Monday, February 29, 2016

Music Monday - "Girl Don't Come" by Sandie Shaw (1964)

This is another one of those great retro songs that I only discovered in recent years - thanks to SiriusXM radio.  I love the decades channels on XM, like '60's on 6, '70's on 7, etc.  And this is yet another song that would be great in the soundtrack for a tv show or movie.

"Girl Don't Come" was a 1964 song by Sandie Shaw.  Sandie Shaw was from Great Britain, and was the first winner of the Eurovision contest.  She had several British hits and performed frequently on tv, usually appearing barefoot as part of her image. 

This song was released in the UK in 1964, and made it to America by 1965.  It charted at #42 on the Billboard chart.  It probably would have gone higher if Sandie Shaw had been able to tour;  unfortunately, she was not able to obtain a work permit to travel to the U.S. to promote this single.

Later, Sandie Shaw got married and began pursuing acting and writing children's books.  Eventually she went back to school and became a psychotherapist.

Here's this week's song.  It's a jazzy little ballad with a distinctly 1960's sound.  What do you think?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Weekend Window Shopping at Birdhouse Books - Vintage Easter Cards

I have some lovely vintage Easter cards and postcards for you this week -- and many more in my store next week as well.  You will find these cards at Birdhouse Books on eBay.

Here are just a few of the new additions:

Vintage Easter postcard featuring little chicks with an Easter egg cart.

1911 vintage Easter postcard with two sweet chicks and pink dogwood blossoms.

1911 vintage Easter postcard - gel card with a farm scene and chicken.
Vintage Easter postcard with two little chicks and a pink Art Nouveau Easter egg.

Vintage Easter card by American Greetings - a pink embossed die-cut cross.

1960's vintage Easter card with an acetate photo of two cute toy bunny rabbits.

1960's vintage Easter card with a sweet white baby bunny - from child to godmother.

Die-cut vintage Easter card with a dressed duck (mechanical - duck's head moves).  
Vintage mechanical Easter card - a dressed bunny and chick garden together.

A sweet bunny rabbit hops along for a bunny hug on this vintage Easter card.

Vintage Easter card with a bunny rabbit hiding Easter eggs.

1945 vintage Easter card with a shy bunny rabbit - "just an old softie."
I hope you enjoyed this peek into Birdhouse Books.  I'll have more Easter cards for you next week as well!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Dear Abby - Invitation for Rescued Dogs and Cats

Dear Friends,

I want to put a call out this week.  I would love to connect with your rescued fur-friends, and any friends who have rescue pups or kitties as well.

As a rescued former stray, I am a very BIG supporter of pet rescue and adoption, and I would like to spread the good word by introducing readers to dogs and cats who have been rescued, and sharing their stories.   I would love to share their cute pictures, too!

If you have a rescued dog or cat who would like to be featured here, please get in touch.  You can leave a comment with your email, below.  If you want to space out your email (i.e. gooddog at bestdog . com) that is fine, too!  

I hope to hear from you - and your furbabies!

Love to all,

Abby xoxoxo

Book Review - Kissed By a Cowboy by Debra Clopton

Book Synopsis:

Cassidy was looking for a home and a place to belong . . . not for a cowboy to steal her heart.

Having lived through her parents' endless string of "matrimonial bliss gone wrong," Cassidy Starr knows when the odds are not in her favor. Divorced and humiliated, her faith on rocky ground, Cassidy is through with love. She's been bucked off that horse far too many times. Instead, she returns to Wishing Springs, Texas, and the rundown farm she's inherited from her great aunt Roxie. She'll reopen the strawberry farm and a bed & breakfast and follow in her aunt's footsteps, remaining forever-independent, happy . . . and single.

Rancher Jarrod Monahan's hands are full running the ranch, looking after his ailing grandfather, and chasing down a group of rustlers on the loose. He's pushed his longing for a family to the bottom of his list of priorities. Besides, he was in love once but ran scared and lost his shot at happiness. But suddenly, the biggest regret of his life has moved in next door with a wounded heart, determined to become a spinster . . . and that's a challenge that Jarrod can't pass up.

Jarrod sets his mind to breaking down the walls around Cassidy's stubborn heart. How can he show her that a cowboy's kiss lasts forever? For the good folks of Wishing Springs, falling in love has never been so much fun to witness.

Purchase a copy:
My Review:
This is my second Four of Hearts Ranch series read by Debra Clopton.  I read, and enjoyed, Counting on a Cowboy last summer.   This series has such a warm, cozy setting in the small town of Wishing Springs, Texas.  It felt like returning to a friendly, favorite place to visit this town and many of the same characters again.

This book centers on Cassidy Starr, who returns to Wishing Springs in order to run a strawberry farm and bed and breakfast at her late aunt's home.  Cassidy is sour on marriage after a particularly bad divorce, but she still feels sparks fly when she sees the handsome cowboy-next-door, Jarrod Monahan, again. 

The couple meets cute, as Cassidy cannot find the keys to the farm house she has inherited, so she is entering the house through the doggy door ... only to get stuck.  Jarrod comes along at just the right time.

This is a novel about Cassidy's second chances in the town where she grew up.  I really liked Cassidy as a character.  She was strong and independent.   I also enjoyed her romance with Jarrod, who impressed me in the previous novel as the strong but silent older brother.

The novel has well developed and likable characters, dialogue that moves the story along at a nice pace, and an interesting plot.   I recommend it for readers who enjoy Christian fiction, women's fiction, and fun weekend reads involving handsome cowboys!

Author Bio:

Debra Clopton is a multi-award winning novelist and has written more than 22 novels. Along with writing, Debra helps her husband teach the youth at their local Cowboy Church. Debra's goal is to shine a light toward God while she entertains readers with her words. 

Connect with Debra: website, Twitter, Facebook
I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Magic Rocks

Do you remember Magic Rocks?   These were sold at dime stores and in the back of comic books.  I remember buying a set at a Stuckey's on vacation to Florida one year.  The toy I remember looks like the picture above.  Here is a picture of an earlier Magic Rocks set:

How they work: you get liquid sodium silicate and colorful rocks (actually metallic salts).  You put the rocks in a pretty glass container, and then the sodium silicate (mixed with water), and the rocks grow.  I googled and this simple science toy is still around!

I always liked these ... they reminded me a bit of stalagmites (I liked caves, too!) and also a bit of those color drip candles at Italian restaurants back in the day.

Here's a little minute and a half time lapse video:

Who remembers this science toy?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Cover Reveal and Giveaway - Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander

Welcome to the cover reveal of Caught Bread Handed by Ellie Alexander! This is the fourth book in the Bakeshop Mystery series and releases June 28 by St. Martin's Press.

About the Book:
Welcome to Torte—a friendly, small-town family bakeshop where the oven is heating up as high as the body count…

Jules Capshaw is still chewing over her husband Carlos’s return to Ashland, Oregon. Could there be too many cooks in the kitchen? Whatever is stirring between those two will have to wait. Despite the Oregon Shakespeare Festival being dark for the winter, the bakeshop is bustling, the dough is rolling, and there’s no rest for the weary… especially when murder is thrown into the mix.

When Mindy Nolan, the owner of a new restaurant in town, turns up dead, the batter at hand thickens. Jules knows that there was bad blood between Mindy and others in town, and tracking the killer could prove to be an unwelcome treat. And to top it all off, there’s Carlos, who is pleading—with those delicious dark eyes and sexy Spanish accent—for Jules to take him back. Is home where the heart is or will she make a fresh start… and risk getting burned?

About the Author:

Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.



Signed copies of the first 3 books in the series plus a signed cover flat of CAUGHT BREAD HANDED
Triple chocolate chip cookie mix
Oregon Chai
Dagoba (Ashland) chocolate chai
Dagoba chocolates
Spiced apple cider
Open to US addresses only
Ends March 23, 2016
Prizing is provided by the author, hosts are not responsible. Must be 13 or older to enter and have parental permission if under 17. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Did You Know Tuesday - Post-It Notes: A Mini History

I will admit it:  I love office supplies.  I always have.  Paper, pens, notebooks, folders ... you name it.  Point me in the direction of an office supply store, and I am happy.

I am a big fan of Post-It Notes.  I use them daily, on inventory cards with work, and also (in smaller format) flagging book pages for reviews.

Post-It Notes started with an accident.  A scientist with 3M, Dr. Spencer Silver, was trying to make super-strong adhesive.  By accident he ended up with a pressure sensitive adhesive.  A colleague tried the adhesive paper to mark his place in a church hymnal ... and the product was on its way!  The early Post-Its were all yellow because that was the color scrap paper available for experimental production.

Post-Its were marked as Press 'n' Peel in 1977.  The product did not take off until it was re-marketed as Post-It Notes in 1980.  You'll find an early product ad above.

A little fun trivia:

Post-It Notes have always been recyclable.  

It would take 506,880,000 Post-It Notes to circle the earth.

The lead characters in Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion claim to have invented Post-It Notes.

So there you have it!  Any other office supply fans out there?  (This love of all things paper extends to stationery, art supplies, and office supplies with me.)  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Book Spotlight - The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

02_The Vatican Princess 

The Vatican Princess: A Novel of Lucrezia Borgia by C.W. Gortner

Publication Date: February 9, 2016 
Ballantine Books 
Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook 
400 Pages 
Genre: Historical Fiction
 Add to GR Button    
Infamy is no accident. It is a poison in our blood. It is the price of being a Borgia. 

Glamorous and predatory, the Borgias fascinated and terrorized 15th-century Renaissance Italy. Lucrezia Borgia, beloved daughter of the pope, was at the center of the dynasty’s ambitions. Slandered as a heartless seductress who lured men to their doom, was she in fact the villainess of legend, or was she trapped in a familial web, forced to choose between loyalty and survival? 

With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—assume an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, he’s obliged to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood. 

Beautifully wrought, rich with fascinating historical detail, The Vatican Princess is the first novel to describe Lucrezia’s coming-of-age in her own voice—a dramatic, vivid tale set in an era of savagery and unparalleled splendor, where enemies and allies can be one and the same, and where loyalty to family can ultimately be a curse.



"Assiduously researched and expertly crafted . . . . This unholy plunge into Rome's darkest dynasty is wholly engrossing." - Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author 

"A spider web of Renaissance intrigue with a legendary cast . . . Impressive research, a lush background, and deft characterization make for a fascinating read." - Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author 

"Elegantly written and deeply researched . . . Renaissance Italy is vividly brought to life. I’m captivated by this knowledgeable author’s take on the controversial Borgias." - Alison Weir, NYT bestselling author

About the Author

03_CW Gortner

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco. 

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels. 

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding. 

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats. 

For more information visit C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner’s Newsletter for updates.

Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, February 9 Unshelfish  
Drey's Library 
The Maiden's Court  
CelticLady's Reviews  
Wednesday, February 10  
The Lit Bitch  
The Never-Ending Book  
A Dream within a Dream  
What Is That Book About 
Thursday, February 11  
Laura's Interests 
The Reader's Hollow  
Flashlight Commentary 
Friday, February 12  
Let Them Read Books  
To Read, Or Not to Read 
Saturday, February 13  
So Many Books, So Little Time  
Eclectic Ramblings of Author Heather Osborne
Sunday, February 14  
100 Pages a Day  
With Her Nose Stuck In A Book 
Monday, February 15  
A Book Geek 
A Bookish Affair 
Puddletown Reviews  
Tuesday, February 16 
Just One More Chapter  
Historical Fiction Obsession  
Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More 
Wednesday, February 17  
Impressions In Ink  
A Literary Vacation 
The Country Bookworm 
Thursday, February 18  
The True Book Addict  
Ageless Pages Reviews 
Friday, February 19  
Passages to the Past 
Kristin Un-Ravelle'd  
Book Lovers Paradise 
Saturday, February 20 
Beth's Book Nook Blog  
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf 
Sunday, February 21  
Carpe Librum (Seize The Book) 
Seize the Words: Books in Review 
Monday, February 22  
Broken Teepee  
Book Drunkard  
The Reading Queen 
Tuesday, February 23 
Teatime and Books  
View from the Birdhouse 
Historical Fiction Connection


To win a Borgia-Inspired Velvet Bag & Beaded Bracelet from C.W. Gortner please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below.  

Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 23rd. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.  

The Vatican Princess Book Blast
04_The Vatican Princess_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Monday, February 22, 2016

Music Monday - "Jazzman" by Carole King (1974)

Last week I saw, and enjoyed, the PBS American Masters about Carole King.  (It's online at the PBS site, if you're interested.)  I have always loved singer/songwriter music, and Carole King is one of my favorites.  Her life is very interesting, especially the Brill Building years when she wrote music for many major 1960's artists.

My favorite song by Carole King is from the 1970's.  "Jazzman" was released in 1974.  It has a great (not surprising!) jazzy feel, cowritten by David Palmer (Steely Dan), with saxophone solos by Tom Scott.  "Jazzman" made it to #2 on the Billboard charts, and was nominated for a Grammy, although it lost to "I Honestly Love You" by Olivia Newton-John.

This song makes me happy.  It is one of those songs that really takes me back to being very young in the 1970's, and it has that retro-but-timeless sound.

Do you remember this song?  What is your favorite song by Carole King?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Weekend Window Shopping at Birdhouse Books

Hi all!

I have MANY more vintage Easter cards newly listed at Birdhouse Books.  I'll post just a few photos here, and hope you will stop by Birdhouse Books to see more.

Vintage Easter card featuring a duck carrying a basket of flowers.

 Vintage Easter card with puffy fabric inset of tulips.

Vintage Easter card designed by Melanie Renn for Gordon Fraser.  It features a dressed bunny rabbit carrying a bouquet of carrots.

Vintage Easter card with a cute bunny rabbit illustration by Dana Strange.

My Visit to Bunnyland vintage Easter card featuring a photo of children meeting the Easter Bunny.

Vintage Easter card for a little girl featuring a die-cut well with bluebirds and bunny rabbit.

 Mid-Century vintage Easter card with a cart full of Easter eggs.

 Vintage Easter card with Mid Century stylized Easter eggs - fabulous!

I hope you've found some goodies here.  Do stop by my store!   And have a great weekend.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Dear Abby - "Uptown Funk" with a Dog Rescue Theme

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a good week!  I'm having a nice week with some warmer weather.  That means walks outside are much more leisurely.

This has been an unexpectedly busy week, but I wanted to share a fun video with you.  This music video is by the East Bay SPCA in Oakland, California, and it is a remake of "Uptown Funk" with a dog rescue theme.  I LOVE IT!

I think I would like that little white Chihuahua and the black and tan Dachshund who uses a cart to come live with me.  They look like fun friends!

Wishing you a great weekend!  I'll write more next week.


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review - The Rain Sparrow by Linda Goodnight

Book Synopsis

Series: A Honey Ridge Novel
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (February 23, 2016)

New York Times bestselling author Linda Goodnight welcomes you back home to Honey Ridge, Tennessee, with another beautiful story full of hope, haunting mystery and the power to win your heart 

Renowned yet private, thriller writer Hayden Winters lives a life colored by lies. As he is deeply ashamed of his past, his hunger for an honest relationship and dreams of starting a family remain unsatisfied, and he can trust no one with his secrets. He’s determined to outrun his personal demons, but the charming old Peach Orchard Inn and a woman whose presence is as gentle as a sparrow’s song stops him in his tracks.

Carrie Riley is afraid of everything from flying to thunderstorms, and pretty much of life itself. But meeting the enigmatic writer staying at the inn emboldens her to learn everything about him. When they discover a vulnerable boy hiding at the inn, Hayden is compelled to help Carrie protect him. Soon they’re led to a centuries-old mystery that haunts Hayden’s sleep, and his only safe haven is Carrie. As the secrets of the past and present cause their lives to become entwined, all that’s left to come to light is love—if the grim truth doesn’t tear them apart first.

Purchase Links 
Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble 

My Review

The Rain Sparrow is a lovely southern novel.  It tells the story of Carrie and Hayden, as they come together and find that their connection and love makes them both stronger.  I really enjoyed their story.

It also is the story of how Carrie and Riley help Brody, a young boy with an abusive past.  His story is heartrending and he is a very sympathetic character.

There also is a parallel historical storyline set in the Civil War.  It is woven in with the present day story seamlessly.

The characters, interwoven storylines, and storytelling made this a very enjoyable read.  It has more depth than a lot of women's fiction and romances.  I have to add that I also really enjoyed the southern setting (Honey Ridge, Tennessee).

I have not read the first book in this series, but this novel worked fine as a standalone.  I recommend The Rain Sparrow for any reader who enjoys a well written romance story.

Author Bio
New York Times and USA Today Bestseller, Linda Goodnight is the winner of the RITA and other highly acclaimed awards for her emotional fiction. Active in orphan ministry, this former nurse and teacher enjoys writing fiction that carries a message of hope and light in a sometimes dark world. A country girl, she lives in Oklahoma.

Connect with Linda 
Website | Facebook | Twitter 

I received this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Throwback Thursday - The Camera of Your Teen Years

I grew up loving cameras.  One of my first toys was a toy camera, and I had many cameras over the years.  Although my father was a gifted photographer and taught me some photography basics, I was not a serious, artistic photographer.  I was, however, from my early years a great fan of chronicling everyday life with snapshots.

The camera of my teen years was the Kodak 110.  It was a small, slim instamatic camera designed to fit into a purse or pocket.  I took it everywhere!  It had built-in flash, which was great.  
Michael Landon was the spokesperson for this camera, and appeared in print ads and commercials.  You'll find a 1979 commercial below ... it gives a good glimpse at how this little camera worked.
I have a couple of digital cameras now, but take most pictures with my phone.  I love the ease of phone photography, and it works great for everyday snapshots.

What camera did you grow up with?   Do you still enjoy taking pictures?   I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.