Friday, November 8, 2019

Dear Abby - A Love Like No Otter

Dear Friends,

I have a short and sweet post for you today. I would like to thank my friend Jean for sending me a special video.  It is called "A Love Like No Otter" and it is about Gail Fisher, who takes care of otters at the Georgia Aquarium, and who really loves the otters! 

There is a special story on the video about Cruz, an orphaned sea otter who was rescued.  I love the way he holds paws with Gina, and he even gives kisses.  (Just like a dog!)

You'll find this wonderful video below.  It is just over 5 minutes and I bet it will make you smile.

The photo at the top of this post is of the otters at the Georgia Aquarium. I haven't been there, but my Momma has and she says it is an amazing place.

More next week - hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Abby xoxoxo

Book Review - The Poppy Wife by Caroline Scott

Book Synopsis
In the tradition of Jennifer Robson and Hazel Gaynor, this unforgettable debut novel is a sweeping tale of forbidden love, profound loss, and the startling truth of the broken families left behind in the wake of World War I.

1921. Survivors of the Great War are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. Francis is presumed to have been killed in action, but Edie believes he might still be alive.

Harry, Francis’s brother, was there the day Francis was wounded. He was certain it was a fatal wound—that he saw his brother die—but as time passes, Harry begins questioning his memory of what happened. Could Francis, like many soldiers, merely be lost and confused somewhere? Hired by grieving families, Harry returns to the Western Front to photograph gravesites. As he travels through battle-scarred France and Belgium gathering news for British wives and mothers, he searches for evidence of Francis.

When Edie receives a mysterious photograph of Francis, she is more convinced than ever he might still be alive. And so, she embarks on a journey in the hope of finding some trace of her husband. Is he truly gone? And if he isn’t, then why hasn’t he come home?

As Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they get closer to the truth about Francis and, as they do, are faced with the life-changing impact of the answers they discover.

Artful and incredibly moving, The Poppy Wife tells the unforgettable story of the soldiers lost amid the chaos and ruins, and those who were desperate to find them.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Review
The Poppy Wife is the story of lives torn apart by World War I. Francis, Harry, and Will are British brothers who go to war. Will is killed in action. Francis and Harry are in love with the same woman (although Francis married her).  Francis is presumed killed, but his body is not found.  Harry returns from war, a broken man.  Edie is Francis's wife, left in limbo wondering what happened to him.  One day she gets a photograph in the mail that looks like an older version of her husband.  She goes off to France searching for answers, traveling a path that crisscrosses with the one Harry is traveling as he photographs gravesites for families.

I wanted to read this novel because the subject matter is so intriguing.  I have read historical fiction about World War I, but never a book focusing on stories like the one of Francis in this book.

This is absolutely the most beautifully told, heartbreaking book.  The imagery is extraordinary.  I was struck, over and over, by the images of Harry traveling through France, photographing gravesites and places that soldiers last visited for their families.  On his travels he befriends Rachel, a woman whose husband is also presumed killed - and who desperately seeks answers.  He also befriends Gabriel, a stonemason and former soldier who is working on a war memorial.

And then there is Edie.  She is a fascinating character, looking for answers and at the same time scared at what she can find.  Even before he went missing, her husband was distant and changed.  She is drawn to Harry and confused about her feelings.

The book is told in short chapters, some from Edie's viewpoint, and some from Harry's.  The chapters begin with a location heading - locales through France and Great Britain.

The descriptions in this book are breathtaking.  For instance, Edie wakes up in Arras, France:

"The morning light is creeping across the rooftops.  Once upon a time this skyline would have been spiked with belfries and church steeples, but today the towers have all come down and the roofline is tattered.  The white shape of the cathedral is like a ghost of a building.  Smoke starts to rise from the chimney opposite Edie's window and a flight of starlings streaks along the street below and then wheels above.  She envies the birds the lift of their wings as she turns away" (p. 85).

I was so engrossed in this book that I felt like time stopped while I was reading.  I literally could not put it down.  I have been thinking of it since. 

I cannot recommend The Poppy Wife highly enough for fans of historical fiction. This book is sure to be one of my favorite reads of 2019, and I think it will top many other lists as well.

Author Bio
Caroline Scott is a freelance writer and historian specializing in WWI and women’s history, with a PhD from Durham University. Born in the UK, Caroline currently resides in France. The Poppy Wife is partially inspired by her family history.

I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - Tell Me No Lies: A Lady Dunbridge Novel by Shelley Noble

Book Synopsis
Miss Fisher meets Downton Abbey in Tell Me No Lies, part of the critically acclaimed Lady Dunbridge Mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Shelley Noble. 

Rise and shine, Countess, you’re about to have a visitor. 

Lady Dunbridge was not about to let a little thing like the death of her husband ruin her social life. She’s come to New York City, ready to take the dazzling world of Gilded Age Manhattan by storm. The social events of the summer have been amusing but Lady Phil is searching for more excitement—and she finds it, when an early morning visitor arrives, begging for her help. After all, Lady Phil has been known to be useful in a crisis. Especially when the crisis involves the untimely death of a handsome young business tycoon. 

His death could send another financial panic through Wall Street and beyond. 

With the elegant Plaza Hotel, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the opulent mansions of Long Island’s Gold Coast as the backdrop, romance, murder, and scandals abound. Someone simply must do something. And Lady Dunbridge is happy to oblige.

My Review
Lady Phil Dundridge is a British countess living in New York during the Gilded Age. She is clever, worldly - and a gifted amateur detective. When a young society man is killed and stuffed down a laundry chute, Phil becomes involved in solving the mystery.

I wanted to read this book from the description that compared it to Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and Downton Abbey. It certainly did not disappoint!  I absolutely loved the beautiful glimpse of Gilded Age New York. The period details were perfection, down to the smallest nuances of language.

Tell Me No Lies is the second book in the Lady Dundridge mystery series. I have not (yet) read the first book, but had no problem enjoying this book as a standalone read.

Phil is a fascinating character - very witty and bright, able to work well with society friends as well as the police detective working on the case.  She is assisted by her lady's maid and butler, and in their spare time they even study books on detection!

This was a complex, sophisticated mystery with a large cast of characters. I would find a cast of characters page helpful in keeping track of family/society relationships.  The mystery was well written and kept me guessing until the resolution.

There is an intriguing sub-plot about Lady Phil's relationship with Mr. X - a mystery man who appears and disappears, always in disguise, with mystery clues and romance. Even Phil does not know his true identity.

I thoroughly enjoyed Tell Me No Lies and would recommend it highly for fans of historical mysteries.  I look forward to continuing the series and going back to read the first book as well.

Author Bio
Shelley Noble is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction. (Beach Colors, Whisper Beach, Lighthouse Beach.) And the author of the Lady Dunbridge Gilded Age  Manhattan mysteries. Tell Me No Lies is the latest of the series.

She has written eighteen amateur sleuth and historical mystery novels and novellas as Shelley Freydont. (The Sudoku Murders,  Celebration Bay mysteries, The Gilded Age Newport mysteries.

A former professional dancer and choreographer, Shelley lives at the Jersey shore where she loves to discover new beaches and indulge her passion for lighthouses, vintage carousels, and the past.

Author Links

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKobo

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Three Widows and a Corpse (A Food Blogger Mystery) by Debra Sennefelder

Book Synopsis
Food blogger Hope Early finds one item not on her scavenger hunt list—a dead husband . . . 

Between developing her food blog, Hope at Home, and choosing low-cal recipes for a feature in Cooking Now! magazine, Hope has a full plate. Still, she’s never too busy to compete in a Jefferson, Connecticut, tradition—the town’s annual scavenger hunt. 

But as she races with her team to check off the next item, Hope discovers a grisly surprise—the body of shady real estate developer Lionel Whitcomb, shot in a parking lot. His wife Elaine, who’s also in the hunt, gasps and nearly faints. But two other women on the scene cry out that their husband is dead. 

 It turns out this louse of a spouse was more than a little lax in legally divorcing his former wives. Did one of them put a bullet in the bigamist? Number one suspect and number three wife Elaine begs Hope to investigate. Now Hope is on a new kind of hunt—for a cold-hearted killer and triple widow-maker . . . 

Includes Recipes from Hope’s Kitchen!

Author Bio
Debra Sennefelder, the author of the Food Blogger Mystery series and the Resale Boutique Mystery series, is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person

Born and raised in New York City, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in pre-hospital care, retail and publishing. Her writing companions are her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih-Tzus, Susie and Billy. 

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Romance Writers of America.

Author Links:
Website – Facebook – Goodreads 

Purchase Links – Amazon – B&N – Kobo – Google Play – IndieBound

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Friday, November 1, 2019

Dear Abby - Otters and Pumpkins

Dear Friends,

Happy November to you!  Although it is after Halloween, I have a few special pictures including jack o' lanterns that I want to share with you.  One of my friends sent me these and I liked them so much I saved them to share with you.  They are all pictures of otters enjoying pumpkins.

I like otters!  They are shaped a lot like dachshunds and are close in size.  I think they are silly to like water so much, but I am glad it makes them happy!

This little otter reaches into a pumpkin. I wonder if he has hidden a treat inside?

An otter going trick or treating!

 Lots of otters and lots of pumpkins:

Only two pumpkins for all those otters!

My favorite -- one otter has made a little pumpkin house.

Here are a few fun facts I learned about otters:

Otters are part of the weasel family.

Some otters spend most of their time in the water, while others like both land and water.

A group of otters can be called a bevy, lodge, romp, or family.  If there is a group in the water they are called a raft.

Baby otters are called pups, kits, or kittens.

Sea otters have the thickest fur of all animals.  It keeps them warm even in very cold water.

Sea otters sometimes hold hands while sleeping in the water so they don't drift apart.

Otters eat 15% - 25% of their body weight in food every single day!  (Now why does that not work for dogs as well?!)

I hope you enjoyed these photos, and wish you a happy November!  Thanks for visiting my blog today.


Abby xoxoxo