Friday, October 11, 2019

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dachshund Puppy Climbs Slide

Dear Friends,

I have a short little video to share with you today.  It features a 17 week old dachshund puppy named Genji.  He lives in Australia and was determined to climb a playground slide.  I am impressed at how quickly he learned and how fast he scrabbled up that slide!

I have never been to a playground so I am not sure what I would think about it.  I certainly would not like the swings, and I don't think I would care to slide either.  The sandbox might be fun though - that could involve digging!

With no further ado, here is Genji on the slide!

Now that is some real determination! He wanted to climb the slide and he did.

I'll be back next week -- maybe with a video or some pictures or something else fun.

Hope you have a good weekend!


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - The First Lady and the Rebel by Susan Higginbotham

Book Synopsis
From the celebrated author Susan Higginbotham comes the incredible story of Lincoln’s First Lady

A Union’s First Lady
As the Civil War cracks the country in two, Mary Lincoln stands beside her husband praying for a swift Northern victory. But as the body count rises, Mary can’t help but fear each bloody gain. Because her beloved sister Emily is across party lines, fighting for the South, and Mary is at risk of losing both her country and her family in the tides of a brutal war.

A Confederate Rebel’s Wife
Emily Todd Helm has married the love of her life. But when her husband’s southern ties pull them into a war neither want to join, she must make a choice. Abandon the family she has built in the South or fight against the sister she has always loved best.

With a country’s legacy at stake, how will two sisters shape history?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters | IndieBound

My Review
The First Lady and the Rebel tells the story of two sisters during the years of the Civil War.  Mary Todd Lincoln was the wife of Abraham Lincoln.  Her sister Emily Todd Helm and her husband strongly backed the Confederacy.  The book begins as Mary Todd meets Abraham Lincoln and moves through time until the end of Lincoln's life, with a glimpse of Mary's life afterwards.

I wanted to read this book from first glimpse of the cover - it is beautiful!  Although I am from Georgia, I have not read a lot of Civil War fiction, so I was curious about this story because of the time period.

The story is told in alternating chapters by Mary and her sister Emily.  The author did a fine job delineating these characters and the differences in their lives and beliefs.

I particularly liked the early part of the book when Mary Todd first met Lincoln and they had a quirky, off and on courtship.  Their courtship told a lot about their personalities.  There were details like:

"... Mr. Lincoln appeared at the Edwards house every few days, taking the same place beside Mary.  Sometimes they would talk politics;  other times they would take a book from Ninian Edwards's well-stocked (if not exactly well-thumbed) library and have one read it to the other" (p. 12).

I found this book very interesting, and liked the insights of the two sisters on the Civil War -- they were good observers of their time.

The novel moves at a leisurely, rather slow, pace.  I think it would move a bit quicker if the book had been broken up into shorter chapters.

I enjoyed The First Lady and the Rebel and the unique glimpse it gave of America during the Civil War years.  I recommend it to anyone interested in that time period, and to fans of historical fiction.

Author Bio
Susan Higginbotham is the author of seven historical novels, including Hanging Mary, The Stolen Crown, and The Queen of Last Hopes. The Traitor’s Wife, her first novel, was the winner of ForeWord Magazine’s 2005 Silver Award for historical fiction and was a Gold Medalist, Historical/Military Fiction, 2008 Independent Publisher Book wards. She writes her own historical fiction blog, History Refreshed. Higginbotham has worked as an editor and an attorney, and lives in Maryland with her family.

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of The First Lady and the Rebel! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

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– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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– 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.

The First Lady and the Rebel

Book Review and Giveaway - Read and Buried: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates

Book Synopsis
Librarian Lucy Richardson unearths a mysterious map dating back to the Civil War. But if she can’t crack its code, she may end up read and buried.

The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library Classic Novel Book Club is reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne while workers dig into the earth to repair the Lighthouse Library’s foundations. The digging halts when Lucy pulls a battered tin box containing a Civil War-era diary from the pit. Tucked inside is a hand-drawn map of the Outer Banks accompanied by a page written in an indecipherable code. 

The library is overrun by people clamoring to see the artifact. Later that night, Lucy and Connor McNeil find the body of historical society member Jeremy Hughes inside the library. Clearly Jeremy was not the only one who broke into the library–the map and the coded page are missing. 

Lucy’s nemesis, Louise Jane McKaughnan, confesses to entering the library after closing to sneak a peek but denies seeing Jeremy–or his killer. When Lucy discovers that fellow-librarian Charlene had a past with Jeremy, she’s forced to do what she vowed not to do–get involved in the case. Meanwhile, the entire library staff and community become obsessed with trying to decode the page. But when the library has a second break in, it becomes clear that someone is determined to solve that code.

My Review
Read and Buried is a cozy mystery set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Lucy Richardson works at a library in the old lighthouse on Bodie Island, and lives in the upper level of the lighthouse as well.  While a crew is digging for some renovations at the lighthouse, they find an old diary, a page written in code, and a map of the area with numbers marking locations.  In the small beach community, this mystery attracts a great deal of attention -- leading to a death at the lighthouse.  Lucy decides to investigate and try to solve the mystery.

I love both lighthouses and libraries, so was eager to read this mystery. I especially enjoyed the lighthouse descriptions and setting.

This is #6 in the Lighthouse Library Mystery series, but I had no problem picking up with the characters and reading the book as a standalone.  (Although I now really do want to read the rest of the series!)

The mystery aspect of the story was interesting -- I especially liked the secret code in the story.  It was really interesting to see how the code was finally solved.  I also liked the Civil War history involved in the mystery.  There were a number of possible murderers, and I solved the mystery about the same time that Lucy did.

There is even a mischievous lighthouse cat named Charles.  I always love cozies that include pets!

I really like Lucy as a character.  She is bright and resourceful and smart enough not to take a lot of dangerous chances that amateur detectives often do.  I also liked reading about her friends and coworkers, and her budding romance with the town's mayor, Connor.

I would recommend Read and Buried for fans of cozy mysteries, especially for anyone who enjoys southern mysteries, library mysteries, lighthouses, or mysteries involving some American history. I look forward to also reading more books in this series!

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 thirty books:  clever cozies to Gothic thrillers to gritty police procedurals, to historical fiction and novellas for adult literacy. She is currently writing four cozy mystery series: the Tea By The Sea mysteries for Kensington, the Year Round Christmas mysteries for Penguin Random House, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series and, as Eva Gates, the Lighthouse Library books for Crooked Lane. 

Vicki is a past president of the Crime Writers of Canada and co-founder and organizer of the Women Killing It crime writing festival. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Author Links

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Monday, October 7, 2019

Book Review - Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson

Book Synopsis
Krista Galloway is not a fan of Christmas. After her rough childhood in multiple foster homes, the holiday season just brings too many bad memories to the surface. But when she accepts a job as a city manager in the mountain town of Winter Hill, Washington, Christmas is part of the deal. The small town is famous for its Christmasville celebration, something that the city manager . . . well, manages.

As she tries to make her tiny new apartment feel like home for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Emily, Krista begins to wonder if this move was a mistake. She doesn't always feel welcomed in the close-knit town, and Emily continually wonders, "Where's the snow?"

Can a friendly stranger and his family help restore Krista's Christmas spirit before the big day?

My Review
Krista Galloway is newly divorced with an eight year old daughter named Emily.  She leaves her home in Phoenix to move to a small town called Winter Hill, Washington.  She has accepted a job as city manager for the town, and upon arrival realizes that a big part of the job involves planning the annual Christmasville celebration.  The problem? Krista hates Christmas.

I enjoy all things Christmas, including, of course, Christmas books.  I like Melody Carlson's Christmas books, so was eager to read her latest holiday story.

Christmas in Winter Hill is a very sweet story.  Krista is a bit of a grump, but understandably so, after a rough life (years in foster care as a child, a Christmas Eve birthday that was always forgotten, a cheating husband, a contentious divorce).  With all she had been through, I really pulled for her in this book.

The story of this book involves Krista and Emily's settling into a new town just before the holidays and Krista managing the Christmasville celebration.  There is a charming and mysterious little cottage called the Christmas House that is up for a community giveaway, and there is the possibility of romance with a young widower who has a daughter a bit older than Emily.

This is a light, quick read.  It is only 168 pages.  It is still October now, but the story put me in the Christmas mood.  I think it would be an especially nice afternoon or evening read over the holidays.  It is a sweet story that would make a good Hallmark movie!

Recommended for fans of Christmas fiction -- just make cocoa, coffee, or tea and settle in to enjoy!

Author Bio
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books with combined sales of more than seven million. She is the author of many Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, Christmas at Harrington's, The Christmas Cat, The Christmas Joy Ride, The Christmas Angel Project, The Christmas Blessing, and A Christmas by the Sea. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at

Friday, October 4, 2019

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Parker the Talking Dachshund

Dear Friends,

I have a very sweet video to share with you today.  My friend Debbie (a great dachshund person) sent this link to my Momma so I could watch it.

The video is short, and it is by Parker, a talking dachshund.  Parker actually types his words instead of speaking, but he is lots of fun.  He visits in his backyard, talks about lizards, and appreciates the value of good snacks!  

I really liked this video with the bouncy music and the nice backyard that Parker enjoys.  I especially like Parker, and how happy and friendly he looks with his wagging tail.

I hope you like Parker's video too!  I look forward to visiting with you again next week. 


Abby xoxoxo