Friday, May 24, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

Book Synopsis
Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.

Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.

But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.


Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

My Review
Amy Byler is a single mom in a small town in Pennsylvania.  She works as a teacher and librarian at a prestigious prep school.  Her time and energy is stretched very thin.  When her ex-husband reappears and wants to take the kids for the summer, Amy has the opportunity to go stay with her best friend from college in New York City.  She has a chance to rediscover the person she was when she was young and single.  This summer away changes her life.

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler is such a fun book.  There are elements of The Devil Wears Prada (a best friend who is a powerful editor of a fashion magazine), Sex and the City (single life in New York City), and also a really good rom-com (hot male librarian with a meet cute story).

Amy ends up being profiled by her friend's magazine as being on a Momspringa -- like the Amish Rumspringa, where young Amish people go off into the "English" world for a while to decide if they want to be Amish or not.  The Momspringa storyline is a hoot!  It includes a makeover, a popular spinning class, and blind dates in the city arranged by the magazine.  

The heart of the story, though, is the conflict Amy feels about her love for her children (and how much she misses them) vs. her new romance with Daniel (the hot male librarian) in NYC.   Amy wants to have it all but doesn't know how that can happen.

The writing is lots of fun!  It includes excerpts of her daughter's summer journal, Amy's first person telling of her summer adventure, and texts back and forth between Amy and her friends.  This is a lively book -- I read it over the course of a few days (in every spare moment because I wanted to get back to it!) but it would be a great vacation read.

There is an innate intelligence to the book because Amy is a librarian, her love interest is also a librarian, and there is a lot of book chat.  For instance, Amy describes her need to clear the air:  "I prefer the air a bit hazier. ... Not as thick as a Bleak House fog, but more like a Great Expectations mist" (p. 211).

Did I mention the humor in this book?  There are whole chapters that are just laugh out loud funny -- and I am not someone who usually laughs out loud!

I highly recommend The Overdue Life of Amy Byler for a beach read, a weekend read, or a perfect literary pick me up.  Five stars for summer fun!

Author Bio
Kelly Harms is an author, a mother, and a big dreamer. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her sparkling son, Griffin; her fluffy dog, Scout; and her beloved Irishman, Chris. Before this midwestern life, she lived in New York, New York, and worked with many of her author-heroes as an editor at HarperCollins and then as a literary agent. When she’s not lost in a book that she’s either writing or reading, you can find her on the water, in the water, or near the water. Say hello anytime at


Connect with Kelly

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Win a copy of this book.  Entry through Rafflecopter below.   U.S. only.  Giveaway ends at midnight 5/30.  Winner will be contacted by email and needs to respond within 48 hours, or a new winner will be contacted.

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Book Review - The Wonder of Lost Causes by Nick Trout

Book Synopsis
In this unforgettable novel, perfect for fans of An Unexpected Grace and A Dog’s Way Home, a single mom and her chronically ill child receive a valuable lesson from an unlikely source—a very special dog who unexpectedly enters their lives and shows them that one person’s lost cause can be another’s greatest gift . . .

Dr. Kate Blunt will do anything for her son, Jasper. Well, almost anything. Since Jasper has the incurable lung disease cystic fibrosis, Kate’s always told him he couldn’t get a dog. It’s a tough call, but she’s a single mom taking care of a kid who fights for every breath he takes. The daily medical routine that keeps Jasper alive is complicated enough. Worse still, Kate’s personal resolve runs contrary to her work as the veterinarian in charge of a Cape Cod animal shelter, where she is on a mission to find forever homes for dogs in desperate need.

The scarred, mistreated wreck of a dog that turns up doesn’t stand a chance. Named Whistler, he’s too old, too ugly. But the dog forms an instantaneous bond with Jasper. Whistler never makes a sound, yet he speaks to Jasper in a myriad of mysterious ways. The clock’s ticking, the dog’s future hangs in the balance, and Jasper would do anything to find him a home; but Whistler has chosen them—for a reason.



Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


My Review

The Wonder of Lost Causes is the story of Kate Blunt, a veterinarian at a small animal shelter and a single mom, her son Jasper, and a special dog named Whistler who changes their lives.  Jasper has cystic fibrosis and Whistler is an abused stray dog who shows up at the shelter where Kate works.  Jasper and Whistler develop a remarkable connection.  The catch?  Kate opposes adopting a dog  because she wants their home to be allergen free for the sake of Jasper's lungs.


I wanted to read this novel from the moment I read the description and saw the cover photo.  I am a lifelong dog person, and could not resist this story.


The book is told in alternating chapters by Kate and Jasper.  Kate is a real type-A personality, so highly stressed that she has started taking Adderall secretly to feel better.  She is protective of Jasper to an extreme extent.  Jasper just wants to be a kid, to go camping, to play soccer, to have a dog.  I have to admit that I liked Jasper from his first appearance and was really pulling for him to have a dog of his own.


What was especially remarkable about this novel was the connection between Jasper and Whistler.  Jasper believes he actually can hear what Whistler is thinking, and Whistler seems to have picked out Jasper as his special person.  Whistler is what many dog people would call his soulmate dog.


Dog people will love this book.  For instance, this description by Jasper about a trip to the beach:


"As soon as all the dogs got off leash they went crazy, running around like their butts were on fire.  They didn't stretch or warm up or pace themselves or worry who sees their white legs.  They just do it, all or nothing, because they want to have fun.  They're all about fun.  I mean, when was the last time you saw a dog do grumpy or whiny or embarrassed?  If we ate the exact same meal, day in, day out, we'd go nuts, we'd go on a hunger strike.  Not dogs.  They jump up and down, tail set to crazy time, snarfing down their kibble like it's prime rib.  And and, and even when they sleep, they give it everything, out for the count, able to flop down anywhere.  I mean, when was the last time you saw a dog chugging on a bottle of NyQuil?" (p. 321).


Although The Wonder of Lost Causes is over 400 pages, it was a very quick read, told engagingly with lots of conversation and great descriptions.  It is a heartwarming book and the final chapter is sure to require a Kleenex or two.   Recommended for dog lovers.

Author Bio

Dr. Nick Trout works full-time as a staff surgeon at the prestigious Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. He is the author of five previous books, including the New York Times bestseller Tell Me Where It Hurts, and his writing has been translated into sixteen different languages. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Kathy; their daughter, Emily; their adopted labradoodle, Thai; and Emily’s service dog, a black Labrador named Bella.

Find out more about him at his website.


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

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Book Spotlight and Pre-Order Giveaway - Southern Sass and Killer Cravings (Marygene Brown Mysteries) by Kate Young

Book Synopsis
Life has always been sweet on Georgia’s Peach Cove Island, but a case of murder has Marygene Brown down in the pits . . .

For generations, the women of the Brown family on Peach Cove Island have been known for their Southern sass and sweet homemade desserts at their beloved Peach Diner. Since their mother’s passing two years ago, Marygene has been stuck in Atlanta while her sister Jena Lynn has been running the family business. Now Marygene has left her husband and returned to her hometown, where she can almost feel Mama’s presence.

But all is not peachy back home. Marygene has barely tied on an apron when a diner regular drops dead at the counter. When it turns out the old man’s been poisoned, Jena Lynn is led away in handcuffs and the family eatery is closed. Now, to save her sister and the diner, Marygene must find the real killer. With some startling assistance from her Mama’s spirit, Marygene will be serving up a special order of just desserts . . .

Includes Seven Recipes from Marygene’s Kitchen!

Author Bio

Kate Young writes humorous southern mystery novels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Guppy Chapter. Kate lives in a small town in Georgia with her husband, three kids, and Shih Tzu. When she is not writing her own books, she’s reading or cooking.

Author Links 

Website -
Facebook –
Twitter –
GoodReads –
BookBub –


Purchase Links — Amazon  B&N  Kobo Indie Bound  ibooks  BAM 



A PRE-ORDER CONTEST with fabulous prizes! A Coach Bag with matching wristlet and $120 in gift cards plus autographed copies of the book!

* Grand Prize Winner receives a gorgeous Coach Avenue Tote and Coach wristlet pictured below (value $450) and a $100 gift card to either Amazon or B&N.

​​* 2 Runners up will receive a $10 gift card to either Amazon or B&N and an autographed paperback copy of  Southern Sass and Killer Cravings.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Dear Abby - Silly Things People Say

Dear Friends,

I'm so glad to be back!  I've been eager to return and visit with you.  I kept thinking of things I wanted to tell you, but I have to depend on my Momma to help me post here.  Unfortunately, she kept saying she had too much on her plate.  I don't understand that at all -- I don't even see a plate (and believe me, I looked!).   We made a deal that for right now I will post every few weeks but I will post more regularly in Fall.   It will be nice to have a lighter blogging schedule for summer.  More time to nap and enjoy the sunshine!

I'll share a couple of new pictures with you.   I am waving in this picture.  Momma says it looks like I am smiling a bit too.  I actually do smile when I am happy.

Here is another recent picture -- this was taken on Easter.  I had company and lots of excitement, and I spent a lot of time looking hopefully for treats.

That makes me think of something I have been wanting to mention -- people say some silly things!    For instance:

"Don't lick my nostrils."   I don't understand this at all.  I can lick a doggie friend anytime I like.   People have some silly rules.

(This one happens sometimes when it is time to wake up in the morning.)  "Don't stand on my kidneys."  Another one that makes no sense to me.   It's very comfortable to stand on a sleeping person.

"Please don't lick the floor."   But the floor smells so interesting!   I have to explore it. 

"You don't need another treat."   What?!   This is beyond ridiculous.  Of course I do.  I need ALL the treats.

Can you think of any other silly things that people say to dogs?  (Please feel free to ask your own pets if you need ideas.)   I would love to hear from you in the comments, below.

I am so glad to be back in touch, and look forward to talking more here.


Abby xoxoxo 

Book Review and Giveaway - Gold Digger by Rebecca Rosenberg

Book Synopsis
One look at Baby Doe and you know she was meant to be a legend! She was just twenty years old when she came to Colorado to work a gold mine with her new husband. Little did she expect that she’d be abandoned and pregnant and left to manage the gold mine alone. But that didn’t stop her!

She moved to Leadville and fell in love with a married prospector, twice her age. Horace Tabor struck the biggest silver vein in history, divorced his wife and married Baby Doe. Though his new wife was known for her beauty, her fashion, and even her philanthropy, she was never welcomed in polite society.

Discover how the Tabors navigated the worlds of wealth, power, politics, and scandal in the wild days of western mining.


Amazon | Barnes and Noble


My Review

Gold Digger tells the story of Lizzie "Baby" Doe, who travels to Colorado with her husband Harvey because he wants to try his hand at gold mining.  Life is far different than either of them expects, and her husband leaves Baby Doe when she is pregnant and struggling to make a living on her own.  She meets the charming Horace Tabor, a wealthy man who is involved in mining and eventually politics as well.  Unfortunately, he is married.   They fall in love and life changes once again for Baby Doe.


I wanted to read this book because I was interested in the the western frontier and the California Gold Rush as a young girl.  I had never read about gold prospecting in Colorado, and both the subject matter and time period really interested me.


This was what I would call a rollicking read.  It is really fun and lively, and would make a great movie.  I have been trying to cast the movie in my head and have regretfully decided that Sam Elliott is a bit too old to play Horace Tabor.  Perhaps Dennis Quaid would be good in that role.  I am still thinking about who could play Baby Doe.


Baby Doe's fortunes go from rags to riches and back to rags -- it is a real roller coaster ride.  There is another book coming up as a sequel, Silver Dollar, and I already look forward to reading it as well.


The author evokes the 1870's to 1890's with period details.  I had no idea how rough mining conditions were for both miners and for the poor donkeys who worked in the mines.  The frontier days of Colorado are vividly captured, including an appearance by Doc Holliday, who helps Baby Doe when she injures her ankle.


I particularly enjoyed the novel after Baby Doe and Horace met.  The details of the grand opera house that Horace built were fascinating.  I especially loved the visit to the opera house by Oscar Wilde!


Baby Doe later meets other historic figures in her travels, including Lillian Russell, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and President Arthur.  


Baby Doe was a complex character -- involved with a married man but interested in helping others, unafraid of hard work and eager to be a participant and not just a spectator in her own life.


I recommend Gold Digger for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who is interested in the American west.  You have a fun and lively read ahead of you!

Author Bio

A California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel.

Rebecca and her husband, Gary, own the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.

For more information, please visit Rebecca’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads. Visit the Facebook page for The Secret Life of Mrs. London.

During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away a copy of Gold Digger, a gold facial mask & soap set, and recipe brochure to five winners. Three winners will receive an ebook of Gold Digger. To enter, please use the Gleam form below. 

Giveaway Rules 
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. 
– Only one entry per household. 
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is 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 new winner is chosen.  
Gold Digger