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Baker Street and adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room in anticipation of the store’s upcoming book signing with the illustrious Renalta Van Markoff, author of the controversial Hudson and Holmes mystery series. But during the author Q&A session, dedicated Sherlockian Donald Morris verbally attacks Renalta and her series for disgracing Sherlock’s legacy, only to be publicly humiliated when the author triumphantly lashes back and gains the upper hand. That is until Renalta collapses on the table―dead.

Donald insists he didn’t do it and pleads to his friends to clear his name. Fortunately, Gemma and Jayne have no shortage of suspects between author’s bullied personal assistant, her frustrated publicist, the hapless publisher, a handsome rare book dealer, an obsessively rabid fan, and a world of other Sherlock enthusiasts with strong objections to Renalta’s depiction of the Great Detective. It’s up to the shrewd sleuthing duo to eliminate the impossible and deduce the truth before the West London police arrest an innocent man in Body on Baker Street, the second Sherlock Homes Bookshop mystery perfect for fans of Miranda James and Kate Carlisle.

Author Bio
Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S. She has written more than twenty-five books:  clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. Under the name of Eva Gates, she writes the Lighthouse Library cozy series for Penguin Random House. Her latest book is Body on Baker Street, the second in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series from Crooked Lane.

Vicki is the past president of the Crime Writers of Canada.  Her work has been nominated for the Derringer, the Bony Blithe, the Ontario Library Association Golden Oak, and the Arthur Ellis Awards. 

Author Links   
Facebook:  Vicki Delany & Eva Gates  
Twitter: @vickidelany and @evagatesauthor

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(1) Print Copy Body on Baker Street: A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery by Vicki Delany
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