Friday, January 17, 2020

Dear Abby - Eleanor Powell and Buttons the Dog Dance Together

Dear Friends,

I have something fun to share with you today!  My friend Dave shared this video with me and I enjoyed it so much that I have to share with you as well.

It is a short 3 minute dance number from a classic MGM musical called Lady Be Good.  This was a movie about a man and woman, a composer and lyricist, working on their relationship as they also work on a Broadway show.  One of the stars of that show is Eleanor Powell.  She does a great dance number to the Gershwin song "Lady Be Good."  

As she tap dances along, she gets her little dog Buttons in on the act.  Buttons is a terrier mix -- I would guess Jack Russell Terrier mix based on his ears and tail.  (A reminder that I am a Dachshund - Jack Russell mix, so I am partial to Jack Russells.)   

Buttons was owned by a 14 year old child and a prop boy named Jackie Ackerman discovered his talent.  He is the person who trained Buttons for this charming routine. 

A review in The Pittsburgh Press described Buttons in this routine: “better than Fred Astaire, nimbler than George Murphy, and can look more woebegone than Buddy Ebsen."  The dance number is pretty amazing, and you'll find it here:

I hope you enjoy this little dance interlude as much as I did.

Have a great day!

Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - Bound for Murder: A Blue Ridge Library Mystery by Victoria Gilbert

Book Synopsis
Blue Ridge library director Amy Webber learns it wasn’t all peace and love among the “flower children” when a corpse is unearthed on the grounds of a 1960s commune.
Taylorsford Public Library director Amy Webber’s friend “Sunny” Fields is running for mayor. But nothing puts a damper on a campaign like an actual skeleton in a candidate’s closet. Sunny’s grandparents ran a commune back in the 1960s on their organic farm. But these former hippies face criminal charges when human remains are found in their fields–and a forensic examination reveals that the death was neither natural nor accidental.

With Sunny’s mayoral hopes fading, Amy sets her wedding plans aside, says “not yet” to the dress, and uses her research skills to clear her best friend’s family. Any of the now-elderly commune members could have been the culprit. As former hippies perish one by one, Amy and her friends Richard, Aunt Lydia, and Hugh Chen pursue every lead. But if Amy can’t find whoever killed these “flower children,” someone may soon be placing flowers on her grave. 

My Review
In Bound for Murder, Blue Ridge library director Amy Webber becomes involved in some amateur detective work when a skeleton is found at the farm that belongs to her best friend's grandparents. In the 1960's the farm was a commune, and a promising young musician went missing.  As Amy investigates what happened, more murders occur, and she herself is in jeopardy.

This is the fourth book in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series. There are continuing characters from earlier books, including Amy, of course, her fiance Richard, her Aunt Lydia, and her best friend Sunny.  I enjoy this series.  I love the Blue Ridge background and the library setting.

The author has a gift for setting the scene with descriptions like:

"Saturday was one of those lovely September days where everything appeared to be rimmed in crystal. The sky was blue as a fine piece of Wedgwood, and the leaves, still green, were outlined with gold by the bright sunlight. I paused for a moment at Kurt Kendrick’s forest-green front door and inhaled a deep breath, enjoying the scent of the late-season roses that filled his cottage garden" (Kindle location 2502).

Because this mystery takes place in present day with many references to the 1960's, there is an unusually large cast of characters that is at times a bit hard to keep up with.  I found this also made the first few chapters move a  bit slowly, but once I got into the story I was thoroughly engrossed.

I figured the murderer early on but enjoyed reading Amy's detection process.  I liked the sweep of the mystery from the library to points around town, including the farm (old commune) and the county fair.

This is an enjoyable series and I recommend Bound for Murder and the entire series to other readers who also like cozy mysteries with small town venues and library settings.

Author Bio
Victoria Gilbert, raised in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, turned her early obsession with reading into a dual career as an author and librarian. Victoria has worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and library director. When not writing or reading, she likes to spend her time watching films, gardening, or traveling. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and lives in North Carolina. This is her fourth Blue Ridge Library mystery.

Author Links:
Facebook author page:

Purchase Links:
Amazon     B&N    Kobo    Indie Bound   

BOUND FOR MURDER (preorder):
BOOKED FOR DEATH (preorder):

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Josephine: Singer Soldier Dancer Spy by Eilidh McGinness

Book Synopsis
Josephine Baker is born into poverty in racially segregated America. Desperate to escape she flees to France where she embraces the hedonistic lifestyle on offer for those who dare, in the Paris of the Roaring Twenties.

Hitler’s rise to power in Germany forces her to face her true self. Determined to protect the Liberty Equality and Fraternity she has found in France, she becomes an ‘honorable correspondent’ for the French Secret Service. So, beginning a journey which will take her from the Red Cross Shelters in Paris to the cruel deserts of North Africa. She will find love and enduring friendship but she must also face dangers which will threaten not only her life but all she holds dear…..Can she find the courage to fight for what she believes in….no matter what the cost?

Available on Amazon

Author Bio
Eilidh was born and brought up in the Highlands of Scotland. She studied law at Aberdeen University. She practiced as a lawyer for twelve years, latterly specializing in criminal defense. Eilidh then moved to South West France with her then husband and four children. She established an independent estate agency business which she ran for twelve years before concentrating on writing- a long held dream. Eilidh has always been fascinated by history and ordinary people who achieve extraordinary things.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Josephine: Singer Soldier Dancer Spy! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. 

Giveaway Rules 
 – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on January 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 
– Paperback giveaway is open to the US only. 
– Only one entry per household. 
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. 
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen. 


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Book Review and Giveaway - Hems and Homicide (Apron Shop #1) by Elizabeth Penney

Book Synopsis
Welcome to the first in the Apron Shop mystery series by Elizabeth Penney, set in the quaint village of Blueberry Cove, Maine where an expert seamstress turned amateur sleuth is getting measured for murder. . . 

Iris Buckley is sew ready for a change. After the death of her beloved grandfather, Iris decides to stay in her Maine hometown to help out her widowed grandmother, Anne—and bring her online hand-made apron designs to real-time retail life. Her and Anne’s shop, Ruffles & Bows, is set to include all the latest and vintage linen fashions, a studio for sewing groups and classes, and a friendly orange cat. The only thing that they were not planning to have on the property? A skeleton in the basement 

Anne recognizes the remains of an old friend, and when a second body shows up in the apron shop—this time their corrupt landlord, whom Anne had been feuding with for decades—she becomes a prime suspect. Now, it’s up to Iris to help clear her name. Enlisting the help of her old high-school crush Ian Stewart who, like certain fabrics, has only gotten better-looking with age and her plucky BFF Madison Morris, Iris must piece together an investigation to find out who the real killer is. . .and find a way to keep her brand-new business from being scrapped in the process.

My Review
Hems and Homicide is a cozy mystery featuring Iris Buckley.  Iris has returned to her hometown in Maine to open a handmade and vintage apron shop with her grandmother Anne.  When they are getting the shop ready, Iris discovers a skeleton in the basement.  After her grandmother is investigated as a suspect, she becomes involved searching for the killer.

I wanted to read this mystery from the very first mention because it involves aprons.  I love them and have even blogged about my vintage apron collection before!  I really loved the details in this book dealing with aprons, vintage linens (something else I enjoy), and sewing.

Although this mystery takes place in the present day, there is a lot of the victim's personal history in the early 1970's.  I enjoyed the flashback details to the 1970's (which included Iris's grandmother and her past) and felt they added a lot to the book.  As a result of the flashbacks, there is a very large cast of characters in this book.  I wish there had been a list of characters as it would have made it easier to sort them out the first few chapters.
The mystery aspect of the story was so well written and paced and kept me guessing until a chapter or so before the killer was revealed.  Iris makes a great amateur sleuth and I enjoyed her detection process.  I thought it was neat that she even included historical research at the library as part of her personal investigation.

I liked Iris as a protagonist and enjoyed her relationship with her grandmother, her friends, and her cat Quincy.  I also liked the beginnings of a possible relationship with her old crush, Ian, who is doing some work on the shop.

I read a lot of cozy mysteries and felt that Hems and Homicide is really a stand out as a first mystery in a series.  It definitely made me want to read more!  As soon as I finished I went to Goodreads to see when a second book will be available.  I recommend this book for fans of cozy mysteries, small town settings, cats, and vintage/handmade linens.  I know you will enjoy the read as much as I did!

Author Bio
Elizabeth Penney is an author, entrepreneur, and local food advocate living in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In addition to writing full-time, she operates a small farm. Elements that often appear in her novels include vintage summer cottages, past/present mysteries, and the arts. She is represented by the fabulous Elizabeth Bewley at Sterling Lord Literistic.

Elizabeth’s writing credits include over twenty mysteries, short stories, and hundreds of business articles. A former consultant and nonprofit executive, she holds a BS and an MBA. She’s also written screenplays with her musician husband.

She loves walking in the woods, kayaking on quiet ponds, trying new recipes, and feeding family and friends.

Author Links
Twitter: @liz2penney

Purchase Links  – Amazon  Barnes & Noble   IndieBound

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Dear Abby - Return from Holiday Break

Dear Friends,

I'm back after a few weeks off for Christmas, New Year's, and my Momma's birthday.  I have enjoyed treats and attention and company -- and lots of snuggling with my Momma too.

I'll share a few pictures of my Christmas day.  I had a really fun time!

Wrapped packages are very interesting!

... but I love to unwrap them, too!

At night I spent time playing with my new toys. (This mostly means snuggling with them and carrying them around a bit, but that is fun too!)

It was a long and fun day! I was ready for bed before my Momma was.

I hope your holidays were happy and full of fun surprises and your favorite people and pets!

I look forward to chatting with you regularly in 2020.  Oh -- and Happy New Year!

Abby xoxoxo