Monday, June 27, 2016

Music Monday - "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush (1978)

"Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush was released in 1978.  It appeared on her album The Kick Inside.  Kate Bush was inspired to write this song after seeing the BBC miniseries of Wuthering Heights.  She has said that the last 10 minutes of that program inspired this song.  "Wuthering Heights" was written at a single sitting.

I didn't discover this song until my college years, the 1980's.  I was an English: Creative Writing major, so of course I loved the swooping romanticism of this song, and the references to Wuthering Heights.  The lyrics include:

"Bad dreams in the night.
They told me I was going to lose the fight,
Leave behind my wuthering, wuthering
Wuthering Heights.

 Heathcliff, it's me--Cathy.
Come home. I'm so cold!
Let me in-a-your window.

Heathcliff, it's me--Cathy.
Come home. I'm so cold!
Let me in-a-your window."

Here's a little trivia tidbit:  Kate Bush and Emily Bronte share the same birthday, July 30.

And now, the video for your enjoyment -- the interpretive dancing is a bit dated but the song is still beautiful!

Do you remember this song?  What is your favorite song based on literature?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Book Review - The Ringmaster's Wife by Kristy Cambron

Book Synopsis:
An ounce of courage. A split-second leap of faith. Together, they propel two young women to chase a new life—one that’s reimagined from what they might have become. 

In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confines of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures to call her own, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny—a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.

A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling of Yorkshire, England, boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her life is planned out for her. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties in the grandest ballrooms the country has to offer. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.

When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, instead choosing the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.

A novel that is at once captivating, deeply poignant, and swirling with exquisite historical details of a bygone world, The Ringmaster’s Wife will escort readers into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the greatest show on earth!

My Review:
I was intrigued by this book from the moment I first heard of it.  I love 1920's settings and knew nothing about circus life during this period, so I was eager to read The Ringmaster's Wife.

The Ringmaster's Wife intertwines the story of two women:  Mable, who meets John Ringling at the Chicago World's Fair, and Rosamund, who leaves England looking for a new life - which she finds in the circus.  The story moves back and forth.  I often read books in short snatches of time due to schedule, and found the back and forth narrative a little hard to settle in to initially, but once I did I was reluctant to put the book down!

I especially enjoyed the characters of Rosamund and Colin and their relationship.  The characters in this novel are so well developed, with dialogue and description that moves the novel along. 

The historical details in this book are rich and fascinasting.   The setting of this book is one of the most interesting that I have encountered in the past couple of years. 

I loved reading this book, and recommend it highly for fans of historical fiction, especially with a unique and atmospheric setting.   
Author Bio:
Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin, was named Library Journal Reviews’ “Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction)” for February 2015. Cambron is an art/design manager at storytelling ministry. She holds a degree in art history from Indiana University and has nearly 15 years of experience in instructional design and communications for a Fortune-100 company. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Dear Abby - Meet Cadbury and Woodbury (A Rescued Pet Spotlight)

Dear friends,

I hope you are having a good week and staying cool.  It is very hot in the deep south right now!   I am enjoying indoor time with air conditioning and fans.

I have a guest post from two special friends today.  Cadbury and Woodbury are two beautiful bunny rabbits, and they wrote this interview a couple of months ago.  You met their kitty sister, Scotty, here before.   I have had this interview scheduled.  I was so sad to hear that Cadbury passed away in late May.  With permission of Cadbury and Woodbury's mother, Beth, I am running this interview in special memory of Cadbury.  

Abby:  What is your background and how did you end up in rescue?

Cadbury: Hello, Abby! I'm a girl rabbit, and I don't know how old I am. I don't remember much about before, and I know I lived with humans a long time ago, but about five or six years ago, I was suddenly outside all by myself. At first it was fun to run around all over the grass, but then it got scary and lonely and hard to find good food.

Then a young girl and her brother found me where they waited for their school bus. Their parents put up flyers to see if someone would claim me, but no one did. They couldn't keep me permanently because they were moving, but they spread the word that I needed a home. Then one day, my new humans came to pick me up! Mother named me Cadbury because I looked like a chocolate bunny! She thinks I might be something called a Holland Lop.   (Photo of Cadbury below)

Woodbury: I'm a boy bunny, and unsure of my age, too. All I know is that a few years ago, I was let out into a neighborhood, and it was awful. I was scared of all the noise and big things whizzing by me. It was dark and rainy, and I was all covered in mud, when a tall boy came by on his run and spotted me. He brought me home to his mom (also human), and they cleaned me up and gave me carrots! Like Cad's rescuers, they were moving and couldn't keep me - but the mom, Diane, knew a friend who really likes bunnies. (Photo of Woodbury below)

Cadbury: I heard Mother say, "What's one more bunny in the house?"

Abby:  How were your first days at your new home?

Cadbury:  It wasn't too bad when I got to the new people's house. They put my little hutch on a big wooden table right where everyone would walk by and talk to me. One thing made me nervous - these strange creatures (I learned they're cats) would sit on the table and just stare at me. I didn't care for it. However, I tried stamping my back feet, and it was great! When I did that, they all jumped about a foot in the air and ran away. Ha ha! Now, sometimes I'll sneak out of my cage at night to explore the house (Mother frowns on this). The cats watch me from a distance. They're afraid of my feet!

Woodbury: Everything was pretty nice when I got here. Especially because Mom and Dad knew to give me lots of carrots and parsley! Mom says I'm "mellow" which I'm pretty sure means "handsome."

Cadbury: At first, Mother would take me to church for Easter, and to the church booth at a local Scottish festival, too. I got tired of the limelight, though, and started to get nervous around lots of kids and big people. Luckily, Woodbury came along at the right time to do public appearances. He doesn't seem to mind.

Abby:  What are a few of your favorite things?

Woodbury: Carrots!

Cadbury: I like when Dad holds me on his lap. I like secretly exploring, and I love little soft toys to play with and sleep on. My favorite thing to eat is this cranberry cookie treat that our human friend Tom brings us.

Woodbury: Would it surprise you, Abby, to learn that I love carrots? I also enjoy a big wooden toy that's fun to chew - and it is great to throw against my dish to alert Mom that I feel hungry!

Abby:  Do you have any tips for people who want to adopt a rescue pet?

Cadbury and Woodbury: Our advice is - don't put bunnies in Easter baskets! All bunnies need lots of love and care, because we don't get along so great on our own. We may not look like it in our photos, but we're both pretty small, so we need some protection and help. All rabbits, no matter what size, should be chosen to be a part of the family for always - not just a holiday!

Special thanks to Beth for helping with this interview.  I am so sorry about Cadbury's passing.  She had a wonderful home with your family.   Please give Woodbury a gentle pet for me!  (Please tell him that I am very gentle with bunnies, although I am a dog.)

Dear friends, if you would like to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!   Thank you for visiting today.


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Book Synopsis
USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan introduces a sizzling new trilogy about three best friends embracing life—and love—in Manhattan.

Cool, calm and competent, events planner Paige Walker loves a challenge. After a childhood spent in and out of hospitals, she’s now determined to prove herself—and where better to take the world by storm than in the exhilarating bustle of Manhattan? But when Paige is let go from the job she loves, she must face her biggest challenge of all—going it alone.

Except launching her own events company is nothing compared to hiding her outrageous crush on Jake Romano—her brother’s best friend, New York’s most in-demand date, and the only man to break her heart. When Jake offers Paige’s fledgling company a big chance, their still-sizzling chemistry starts giving her sleepless nights. But can she convince the man who trusts no one to take a chance on forever?
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My Review 
Sleepless in Manhattan focuses on friends Paige, Frankie, and Eva, who unexpectedly lose their event planning jobs in New York.  Paige decides to start her own company, with the help of her longtime friend (and crush!) Jake.   

I really enjoyed the upbeat, feel good nature of this book.  I especially liked the way the author balances the love story between Paige and Jake and the story of the three friends.  The New York setting was a nice bonus!

Paige is a likable protagonist who has overcome much with her serious health problems from childhood.  Jake is brooding and intriguing.  Their interaction was fun to read, especially as sparks flew.

The characters are varied and well written, and the dialogue is fast paced and fun to read.   This is my first read by Sarah Morgan;  she tells a really good story!

This would be a great weekend read or a fun beach read.  I enjoyed Sleepless in Manhattan, and think that other fans of chick lit or contemporary romance will as well.   

Author Bio
USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes lively, sexy contemporary stories for Harlequin.

Romantic Times has described her as ‘a magician with words’ and nominated her books for their Reviewer’s Choice Awards and their ‘Top Pick’ slot. In 2012 Sarah received the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America. She lives near London with her family. 

Connect with Sarah  

Website | Facebook | Twitter 



One lucky winner will receive a copy of Sleepless in Manhattan.  Giveaway ends 6/30 and is open to U.S. and Canada.  The winner will receive an email, and needs to respond within 48 hours.  The book will be mailed to winner by the author or her publicist.
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I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Did You Know Tuesday - Otter Pops

It's the first week of Summer! Yay! I love the slow, leisurely pace of the Summer months. I will confess to a love of frozen fruit flavored treats, too. 

Last week I saw a reference to Otter Pops online and it took me back to my childhood. I loved Otter Pops and the similar Fla-Vor-Ice pops. 

Otter Pops were originally marketed in 1970 by National Pax. They are still made and sold today (I saw a huge box at Wal-Mart last week and it took all my will power not to buy!) These pops have 40 calories and come in flavors including: 

Alexander the Grape 
Sir Isaac Lime 
Little Orphan Orange 
Rip Van Lemon 
Louie-Bloo Raspberry 
Poncho Punch 
Strawberry Short Kook 

In 1995 the company tried to replace Sir Isaac Lime with Scarlett O'Cherry, but a well organized protest by fourth graders stopped this change. (Too bad -- the cherry frozen fruit pops sound delicious!) 

Do you remember Otter Pops or Fla-Vor-Ice from your childhood? Are you still a fan of these frozen treats? They are part of summer nostalgia for me, and always fun (and delicious!). I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Music Monday - "All Summer Long" by The Beach Boys (1964)

If I was making a playlist of my favorite summer songs, "All Summer Long" by The Beach Boys would be high on the list.  

This song was written in 1964 by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, and it's the title song of The Beach Boys' All Summer Long album.  The harmonies are wonderful, and that is a xylophone you hear in the background, along with a piano.

The lyrics capture old fashioned summer fun like:

"T-shirts, cut-offs, and a pair of thongs
(T-shirts, cut-offs, and a pair of thongs)
We've been having fun all summer long

(All summer long you've been with me)
I can't see enough of you
(All summer long we've both been free)
Won't be long til summer time is through
(Summer time is through)
Not for us now

Miniature golf and Hondas in the hills
(Miniature golf and Hondas in the hills)
When we rode the horse we got some thrills
Every now and the we hear our song
(Every now and the we hear our song)
We've been having fun all summer long"

Here are two minutes of retro summer happiness:

Do you like the Beach Boys?  What is your favorite of their songs?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Dear Abby - Meet Emma (A Rescued Pet Spotlight)

Dear Friends,

How is your week?  Is it hot in your part of the world?  It is very hot here in the deep south.  I am enjoying extra time in front of fans, which are in every room here.   I am also grateful for air conditioning!  I do not like hot weather, and will sometimes lie on the foot of the bed about two feet from a fan.

In other news, a tree surgeon came to my neighborhood and worked on a tree.  Then there was a big wood chipper right out front of my house and it made a fearsome noise!

On a much happier note, I have a beautiful little friend to introduce you to today.  Emma is a 2 year old Chiweenie (Chihuahua/Dachshund mix).  As a proud Doxie mix (Dachshund/Jack Russell), I love Chiweenies, and my Momma does too!

Abby:  What is your background and how did you end up in rescue? 

Emma:  Not much is known about my story. I was found with my sisters and brother and we didn't have a mom. We were brought back to Good Karma Animal Rescue of MN and united with Snow, who became our surrogate mom. Snow was a great mom until we could be on our own even though she was heartworm positive. We stayed with her until we were all old enough and then we went to different fosters home until we could be adopted.   (Emma and Mama Snow pictured below.)

Abby:  How were your first days at your new home? 
Emma:  It only took me a few minutes to get used to my new space because I'm pretty saucy. I was introduced to my two new brothers, Monte and Roscoe. Even though I was smaller than them they didn't treat me with kid gloves and we started playing and rough housing right away. My Mom and Dad let me sleep in bed with them and I quickly found out they were going to treat me like the tomboy princess I am.
Abby:  What are a few of your favorite things? 
Emma:  I love cuddling up with my humans or my siblings (in addition to my brothers, my humans just adopted a doxie named Raya from the same rescue I'm from!), meeting new foster siblings, carrying around my favorite toys (the wubba, spike ball, or chew ring), and getting ANY and ALL attention from everyone I meet.
Abby:  Do you have any tips for people who want to adopt a rescue pet? 
Emma:  My humans foster so I get to meet new foster siblings and teach them all about living in a home. Each new sibling is different - some of them warm up right away and others can be shy. Sometimes you have to go slow when someone new comes to a new space because it can be scary. It's kind of like if you went to a new country and you didn't speak the language and everything was loud and unknown. So if you adopt a rescue pet just remember that there will be a transition period. Go at their pace!

Abby:  Is there a rescue group you want to send a shout out to ?  
Emma: Good Karma Animal Rescue of MN. They're a small but mighty rescue that help the hardest cases - seniors, bonded seniors, animals that have medical issues, etc. The rescue is foster based and runs on donations, so volunteers and helps is always welcome.
What a wonderful rescue story!   Emma, thank you so much for visiting today.  I love it that your humans foster.  That is great, and you get to make lots of new pupper friends that way, too.
Dear friends, if you have any comments of questions for Emma, or if you would like to be featured here, please leave a comment below.
Thank you for visiting!  Have a good weekend!
Abby xoxoxo 

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Mystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon

Book Synopsis
A chance run-in with a college boyfriend puts a young woman’s picture-perfect life in perspective in this warm-hearted and lyrical novel—from the author of The Lake Season.

Since finishing graduate school, Maggie Griffin has worked hard to build an enviable life in Boston. She’s an elementary school teacher in a tony Boston suburb, a devoted sister, and a loving aunt. With her childhood best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her own relationship blossoming, this is the summer she has been waiting for.

But when Maggie’s career is suddenly in jeopardy, her life begins to unravel. Stricken, Maggie returns home to seaside Mystic, Connecticut, where she expects to find comfort in family and familiarity. Instead, she runs into Cameron Wilder, a young man from her past who has also returned home, and whose life has taken a turn that puts Maggie’s city struggles in harsh perspective. When tragedy strikes for Cameron, Maggie is faced with big decisions as she weighs what matters most and strives to stay true to the person she’s become.

Set against the gorgeous backdrop of a New England summer when past and present collide, Mystic Summer is a gorgeous novel about looking back, moving forward, and the beauty that blooms when fate intervenes.
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Purchase Links

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Author Bio
Hannah McKinnon is the author of The Lake Season and Mystic Summer. She graduated from Connecticut College and the University of South Australia. She lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut, with her family, a flock of chickens, and two rescue dogs.

Connect with Hannah

Website | Facebook | Twitter 



One lucky winner will receive a copy of Mystic Summer.  Giveaway is open to readers in U.S. and Canada, and ends on 6/24.  The winner will be notified by email, and will need to respond within 48 hours.  The author or her publicist will mail the book directly to the winner.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Book Review and Giveaway - A Golden Cage by Shelley Freydont

Book Synopsis
The author of A Gilded Grave returns to Newport, Rhode Island, at the close of the nineteenth century, where headstrong heiress Deanna Randolph must solve another murder among the social elite.

With her mother in Europe, Deanna is staying with the Ballard family, who agree to chaperone her through the summer season and guide her toward an advantageous marriage proposal—or so her mother hopes. Relishing her new freedom, Deanna is more interested in buying one of the fashionable new bathing costumes, joining a ladies’ bicycling club, and befriending an actress named Amabelle Deeks, all of which would scandalize her mother.

Far more scandalous is the discovery of a young man bludgeoned to death on the conservatory floor at Bonheur, the Ballards’ sumptuous “cottage.” Deanna recognizes him as an actor who performed at the birthday fete for a prominent judge the night before. But why was he at Bonheur? And where is Amabelle?

Concerned her new friend may be in danger—or worse—Deanna enlists the help of her intrepid maid, Elspeth, and her former beau, Joe Ballard, to find Amabelle before the villain of this drama demands an encore.

My Review
A Golden Cage is the second book in Shelley Freydont's Newport Gilded Age series.  (I enjoyed reading the first book, A Gilded Grave, last year.)

Deanna Randolph is enjoying staying at the Ballard family's "cottage" while her family is in Europe.  However, when an actor from a traveling theater troupe is found dead in the Ballard's conservatory, and a young actress goes missing, the mystery begins.  Deanna works to solve the mystery with her lady's maid and friend, Elspeth, and her former beau, Joe.  

I love how atmospheric this book is.  The historical details are wonderful, and the author does a great job at evoking the Gilded Age.  I found the glimpse of the traveling theater troupe particularly interesting.

Deanna is becoming one of my favorite mystery amateur detectives.  She is so smart and determined, and pursues solving mysteries in a time when women had very little freedom.  I really like her friendship with Elspeth, and the way they bridge class differences to work so well together.

The mystery in A Golden Cage was well plotted, and it kept me guessing until the end.

This is such a delightful read, and I recommend it highly to other fans of historical mysteries.   Anyone who misses Downton Abbey will particularly enjoy this read, with the nice interplay of upstairs and downstairs life.

Author Bio
Shelley Freydont is the author of the Liv Montgomery, Celebration Bay Festival Mysteries, (Silent Knife, Trick or Deceit),the Katie McDonald Sudoku Mysteries and the Lindy Haggerty dance company mystery series. Her Newport Gilded Age Mystery seires began in June 2015 with A Gilded Grave, followed in June 2016 with A Golden Cage. 

Shelley loves puzzles of all kinds and when not writing or reading mysteries, she’s most likely working on a jigsaw, Sudoku, or crossword.

As Shelley Noble, she’s the author of the women’s fiction novels, Beach ColorsStargazey Point, and Breakwater Bay as well as several novellas.

She lives at the New Jersey Shore and loves to hear from readers.   

Author Links

Purchase Links
Amazon –  B & N 

Win a copy of A Golden Cage - Winner’s Choice - Print or E-Book.  Giveaway ends 6/19.

I received a copy of this book from Great Escapes Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Dear Abby - Meet Bella (A Rescued Pet Spotlight)

Dear Friends,
I hope you are having a great week!  All is well in my world ... a nice, quiet week here.  Momma has been working hard and I have been a great helper.
Today I have a beautiful visitor for you to meet.  Bella is a 4 year old Bluetick Hound Mix.  Naturally, I love hounds!

Abby:  What is your background and how did you end up in rescue? 
Bella:  My mommy wasn't supposed to be puppy shopping, but she came to the pound anyway. Even though her mom and boyfriend (who is now my daddy) told her she didn't need a puppy while she was still in college, she was stubborn (just like me) and took me home anyway. Now my daddy can't imagine life without me, and my grandma loves me too! Mommy knew what she was doing!

Abby:  How were your first days at your new home? 
Bella:  They were a little confusing, because mommy had to pack up for college for the new semester, and I had to stay with Grandma and Grandpa while mommy got settled into her new house. But we were reunited soon enough.

Abby:  What are a few of your favorite things? 
Bella:  My favorite thing to do is eat out of the trashcan. It's so yummy! I also really like bossing around my sisters, Molly and Freckles. I win every time. Because I'm amazing!

Abby:  Do you have any tips for people who want to adopt a rescue pet? 
Bella:  Pick a pet you feel an instant connection to. Even though mommy and I are different, we always still love each other because we have a good mommy-daughter connection. I know she loves me even when I make her mad. Also, make sure you are able to take care of them. If they have a lot of energy, you need to have a fenced-in yard or go for lots of walks!

Abby:  Is there a rescue group you want to send a shout out to? 
Bella:  I was adopted from Brunswick County Animal Shelter, and they were so nice to me! ( My sisters were adopted from Brother Wolf Animal Rescue in Asheville, NC, and they thought those people were nice too!

Bella, thank you so much for visiting today!   I loved learning about your happy rescue story.  (I must admit I am a little jealous that you can go trashcan surfing!  I am too short for that, but it sounds like fun.)

Friends, if you would like to leave a message or question for Bella, you can leave a comment below.  I would also love to hear from you if you have a rescued cat or dog who would like to be featured here.

Have a great weekend!


Abby xoxoxo