Thursday, July 27, 2017

Book Review - The Dress in the Window by Sofia Grant

Book Synopsis
World War II has ended and American women are shedding their old clothes for the gorgeous new styles. Voluminous layers of taffeta and tulle, wasp waists, and beautiful color—all so welcome after years of sensible styles and strict rationing.

Jeanne Brink and her sister Peggy both had to weather every tragedy the war had to offer—Peggy now a widowed mother, Jeanne without the fiancĂ© she’d counted on, both living with Peggy’s mother-in-law in a grim mill town.  But despite their grey pasts they long for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients with the help of her sister Peggy’s brilliant sketches.

Together, they combine forces to create amazing fashions and a more prosperous life than they’d ever dreamed of before the war. But sisterly love can sometimes turn into sibling jealousy. Always playing second fiddle to her sister, Peggy yearns to make her own mark. But as they soon discover, the future is never without its surprises, ones that have the potential to make—or break—their dreams.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Review
The Dress in the Window tells the story of two sisters living in a mill town post World War II.  They are both alone (Peggy is a widow with a young child, and Jeanne lost her fiance), so they live with Jeanne's mother-in-law.  Although they are very poor, they both are talented and go into business together designing dresses.  Even when they have success, they have conflict with each other and struggle to find happiness.

The writing in this book is beautiful.  The descriptions are vivid and lyrical.  The book begains with a visit to Brunskill, Pennsylvania in the Winter of 1945.  It is told in second person, and "you" are visiting an old abandoned woolen mill where a couple has a late night tryst.

The book then shifts to telling the story from different viewpoints:  sisters Jeanne and Peggy, mother-in-law Thelma, and later, Peggy's daughter Tommie.  The storyline moves from 1948 to 1953.

I loved the dressmaking details in the book.  Each long section was titled after a fabric, and the narrative in that section fit intriguingly in with the fabric.   For instance, the first section is Taffeta, and it tells how making a taffeta dress changes the sisters' lives.

I found a lot of the storyline sad:  the bleak mill town, the sisters' struggles with money and later with each other.  However, it was beautifully written, and the historical details were interesting and well realized.

The Dress in the Window will be of interest to fans of historical fiction, and especially to anyone interested in fashion and dressmaking.  

Author Bio
Sofia Grant has the heart of a homemaker, the curiosity of a cat, and the keen eye of a scout. She works from an urban aerie in Oakland, California.

Find out more about Sofia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Cat About Town by Cate Conte

Book Synopsis
The first novel in a frisky new mystery series set in a small New England town, where an unlikely citizen is called in to solve the purrfect crime. . .

Maddie James has arrived in Daybreak Island, just off the coast of Massachusetts, eager to settle down and start her own business—and maybe even fall in love. When a stray orange tabby pounces into her life, she’s inspired to open a cat cafĂ©. But little does Maddie know that she’s in for something a lot more catastrophic when her new furry companion finds the dead body of the town bully. Now all eyes are on Maddie: Who is this crazy cat-whisperer lady who’s come to town? If pet-hair-maintenance and crime-fighting weren’t keeping her busy enough, Maddie now has not one but two eligible bachelors who think she’s the cat’s pajamas . . . and will do anything to win her heart. But how can she even think about happily-ever-after while a killer remains on the loose—and on her path? 

Author Bio
Cate Conte is the alter ego of Liz Mugavero. Liz is the author of the Pawsitively Organic Mystery series from Kensington Books, the first of which was an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel. As you can imagine, her canine and feline rescues demand the best organic food and treats around. She is a member of Sisters in Crime National, Sisters in Crime New England, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’ Association. She currently lives in Connecticut.

Author Links
Webpage –;
Twitter –;
GoodReads –; 
Facebook –;

Purchase Links
Amazon – B&N 

(5) Print Copy of Cat About Town by Cate Conte (Liz Mugavero)
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Book Spotlight - The Detecting Duchess (Victorian Bookshop Mystery) by Kate Parker

Book Synopsis
The only thing standing between Georgia and her fairy-tale wedding is a murder. Or two.

When a young woman pleads for help from Georgia Fenchurch in locating a missing Crown investigator, Georgia resists. Her wedding is only a week away. Before she can say no, she’s knocked to the ground by an assailant attempting to kill the young woman.

Georgia now feels she must help. She soon finds herself up to her wedding veil in stolen treasure and coded letters. With the Duke of Blackford’s help, Georgia follows a trail of missing men and dead bodies. Every victim had one thing in common – a desire to possess a fortune in gold.

In between the society balls and social calls of late Victorian London, Georgia works on her last case before the big day. Will she stop a ruthless killer in time? Or will Georgia find getting to the altar on time is going to be murder?

Author Bio
Kate began reading Agatha Christie mysteries and the Nancy Drew books while her classmates were reading Dick and Jane. She particularly likes historical mysteries and the feeling of time travel a good historical book can give the reader. Combined with her love of late Victorian to World War II architecture and fashions, she found an outlet for the stories and characters that fill her head by writing The Victorian Bookshop Mysteries and The Deadly series, as well as taking part in the Christmas Revels anthologies.

Author Links
Purchase Links: Amazon  B&N

Friday, July 21, 2017

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dachshund Puppy Meets a Penguin Toy

Dear Friends,

I hope you are having a good week!  I found a fun short video to share with you this week.  It features a dachshund puppy who meets a mechanical stuffed penguin toy for the first time.   Watch to see what happens:

If you have dogs or cats, have they ever had a dramatic reaction to a toy?   I have one flat stuffed toy that has a very LOUD squeak.  I usually snuggle with my toys (more than playing with them) and a few times I have laid down on that toy and heard the loud squeak.  It always makes me jump!

I hope you have a great weekend!

Abby xoxoxo

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon

Book Synopsis
After a few months of living with her boyfriend Greg, Jill is still getting used to sharing such close quarters, but she’s got no hesitation about joining him for a weekend at South Cove’s most luxurious resort. While Greg and his college pals celebrate their buddy’s upcoming wedding, Jill intends to pamper herself in style. But when the groom is found floating facedown in the pool, Jill must find the killer fast, or she might not have a boyfriend to come home to any more . . .

Author Bio
New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and two fur babies.

Author Links
Twitter –
Facebook –
Website –
Amazon Author Page –

Purchase Links
Amazon B&N

(2) E-Copy Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon.  Ends 7/30
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Friday, July 14, 2017

Dear Abby: Meet Elsie (A Rescued Pet Spotlight)

Dear Friends,

Something very exciting happened this past week!   I met a new friend.  My dear friend Dave (whom I have known since I was one year old) adopted a new pup.  Her name is Elsie.  Dave and Elsie live just 2 miles from me, so I will get to see her often.  We have already had two play dates.  We are just getting used to spending time together, but I am sure we will be good friends!   (And I hear she will be coming over to visit for a longer time when Dave goes out of town.) 

Dave has stopped by the blog to visit today, and to introduce Elsie.  I know you will love her too.

Elsie and Abby
Abby:  What is Elsie's background and how did she end up in rescue? 

Dave: Well, she is 4 now.  Elsie is a terrier mix, according to our vet.  She is mostly rat terrier (we think), and maybe a bit of chihuahua.    She lived with another dog, but her person decided he didn't have the time for her.  She spent her time alone, and in a crate at night.  But whatever her life was like, she was obviously cared for and well trained.  She walks like a little angel on a leash, she is house trained, and doesn't have a mean bone in her body.  She charms everyone she meets.

Her person finally decided he had to surrender her to Paws Atlanta.   She stayed there for two months before I met her.

Abby:  What were Elsie's first days like at her new home? 

Dave:  She walked (actually ran) inside, and all over the house downstairs and upstairs.  Elsie settled in immediately.  The bed is hers, the sofa is hers.  She loves to run around and chase her new toys.  She knew how to fetch from the start.  And when she's tired, she turns it off, and curls up with me.  She has a LOT of energy, but her manners are impeccable.

Elsie loves belly rubs!
Abby: What are a few of Elsie's favorite things?  

Dave: The toys she keeps eviscerating, and I keep taking away.

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

Dave: Take your time.  Look at different rescue organizations on line, see who has the kind of dog you're looking for with size, breed, age, whatever is important to you.  Go to the facility, and meet the dogs.  And remember, you will bond with the right dog.  You may meet ones first where you don't click with them, and they don't click with you.  But be patient, and remember you aren't seeing them at their best - they need some time and space to let their personalities come out.  Elsie seemed more quiet and sedate when we met.  We didn't realize she would be so outgoing.

Elsie and Dave
Abby: Is there a rescue group you want to send a shout out to?  

Dave:  Paws Atlanta, they are the best.  They are a no kill shelter with a reputation for taking wonderful care of the cats and dogs they foster.  Jasmin from PAWS helped with the adoption, and she was wonderful!

Abby:   Thank you so much, Dave, for visiting today.  This adoption story is near and dear to my heart because I know how kind you always have been to me and to my late brother Barney ... and I know what a wonderful home you have to offer to a pup.   AND I am so happy to make a new friend -- Elsie!

Friends, if you would like to leave a message for Dave, you can do so in the comments.   

Thank you so much for visiting today!

Abby xoxoxo

Book Review - A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

Book Synopsis
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

My Review
A Name Unknown takes place in England in the days just before World War I.  Rosemary Gresham has had a hard life growing up on the streets on London after her parents died.  She was raised with a group of street urchins that she considers her brothers and sisters.  Because she is a skilled thief, she is sent on an unusual assignment:  to find out if nobleman Peter Holstein is actually sympathetic to Germany. She travels to Cornwall to work in the Holstein library and to gain his trust.  To both their surprise, a bond slowly forms between them and changes their lives.

This is such a lovely and unique historical novel.  I am interested in Edwardian England, and found this period just on the eve of World War I to be fascinating. The Cornwall setting was especially nice.

I love that books and writing and a mysterious home library figure into this novel.  There is a mystery involved, of Peter's lineage and family history, and it is really a page turner.

I did not immediately like the character of Rosemary, but I came to find her sympathetic as the novel went on.  Peter is such a remarkably kind, good character, and their friendship (blossoming slowly into a romantic interest) was beautifully written.

A Name Unknown is the first in a series, Shadows Over England, and I am eager to read the upcoming novels.  This is my first read by Roseanna M. White, but I plan to look for her other books.   

The combination of historical details, a slow building romance with a compelling mystery, and multi-dimensional characters makes A Name Unknown an engrossing read.  I recommend it highly to fans of historical fiction, Christian fiction, and anyone interested in Edwardian England.
Author Bio

Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna’s fiction ranges from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia.

Connect with Roseanna

Website | FacebookTwitter

One lucky reader will win a copy of A Name Unknown.  The giveaway is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada, and will end midnight 7/21/17.   The winner will be notified by email, and needs to respond to the email within 48 hours.  The winner's book will be sent directly from the author or her publicist.
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I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Dear Abby - Videos Abby Likes: Dachshund and Woman Share Watermelon

Vintage children's book illustration by Roy McKie

Dear Friends,

I hope you had a happy 4th of July!   We had 5 days in a row of fireworks here, which is 5 days too many, if you ask me.

I have a fun video to share with you today.  It features a little dachshund sharing some very delicious looking watermelon with her person.

Doesn't that look like fun?  I have had a little bite of watermelon before and I liked it.  My Momma learned that it is safe in small amounts for dogs, with no seeds and with no rind.  Here is a nice article about fruits and vegetables that dogs can - and can't - eat.  It is from the AKC.    I am very fond of bananas, carrots, and green beans.  I get "no salt" green beans on top of my kibble every day.  

If you have a dog, what type of fruits or vegetables does he or she like?   I would love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Hoping you have a great weekend ahead!

Abby xoxoxo

Book Review - The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

Book Synopsis
When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.

A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.

My Review
Rosalyn Bernay is on the run in 1879 London when she stumbles upon a unique opportunity -- to work backstage at a theater performing Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore.  This job leads to new friends, possible romance, and the chance to act onstage.  However, first she will need to escape her past ... and the people who pursue her.

The Captain's Daughter is the first book in the new London Beginnings trilogy.  This book focuses on Rosalyn, one of three sisters.  It looks like the other two books will focus on her sisters.  I enjoyed this novel and look forward to the upcoming books in this series as well.

The historical details are very interesting in this book.  I love Gilbert and Sullivan, so found the theater scenes particularly fun to read.  I loved reading about backstage life.

Rosalyn is a brave, admirable character.  She keeps her faith in the midst of danger and stress, and remembers it as she begins a new life in London.  I also liked Nate, a military man who recently returned from India.  His rapport with Rosalyn was delightful, and their scenes together were particularly strong. 

The Captain's Daughter was a strong beginning for a new series, and I think other fans of historical fiction will enjoy it as much as I did.  Recommended!

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse.