Friday, July 22, 2016

Dear Abby - The Secret Life of Pets

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a great week!  It has been a busy one here.  Momma and I are taking a big blogging break for the next six weeks (!!) so we have been busy catching up here.

I did take a little time off to see The Secret Life of Pets this week.  This is an animated movie about what pets do when their people are out for the day.  First, let's discuss the irony:  this movie about what pets do when they are left alone will entice more people to leave their pets alone ... in order to see the movie! 

The star of the show is Max, a sweet and brave Jack Russell Terrier.  (A reminder that I am a Doxie/Jack mix, so I was very thrilled to see a JRT in this movie.)   Max has everything down pat, like making little happy circles and snuggling with his Momma.  He has a very good life ... until his mother rescues a great big dog named Duke from the pound.  Max isn't sure at all about Duke, and Duke wants to stake his claim in his new home.

Max has many wonderful friends, like Chloe the cat, Gigi the fluffy dog, and Buddy THE DACHSHUND.  Yes, you read that correctly.  There is also a dachshund in this movie, and he steals the show a bit, if you ask me.

Max and Duke end up on an unexpected adventure outside of their apartment building.  It leads them to danger and excitement all over New York City.  There is a good pet rescue message in Duke's story, and the ending of the movie made Momma shed a happy tear.

Here is a movie trailer for The Secret Life of Pets.  I give this movie a very enthusiastic four paws up! 

I will be taking a blog break for a bit but will be back after Labor Day! 

In the meantime, I would love to hear from YOU in the comments below.  Have you seen The Secret Life of Pets?   Or do you just want to say hi?    I would love to hear from you.


Abby xoxoxo

Book Review and Giveaway - The Valley by Helen Bryan

Book Synopsis
Left suddenly penniless, the Honorable Sophia Grafton, a viscount’s orphaned daughter, sails to the New World to claim the only property left to her name: a tobacco plantation in the remote wilds of colonial Virginia. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a handsome young French spy—at gunpoint— she gathers an unlikely group of escaped slaves and indentured servants, each seeking their own safe haven in the untamed New World.

What follows will test her courage and that of her companions as they struggle to survive a journey deep into a hostile wilderness and eventually forge a community of homesteads and deep bonds that will unite them for generations.

The first installment in an epic historical trilogy by Helen Bryan, the bestselling author of War Brides and The SisterhoodThe Valley is a sweeping, unforgettable tale of hardship, tenacity, love, and heartache.
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My Review
The Valley is the first book in a historical trilogy by Helen Bryan.  The story focuses on Sophia Grafton, who travels to America in the 1750's to claim the family tobacco plantation in Virginia.   I have always been fascinated by early American history, and loved the historical details in this book.

The storytelling is rich, with a sympathetic protagonist who is independent and determined to build a good life in a new country.  I loved the details of early settlers who found both adversity and great strength.

The Valley is beautifully written, with vivid descriptions, well developed characters, and a story that kept my interest.   It is a big, rewarding book.  I found it easy to settle in and lose myself in the narrative.

As a fan of big books, family sagas, and historical fiction, I really enjoyed The Valley.  I already have War Brides waiting for my next Helen Bryan read.  I am now eager to read all her books!  I recommend this book for other fans of historical fiction.   
Author Bio
Helen Bryan is a Virginia native who grew up in Tennessee. After graduating from Barnard College, she moved to England, where she studied law and was a barrister for ten years before devoting herself to writing full-time.

A member of the Inner Temple, Bryan is the author of four previous books: the World War II novel War Brides; the historical novel The Sisterhood; the biography Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty, which won an Award of Merit from the Colonial Dames of America; and the legal handbook Planning Applications and AppealsThe Valley is the first in a planned trilogy based on her childhood stories of ancestors who settled in Virginia and Maryland before Tennessee became a state.

Bryan resides in London with her family.

The lucky winner will receive a print copy of The Valley.  Giveaway is open to the U.S. and Canada and ends at midnight on Thursday, 7/28.  The winner will be drawn on Friday, 7/29, and must respond within 48 hours.  The book will be sent 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.